Ibrahim Dellal, 86, the Melbourne based veteran community leader passed away on Friday 7 December 2018. A funeral service attended by more than 400 people was held at Quba mosque on Monday 10 December and he was buried at Fawkner cemetery.
İbrahim Dellal (1932-2018) of Turkish Cypriot origins was a community activist and played a pioneering role in establishing Islamic organizations and educational institutions since his arrival in Melbourne in early 1950’s.
Being the grandson of late Ottoman Mufti in Cyprus, İbrahim’s parents, especially his mother, raised their son to be Osmanli Efendisi, an Ottoman gentleman. His parents planted the seed of serving humanity in Ibrahim’s soul. Once he told me “My mother may not be a scholar of Islam. However, when it comes to practice, she lived like a saint.”
I met him in the late 80s. He was a ‘living history’, perhaps one of the most important figures in the Australian Muslim community since the mid-20th century.
It was not until 1956 when İbrahim met Huseyin Ara Efendi, an Ottoman citizen who lived with dignity in Australia. Huseyin Ara Efendi was blind but he did not want to be reliant on state welfare. He would catch fish and sell it in the market to get by. His indebtedness to the state left indelible marks on İbrahim’s soul.
İbrahim felt spiritual emptiness during the early 50s and gradually returned to his roots. He played an important role in establishing Cypriot Turkish Society in 1956, Islamic Society of Victoria in 1957, Preston Mosque in 1962, Australian Federation of Islamic Societies (AFIS) in 1964, Coburg Mosque in 1971, Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) in 1976 and Selimiye Foundation in 1991, which established Sirius College with six campuses and Sunshine Mosque in 2001.
His colleague working with him in AFIS from the early 1960’s Dr Abdul Khaliq Kazi said, “Ibrahim never quit and left. He never just sat at home. Ibrahim never divorced himself from the community.”
Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad, Founder President of AFIC while offering his condolences said, ” I have known Ibrahim Dellal for more than four decades. He was instrumental in the transformation of AFIS into AFIC during the early 1970’s and we used to meet regularly at AFIC annual congress. I met him last time in January this year at the Janaza and burial of my daughter Sadia Siddiqui who passed away in an accident in Melbourne. He looked so robust and energetic and I am still shocked at his passing away. May Allah grant him Jannah.”
İbrahim made substantial contributions to earning Australia billions of dollars through the export of halal meat to Muslim countries. His contributions led to him being awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal by Queen Elizabeth in 1977. In 2007, İbrahim’s name appeared on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.
The idea of writing his biography came when I traveled with İbrahim to Canada for a retreat. Through our conversations over the 10-day trip, I discovered that İbrahim was a “living history.”
For İbrahim, serving others was an act of worship. Not all agreed with İbrahim’s actions and views. He was criticized by some community leaders and members and accused of being an opportunist. Yet his gentle nature and dislike of conflict prevented him from even responding.
He so would say: “I have no time to quarrel with others. We should be heroes of compassion.”
So often he would say: “The life is too short, and we have important tasks need to be done.”
He told me a decade ago.
“If I don’t do this (serving community), I will die. I will do this until my last breath.”
He did till his last breath. When I visited him in the hospital about a month ago, he did not talk about his health, pain but talked the new projects in his mind.
Ibrahim will live in the hearts and minds as a man of God, lover of education, the hero of compassion, and servant of the community.
May Allah rest him in peace.
For his full biography, you can click https://www.academia.edu/1884993/The_Struggle_of_Ibrahim_Biography_of_an_Australian_Muslim