On Wednesday, the 12th of April 2023, MWA hosted their Reflect and Connect Youth Iftar at our Lakemba office. The ‘Reflect and Connect’ theme aimed to create purposeful connections through strengthening our faith and preparing for the last 10 days of Ramadan within a gathering. The Youth Iftar catered to a demographic of 16 and over, allowing for the young women in attendance to have the opportunity to connect with each other and reflect on their progress this Ramadan.
Reaping the rewards of the Blessed Month, the MYAC (MWA Youth Advisory Committee) girls volunteered their time to work together with purpose to put together Eid dessert packages before the iftar convened. These packages were to be distributed to the Linking Hearts clients that MWA supports and houses the next day to share the spirit in these blessed nights of Ramadan. They then volunteered their efforts to help the MWA team set up for the Iftar, decorating the tables with candles, fairy lights and Ramadan decorations to truly create an atmosphere of tranquillity and peace.
Over 40 young women, as well as MWA staff and volunteers, attended the purposeful Iftar with the event commencing at 5pm. Utilising the time before the Maghrib Adhan, guests were provided with a beautiful introduction to the program and an overview of the night ahead. Following this, the importance of making dhikr (remembrance) constantly throughout the day to earn additional rewards was explained, and then the audience engaged in the practice if dhikr to reap the rewards within the last 10 nights of Ramadan. This continued until Iftar, and the call to Maghrib prayer played from the radio throughout the space, proceeding to the women who then broke their fast. This was a beautiful display of sisterhood as each sister checked in on her fellow sister and congratulated each other on fasting another day.
The sisters were then lead in a congregational prayer for Maghrib by a hafithah (one who has memorised the Quran) and passionate teacher of the Holy Quran. This further united the ukhuwwa (sisterhood) as they all stood together, side by side, taking part in prayer. After this, the women were directed to an open buffet filled with a range of different soups, salads, chicken, rice and mini pizzas for people to enjoy.
As the sisters enjoyed their food and filled their hearts, they enjoyed discussions with the women around them. The end of feasting brought the time for Isha prayer, leading to the sisters sitting in silence as they reflected on the words of the Adhan being called. Hajjah Maha Abdo, CEO of MWA, then presented an insightful talk surrounding Ramadan: Transformational or Transactional. The talk delved into the transformational nature of Ramadan on a believer and to value the mercy between sisters to foster a true sisterhood.
The second talk of the night was presented by sister Rima who delved into Connecting to the Quran: Virtues of Having a Relationship with the Quran. This talk was much needed, reminding us of the importance of the Quran in our daily lives. She urged the audience to pause and reflect on the many verses that she recited, providing an example of the weight of the words being recited and that it is never too late to develop a relationship with the Quran. This was a reminder which the sisters appreciated, particularly in the remaining 10 days of Ramadan. As guest speakers provided their speech, attendees were invited to the dessert buffet as they listened in to the talks and reflected. The sisters also had the opportunity to receive henna drawn on their hands throughout the night.
Following this talk, the sisters were invited to pray Isha and Taraweeh in congregation, led by another hafithah of the Quran, sister Suendos, the lead singer of the Anasheed group, Noor Al Iman. All the sisters participated in praying 8 rakaat (units) of Taraweeh as they all stood together to complete this special Sunnah prayer offered during the Holy Month. Suendos’ beautiful voice added to the serenity of the night made it easier for the sisters to stand in the elongated prayer. At the conclusion of Taraweeh, Suendos offered three Nasheeds which captured the hearts of the sisters in attendance.
The final talk of the night was presented by sister Nadine, a forensic scientist, and student of knowledge. Her focus was on the theme of the night, Reflecting to Connect – Making the Most of the Last 10 Nights for a Better You After Ramadan. Nadine drew our attention to our intentions throughout Ramadan and urged us to reconsider our priorities. She highlighted the importance of not making your career the highlight of your life in this dunya (world). Her insights were extremely powerful for the older audience and the younger girls who were still in school with growing aspirations.
Upon conclusion of the program, each sister was presented with a candle and a ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ cookie as a thank you gift for attending the iftar. All food remaining after the program were neatly packaged in containers which would be distributed to Linking Hearts clients across the refuges the next day, an act in which MWA tries to minimise waste and improve their sustainability to ensure we can continue to be caretakers of this earth.