Benevolence is pleased to present a group of talented, forward thinking, and ethical individuals accepted into our youth leadership program designed to empower young Muslims to meet the challenges of their time.
Attended by active members of the Muslim community and alumni of our inaugural SOL2018 cohort, the launch of SOL2019 was a successful evening of welcome addresses, orientation and networking.
Full photo album on our Facebook page, check it out!
Ramadan is upon us, and I have never felt more in desperate need of its succour and replenishing sustenance than I do now. It is as if the darkness of our humanity has withered my spiritual resilience and the ability to grapple with the provocations of our time. I am in dire need of this communal spiritual retreat, to step away from the tribulations and suffering of our world which mirrors the agony of our own souls calling out for meaning and nourishment.
Ramadan is the prescription my soul has been longing for, a time where life as I know it will pause… at least for thirty days. But perhaps that’s all I need to realign - thirty days to disrupt my everyday routine, to dull the endless toxic noise in all its forms and to bring conscious stillness to the fore.
Of all the spiritual practices in Islam, nothing cultivates mindfulness more than Ramadan. It orients the mind, body and spirit in every moment in a holistic way. From the commencement of Ramadan, one’s spiritual state and actions are made obvious to the observer of the fast: keeping vigil on one’s ego, and ensuring it respects the sacrosanct boundaries of the month. This vigil of self-awareness extends to every aspect of our being, language, behaviour and even thoughts. The senses are heightened, and these too are observed.
This observation is the practice of cultivating awareness of the moment and is intensified further by the gnawings of hunger. All forms of pain, discomfort or challenges demand our absolute attention, forcing us to be cognisant of the present. Fasting is a teacher of many lessons, but nothing more powerful than bringing consciousness to every minute of the day; if your mind lapses, your pangs of hunger will surely prompt you. And yet, it is through this emptiness of the physical that we are able to create the space for the spiritual to be cultivated and nourished.
The month of Ramadan is laden with gifts for the soul: from the tawareeh salat (nightly prayers), the recitations of Quran, and the festive family and community iftars, these devotional rituals and practices remind us of our higher purpose and of our sacred human potential. We are reminded as individuals and as a global community, for Ramadan is personal as it is communal.
As the community prepares itself for the most anticipated month in the Islamic calendar, let us ensure that we are prepared for the spiritual journey ahead. The Prophet (peace be upon him) reminds us that, “Many people who fast accomplish nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night accomplish nothing from it except wakefulness.”
As we welcome this precious guest overflowing with blessings, my only hope is that we give it the due honour it deserves, so that upon its departure we are transformed by its noble and intimate company.
Wishing you all a blessed Ramadan!
With love and light,
"And mention in the book, Idris. Indeed he was a man of truth and a prophet. And We raised him to a high station." --Chapter 19:56-57 Quran
With his followers, Prophet Idris AS left Babylon, moving to Egypt where he continued his mission. There, he called the people to monotheism, to what is fair and just, to fast on certain days, taught them certain prayers, and to give of their wealth to the poor and needy. It is reported that he was the first to invent the basic form of writing.
Of his character, it is said he persevered, was pious and patient. In the Quran, he is mentioned alongside Prophets Ishmael and Dhul Kifl (peace be upon them), as being 'of the patient' (chapter 21:85).
It is reported through the majority of books on tafseer, Islamic exegesis / interpretation, about him, that Allah SWT reveals to Prophet Idris AS: From those that follow you, anyone who does good deeds, you will receive the reward of those deeds for yourself.
Prophet Idris AS wanted to increase the number of his good deeds and devotion, yet knew he was approaching the end of his life. He speaks to his friend among the angels of what Allah SWT has promised, and asks him to fly him to the angel of death to request to have his life extended. The angel advises Prophet Idris AS that his life is a matter decreed by Allah SWT but takes Idris AS to meet the angel of death to make the request. They fly up into the skies, crossing the first, second and third heavens. In the fourth heaven, they encounter the angel of death, who reveals he has been sent by Allah SWT to take away Prophet Idris’s soul.
In a confirmed hadith (saying), the Prophet Mohammed SAW says he met Prophet Idris (AS) in the fourth heaven, during hi Isra wal Miraj – the Night Journey and Ascension to the Heavens. (Sahih Al Bukhari)
Benevolence's Sacred Surrender women's in-house retreat brought together women from across Melbourne and interstate to explore what it means to lead a Sacred Surrendered life, from the everyday mundane acts, to the unchangeable collisions of destiny that occur in life.
Experienced facilitators from diverse disciplines imparted tools and anchors from a faith and mind-body connection to enable a shift of perception that allows for a Sacred Surrendered life to unveil itself.
Discovering the importance of wholesome, delicious and energising food by Rawan Zahran, the intelligence of the healing body by Dana Salih Toogood, and learning to witness the Sacred in all things with Saara Sabbagh, the retreat created a safe space for women to rejuvenate and be empowered to realign themselves to their higher purpose of seeking the Creator through conscious living.
Benevolence was honoured to host delegates of the Australia-Indonesia Muslim Exchange Program (AIMEP) at BeneHouse.
The AIMEP is a community-based international leadership program which invites emerging Muslim leaders in Australia and Indonesia to engage in an intensive two week visit of cultural, social, interreligious, and intellectual exchange with our neighbouring country.
With insightful conversations on the cultural challenges regarding our unique expressions of Islam in each of our countries, it is always a pleasure to be part of the Melbourne experience for the AIMEP.
Alhamdulillah, are approaching the blessed night of 15th Sha'ban, one of the most important nights of the Islamic year.
Our teachers at Muwasala advise that its greatness is due to the divine gifts that are bestowed during it: the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that, “Allah gazes at His creation on the fifteenth night of Sha`ban and then forgives all except for two types of people: those who attribute partners to Allah, and those who have rancour for their fellow Muslims.”
The Prophet (pbuh) encouraged us to spend this night praying and supplicating to Allah, in addition to fasting during the day of the 15th of Sha'ban, because on this night, Allah calls out to His slaves from sunset until dawn: “Is there anyone seeking forgiveness from Me so that I may forgive him? Is there anyone seeking provision from Me so I may provide for him? Is there anyone suffering so I may relieve his suffering?”
May Allah forgive us all, and decree all that is good, and deflect from us all that is harmful, and grant us a good seal, ameen.
Benevolence presented our iBelong schools program to over a hundred Year 9 students from Mount Scopus Memorial College, discussing the challenges young people and communities face in the current climate and dysphoria. Our presenter's shared experiences on dealing with stereotypes, how to tackle them, and moving forward with the aim of social cohesion and encouraging diversity.
'I Belong' is one of our main Schools program, and is presented across all school denominations throughout metropolitan and rural Victoria.
Please contact us to book a session at your school, or to request a customised program to meet your curriculum needs.
Greetings of peace,
The steady growth of Benevolence over the past ten years has enabled us to actively solidify our vision of “Seeking the Creator through conscious living”. This is the foundation we have worked tirelessly to ensure imbues our core values of khidma (service), rahma (compassion) and ihsan (spiritual excellence), in every aspect of the work we do.
I have served as CEO of Benevolence in a volunteer capacity for these 10 years, and I am deeply grateful for the commitment and hard work of our staff and volunteers in our common passion to nurture the spiritual development of our community. As I pause to reflect on the impact and influence Benevolence has had in both the Muslim and wider communities, I feel truly privileged and humbled to be part of this visionary organisation. We have established ourselves as positive agents of change in society, continually evolving to meet the contemporary challenges of the Muslim community, and creating meaningful and far-reaching engagement with the wider Australian community.
Benevolence is facing a new phase of growth, transitioning from a grassroots organisation providing a safe space for Muslims from all walks of life, to a leading voice in shaping the Australian Muslim narrative. Towards successfully navigating these changes, it gives me immense pleasure to announce our newly appointed CEO: Ms Meriem E. Abida.
Meriem joined Benevolence in 2016 as our Internal Program Manager, and was instrumental in developing our community and education programs to become institutions of traditional Islamic knowledge for converts and reconnecting Muslims. Our community gatherings have become highly anticipated events that bring together the Muslim and wider community, fostering social harmony and connectedness. Meriem has successfully created new channels of engagement with Muslim youth through our phenomenal Spirit of Leadership program, and focused on providing increased value to our member base. With a Masters of Science in Intervention and Change Management and extensive experience in people and project management, Meriem was the ideal candidate to steer Benevolence through the stages of expansion through collaboration.
Having worked closely with Meriem over the years, I am highly confident that Benevolence will flourish and prosper under her leadership. Her appointment demonstrates the strength of Benevolence’s succession planning and talent pipeline. I am honoured to be passing on the baton to Meriem, a woman of strong integrity, distinguished spiritual refinement, and an inspiring role model.
I resume my role as Chair of the Board, and special adviser to the management team. Please join me in welcoming Meriem as the CEO of Benevolence, as we build the vision of Benevolence for a broader audience.
With love and light,
We are in the month of Sha’ban, and one month away from Ramadan! Our teachers at Muwasala encourage the following actions to take advantage of this blessed month:
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا في رَجَبٍ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنا رَمَضَانَ
“O Allah bless us in Rajab and Sha`ban and enable us to reach Ramadan!”
In the Islamic calendar, the night precedes the day, and we are approaching the glorious night of 27th Rajab. There are great lessons in the events that preceded, and took place on this night itself, which are a means of increasing in belief and certitude.
On this night, our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) met our Lord, and was given the gift of the five daily prayers. The ‘tashahhud’ that we recite in every sitting of our prayers are the words with which the Prophet greeted Allah on his ascent beyond the Heavens, in a place beyond place -- where not even the Archangel Jibril could go.
The miracle of the blessed night journey (isra) and heavenly ascent (mi'raj) followed a year of difficult ordeals and great sorrow in the Prophet’s life, from which we take lessons of patience, endurance and contentment with Divine decree, and which Allah rewards with our own spiritual “ascents”. This is the secret of tribulation – in it lies the greatest of opportunities for proximity to the Divine, insha’Allah.
"They encountered suffering and adversity and were shaken such that the Messenger and those of faith who were with him said: “When will Allah’s assistance come?” Truly Allah’s assistance is always near." --Surah Al-Baqarah [2:214]
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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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