The Melbourne based Sheikh Fehmi Imam, one of the senior Muslim leaders of Australia passed away at the age of 88 on Saturday 24 September 2016 morning and was buried next day at the Fawkner cemetery.
He was the Imam of Preston mosque for decades and served as the Grand Mufti of Australia from June 2007 to September 2011. He played a major role in the development of Muslim community in Melbourne.
His Janaza prayer held at Omar ibn al-Khattab Mosque, Preston on Sunday was attended by hundreds of people including community and interfaith leaders, politicians and police officers, academics and clerics.
Fehmi Naji El-Imam, was born in Lebanon and arrived in Australia in 1951 at the age of 23. He got married to a local convert lady and had 3 sons and one daughter. At the time of his demise he leaves behind 9 grand children.
In 1957, he and a small group formed the first Islamic Society in Victoria. He organised prayers in people’s homes and the first weekend school to provide Islamic teaching for Muslim children.
He was largely a self educated Islamic scholar and apart from his theoretical studies of Islamic sciences developed great insight into living Islam in Australia for members of the budding Muslim community.
Together with Dr Abdul Khaliq Kazi and Mr Ibrahim Dallal, in 1963 he founded the national body, Australian Federation of Islamic Societies (AFIS) based in Melbourne. AFIS was restructured into Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) with the election of its Founder President Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad and moved to Sydney in 1976.
During the early seventies, Sheikh Fehmi Imam became full time Imam with the Islamic Society of Victoria and embarked on an ambitious project to build a large Islamic Centre in the northern suburb of Preston.
He was a regular Sheikh attending the highly successful AFIC youth camps during the late seventies and early eightees and was very popular amongst the school going youth who he greatly empathised with in their search for an Australian Muslim identity.
He served as a board member on the Muslim Community Reference Group, an advisory board established by the Howard Government from 2005 to 2006.
He was given Order of Australia award by the government for his services to multiculturalism, the Muslim community and multi-faith understanding.