Saara Sabbagh joined ABC's The Conversations Hour host Jon Faine and co-host celebrity chef Matt Preston along with restaurateur Hana Assafiri and Rohini Kappadath, general manager at the Immigration Museum, to invite you to an Iftar dinner hosted by the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Benevolence Australia, and the Immigration Museum as part of the Spirit of Ramadan exhibition.
Alhamdulillah, we successfully raised $20,000 for our I'll Fast With You campaign to support new and reconnecting Muslims, with deep gratitude to every donor who raised their hand unhesitatingly to help fill this need in the community.
As well, huge thanks to our phenomenal BeneTeens and Spirit of Leadership youth for volunteering on the night - to serve the community is to serve our Creator. May each of you be rewarded without end, as you have cared so selflessly for others, ameen.
The long awaited blessed month of Ramadan has arrived! We welcome our honoured guest with open arms and a loving heart. How can we not show reverence to a guest bringing countless gifts, elevating our soul, cleansing our fatigued body and bringing life to our deadened heart! The infinite blessings of Ramadan are here for the taking… for those who choose to benefit from it.
As cherished as Ramadan is, it deliberately comes to disrupt our routine, our comforts and our daily habits. It forces us to take a closer look at ourselves and audit our spiritual state.
This Ramadan, let us not be from amongst the people that the Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us about: "Perhaps a fasting person will gain nothing from his fast but hunger and thirst, and perhaps the one who stands up at night for prayer will gain nothing but tiredness."
Rather, let us elevate our intentions and set high aspirations so that we exit from this blessed month as better people.
May this Ramadan bring with it the long awaited spiritual succour we are so desperately in need of. May it replenish our souls and quench our thirst for Divine intimacy.
Wishing you and your loved ones a spiritually uplifting month ahead filled with worship, acts of kindness and introspection.
Love and peace,
Keynote speaker, Saara Sabbagh, Founding Director of Benevolence Australia gave a very moving speech highlighting how much has changed in the past 10-15 years in Victoria, “a time which has broken the Muslim community".
She reflected back to how this talk of inclusion, belonging and contribution was not around for many of us growing up in Victoria.
Saara Sabbagh shared her optimism as she explained how the conversation is now changing from being just about terrorism and why we wear headscarves to having things like exhibitions at the museum celebrating the whole month of Ramadhan.
Saara ended her address with a call to action for everyone to speak up for social justice and drive change through advocacy and awareness against injustice.
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The month of Ramadan is almost upon us, and the Bene team are working overtime to ensure that we provide our community with a spiritually uplifting and nourishing experience in the blessed month ahead. Beginning with our ‘Prepare for Ramadan' workshop on the 5th of May, this course will give you the opportunity to not only refresh your knowledge but also spiritually prepare for the fasting month. We will also be hosting our Annual Community Iftar on Saturday May 26th. This is our largest event in the Bene calendar and gets booked out pretty fast, so please ensure that you register your attendance as soon as possible, as places are limited.
Last week we launched our annual "I’ll Fast With You Campaign", which aims to support new Muslims and long time converts throughout the month of Ramadan. Supported by MAA International, we are holding a number of events throughout Ramadan to ensure that converts are connected, supported, and spiritually nourished. This particular program requires a whole of community effort, and we are calling on your support to ensure this program reaches members in our community that often feel neglected and isolated throughout Ramadan.
With so much happening in the month of fasting, we do hope there is something for you and your family that will enrich your Ramadan experience. As we embark on the sacred inner journey, we pray that it has a transformative effect on our souls so that we exit the sacred month in a state of higher consciousness.
Benevolence is excited to announce that we have collaborated with the Immigration Museum on a number of fabulous projects throughout the month of Ramadan! A special pop up exhibition titled Spirit of Ramadan will be open throughout the sacred month. This exhibition will give the wider community the opportunity to learn about the month of fasting, and how it is experienced by the diverse Muslim community in Melbourne.
Along with the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the Immigration Museum, we are proud to announce our first collaborative Iftar dinner on Sunday 3rd of July. Guest Chef Hana Assafari of Moroccan Soup Bar will serve the traditional meal that breaks fast each day at sunset during this holy month. Seats are limited, so keep an eye out for when registrations open on the Immigration Museum website.
• Pop-up Photo and Video exhibition
Tuesday 15th May - Thursday 14th June
• Understanding Islam talks
Sunday 20th May at 1pm
Tuesday 5th June at 11am
Sunday 27th May at 1pm
Tuesday 12th June at 11am
• Iftar dinner (breaking of fast)
Sunday 3rd June, 4:00pm–7:45pm
Benevolence was pleased to participate in the Victorian Mosque Open Day on April 15th, to encourage Australians to meet face-to-face with Muslims in their community.
"It’s easy to fear what we don’t understand, believes Saara Sabbagh," reports The Weekly Review. "Muslims are only 2.6 per cent of the Australian population, which means the average Australian will not get to meet the average Australian Muslim," she says. "They’re just going to hear about them and reinforce their fears and prejudices via the media and via Hollywood."
It’s easy to fear what we don’t understand, believes Saara Sabbagh, founder and CEO of the Melbourne-based Muslim social organisation Benevolence Australia.
“Muslims are only 2.6 per cent of the Australian population, which means the average
Australian will not get to meet the average Australian Muslim,” she says.
“They’re just going to hear about them and reinforce their fears and prejudices via the media and via Hollywood.”
A University of South Australia study found in 2016 that one in 10 Australians were “highly Islamophobic”, while an Essential Research poll in the same year found 49 per cent of Australians supported a ban on Muslim immigration.
Sabbagh was hoping to counter some of those fears at this month’s Victorian Mosque Open Day (April 15), when Benevolence Australia and 12 other Muslim community centres and mosques around Victoria opened their doors to the public.
In its second year, the open day included information sessions, mosque tours, sausage sizzles and even hijab tutorials, all in an effort to encourage Australians to meet face to face with Muslims in their community.
Last year, Sabbagh fielded queries about headscarves, prayer and terrorism. It was “refreshing” she says, to talk openly about issues affecting the Muslim community.
The Spirit of Leadership collaborative program by Benevolence and the Islamic Council of Victoria launched with an orientation evening where participants had the opportunity to meet one another, learn about the program structure, and network with some dynamic and accomplished mentors from the Muslim community.
SOL aims to develop participants to successfully engage with diverse Australian communities by way of Benevolence’s various outreach and community programs, and through programs offered by ICV and its member societies. It will also provide training and opportunities for participants to develop personal, professional and leadership skills, increase and expand their social connectedness and explore potential future employment and leadership opportunities.
Embracing diversity and social inclusion are two of the most important skills a young student can be equipped with in Australia today, yet these skills are also among the biggest concerns in our globalised world. Understanding and embracing the unique and important role both student and teacher play in building identity, unity and social harmony begins and continues with sustainable, sound education.
At Benevolence Australia, we are a dedicated not-for-profit organisation committed to bringing a clear understanding of Islam and an enlightened insight into Muslim lifestyle, globally and in an Australian context. Our school programs compliment the Victorian and national curriculum, add value to classroom discussion, and enhance understanding of the world we live in.
We are all part of a global community facing increasing challenges to social cohesion, and Benevolence Australia provides support to schools in the vital role education plays in building social inclusion and addressing the confusion, misunderstandings and misrepresentations central to themes of Islam and Muslims in popular discourse.
Please contact us for more information:
P +61 3 9913 8262
While Hana Assafiri is renowned for her popular eatery, Moroccan Soup Bar, and founder of Speed Date a Muslim, a community event to combat Islamophobia, she is also an activist who strives to improve the lives of women. Her fighting spirit was born from a childhood marred by long-term abuse and secrecy.
We welcomed women in the community to a screening of her story, 'One plus One' and open conversation to discuss the importance of shifting the shame of abuse, and placing it where it belongs.
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