Dinki Di Dawah

The musings and poetics of a revert Aussie.

Tawhidi and wife beating

When Keysar Trad was caught out on wife-beating on the Bolt Report, it became a national headline. But when Tawhidi advocated wife-beating as an alternative to wife-killing, not only did Bolt let it slide, but so did our national media:

Exposing Tawhidi

Tawhidi has a habit of changing his narrative as he goes, just to please the masses with his habitual lying and taqiyyah.

Let us hear how he described what wife beating is on the Bolt Report:

Now, as you can see – Bolt didn’t like this. Tawhidi had a bit of a situation and had to start back peddling.

Note – Tawhidi states the following:

  1. It means “beat” them.
  2. It was revealed so that men “beat” instead of kill.
  3. The beating is a soft symbolic tap.

Ironically, a week or two later he begins attacking Hizb al-Tahrir for the exact same comments and positions!!

See their original video below.

They say:

  1. It means “beat” them.
  2. It was revealed so that men “beat” instead of kill.
  3. The beating is a soft symbolic tap.

They were almost identical in their stance! Yet Tawhidi begins a social media campaign against them. You…

View original post 304 more words

The Battle for Marawi and Assad’s Fake News

On Tuesday, the Filipino military began an operation to ambush and neutralize a meeting of separatist rebel leaders in Islamic City of Marawi, Mindanao. Involved was Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, whose intention of the meeting was to join the Maute, a rival militia. What then ensued was a military raid to either apprehend or terminate Hapilon and the leadership of both Maute and Abu Sayyaf, which, by all indications, went terribly wrong.

Fighting took to the streets as militants fled into a hospital and later a church, while using light vehicles to block off the streets to protect their movements.

This was a desperate retreat, with rumours from inside the city construing this as a siege and invasion.

Soon, the hashtag #PrayforMarawi was trending on Twitter, with concerned Filipinos tweeting support and praying for loved ones more than 200k times; although it took 48 hours for it to reach the Western news cycle.

As of most recent updates, 46 people have been killed in battle, 15 soldiers and security forces and 31 militants. No more than 40 militants are estimated to remain hiding in the city.

Outside of Marawi, however, far away from the Philippines, a young writer in Denmark was writing his own interpretation of events, with exaggerated claims that more than 500 ISIS militants had invaded and seized the city, and has killed more than 80 Filipino soldiers.

This was published by Al Masdar News, or AMN, who filed the report on the conflict from Damascus, Syria. Described by many as an Assadist “pro-regime” outlet, they describe themselves as “Pro-Government”.

“In pictures: ISIS takes control of its first city in the Philippines”  was published on Tuesday the 29th of May, written by Chris Tomson, a Danish student who claims a special focus on “strategical military analysis”.

“Some 500 ISIS insurgents are said to be present in Marawi. These heavily armed jihadist fighters have taken control of the city center and set up roadblocks in several districts.”

Not long after it was published, one Filipino commenter rebuked their claims:

Comment: “This article is false. Marawi city is not under ISIS control right now and the ones who attacked are just bandits who wants to be part of the international terror group. The perpetrators are named Maute group. The city right now is blocked and patrolled by military and police which means the city is not under the Maute group.”

However, instead of seeking to clarify their sources, Al Masdar continued to publish unverified hyperbole and fake news:

“With fierce clashes ongoing in the contested Philippine city of Marawi, ISIS militants destroyed a handful of armored vehicles in its southern countryside on Thursday and also burned down an army barracks in the area.”

“Meanwhile, the Philippine Army sent a fresh batch of reinforcements to Marawi to replenish its ranks after some 80 government troops have been killed since Tuesday…”

“The Philippine Army is currently on a manhunt to track down Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, believed to be commanding some 500 insurgents across the city.”

Other news sources sought local opinions and those of the military on the ground, such as Lieutenant-Colonel Jo-ar Herrera, a military spokesperson, who on Thursday clarified there were no more than 40 fighters believed to be hiding in Marawi. Much different to the legion of 500 we were led to believe.

So why did we believe this?

The answer: because ISIS told us so.

As is likely obvious, Al Masdar News has no reporters or journalists in the Philippines. Officially filing reports from Damascus, their editors are mostly based outside the MENA. Although their website claims to bring news about the Arab world, only their founding editor lives there. Two others live in Scandinavia, another in Russia and last in Australia. It’s better described as an outsourcing Baathist propaganda website.

Most of their articles regarding ISIS only cite the Amaq Agency as their sole source of information. Amaq has been described as ISIS’ official media outlet. Given ISIS’ tendency to exaggerate its influence and successes around the world, it’s therefore hardly surprising that most of Al Masdar’s articles have employed the same hyperbole used by ISIS in their releases.

Given Al Masdar’s pro-Assad and anti-Sunni agenda, however, this is hardly forgivable journalistic error, but deliberate forgoing any fact-checking or verification. When claiming “ISIS takes control of its first city in the Philippines” with no authentic sources in the Philippines outside of ISIS’ own word, this is simply manipulative. Given their lack of evidence, a more fitting article title and subject would be “ISIS claims to take control…” instead.

Despite this gross violation of proper media practice and deliberate to obscure the truth, there is still a battle taking place in Marawi against Maute separatist bandits, and real lives have been taken.

So why is this important?

The thousands of Filipinos tweeting late at night, fearing for their loved ones in Marawi, Mindanao and beyond, is why this is important. Impartial media telling the truth is important because it affects the reality people live their lives in.

Not only that, but the real crisis taking place in Mindanao needs clear-headed leaders and politicians ready to grapple with the issues, armed with facts, and willing to compromise.

When Solicitor General Jose Calida justified the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, he was no longer using the moderated speech of a compromising President Duterte, who was elected on a platform of bringing the separatist insurgency to a peaceful conclusion.

“What’s happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens. It has transmogrified into invasion by foreign terrorists, who heeded the call of [IS] to go to the Philippines if they find difficulty in going to Iraq and Syria.”

This is dangerous as Duterte’s government was to represent all Filipinos, both Christian and Muslim; hence his willingness to compromise with Moros whom he’d established a connection and trust with. Now with his government referring to the separatists as an “invasion”, this may seek to absolve him of any commitment to negotiate or seek peace with them. Given how other Southeast Asian nations have sought to resolve insurgencies in the past, with unrelenting force, this will have a dire impact on the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire or mistaken as enemies.

While the government’s decision may not have been affected whatsoever by a news website as insignificant as Al Masdar, the real and genuine fear they exacerbated in everyday Filipinos at home and abroad was.

Breaking: US Missiles Strike Syria!

President Trump has ordered military action directly against the Syrian Government for the first time. More than 50 Tomahawk missiles launched from a US Naval base have struck Shayrat Airfield in West Syria.

This comes after Donald Trump reversing his administration’s rhetoric on Syria, from Assad’s removal “no longer being a priority”, to berating former President Barack Obama for ignoring the tyrant’s crossing of a “red line” on chemical weapons. Meanwhile, officials spoke of all options being on the table, regarding a response to the chemical weapons massacre in Idlib.

Analysts have assumed this was to maximise the element of surprise, in order to do optimal damage to undefended regime air bases.

Amongst all of this, Trump has assigned his son-in-law, Jared Kushner with the task, among much other homework, of restoring peace to the Middle East. In order to achieve this, two issues must be settled: the Syrian Civil War, and the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Assad’s Syrian regime has long been as greater an obstacle to peace as ISIS, larger in both the scale of its slaughter of innocent civilians, human rights violations and war crimes, and only being eclipsed in media coverage and publicity. The path to peace may require the violent removal of a dictator who has exercised unlimited violence and horror to hold onto power.

President Trump may also be making himself known to other nations, from North Korea to Iran, that he will make good on his threats, unlike his predecessor.

This will, however, confuse the Muslim world over the new President’s attitudes towards them and his priorities in the Middle East: whether they are the interests of Russia and their ally Assad, his interests in the Gulf States, or if, in his own weird way, he truly desires peace in the long-term.

We may only have a better idea in the aftermath of this airstrike, when Russia, Syria and Iran decide how to respond to the Supreme Commander’s latest action.

Australian Cricket needs cultural shift away from Alcohol

Cricket Australia has ended its sponsorship deal by Carlton United Breweries’ beer brand Victoria Bitter, after 20 years of series naming rights and prominent logo displays on uniforms.

More than 3 years after Australian Muslim cricketer Usman Khawaja’s request to no longer wear an alcohol brand on his uniform sparked both public outrage and support in a wider debate, health professionals and advocates are saying the deal’s end hasn’t come soon enough, and are urging Cricket Australia not to replace VB with a new alcohol sponsor.

Among examples of alcohol culture in Australian cricket is Melbourne beer brand Cricketers Arms, who sponsor both Cricket NSW and Cricket Victoria, as well as sole sponsors of Big Bash League teams Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Nerve of Conservatives and their Persecution Complex…

As the month of Ramadan came to a close last month for Australian Muslims, so too did the implications of this year’s election: that yet another anti-Muslim extremist, and then some, had been voted into public office. This is hardly surprising, however.

The Senate was already filled with hate preachers spreading fear and promoting prejudice and hatred against their fellow Australians, from the self-endorsing Jacqui Lambie, Liberal loudmouth Cory Bernardi (already plotting to form his own party) to the sneering senator George Brandis. Pauline Hanson is nothing new to politics, much as she doth protest, as racism has become mainstream vote-currency for loose cannon senators. Hers is but the uncouth and indiscriminatory face of racial/religious discrimination.

Unlike Cory Bernardi, she is no connoisseur of conspiracy theories, sampling only the finest and most hateful of xenophobic fantasies, but instead bulk buys from the American chain stores of racism. What follows is a prepared buffet for the media to snap up, snigger and publicise without explanation, refutation or thought to the consequences of mass circulating already-debunked xenophobic fears.

Pauline Hanson, after years of media appearances and public speaking tours, has returned to the political mainstream, with public funding and power and access to media of all forums, to once again purvey hatred against minority groups across Australia. And yet she has the nerve to say she feels concerned for her safety.

Two mosques have been firebombed this year in Australia, one in Geelong, Victoria, and another in Perth, WA, at opposite ends of the country but in the same atmosphere of hatred and violence perpetrated against Muslims.

Harassment and abuse of Muslims has become so commonplace and persistent that two separate websites have been released to collect data on and keep track of Islamophobia in Australia.

And returning to mentioning this Ramadan, the world watched as more Muslims were being targeted and killed by Daesh across the Middle East than ever before, even striking at the heart of the Muslim faith, in the Holy City of Medinah.

On top of all this, Australian Muslims are watching as xenophobic politicians, old and new, are returned to power on the false basis that they are under attack and being persecuted for their views.

Even this weekend, counter-terrorism raids were carried out across Melbourne against anti-Muslim extremists linked with Reclaim Australia and the UPF, accused of preparing terrorist attacks almost certainly against Muslims.

And yet Pauline Hanson and Andrew Bolt have the nerve to suggest they are the ones who fear for their safety?!

Never in 500 years of history in Australia have Muslims had more reason to fear for their lives, freedoms and safety. Many who come here for the promise of freedom of speech and religion are now watching the public debate question their right to that very freedom and their place as Australians.

Where do they get the gall to rant such hypocrisy? Those who purvey conspiracy and fear and contribute to an atmosphere that promotes fear and danger against a minority should have no right to then protest that they live in fear and danger. It shouldn’t be a surprise, however. The current conservative media strategy has been to dominate media by broadcasting a single, unified narrative about Australia, society and the world, and silence or dismiss any disagreement, yet also consider itself a persecuted victim of an invisible, leftist machine.

Conventional social commentators consider any sign of dissent from the Guardian or The Drum as representing a totalitarian censorship of their views. By living in this fantasy as brave martyrs of truth and justice against an Orwellian media regime, they are always in danger, and everything is in hyperbole. A Black Lives Matter activist protests against police brutality: it’s a war against white people. A schools initiative calls for empathy and tolerance for transgender students: the government is grooming our children for abuse. A column in the Sydney Morning Herald said not all Muslims are evil? Fairfax is part of a global conspiracy to assist terrorists in their stealth jihad by whitewashing their religion. Someone of Middle Eastern appearance sent me a threatening tweet? All Muslims are out to kill me, I was right all along.

This spiral of inane fears has become a well-padded, self-imposed bubble to protect conservatives from the reality most Australians live in, only noticing elements that might inform their own prejudice.

Case in point: despite numerous attacks against Muslims, in holy places sacred to both Sunni and Shia, nowhere on Andrew Bolt’s extensive blog has he ever questioned or condemned these attacks and their intentions, but was at great liberty to name all migrants a ‘threatening new underclass’. Nor does he consider his apologia for anti-Muslim pogroms and attacks as hypocritical.

Also case in point: In our modern reality of information technology, everyone who puts themselves out there on the internet at some stage receives threats, and not always by trolls, but faceless bullies hiding behind anonymity. The price we pay for perpetual access to anyone means anyone with any opinion can receive threats for it. And that doesn’t make everyone who is threatened for their opinions right. It doesn’t automatically make them a righteous martyr.

When I was lobbying for a controversial new mosque project in southeast Melbourne, I received threats of harm and death and so did fellow campaigners. Did we go public using threats as ideological ammunition to declare ourselves the righteous defenders of truth and justice? No.

In this day and age of immediacy, every opinion you make can be read instantly and criticized just as quickly. Public figures, including columnists and commentators, no longer have to wait to receive thought-out and postage-paid letters of reply. Instead, you have to learn to grow a thick skin if you want your beliefs and opinions known, especially if they are controversial. Muslims have had to learn this, and so can conservatives. This means not crying foul as soon as someone calls you bigot or racist, as quickly as you call someone else a terrorist, or an apologist for one.

Freedom of speech goes both ways in a free society. If you want to dish it, you have to learn to take it. Conservative voices have grown comfortable dishing it over the last two decades, and too insecure to take it. Now that new and alternative media provide voices outside conservative outlets, those voices will have to learn that people are going to “say it like it is”, but at their expense.

Bolt and Hanson have a lot of nerve to claim feeling persecuted. Now it’s time to grow some nerve and show they’re mature enough to take it as they dish it.

© James “Abdulmalik” Randall, 2016.

Bolt Threatens: Tolerate Muslims and risk death

Muslims have only just come out of a Ramadan that was more a month of mourning, rather than of worship, when we saw terrorists attack Islam’s most sacred site, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. And yet, commentators continue to asset that this terror is completely characteristic of Islam.

In the wake of a secularist coup in Turkey by the military, there were no detractions or condemnations, but rather celebrations and encouragements from the hard right. Both of these are typical of the direction the anti-Muslim narrative has taken, in not only hostility but also hypocrisy.

[Link: http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_the_mufti_warns_criticise_the_imam_and_risk_death/]

In his column, “The Mufti warns: criticise the imam and risk death”, Andrew Bolt recently criticised the Chief Mufti for language in a public letter, after the Orlando shooting. This he amounted to a threat of outright violence to silence dissent:

“Ibrahim Abu Mohammad has written an astonishing letter warning that to criticise even a gay-hating imam is to risk inciting terrorist attacks against us.”

This, to him, “conveys an implied and sinister warning: that to criticise a Muslim cleric is to criticise Islam itself and risk death. Shut up or else.”

[Link: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/andrew-bolt-on-nice-terror-attack-west-cant-keep-making-excuses/news-story/a1077e1c4c5d362a78bfedc2448ab683]

Yet Bolt’s own column, after the tragedy in Nice, exposes his double standards. Here he warns that to not agree with his view of Islam is to risk igniting civil war and inciting public violence and revenge attacks against Muslims.

“And if our politicians will not speak frankly and protect us from Islam, watch out for a civil war. A frightened public will not put up with this for much longer and will defend themselves.”

In other words, stop tolerating Muslims, or else.

Has any other commentator suggested something so intimidating to stifle discussion of religion, society and the place Islam has had in Australia for centuries?

Pundits continue to demand a discussion and debate of Islam, yet slam any opinion of Islam that differs from their own, in which Islam is reduced to nothing more than a potential inspirer of violence and a vessel for radicalism.

Their demand for open discussion is disingenuous. They do not want conversation but conformity.

© James Abdulmalik Randall, 2016.

Mosque face-off (Berwick Leader, 7 Mar 2016, Page1)

Abdul’ Malik from the IslamicResearch and Educational Academy said the Hallam Mosque, of which he is amember, is also on Belgrave-Hallam Rd and restricted to 500 people.

Mr Malik said a second mosque would mean less congestion becauseworshippers would not have to converge on the one place.

“(The council) will increase (the number of people allowed inthe mosque) to 1000 for Eid at the end of Ramadan, but even when overcrowding(is permitted) you will see a council vehicle or police car checking to makesure we are abiding by our permit,” he said.

“Every Friday there is the overcrowding that the antimosquelobby is talking about. There are not enough mosques.

“One person is saying (on the Facebook page) you don’t seeChristians putting up churches all over the place wherever they want. That’sbecause those churches are empty. With mosques, we actually fill them.”


Mosque face-off
Megan Bailey
Berwick Leader
7 Mar 2016

A PLAN to build Australia’s biggest mosque in Narre Warren North has sparked outrage. A group has launched a petition against the proposal by Saarban Islamic Trust for a $1.5 million mosque and community centre on an 8.9ha site on Belgrave-Hallam Rd,…read more…

It’s Islamic Activism, Not Extremism, We’re Afraid Of

Barely before the dust had time to settle in Brussels has the narrative returned to its same old chorus:

We need to do more to tackle the growing threat of extremism.

We need to stop pretending this has nothing to do with Islam. (Like anyone ever did)

We need to remember we’re not at war with all Muslims.

We need to build a wall-

No matter which side of politics it’s from, it’s the same demands for more.

Boiled down, eventually it’s a call to defeat extremism, whether militarily through brute force, or ideologically, by providing a nice watered-down version of Islam everyone can accept.

And yet here we are, nearly 15 years into the War of Terror, and neither tactic appears to have worked.

The United States has spent more money and dropped more ordnances on Iraq than any conflict to date, and the world-spanning conflict has to date cost the lives of nearly 5 million Muslims.

With such a catastrophic death toll, any community would be crushed and reeling in horror.

Yet in its wake has risen a force more gratuitously violent and unrelentingly hostile to even its fellows than there ever was in the Iraq of before.

No amount of right-wing apologia can spin the War of Terror as achieving its goals, or even pursuing them at all.

That leaves what many have called the battle for hearts and minds to save the day.

And as much as Islamophobe scholars/evangelists would love to kid themselves, Brigitte Gabriel, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Shoebat, it will not be a sudden and dramatic change of heart brought on by the redemptive powers of Christ.

As has been asserted by most others till now, it has to come from inside the Muslim community.

This alternate strategy to military intervention hasn’t worked, however, because it was never sincere, and has been deliberately slow and antagonised.

Until now, most Western Muslims have been reactionary in their faith, behaving according to secular expectations of religion, framing their faith and its ideals within a western narrative and terminology.

Yet at every interval where Muslims have tried to break the mould, fulfil their religious morals and, importantly, make a difference, they are met with suspicion and restriction.

Countless Islamic advocacy groups and bodies have embarked on initiatives to promote peace, plurality, non-violence and understanding.

However, the same voices calling for more change from the Muslim community, almost always hold such activities with suspicion and fear:

Are they just pursuing a religious agenda?

Are they secretly promoting violence behind our backs anyway?

Are these programs a cover for proselytisation?

Many Western Christian and secular governments have taken similar stances, enforcing surveillance regimes on Muslims and organisations, and funding “think-tanks” that pursue their agenda of religious inaction and obedience.

This is because Christianity secularised itself, not reformed itself. Yet Islam has not done this, which is why states see it as a threat.

Not because of its values, practices or methods, but because it remains a holistic religion, which looks at everything wrong in the world, and proposes active changes to make that world a better place.

That’s what scares the west about Islam.

States are not afraid of violence. States can answer violence with more efficient violence.

What states can’t answer is change.

When non-state movements offer change, something they can’t offer, the state responds with force.

It’s why environmentalists are being incriminated by new laws in Australia restricting who can launch legal processes.

It’s why Hizbut-Tahrir, a political group with a radical vision but otherwise nonviolent, was in talks of being banned/listed as a terrorist organisation in Australia.

It’s why Muslim charities in Australia have been continuously slandered as financing, despite there being no evidence ever being brought forward to prove it.

It’s why whenever Muslim initiatives towards peace are held in the highest suspicion, even after continuous calls by the same voices for more peaceful Muslim initiatives.

It’s why when Sydney Muslims banded together to form Homeless Run, an initiative to encourage helping the homeless and discourage drug and alcohol abuse, were harried by NSW Police officers.

Which is especially ironic at a time when Islamophobes ask why isn’t funding being spent on the homeless instead of mosques.

That’s why Islamophobes expend so much energy in voicing the need for Islam to reform itself: because Islam as it is threatens the status quo, not with violence, but with real, promising change.

How this affects Muslims is that these figures will call government agencies and resources to harass Muslims and the Islamic Movement, to impede its progress.

This is all because of a narrative/climate that has made it impossible for governments and agencies to differentiate between activism and extremism: between making a positive change in your surroundings and waging a campaign of conquering and Islamising them.

But opposed to what cynics may want to believe, that doesn’t mean these initiatives aren’t worth pursuing: rather, it proves they must be pursued now more than ever.

It means that Muslims everywhere, and what allies they may have, need to drop the inferiority complex and take up the fight to reform society.

Because after Brussels, that fight just got much tougher.

 

© James “Abdulmalik” Randall, 2016.

Islam, the Counter-current of Australian Culture

A flag for the Muslim counter-culture of Australia.

A flag for the Muslim counter-culture of Australia.

For nearly 500 years, Muslims have been part of Australia and its history, beginning with their trade and peaceful relations with the Aboriginals of the Top End. Some have suggested evidence of their presence further down the east coast, however their affiliation with the Yolngu people has been well-documented. These interactions were largely peaceful and cooperative, with traces of trade outposts lasting to this day. Unlike later Europeans, Muslims did not come to settle, conquer and exploit, but to trade and spread their faith.

According to some tales of the Tiwi islanders, there were incidents of contentions and conflicts, culminating in a massacre of Muslim Moluccan traders. Whether or not this only violent episode is true to history, Muslims have indelibly been building this country long before Europeans had even confirmed its existence.

Even after British colonisation, during which Muslims continued to trade with Yolngu Aboriginals up until Federation (in 1902, new maritime laws enforced stricter controls over Australian waters, incidentally limiting the economic prosperity of the Yolngu), Afghan Muslims helped open up the Australian outback. They built mosques in some settlements such as Broken Hill, where the tin shed house of worship still stands today. Their legacy carries on in the name of the trans-continental railway The Ghan, which runs the route Muslims travelled by camel train.

The great expanses of the outback have long been regarded as the true testing grounds of the Australian character. Yet it has recently been the argument of suburban anti-Muslim lobbyists that Muslims have never contributed anything to this country. The fact that Muslims opened up this hallmark of Australia’s identity, only goes to show the depth of their ignorance, wilful or otherwise, about not only Islam but the very Australia they claim to defend.

History disproves their further claim that any degree of tolerance for Islam will allow Muslims to rise up and overthrow Australia’s secular government, or force conversion upon every Australian. The fact that Muslims have not done so for more than 500 years of chances is only credit to the true nature of Islam.

And they invariably have had chances. Considering the Yolngu and Tiwi peoples, the Muslim traders visiting them were not primitive or lacking in technology. They had coined currency from Africa and even firearms. This is proven by cannons, discovered abandoned on Carronade Island that were forged from bronze in one of the Malayan Sultanates, and a stash of coins from the Kilwa Sultanate of eastern Africa.

Despite having the technological and military advantage, Muslims did not come to northern Australia to convert Aboriginals by gunfire or the sword. Indeed they did spread Islam to some degree, shown through leftover elements of their language and spirituality in Yolngu culture. Rather, they sought to proselytize the same way Islam had been brought to them: by trade and peaceful relations. Never has a foreign Muslim army set foot in any of the Indonesian islands from which these traders came.

The fact that anti-Muslim campaigners therefore believe the only way Islam will spread in Australia, however, is more reflective on Australia’s experience with Christianity, and self-projects on them and their desires.

The Moluccan Muslims came to the Yolngu Australians they met to trade for their resources, rather than plunder them as did European Christians. Seeking the elusive Sea Cucumber, or Trepang, they helped Aboriginals build their fishing infrastructure to better harvest them, in exchange for giving them yams and tamarinds, which they also helped them learn to grow for themselves. While the traders did seek to gain from this relationship, the Aboriginals gained invariably more through advances in agriculture and technology.

Although the Australian Government interrupted this relationship after Federation, to the detriment and deliberate impoverishment of indigenous Australians, Muslims continued to come to Australia, to contribute and become part of its very fabric. Turkish and Indian Muslims emigrated, along with the Afghans mentioned earlier, even before the outbreak of the First World War. To their advantage, they were better suited to Australia’s arid outback climate, unlike Europeans who, after arriving, began terraforming parts of Australia to make it more like where they came from. The land is still suffering from it to this day.

And yet Islam has remained the consistent minority religion of Australia. This is not only due to its lack of the very militancy that anti-Muslims claim what make it a threat, but also due to the ease with which earlier Muslim immigrants were integrated into Australian society. The Afghan cameleers of South Australia and New South Wales did not form an enclave, and interbred with other ethnic groups, as did the Chinese and Irish of Victoria. Islam was never accepted into the mainstream, but ran counter-current to it.

Australia’s culture has always strongly identified with the underdog and the countercultural, despite its position of mainstream dominance in not only its country but the wider region. This manifests in our fascination with the rebellion of the Eureka Stockade, and bushrangers such as the Irishman Ned Kelly and the Chinese miner Sam Poo (curiously few Muslim bushrangers are in our national mindset…probably because there never were any). Islam has as such integrated itself into Australia’s psyche as a counterculture. Yet it has now became the target of vilification and oppression by the Australian mainstream.

Shockingly, the anti-Muslim lobby leading the charge have employed the symbol of Australian resistance and counterculture, the Eureka Flag, at their demonstrations, as though their voice were the minority opinion and they the underdog. This is despite fifteen years of constant attack and abuse against Australian Muslims by governments and media alike. They are the vanguard of the mainstream, no matter how much they or the Government wish to deny it. For this reason I, as an Australian, take great offence at their use of the Eureka Flag, as it is hypocrisy and paradox to employ a symbol of counterculture against counterculture. They have no right to it.

Even another symbol, Jimmy Barnes, whose song “Working Class Man” is an anthem for the Australian proletariat, has demanded they cease using his music at their rallies. If the Eureka Flag could speak, it would be just as vocal and outraged.

Australian Muslims have not only the right but the responsibility to wear their identity proudly on their sleeve, to fly it on a flag and to march for it on the streets. In spite of those who wish to suppress and deny it, Islam has been part of Australia long before it even had that name, and will remain so, whether or not it’s becomes the mainstream or remains its counterculture.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”
This hadeeth was narrated by Muslim #145 from Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him).

#RUOK : My own story through depression and Islam

Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim

<<Whereby Allah guides those who seek His good pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darkness and into the light, by His decree, and guides them to a straight path>>

Surah al-Maidah, Ayat 16.

Depression is regarded as the most disabling condition affecting the developed world, behind only heart disease, and that 1 in 4 Australians will endure it in some form or another during their lifetime. During my first year of university, I was 1 in 4.

To date, it’s a leading cause in suicide, at a time when youth suicide is at a troubling high. While I suffered many symptoms of Atypical Depression, suicide was thankfully never on my mind. The most difficult to deal with was the lethargy and isolation that both came with it and fed it.

This was 2011, which was also the year I reverted and accepted Islam, through the research I’d done previously into world religions while finding my place, and the friendships I’d made on campus. However the cycle which fuelled my depression began more than a year earlier, during my final year of high school.

Depression is often thought to occur during periods of high stress and anxiety, which then fail to abate long after external sources of stress have been dealt with. Whether my final studies before university, or a lack of sense of identity and place, brought it about in me, I still cannot say. However, staying on campus at university, away from family and the sense of routine that provides, definitely exacerbated it. What made it worse was that I was undiagnosed for years, until I had the confidence to tell myself that something was wrong, and to seek help.

While counselling provided by the university was beneficial, professionals can only direct you towards the changes you need to make. While I did take my Shahadah, declaring my faith, during this challenging time, it was not an immediate remedy. Rather, it was a simple step in the direction I needed to take. And every sufferer of depression has their own path to recovery.

The most important part was what Islam could provide me, outside of an internal conviction in faith and destiny, and that was the Muslim community itself. Isolation is the most dangerous thing for someone suffering from depression, leaving them vulnerable and uncherished. While it may be hard for some who are alienated from family or friends, community is a powerful bond to rely on. The Muslim ummah is such a community, and stronger because it is an intentional community, with set values and goals for humanity and God. When you are part of any such intentional community, whether it is Muslim, Jewish or even non-denomination and simply cultural, it is much harder to feel vulnerable or uncherished.

That is not to say that there are no Muslims suffering from depression, because there are those who I have met and said as much. It took me two years before I could fully integrate myself as a functioning and contributing member of the community, participating in dawah with IREA and volunteering for the Australian Islamic Peace Conference. This was vital in instilling a sense of agency in myself again, which many sufferers feel after setting too high expectations for themselves, and then failing to meet them. Having humility and lowering those expectations was perhaps the final hurdle I had to overcome.

That’s why we must keep talking about depression and mental illness, because every community is at risk, and we shouldn’t feel as though ours is special or protected. Only we can make sure every one of us feels special and protected, and not let anyone fall into the dangerous trap of isolation. So we must look to those we care about, and even those we don’t know well enough yet, and ask:
Are you ok?

Final note: My non-Muslim opponents have often suggested that Muslims exploited me in my time of weakness and vulnerability in order to lure me into Islam, and that my faith is therefore feeble and in need of saving. Their accusations are very indicative of their ignorance, which is but another reason we must talk about mental illness. Contrary to their belief, sufferers of depression are not in a bout of weakness. It takes tremendous strength to carry on throughout depression and not simply give up. We are also no more prone to being influenced than anyone else. I would know because I avoided help for years out of pure abject stubbornness. I don’t blame such people for their ignorance or prejudices. It only highlights the point I’m hoping to make today.