Darulfatwa, the Islamic High Council of Australia celebrated its seventh year of graduates of the ground breaking Al-Azhariy Shariah course on Friday the 3rd of August 2012, at a reception hall in Punchbowl.
The dinner, celebrating the success of some one hundred course graduates was held on the fifteenth of Ramadan to exemplify the benefits contained in the fasting of Ramadan and the knowledge obtained by the graduates; both promoting peace, justice and self discipline.
The evening started with a recitation from the Holy Quran by a visiting Shiekh Rabie Al Azhari. Then dinner was served to the fasting Muslims and guests at sunset, making way for the speakers.
Darulfatwa Chairman Dr. Sheikh Salim Alwan gave the opening speech welcoming the many dignitaries, sheikhs and the families of the graduates. He then honoured the course graduates and commended their efforts and commitment to obtaining beneficial knowledge. He said this knowledge will serve to increase love and understanding within our society and when implemented appropriately, will diffuse threats and spread harmony and self betterment. “Let me confirm, in this beautiful gathering of family and friends, that Islam is a Religion of moderation, mercy and guidance”, he said.
Adding, “A saying of Prophet Muhammad means: the believer will not reach high ranks in Islam unless he loves for others what he loves for himself (of all things good).”The evening fostered a climate of warmth, togetherness and openness as guests mingled quietly with others on their table, between speeches, and the one hundred or so graduates in pearl white attire adorned the reception hall like scattered candles.
With time being of the essence, the master of ceremonies invited the politicians to deliver their message, starting with the most senior, adding to the grandeur of the occasion.
Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities MP Mr Tony Burke, representing the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced once again the Australian government’s recognition and appreciation of the role and activities of Darulfatwa in Australia. “We’re here out of the deep respect for Darulfatwa; a deep respect that many of us held for many many years”, he said. “Your eminence the Sheikhs and all those associated with Darulfatwa, on my behalf... and on behalf of the Prime Minister and on behalf of the government, the work that you do in the community is deeply impressive...Australia is a better place because of the principles and values that you push within Australia”, said Mr Burke.He ended his speech congratulating the Muslims on their sacrifices in fasting Ramadan and recognised the hardships experienced by Muslims in war-torn lands. “May the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan bring us closer to peace and justice in those parts of the world and in Palestine as well, so that we can come closer to a true state solution”, said Mr Burke.
Federal Liberal MP Mr Philip Ruddock then took the stage representing the leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott. He started by congratulating Darulfatwa on the program included in the Shariah course and recognised the important role that the one hundred or so graduates will have in the Australian society.
“When I read the nature of the program that you have been participating, I want to congratulate Darulfatwa the Islamic High Council in its role in ensuring that there is a true teaching of Islam, and to ensure that it is not misrepresented, as it is from time to time suggested that it is”, he said.Then Mr. Ruddock recognized that such community achievements are made possible through values ratified in some of Australia’s policies; the values of diversity, democracy and equality. He assured the Muslim community of an equal place in Australia. “The rule of law is that there is equality before the law, it doesn’t matter who you are, what your background, you are all treated the same when it comes to dispensing justice...” he said.As the previous Attorney General, Mr Ruddock acknowledged the importance of putting in place methods to maintain national security, but stated that such concerns should not be overarching. Instead he recommends that the promotion of Islam in
Australia should take precedent to concerns of threats that lurk within the Australian society.“You should continue to promote the views about Islam that you know to be universal. I am particularly pleased to thank you for the leadership that you undertake and I bring you greetings from the leader of the opposition as well”,
Mr Ruddock MP said. The excitement and euphoria felt by the graduates of mixed gender and ages was becoming increasingly obvious as they whispered to each other comments of gratitude for the privilege of being able to complete such as course. With shyness and humility they listened to the comments made by the speakers, preparing themself to soon take centre stage.
The next call was for East Hills MP Glen Brookes representing the NSW Premier Barry O’ Farrell. He began by extending a greeting to the Muslims from the Premiere and a message congratulating the graduates of Darulfatwa Azhari Shariah course. “Since 2006 the Darulfatwa Al-Azhariy course has been addressing contemporary issues affecting the NSW Australian community”,
he said. “The knowledge that is shared through those, equips those who participate in the Islamic religion to deal with the changing nature of the NSW society and to better assist and advice those in the community”, he added.“The NSW government is pleased to support courses like Al-Azhariy Shariah course, as it teaches tomorrow’s leaders of the NSW Muslim community.“These courses are based on the foundations of value, community and respect; something that we all should aspire, regardless where we are from”, said Mr Brookes MP.
The last speaker was Lakemba MP Robert Furolo Shadow Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the leader of the NSW opposition John Robertson. He congratulated the graduates of the Al-Azhariy course and said he also attending the evening, “to thank Darulfatwa for the role that they play in strengthening our community through the Al-Azhariy course.” “As my colleagues would agree, when we receive an invitation from Darulfatwa we are more than happy to attend because we recognize the hard work and the success of this organization.
” “The NSW Labour opposition recognises your hard work; recognizes your commitment to the values of Islam. We stand with you tonight. We stand with you every day. And we thank you for your continued hard work”, said Mr Furolo MP.
Among the long list of dignitaries present were, Mayor of Bankstown City Council Khal Asfor, Bankstown MP Tania Mahailuk Shadow Minister for Volunteering and Youth, Liverpool MP Paul Lynch, Shadow Attorney General, and a host of Islamic organization leaders and representatives, sheikhs and imams.
It was then time for the big moment as the graduates were called to gather on the stage for a graduation photo.
All those wearing pearl white scattered across the reception hall gathered, shoulder to shoulder, in four rows extending from one end of the stage to the next. Dr. Sheikh Salim Alwan announced them in congregation to be the new graduates of the Al-Azhariy Shariah course of 2012 and made supplication asking Allah to enable them to continue developing as imams and leaders of the society.
The evening came to an end ninety minutes into its opening, with a standing ovation and a serving of traditional Lebanese deserts.
Darulfatwa - Media Division