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Commentary on: Islam and Islamophobia »

Prof Andrew Jakubowicz.

Text Commentary

Australian Multiculturalism reflects not only different ethnic cultures but also a diversity of religious beliefs.

Since the 19th century, Islam and the Muslim community have been part of Australian life. Today it is one of Australia's fastest growing religious groups. It is one of the three great religions, along with Judaism and Christianity that owe their origins to the story of Abraham in the Old Testament.

There are now more than 200,000 Muslims in Australia.

Muslims are people whose religion is Islam, and who follow the teachings of the prophet Mohammed. Of the Muslims in Australia more than one third were actually born here, while the biggest proportion of those who immigrated came from the Middle East. In Australia there are also Muslims from Northern Africa, from Europe, from Southern Asia, and from South East Asia. In fact, there are over 60 different nations represented amongst the believers in Islam in Australia.

As with many complex religions, there are a number of different ways of interpreting Islam. The main tendencies are the majority view (and often considered more orthodox) the Sunni, the minority Shia, and the smaller Sufi sect.

Sunnis tend to follow the direct political line from Mohammed, while the Shia believe that that line should be traced through the family of Mohammed. Sufis are characterised by a more mystical orientation.

The basic teachings of Islam include equality of all human beings, the brotherhood of Muslims towards one another, tolerance of other faiths, support of marriage and family as integral social institutions, obedience to one's parents, and a recognition that society has a full responsibility to look after the well being and safety of the less fortunate.

There are many myths about Islam in the west and in Australia, and many misunderstandings amongst non-Muslims about what it means to be a Muslim.

Recent world events have intensified many of the problems of intolerance and hostility that some Australian Muslims face.

Here we are going to explore the diversity of Islam in Australia, and what it means to be a Muslim in modern Australian society.