Students from Swinburne’s Islamic Society have worked with staff from the university’s multi-faith centre to organise Swinburne’s annual Iftar dinner.
The event, on Wednesday 30 May, saw a gathering of more than 80 staff and students and those in the wider community, share in an Iftar dinner – the breaking of the fast at sundown for the holy month of Ramadan.
In her opening address at the dinner, Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Linda Kristjanson AO, welcomed attendees to find new opportunities for discovery and connection over the course of the evening.
“It is wonderful to have such a strong representation from our community present – from staff and students, those from our Islamic Society and multi-faith centre, to our honoured guests,” Professor Kristjanson said.
“We value the role that these individuals play in fostering understanding and acceptance of religious diversity in our community.”
Honouring the holy month
Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the first verses of the Koran (Qu'ran) to the Prophet Muhammad and is a special time for the Muslim community for prayer, fasting and renewal of faith.
During Ramadan, Muslims practise fasting from dawn to dusk – abstaining from all sensual pleasures, including eating and drinking, to complete one of the five pillars of Islam.
“Swinburne Islamic Society plays a major role in providing a Ramadan experience for the Muslim community at the university,” says Ghaith AlGhaith, President, Swinburne Islamic Society.
“We have hosted Iftar dinners consistently for 12 years now for over 200 Muslims who visit the multi-faith facility to break their fast each sundown.”
Members of Swinburne’s Islamic Society volunteer their time every evening to organise the Iftar dinner for other students, preparing food and dishes.
“I feel fortunate to be part of a community that wishes to join us in celebrating this tradition, regardless of religious or cultural background,” Mr AlGhaith says.
“In this way we are able to share the principles that have always been the centrepiece to the Iftar dinner – hospitality, peace and respect.”
The group worked hard together leading up to the event to plan the Iftar festivities, which included traditional prayers, an address by the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Melbourne, WGS Prasanna, and a traditional meal of stuffed lamb and baklava.
Swinburne’s commitment to cultural diversity
In 2017, Swinburne launched a Charter of Cultural Diversity that places cultural diversity at the heart of university life.
The university has also been acknowledged by the Victorian Government for outstanding contributions to cultural diversity at the Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence.