Under the patronage of Darulfatwa – the Islamic High Council of Australia and the slogan “Ramadan of Mercy”, the Islamic Charity Projects Association (ICPA) held its Annual Ramadan Iftar dinner on Friday the 5th of May 2019, coinciding with the 5th Ramadan 1440H at the Al-Amanah College Grand Hall Liverpool – Sydney. The ICPA held its first community Iftar back in 1993 and this year marked its 26th Iftar. The Iftar hosted a comprehensive line up of government officials, ambassadors, consulate generals, councillors, diverse community representatives and media.
The Iftar was attended by The Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells – Senator NSW Liberal Party, representing the Prime minister of Australia The Hon Scott Morrison, The Hon. Jason Clare MP -Federal Member Blaxland, Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment, Resources and Northern Australia, representing the Leader of the Opposition the Hon Bill Shorten, Ms Melanie Gibbons – MP Member for Holsworthy, representing the premier of NSW the Hon Gladys Berejiklian,
The Hon. (Penny) Penelope Sharpe – Member of the Legislative Council (MLC), Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Shadow Minister for Trade, acting leader of the Opposition, The Hon. Chris Hayes – MP Chief Opposition Whip, Federal Member for Fowler, The Hon. Shaoquatt Moselmane – Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) – Assistant President, and Opposition Whip in the Legislative Council, Member of the Australian Labor Party. Opposition Whip in the Legislative Council, Ms Anne Stanley – MP Federal Member for Werriwa, Ms Julia Finn – Member of the Legislative Assembly, MP for Granville, Member of the Labor Party, Mr Jihad Dib – Shadow Minister for Education, MP for Lakemba, Mr Paul Lynch – MP, Member for Liverpool, Mr Guy Zangari, Member of the Legislative Assembly, Member for Fairfield, Shadow Minister for Police, Shadow Minister for Corrections, and Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Member of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Albert Vella, representing Multicultural NSW, Mr Bill Dobbie, Consul General of New Zealand, H.E Dr ^Izzat Abduhadi, Ambassador for Palestine, H.E Yasser Al ^Abid, Consul General for Egypt, Mr Bilal Oksoy, Vice Consulate of Turkey and President of Diyanet Foundation of Australia, Mr. Charbel Maakroun – Consulate General of Lebanon, Mr. Mohammad Abdul Raheem – Consulate of Sri Lanka, Mr. Ali Witwit, representing Consulate General of Iraq, Mrs. Bushra Salam, representing Consulate General of Pakistan, Mr. Mohammad Khalil, Consulate of Malaysia, Fareeda Yasmeen, Bangladesh High Commission, Mr Khal Asfour – Mayor of Canterbury-Bankstown City Council, The Hon. Phillip Ruddock, Mayor of Hornsby Shire Council, Mr Ahmad Issa and Mr Azzeddine Nafrak, representing the Morrocan Embassy, Lee Rhiannon – Former NSW Senator, Saud Abu-Samen – former Independent Candidate for Bankstown City Council, Mr. Neville Tomkins OAM Scouts Australia NSW Chief Commissioner, other community leaders, distinguished Sheikhs, Imams, organisations representing Lebanese, Iraqi, Syrian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian, Somalian, Sudanese, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lankan, Indian, Afghanistan, Turkish, Bosnian and African.
The Iftar began with a recitation of the holy Quran followed by the Australian National Anthem performed by Former Al Amanah Student Mariam Saad. The Iftars official opening was conducted by the President the ICPA – Hajj Mohamed Mehio with a speech congratulating Muslims in this blessed month – “Ramadan of Mercy”. In his speech Mr Hajj Mohammad Mehio said “how graceful is this blessed Ramadan evening as it brings us together to the dinner organized by the association that has won the hearts of the honourable and honest. He added “It is the association in which its members as well as the public it serves have placed their trust. It is the association that supports efforts for the betterment of this society. It is the Islamic Charity Projects Association; the organization which has grown remarkably, marked by its expanding and in its founding institutions, among them the cultural and educational, the social, the media, the youth and recreational”. Mr Hajj Mehio also spoke about the methodology and principle launch pad of the ICPA, which set forth following its late leader, his eminence, Sheikh Nizar Al-Halaby, and has remained on this exact path in the school of the Hafidh, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Harariyy, may Allah have mercy on them and today continue under the current leadership of Dr Hussam Karakirah may Allah protect him. Mr Mehio concluded by expressing the ICPA’s condemnation following the extremist acts in Christchurch and Sri Lanka and highlighted the need for all to extend goodness and virtue in this blessed month of patience and self-sacrifice.
His Eminence Dr. Sheikh Salim Alwan, Chairman of Darulfatwa the Islamic High Council of Australia also delivered a speech stating, Allah the almighty said, in the Qur’an which means “O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it had been upon those believers before you, so that you may become pious.” His eminence added, “The month of Ramadan is the greatest month of the year, a month where the days are spent in fast, and the nights expended in worship, a month of charities and kinship, when we check and care for the poor and the orphans. It is a month where the grand gates of paradise remain open, while the gates of hell are kept closed, and a month where people spread kindness”. Dr. Sheikh Salim Alwan reminded attendees that this year’s annual Iftar event brings with it a sad memory that is still fresh in our minds. The horrific atrocities which targeted Muslims praying on a Friday in two New Zealand mosques two months ago, only to be followed a month after that with another major incident in Sri Lanka. He reiterated that the purpose of these extremist attacks is to destabilize the security and peace in these countries and again called upon all those in power to collaborate with a great sense of urgency to spread awareness and educate the larger community to avoid such catastrophes in the future, for it is with knowledge that we fight ignorance and through moderation that we beat extremism and protect society and with mercy that we can stand against violence. His eminence also highlighted that the latter has been the role of Darulfatwa in Australia, adding that the dissemination of awareness and knowledge are Darulfatwa’s highest priority as evident in its training of Imams alongside its active youth programs to protect and support their wellbeing. His eminence also captured attendee’s attention by narrating a teaching of our prophet peace be upon him. His eminence mentioned that Imam Al-Bukhariyy narrated that one of the companions after slaughtering a sheep kept checking back and forth with one of his boys saying to him “have you given a portion of the meat as a gift to our Jewish neighbour”, he asked his boy twice and then said, I heard the messenger of Allah peace be upon him say “Angel Jibril has always promoted caring for the neighbours to the point where one might think that neighbours had a share in one’s inheritance”. His eminence thanked the audience for attending the Annual Iftar Dinner and wished all a blessed Ramadan and many returns.
This speech was followed by a video projection on the remarkable history of the ICPA in Australia and some of its outstanding achievements and establishments to date. This was followed by a speech by The Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (representing the Prime minister of Australia, The Hon Scott Morrison) presented the Prime Ministers Ramadan 2019 message to the audience and thanked the ICPA for its strong advocacy against the rise of anti-muslim sentiments and the need for Muslim community concerns to be heard, also highlighting that these calls have been enacted upon. Also speaking at the event, The Hon. Jason Clare MP (Federal Member Blaxland) was warmly applauded by attendees as he spoke about the importance of Ramadan not just for Australian Muslims but for all Australians alike, because it gives us a chance to learn about each other and enables all Australians to serve each other, be better as neighbours and helps us find that cure against hate. Representing the premier of NSW, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian and the Minister of Multiculturalism John Sidoti, Mr Melanie Gibbons also thanked Australian Muslims and particularly the ICPA for all it does in our community and emphasized the importance of us all coming together regardless of our backgrounds to build social cohesion, adding “no one does it better as seen in this room”.
The Hon. Penny Sharpe (MLC) wished all Muslims a holy Ramadan and thanked the ICPA for its ongoing initiatives and for providing communities with opportunities to learn more about each other. The Hon. Chris Hayes MP (Chief Opposition Whip) commended the extraordinary job that Darulfatwa and the ICPA have done over the past decades and particularly in promoting peace and harmony in our society and upholding our shared values of integrity, honesty and compassion. Ms Anne Stanley MP (Federal Member for Werriwa) expressed her appreciation for the ICPA Iftar and shared her vision with the audience on what makes us community and congratulated the great work that the ICPA does across the district including the newly formed spears sports club in her area of Werriwa. The closing speech was by Mr. Neville Tomkins OAM and Scouts Australia NSW Chief Commissioner, who spoke about the importance of scouts and the 111-year history of scouting Australia and its contributions in developing the younger people in our community.
This was followed by a video projection featuring some of the recent achievements of Darulfatwa – the Islamic High Council of Australia and its outstanding contributions and role in promoting world tolerance, moderation and peace in the region. The event concluded by the presentation of awards to some newly graduated teachers and Imams.