Interfaith Program on Indigenous Culture and Islam

19 May 2016

Interfaith Dialogue at Al Siraat: What an amazing day and unforgettable experience to have for our younger generation:

Al Siraat College commenced an ambitious partnership with St Monica’s College last year, interacting through an interfaith program for the first time. The results had such a positive impact on the students and staff involved that it was decided to widen the circle this year and include another school into this wonderful mix. Thomastown Secondary College enthusiastically accepted to join the interfaith program.

The aims of this program are to:

  • help build a better understanding of other faiths and cultures

  • help break down typical stereotypes

  • promote good relationships not only within the College grounds but also outside in the wider community.

A select group of students from Year 9, eager to positively represent Islam to the wider community, has once again been involved in this interfaith program. It aligns with one of our strategic directions - Our Identity as being an Australian School in the Islamic Tradition. This is aimed at promoting and implementing the understanding that there is no conflict between being an Australian and a practising Muslim at the same time. Al Siraat College is dedicated to a holistic education, where we are focused on the transformation of individuals so that they can be good people and functional members of this society.

The interfaith theme for Term 1 was "Learning essential skills for interfaith dialogues". St. Monica's College took the lead and conducted this program, with our College and Thomastown Secondary College attending.

This term's theme was "Indigenous Culture and Islam" and was planned and carried out by Al Siraat College on our school grounds on Tuesday, 17th May 2016. Al Siraat invited Wurundjeri elder Ian Hunter who conducted the Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony in front of the participants. It was truly astonishing to partake in and witness.

In their roles as interfaith ambassadors, all 33 students from the three participating schools learnt about indigenous culture as well as various perspectives the different religions hold of Aboriginal people. The students had an opportunity to talk to the representatives from varied faith communities, including some whom they had never met or talked to before.

We had many incredible individuals and organisations participating in the interfaith program at Al Siraat, including:

Wurundjeri Willum tribe - Ian Hunter

Whittlesea Council – Mayor Stevan Kozmevski, Donna Wright, Peter Ajak and Jasmine Ouaida

Victoria Police - Albert Fatileh and Ansam Sadik

Jewish community – Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black (Leo Baeck Centre for Progressive Judaism) and Avraham Schwarz (Catalyst Enterprises)

Sikh community – Satinder Chawla and members

Buddhist community – Venerable Tinh Dao at the Chua Linh Son Buddhist Temple, Reservoir

Baha'i Community - Chris Kavelin

Church of Scientology – Maria Meilak and Jan Lester

Ramon Helps Inc. (Not for profit organisation) – Mohit

JCMA (Jewish Christian Muslim Association) - Tanya Kubitza and Abe Schwarz

Islamic Relief Australia - Raiyan Ouaida and Zahraa Abdelzaher

YMCA – Rebecca Ewer

In summary, the involvement in this interfaith project is aimed at empowering our students to be able to articulate a shared understanding of what it is to be an Australian Muslim. InShaAllah/God willing, this will pave the way for many more opportunities for all of us to work towards developing an inclusive school culture, reinforcing our College values of care, consideration, and respect for self and others.

A big congratulations and heartfelt thanks to all the participants to support such an important initiative. Well done to our Interfaith Ambassadors!!!