THE United Muslim Sisters of the Latrobe Valley Community Iftar Dinner went down a huge success.

With the Islamic holy month of Ramadan well underway the women at UMSLV held their annual dinner or (Iftar) in Islamic terms and welcomed the community to come join in on the joyous occasion and learn.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calender and has major significance in the religion.

During this month Muslims around the world will abstain from all indulgences like food and water from dawn until dusk.

Practice: Ramadan is the holy Islamic month where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Photograph supplied

Master of ceremonies Aleena Khan and Yuman Ahmad welcomed everyone to the Trafalgar Hall on Saturday, March 16.

The event began with a call to prayer or Adhan prounced uh-daan as most Iftar dinners would. Following the Adhan practicing Muslims broke their 14 hours fast and then prayers commenced.

Aiming to educate and celebrate the religious month, president of the UMSLV Arfa Sarfaraz invites the community to the UMSLV Iftar Dinner.

“I strongly believe that Ramdan Iftar has worked as catalyst in the region to share meals and understanding towards Muslim community. There is still lot to do,” she said.

There are still many misconceptions regarding Ramadan that Muslims address constantly.

Ms Sarfaraz said many people are shocked to hear that Muslims fast and are not permitted water during those hours.

“I have people come up to me and say ‘it must be difficult to live without water’ but people are really determined and strong,” she said.

“And we keep on reminding people that fasting is not obligatory on adult people who are ill, travelling, menstruating or experiencing postnatal bleeding, or excused from fasting due to a medical condition wherein fasting would cause harm, they are excused from fasting and they either make up the fast later in the year or feed the needy as a charitable expiation.”

Hooray: The Community Iftar Dinner was well attended by people from all walks of life. Photograph supplied

Charity plays a significant part in Islamic practice.

In the Five Pillars of Islam, first comes the profession of faith, second comes prayer, third comes Zakat (charity), fourth comes fasting and fifth is the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca.

As one of the pillars of the faith, Zakat requires all Muslims to donate a portion of their wealth to charity. Muslims must meet a certain threshold before they can qualify for zakat. The amount is 2.5 per cent or 1/40 of an individual’s total savings and wealth.

Sheikh Wahid gave an informative talk on Zakat and its obligatory nature in Islam and explained the difference between Sadqa (Donation) which is voluntary.

Donations were collected from attendees to go towards emergency relief in Palestine.

With the Gaza Strip experiencing a humanitarian crisis as a result of the conflict in the Middle East, Ms Sarfaraz said this Ramadan was a sombre affair knowing Palestinian Muslims are experiencing famine – essentially fasting without a choice.

As Ramadan continues, there is many ways that non-Muslims can help foster an inclusive environment for their Muslim friends, family, colleagues and associates.

“Gippsland can be more inclusive – workplaces need to know if they have Muslim workers who are fasting – accommodate their timings and don’t ask them for coffee and lunch during this month,” said Ms Sarfaraz.

“To increase the knowledge and understanding (of Ramadan) maybe invite (everyone) to have a chat with rest of the team to create inclusive workplaces,” she added.

The Community Iftar Dinner was well attended by local Muslims, friends, family and organisations.

GippSport Streetgames was in house keeping the young ones entertained while Gippsland Public Health Unit presented about their work with surveys to determine how GPHU could support community in the future.

Fun: GippSport was in attendance to keep the children entertained. Photograph supplied

Representatives from Latrobe Health Assembly chief executive officer, Ellen-Jane Brown, Centre for Multicultural Youth team leader Julia Rovery de Souza, Quantum’s Jill Janis Page, Federation University’s Jane Darling Sloyan were in attendance among many others.