A reunion between the Ahmad family and key researchers was organised on Sunday 16 December 2018 in order to get an update on the ISRA research project “A Journey through Australia’s Muslim Heritage: The life and times of Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad.”

The family-friendly event was joined by members of the extended family of Dr Ahmad with presentations from the researchers on the project, Chief Investigator, Dr Mahsheed Ansari, lecturer at Charles Sturt University and Co-Investigator, Ms Katy Nebhan, researcher and lecturer at the University of Sydney.

Dr Mahsheed Ansari.

The researchers provided an update for the work done during the last one year giving glimpses by means of historical photos and video footage as well as images of important documents that they have collected and archived during the course of their investigation.

They also fielded a number of questions from the audience, most of whom have been interviewed and who had provided a lot of archival materials for the project in terms of documents, photos, videos, publications and audio and video interviews.

The project on Dr Ahmad is one of the three Australian Muslim Heritage projects undertaken by Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation (CISC) simultaneously on history of Muslim community development in Sydney and Melbourne concentrating on the life and times of Sheikh Fehmi Imam, Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad and Dr Abdul Khaliq Kazi, three of the key pioneers in the Muslim Community.

Ms Katy Nebhan.

The project specifically on the life and times of Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad is a joint venture between Islamic Foundation for Education & Welfare (IFEW) and CISC within Charles Sturt University (CSU)  and aims to examine this critical period of Australia’s Muslim history through the life and works of Dr Ahmad.

Dr Ahmad was active at a time from 1971 onwards when there were few or no relevant services for the rapidly growing Muslim community in Sydney. This includes places for prayer and worship, access to halal foods, religious education and so forth where he helped with founding key institutions which continue to service Australia’s broader Muslim communities to this day.

Dr Ahmad is a well-known and highly regarded figure within the Muslim community and part of this research is looking beyond his public persona to explore his private struggles, motivations and personal narratives.

Interviews with Dr Ahmad, key members of his family and colleagues, family as well as community documents have been sourced, categorised and analysed and electronically archived in order to identify and document family history and biography with local, institutional and ideological histories and locate Dr Ahmad’s vision within broader historical contexts.

During the course of a year, a lot of materials from Dr Ahmad’s family residence, Dar-ul-Islam in Bonnyrigg have been electronically archived and preserved that will result in a number of publications, books and documentaries shedding light on Australian Muslim history.

The deliverables from this research project will include:

  1. Published biography
  2. Joint paper to be presented at the biennial Oral History Australia Conference 2019.
  3. Plan for exhibition at the Islamic Museum of Australia (late 2019).
  4. Launch biography.
  5. Peer-reviewed journal articles

This research will lay the foundations for a separate future project that will include an in-depth history of Australian Muslim institutions, ‘stand-alone’ oral histories as well as the production of an e-book with embedded oral recordings.