The Centre for Islamic Sciences and Civilisation (CISAC) at Charles Sturt University in partnership with Islamic Science & Research Academy (ISRA) held its fourth, yearly graduation presentation on Saturday 10 December at Old Government House, Parramatta Park in Sydney.

Twice more than last year, a record 46 successful graduates received their Diplomas, Associate Degrees, Bachelor Degrees, Graduate Diploma and Master Degrees and Graduate Certificates conferred by Professor Tony Downs, Deputy Vice Chancellor, CSU and presented by Professor Lesley White, Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts, CSU.

Out of 18 graduates who were awarded Master of Islamic Studies, a number of females passed with distinction while only one male candidate Mohammad Wardak passed with distinction.


From left: Prof Tony Downs, Dr Ghena Krayem, Dr Zuleyha Keskin, Mr Chaker Aref and Dr Mehmet Ozalp (right) speaking. Photo by Shems Photography.

From left: Prof Tony Downs, Dr Ghena Krayem, Dr Zuleyha Keskin, Mr Chaker
Aref and Dr Mehmet Ozalp (right) speaking. Photo by Shems Photography.

ISRA graduations are a unique combination of intellectual, academic, emotional and spiritual experience held in a dignified yet family friendly atmosphere.

Tears of joy were shed for high achievements by the graduating students, their teachers as well as family and friends.

There were also watery eyes for one of the students Milad Bahram who was awarded Associate Degree in Islamic Studies posthumously.

The formal event was also attended by ISRA staff from Sydney as well as Melbourne and Charles Sturt University academics, community leaders and families of the graduates where, in addition to brief comments by staff, the graduates also shared their feelings from the stage in a one minute speech, many of them shedding tears of joy at the completion of their unique educational journey.

The successful candidates were from a very diverse background in terms of ethnic background, faith, language, professions, religious training and ages.

Prof Leslie White hands late Milad Bahram’s degree to his brother. Photo by Shems Photography.

Prof Leslie White hands late Milad Bahram’s degree to his brother. Photo by Shems Photography.

CISAC is a unique institution where its courses are designed to synthesize modern academic excellence in combination with traditional Islamic learning.

The invited keynote speaker at this year’s graduation was Dr Ghena Krayem, Senior Lecturer at the Sydney Law School, The University of Sydney.

A high achieving Muslim women in hijab, she talked of her personal experience in breaking one glass ceiling after another and admitted that she still needs to do so on a continuing basis.

“When I mentioned during my Western Sydney public school years, that I wanted to be a lawyer, my teachers laughed at me and said no one from this school can get into law”. Dr Krayem said.

She said that with her Islamic motivation to seek knowledge, strength to aim high, great family support and opportunity to excel, she is here today.

Mohammad Wardak, the only male who passed with distinction. Photo by Shems Photography.

Mohammad Wardak, the only male who passed with
distinction. Photo by Shems Photography.

However, she admitted that in today’s climate of Islamophobia, she occasionally has to deal with negative comments and had to persevere. She related how recently one academic at the University said to her “your presence in this institution is contradictory to Australian values”, that did offend her.

Her advice to the graduating students was that you have just climbed one mountain and this is just the beginning of your journey, you need to climb many more mountains with perseverance for your sake and for the sake of those around you.

While ISRA has a strong educational and research emphasis, it also focuses on community building and cooperation in religious, social, environmental and other major areas for Australia and the global society.

ISRA courses prepare its students to get actively involved in dealing with issues facing the Australian society and, in the process, assist in the development of locally trained religious and scholarly leaders in serving Australian community.

Click here to read the Dear Isra Poem by Manal Etri

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