Message from the Chairperson

In 1983, the first Muslim full time day school opened its doors to students in a humble partly burnt-out 1920’s building in Coburg, an inner northern suburb of Melbourne. The founding group saw a vital need for education for their children more sensitive to their religious and cultural needs.

That small lower primary school of 63 students has mushroomed to more than 40 schools throughout Australia providing for the needs of students from Kindergarten to year 12. A large number of the schools in most states have been producing graduates at the highest level of achievement for more than 10 years, and a large number of these graduates are working as professionals in a wide variety of fields, to the benefit of the Australian community. Almost every University in Australia and many Universities in South East Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the USA currently contain graduates from Australia’s Islamic Schools.

Doctors are working in our hospitals, Lawyers in many jurisdictions, Engineers, Scientists, Teachers, Nurses – even Airline Pilots, are bringing to their fields of expertise, the skills and understandings they have gained at an Australian Islamic schools. Thousands of citizens are contributing to the spiritual and material wealth of this great country on the values they have imbibed at an Islamic school. And even today, many thousands of young Australians are building their futures in eager anticipation within the embrace of the spiritual and cultural support provided by an Australian Islamic school.

Countless thousands of non-Muslim Australians all over Australia have been enriched through encounters with Muslim students from our Islamic schools. Countless thousands of Australians have been given the opportunity to understand Islam and have developed trust and acceptance through such encounters. Australia’s rich tapestry has been enriched and enlivened by the huge variety and diversity of cultural traditions from the Muslim world filtered through our Australian Islamic Schools.

As we celebrate the achievements of so many individuals and families, groups and societies and councils, we thank our Governments and the Australian society that has enabled such achievements. And most of all, we thank Allah Almighty for the blessings he has showered upon the Muslim community of Australia and for making Australia such a wonderful country in which to raise and educate our children.

Abdullah Khan (Chairperson)

Message from the former Chairperson

In 1983 the first Islamic day school was opened in Australia. At the time, the rapidly increasing Muslim population in    Melbourne and Sydney saw the need to provide an education for their children that would teach the tenets of the faith, allow practice of the prayers and rituals, and transfer the values that had sustained previous generations. In the years following the dumping of the ‘white Australia policy’ Muslim immigrant communities from all over the Muslim world were very concerned to preserve something of the culture of their roots for and through their children, while in targeting as new Australians in their new homeland. The early years were extremely difficult for all the new Islamic schools. Though government policy allowed their establishment, it was often grudgingly, and all the schools met with fierce opposition on many fronts. All the pioneers had to have huge reservoirs of patience, persistence and energy. Young Muslim communities struggling to establish themselves in a new country, often in a harsh social and cultural environment, struggled to re-source the new schools, often with little help from the government. In those early days, there was not the groundswell of support for the Muslim community that is now more the norm in Australia. In the 1980s, the Muslim community was hidden from sight, ignored and discriminated against without notice or comment, with no leverage in a society that responds primarily to power and influence.

Thanks be to Allah, the persistence and hard work of the pioneering communities has borne a rich harvest and now there are more than 40 Islamic schools throughout Australia. The recent struggle of the Camden Muslim community in Sydney to establish a school for their children is a reminder that the path has not necessarily been made easier. But we do recognise that nothing that is good comes easily. The early school communities grew strong in their struggles and even today, Muslims don’t expect that their way should be made smooth as a right.

Australian Muslims are very thankful that we have an education system that makes it possible for Muslim schools to be established, and even to be funded by the Government. There is a much greater acceptance of Muslim schools by the Australian community and a rich association between Muslim schools and the Australian community has resulted in a much enhanced understanding of Islam and a much greater acceptance of Muslim Australians. Australia is a stronger, more harmonious multi cultural community because of their existence. Muslims now generally   receive   fair   treatment   and strong government support. All Muslims should give thanks to God Almighty Who has blessed them with a home that allows them to raise and educate their children according to their own wishes. We look forward with excitement to the future of Islamic school education in Australia in the coming years.

Mr AbdulKarim Galea (Former Chairman ISAA)