Islam in Sydney is often presented as the religion with political baggage. But I’d rather talk about Islam as the religion that comes with a delicious platter of food and tea … even if there are other benefits. Now, where was I? Whenever Islam is brought up in the news, it’s rarely about a wedding, or a festival, or peace, or charity. It’s oppression, or rape, or violence, or protest or EVIL.
There are a lot of muslims in Sydney. Most of them are probably quite jolly. Muslims in Australia come from over 60 nationalities and ethnicities. Basically, some know when it is tabouli time, some prefer tajines.
There are a lot of Mosques in Sydney; there’s one in Surry Hills where a lot of taxi drivers go before/after work; there’s the Sunni Lakemba Mosque, there’s the Shi’a Al-Zahra Mosque in Arncliffe. They all celebrate different interpretations and rituals … and there are many more. There are lots of falafel shops … and I prefer some interpretations of a falafel roll to others.
There are Musallahs (prayer halls) in Chatswood, Kensington, even in Wynyard, where you have to ask for the key from a convenience store.
There are muslim leaders such as Taj El-din Hamid Al-Hilaly, who condemns the rights of homosexuals in Australia, who thinks that the Jews are the cause of all wars and that if women get raped, it’s usually their fault for underdressing. But there are also muslim leaders like Sheik Isse Musse, who named his Mosque in Melbourne ‘the Virgin Mary Mosque’ in order to highlight similarities between the Abrahamic religions and how women are sacred in Islam too (for a great article RE Islam in Australia & Sheik Isse, see here).
There are terrorists and peacemakers. There is good and bad in muslims, like there is good and bad in Christians, Buddhists, atheists, etc. Everyone wants you to believe what they believe. Can we stop talking about Islam as if it’s the only political religion? I’d rather talk about ramadan recipes.
And please, let’s not get political about Baklava.