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Marquee mushalla

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A humble marquee at Curtin University is hosting Perth’s largest nightly gathering of fast breakers during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

In 2011, Ramadan runs from sunset July 31 to sunset August 30.

Islamic Chaplain Yahya Ibrahim expects 400 to 500 people will descend on the marquee beside the University’s demountable mushalla every evening from sunset.

Curtin's Islamic Chaplain Yahya Ibrahim.

“It’s a joyful occasion and it’s good food,” Mr Ibrahim told Curtin News.

In preparation for Ramadan, a larger marquee has been added to the smaller one and mushalla that cater for Islamic students throughout the year.

“The bigger marquee has been erected for the extended prayers in the evening where the entire Koran is recited from beginning to end over 30 nights,” Mr Ibrahim explained.

“The prayer leader, or Iman, will recite about 20 pages a night from memory and lead the students in prayer.

“So on top of their studies, the students will dedicate about an hour and 20 minutes each and every night, after their food and a little bit of comfort, to listening to the Koran in its entirety.”

The Curtin Muslim Students Association estimates 3500 Islamic students attend the University, and Mr Ibrahim said many people in the wider community had volunteered to cook.

“All of the food is generously donated by the wider community and feeding 500 people takes considerable finance and logistics,” he said.

“Arabic, Indonesian, and Bosnian families contribute food, so it’s quite a multicultural experience.”

Mr Ibrahim said one aspect of Ramadan was to raise awareness of the plight of other people.

“When Ramadan comes and you feel that twinge of hunger, you focus on other people’s needs rather than just your wants,” he said.

“Ramadan is simply to reassess our wants in comparison to the needs of others – and to forego some of the luxuries that we have in order to help others.

“For instance, you find a lot of people will donate money to charities and to feed the students on campus.”

Mr Ibrahim said Ramadan also promoted self-control.

“You’ll find that with a lot of students whose studies are a little bit lagging it is an opportunity to refocus,” he said.

“Because they have more free time with fasting, and not as much ‘coffee time’, they become much, much more productive.

“Students who smoke are not allowed to smoke during the day, so it’s a detox for them.”

Mr Ibrahim said that non-Muslims would usually be oblivious to the fact an Islamic person was not eating or drinking from sunrise to sundown.

“A student could walk right by you, and you wouldn’t know they were fasting,” he said.

“Part of fasting is that you’re not to limit your normal day-to-day activity simply because you’re abstaining from food or drink.”

However, final-year Engineering student, and Curtin Muslim Students Association member, Muzzammil Tarin said the start of Ramadan did have its challenges.

“The first few days when you start fasting, you really feel it but you soon get used to it and it’s back to routine,” he said.

Mr Tarin encouraged Muslims and non-Muslims alike to attend the nightly fast break.

“Because of the diverse background of Curtin itself, we do get a multicultural turnout during the fast,” he said.

“You see people from all different backgrounds and all different faculties.

“Some people just drop in to ask: ‘what’s happening here?”

The Mushalla is located at the south of Curtin’s Bentley campus in Building 541.

Photography: Sam Proctor


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  1. Yahya Ibrahim says:

    Greetings All,

    Our wonderfully diverse community at Curtin University continues to achieve success in an equally diverse range of student services and educational outcomes.

    A great part of that success can be attributed to the supportive staff at the University and the accessibility of senior administrators.

    The Islamic community at Curtin appreciates the hard work and professionalism of all of our staff on campus. Special mention must be made of Dr. Sven Ostring – Multi Faith Officer and Dr. Sean Murray the Head of Counselling Services.

    Please feel free to drop in for a great meal and friendly company.

    Yahya Ibrahim

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