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Give Gazans a chance against coronavirus Mohamed Ainullah

The Israeli government is being called on to lift the blockade of Gaza in order for its residents to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) has started an email campaign for Australians to write to the foreign minister to exert pressure on Israel to bring to an end its repression of the Palestinians. “As the Australian Government prides itself on its close relationship with Israel, the Foreign Minister must use this to call on Israel to take its responsibilities seriously and immediately lift the blockade of Gaza.” “These are frightening times for everyone. While everyone is struggling to deal with this crisis, the people in Gaza are especially vulnerable.” “How horrific must it be to face coronavirus in Gaza, without enough water, soap, medications, respirators or even food?” The first two cases of COVID-19 were first diagnosed on Sunday 22 March where Israel had only allowed in five hundred tests for a population of 1.8 million people. Bernie Sanders, US Jewish presi-

dential candidate has called on President Trump to send medical relief to Gaza amid coronavirus pandemic. “Palestinians in Gaza already faced hardship under a blockade. Now they’re dealing with the coronavirus. My Senate colleagues and I call on Trump to send US medical relief and the Israeli government must also lift its restrictions on humanitarian aid,” he said. Decades of Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories and 13 years of suffocating blockade of Gaza that included a couple of military invasions and regular bombings have rendered the basic civilian infrastructure and essential services inadequate even in “normal” times, now poses a threat to human life. It is chronically short of medicines and equipment. Its water is not safe to drink while Gaza’s homes, offices and hospitals receive an average of four to six hours of electricity per day. As the occupying power in Gaza as well as the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel is responsible for ensuring all people have what they need to survive. Gazans must be given a chance to fight COVID-19. Learn more: apan.good.do/Gaza/lift_blockade

Christchurch attack survivor spreads message of forgiveness in Sydney Zia Ahmad Mr Farid Ahmed, survivor of the Christchurch mosque shootings last year, whose wife Husna Ahmed was one of the 51 victims who were killed, visited Sydney on Wednesday 11 March 2020, invited by PM Scot Morrison. Farid, who made headlines by becoming the symbol of forgiveness, also gave an exclusive interview to AMUST reflecting on his feelings one year on after the incident. A national remembrance service marking one year was to take place in Christchurch’s North Hagley Park on Sunday 15 March that had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The Christchurch City Council and the local Muslim community, the government and Ngāi Tūāhuriri as mana whenua were to remember and honour the 51 people who died in the attacks, and build on the spirit of unity that came out of the tragedy.

Farid was hosted in Sydney by his brother in law, Mr Mohammed Ferdous Alam, whose wife is the sister of Farid’s wife Husna. Mr Alam was the Imam at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch for almost two years before migrating to Australia. Farid is a Muslim community leader in Christchurch and has lived in New Zealand for 30 years. Twenty-one years ago he became a paraplegic when a drunk driver ran him over on the street. Farid survived, but is now confined to a wheelchair. Since the attacks he has gone around the world, spreading his message of forgiveness and love for all. He has since been honoured with an international peace award, and travelled to Middle East, Europe and US meeting President Donald Trump and now Australia meeting PM Scot Morrison. A very friendly and humble man, he was delighted to see a copy of AMUST and wished to write for AMUST about his reflections and ideas on spreading the message of peace and harmony.

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Talking about the trauma of the incident last year, Farid said he wished he could have swapped places with his wife who died after running back to help her husband, since he was in a wheelchair. As people reflect on the anniversary of 51 lives lost, he said “people give too much importance to anger, ego and hate and I wish people could focus on forgiveness love, peace and living in harmony with one another.” Shortly after the attacks while grieving after the loss of his wife and fellow worshipers at the mosque, he came out in public and forgave the gunman. He said “the act of forgiveness helped him to stop being bitter.” “Sometimes people say you have forgiven and you have done a great thing but I say no, not compared to her. I only have given up the feeling that I don’t want to be angry, I don’t want to be hateful. So she is a great motivation.” continued on page 3

Farid Ahmed in Sydney

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Sydney’s new cemetery holds Ground-breaking Ceremony Jo Davenport On Thursday 27 February 2020, the first sod at Macarthur Memorial Park was turned by key members of the NSW government and community leaders including Chairman of the Muslim Cemeteries Board, Kazi Ali, Chairman of Cemeteries & Crematoria NSW, Stepan Kerkyasharian AO, CEO of the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, Mr Peter O’Meara and CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff together with an indigenous smoking ceremony led by Aboriginal elder Uncle Ivan. Construction will commence later in March on a world-class memorial and parkland destination at Varroville in south-west Sydney, providing the people of Campbelltown with passive recreation areas, gardens and landscaped walkways that will be accessible to everyone in the community. The parklands will also feature a new memorial park with 136,000 burial plots to be established over the next 100 years, partly fulfilling the pressing need for space in Sydney’s rapidly growing and diverse multi-cultural population. The burial plots will be discreetly positioned in “burial rooms” behind hedges that will be higher than the headstones located behind them. CEO of the not-for-profit Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, Mr Peter O’Meara said “We are delighted to commence the construction of these new parklands, which will feature facilities for the local community such as lakes, walking tracks and café,

Indigenous smoking ceremony led by Aboriginal elder Uncle Ivan. creating a place of peace and reflection for the whole community.” “We will be adopting a successful overseas model where memorial parklands are now quiet and beautiful places for all the family, with groves of trees, lakes and open space. For all intents and purposes, they are not cemeteries but beautiful open spaces”, he further added. Chairman of the Muslim Cemeteries Board, Mr Kazi Ali said the lack of burial space has created a real crisis for his community with Riverstone Cemetery down to its last two spots “the Muslim community

has been very worried about future burial space in Sydney. Was it not for Catholic Cemeteries agreeing to provide over 4000 burial spaces for the Muslim community at Kemps Creek we would have been in a dire situation. This is a wonderful example of the ongoing interfaith collaboration between our organisations.” The Chairman of the Catholic Cemeteries Board, the Hon Greg Smith said the project had been 8 long years in the making and “the ground-breaking landscape and architectural design will make Macarthur Memorial Park the unique, innovative and most vis-

ually stunning memorial park in Australia”. He further added that Macarthur Memorial Park will be the first large scale memorial park built in Sydney since the 1960’s and “no other cemetery trust in Sydney has been able to deliver such a remarkable memorial park that will ensure the interment practices and beliefs of all religious and cultural groups present here today will be respected and provided for.” Jo Davenport works in Marketing at Catholic Cemeteries & Crematoria.

Muslim Lawn KEMPS CREEK CEMETERY

Kemps Creek Cemetery now has a dedicated Muslim Lawn, offering a peaceful rural cemetery to the Muslim community. Located only 25 minutes’ drive from Blacktown and 35 minutes from Auburn. › Single and double burial graves available › 3 year interest free payment plans available

Part of the local community For further information please contact:

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Muslims condemn attack on Sikh community in Afghanistan Zia Ahmad There has been widespread condemnation of attack on a Sikh Gurdwara in Kabul on Wednesday 25 March in which 25 worshippers died and many more were injured, claimed to be perpetrated by ISIS. Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission severely criticised those behind this killing of innocent people while the humanity was fighting the common enemy in the form of coronavirus pandemic and offered his sincere condolences to Sikh community who have been enthusiastically supporting the anti-CAA legislation protests. The Sikh community in India and globally has been very supportive of Indians protesting against discriminatory laws being legislated by the BJP Hindu Nationalist government led by PM Narendra Modi. Sikhs have been providing security, support and meals for iconic Shaheen Bagh protestors in New Delhi for months and have developed close relationship generally with Muslims after the restoration of visa free visiting rights to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan championed by PM Imran Khan. The Taliban denied any involvement in this brutal attack while they have been making a peace deal with the US and are under pressure to reduce violence and enter into talks with the Afghan government. But ISIS is allied with neither the government nor the Taliban and has continued its brutal and indiscriminate attacks in Afghan-

Faseeha Hashmi

Inside the Gurdwara in Kabul after the attack. istan. Earlier this month they targeted the Hazara Shia community in Kabul at noon on Friday 6 March 2020 at the site of a gathering of hundreds of people in which 32 persons died and dozens more were wounded. Again while the Taliban denied any involvement while ISIS blatantly claimed that they were behind that atrocity. The attack on the Gurdwara, Sikh place of worship was reportedly perpetrated by a lone gunman who was also killed. There was also report of a blast nearby while investigation was being carried out and bodies removed after the attack. Anarkali Honaryar, an Afghan Sikh pol-

itician reached by phone said that children were among the casualties and that it took security forces hours to secure the site because of the large number of civilians present. A defense official of the coalition of foreign forces in Afghanistan said the response to Wednesday’s attack was “Afghan-led and Afghan-executed, with some advice and assistance from Resolute Support.” As expected Indian mainstream media aligned with the Modi government is blaming Pakistan for the attack while Muslims on social media are talking about conspiracy theories designed to shatter the goodwill between Muslim and Sikh communities.

Christchurch attack survivor spreads message of forgiveness in Sydney

Husna’s Story

My Wife, the Christchurch Massacre and My Journey to Forgiveness Farid Ahmed ISBN: 9781988547480 Publisher: Allen & Unwin Pub Date: March 2020 Page Extent: 320 APRIL 2020 / ISSUE 173

NEWS Muslims urged to pray at home amid coronavirus pandemic

Continued from page 1 Talking about his grief in losing his life partner he said, “Every day I go to the mosque and she is not there beside me … it makes me cry … we were more than just husband and wife. We shared the same vision, same mission.” He said the everybody all over the world highly appreciated New Zealand’s ongoing support and love for the Muslim community since the attacks. He hoped people could learn to stand in unity with one another and make time for what counts. In honour of his wife’s memory, Farid has released a book called Husna’s Story published recently. He is donating the royalties from all sales to St John Ambulance service. Husna Ahmed was a victim of the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack on Friday 15 March 2019. She was shot while looking for her husband, who was in a wheelchair. In this book Husna’s husband, Farid Ahmed, tells Husna’s story, including the day of the attack. Farid describes the selflessness and bravery with which Husna lived her life. As well as looking after her daughter and paraplegic husband, Husna was an important member of the community, helping women and running classes for children. Her last selfless act was going back into the mosque to look for her husband on that fateful day, after she had already led other women and children to safety. Husna’s husband, Farid quite remarkably, forgives the alleged killer. Farid’s philosophy of forgiveness, peace and love is an example of how faith and humanity can be tools for navigating even the most horrific of tragedies.

Mr Farid Ahmed (left) with Mr Mohammed Ferdous Alam in Sydney on Wednesday 11 March 2020.

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Australian Muslims have been encouraged to pray at home and forgo attending weekly Friday prayers and congregational daily prayers in Mosques in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. On Monday 16 March, the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) discussed urgent precautionary considerations for Australian mosques and Islamic centres and subsequently issued fatwas and guidelines in order to cope with the developing situation. As per the instructions of medical professionals, religious authorities have seen social distancing measures as necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has recently declared a ban on Australians travelling overseas, as well as banning gatherings on non-essential gatherings of “persons 100 or greater in indoor areas” and “500” for outdoor areas.

On Wednesday 18 March, ANIC issued a fatwa, a non-binding legal judgement on a point of Islamic law given by an authority, advising Australian Muslims to instead pray at home on Fridays for Congregational weekly prayers called Juma. “We strongly urge Muslims to pray their 5 daily prayers at home and 4 Rak’at of Dhuhr instead of the Friday prayer.” In response, the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) have temporarily closed their doors for prayer from 11 pm on Thursday 19th of March until further notice. The decision was explained as “not taken lightly”. Nevertheless, the city Mosque regarded its responsibility to maintain community safety to be of the utmost importance. “Belief in the decree of Allah does not prevent a person from taking… the (necessary) means of (disease) prevention…,” said the ANIC statement. This is not the only instance where COVID-19 has impacted the Australian Muslim community. A coronavirus-induced travel ban put in place by Saudi Arabia has also left many Australian Muslims out of pocket. These travellers were hoping to travel to Makkah for pilgrimage called Umrah. Saudi Arabia has also taken a series of stringent precautionary measures such as suspending congregational prayers in mosques in its efforts to limit the spread of the pathogen. “We advise people to avoid crowded places and continue to follow the recommendations of our health authorities,” said ANIC. Faseeha Hashmi holds a Master of International Relations from the University of Melbourne, with an interest in politics and human security.

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COVID-19: Fighting a common enemy The current pandemic sweeping the most competent people with knowledge in world, named as the Coronavirus dis- this field, doctors, scientists, researchers and ease 2019 (COVID-19), is an infectious data analysts and administrative authorities. From China to Americas, Australia, Eudisease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS- rope, Asia, Middle East and Africa, the authorities have taken unprecedented swift acCoV-2). This pandemic has already brought the tion based on competent advice for testing, whole world on its knees currently by af- lockdowns, travel restrictions and treatment fecting all aspects of our life as we know of those suffering from the disease. Surely, there have been slip ups it. here and there by Trump, Modi It has already crippled our and our own ScoMo, but over social relationships, jobs, reall the performance of our ligious life, education and political leaders has been travel with long lasting so far so good hopefully negative outcomes at least with desired positive rein the near future. Zia Ahmad sults in dealing with this However, at the same crisis. Assalamu time, we must acknowlWe the public have also edge that the whole of huAlaikum cooperated well in followmanity has come together to ing advice on lockdowns, Greetings counter this common enemy social distancing and reswiftly and most competently. of Peace mote study, work and even play Our political, religious and adopting to a changed lifestyle. medical leaders as well as the pubThe internet and digital connection is inlic have indeed cooperated together acting on advice based on scientific knowledge, deed playing a big role in coping and even robust data and collective experience in combating against coronavirus where we can still function from our homes. dealing with this disease. Reflecting on lockdowns, now that we are It is also important to note that religious communities have not looked into their ourselves in this state, we must empathise scriptures and sought advice from their with the people of Kashmir who have been religious leaders in fighting this pandem- in this lockdown state since 5 August 2019 ic, but relied on information from govern- under ruthless military oppression and without the benefit of remote communication via ment authorities with medical advice. Again Muslims generally have listened telephone and internet. “If anyone wants tips on surviving quarnot to their traditional so called Sheikhs or Ulama and relying on their fatwa in com- antine or a lockdown, I have months of bating the virus, but the real Ulama, the experience at my disposal,” said former

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chief minister Omar Abdullah after being released from eight months of detention without trial on 24 March. BJP government introduced one of the world’s longest-running internet shutdowns in Kashmir in August last year, only restoring limited 2G mobile internet service in January this year. Despite pleas from several rights groups to completely ease restrictions specially during this COVID-19 pandemic, the government has refused to budge. Dr Suhail Naik, President of the doctors’ association remarked that education drives seen elsewhere in India about the symptoms of the virus are impossible to run in Kashmir valley. “We want to educate people through videos, which is not possible at 2G speed. We are handicapped in the absence of high-speed internet,” he said. Kashmiris, just like Gazans should be given a chance to fight COVID-19 just like people in other parts of the world.

The rise of Nazism in Germany will surely not be able to make much progress given the de-Nazification and the facing of the past which has occurred in Germany since Adolf. Even in the 1930s the Nazis only succeeded because people did not understand who they were. They did manage to win a lot of support for the economic growth they encouraged once they took power but their reliance on the terror network of the Gestapo suggests that they did not feel secure even then. Now that their real nature is clear, even

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who will not allow them to succeed. Bilal Cleland

daism and Islam) is very refreshing indeed. Spiritual knowledge and aspiration are not served by just accentuating the difference. Agreeing to disagree could be a charitable option. mal

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Re: Prophet’s Last Sermon hatred of migrants and refugees will not Message: “Treat Women Kind- be enough to resurrect them. There are too many civilised human beings in Germany ly.”

Excellent. It is a privilege to be a part of such noble initiatives. Suheyl Umar

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Readers comments Allah – the Almighty says in Quran (13:28) : Ala bizikrillahi tatma-innal quloob.” Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do the hearts find rest. The best remembrance is reading the Quran as well as azkaar. Abdul muqtadar syed

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Christchurch: How you can honour my husband, one year on Dr Hamimah Tuyan is the widow of Zekeriya Tuyan, the 51st victim of the Christchurch mosque attacks. This is her address that was to be given at the remembrance service in Christchurch on Sunday 15 March 2020 marking the first anniversary of the attack that had to be cancelled because of COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Hamimah Tuyan Kia ora. Peace be upon you. Assalamu alaikum. Last March the world witnessed a phenomenal show of your solidarity. You defied stigma and chose to wear scarves on your heads. You put aside your precious personal time to shower us with your gifts, your letters of encouragement, your beautiful flowers. You stood hand in hand outside our masjid so that we could pray. You graced us with your most heartfelt songs and haka. You planted trees, ran miles, uplifted families out of poverty in honour of our fallen heroes. You drove, you flew here to console us, to pray with us and for us. We have received support from as far away as Gaza, California and Uzbekistan, and we are grateful. To my brothers and sisters in Islam, our Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us how to handle trials and tribulations. He said, “The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant; from whatever direction the wind comes, it bends it, but when the wind becomes quiet, the plant becomes straight again.” We have been blown around, knocked off our bearings by the storm of hatred, and bigotry. But, as believers, we will resolve to stay grounded in resilience and to stand tall in dignity. Allah is with those who patiently persevere. May Allah Take us out of this plight and bring after it something better.

Aamiin. We have a critical role to play. Many out there will not study Islam to know more about us, but they will study you and I – our manners, our words. So step back, grieve and also find healing in participating proactively in public conversations and activities so that there is better awareness and understanding of who we Muslims are, who we are not, and what actually happens in our community. We will continue to feed the homeless, give to charity, support the needy and put into action the message of kindness, justice, peace and love in Islam. To my young brothers and sisters, wear your hijab and your beard with pride. We are not compelled to cover in the name of faith and we should not be compelled to take it off in the name of assimilation. Lift your heads and be honored ambassadors of Islam, and show that fear will not extinguish faith, and that your identity does not make you less of a Kiwi. To my non-Muslim brothers and sisters in humanity, many of you have enquired about how we are doing. My question for you today is how are you doing? What have you learnt from the important lessons of March 15? How has it changed your perception of “they” in relation to “us”? In this age of technology we have no excuse to be ignorant about each other. Hatred is the oxygen that extremists need to build fire from the sparks of fear and ignorance. We need to douse these sparks with knowledge. So please allow me to share some important truths. Muslims have been here in Aotearoa New Zealand for decades and we have always made up about 1% of the population. We are not trying to take over this country or replace you. We are not “Muslim fanatics”. We are not “dole bludgers”. The fallen heroes and injured of March 15 were hardworking professionals who came here not to take away jobs meant for you, but only what you have to offer. They came here to achieve success for themselves and their children, so that their children will in turn be contributing

Dr Hamimah Tuyan.

members of this society. We can call on governments and media companies to control expressions of hate and racism. But we must realize the importance of being proactive in countering the hatred, and misguided appeal of anti-immigration rhetoric. We need to do more than show up. Together, we need to speak up and challenge hate speech – no matter who spouts it, or who it’s directed towards. Until we truly and fervently believe that the atrocity of March 15 should be the last one needed to convince us that an extremist is not defined by his or her race, skin colour, facial hair, dress choice, philosophical persuasion and age, we will continue to fall prey to crooks who will take advantage of our fear and ignorance; those who spew hatred cloaked under the guise of freedom

of speech and masked behind their faith or spirit of nationalism. The goal of extremists is to undermine our shared values and social cohesion. I truly hope that we learn to embrace our differences and hold on to the common thread that binds us, for that would be the best legacy with which could honour my husband, Zekeriya Tuyan, and the rest of our beloveds including those injured. Please allow me to end with a quote from our Prophet, peace be upon him. I am sure you would agree with me that people of all faiths and non-faiths can be united on this principle. He said, “Shall I show you something that if you did, you would love each other? Spread peace between yourselves.” And with that, kia tau te rangimarie. Peace be upon you. Assalamu alaikum.

Dr Patrick Mclnerney

terrorist attacks. We remember all the victims, everywhere. They are us. They should have been safe. We commit, never again! No more hate speech. No more divisiveness. No more “us” and “them”. We are one; one humanity; one common home, planet earth; one creation; one Creator. We must live in peace, love and unity. I conclude with words adapted from John Donne’s, No Man is an Island: Each one’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in humankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee. Image by ‘Ink Sketcher’ – Hammad Haider; commissioned by Humans Unite for an event to mark the first anniversary of the Christchurch attacks – published in Bridges with permission.

Christchurch Remembered Last month we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, remembering all those murdered in the Holocaust. This month and next, we remember the victims of the terrorist attacks in the mosques in Christchurch and the churches in Sri Lanka. Our cover image is the Māori greeting, the hongi, two people rubbing noses together. This traditional gesture shows that we breathe the same air, share the same spirit, and are united – in grief, in joy, in humanity, in sharing planet earth, in faith in God. This image is particularly poignant. The details in the design are the names in Arabic script of the 51 people killed in the Christchurch mosques. The dark green in the woman’s shawl – the Arabic words for peace, love and unity – form the map of New Zealand. Above and below the entrance doors of the mosque, as if in welcome, is the Arabic greeting Salaam (Peace), repeated three times; the dome of the mosque has the Arabic word for “Unity” four times; and central to the minaret pointing towards God is the Arabic word for “Love”. We remember all the names of the dead in Christchurch, in Sri Lanka, and in other

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Courtesy: Editorial, Bridges no 86, March 2020 Bridges is available at: https://www.columban.org.au/our-work/ interfaith-relations/bridges-newsletter It is a free subscription, digital or hard copy. Rev Dr Patrick McInerney is the Director of the Columban Mission Institute and Coordinator of its Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations and is based in Sydney.

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A great change is approaching Bilal Cleland Ahmed Keeler’s perceptive “Rethinking Islam and the West: A New Narrative for the Age of Crises” describes the “ever-growing release of powers within the material realm,” as threatening civilisation. This is contrary to the view of the British Geological Survey which proclaims the fact that “Humans are now drivers of environmental change on a scale that is unique in Earth’s history,” as a great leap for human kind. To the contrary Keeler sees that this has led to an escalation of crises and a once benign natural world turning “hostile and unpredictable.” He thus questions the long held fundamental truth of modernism that the conquest of nature leads to unending progress. The threat inherent in the prevailing system is becoming apparent: “The gulf between rich and poor is widening. Debt is mounting, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the modern way of life.”

This has become all too obvious in the prosperous modern economy of Australia, where a shocking drought, terrible bushfires, floods and a total lockdown of the nation under the threat of the coronavirus pandemic have shocked the population and government. Economic, racial, religious and political fragmentation are emerging as dominant themes in most western societies. The approaching downturn in the modern economies, interlinked through globalisation, offers an uncertain future. As Keeler writes: “All that holds the current fragmentation together is the dynamic of economic growth. Once this falter, noting will be left.” However all is not lost. Human beings are full of positive potential. They have a conscience and an awareness of right and wrong. Amidst the enveloping crises, although there are unsettling cases of rampant greed and criminality, Keeler notes “there is still a great reservoir of compassion and thoughtfulness in the West. There is generosity in response to the crises taking place around the world, and many have devoted their lives to alleviating the suffering of those afflicted.”

The COVID 19 pandemic has shown human beings at their best. Nurses and doctors working extreme hours, some sacrificing their lives, in the battle against the virus. Under-appreciated paramedics, retail workers, transport operatives, putting their safety at risk for the community. These like the firefighters during the bushfires, are outstanding positive examples of the best of humanity on display. This Age of Crises will almost inevitable lead to profound changes in how we live. “Deep thought is being invested in trying to understand what is happening and to find a better way of living sustainably on earth. Many are recognising the wisdom contained within pre-modern cultures, and are seeking to preserve, practice and promote traditional husbandry, health and knowledge systems.” Although there have been very embarrassing cases of religious ignorance put on display during the present pandemic, Muslims are already noticing some interesting developments. One such development was an article by Craig Considine, in a widely read English language magazine, Newsweek. He writes: “While he is by no means a “traditional” expert on matters of deadly diseases, Muhammad nonetheless had

Islamic Well-Being Index of Muslim countries: Indonesia leads in 2019 Dr Daud Batchelor A searching mind would wish to compare Muslim Majority Countries (MMCs) objectively on the Islamic state of their citizens that would be valuable to gain an indication, which would help Muslim leaders plan for their citizens’ improvement. My article, “A New Islamic Rating Index of Well-Being for Muslim Countries [IWIMMC]” was published in 2013. It is drawing much attention and receives 100 views weekly on www.researchgate.net Top countries then were: Malaysia (1), Indonesia (2), Senegal (3), Palestinian Territories (4) and Bangladesh (5). The index reflects average conditions of Muslim citizens but not necessarily applies to a specific person from that country. The concept of ‘Islamic well-being’ is reflected in Qur’anic passages. Achieving Allah’s ‘good pleasure’ (89:28) and ‘blessedness’ (13:29), I interpret as well-being. It leads to a ‘goodly return’ and entry to ‘His Heaven,’ which are synonymous and the seeker’s ultimate success (falah). Six years after initial publication it is timely to revisit the Index and re-crunch the numbers to find the current status of Muslim countries. The 2019 Index benefits from improvements in computing the Index by adopting advices from scholars, including Mohammed Hashim Kamali, Jasser Auda, Ahmad Syarif Maarif, Feisal Abdul Rauf, and Recep Senturk, who deliberated on how to define Islamic Statehood using a Maqasid alShari’ah (higher objectives of Islamic law) approach. Their book was published in 2015 as “Defining Islamic Statehood: Measuring and Indexing Contemporary Muslim States.” Abu Hamid Ghazali (d. 1111) noted, “The objective of the Shari’ah is to produce the well-being of all mankind.” The 2019 Approach identifies parameters APRIL 2020 / ISSUE 173

Indonesian Muslims in front of Chinese Embassy in Jakarta protesting ill-treatment of Uighur Muslims. that reflect the condition of citizens in terms of five essential Maqasid elements: protecting life, religion, intellect, progeny (or family) and wealth. ‘Religion’ was taken as reflected in terms of ‘acts of worship (ibadat)’ and based on surveys conducted by the Pew Centre and Gallup Poll questioning people on the strength of their religious convictions. Out of 50 MMCs, survey data on ‘Religion’ was only available for 30 (ie not including most ‘Oil Sheikhdoms’). Data for assessing the four ‘non-ibadat’ factors was derived from the UN, World Bank and published indices (eg ‘Corruption Perceptions Index.’). For these, data was available for all MMCs. Calculating the IWI-MMC 2019, the top ten were found to be: Indonesia (1), Jordan (2), Malaysia (3), Morocco (4), Tunisia (5), Burkina Faso (6), Palestinian Territories (7), Egypt (8), Algeria (9) and Iran (10). Congratulations Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, and Jordan who overtook Malaysia, which suffered from political turmoil. The most significant negative changes (and positional change) are for Afghanistan (-24), Tajikistan (-20), Nigeria (-16) and Iraq (-13), while most important improvements are for Kosovo (+9), Turkey, Morocco and Jordan (+7). A surprising finding is that top countries

in terms of Ibadat are often worst in terms of non-Ibadat parameters. This applies particularly to some west African countries with high corruption levels reflecting a narrow understanding of ‘worship.’ It was found that rather than people benefiting most from Islamic teachings in the Middle East where Islam originated, Muslims in Southeast Asia exemplified the highest IWI levels, followed by Middle East, Turkey, Africa and the Sub-continent, and finally former Soviet countries. The top three countries (in order) in the Maqasid fields were: Religion – Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Djibouti; Life – Qatar, Brunei, Malaysia; Mind – UAE, Malaysia, Kuwait; Family – Syria, Libya, Uzbekistan; Wealth – Malaysia, UAE, Brunei. Life is difficult in Syria and Libya, which however, promotes strong resilient families there. Benefits of the index include identifying role model countries, and whether State policies have led to improvements between survey years. Dr Daud Batchelor, holds an MA in Islamic and Other Civilisations and a Diploma in Islamic Studies from the International Islamic University Malaysia, PhD from University of Malaya, MSc from the University of London.

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sound advice to prevent and combat a development like COVID-19. Muhammad (s) said: “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague outbreaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.” He also said: “Those with contagious diseases should be kept away from those who are healthy.” Muhammad also strongly encouraged human beings to adhere to hygienic practices that would keep people safe from infection.” “And what if someone does fall ill? What kind of advice would Muhammad provide to his fellow human beings who are suffering from pain? He would encourage people to always seek medical treatment and medication: “Make use of medical treatment,” he said, “for God has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease—old age.” [17 March 2020 Newsweek] Bilal Cleland is a keen reader, a prolific writer and a regular columnist of AMUST based in Melbourne.

After The Exercise Was Done Fazlul Huq After the morning exercises were done, Involving marching and squatting repeated twenty times, Followed by lunging forward and bending and straightening of the knee also repeated in two tens. Then he would sit on the chair, stand up and sit done again repeated twenty times. Finally he would paddle the bike for five minutes before he has ice pack over the new knee, When he lies flat on the bed with the legs held above the pair of pillows. And so he would stay in position without the slightest movement, For about twenty minutes before going for a walk inside and out of the house. While he keeps on saying to the knee: “You better gain in strength and coordination sooner than later towards the better life in body, mind and soul.” Associate Professor Fazlul Huq is based in Sydney and leads the Biomedical Science Cancer Research Group in the School of Medical Sciences, Sydney Medical School. He is also an accomplished poet with over 12,000 compositions in Bengali and English and has also been involved in various community projects.

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COVID-19: The power of human resilience Sayed Rahmatullah Hussainizada Don’t let physical distance become social disconnect! We are all struggling. I know how you all are feeling. I can understand the hysteria, the nervousness, the fear and ultimately the loneliness that comes with uncertainty and hardship in this global pandemic. I understand your fear and relate to it. I can understand why people would flock the supermarkets, queue for Centrelink and panic as we all adjust to what’s being referred to as the ‘new’ normal. I get it – we’re all scared. We are all waiting for this chapter of our lives to be over and done already. We are all secretly hoping that, when we wake up tomorrow, we find that this was an ominous dream and nothing more. Rest assured that it will pass. Trust that feeling. Trust yourselves that this is only for a period. This sad chapter in human history will

pass, much like chapters before this. Much like the World Wars humanity had to endure, much like the previous pandemics like SARS, Ebola, MERS and the plagues. We will get to see each other on the other side of this. There will be the day when we look back and see how underprepared we were. We will look back and wonder how we let this happen. How could the most technologically advanced generation in human history not prevent this? May be the Coronavirus will remind us once again that we are one human race. Perhaps it will remind us that as social beings, we are responsible for each other’s health and wellbeing. Perhaps it will remind us that one’s bad situation, can be someone else’ worst days. Perhaps it will remind us the contagiousness of our attitudes, our characters and our hopes. And, hopefully this situation will remind us to once again live. We will look back and try and recall the panic buys, the isle-fights, the quarantine, the work from home, the physical distancing that, for some, lead to social isolation. We will recall the loneliness and sadness we felt. We will either remember ourselves playing a part in making our futures better, in

“May be the

Coronavirus will remind us once again that we are one human race

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contributing positively, in keeping families and friends socially connected, yet physically distant; or we will be remembered for getting lost in the chaos. For losing hope. For giving in at the face of adversity and not realising how each human whilst different and so uniquely connected. It’s up to all of us to step up as one human race. It is up to each individual to do their bit to flatten the curve. We’ve to stand together (don’t forget 1.5m apart) and follow simple rules to curb the spread of this contagion. I ask you all – what would you like to remember these moments as? Saving humanity by flattening the curve or toilet paper brawls? What would you tell your grandkids – the stories of your isolation spent with your families and the joy of reconnecting; or the stories of defying the rules put in place and causing the virus to spread? Perhaps it will remind us to value the lit-

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tle things in life – the squabbling over what burgers to order at your local burger joints, the laughter of togetherness with a group of mates, the fresh air of the Sydney beaches. I know how much we want it to be over. I want you all to trust and have faith. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. We are not in a perfect situation. We are all struggling and rightly so. But this is the opportunity to thrive, innovate, love. Be present. And think about what really matters. We are all in this together! Stay safe, stay home and enjoy life! Sayed Rahmatullah Hussainizada is a solicitor, journalist and an entrepreneur. He is heavily involved in the grassroots community organisations and is passionate about social change. Sayed is the public and policy officer for Afghan Fajar Association Incorporated and the Founder of CultureShare.

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‘Beyond The Water’ exhibits Turkish exodus to Greece Prof Alex Morel.

Meryem Aydogan A lecture and photography exhibition by Prof Alex Morel called ‘Beyond The Water’ – a visual documentary tracing the silent and terrifying exodus of Turkish dissidents to Greece seeking safety from persecution was showcased in Sydney on Friday 13 March 2020. The Erdogan Regime and its harsh, unlawful crackdown on members of the Hizmet movement and all others it considers political dissidents, has caught the attention of academics, journalists and artists globally. One such artist is photographer and visual arts professor at St John’s University, New York, A/Professor Alex Morel. Advocates for Dignity (AFD) along with Affinity Intercultural Foundation co-hosted the event attended by a large number of diverse people at the city offices of Affinity. The program was MC’d by former ABC radio national host, Mr John Cleary, who set the scene for the event. The welcoming speech was conducted by the Advocates for Dignity President, Mr Mehmet Saral, who said that the plight of the Turkish refugees who have been forced to flee to Greece, from the claws of the Erdogan government in Turkey, is a story that must be told. He further said that there are refugees associated with Hizmet from Turkey here in Australia as well and AFD are here to help these people settle in to Australia, to integrate and to help them achieve permanent

residency, as they have no other country to go to. Mr Saral said that AFD will be the voice for them in Australia. Turkey is a country wherein freedom of speech is extremely restricted and where 319 journalists have been jailed, with close to 200 media outlets terminated by a series of arbitrary decisions taken by the Turkish authorities. Mr Saral also spoke of his week spent in Greece mid last year, where he visited the refugees and saw first hand the financial difficulties the refugees experienced and how some even contemplated committing suicide as they could not bear to raise their children on the streets. Thankfully, financial aid is now being given by the Red Cross and Turkish businessmen in Germany, enabling the survival of these families that have migrated to Greece. Prof Morel began his lecture with a brief of the situation, describing the fleeing families that he met as leaving behind everything but hope while crossing the Martiza, the river separating Greece from Turkey. He stated that across these waters, the families were met with the welcoming arms of their Greek neighbours, and the warm smiles of soldiers and others that were once thought of as their nation’s rivals. Though he considered the entirety of his experience with these Turkish families was eye-opening and extremely memorable, Prof Morel enlightened listeners with the stories that resonated with him the most; moments he expressed as ‘being made eternal through photography, for others to contemplate’. For security reasons, many of the individuals featured in the exhibition cannot be named. Instead, Prof Morel named all of the men in his photographs ‘Ümit’ (meaning hope), and all of the women ‘Sevinç’ (meaning happiness), explaining that these names

“Sevinc” and “Umit” holding their newborn daughter. Source: Alex Morel.

were most fitting as each of them carried qualities of resilience, hope, happiness and determination despite their years of trauma. Prof Morel explained that his craft was drawn to studying families of the Hizmet movement because of the importance they gave to education, and their hope and their willingness to open their hearts and homes to all. “One thing I have noticed is the incredible patience and action of self reflection among the people within Hizmet, which is what has given the movement the ability to survive such difficulties”, he said. “It was amazing meeting all these families in Greece, and to see how, despite all the trauma and difficulties and hardships, they were full of hope. I always remember someone smiling.” Examples from Exhibits The birth of Irini: A touching photograph that forms part of Prof Morel’s photo-exhibition is that of a man, ‘Ümit’, and a woman, ‘Sevinç’, in a hospital; the man holding in his arms a new born baby. Morel stated that this was the first family he had met in Greece. This couple were forced to leave Turkey as they had lost their jobs, were constantly receiving threats, and were facing the possibility of imprisonment for having associations with the Gulen Movement. When ‘Sevinç’, the wife, was 7 months pregnant to the couple’s third child, they decided they no choice but to flee Turkey with their two other young children. For two and a half days, the family walked through the woods close to the country’s borders, and were smuggled across the Martiza for a hefty price. As soon as they safetly made it to land, ‘Sevinç’ had to be rushed to the hospital as she had gone into labour. Having no command of the Greek language made the experience with the medical staff extremely

difficult. To their surprise, a kind-hearted Greek native who happened to speak Turkish, rushed to their assistance, aiding them with their communications with the medical staff. This woman’s name was Irini. She stayed with the couple during the birth of their daughter, and visited them frequently after birth, having become like a godmother of the newborn. To honour Irini’s incredible efforts in assisting them, the couple named their daughter after Irini. Ironically, Irini means peace. Prof Morel explained that stories of Greek natives opening their arms and hearts to such families were not unique, despite historic tensions between the nations of Turkey and Greece. The story of Spiderman: Among Prof Morel’s exhibition was also a photograph of a young boy, holding to the camera a notebook in which he drew Spiderman. This young boy is Ekrem. He is seven years old, and had crossed the Maritza river on a cold winter night with his mother, father and two younger sisters. On the family’s journey towards the river, Ekrem walked silently for seven hours without uttering a single word, so that his family would not risk being caught by Turkish authorities. He didn’t let anybody carry him, as his father was carrying a heavy load of their belongings, and his mother was carrying his younger sister. When remembering him, Morel said ‘To me, that is the face of a superhero. If Spiderman took off his mask, he would reveal Ekrem’s face… I always think of him when I am preoccupied by my troubles and need to put things into perspective… What he did is the stuff of mythology to me.’ Meryem Aydogan is a final year Law and Journalism Student at the University of Technology, Sydney, and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Youth giving back to community Dean Mousad A successful outing at My Home Disability Services in Birrong on Thursday 19 March with the presence of staff and students from Western Grammar School and volunteers from Brothers in Need. In addition to their support WGS students and staff donated $2,000 APRIL 2020 / ISSUE 173

to the Centre. It was a good seeing younger generations join us on a humbling experience to visit our local respite centre! A big thank you to Al Tazah Charcoal Chicken for providing delicious lunch on the day. Dean Mousad is the Co-founder/Director of Brothers in Need, Co-founder/treasurer of Project Quran and a teacher/mentor at Alfirdaus College.

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Interfaith Youth Forum launch Gulhan Eryegit Yoldas Al Siraat College, in partnership with Whittlesea Interfaith Network and St Monica’s College, hosted the interfaith Youth Forum Launch on Wednesday 4 March in the Fountain View Room of City of Whittlesea Council. The Interfaith Youth Forum is a grassroots projects to counter racial and religious discrimination and promote greater inclusion through visual media. The project is financially supported by Victoria Government’s Community Harmony grants and proudly supported by the City of Whittlesea and Victoria Police. The MC for the event was Al Siraat College Captain and Students Representative Council member Balaj Elahi, who did a fantastic job of coordinating the speakers. Opening prayer and reflections on the importance of Interfaith dialogue was shared by Mufti Aasim Rashid. The founder of Whittlesea Interfaith Network and former mayor, Councillor Kris Pavlidis gave a wonderful speech about the importance of engaging young people in interfaith programs for greater inclusion in our communities stating “Our rituals may be different, but our values, those core values we have, are all the same.” Students from St Monica’s College and Al Siraat College each shared some very inspiring projects that they’ve been working on over the past few months which we’re received by much applause. Ms Noori, the SRC Coordinator for Al Siraat College and Denis Zucchet, Coordinator for St Monica’s College were instrumental in ensuring the engagement of stu-

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dents at this event. This was reflected in the quality of the presentations made by each of the students involved. President of Whittlesea Interfaith Network, Reverend Margaret Hartley gave a heartfelt speech drawing on the speech of Martin Luther King around inclusion and the need for engage more youth. She encouraged young people in the room to participate in future interfaith initiatives by registering with Whittlesea Interfaith Network. “The future of our society depends on people like you and me standing up for justice, equality and an end to religious and other discrimination. Each of us needs to dream of a better future. If we let our dreams for a better society shape the way we relate to everyone we come in contact with, then the community of our dreams will begin to

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become a reality,” Reverend Hartley said. Senior Constable Gerald Del Bono from Australian Federal Police shared a presentation on the roles and responsibilities of AFP in keeping us all safe and the opportunities and pathways to employment for any young people looking at a career in AFP. The final and most touching speech of the day was made by Nur Naziihah Hafidi, who’s family have lived the experience of losing a loved one at the Christchurch mosque attacks. Naziihah gave a powerful presentation highlighting why these grassroots initiatives are necessary. She shared of her optimism in this project being able to empower young people with the knowledge and resources to driving change through social media. She also gave details of the various workshops and events that are planned as a part of the Interfaith Youth Forum project mov-

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ing forward. The entire project is being covered by Cinespace Inc who will be supporting students in developing a final video which captures the project to be shared on various social media platforms. This is a two year project and any schools or community groups in Victoria interested in participating in next year’s event are encouraged to contact the organisers. Gulhan Eryegit Yoldas is on the advisory board for ECCV Gambling Harm project, in the advisory group for Whittlesea Interfaith Network and currently works as the Community Engagement Facilitator for Al Siraat College. Gulhan has a robust history of advocacy for gambling industry reform and Interfaith dialogue. She is passionate about developing Muslim youth as spokespeople for their communities.

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Time to talk about climate change Discussion with Minister Matt Kean A/Prof Clive Pearson & Ahmet Polat A discussion entitled “Why now is the right time to talk about climate change?”, led by A/Prof Clive Pearson with the main speaker, Hon Matt Kean MP, NSW Minister for Energy and Environment was organised on Wednesday 11 March 2020 by Affinity Intercultural Foundation at their Sydney city offices. The formal program started after lunch with the welcoming remarks by John Cleary, the Veteran ABC Broadcaster. The news’ cycle these days is almost too fast. Both the news media and social media are bursting with live updates on the coronavirus epidemic accompanied by coverage of panic buying and advice on how to self-isolate. Yesterday’s news vanishes into thin air. If only it was that simple. Only a few weeks ago it seemed as if popular opinion in Australia had finally caught up with the multiple threats posed by the climate emergency. The drought had paved the way for extreme heat, unprecedented fires and a smoke-filled city roiling in record levels of hazardous air quality. Welcome to life in the city that The Economist had declared to be the third most livable in the world. It didn’t feel like it, and the Hon Matt Kean, the state Minister for Energy and the Environment, said so. The fire, the extreme heat and hazardous air quality in the smokefilled city was the tipping point. Following morning run, the Minister declared that this state of affairs was ‘not normal’. It was now time to speak about climate change though the Prime Minister, fresh from a Hawaiian holiday declared it not to be. Mr Kean believed it was time to ‘win the climate wars’. On Wednesday 11 March, the Minister addressed the lunch time lecture at the Affinity offices in Pitt Street. In a much appreciated visit he delivered a short address where he expressed gratitude to the Affinity Intercultural Foundation for organizing such an event, stating that “I’d like to acknowledge the tremendous work Affinity does in pursuit of its mission to sustain respectful intercultural and interfaith dialogue.” He mentioned Affinity’s work as “The purpose to create dialogue and understanding”. The proceedings followed by a conversation on the couch with facilitator, Associate Professor Clive Pearson , adjunct research fellow of the Public and Contextual Centre at Charles Sturt University. He then fielded several questions from the audience which included a number of representatives from consulates. Mr Kean covered a number of points that he has become known for in the media since his ‘not normal’ op ed back in December. It is time to act upon what the climate scientists have been telling us for years what will happen: we are seeing it unfold before our eyes. It was time to make the transition to renewables: those chasing other options including nuclear energy are ‘chasing unicorns’. In the past Mr Kean had declared that New South Wales is blessed with wind and sun as well as the human talent to become ‘the Saudi Arabia of green energy’. The Minister is responsible for one of the hot seats in government these days: how do you care for the environment, seek sustainability while seeking to maintain economic well-being. He referred to himself as a ‘capitalist’. The economic argument now favours renewables: the cost of doing nothing is more extreme. The time constraints of a lunch time lecture and Q and A inevitably means that one can only skim over the surface of many questions that could be asked. Associate Professor Pearson wondered what is the political cost of speaking out and APRIL 2020 / ISSUE 173

how might the Minister manage the need to build a common mind across bipartisan party division, across state and federal government and within the government coalition itself? He also posed another question to do with how does one maintain the high profile and momentum for what climate change requires of us when the media and electoral cycle can so easily be ‘ambushed’ by other concerns of the moment. The Minister responded by saying there is a need to meet the everyday issues that confront people but there is also a larger need to have a vision of what kind of country, what kind of society do we aspire after. The Q and A with the audience turned on questions of a transitional economy. The fate of the koala in the aftermath of the bush fires raises questions to do with the viability of forest logging. The Minister spoke of the need through time to replace jobs in the forestry and mining industries with new types of occupations. The importance of this kind of conversation sponsored by Affinity cannot be underestimated. The response to the climate emergency is fundamental to the life of the planet. Mr Kean referred to his first child just recently born: what kind of world will he grow up in? The decisions we make now are crucial. For Muslim citizens in this country it is well worth becoming familiar with the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change. So often there are other issues putting pressure upon our time and energy. All of these exist within the tipping points that will unfold through climate change. The closing remarks were made by the Executive Director of Affinity Intercultural Foundation, Mr Ahmet Polat. He mentioned the bushfires that so devastatingly affected Australia stating, “I want to pay my respects and remember those we lost during these tragic times – they all had hearts of gold and will not be forgotten. I want to also thank the brave firefighters, the selfless volunteers and the united front of the Australian society. It brings great comfort to know that we Australians, from all walks of life are able to unite during the toughest times in NSW history.” Mr Polat further added, “As Minister Matt Kean highlighted, now is the time to grab this opportunity with both hands and take action to reduce our carbon footprint together to protect our community, our flora and

fauna and our future.” The formal program ended with the traditional gift presentations at Affinity. Paul McCarth, Executive Manager, Strategy & Governance, Australian National Maritime Museum presented a gift to Hon Matt Kean while Fiona Tinley, Community Liaison Officer from the Department of Home Affairs presented a gift to A/Profes-

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sor Clive Pearson. A/Prof Clive Pearson is a research fellow of the Public and Contextual Theology (PaCT) centre at Charles Sturt University. Ahmet Polat is the Executive Director of Affinity Intercultural Foundation.

Julie Owens MP Your Y o llocall F Federal Me Member mb ffor Parramatta arra

www.julieowens.com.au Phone: 9689 1455 JulieOwensMP

@JulieOwensMP

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First Australian national conference on environmental crisis: Faith perspectives Dr Daud Batchelor People of Abrahamic faiths including Muslims attended a trail-blazing first national conference of its kind in Brisbane on 14 March addressing the global environmental crisis, identifying religious teachings as underpinnings of humanity’s role and how we need act to protect Earth upon whose health our own wellbeing depends. The main message stressed that we live in one of the wealthiest countries but need to discharge the high duty God delegated to us as Custodians caring for Earth. However, the market-dominated system promotes consumption of more goods than we need for a happy sustainable life. We should return to the simpler lifestyle exemplified by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s). Presidents of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), Dr Ratib Jneid, and the Islamic Council of Queensland (ICQ), Habib Jamal, graced the event and gave their valuable insights. Dr Jneid announced that he would be launching AFIC’s new Climate Change Policy in Canberra on 23 March. An array of well-informed speakers addressed a diversity of topics. Former sustainability advisor to the New York Mayor, and charismatic author of “Green Deen”, Afro-American, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, was the first keynote speaker. He spoke on the problems of climate change resulting from ‘extractive’ modern economies and provided some solutions including sustainable built environments. Engineer Peter Rooks followed with the Climate Reality “Truth in Ten” presentation developed by Al Gore, former US Vice-President, providing the scientific underpinning that while we face the reality of a human-induced climate crisis “the solutions are at hand.” Second keynote speaker presenting via

video, was Professor Odeh Al-Jayyousi, from the Arab Gulf University, Bahrain, and Member of UN’s Advisory Panel for the Global Environmental Program: “Islamic civilisation contributed in the framing of what constitutes a good life (Hayat Tayebah) as manifested in Waqf (trust funds) and Hima (protected areas) system. The dominant global economic model which is founded on consumerism and an extractive economic model has led to high ecological footprints and the environmental crisis. Islam should be viewed as a worldview and way of life to address the ecological crises. Islam offers a new perspective for defining sustainability and progress based on social justice. What is important in this vision is to expand human empathy and optimism.” Dr Daud Batchelor addressed the seminal question whether population growth or excessive consumption is the main culprit causing the global environmental crisis. He convincingly demonstrated that the main driver is unrestrained appetites in advanced capitalist and rapidly industrialising economies, that contribute by far to anthropogenic carbon emissions. Reverend Peter Moore, Chair of AngliGreen, spoke on “A Christian view of Creation and human responsibilities.” Christians believe humans are given dominion over creation, to care for and live in harmony with it, and believe scientific evidence that humans are responsible for our failures and need to change to limit harm and reverse the damage caused. Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion include: “To strive to safeguard integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Imam Ahmed Naffaa spoke on “The Role of Islam in Protecting and Saving the Environment” and identified solutions that Islam promotes including ‘walking gently’ on earth (reducing eco-footprints), reducing waste (israf), living moderately (wasat),

Panel discussion – Ratib Jneid, Rev Peter Moore, Daud Batchelor, and Ibrahim Abdul-Matin.

treating God’s creatures with mercy (rahmah). Living a sustainable life means recognising and respecting the perfect balance (mizan) in which Allah created the universe and living in balance with the natural world. A Workshop most capably conducted by Mark Delaney, showed how individuals can make lifestyle changes to reduce their own carbon footprints. The event was co-organised by the ICQ and supported by AFIC, ICQ, Council of Imams Queensland, The Climate Reality Project – Australia and The Pacific, Australian International Islamic College, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change www.arrcc.org.au , the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Griffith Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue. Rita Markwell, Mohammed Hayat and Professor Shahjahan Khan moderated segments of the programme. The conference was organised by a dedicated band of volunteers as an initial step

towards establishing a new organisation dedicated to researching and resolving major issues from Islamic perspectives and through engaging the Muslim community. It is anticipated that a dedicated subcommittee will carry forward to implement a number of the conference initiatives. Participants agreed on a number of Resolutions, including that: 1. The Conference recognises that the world is in a climate emergency. 2. We encourage all levels of governments in Australia to recognise the climate emergency. 3. It requests leaders and members of Mosques and Islamic Organisations to create awareness about the seriousness of climate change and educate and encourage Muslims to play active roles in the light of Islamic teachings – to reduce our carbon footprints and wasteful consumption.” The ‘Time for Action’ is here and now.

Free-for-all fishing is a war on fish Christine Osborne A Greek officer passing the arid Makran coast of Baluchistan during the retreat of Alexander the Great, observed it was inhabited by Ichthyophagi - Fish-Eaters. Everyone eats fish, he noted. Even the dogs. Subsequent centuries of fishing has so depleted fish stocks that by 2050, when the world population is expected to reach 7.5 billion, many wild species will have disappeared. While warming seas and ocean acidification also threaten seafood, the FAO estimates 75 percent of wild fish stocks are being lost to overfishing. Excessive fishing and illegal trawling has so reduced some Northern Hemisphere fish breeds that many are considered unlikely to recover. The European eel, skate and halibut are on the IUCN most endangered list along with the giant beluga sturgeon harvested for caviar in the Caspian Sea. Sold as “Deep Sea Perch” in Sydney fish markets, the orange roughly taking 20-30 years to mature is imminently vulnerable. The slaughter of 75 million sharks a year for sharkfin soup is catastrophic. Morocco, the world’s largest exporter of canned sardines, reports a drop in once prolific shoals in the nutrient rich Canary Current. Spanish and Portuguese fishing boats use small mesh size nets trapping the tiniest

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fish and crustaceans. The list of endangered species is endless. Lobster colonies off Somalia have been wiped out by South Korean vessels dragging the ocean floor depriving fishermen of a livelihood, a reason for the rise of piracy. Chinese boats pulling a huge net between them are decimating fish stocks off Sierra Leone: satellite tracking has recorded 70 of these “pair vessels” working at any time. The 1982 Law of the Sea allows an Economic Exclusion Zone of 200 miles, but a

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lack of resources means most African nations are unable to protect fish within. Fragile craft like the ngalawas of Indian Ocean fishermen can only venture so far from the coast with a result that many offashore islands are fished out. Overfishing reaches a peak in the Southern Ocean where the prized Patagonian tooth fish and the endangered southern blue fin tuna are ruthlessly hunted by vessels plundering the high seas. Locating shoals using sonar technology,

Taiwanese trawlers bait thousands of hooks on lines extending 100 kilometres in an evil operation driven by commercial greed. Flying flags of convenience, they remain out months, off-loading tuna and sharks onto a huge refrigerated “mother ship” of which 400 are thought to operate across the world. With the unreported catch estimated at 14 million tonnes a year costing genuine markets around $25 billion, a global treaty is urgently required to rein in illegal fishing. The main obstacle to multi-national naval patrols of such vast areas of ocean is the cost and penalties are difficult to impose. Educating poor countries such as the Philippines against using cyanide to fish is also limited by illiteracy. A small but positive step towards sustainable fish management is the creation of marine reserves such as those gazetted off Pacific islands like Kiribati and Pulau. Australia has some of the most extensive zones, but allowing recreational fishing defeats the aim of providing fish a sanctuary to breed. Investment in aquaculture like that announced by West Australian billionaire “Twiggy” Forrest may feed future mouths but it is not a solution for wild fish species who are powerless to prevent their own extinction. Christine Osborne is the author of many books on Islamic countries including The Gulf States and Oman. She is also the CEO of www.worldreligions.co.uk a multi faith library specialising in the mainstream faiths. She has visited more than 30 Muslim majority countries.

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Mental Health First Aid training for Imams and community leaders Ayesha Ardati A group of Community Leaders and Imams underwent the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course on 7-8 March 2020, courtesy of a collaborative partnership between the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) and educAID Australia. The key objective of the training was to upskill, equip and empower leaders in a faith-based context to identify, understand, and respond to mental health problems and crisis situations when assisting those within their care. Facilitated by educAID Au cofounders and instructors Ziyad Serhan and Tareq Ahmed, participants partook in an intensive two-day workshop that equipped them with essential information, tools, strategies and resources to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and different mental disorders. The framework provided by the course allows first responders to appropriately address challenging scenarios to ensure individuals who experience signs of a mental illness are supported and then directed to relevant professionals and/or services. The immense benefit and value of the course was expressed by participants and evident in post-course testimonials where Ummu Kulthoom Matthews (Islamic Studies, Counselling and Leadership Teacher) stated: “This course has given me a greater understanding about Mental Health and Mental illness and has allowed me to feel more confident in approaching and helping someone who may be in need of help.”

There was a strong consensus among all participants that the mental health literacy amongst the Muslim community needed addressing to better be able to engage in a topic that is highly stigmatised in society and in our communities. Imam Jamil El-Biza (Imam & Community engagement officer, Masjid Assalam Wolongong) said: “Mental health is a very important topic with many overlooking it. As an Arab-Muslim man, mental health is synonymous to mental illness and so even having a discussion about having better understanding of our mental well-being was taboo.

This course allows us to take our first steps towards understanding a topic that effects us all.” Principal Instructor, Ziyad Serhan, stated: “Having faith-based community leaders all in the one room talking everything MENTAL HEALTH was very special. This was one of the most rewarding initiatives we’ve been involved in to-date because it was a way of ‘giving back’ to individuals who have given so much to us and our communities and who continue to give back. For me (and the team), embarking on this journey to increase Mental Health literacy at all levels of our communi-

ties has no bounds.” As a result of the training, an online Facebook group was established that seeks to bring together Muslim Mental Health First Aiders to continue the conversation and to support one another in terms of working within a Muslim-specific context. With overwhelming feedback received, there are now further plans to hold similar training’s for community leaders in the near future. Ayesha Ardati is the Cofounder and Head of Administration of educAID Australia and is based in Sydney, Australia.

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n a d a Ram arak mub

Best wishes to everyone celebrating this holy month of Ramadan. Wishing you, your family and friends peace, happiness and prosperity.

ED HUSIC MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CHIFLEY Office: Shop 6, 15 Cleeve Close, Mt Druitt 2770 Email: contact@edhusic.com Phone: (02) 9625 4344 ehusic @edhusicmp edhusic.com Authorised by Ed Husic, ALP, 6/15 Cleeve Close Mt Druitt APRIL 2020 / ISSUE 173

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Islamic funeral stakeholders strategise to combat risks of COVID-19 Anjum Rafiqi Funeral directors servicing the Muslim community and other community stakeholders got together on Monday 23 March at LMA offices in Lakemba to deliberate and strategise a response to challenges posed by Coronavirus pandemic regarding burial rites and associated activities. Organised by Muslim Cemetery Board and the Lebanese Muslim Association, the meeting was chaired by Khaled Allamuddin – LMA General Manager. The meeting lasted about 2 hours during which attendees deliberated on strategies to adopt while combating potential hazards posed by COVID-19 to funeral activities and when dealing with deaths arising due to COVID-19. A Community Statement was issued subsequently after the meeting. Meanwhile another Public Statement was issued on the same day on the same issue by ANIC released by Ms Mariam Ardati, ANIC Advisor on Funerals and Cemeteries. Br Khalid in his opening remarks, outlined the activities LMA has been engaged in, with regards to consulting with the department of health and tabled a draft paper with a view to generate consensus on a way ahead. Br Hisham (Funeral Director, LMA) and Br Davud Karadavut (Funeral Director, Turkish Funerals), both provided their perspective on protocols to be adopted on the matter. Br Davud advised the forum that the Turkish Imams had already provided a fatwa allowing the use of “tayyamum ” (dry ablution) and burial in the coffin / sealed bag – without the use of a shroud – if received

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as such from the mortuary/coroners/hospital. Both confirmed there were no reported cases of death due to COVID-19 till date. Br Kazi Ali, Chairperson, Muslim Cemeteries Board, elaborated on the protocols deployed at Riverstone Muslim Cemetery and Kemps Creek Cemetery – Muslim Lawn in the face of the potential hazards associated with exposure to COVID-19 during interment and associated funeral activities. The protocols have been developed in line with restrictions announced by the government to curb exposure and spread of COVID-19. Mr Samir Dandan, LMA President, encouraged the stakeholders to take a pragmatic approach with a view to ensuring exposure to risk is minimised. He re-iterated existing rulings in Islamic jurisprudence already caters for and offers options and solutions when faced with circumstances such as those posed by COVID-19. It was recognised that the situation was evolving and that the community, led by the forum in this matter, needed to be agile and proactive in analysing and responding the continuous stream of information coming through. The attendees agreed to continue to share all relevant information and ideas, with a view to ensure a unified singular set of protocols for the whole of community, irrespective of the funeral director being engaged for the purpose. The agreed protocols while handling and preparing the dead for burial and interaction of family and friends was drafted into a statement at the end of the meeting with a view to ensure the community had a uniform approach going forward that was pragmatic and cognisant of the risks of COVID-19. Anjum Rafiqi is a community volunteer associated with the Riverstone Muslim Cemetery Board.

LCCC under 11 are the cricket champions

FRONT from left: Muhammad Hassan, Zac Tolley, Yuvraj Ghotra, Saim A Siddiqui, Aditya Rao and Rayan Narain. BACK from left: Muhammad Waseem (Parent), Kim A Tolley (Exec Member), Shami Ghotra (Parent), Sharjeel Siddiqui (Team Coach), Madho Rao (Scorer) and Rohit Narain (Team Manager). Sharjeel S The Liverpool Catholic Cricket Club (LCCC) Under 11’s cricket team won their Junior Camden District Cricket Association Premiers competition championships over on Saturday 7 Mar 2020 defeating the Magpies Black Campbeltown team in the grand final.

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Earlier they finished third on the ladder after 17 rounds and then comfortably won their semi-final before the grand final. There was no stopping the boys this year as they put in an outstanding performance with the bat, ball and in the field. After winning the toss LCCC captain Saim Siddiqui opted to bowl first and while he himself and other bowlers Aditya Rao, Yuvraj Ghotra, Zac Tolley, Rayan Narain and Muhammad Hassan applied the early pressure with tight bowling backed up by great fielding. The opposing team, Magpies Black

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Campbelltown made 104 run for 7 wickets while LCCC made 145 runs for 4 wickets during the allocated 20 overs during the grand final. The game was watched by a large group of parents, supporters and the executive committee from LCCC, Matthew Sambuco (President), Bradley A Napper (Sr Vice President), Shannan Nelson (Jnr Vice President), Hugh Forsythe (Secretary) and Kim A Tolley (Exec Member). There was plenty of emotion when the shield was presented to the team captain Saim Siddiqui and proud team manager Ro-

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hit Narain and Scorer Madho Rao. The boys were magnificent but plenty of credit goes to Sharjeel Siddiqui for his incredible passion, coaching, and commitment in developing these fine young cricketers. Muhammad Hassan, 8, inspite of his young age, who joined cricket as a beginner picked amazing bowling, fielding, and batting in a short period of time. The team bringing glory again to the name of Liverpool Catholic Cricket Club (LCCC). We are the CHAMPIONS! and the LCC legend grows with this new title. ISSUE 173 / APRIL 2020


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A good word is a good omen Sukoon Quteifan At the beginning of the coronavirus crises, and just like everyone else in this world, I started to encounter stress and anxiety. Thanks to Allah, I stumbled upon this valuable Prophetic Hadith and felt it was dedicated especially to our hardship right now. In fact, it calmed me down and made me view this situation from a constructive perspective. For this reason, I decided to create an illustration that portrays this beautiful Hadith aiming to spread its valuable message amongst people. The Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “There is no infection and there are no bad omens, although I am pleased by a good omen - a good word.” (Sahih Al-Albani) It is clear that the hadith has three parts; in the first part, the Prophet (s) is saying: “There is no infection” which means that disease is not transmitted from a sick person to a healthy one by itself, rather it is transmitted by the will and decree of Allah. If a sick person mixes with healthy ones this is one of the causes of the transmission of disease. But this does not mean that it will inevitably happen, rather it only happens if Allah wills it. Hence we often see a sick mother give birth to a healthy child, but the disease is not transmitted to the infant. We cannot say that the Prophet (s) was denying the effect of infection, because infection or contagion is something that is proven to exist in real life. In fact, there are many other Hadiths that show the Prophet (s) commanding us to avoid the means that lead to sickness. The Prophet (s) said in a matter in regards to the health of camels: “Do not put a sick one with a healthy one”. Also, the Prophet (s) said: “Flee from the leper as you would flee from a lion.” Leprosy was then a fast transmitted deadly disease. In addition, Allah commands us to avoid things that may be a cause of calamity, when he says: “and do not throw yourselves into destruction”. [Quran 2:195]. Now, in the second part of this Hadith the Prophet (s) says: “…and there are no

bad omens,” where this refers to those who have a superstitious belief in birds, animals, numbers or months. Likewise many of us today are feeling pessimistic of the year 2020 and its numbers blaming it for all the disasters that are occurring nowadays. There is a clear order in this Hadith that finding bad omen in any sign is unacceptable in Islam. In fact, it is forbidden and considered as shirk, unless one tries to dispel its effects by placing his trust in God. The third and the last important part of the Hadith says: “Although I am pleased by a good omen - A good word,” where the Prophet (s) explains that people normally find good omen in a good word they hear. It is not a sign by a bird or some other animal or an inanimate object. A good word may affect a person because it expresses some favorable feeling, or de-

scribes a positive situation. It is in human nature that we like fine expressions, beautiful scenes, peaceful surroundings, even when nothing of it belongs to us. Similarly, words that speak of a good thing happening to us soon are bound to have a good effect on us. We note here that such words may be without foundation, but the fact that they give us a sense of optimism is beneficial, provided that we attribute all future events to God’s will. While today’s calamity of the coronavirus makes optimism a challenge, our main duty is to follow the teachings of our Prophet (s) by focusing on positive emotions and have the ability to remain optimistic believing that the best will come in Inshallah. Kindness and encouragement should come to the fore by trying to spread good words that elevate one’s sense of well-be-

World Water Day & climate change Md Juman Hussan World Water Day (22 March) is an annual UN observance day that highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The United Nations launched a flagship report which says that reducing both the impacts and drivers of climate change will require major shifts in the way we use and reuse the Earth’s limited water resources. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on World Water Day said, “everyone has a role to play,” and called on all

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stakeholders to increase climate action and invest in robust adaptation measures for water sustainability. By limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, he said, “the world will be in a much better position to manage and solve the water crisis that we all face.” “Water is the primary medium through which we perceive the effects of climate disruption, from extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, to glacial melting, saltwater intrusion and sea level rise,” he said. This will negatively affect health and productivity and act as a threat multiplier for instability and conflict. “We must urgently scale up investments in healthy watersheds and water infrastructure, with dramatic improvements in the efficiency of water use, said Mr Guterres, adding that the world must anticipate and respond to climate

risks at every level of water management. In her message on the World Water Day, UNESCO chief Azoulay said that with four billion people worldwide forced to contend with water scarcity. “Without sustainable access to water, we will be unable to achieve goals such as quality education or the development of more prosperous, fairer societies,” she said. The 2020 Report, she said, sets out “concrete solutions for ensuring access to water for all: improved water resources management, the mitigation of water-related hazards, easier and more sustainable access to sanitation.” Action to save the planet and its water will only be useful if future generations were fully involved, including through UNESCO member States incorporating issues related to environmental education in their school curricula. Md Juman Hussan is the news editor of Showdesh Barta and Australia correspondence of sylhetview24.com. He is actively contribute by his articles and poems.

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ing. In conclusion, our beloved Prophet (s) is reassuring us to not be scared of diseases itself nor to be superstitious of any bad thing that might happen. But rather we should put our trust in Allah and depend on Him believing that nothing acts on this earth except by Allah’s permission. He is the owner of this world and the one who causes things to happen - Not forgetting to take the necessary precautions. Sukoon Quteifan is a graphic designer and illustrator. She is the creator and the illustrator of “Sukoon Al Quloob - Peace of Hearts”, an Islamic Cartoons facebook page. Sukoon is based in Sydney, Australia. You can follow her on facebook @SukoonQuteifanArt.

Victor Harbour, South Australia c1960 Dr Reginald Naulty In one corner of the adjoining island waves smashed over huge stony outcrops, out of mood with the land which was everywhere sleepy; fairy penguins peered from their rocky burrows as they had for silent ages; life in the town proceeded without hurry, the country bakery giving charm an anchorage. On the beach, drowned sea-birds in the sea-weed sharpened the loneliness of the sea, ever equivocal and free.. Dr Reginald Naulty, originally from Adelaide, has taught at Charles Sturt University and has been a prolific writer since 1972.

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Christian-Muslim dialogue in a family atmosphere Zia Ahmad The Islamic Foundation for Education and Welfare (IFEW) hosted its 17th Presentation dinner on Sunday 15 March at Darulislam in Bonnyrigg. IFEW Presentation Dinners are organised twice a year in order to develop mutual understanding between IFEW, MEFF and Seena Incorporated, publishers of AMUST with other sister organisations and institutions in Sydney. The invitees this year included Rev Dr Patrick McInerney, Director of the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations, Mr Neil El-Kadomi, President of Parramatta Mosque and Mr Bilal Rauf, Media spokesperson for ANIC. Although Bilal could not make it due to a change of plans having to leave Sydney that weekend. MC, Mobinah Ahmad commenced the formal program with introductions followed by IFEW President Sakinah Ahmad presenting the 48 years of history of the extended family of Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad and services rendered in the field of Daawah and education during these long years. Dr Patrick McInerney, a long time family friend and colleague in interfaith dialogues gave an extensive presentation on who the

Rev Dr Patrick McInerney. Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations are, what they do and how they do it. Dr McInerney started off by requesting for a minute’s silence in memory for Christchurch victims on the first anniversary of the attack followed by acknowledgement of the traditional custodians of land. Having a thorough knowledge of both Christianity and Islam and long time experience of living in both Christian and Muslim societies, he explained the mission of the Columban Centre and his role in its local surroundings as well as its global impact. Dr McInerney listed activities and events organised through the Centre in the field of interfaith relations including Youth PoWR and the development of The Sydney State-

Mr Neil El-Kadomi. ment for building bridges between believers from different religions. Mr Najm Ahmad highlighted the early days of MEFF where he played a significant role in its consolidation and how it became a most important mega-event in Sydney’s annual calendar. Mr Neil El-Kadomi related the long time efforts in the establishment of the Parramatta Mosque and its current operations serving the Western Sydney community. Mrs Mehar Ahmad, President of Seena Inc showcased the success of AMUST currently in its 6th year of publication as well as other innovative projects such as marking International Day for People with Disability, Grandparents Day, multicultural cooking

Mr Najm Ahmad. classes and helping refugees and victims of human rights violations. Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad concluded the program saying that all these success stories have been built on Australian voluntary values in serving the community without any monetary reward, followed by Dua for peace, harmony and safety from the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world. An efficient dinner was hosted by Mr Shujaat Ali Siddiqui and Mrs Uzma Siddiqui in a warm family atmosphere followed by congregational Maghreb prayers joined by all including Dr McInerney. Zia Ahmad is the Editor-in-Chief of the Australasian Muslim Times AMUST. Invitees at the event enjoying delicious dinner.

Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad OAM, giving Dua for peace, harmony and safety.

Coronavirus and market confidence Farida Lakhany Restrictions on social gatherings and travel has affected us as individuals and community as Coronavirus is taking everyone into its grip since daily life depends on mixing up with people, going to banks, schools and shopping. From December 2019 a new virus outbreak, officially called COVID-19 emerged out of Wuhan, China and it has spread all over the globe. Investors fear that the outbreak will further weaken the global economy not just China but elsewhere into Europe and US. Though I’m not an expert on International/European investments, however a common sense goes to show its impacts generally on the markets around the world.

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There are now substantial fear that this may upset global supply chains with companies such as Apple calling out revenue miss-

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es and potential difficulty in getting phones to market given shutdowns in China, a manufacturing global hub.

The markets had arguably been rallying in recent weeks despite virus concerns on the assumption that the pandemic would be contained anytime soon. This had seen share market valuations become stretched which heightened the damage we have seen in the last month when investor sentiment weakened. By triggering fear although the news websites generate traffic and thus sales in advertising at the expense of negative market confidence. Holding investment for longer periods of time substantially improves the likelihood of a positive return, but that depends on when the pandemic curve will flatten and finally go down. Farida Lakhany is a freelance journalist/poetess/interpreter for the Gujarati language. She writes and contributes for overseas papers and magazines. She has worked in Pakistan as a regular journalist for an English paper.

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Sydney launch of Primary School in Vanuatu Shazil Rehman Muslim Aid Australia held a special dinner on Friday 13 March 2020 in Bankstown, Sydney to celebrate the opening of the MAA International Primary School (MIPS) in Vanuatu, attended by community leaders and supporters from various states of Australia as well as New Zealand. The Republic of Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation located west of Fiji, famous for gorgeous islands and coral reefs made up of roughly 80 islands that include Tanna – that has the active volcano Mount Yasur. Unfortunately, Vanuatu also has the highest proportion of children who have never attended schools while in remote Tanna, a child has to walk at least 4km a day to attend school, which leads to poor school attendance and performance. These were some of the fundamental reasons behind MAA wanting to open the school in Tanna, Vanuatu that turned out to be a very challenging project, but with a most rewarding outcome and a great success story. The event, held at The Highline Venue in Bankstown included talks, presentations, documentary showcasing the project and

video linked discussions with movers and shakers involved in the project. After the Maghreb prayer, the formal program was started by Shameema Kolia, MC with the recitation of Quran by Sheikh Ahmad Ben Fayed and a welcome address by Madinia Abdurahman, MAA chairperson. While talking about MAA’s values and reviewing the year 2019, MAA General Manager, Aziz Dindar, expressed his gratitude for the support from donors, especially ‘Fathi The Opening’ - a charity initiative begun by family members in memory of their young brother Fathi Karra-Hassan, who passed away in Sydney in early 2017. “We are committed to continue developing impactful humanitarian aid projects in the oft-neglected South Pacific region,” Mr Dindar said. A video address on moving forward was presented by Sheikh Abdel Moez Nafti, MAA Executive Director Islamic Affairs. The program also included a panel discussion including Taupheeq Omar, Project Manager (Fiji), Salah Hammad, Permaculture Expert (UK), Amna Karra Hassan, Fathi the Opening (Australia) and Razia Ben Fayed, Al Firasa (New Zealand). Education & Employment: The school provides free education to all and currently accommodates 40 children

in Year 1 and 2 classes, but has a capacity of 120 students. The official Vanuatu curriculum is followed which includes Maths, Science and English and additionally the school also conducts Arabic, Culture and Permaculture classes. The school currently employs nine locals in roles across management, teaching, farm aid and more in addition to the volunteers and consultants that make up the School Council. Sustainable Community: The school complex doubles as a sustainable agriculture site for the community where both students and adults can learn techniques such as composting food waste, sustaining soil fertility, harvesting rain water, and more. This will help them rely less on imported food and fertilisers that harm their health and land. The site will also be equipped with a solar panel system, com-

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posting toilets, grey water systems, and recycling processes to make up for the lack of such utilities in Tanna. Health & Nutrition: The permaculture programme at the school not only teaches the community about sustainable agriculture, it also provides highly nutritious crops that are cooked at the school kitchen and turned into healthy lunches every day. The school also runs parent and child workshops that focus on hygiene and bathing techniques, lice prevention and treatment, and other health issues. The structure is also cyclone-proof and can withstand a highest Category 5 cyclone. Shazil Rehman is the Marketing & Strategic Development Manager for Muslim Aid Australia.

COVID-19: What about Gaza? Philip Feinstein While the whole world is caught up with Coronavirus protection issues, there is one part of the world that is almost being ignored: Gaza Most countries are enforcing appropriate measures and lockdown procedures at various levels to protect their citizens, and this includes Gaza. However, this part of the world is reliant on their neighbour, Israel, to provide medical supplies which is only happening on a very small scale. According to Israel’s Haaretz Weekly, Israel has only sent “a couple of hundred” test kits to Gaza. The lives of the 1.8 million citizens of Gaza are now very much on the precipice of a catastrophe. And bearing in mind the huge numbers of Gaza residents that work in Israel, this impending issue will also have an effect on Israeli citizens. With this Coronavirus now classified as a APRIL 2020 / ISSUE 173

world pandemic, one must ask why Israel is taking this stand. There are many thousands of Israelis and Jews throughout the world who are asking this very question.

“This is now a world issue which means that we should all stand together” stated Philip Feinstein of the refugee help organisation Music for Refugees. “This is an ideal

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moment for Israel to gain international recognition that it is truly helping Palestinians in Gaza, but it limits assistance to the area,” he said. With one of the highest population densities in the world and few medical resources, Gaza is one step away from a public health disaster. Those 1.8 million people only have access to enough COVID-19 test kits for 190 people, meaning only 1 in every 9,473 Palestinians there can be tested. Additionally, there are just 20 available ventilation devices in all of Gaza, just 1 ventilation device for every 90,000 Palestinians there. Palestinians in Gaza not only have fewer medical supplies, but many of them do not have access to clean water or a nutritious diet putting them even more at risk. Although the tensions between Hamas and Israel have eased for now, surely this is also a time for both adversaries to cooperate and use this opportunity to create a lasting peace. Philip Feinstein is a Sydney based writer, musician and activist working for MUSIC FOR REFUGEES www.musicforrefugees.org

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Visiting India during protests and riots Zahid Jamil I had planned to visit India in late December 2019, but had to cancel the visit as situation in India worsened following the passage of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and proposed National Register of Citizenship (NRC) bill in the parliament. The police had entered the Jamia Millia Islamia university campus on 15 December beating up students in the university library, following violent incidents outside the campus. The incident had triggered nationwide protest against the controversial parliamentary act and situation had turned violent in many cities across north India. I rescheduled the visit and reached Delhi on 26 February 2020. However, the situation had worsened in some parts of Delhi a day earlier as some of the worst rioting took place in the Nation’s capital since independence. Only in 1984, the riots against Sikhs had claimed several thousand lives. Delhi riots were triggered due to fiery speeches by Hindu nationalist leaders who could not tolerate a Muslim women led protest against CAA and NRC in Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim locality, not far from Jamia Millia university. Well over 50 people were killed, a great majority of them Muslims, many more injured and a large number of Muslim owned properties were set on fire. Delhi police were accused of joining the Hindu rioters in committing atrocities against Muslims. Even after the riots, Muslim youth were rounded up by the police in large number and their fate is still unknown. Tension prevailed in several areas of Delhi during my stay of over 10 days. Areas surrounding Shaheen Bagh were often gripped with fear as the rumours spread that Muslim localities may be attacked by armed Hindu mobs. Many Muslim families, including my relatives, left their homes to spend nights with friends and relatives in relatively safer Muslim neighbourhoods. While my main focus was to hold the events for our Australian charity, Indian Minority Education Society of Australia

Inc (IMESA), I took the opportunity to visit Shaheen Bagh protest site. I was fascinated by the courage, perseverance and strong will of hundreds of women, old and young, many university educated, many mothers with young children and many old and fragile. They were determined to continue to hold 24 hour vigil for nearly three months against CAA and NRC. NRC Bill will seek documents from every Indian citizen to prove their Indian origin which most Indians will struggle to produce. While followers of all other religions are likely to receive the reprieve under CAA,

Muslims would not be given this relief. Thus millions of Muslims will be rendered stateless and many fear that such stateless people will be sent to concentration camps. In Shaheen Bagh, the organisers were pleased to meet me as I had come from Australia and had represented a charity who worked to educate the poor Muslim children in India. They requested me to address the gathering. It was after 10 pm, yet the camp was abuzz with slogans and excitement. Young men volunteers were equally vocal. These hundreds of women welcomed me with the

loud applause as the MC told them that the next speaker was from Australia. I congratulated the brave women for their exceptional courage and perseverance over such a long period. I said that their protest was fully justified as it was a peaceful protest which was not only their fundamental right under Indian constitution but they were also following the great tradition of Ahimsa, the non-violent protest, adopted by the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi during the liberation movement against British. I said that they were not alone and protests were held in solidarity with them overseas as well, in Australia, UK, Canada, US and many more countries. I also told the audience that we, at IMESA had written to the Australian Prime Minister about the difficulties, IMESA supported children may face in India. These children come from the poorest background and their parents are unlikely to pass the criteria set by the proposed NRC bill and they would thus be rendered stateless. While IMESA is empowering them with education, the current Indian government will withdraw their basic right to access higher education and jobs, if the proposed bill is passed. I further said that it is obligatory on any government in power to listen to the grievances of the people. “BJP government should therefore send a delegation to meet you and listen to your representatives as your aim is to resolve issues through negotiation,” I concluded. I also participated at events in Lucknow, Delhi and Saharanpur organised by IMESA which is currently running projects in Lucknow and Saharanpur. Additional projects will soon commence in Baroda and other cities and towns as the charity gathers more resources. For more information please visit imesa.org.au Zahid Jamil is an engineering post graduate from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and runs a financial planning practice based in Sydney. He heads South Asian Muslim Association of Australia, SAMAA: samaa.org. au), a benevolent institution offering wide range of services to the community elders. He also heads “Indian Minority Education Society of Australia” (IMESA) https://imesa.org.au/, a body engaged in educating poorest Muslim children in India. He moderates an Islamic website “Islamic Forum for Education and Research” isfer.info/

Digital world: The hub of distractions Hena Jawaid The digital technology has reduced the world into a global village. Today, we know what is happening in any other part of the world. The access towards entertainment, news, information, education and other resources requires us to click a button only. This easiness in our modern lifestyle has introduced a new set of challenges. We are dealing with the range of options in regards to fun, learning and living. This multiplicity has caused enormous distractions into our daily lives. The engrossment into multiple online activities keeps us busy and happy secondary to dopamine rush [1]. Dopamine is a chemical neurotransmitter, responsible for motivation, pleasure and passion. In addition, it is also getting us into a cycle of addiction. This age has seriously become a hub of distractions, which has displaced humanity locus from its gaze. Speculatively, our every passing moments are being colored with some kind of trivial doings that shift our focus more towards temporary series of events.

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It also deprives us from our purpose of existence and worth of living in long run. The anarchy caused by this in our spiritual field does not stay dormant for long. This suppression raises its head in a form of different stress-related symptoms. We, because of obliviousness, tend to compensate for such disarray with other activities of materialistic nature that does not quench our thirst again. Like; 1. Display of personal accomplishments on a social media reveals occult desire of receiving excessive self-assurances and validation to remind oneself that he/she is on a right track or doing well. 2. The culture of selfie – manifests the new age, which is all about me, I and myself. The over-indulging habit of keeping the focus on oneself shows the existence of internal void which struggles to subside the emptiness with appraisals and admiration. 3. Avoiding the echo of personal hollowness by striving to get into more activities of distracting nature. Like, listlessly surfing online shopping stores, scrolling YouTube videos aimlessly and playing games. There are just too many things happening in our surrounding because of our awareness (gadgets deliver us news of every second), social networking, politico-economical up-

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heavals and accessory fun resources. It has saturated our receptive senses. These distractions carry an aim to derail our existential meaning and shrink our logical capacities to dig deeper into lifespan layers from emotional, intellectual, spiritual and philosophical perspectives. The present era requires an isolation from excessive external provocations that is numbing our strategic thinking. The strategic approach teaches us: How to think? What to think? How to envision one’s life in long run? Why I am here? What is enriching me? What I am carrying for hereafter? What is happening in my life? My activities are worth considering or wasteful!

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Number of questions from similar background can break the cycle of monotonous occurrences in one’s routine life. It can impart us a larger view of life. The cycle can only be broken by establishing a link internally to the deeper strata of oneself. [1]. Haynes, T. (2018). Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time. Harvard Science in the News. Hena Jawaid is a mental health professional having trained in Pakistan and US completing 5 years of medicine and then 4 years training in psychiatry. She has contributed to international and national newspapers, magazines and scientific journals on professional and community issues and spends many hours volunteering for various NGOs. ISSUE 173 / APRIL 2020


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Fighting coronavirus through purification Professor Shahjahan Khan Coronavirus pandemic has forced people to practice some aspects of Islam. The whole world has embraced quarantine (no in or out from plague area), key advice of Prophet Muhammad (s) and cleanliness, another core practice of Islam. China’s city of Shenzhen has banned eating cats and dogs which Islam prohibited long ago. These are some live examples of how practicing of Islamic Shariah can benefit mankind even if they are not Muslims. Purification of body and attire are at the core of Islamic faith and prerequisites for fundamental worshipping (salat) of Muslims. Equally important is to purify heart, mind, soul and wealth of Muslims. Islam does not allow any impurity in any form or shape in the life of Muslims. Purification leads to successes and spiritual uplifting. As the Qur’an testifies, “He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself” (30:14). Purification helps reduce the risk of contracting any contiguous diseases including virus. Hands sensitization, washing hands with soap, keeping outer garments clean,

and not coming in contact with any contamination of infected individual (social distance) are different means of keeping purified at the time of outbreak of virus. Prophet Muhammad (s) said, “Purification is half of the faith” (Hadith: Sahih Musim). At the time of virus epidemic purification ensures prevention and protection from being infected and remain healthy. Muslims remain clean by clipping nails, brushing teeth, shaving pelvic hairs, washing external impurities, taking daily bath/shower, cleaning home/bed, performing ablution (wudu), and avoiding any drops of urine and properly washing any excrement ( faeces) after bowel movement. Even if your body is purified, you will need to make ablution before prayers (salat) if you are not already with wudu. This is so important that if you don’t find water or using water is harmful to you, you must do tiyamum (shorter version of ablution by using dry soil/stone) before salat. Muslims are required to take food/drink that are halal (lawful) and tayyeb (good/excellent). This is again to keep your body and soul free from impure, harmful and danger-

ous consumables. Wearing modest dress to cover body is another way of protecting you from external harmful objects and unclean environment. Exposed parts of the body (hand, face, feet, head) may become unclean and hence are required to be washed/wiped before performing salat. For prayers all body garments must be clean, that is, they must be free from impurities or najasat. Not only the garments must be washed properly but also they must be free from any spot of urine and faeces of human or other animals or birds. No matter your garment is old or new they all must be pure/clean for the validity of your satat. The place where you pray, including open ground, must be clean. Remember that in prayers we stand directly in front of Allah so we must wear good and clean clothing in clean body. Purification of inner self is as important as purifying body and garments. Every ibadah or worship in Islam is directed towards the purification of soul or rooh. This is achieved by giving up all evil and engaging in good deeds for wellbeing

of the creation of Allah SWT. Cleaning up of mind from doing or thinking to do any harm to anyone, and preparing it to engage in good acts of benefit to others will lead to the spiritual elevation. Thus purification of intent or niyat is achieved. This is important as Prophet Muhammad (s) said, “Surely all actions are but driven by intentions” (Hadith: Sahih Bukhari). Remembrance or dhikir of Allah (glorification) is the best way to purify soul. This includes acting as per His teachings and be God-conscious all the time to avoid any sins and ensure increasing hasanat. Fasting in Ramadan enables Muslim to acquire this quality of taqwa. Similarly, giving the obligatory charity or zakat purifies our wealth. Five times payers keep us away from lewdness and evil deeds (29:35). Referring to five times salat (and ablution), Prophet Muhammad (s) said, “If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?” (Hadith: Sahih Bukhari). Professor Shahjahan Khan is professor of Statistics at University of Southern Queensland, Australia. He is the former President of Islamic Countries Society of Statistical Sciences and Expatriate Fellow of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences.

Coronavirus pandemic and its global impact Dr Jan A Ali Would the lessons from Coronavirus pandemic usher a new world order with strong social institutions, high moral and ethical standards, compassion, and human-consciousness? In December 2019 in Wuhan city in China, an infectious disease named COVID-19 caused by one kind of coronavirus was reported to have emerged. These kind of viruses are called coronaviruses because corona means crown or circlet which refers to the way the virus looks when viewed under the microscope; there is a crown on the top of the virus. Some of these viruses, around four or five different kinds, cause common diseases among humans such as common cold and mild to moderate respiratory illnesses. There are other kinds of Coronaviruses that affect animal species that can occasionally jump onto humans. The 2019 Coronavirus is a new kind of coronavirus never seen in humans before. The theoretical explanation for this is that the disease originally was transmitted from animal species to humans and then started to spread far and wide. Some individuals have succumbed to this disease and died, particularly the elderly due to their low immunity, and affected many others and the efficacious trend continues. It is not known yet how severe the disease is and how far it will spread. Since COVID-19 is a new disease, experts are still learning more about it as well as about its spread; how it transmits from person-to-person? It is already known in modern medicine that most respiratory diseases spread by large droplets when individuals cough or sneeze and travel as far as two meters landing on surfaces which humans end up touching and the spread of the disease ensues. This is how the Coronavirus spreads as well. People infected with the COVID-19 experience mild to moderate respiratory illness including cough, fever, and shortness of APRIL 2020 / ISSUE 173

breath but recover without requiring special treatment. However, in severe cases which often affect the elderly and those with some underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer can potentially lead to severe respiratory problems, kidney failure, and even death. Currently, there is no specific treatment for the virus and, therefore, the medical advice is that the best way to prevent and slow down the transmission of Coronavirus from person-to-person is to practise good hygiene such as regularly washing of the hands and avoid touching the face and good practise of respiratory etiquette, for example, by coughing into a tissue or handkerchief. COVID – 19 has been reported to have spread in many parts of the world having serious medical and economic impacts on societies. With its extremely vast spread the Coronavirus is impacting on many different facets of our everyday living. There may be a long term effect of this pandemic that our pattern of daily rituals and practices have fundamentally changed. It seems that we have been thrust to a new way of being-in-the-world as we come to terms with the fact that touching things, being with our family and friends and fellow citizens, and breathing the air in an enclosed space can be perilous. Given that the medical experts have forecasted the prevalence of COVID-19 to continue for months yet, could this become the “new norm” to retreat from shaking hands, hugging, or touching our faces? The “new norm” could manifest itself in replacing the face-to-face personal interaction or being in the presence of others

with an online interaction. We might start questioning the goodness of face-to-face interaction and permanently settle for online engagement. If this will occur, then there will be some definite losers. Those without easy access to broadband will be definitely disadvantaged creating greater distance between those who can afford online means of communication and those who cannot. On another level, paradoxically whilst the online communication will increase our level of communication with one another, it will at the same time increase the physical distance between people and we will start to lose that “human touch”; our essence that separates us as humans from other living beings. However, this is not the only way of looking at the impact of COVID-19 on societies. Apart from the obvious health impact there is a serious spiritual impact too. The latter has received basically no attention in secular modernity. The Coronavirus pandemic has raised some important questions about organised and institutionalised religion such as Islam. Can Islam and other world religions survive the Coronavirus crisis and if so what will become of them? Will keeping the faith through congregational rituals and practices such as juma prayer for Muslims be possible or congregational rituals and practices will become cyberspaced? These are some of the questions the religious people and their leaders and scholars will now have to grapple with. Importantly, no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought an end to our love-affair with the market economy and hyper-individualism. It is possible that the

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Coronavirus will steer us in another direction. Since we have witnessed the market-based models for economic activity and social organisation fail so miserably and catastrophically – the USA is planning for a two-trillion dollar plus stimulus/rescue package and Australia is planning for a two hundred billion dollar stimulus/rescue package - it will be criminal of us as global citizens to rest on our laurels and do zilch. Once the Coronavirus pandemic subsides our reorientation towards politics must change and we must demand our political leaders and community chiefs to move away from focusing on “war on terror” and state territorial defence to making substantial new investments in public goods - especially health, education, transportation, and public services. It is worth noting that the modern nation-states that have invested billions of dollars in arms to protect their borders and citizens have failed sadly. Interestingly, the cleverest idea that any modern nation-state in the face of Coronavirus have come up with is to advice their free-moving citizens to stay-put in the confinement of their homes. The Coronavirus pandemic must teach us that we are a community of human beings and not, as our political leaders and transnational giants treat us, a set of numbers and bunch of customers. Our fates are the common link so “Will We Have a New World Order?” We have to say no to expensive fuel sold to us by BP, Mobil, and Shell, we have to stop buying cheap burgers from McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks, and Burger King who exploit our innocent youth. We have to demand our political leaders and community chiefs for better humane performance, and we have to stipulate to the bureaucrats and technocrats to guarantee that our children receive knowledge in science and theology, and critical thinking skills and that the institution of family and not the institution of employment that sustains us as human beings and upon which the society rests. Dr Jan A. Ali is a Senior Lecturer in Islam and Modernity in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University. He is a Sociologist of Religion specializing in Islam with a research focus on existential Islam.

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Real self to ideal self proximity Hena Jawaid “Are you ready to be ‘who you are’? Or have we allowed ourselves to ‘be’ because of others? Have we given ‘permission to people to ‘co-sign’ on our lives? Remember. Most people will never give you permission to do what they cannot do or are capable of! Your life should have your signature, no one else’s!” ― Abha Maryada Banerjee Emotional quotient (EQ) is now regarded as one of the main personality predictor, which assures career and personal life successes. In the present world, it has gained more significance and attention than the intelligence quotient (IQ). EQ deals with various components like self-awareness, social responses and assessment of others facial expressions along with a prediction of emotional outcome of oneself and others in any given situation. From the perspective of self-awareness, which includes knowledge of an ideal self and a real self; can open a new dimension with respect to EQ. Self-awareness deals with thorough consideration of innate capabilities, inadequacies, purpose of living and ambitions. The depth of self-awareness (real self-to-ideal self proximity) provides an experience of self-validation and reassurance. On the other hand, poor self-awareness does not provide the same experience and results in impaired formation of self-bound-

ary. A person with minimal self-awareness would have greater problems in keeping relationship ties because he or she is more liable to cross boundaries or let others run over him or her from time to time. For example, at a professional level, if a manager is mindful of his status, self and situation then it would be easier for him to follow an instructed task. On contrary to this, if a person has poor recognition of his or her responsibility, status and self (like having inflated or deflated self-esteem) then it would be difficult for him/her to adjust with the (necessary and additional) de-

mands. In both scenarios, one can see that there is a big gap between a true self and an ideal self. This gap is secondary to either: 1. Ignorance (away from a real self) or 2. Over-indulgence in an ideal self The conflicts, which would occur as a sequel of these (implicit) dynamics, can endanger job, life, relationships and occupation. The proper demarcation of a real self to ideal self-boundary can be attained by certain lifestyle measures like: 1. Experiencing loneliness (isolation facilitates a self-talk which eventually determine our thinking-at-default)

2. self-introspection or reflection 3. Spiritual connection with a transcending force of the world, 4. hobbies, 5. spending time with friends and companions (relationships offer a mirror where you can see and identify yourself as a person) 6. reading books The chemistry of a real self to ideal self needs to be understood in order to acquire EQ skills. EQ helps in acknowledging self-boundary which assist oneself in coping with stressor/situation of life in different backgrounds. EQ introduces flexibility in attitudes by cohesively joining the two ends together (real self and ideal self) by understanding the social situation and its requirements, adversities and outcomes. EQ skills promise a favorable outcome. The reality check of any event modifies our behavior accordingly. On the other hand, the insensitive approach can prove to be counter-productive and a cause of failures in a long run. The groundbreaking book on EQ “Working with Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman offers a great insight on the subject. He comments on one place: “Emotional intelligence does not mean merely “being nice”. At strategic moment it may demand not “being nice”, but rather, for example, bluntly confronting someone with an uncomfortable but consequential truth they’ve been avoiding.”

Why was Torah revealed during Ramadan? Rabbi Allen Maller Most people have at one time or another wondered, ‘If there is only one God why are there so many religions?’ The Qur’an declares that Allah could have made all of us monotheists, a single religious community, but (didn’t) in order to test us in what we have been given. “If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (God’s plan is) to test you in what He has given you: so compete in all virtues as in a race. The goal of you all is to (please) Allah who will show you on judgment day) the truth of the matters in which you dispute.” (Quran 5:48) This means that religious pluralism is the will of God. Yet for centuries many believers in one God have chided and depreciated each other’s religions, and some believers have even resorted to forced conversions, expulsions and inquisitions. Monotheists all pray to the same God, and all prophets of monotheistic faiths are inspired by the same God. For almost 14 centuries Jews, Christians and Muslims have read each others holy scriptures from an adversarial perspective. Since all monotheistic scriptures come from the one and only God, we should view other scriptures as potentially enriching our understanding of our own scripture. But in the middle ages almost all readers thought of revelation as a zero sum sport like tennis rather than a multiple win co-operative sport like mountain climbing. In a zero sum game any value or true spiritual insight I grant to another scripture somehow diminishes my own. This was the result of the widespread use of scripture for missionary purposes; to win over others and not to share equally with others. The situation has not improved much in modern times. In the last two centuries university academics have written many studies of comparative religion which they claim are objective and not distorted by

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their religious beliefs. Unfortunately, academics who treat other religions academically usually do not believe that other scriptures are actually Divinely inspired. Indeed, many academics do not believe that even their own scriptures are Divinely inspired. They use the same kinds of explanation to understand religion that they would use to explain secular history and literature. Thus, when there seem to be contradictions within each sacred scripture or even between them, they should either be harmonized; or understood as different perspectives for different people at different times; but always coming from the One God of Abraham. This is taught by the sacred month of Ramadan. According to a Hadith cited by ibn Kathir in elucidating Qur’an 2:185; Ramadan is a very special month because this one month in the Islamic lunar calendar was the same month when four of God’s books of revelations were sent down to four special Prophets: Abraham (a), Moses (a), Jesus (a) and Muhammad (s). Ibn Kathir states: Imam Ahmad reported Wathilah bin Al-Asqa` said that Allah’s Messenger said: “The Suhuf (Pages) of Ibrahim were revealed during the first night of Ramadan. The Torah was revealed during the sixth night of Ramadan. The Injil was revealed during the thirteenth night of Ramadan and Allah revealed the Qur’an on the twenty-fourth night of Ramadan.” (Ahmad 4:107 and Musnad 177025). I do not know how Christians would understand the revelation of the Injil on the thirteenth day of Ramadan, but the Jewish holy day of Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah to Moses and Banu Israel, falls on the sixth day of the Jewish month of Sivan, which in that year must have coincided with the month of Ramadan. Christians use the solar calendar of the Roman Empire to calculate the birthday of

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Jesus, but they do use a lunar date for Good Friday and Easter. Jews, who do use the lunar calendar for all their religious dates, modify the length of the year with a leap month seven times in every nineteen year cycle, so as to always keep the harvest pilgrimage festival of Hajj Sukkot in the fall harvest season. Thus, it is not obvious that these four revelations, which happened so many centuries apart, actually occurred in the same lunar month, and thus Judaism, Christianity and Islam all equally share a sacred month of revelation. In 2018, Shavuot was celebrated by Jews throughout the world at the same time (20 May ) that Muslims throughout the world are celebrating Ramadan. This only happens nine or ten times in a solar century. I pray that some Imams and Rabbis are stimulated by the co-occurrence of Ramadan and Shavuot to include some kind thoughts to offer insight into each others Sacred Scriptures. To start this process, I offer a Jewish teaching that is also referred to in the Quran. For example, the Mishnah (an early third century compilation of the oral Torah), states, “Adam was created as an individual to teach you that anyone who destroys a single soul, Scripture imputes it to him as if he destroyed the whole world.” (Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5) And the Quran states, “One who kills a human being, unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, would be as if he slew the whole people, and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” [Quran 5:32] Academics explain the similarity of the two statements by assuming that since the Jewish statement is four centuries earlier than the Quranic one, Muhammad (s) must have heard it from a Rabbi or other educated Jew in Medina. I disagree because I believe Muhammad (s) was a Prophet of God who confirms the

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Torah of Prophet Moses (a). Muhammad (s) has no need to learn this statement from another human being. Academics might reply that the statement is not found in the written Torah; it appears in the oral Torah written by the Rabbis in the Mishnah more than 1,400 years after Moses. But the Rabbis maintain that the Mishnah is part of the oral Torah that was passed down from Moses through many generations, just as ahadith have been passed down orally through the generations before being written down. Indeed, the Quran itself introduces this statement as follows, “It is because of this that We ordained for the Children of Israel “one who kills a human being … [Quran 5:32] No prophet of God needs to be informed by another human what should be written in Holy Scripture. God is the source of all Divine inspiration. There are several verses in the Qur’an that mention things from the oral Torah. My perspective is that prophets and Holy Scriptures cannot in reality oppose one another because they all come from one source. Prophets are all brothers; it is as if they have the same “father” (God) and different “mothers” (motherlands. mother tongues, nations, cultures and historical eras). [Bukhari book 60 #113] All of these factors produce different rituals and legal systems, but their theology can differ only in unessential details. Religions differ because the circumstances of each nation receiving them differ. Where sacred Scriptures differ they do not nullify each other; they only cast additional light on each other. Allen S Maller is an ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. His web site is: www.rabbimaller. com. Rabbi Maller blogs in the Times of Israel. His book ‘Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms: A Reform Rabbi’s Reflections on the Profound Connectedness of Islam and Judaism’ (31 articles previously published by Islamic web sites) is for sale ($15) on Amazon. ISSUE 173 / APRIL 2020


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How to be cyber safe while working from home Ahmed Khanji Due to the current COVID-19 situation, many employees must work outside of the office to minimize the spread of infection. But until recently, most organizations have not required employees to work remotely, so there is now a rush to implement the necessary technology to do so. What is commonly neglected is the need for secure channels to facilitate access to internal systems by external users. There are severe consequences for failing to implement security controls that prevent an attacker from obtaining the same access to a company’s systems as a remote employee. A common vulnerability is the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and other remote access protocols, especially when these are open facing to the internet. From Gridware’s experience in incident response, having RDP accessible to users outside of an organization is often the root cause of attacks that can cripple a company’s IT infrastructure and halt operations. There has already been an immense impact on Australia’s economic growth and the livelihood of businesses due to COVID-19. Because of this, businesses are left extremely vulnerable to further malware attacks that can shut down operations permanently. Another significant risk is the increase of phishing campaigns and scams that take

advantage of people’s fear during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Scamwatch, there were already 2401 reports made to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) of phishing scams in January 2020. In contrast to this, as of the 20 February 2020, there has already been 2942 phishing scams reported for this month alone. More specifically, the Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC) has been notified of a scam being distributed through text messages that purport to come from a “GOV” sender with a link for details on “how to get tested in your geographical area” for COVID-19. The public is in disarray already during this current crisis, with supermarkets being left barren and shelves emptied by panic-buying shoppers. Because of this, individuals are more vulnerable to these kinds of phishing scams that play on people’s fears; many are desperate to be tested for the virus to avoid spreading it to other vulnerable family members, such as the elderly and small children, and others want to seek clarity in this current state of disorder. It is imperative that the community is educated on the cyber threats that will arise during the current COVID-19 pandemic and that businesses have the required knowledge

5 tips for business survival in pandemic AMUST Media As CEOs and executives struggle to deal with the fallout from COVID-19, internationally renowned business growth expert, UniSA’s Professor Jana Matthews is encouraging companies to step back and carefully assess their business before making any radical decisions about their future. “Whether a company will survive in times of uncertainty ¬– and is positioned for growth on the other side ¬– will largely depend on how CEOs and executives lead now,” Prof Matthews says. “We’re all dealing with unprecedented uncertainty. And while it’s impossible to predict which companies will make it through all this, there are things they can do to increase their odds. 1. Balance dollars with sense Look at your accounts and project your cash flow over the next few months¬ – do you need to collect receivables or delay expenditures? Are you in a position to lend your business personal funds? Can you ask some of your employees to take vacation days now or drop down to 80 per cent, if necessary? Remember, there are also government grants available, so check these too. If there’s still a shortfall, go to the bank to discuss a loan. 2. Double down on your winners Not every company will do it tough this year – if you produce products such as hand sanitisers, soaps, toilet paper or ventilators, you may have your best year ever. Study which of your products or services have been selling and focus your efforts on those. If you identify the customers who have been buying these, you can also target your marketing. APRIL 2020 / ISSUE 173

3. Think laterally Find out what people are buying and look for openings ¬– can you make the straps that secure facemasks or key components in ventilators? If so, let the manufacturers know your capabilities, or alternatively, make the product yourself. If manufacturers need the product in a different way, look for alternatives, Now is the time to be flexible and adaptable. 4. Look critically at your company ‘Strong Eye’ your company, people and products as if you were an outside investor. Are there any gaps, oversights or weak spots? Ask your employees to help scan, as these are the people in the ground, in the thick of it. What can you do better, more efficiently? Where are the double-ups? Be open and ready to listen, then take action. Also, think about what changes you, as the leader, may need to make. 5. Have the courage, brains and heart to lead It’s not easy to lead through chaos at this velocity of change. It takes brains to analyse and develop strategies to keep the company alive. It takes courage to stop doing what used to work and move into unchartered territory. And without question, it takes heart. Empathise with your employees who are worried about their jobs and their futures and remember to provide them with frequent updates – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Weed out any misfits, or non-performers, and do everything you can to keep your great people on board; you will need them to help you grow once we’re on the other side. “This is a time for smart decisions. The leadership that is shown now, the culture that follows and the decisions that are made will path the way for the future.”

to secure their systems in case of attack. To assist in this, Gridware has prepared a checklist of what remote employees need to stay cyber safe based on our experience in responding to cyber in- c i -

dents: 1. Ensure RDP isn’t open to the entire internet – While protocols such as RDP are necessary to allow employees to gain remote access to systems within a company’s internal network, this can be a significant security risk. If an employee can connect to a company’s internal systems from the outside, so can a potential attacker. Although having the correct user credentials is often required for RDP connectivity, it is a simple task for attackers to brute force or steal user credentials. In many incidents Gridware has been involved in, all it takes is for one insecure machine to be accessed by an attacker for malware to then spread to other connected machines within an organization’s internal network. 2. Use a corporate VPN - VPN is short for virtual private network. Using a VPN service is essentially the virtual equivalent of an internal, private network that remote users can connect to over encrypted channels. By implementing a VPN, this can allow employees to connect to an organization’s systems remotely without having to have a private network open to the entire internet, thereby ensuring that remote-access protocols aren’t accessible to unauthorized users. 3. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) – Multi-factor authentication is a method that uses two or more authentication factors for authenticating a user. Usually,

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this is implemented by requiring a user password for login and a one-time password (OTP) that can be generated by an authenticator app or sent over SMS as a one-time code. Enabling MFA on all employee email accounts can eliminate the risk of a business email compromise (BEC) occurring where an attacker can hijack an email chain from a legitimate user’s account. Additionally, MFA can be enabled for all VPN accounts that employees use to connect to the organization’s internal network and RDP clients. This can significantly reduce the risk of an attacker brute-forcing RDP credentials to gain unauthorized access to a company’s systems, ensuring that remote employees can work safely and without disruption. 4. User education – last but not least, is user education. Educating users is a highly effective method and is listed as one of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents. Users can be given the knowledge to avoid phishing emails, avoid unsafe websites and use strong passwords with multi-factor authentication. Education is especially important to notify users of potential scams that are being distributed during the current COVID-19 pandemic and how to avoid these. While cyber-attacks are on the rise as businesses switch to working remotely, your organization does not have to be at risk. Gridware has extensive experience in incident response and assisting businesses in formulating strategies to keep systems secure. For more information, consult Gridware to see how we can help you. Ahmed Khanji is the CEO of an Australian cyber security firm, Gridware. He is an Adjunct Professor of Cyber Security and Behaviour at Western Sydney University and a regular keynote speaker on cyber security issues. Ahmed has worked on over 200 major cyber breach investigations globally and provides topical lectures on cyber security with industry bodies including ISACA, a global body of assurance, governance, risk and information security professionals and the Australian Information Security Association.

AUSTRALASIAN MUSLIM TIMES

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#SOCIAL

NEWS 1-4

BOOMERANG 5-8

COMMUNITY 9 - 10

AUSTRALIA 11 - 12

Social Spotlights

Brothers In Need

@Brothersinneed.org

Social distancing 1.5 metres Gloves and face Masks Delicious Food courtesy of the team at Beirut Falafel #Legends Bringing the smiles Brothers In Need - We’re here to help. Est 2015

Abu Bakr Zoud @abubakrzoud

It is incorrect to say that Allah kicked us out of his house (the Masjid) with the spread of Coronavirus. The Prophet (s) was driven out of Makkah, the most beloved city to Allah, in which the holiest house of Allah, the Kabah, is built. Yet, we do not say that Allah drove the Messenger (s) out of Makkah out of hate and displeasure with him and the believers. Rather this was a trial for them, and a source of reward. Once again, the Prophet (s) and his companions were was also deprived and turned back from doing Ummrah In the sixths year of Hijah, when they had come all the way from Medinah to Makkah while in the state of Ihram, and even then it was a trial and a source of reward for them.

Zuleyha Keskin A point that really stood out to me from the online session we had with Hanan Dover (Managing Anxiety Amid the Crisis) is that anxiety wears off onto our children. That is, if we respond to situations with anxiety, they will *learn* to respond to situations with anxiety. They will mimic you. I know it’s hard to *not* be anxious during these difficult times but be careful with what you say to your children and how you behave around your children. They will learn from you. * Be conscious of your mannerism around them. If you’re constantly tense,

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AUSTRALASIAN MUSLIM TIMES

My Home Disability Services Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. It is an opportunity to let people know about the progress that are being done in brain research as well as progress in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, schizophrenia and depression. This week at MHDS we played brain games and exercised our minds!

IMEU @theimeu In what was once a Hebron shoe factory, Palestinians are mass producing face masks to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. [Photo: Mosab Shawer / ApaImages]

Unity Grammar

UnityGrammar

Steve Dabliz

@SteveDabliz

No Corona Vs #covid_19 O Allah protect us from this virus, amen. tempered, annoyed and irritated around your children, they see that. * Remember your children can hear what you say on the phone. Because you are absorbed in the conversation, you may forget that they can hear you, even if they look like they are not listening. * If you have the news on 24/7, they can hear it and see it. * If you panic buy and have 50 packets of toilet paper in the house, they can see it. * If they hear mum and dad fighting a lot because they are both at home all the time now, they can see it, hear it and feel it. Be conscious of the environment you are creating for your children, especially now that they are home. * Consider playing the Quran in the background WWW.AMUST.COM.AU

The path to goodness continues even though today our students were unable to be with us due to Covid 19 restrictions. Unity Grammar were still able to participate in preparing and serving over 200 hot meals to the homeless and vulnerable at the The Exodus Foundation. We will continue our local community work as best we can as now more than ever it is sorely needed. Thank you Salima Hawli Karolia for volunteering with us today. for part of the day or for an hour. * Play nasheeds which you know the children like. * Make sure to joke with your children, keep up your sense of humour during these stressful times. * Tell them about the life of the our Prophet (pbuh) and how he experienced hardships but he got through them. * Tell them that you all will get through all this Inshallah and that you (as their parent) will remain positive about it (they will mimic your thought process). Try and stay positive and calm as much as possible <3 May Allah swt protect all of our children. Ameen.

ISSUE 173 / APRIL 2020


LIFESTYLE 13 - 16

UMMAH 17 - 18

TOP 6 Muslim Memes

EDUCATION 19 - 20

BUSINESS 21

#SOCIAL

SOCIAL 22 - 23

Ethical responses TOP 8 Tweets #coronavirus to COVID-19

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and drink, but do not be excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.” (Qur’an 7:31) Allah is clearly commanding us to be moderate and prohibiting excessiveness and wastefulness. The ethical dilemma of hoarding has been in the news and many people are acknowledging hoarding items are going to waste since they are not being consumed and great stress is being added to the system at a time when anxiety levels are already running high. Currently, we can see through the COVID-19 situation that many people are being conscious of how much food they purchase so that others do not go without. Many social media groups have also been created to reach out to individuals who may not be able to access what they need thus forming a sharing platform.

ISRA Australia

Ethical Response #1: Elders

Elders hold an important place in Islam. While they contributed to society when they were young and able in order to make the community a batter place, the community then needs to contribute to their wellbeing in their old age. Furthermore, their wisdom and experience deserve our respect and honour. Prophet Muhammad (s) stated, “He is not of us who does nothave mercy on young children, nor honour the elderly” (Hadith: Tirmidhi). This is a strong statement; the one who does not honour the elderly is being disowned by the Prophet (s). Such a statement cannot be taken lightly, we do not want to be one of those who are disowned by the Prophet (s). During these difficult times, it is extremely important that we look out for the needs of the elderly in the community, reach out to them and assist them at their time of need. They are fragile and vulnerable, and we as a society have a responsibility towards them.

Ethical Response #2: Everything in Moderation

Moderation is extremely important in Islam. In the Qur’an, Allah commands us to “…eat APRIL 2020 / ISSUE 173

Ethical Response #3: Neighbours

The responsibilities that one has towards their neighbours is greatly emphasised in Islam. So much so that, Prophet Muhammad (s) states, “Gabriel (Jibra’il) continued to advise me to treat neighbours well until I thought the neighbours would be given the right of inheritance.” (Hadith: Bukhari and Muslim) In another hadith, the Prophet said, “He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbour to his side goes hungry.” (AlAdab Al-Mufrad). It’s extremely important that we look out for our neighbours, check in on them and offer our assistance when they need it. This is particularly important for elderly, disabled and vulnerable neighbours. It’s heart-warming to hear of good neighbourly stories. There are many individuals who have written little notes for neighbours living on their street, offering to buy groceries, purchase the medication they may need, or to help out with tasks which the neighbours are currently unable to carry out by themselves. ISRA Australia is a non-profit community organisation aiming to provide Islamic educational services & events to the Muslim community in Australia.

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BOOMERANG 5-8

COMMUNITY 9 - 10

AUSTRALIA 11 - 12

    

          

   

      

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ISSUE 173 / APRIL 2020

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Issue 173 - April/Ramadan 2020  

Give Gazans a chance against coronavirus | Christchurch attack survivor spreads message of forgiveness in Sydney | COVID-19: Fighting a comm...

Issue 173 - April/Ramadan 2020  

Give Gazans a chance against coronavirus | Christchurch attack survivor spreads message of forgiveness in Sydney | COVID-19: Fighting a comm...

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