On 31 August 2016, Jamila Hussain passed away at the age of 73 in Sydney, Australia. She was Australia’s first female academic expert on Sharia law and a respected leader in the Australian Muslim community.
Her funeral was held on Thursday 1 September 2016 at Auburn Gallipoli Mosque and was attended by many including leaders of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian community.
A video has been produced on Jamila Hussain’s passing by The Australasian Muslim Times Jamila Hussain: An Australian Muslim Pioneer which highlights many voices in the community that spoke of her very highly.
Jamila Hussain was born in 1942 in Katoomba, Australia. She graduated at the top of her class at Katoomba high school. In high school, she realised she did not share the same beliefs of specific Christian doctrines like the Trinity and rejected them. This eventually led to on her path on Islam, and her conversion 30 years later.
In 1961, when studying at the University of Sydney, aged 18, she met and later married her Chinese Muslim husband, Mohammed Ameen Hussain, aged 26. They had five children: Dawood, Karim, Omar, Sam, and Imran. With a growing interest in Islam, she moved to Malaysia with her husband and three younger sons. In Malaysia, she graduated from a Diploma in Sharia law and a Masters in Comparative Law from the International Islamic University in Malaysia. This is where she received a grounding in Islamic law and practice.
Jamila and Mohammed Ameen were married for 33 years until he passed away in 1994 unexpectedly at the age of 59 in Malaysia. Jamila became a widow at the age of 51, and raised her three youngest on her own. She settled in Darwin for a short period of time before moving back to Sydney. Jamila then became a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law and research associate at the University of Technology Sydney. She was an expert in South-East Asian law, Islamic law, Muslims in Australian society and Muslim women.
Jamila instilled the importance of equality across many facets of life to her children, and always reminded them that “paradise lies at the foot of your mother”. She was a loving mother and grandmother to her five children and nine grandchildren.
In 2006, She was a member of the Federal government’s Muslim Community Reference Group and was actively involved in research, writing and lecturing about the Muslim community in Australia.
In 2009, Jamila appeared on Sunday nights: Second Hour, where she did a half hour interview with Noel Debien, speaking about her life, religion and work.
In 2011, Federation Press published her book on ‘Islam: Its Law and Ethics’, third edition. This book is used in Universities and school as a reference text. In this book, she explains the basic principles of the religion of Islam and its law (the Sharia), and how the Shariah is lived in the context of many different cultures throughout the world and specifically in an Australian context.
Jamila presented her book at the launch of the Australian Muslim Women’s Association (AMWA) launch, where MP for Auburn, Barbara Perry commended her on her contribution and long history of active community involvement. Jamila was an active member of the Muslim Women’s Network of Australia for many years, and a founding member of AMWA.
She was published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2014, for her article “Sharia 101: A User’s Guide for Jacqui Lambie’, writing a letter to Senator Jacquie Lambie.
In 2016, she appeared on ABC’s “You Can’t Ask That: Muslims”, where she spoke about sharia law, Islamophobia and the equality of men and women in Islam.
Her passing has affected many, including outside of Australia. Hafiz Atiq-ul-Rahman from the Islamic Union of Hong Kong and members recited Fatiha and dua for her during their Zuhr prayer. Jamila’s husband and father in law were members of the IUHK.
Jamila Hussain leaves a strong legacy to her extended family, her friends and to the entire Australian community.