of Islam as a religion like Christianity and Jeudaism. This will open way to schooling, places of worship, and familial relations according to Islamic religion like marriage , divorce, and heritage .
Cleric calls on Muslim community to unite
October 24, 2006
A PROMINENT Islamic leader has urged his community to immediately overcome the sectarian and political differences that have left it heavily divided, warning that failing to do so will diminish the chances of Muslims fully integrating into the Australian mainstream.
Sydney-based cleric Khalil Shami told 500 people at NSW University yesterday that the Muslim community would only earn the full support of wider Australia if it could prove its ability to overcome internal divisions. His message marked the end of Islam's holiest month, Ramadan, and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr celebrations.
Sheik Shami told The Australian yesterday: "We're not going to go anywhere unless we are united and we (stop) looking for differences between you and me.
"We have to prove that we are united and they (the mainstream community) will respect us."
He said the Muslim community needed to take more initiative in integrating itself into all areas of Australian life, including politics and economics.
But Sheik Shami also reassured his university audience that integration did not mean forgoing culture and tradition.
"We are here to rise and to grow and to raise our children according to the law of the land without losing ourselves," said the father of six, who is one of the imams at Penshurst Mosque in Sydney's southwest.
For most of Australia's 300,000 Muslims, Eid al-Fitr was a chance to celebrate with their families and friends the end of a month-long fast and an inner spiritual journey of prayer and forgiveness.
But that celebration would not have been complete without the traditional feast of sweets and culinary delights, said 21-year-old law student Zouhour el-Ghoul.
"You put in so much effort and you draw nearer to Allah spiritually (during Ramadan)" she said. "So when Eid al-Fitr comes along, it's like Allah rewarding you for putting in that effort."
Ms Ghoul yesterday celebrated with her four siblings and her Lebanese-born parents at their Auburn home in Sydney's west, where her relatives arrived throughout the day to exchange presents and good wishes.
She said Eid al-Fitr also played a significant role in children's lives - a bit like Christmas. Kids often equated the celebration with plenty of gifts and pocket money, she said.
Muslim youth leader Fadi Rahman said the celebration was also a chance for community members to be thankful for what they have and remember those less fortunate.
"It's a chance to reflect on certain things - about how fortunate we are and how much less fortunate those who are living in third world countries are," he said.