The “Islam in Practice” conference held on Sunday 10 December 2017 at Club Punchbowl in Sydney was attended by almost 500 people from a diverse background listening to a variety of speakers from all over Australia as well as from overseas.

The conference focussed on contemporary issues in the areas of Law, Finance, Leadership and Activism; reviewing issues of concern to Australian Muslims and importantly, exploring strategies on how better to deal with these concerns putting Islam into practice.

The attendees included men, women and youth, mostly from Sydney but also from other states of Australia from a diverse linguistic, cultural and ethnic background engaged by speakers and performers including a couple of panel discussions from 1 pm to 8pm  in a well organised program with breaks for refreshments.

This was an inaugural conference organised by CAMO, Collaboration of Australian Muslim Organizations, a platform established for cooperation and coordination of activities between four Australia-wide major Islamic organisations.

The hosting organisations included Australian Islamic Mission (AIM), Islamic Forum for Australian Muslims (IFAM), Islamic Practice and Dawah Circle (IPDC) and IQRO Foundation. (See hosting organisations details below).

The conference was sponsored by Human Appeal Australia, Muslim Community Cooperative Australian (MCCA), Charity Australia InternationalHuman InitiativeMonessaCordial Homes with the Australasian Muslim Times AMUST as the Media Partner. (See sponsors details below).

The large venue complex with plenty of parking, conference facilities, sponsors’ displays and ample space for prayers was also studded with food stalls selling multicultural foods for lunch and dinner.

A well organised child minding facility was provided as well to give parents opportunity to fully participate listen to the speakers.

The conference featured a wide range of international and local speakers and performers:

(See speakers profiles below).

Conference Summary by Dr Zachariah Matthews 

Conference Theme: Islam in Practice

These are the personal notes and highlights prepared by Dr Zachariah Matthews during the conference proceedings and presented during the closing session.

Imam Yahya Ibrahim (Perth): Family leadership dynamics 

 In the family structure first, assess yourself and your contribution (positive and negative) before pointing the finger at others and their shortcomings.

 Be present in the home (emotionally, psychologically, spiritually) – fully engaged and committed to the wellbeing of the family and its functioning. Social media is making it more difficult to remain engaged and committed.

Shaikha Basmah Abdul Qader (Sydney): Islamic law and perception 

 The Prophet (s) lived for 53 years in a non-Muslim environment; we should, therefore, take a lesson from this and understand the key features of this period in his mission.

 The Prophet (s) taught his followers first how to believe (to have faith in Allah and connect with Him – imaan) and then how to follow the rules of Allah’s Way (Makkah then Madinah); the two phases of this process is important for us today; focussing exclusively on the law without establishing faith is bound to end in failure.

Shaikh Abdool Rahman Khan (US): Understanding Islamic Law 

 Why is shariah (Divine Law) being demonised today? Is it perhaps that we have not clearly explained what the real purpose of sharia is?

 Are we getting lost in the details rather than focusing on the higher objectives (maqaasid)?

 The shariah’s main purpose is to protect the human being and to enhance coexistence of different people in pluralist societies.

 The shariah is also to protect the rights of human beings (as defined by the Divine).

Ms Tasnim Sammak (Melbourne): Fame and solo-activism 

 Individuality has affected and is undermining the community structure (features of this are – isolation, liquidity, usurping power, commodification, etc).

 Solo activism: Consuming the cause for self-gratification and status enhancement (e.g., judged by the number of likes on social media). One status update or like or retweet is not what is required to advance a cause.

Hijab is being packaged for white consumption with particular imagery that is being used (in the process, brown Muslims are still being marginalised).

 Activism which does not really challenge the status quo power is limited.

Mr Almir Colan (Melbourne): Cryptocurrencies 

 The electricity usage with Bitcoin mining is astronomical: e.g., Visa uses only 2% of what Bitcoin consumes.

 Why has Bitcoin flourished? Mainly due to speculators; producing an unsustainable bubble.

 Bitcoin is preferred for illegal activities: Scams; 1/3 has disappeared (hacks, etc).

 Cryptocurrencies are unregulated at the moment: We would not accept to have healthcare, or education for example unregulated. So why accept cryptocurrencies to be unregulated by authorities?

 Islamic principle: Money should not be under private control or regulation (must be regulated by authorities).

Mr Farouk Alwyni (Indonesia): Islamic finance future 

 Islamic finance needs to move beyond adaptation to the next stage of promoting ethical finance; that is also socially equitable.

 Profitability should not be the only imperative: Ethics and justice are just as important (the maqaasid of finance).

Shaikh Shady Alsuleiman (Sydney): Political engagement 

 The Prophet (s) was not only a spiritual and religious leader, but he was also the greatest politician and statesmen; e.g., the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiya stands out as an excellent case study in his ability to advance political ideals.

 Islam is not only in the Mosque, Muslims should and must be involved within the societies they live; on all levels based on their values and principles.

Dr Zachariah Matthews (Sydney): The Prophet’s incorruptibility 

 Muslims should strive to be like the Prophet (s) – incorruptible. Quraish could not entice him to compromise on the fundamental principles of his cause.

 Muslims must fight corruption just like he did. He provided clear anti-corruption standards – no bribery, no inducement gifts, honesty, accountability, etc.

Dr Abdul Salam Azadi (UK): Muslim contribution 

 Muslims must learn Islam to correctly assess prevailing culture, not the other way around. And to work out which practices have been misappropriated as “Islamic”; Islam’s universal values and principles should be used to judge culture throughout time.

 Muslim’s practice of Islam has unfortunately become ritualistic, without spirit (resulting in spiritual impoverishment).

 Following the letter and spirit of the Quran will bring happiness. This is Allah’s guarantee.

 Muslims in the West must be active contributors, not just takers of safety/security and money.

Speakers Profiles: 

Sh Abdool Rahman Khan
Bachelor and Masters of Islamic Jurisprudence. Imam of Northern Virginia Mosque, Chairman of the Shariah Council of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Head of ICNA Tarbiyah Department, Member of the Fiqh Council of North America. (Video)
Dr Abdus Salam Azadi
Bachelor in Islamic Jurisprudence, Masters in Applied Linguistics (Teaching Arabic as a second language), PhD in Islamic Studies. Educationist, author and TV presenter, Director of Swansea Islamic Academy and Mosque, United Kingdom. (Video)
Almir Colan
Masters of Islamic Banking and Finance, Masters of Business Administration. Director of Australian Centre for Islamic Finance, Director at Awqaf Australia, Board member of Garden College; Melbourne. (Video)
Sh Basmah Abdul Qader
Bachelor and Masters in Islamic Jurisprudence, Post-Grad degree in Counselling. Scholar and Counsellor, Life Matters Academy; Sydney. (Video)
Farouk Abdullah Alwyni
Masters in Economics, Masters in Business Administration, Diploma in Islamic Finance, Islamic Finance Qualification. Founder and president director of Alwyni International Capital Indonesia; chairman and co-founder of Center for Islamic Studies in Finance, Economics, and Development (CISFED); lecturer at Perbanas Institute Graduate School of Management and the Graduate School of Management (MM Program), the Faculty of Economics & Business, the University of Indonesia; correspondent for Islamic Finance News; regional director of Executive Muslim.
Kamal Saleh
Bachelor of Media and Law. Spoken word poet, Creative Production at OnePath Network, Sydney. (Video)
Safeea Ali
Spoken word poet, Student Bachelor of Social Science, Western Sydney University.
Sh Shady Alsuleiman
Ijazahs in Quran memorisation, Fiqh, Usul Al Fiqh, Hadith and other Islamic sciences; Masters of Islamic Studies. President of the Australian National Imams Council, Founder of the United Muslims of Australia, Sydney. (Video)
Tasnim Sammak
Bachelor of Arts (Political Science and Government), Bachelor of Education, Honours Research (Education), PhD Student (Curriculum Policy). Researcher Islamophobia Watch, Freelance writer Djed Press, Editor Podium magazine, Director Igniting Dreams Together Mentoring Program, Melbourne.
Imam Yahya Ibrahim
Ijazah in Quran proficiency; studied exegesis, jurisprudence and hadith sciences with scholars. Head of Islamic Studies and Assistant Principal at Langford Islamic College, Senior Imam at Thornlie Mosque, Islamic Chaplain at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, Lecturer at Al-Maghrib Institute, Perth. (Video)
Dr Zachariah Matthews
Bachelor of Pharmacy, Honours Pharmacology, Doctor of Pharmacy, Masters of Islamic Studies. Instructor at Deen Academy, Executive Director with Just Media Advocacy, Vice-President Australian Islamic Mission NSW, Coordinator Muslim Political Action Committee, Sydney. (Video)

 

Host Organisation Details: 

Australian Islamic Mission (AIM)
The Australian Islamic Mission (AIM) is a non-profit religious, charitable and educational organisation committed to promoting the Islamic faith and virtue in Australia. AIM was established in 1973 by a group of Muslims in Sydney. http://www.aim.org.au/
Islamic Forum for Australian Muslims (IFAM)
Islamic Forum for Australian Muslims (IFAM) is an Australia wide non-profit Islamic organisation. It helps Muslims to live in accordance with the teachings of Islam and to endeavor to establish the way of Islam in all spheres of life. http://www.ifam.org.au/
Islamic Practice and Dawah Circle (IPDC)
Islamic Practice and Dawah Circle, also known as IPDC, is an Australia-wide organisation focusing on community development. http://www.ipdc.org.au/
IQRO Foundation
IQRO Foundation was formally listed in Australia in 2000 as a non-profit community organisation, with members primarily from Indonesian Muslim background. IQRO Foundation mainly provides Islamic education and social welfare for the Indonesian and Australian community. http://www.iqro.org.au/

Sponsor Details:

Human Appeal Australia
Human Appeal Australia is a non-governmental humanitarian organisation seeking funds from supporters to assist in providing services to thousands of poor and needy people. Established in 1991 in Australia, it has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. https://www.humanappeal.org.au/
Muslim Community Cooperative Australian (MCCA)
MCCA started operating in 1989 as a registered cooperative in the inner Melbourne suburb of Burwood with $20,000 and a vision to address the financial, banking and investment needs of the Australian Muslim community by offering Shari’ah Compliant housing finance products. http://www.mcca.com.au/
Charity Australia International
Charity Australia is a non-profit organisation working for the uplift of humanity through different activities and ideas. So its mission statement is “uplift of human society and helps needy and less privileged people”. It started off with an aim to help victims of natural disasters Tsunami in 2004 and Earthquake in 2005 in Pakistan. Beginning from its journey from one-off help to an organised NGO, it has covered many milestones. http://www.charityaustralia.org.au/
Human Initiative
We are Human Initiative Limited, a humanitarian organization.  Our team has experienced for more than 17 years in International NGO. As a Humanitarian Organization, we demonstrate our vision: To Be A  Trusted World Class Organization Establishing Self-Sufficiency. http://www.humaninitiative.org.au/
Monessa
A clothing and accessories company. http://www.monessa.com.au/
Cordial Homes
Cordial Homes is a new and rapidly growing Melbourne based home building company. As a proudly expanding business, we are strongly dedicated to our values. We are passionate of what we offer and about caring for our clients and our communities. https://www.cordialhomes.com.au/