CAIRO - Seizing on the holy fasting month of Ramadan, an Australian charity is championing food tours as a way to promote a better understanding of Islam and Islamic culture, Australia's Daily Telegraph reported.
"Food is a very important part of Ramadan, Cathy Quinn, manager of The Benevolent Society's Taste Food Tours, said.
Every night is a big celebration with festive traditional dishes that are popularly eaten and prepared during the month of Ramadan, such as lentil soups, lentil and meat curry, special rice and meat dishes and desserts."
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The charity has launched food tours during the holy fasting month of Ramadan as a way to create a better understanding of Islam.
The tours, titled feasting after fasting, aim to lure people on the dinner table to talk about Islam and different cultures.
"We really believe food is the great connector and Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to demystify Islam a little bit for the people of Sydney by giving them a chance to experience some of the food and traditions accompanied by a local guide," said Quinn.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
During Ramadan, Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.
The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.
Established in 1813, The Benevolent Society is Australia's first charity, which aims to help people overcome barriers preventing them from participating fully in society.
It delivers 145 services from dozens locations across Australia.
The Ramadan food tours are the latest in efforts to break barriers between people of different backgrounds in Australia.
"What's unique about Ramadan is that, because people fast during the day, when night falls, whole families and communities come together to eat and celebrate," Quinn said.
"All the restaurants are open late and often until just before the break of dawn to cater to the early morning meal after which no food or water is taken throughout the day, she said.
There is a real festival spirit in the air."
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
In post 9/11-era, Australian Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net