September 25, 2006 - 11:24PM
A course for local Imams teaching subjects denouncing extremism and understanding Australian culture has been praised by the federal government.
Subjects titled Islamic doctrine and the theological proof against extremism and Muslim integration into Australia are included in the Australian designed and based course.
Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration Andrew Robb, who wants Australia's Islamic clerics to preach sermons in English, attended a graduation ceremony for the course in Sydney on Monday night.
Some 100 Imams and Islamic leaders graduated at the Darulfatwa Islamic High Council's ceremony.
Mr Robb, who also wants Imams to denounce terrorism, said the course was an important step towards teaching Islam in an Australian context.
"Such understanding makes them far more effective in instilling confidence in Australian Muslims that they can be equal and committed members of the community while being true to their faith," he said.
Mr Robb said the course was an extremely positive example of Australia's Imams and Muslim leaders actively supporting the Australian government in building community cohesion and unity.
"The recent historic two-day conference of Imams, with its particular focus on young people, was another key development in looking at how to communicate Islam to Muslims in Australia," he said.
Mr Robb said he was encouraged that the Imams conference had stressed the importance of preaching in English.
"Some fifty per cent of the 360,000 Muslims in Australia are under 25 years of age and most were born in Australia with English as their first language," he said.
"So there is a clear responsibility to deliver the teachings of Islam in English so young people learn about the Koran from the Mosque and not the internet."
Mr Robb extended his best wishes to Australia's Muslim community at the commencement of the month of Ramadan noting that they played an important role in Australia's economic and social life.