SHAFAQNA – As the sun set over Canberra on Saturday night, Civic Square filled with the smell of food prepared for the city’s Muslims to break their fast.
Among the capital’s Islamic faithful were members of other religions, invited to join in the post-dusk iftar meal Muslims eat every evening during Ramadan.
Muslims are required to fast between sunrise and sunset during the month of Ramadan, which this year began on May 27 and will end on June 24.
The special breaking of the fast on Saturday night was designed as a way for the wider public to meet the Islamic community and share the important religious event.
Representatives from Canberra churches, as well as Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris and Opposition Leader Alistair Coe were guests of honour at the event.
Diplomats from countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Morocco and Indonesia also attended.
Grapes and dates were laid out on long tables at the centre of Civic Square while surrounding stalls gave participants the chance to taste food from a range of different Muslim-majority countries.
Canberra Islamic Centre imam Adama Konda explained the importance of fasting to Muslims during Ramadan.
“Fasting is something we have been told to do so we can prove we are part of the good family,” he said.
“The family from which Muhammad came, from which the prophet Jesus came, from which the prophet Moses came. When we have righteous people we have a righteous world.”
Fasting was required of all Muslims except for the very young, the sick and pregnant women, in order to achieve spiritual, physical and social improvement through the practice of self-restraint.
Phil and Bec Ebbott from Holt moved to Canberra from Merrylands six months ago, where they spent a lot of time with the Islamic community.
They saw the event advertised and decided to take part in order to celebrate Canberra’s diversity.
“I think it’s important that the multicultural nature of Australia is embraced, and Ramadan is an important date in the Islamic calendar,” Mr Ebbott said.
“We’ve been invited to come and I think it’s important that inclusiveness comes from both sides of the street.”