For the past ten years, Benevolence has served the Muslim and broader community with firm and unwavering determination. Whether it’s creating an alternative space where Muslims from all walks of life feel welcomed and a sense of belonging, or uplifting and striving for a higher practice of spiritual refinement or indeed navigating the complexities that come with being a Muslim in Australia today – Benevolence has evolved over the years to continuously meet the challenges of our community. As we endeavour to maintain our growth; our core values of Khidma (service), Rahma (mercy) and Ihsan (excellence) remain at the essence of all that we do.
From its inception in 2008, Benevolence had a clear target audience; this included supporting 'reconnecting Muslims' and those who have newly embraced the faith. Benevolence also strove to create meaningful engagement with the wider community by focusing on three key areas:
Grounded in the principles of the Way of Muhammad (peace be upon him), we have created a community where spiritual refinement and character development are integral to who we are as Australian Muslims. Benevolence strives to nurture the spiritual development of our community through reviving the ancient wisdom of sacred knowledge, spiritual practices and personal disciplines that are ingrained in our tradition.
Shifting the public discourse
Benevolence not only works internally within the Muslim community to strengthen our faith and identity, but also works with the wider community challenging the current narrative on Islam and Muslims today. Our programs are far reaching into schools, service providers, faith communities, government departments, public and private sector and much more. Our trained facilitators offer both an understanding of Islam in Australia, as well as education on global politics, history of the Muslim world and the complexities of the current narrative on Islam and Muslims.
Benevolence’s contribution to the mosaic of the Muslim community is imperative to the highly politicised faith and identity landscape we find ourselves in as Australian Muslims.
Benevolence is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year! We invite you to join us on Sunday, September 16th for our Gala Fundraising Dinner. The night will pay respect to all those who have made an active contribution and participated in building the community. The night will also raise funds to support Benevolence over the next three years. Tickets can be purchased here, and 100% of ticket sales will go to supporting Benevolence programs. Should you not be able to attend the event, we ask you to consider contributing to supporting the growth of Benevolence by donating.
For the past ten years we have built our foundations. Now it’s time to build our future. Join us and be part of the vision!
Celebrating Eid with Benevolence! Heartfelt thanks to our volunteers for taking time away from their families to make it a festive day for the community - may Allah SWT elevate your station, and draw you in nearness to Him and His Beloved, ameen. EID MUBARAK, Bene fam!
We is pleased to support Mod Markit, a one-stop modest fashion pop-up market.
Fashion is not foreign to Benevolence - it run in Saara Sabbagh's family: with parents who were designers in the "Paris of the Middle East" in the '70s, Saara established the My dress, My image, My choice show in 2001 in response to a growing distrust displayed towards Muslim women following world political events.
The show toured around Australia for 10 years before coming to a close, as the community evolved, and the pressing needs became the necessity to have deeper discussions on justice, ethics and spiritual growth.
Always at the forefront of initiatives to bridge communities, Benevolence is dedicated to creating the space, knowledge and support to seeking the Creator through conscious living. Be sure to visit our stall on the day!
The Victorian Multifaith Advisory Group (MAG) is a unique body that brings together senior faith representatives from Victoria’s diverse multicultural communities.
The advisory body represents the voice of Victoria’s faith leaders to the Victorian Government through the Multicultural Affairs and Social Cohesion (MASC) Division of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Members assist the Government to understand and appropriately respond to situations which arise in diverse faith and multicultural communities around Victoria, acting as part of a group that aims to ensure ongoing dialogue between the Victorian Government and Victoria’s faith leaders and communities.
Benevolence founder and chair, Saara Sabbagh, was recently appointed onto the MAG, and met with the Victorian Premiere and Minister for Multiculturalism for a productive and robust conversation on contemporary matters affecting faith communities.
The Hajj pilgrimage is almost upon us, and we farewell family, friends and community members as they embark on a trip of a lifetime. For those of us left behind, it can be difficult to connect to the sacredness that surrounds this time of year. However, the rituals of Hajj provide us many lessons to reflect upon in our daily lives, as well as a connection to our heritage and tradition.
Sacred traditions represent a critical piece of our faith culture. They assist in forming the structure and foundations of our families and society. They remind us that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today and who we choose to become. Once we ignore the meaning of our faith traditions, we are in danger of damaging the underpinning of our identity.
I’ve always been fascinated by the various rituals of Hajj and their meaning and significance to our everyday lives. I recall performing the Hajj in 2006 and the peaceful and orderly chaos accompanying four million people performing the ancient rituals simultaneously. I recall feeling an undeniable sacred connection to every single person around me. The connection was not only one of faith, but rather a deeper unspoken energetic bond transcending time and place.
The circumambulation of the Ka’ba was the most memorable and moving aspect of the Hajj for me. This personal worship practice carried the greatest symbolism of our human condition - the act of literally walking in circles in search of meaning and purpose, while the answer is right before our very eyes and deep within us.
The ancient tradition of walking meditations or walking the Labyrinth as they are commonly known, are becoming integrated into contemporary spiritual practices. Research tells us that such meditations are grounding, as they quieten the mind and open the heart and connect us to the universe as we move in harmony with the rotational movements of the planets.
I recall after returning from Hajj how much I missed the peaceful practice of walking around the Ka’ba in the remembrance of God. I soon found a sports oval in my local area and began incorporating a seven-cycle walking meditation every morning. I use this time to practice my daily litany and to reflect upon what has been occupying my thoughts and heart from my higher purpose by asking myself the following questions: 'what is at the centre of my world? what concern, fear or love has replaced my "qibla" (direction)?'
Hajj is a physical, financial and spiritual pilgrimage, affirming servitude to Allah through reviving an ancient tradition. The pilgrim declares their intention, presence and sincerity upon entering the sacred precinct by chanting “labaik Allahuma labaik” (I am here O Lord, I am here!). We too must remind ourselves daily of the same commitment underlying the ritual of Hajj, to ensure that our hearts are free of anything else other than Allah, and that we embrace every day by embodying the meaning of "I am here O Lord, I am here!"
With love and peace,
Another Ramadan is over and as we gather the gems collected from this blessed month to take into the days and months ahead, we feel the solemn absence of its departure. These spiritual gems have nourished our soul, rejuvenated our faith, and reconnected us with our Divine purpose. Ramadan carves out the space, despite our full schedules, to cultivate devotional practices into our daily lives. However, the question is always asked… how do we maintain this level of consciousness and spiritual aspiration outside of Ramadan?
Let’s be honest, there is no way we can recreate Ramadan outside of the sacred month – whether it be the energy dedicated to devotional worship, the ease in communal fasting, or the elevated state of God consciousness permeating the sacred month. It’s usually quite normal to feel a post Ramadan lull, in the same way as we would feel deflated returning from a relaxing holiday on a sunny tropical island.
Instead of longing for the same level of spiritual aspiration, we should strive to integrate aspects of Ramadan into our everyday life. Whether it be introducing the Prophetic model of intermittent fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, daily acts of kindness, or signing up for a Quran class – the momentum of the spirit of Ramadan should inspire us to lift our game when it comes to our spiritual aspirations.
Benevolence is keen to support our community in this regard. Integrating devotional and spiritual practices into our daily lives allows us to reconnect with The Divine, raises our level of God consciousness, and most importantly facilitates the development of spiritual refinement. The intention is to bring sacredness to the mundane, so that we can perceive and thus, cultivate our spiritual and sacred origin.
I pray this Ramadan has inspired us to aim higher and dedicate our energy to improving our spiritual state, so that we carry the blessings and grace of the sacred month throughout the entire year.
“The best richness is richness of the soul.” –Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him).
The Australia Muslim Times reported, "Benevolence Australia concluded its third annual I’ll Fast with You campaign this Ramadan supporting converts to Islam during the challenging fast of the month of Ramadan. The IFWY weekly iftars were hosted on Sundays. Iftars were followed by taraweeh prayers and hadith study.
Josh Yee converted to Islam approximately 5 years ago. Of Ramadan he says, “In the Muslim community Ramadan is a really wonderful time with all your family and friends. As a convert, you don’t have that experience. I feel that Eid, is the day more than any other day, that converts are forgotten about by most Muslims.”
He is referring to the enormous sense of isolation experienced by many converts to Islam. Josh feels the ‘I’ll Fast with You’ iftars are very important. He says that converts aren’t invited to many iftars, and so knowing that there are some that can be relied on is wonderful."
Our Eid Salat & Celebrations are growing every year - this year, we had TWO halls to cater for the fun and festivities to close the blessed month of Ramadan! Heartfelt thanks to our volunteers for taking time away from their families to make it a festive day for the community: may Allah SWT elevate your station, and draw you in nearness to Him and His Beloved, ameen. EID MUBARAK, Bene fam!
Leadership Victoria took a group of its students to Australia’s Parliament in Canberra in August 2017. Dent will never forget what alum Saara Sabbagh did there.
Dent had arranged for Cory Bernardi, the leader of the newly formed Australian Conservative Party – and a man outspokenly critical of Islam – to speak to the group. And Dent watched, with surprise and pride, as Sabbagh, a Beirut-born refugee grandmother wearing a traditional Muslim scarf, stood up and challenged Bernardi.
“I initially thought I wouldn’t,” she says. But by then she’d seen the humanity in other politicians she’d met. “I recall looking at his (Bernardi’s) wedding band and thinking, ‘I’m sure he’s a loving husband and father.’ Humanizing the ‘other’ is very important if we are serious about creating a common ground and not focusing on our differences.”
“Are you aware of how your thoughts, words and proposed policies will affect my community?” she asked. Bernardi’s answer didn’t show any change of heart. But, she says, “I challenged him because I felt it was important for him to hear how his perspective – and therefore policies – are affecting Australian Muslim citizens.” In that moment, she forced Bernardi to at least consider another interpretation.
The nonprofit Sabbagh created 10 years ago, Benevolence Australia, predates her time with Leadership Victoria. It’s a woman-led community organization, designed to harness “the female energy that has been omitted from our world for so long.” In a country where Muslims are sometimes mistreated, she created an organization that teaches people to embrace Islam and provides “a safe space, free of judgment, discrimination and ethnic divide.”
Benevolence Australia runs community and education programs across the state of Victoria.“We often hear people say, ‘What are the moderate Muslims doing about terrorism? Why aren’t they speaking up?’ Truth is, we’ve lost our voice speaking up!
“Now it’s time to ask the question, ‘How is this us-and-them narrative working for government andlaw enforcement, now that we have created a world of fear and control? Who is this narrative benefiting, why has it been created and what is really at itscore?’ These are conversations that are too difficultto have – and yet must be had, if we are to truly understand what is taking place in the world today.”
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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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