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Time for fasting and fellowship

Cobram muslims take part in Ramadan

ROB HENSON July 21, 2014 3:25am

Holding fast: Mortadha Al Hashimi and Yassin Al Karawi at Cobram Mosque during a Ramadan service.


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Every night for 30 nights in a small hall behind Cobram’s industrial centre, about 20 worshippers of Islam come together for food, prayers and a spirit of goodwill.

Muslims in Cobram and across the world are entering their third week of Ramadan, a fundamental pillar of Islam which began on June 29 and means no food, water or other misdeeds for worshippers after dawn and before dusk for 30 days.

Sheik Yassin Al Karawi said the fasting made worshippers feel ‘‘clean inside’’ and provided mental strength.

‘‘Important thing for fasting is not how to avoid to eat, but how to control yourself,’’ he said.

‘‘Fasting is not to harm anyone, fasting is to manage yourself, to be clean inside, to see clearly and to do the right things ... your insides feel full of power.’’

Mr Al Karawi said there were more than 10 conditions of successful fasting, including no lies, no bad words, no sex or smoking.

‘‘And (not eating is) to think about the poor people, how they live and how they struggle with hunger.’’

Mr Al Karawi said Ramadan was an easier task in the short days of Australia’s winter, rather than the summer of the Middle East, where many of the region’s Muslims hail from.

‘‘Middle East is in the summer season, so it’s very hard there, the light comes to the day there at 4am, the sunset is 7.30pm — it’s a 17 hour day.’’

While most Muslims have taken the annual fast since their early teens, Mr Al Karawi said non-Muslims were usually tolerant of the fasting period.

Every night at Cobram Mosque in Markey St there is a two-hour program of food, sermon and readings from the Koran.

The readings follow the story of Ramadan — 30 chapters for the 30 days.

Mr Al Karawi said during the month it was customary to share in meals, inviting friends and family and those less fortunate for fellowship.

‘‘Mainly we invite the people who don’t have the family here, because it’s hard for them to prepare the food,’’ he said.

‘‘A principle of Ramadan is if you invite anyone for food, you will have a high degree of respect.’’

Ramadan finishes around July 28, depending on the moon phase which dictates the Islamic calendar.

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