Another year has come and gone, with moments shared, experiences lived and dreams realised. For Benevolence, this year brought with it many openings and milestones - the most significant being our 10 year anniversary. It was celebrated with a Gala Dinner to pay tribute to the selfless volunteers who have dedicated their time to creating the Benevolence community over the past ten years, to commemorate the remarkable achievements of Benevolence, and to share our vision for the next ten years.
Another outstanding accomplishment of 2018 was the Spirit of Leadership (SOL) program, a ten-month leadership course for young Muslims aged between 18-26 that examined community leadership in the light of the Prophetic model. Piloted in collaboration with the Islamic Council of Victoria, the course took a deep dive into contemporary topics such as identity, values, ethics and spiritual refinement. The SOL participants visited a number of community organisations with varying management frameworks to experience leadership in practice. This program was so well-received, and its cohort so impressive, that we are excited to announce SOL will continue next year! Look out for applications in early March.
As the year winds up and our Bene programs come to a close, I gratefully acknowledge everyone who contributed to the success of Benevolence this year. I wish to thank our selfless volunteers, our staff and the Board on ensuring the continued growth and sustainability of the Benevolence vision. I wish to also thank you, our members, supporters and community, for it is only through your ongoing advocacy that we continue to thrive.
Wishing you a blessed, joyous and safe holiday season, and we look forward to connecting, serving and creating inspiring initiatives in the year ahead, insha-Allah!
With love and peace,
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Benevolence held our very first family camping weekend to get away at the end of the year from busy schedules to enjoy quality time with loved ones. A friendly environment for both children and adults to establish new connections with other Muslim families, with activities such as bushwalking, swimming at the beach, fishing, BBQs, praying in congregation, and re-connecting with nature in the spectacular outdoors along the Great Ocean Road. What a fantastic getaway weekend!
Muslim Women's Association celebrated its 35th anniversary by honouring Muslim Women's contribution and launching the "Mosaic of Muslim Women in Australia." Thirty-five women across Australia were acknowledged and celebrated for their tireless efforts in serving both the Muslim and wider community.
Our very own Saara Sabbagh was amongst the recipients for her unwavering service and leadership, as well as delivering the keynote speech, speaking straight to the heart of every person present in acknowledging the unique value and contribution of Muslim Women in Australia.
Congratulations to both MWA and all the recipients for their steadfastness and dedication to community service!
Be empowered to take a safe, active stance when observing hateful, racist incidents of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Learn the skills, language and confidence to respond to bigotry, harassment, and violence in the community.
Contact email@example.com to register for this training program to be delivered across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Vicoria commencing on 10th December 2018, or to inquire for more information for you / your workplace / community organisation.
As part of the anti-racism and anti-discrimination Action Plan, the Victorian Government is supporting key organisations deliver community-led responses to Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. This project is a collaborative initaitve by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Australian Intercultural Society, Australia Union of Jewish Students and Benevolence Australia, who have formed a united body aimed at addressing these issues.
We concluded Monday night women's "Living with Excellence" class for 2018 with a communal Qur'an khatm in this blessed month of Rabi' al-Awwal.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) said, "No people gather in a house of the houses of Allah reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves except that serenity descends upon them, mercy envelops them, the angels surround them, and Allah makes mention of them to those with Him." [Muslim]
We welcome Rabi' al-Awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar, which means 'the first month of Spring'.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was born in this blessed month. Many Muslims celebrate the Prophet’s birth, known as mawlid, which involves gratitude in the remembrance of the birth, life and message of the Prophet, and is marked in different ways, such as with prayers, and by offering salutations upon him.
Allahumma salli wa sallim wa barik ‘ala sayyidina Muhammadin wa ‘ala alihi
‘O Allah bestow Your blessings, peace and grace upon our master Muhammad and his family.’
For almost twenty years, teaching the Monday night women’s class has been a consistent part of my life. It wasn’t always on Monday evenings - it began at Doncaster mosque on Tuesday mornings, then moved to the Uniting Church on Westfield Drive, and then back to the mosque for a new time slot on Monday nights. The classes found its permanent home at BeneHouse when it opened in 2014. The venue and times may have evolved over the years, however the intention of the women’s class has always remained clear: to educate, nurture and support the spiritual and faith development of women.
This semester we covered the iconic spiritual self-development book Agenda to Change our Condition by Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir. The theme is centred on the Quranic verse, "Allah does not change a people until they change what is in themselves." (13:11) Within this verse is a calling for introspection, self awareness and a call to action: the attainment of taqwa, God-consciousness.
The book details the various toxic inroads to the heart, the role of the limbs, and daily habits and exercises to safeguard a sound heart and create a taqwa orientated lifestyle. It challenged us to see God-consciousness in the practical way that it was intended, rather than spiritual theory reserved for saints and mystics. Agenda to Change our Condition can be summarised in the following four sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him); some scholars have said that all of Islam revolves around these wisdoms, that they are the cornerstones of attaining a life of God-consciousness:
Like any lifestyle choice, choosing to live a life of taqwa requires strong conviction, an implantation method and a solid support structure. The Monday night women's class created the space, knowledge and support where striving for excellence in character and self-refinement could be gradually incorporated into our daily lives until it becomes part of who we are.
As we conclude our education programs for yet another year at Benevolence, I pray that we have been a place of knowledge and support on your spiritual and faith journey.
Benevolence held a fun youth night where young people gathered to enjoy pizza and conversation about themselves, their hobbies, their indentity as young Muslims, and the importance of having a support network with authentic and strong foundations.
"Last night was not what we expected! It was different and relaxing. We played games and spoke about what it means to be a Muslim." -Youth participant feedback
Benevolence was pleased to have The Ansaar project visit our BeneKids class to discuss food insecurity, the virtue of charity, and the impact of community efforts to address societal shortfalls.
The Halal Food Bank - Melbourne is run entirely by volunteers and purely with donations from the community, and aims to provide halal, nutritionally sound food to needy families, those who require crisis support, and asylum seekers on a monthly basis.
We are proud supporters of local, grassroots initiatives such as the HFB, please visit their profile to donate or volunteer!
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We acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which BeneHouse stands, and we pay our respect to their elders past, and present.
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