One of the lesser-known results of Australia's immigration policy is the surprising growth of the Muslim religion.
One of the lesser-known results of Australia's immigration policy is the surprising growth of the Muslim religion. There are now about a quarter of a million Muslims in Australia. The country's Federation of Islamic Councils sees the growing strength of Islam in Australia as part of a great resurgence now sweeping through the world's eight hundred million Muslims. But, until this year's revolution in Iran, most Australians had only a vague understanding of Islam. Even now, they know far more about Islam in Iran than they do about Islam in Australia.
SYNOPSIS: This Mosque has the traditional Islamic architecture redolent of the Middle East. But it's not in Egypt or Saudi Arabia -- it's in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba, an area once noted for its strong Scottish community. The Lakemba Mosque cost a quarter of a million dollars -- much of the money donated by the Saudi Arabian Royal Family.
There are twenty-five mosques serving well-organised Muslim communities throughout Australia. And the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils is determined that the religion will become an increasingly significant feature of Australian life. At the mosques, women worship separately from the men. In fact, they're not encouraged to attend ceremony there. But they are urged to follow the injunction of the religion's founder and prophet, Mohammed, to stay at home to pray Australia's Muslims consist of an astonishing diversity of racial groups. Some were born there, but most are migrants from Turkey, lebanon, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Albania, Syria, Cyprus, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
Children learning to recite the Koran in Arabic ... Muslims regard the Koran as Mohammed's revelation of God's world, receive through the Archangel Gabriel. The revelation occurred early in the seventh century A.D. The near-illiterate Mohammed dictated it to devoted scribes, who wrote is down on scraps of paper, bark and the shoulder blades of animals.
For Sunday picnickers at the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, the midday devotion of Muslims is now a familiar sight. At dawn, noon, in the afternoon, after sunset and at night Muslims must pray -- bowing and prostrating themselves as they face Mecca, the birthplace of Islam.
The road to Mecca has been followed by some 180 Australians who've been converted to Islam in recent years. Islam is claimed to be the fastest growing religion in the world and many Australian converts have adopted Arabic names. For young Muslims growing up in a Western society, there is an inevitable clash of cultures. Traditionally, good Muslims do not drink. The family unit is still very strong and marriage to non-believers is not allowed. to help preserve the faith among the young, Muslims have developed youth organisations to maintain accord with traditional beliefs.
After Ramadan -- a period of intense religious devotion -- Muslims have the chance to partake of more earthly things. The fast is one of the five pillars of Islam -- along with daily prayers; the pilgrimage to Mecca; the contribution of two and a half per cent of gross income to charity each year; and acknowledgement that "there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." Australia has emerged as an interesting and important Islamic centre, because Muslims from more than a dozen nationalities -- all with different customs -- have develop???a bond of unity through their common religion.