A message from the Associate Vice-Chancellor (Victoria), Dr John Ballard:
On 7 June ACU co-hosted the IFTAR dinner in conjunction with the Australian Intercultural Society (AIS). This is a joint initiative of our Faculty of Theology and Philosophy and the AIS who funded the Gulen Chair in the Study of Islam and Muslim-Catholic Dialogue at the St. Patrick’s Campus. The Chair provides academic leadership in the research of Islam and Muslim-Catholic relations and aims at promoting multiculturalism and fostering intercultural and interfaith dialogue.
In the holy month of Ramadam, Islamic communities come together at the setting of the sun to break their daily fast. We were privileged to be the venue and participate in this coming together with people of different faiths, diplomatic and civic leaders, gathered at the St. Patrick’s Campus.
The evening began with a recitation from the Qur’an, Grace and call to prayer. The acknowledgement of Country was followed by a reflection on Indigenous spirituality and connection to land, eloquently expressed by Professor James Bowler in the context of the discovery of Mungo Man and the significance of the return of the remains to his traditional lands. Our guest speakers for the evening were Professor Jose Casanova, ACU Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry and Professor Fethi Mansouri, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, expertly moderated by Ms Alex Fein, community activist, writer and businesswoman. The evening concluded with Ms Dilara Ilhan, a year twelve student, presenting her poignant poem regarding the recent death of her fellow student, killed in a terrorist bombing.
This is our third IFTAR dinner at St. Patrick’s Campus and the sense of harmony and community is palpable. The feedback received to date has been overwhelmingly positive and I particularly wish to acknowledge Fatih Erol Tuncer from the Faculty, without whom this dinner would not be possible.