Author: irfan-yusuf

Swinging Safari: A personal view

I’m a child of the 70’s. Born in 1969 in Karachi, my parents dragged me kicking and screaming to Sydney. My parents bought me a bike when I was 7 years old, and I was only allowed to ride it up and down my short street. I rode past the guys and gals standing next to their Sandman panel van with the surfboard on top. “Howya goin”, one of the girls would say. I was too shy to respond. Plus mum told me how bad “gori larkiyan” (white girls) were. In fact, within our small South Asian community (consisting...

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Our obsession with national security: Flinders St incident

A young Australian man of Afghan origin gets into an SUV and drives unlicensed into the heart of Melbourne CBD. He runs over and injures a number of people. Police are interviewing the man and have indicated he is known to them. The man has a history of mental health issues, was affected by the drug Ice and told police he could hear voices and was upset about the way Muslims were being treated. Now if you read the comments at the bottom of news articles as well as the nuttier tabloid columnists, you too could end up with...

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Analysing the YES/NO voting

The big news is that the legislative definition of marriage will soon change to include Adam and Steve. The results of the postal vote have been released, and there’s been lots of hoo-hah about the majority of folk in Western Sydney electorates voting against gay marriage. One columnist from The Weekend Australian managed to include Hizb ut-Tahrir as a possible cause. Another columnist from the Sunday Telegraph praised members of her own faith for attacking a mural in inner-Sydney “to the horror of locals”. The justification for the attack? The mural was blasphemous. Lord only knows what the columnist would have written has those attacking...

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Hislam, a combative but worthwhile reading

Dr Susan Carland’s first book Hislam has pulled off an enormous achievement.  A PhD is the highest degree one can achieve in a Western university. The PhD dissertation, however, is often barely read by a handful of people. Dr Carland has transformed her dissertation into a relatively short and easy-to-read book for general readership. Making her job even more difficult is that the topic – how Muslim women fight sexism inside and outside their communities – is one fraught with controversy. It’s a topic that often involves the least knowledgeable assuming expert status. Within the first few pages of...

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The unruly ummah

Imagine if you could stand on census day next to each person who ticks the “Muslim” box on their census form. Just as they were about the place their tick, you gave them a sheet of paper and had them write down the 5 most important actors that define their “Islam-ness”. Do you think each person would list the same five factors and in the same order? Australian Muslims may share a common faith but they also come from over 160 different nationalities. The basis for our religious affiliation will never be the same. Indeed many of us don’t place religion first all the time. Instead, we place language or ethnicity or nationality or something else. Back in 1999, Sydney scholar Katy Nebhan described Australian Muslims as being more like nationalist “cells” than an ummah. Is this still the case? It’s hard to say. What I can say is that you would find very few mosques in Sydney or Melbourne where the sermon is given in English, the language of at least 60% of Australian Muslims. Yet the term ummah, that supposedly international brotherhood and sisterhood of Islam, gets bandied about so much from the imams’ sermons to the impassioned dinner part discussion. Ummah appears in the Qur’an some 60 times and has been used by traditional scholars, by more modern “Islamist” thinkers and by violent wackos. The idea of...

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