Legislative Council: Thursday, March 21, 2024



Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. M. El Dannawi:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges that Ramadan, the Islamic Holy Month, begins on 10 March 2024 or as nominated by the sighting of the crescent moon;

2. Notes that Ramadan is a month of fasting from sunrise through to sunset and a month of spiritual reflection, forgiveness and compassion; and

3. Conveys its good wishes to the South Australian Muslim community on the advent of this blessed month.

(Continued from 7 March 2024.)

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:33): It gives me great pleasure to speak in support of this motion, and I again thank the Hon. Mira El Dannawi for bringing this matter to the attention of the council. This motion reads that we acknowledge as a council Ramadan, the Islamic Holy Month, which begins on 10 March 2024 or as nominated by the sighting of the crescent moon; note that Ramadan is a month of fasting from sunrise through to sunset and a month of spiritual reflection, forgiveness and compassion; and convey our good wishes, as a council of the Parliament of South Australia, to the South Australian Muslim community on the advent of this blessed month.

Ramadan is an incredibly important time for the Muslim community in which fasting occurs each day within a month from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is an excellent example of spiritual reflection and commitment. Ramadan is not only about the act of fasting and that of reflection but also about joining together as a community to express compassion, service of community and forgiveness. Ramadan is about thinking of the whole of the community and about family and friends, and not just oneself. These are values that bring our whole state together and are important to all of us of so many backgrounds.

On every day in the month of Ramadan, there is a predawn meal known as Suhoor and Sehri, and a nightly feast to break the day's fast known as Iftar. I have enjoyed Iftar meals, not recently I must say—I missed last week's one—but they are a wonderful celebration. These meals are often communal, providing families, friends and at times the broader community a fantastic opportunity to come together, and this provides a sense of love, hope and solidarity.

There are many valuable community events, some of which are being held by the Islamic Society of South Australia, and these include Isha and Taraweeh prayers, Ramadan talks, meals and support for the most vulnerable in the Muslim community. Other places include mosques and community centres also providing space for the Muslim community to gather together to pray, to reflect and to share in life's joys.

Our state and nation are diverse and this diversity does make us stronger. The Muslim community contributes so incredibly to all areas of our state and in particular to our state's cultural and religious diversity. The Greens are proud to stand with the Muslim community. Sometimes the world can feel lonely and disheartening for many; however, there is much to be hopeful about, particularly during Ramadan and other religious and cultural events. The power of people to come together in a spirit of unity can be seen and can be felt, and the power of the community is on display.

It does give me great pleasure to wish South Australia's Muslim community best wishes for this blessed holy month, and I once again acknowledge the Hon. Mira El Dannawi for her motion, acknowledge the Greens' support for the motion and commend it to the chamber.

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (17:36): I rise today on behalf of the Liberal Party to support the honourable member's motion to acknowledge the holy month of Ramadan and also convey our best wishes to members and families of the Muslim community of South Australia during Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak to our Muslim community and to the Hon. Mira El Dannawi and her family.

I wish to take this opportunity to also thank the honourable member for her Ramadan greeting card that she dropped off to my office and congratulate her for being the first Muslim member of the South Australian parliament when she successfully filled the vacancy and replaced the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos in this place.

As a first-generation migrant myself who has been elected to this parliament, I am pleased to see another female member of parliament in the Legislative Council who is also from a culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse background.

I believe I am the first member of the South Australian parliament who is of the Buddhist faith to be elected. It is very heartening to see the level of collegial approach and acceptance by the people of South Australia and by this parliament to embrace cultural diversity, different backgrounds, professional experience and skill sets that reflect the demographics of our South Australian community.

The mover of this motion has shared her personal stories and experience about the importance of Ramadan as a month of spiritual reflection, forgiveness and compassion. Ramadan observation is very familiar to me because in my birth country of Malaysia, Islam is declared as an official religion. The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia reported that there were more than 6,800 mosques in Malaysia at April 2023.

On the topic of mosques, I am sure honourable members may be interested to know that the Adelaide Mosque on Little Gilbert Street, Adelaide, is the oldest surviving mosque in Australia and the first to be built in an Australian city. Constructed in 1888-89 it was designed to meet the spiritual needs of Muslim cameleers and traders coming in from work in South Australia's northern regions and outback. This demonstrates the rich history of Islam in South Australia.

South Australia's 2021 Census data revealed that 2.3 per cent of our population are of the Islamic faith. Approximately 40,000 respondents identified themselves to be Muslim. The major country of birth of Australian Muslims are Lebanon, Turkiye, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Bangladesh, Iran, Fiji and Malaysia.

I want to thank all community organisations, mosques, community centres and language schools across South Australia that are hosting prayer sessions, Iftar dinners and charitable activities for Muslim communities to strengthen their faith and foster ties and relationships with their families and with each other in the community.

Over the years, I have had the privilege to join generous and hardworking Muslim communities at many Ramadan events, including Iftar dinners during the holy month of Ramadan. Recently, I was honoured to be invited to participate in the Interfaith Symposium and Iftar dinner hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at the Mahmood Mosque in Beverley.

I express my special thanks to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association for hosting the Interfaith Symposium and Iftar dinner. The purpose of the interfaith event was to bring together religious leaders from the Muslim community, as well as from other multifaith backgrounds—Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc.—to talk about the concept, custom and commonalities of fasting in their faith. It was great to see the Hon. Mira El Dannawi also attended the Iftar dinner at Mahmood Mosque.

As we have been reminded, Ramadan is the holy month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and compassion. Ramadan creates a social and humanitarian context that fosters compassion for the needy around the world. I join the mover of this motion to send our thoughts and prayers to Muslim communities across the world that are being persecuted, abused and murdered, who are enduring pain and suffering, and those who are living in poverty and crisis.

I am sure all of us would like to see or hope for a better, more harmonious and more peaceful world. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and Ramadan is a time to remember those who are less fortunate and to show compassion to those in need. I would like to thank all individuals, community leaders and organisations who have made, and are making, generous donations to support many charities through their personal donations and fundraising activities.

Once again, I thank the honourable member for bringing this motion to the chamber. I join her to convey our best wishes to the Muslim community of South Australia and thank them for their contribution. Ramadan Mubarak.

The Hon. M. EL DANNAWI (17:42): I would like to thank the honourable members for their contributions today. I am grateful and humbled to be the first Muslim member of parliament observing the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is about more than just fasting. It is about the spirit of shared responsibility, compassion, solidarity and humanity. Today, these values are more important than ever in our world. I echo all the members' wishes to the South Australian Muslim community for a peaceful and blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak. I commend the motion to the chamber.

Motion passed.

At 17:43 the council adjourned until Tuesday 9 April 2024 at 14:15.