The Second Sydney Muslim Conference (SMC) was held on Sunday 29 November at Rosehill Gardens Pavilion in Parramatta, Western Sydney with the theme “Divine Rights in the Modern World”.
Encouraged by the great success of the first conference last year, the Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) decided to hold the second conference aiming to continue its legacy of bringing together Muslims in Australia belonging to different cultures and to focus on the values and message of Islam in the modern world.
In addition to the main speakers from overseas, Imam Zaid Shakir and Dr Shadee Elmasry, the one-day conference mainly brought local community movers and shakers in order to address modern day topics.
The local speakers included Dr Mehal Krayem, Nada Roude, Samier Dandan, Imam Afroz Ali, Shaykh Anthony Andrist, Shaykh Hassan Elsetohy, Shaykh Wesam Charkawi, Randa Abdel-Fattah and Shaykh Mohamad Abdalla.
Around 600 people attended the four sessions of the conference, with tweets and updates on social media being broadcasted with the hashtag #smc2015.
The first session was on the issue of ‘Muslims and Local Politics’ which was covered by Samier Dandan and Nada Roude. Nada went deep into the history and achievement of Muslim’s in Australia while Samier spoke on the importance of Muslim’s engaging in politics.
The second session was on ‘Navigating Sectarian and Cultural Divides’ where Imam Zaid Shakir stated “We should focus on points of unity. To insult a Muslim is moral bankruptcy and to fight him is disbelief”.
Session three was on the ‘Gender Constructs and Western Muslims’ where Dr Krayem covered the issue of ‘Muslim masculinity’ while Dr Elmasry covered the topic of gender inequality focusing mainly on the treatment of Muslim women.
Session four was on the ‘Islamic Response to International Injustice’ Shaykh Hassan provided a framework to respond to international injustice while Shaykh Wesam gave examples of how to respond using prophetic guidance.
Session five was on ‘Understanding and Countering Islamophobia’ with Randa Abdel Fattah and Shaykh Mohamad Abdalla. Sister Randa discussed her finding’s on Islamophobia in her research while Shaykh Mohamad gave another framework on how to respond to it. “we should not be reactionary, we have to be proactive”, he concluded.
The last session featured Imam Zaid Shakir for the second time to close the conference in discussing the issue on ‘Our God Given Rights and Their Place in the Modern World’.
He spoke on how to gain our rights in the West with the obstacles that will be in our way closing off his speech with his words “in meeting obstacles and addressing them, that is what makes a people great and that time is now”.