Reflect and Connect 2024: Women’s Iftar and Night of Remembrance

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On Thursday, 21st March 2024, MWA hosted their annual Reflect and Connect Iftar and Night of Remembrance at our Lakemba office. Recognising that this is not the year for elaborate iftar dinners, we at MWA made a conscious decision to keep the evening a simple gathering with minimal decorations and simple food, to refocus on the purpose of Ramadan in light of the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

The ‘Reflect and Connect’ theme focused on how we have started Ramadan, keeping motivated for the rest of the blessed month and receiving the gift of the blessed month in the most honourable way. The Iftar catered to a large group of attendees 16 and over, this was to provide women with the opportunity to connect and reflect with each other on their Ramadan journey and experiences.

The MYAC (MWA Youth Advisory Committee) members gained the rewards of Ramadan volunteering their time to help prepare for the Iftar. They volunteered their efforts helping the MWA set up for the Iftar, decorating the outdoor space with Ramadan decorations and showing a clear stance of support with the people of Palestine through a display of olive trees, olive oil and the colours of the Palestinian flag.

It was a sold out Iftar with over 50 women, as well as the MWA team in attendance. The event commenced at 6:30pm to utilise the time before Maghrib Adhan in remembrance of Allah SWT. Each table had copies of Al-Ratib Al-Shahir which is a collection of verses from the Quran and various duas (supplications) and Wird Al-Latif which is a compilation of Quranic verses and remembrances upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Everyone participated in the recitation of the awraad (litanies), engaging in a spiritual recharge for the heart and soul, up until Maghrib Adhan where each sister broke their fast with dates and water.

The women then prepared for Maghrib prayer, lining up together side by side to pray in congregation. After the prayer, the women enjoyed meaningful discussions with each other, and ate together from a simple meal, being mindful to be grateful for every morsel of food we have been blessed with. At the end of Iftar, Hajjeh Maha Abdo, CEO of MWA, then gave an insightful talk about focusing of the gift Ramadan and talked about what we can do as Muslims to aid those suffering in Palestine. Following the words of Hajjeh Maha was the Adhan for Ishaa as the sisters lined up and prepared to pray Ishaa and Taraweeh. The prayer was enjoyed by all women together, recognising the ease that comes with performing acts of worship amongst a group of likeminded people.

After Ishaa and Taraweeh, the women gathered for discussion and reflecting on their current Ramadan experience. The sisters discussed why they valued Ramadan, reaching their goals for the blessed month, what they have found easy and what they have found challenging throughout the month so far. Discussions were facilitated via a shared online platform for all women in attendance to share their perspective with others, and reflect on how to strengthen their connection with their faith to prepare for the second half of Ramadan.

The program concluded with a dua by Hajjeh Maha and a reflection of the suffering in Palestine. The sisters sat in silence and individually made dua to allow them to gain the most rewards and benefit for the remaining of Ramadan. All the remaining food from the Iftar were packaged in containers by the MWA team to be distributed to the Linking Hearts clients over the next day.

This was a much-needed evening of inspiring talks, reflection, prayer and connection, with each attendee receiving a gift of a small bottle of olive oil, signifying that amidst the ongoing challenges in Palestine, we still hold onto hope, strength and light, symbolising resilience, sustenance, and the enduring hope for and justice and liberation.

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