Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

 

IN the name of Allah, the Most Gracious the Most Merciful

 

I thank Allah for bringing us together on this auspicious evening and pray to Him to bless His messengers and every person who has made the effort to be with us tonight.

 

Thank you Mr. Chairman, Good evening honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen…

 

What’s so unique about being Aussie? Is it because our footy players tackle without padding? Is it because the way we speak seems to end with a high pitch at the end of each sentence? Is It because we live on an island so far away that we’re known as the people from the land down under? Is it because we have the aussified words mate, crickey, sheila or fair dinkum that all somehow have no latin derivation hence they’re really not English words? If you listen to some on talk back radio, they seem not to have a clue that being an Aussie means that you are a significant individual in this multicultural society, and that your individuality is another beautiful shade of colour on a palette of a million colours, on the most beautiful mosaic that only God can bring together.

 

My name is Amina Elshafei and I am currently a nursing student at Sydney University. I am 20 and live with my parents, my father is Egyptian, my mother is Korean and I proclaim myself to be Aussie, even though I was not born in any of the countries mentioned, I love being Australian, living in Sydney, is truly an experience as a Muslim female. I live in the inner west, next door in Croydon Park, in a cul de sac of 84 houses of which we are the only Muslim family. The street is generally made up of Australian families and a handful mix of Italians, Chinese and Indians, all of whom proudly say: we are Australian. When we moved in 12 years ago, we were unique, because we were the second family of immigrants, our neighbours thought we were fascinating. Most of our neighbours are of the Christian faith and many are religious churchgoers who never miss mass. We love our neighbours, they always seem to have a minute to talk and see how the family is doing. They always reciprocate with the warmest treatment and smiles whenever we see them. You might think that this is a small social aspect of life, it isn’t. Your relation with your neighbours in many cases, is the foremost relationship that you will have. Regardless of any differences in faiths, we are taught to respect our neighbours, to look out for their comfort and wellbeing and enjoy the company of our neighbours and invite them over for a cuppa or a barbie, or just a friendly chat.

 

Something very important brings us together tonight, it is our human sense of friendship, our human sense of wanting to know our neighbour and the things that are important to this neighbour.

 

The two great faiths, Islam and Christianity acknowledge the importance of good neighbourly relations along with the human thirst for knowledge and comprehension including the desire to fulfil our spiritual needs. Faith seems like a perfect roadmap that clearly illustrates the direction for any person who wishes to benefit from it, there are many paths in life, some long, some short, but without a well drawn out map, one may be lost and never arrive at their desired destination, to me, the divine faiths, the books of God provide me with the perfect roadmap.  Islam, the way of peace does not leave me guessing about any of life’s important issues, the Qur`an and the traditions of prophet Muhammad peace and blessings upon him have given me clear direction for every aspect of life, including the best form of dress, good relations with parents and neighbours, friends and colleagues, how to be a good citizen in my chosen society and the best means of fulfilling my spiritual, intellectual and physical needs. 

 

The scarf you wear, the cross around your neck, the beard you grow, the rosaries you carry, the head cap you wear, the clergy robes that give you status, the prayers you attend, the mass you gather for are only manifestations of our devotion to, the same, God in our different ways, these diverse manifestations indicate to each of us how united we are in our love for God, even though each of us may express this love differently.  God has blessed us in this great nation of Australia to be able to project our spiritual identity and manifest our love for God, this is one of the greatest blessings of being Australian, this has become part of our national identity, an identity that we must protect in order that our children can also appreciate and celebrate their own spirituality also.  People search and search for spiritual fulfilment, is it not only natural for those who find it to share this treasure with other seekers?  I share my treasure by reflecting it in my dress, my mannerism and my general behaviour, well, I try at least, to the best of my ability.  Going back to my palette and my mosaic, how dull would they be if they were one shape or one colour or one form or one shade?  But how beautiful are they when they are so diverse, but still manage to fit together to form a masterpiece.  This is what we resemble. We are the shades from primary colours, the primary colours are our ethnic backgrounds and our faiths the palette is our society that we live in, it is the best country on earth, it is Australia.  We integrate into society, just like each piece of the mosaic is part of the whole, but we remain individuals with a belonging just like each piece of the mosaic is unique in its shape, size and colour, our beauty is in our harmony, but divided, we would amount to nought.

 

As a Muslim female, it makes me wonder what life would be like if it was utopia, in the sense that there would be no racism, religious intolerance or misogyny on a worldwide scale. For us women, I believe that these injustices give us more of a reason to gain a higher level of spiritual fulfilment in different measures. Women have and always will be the backbone of every society. Women have provided education throughout the ages, maternal nurturing and protection, guidance, companionship, compassion and overall justice.

 

I would like to share with you a reflection of the great scientist Albert Einstein, ‘true religion is real living; living with all one’s soul with all one’s goodness and righteousness’.

 

Before I leave you tonight, I would like to share with you a teaching of prophet Muhammad peace and blessings upon him, he said to his Muslim community:  “None of you is a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

 

God bless you all