Mr Mohamed Hassan OAM, the Founding Director of Minaret College in Melbourne, community visionary and pioneer of Islamic education in Australia passed away on Sunday 7 June 2020, may Allah bless his soul with mercy. Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1931 and after having studied in Egypt and UK, he arrived in Australia in 1967 for higher education and then settled finally in Melbourne. He is survived by his wife Soad (Susie), daughter Inas, son Dr Ahmed Hassan and many loving grandchildren.
After studying electrical engineering at Alexandria University, he left Egypt in 1964 to undertake a Masters of textiles engineering in England. Mohamed joined the Muslim Students Association at Leeds University, organising various events, including dialogue with members of Christian student bodies.
A Professor from the University of NSW visiting Leeds invited Mohamed to study in Australia.
In 1967, Mohamed and his young family arrived in Australia to begin PhD research at UNSW on an electronic counter for wool processing. He quickly became involved in community life.
He joined the Islamic student society at UNSW and then became second ever President of the Islamic Society of NSW based at Surry Hills. He helped organise Sunday school and Ramadan dinners for Sydney’s early Muslim community.
A job offer arose as an engineering lecturer in Bendigo, Victoria, and Mohamed cut short his PhD to move there. He ran the Electronic Engineering course and continued developing his electronic nep counter invention, patenting it in 1975.
Living in a remote country town did not prevent Mohamed from community engagement. In 1976 he hosted the first Christian-Muslim Interfaith Conference in Bendigo with international speakers.
He became an active member of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) and was AFIC Vice-president from 1978-1979. During this time he helped organise the annual AFIC Muslim youth camps which began in Sydney in 1976.
Importantly, he also had the foresight in his Portfolio of Youth & Education to foresee the need and sow the seeds for Islamic Education in Australia.
He presented a paper at an educational conference at Goulburn Institute of Education in 1978, based on an article he had written entitled ‘Unmet needs of Muslim migrants’ which was published in Australian Minaret magazine, October 1978. In it he stated,
“ … Due to the importance of child rearing on the overall development of the individual personality, Islamic pre-schools, primary and secondary schools are needed.”
Little did he know that this passion for the education and service of his community would come to fruition in a very practical way 14 years later.
During 1980-81 he served as President of the Islamic Council of Victoria, shifting with his family to Melbourne in 1982 . At the same time, he completed a post-graduate Diploma of Education, becoming a member of the Victorian Institute of Teaching and President of the Muslim Teachers Association.
Characteristically, he wasted no time in contributing to community work. He was a key founder of Melbourne’s Elsedeaq Egyptian Islamic Society, finding the site for their masjid in Heidelberg, and was a founding member of ISOMER mosque in Lysterfield.
The first Islamic School in Victoria, King Khaled Islamic College, was established in Coburg in 1983. Mohamed Hassan was invited to serve on its board and remained an active and committed member, later becoming Chairman of the Board for a number of years up to 1991.
He became aware of the growing Muslim community in Mebourne’s South East and the need for an Islamic School in that area.
Mr Mohamed Hassan’s crowning achievement was as Founding Director of Minaret College.
In 1992 he took the brave step of retiring from his lecturing job and volunteer full time to establish the Islamic College of Noble Park, which would later become Minaret College. He served as administrator with no salary for over a year till the college stood on its feet.
Starting with only 20 students and one class teacher in 1992, Minaret has now grown to cater for more than 2000 students over two large K-12 campuses in Springvale and Officer. The third campus will open in Doveton next year inshallah, leading into Minaret College’s 30th anniversary.
Along with other Islamic School Principals from Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, Mr Hassan was a founder of the Australian Council for Islamic Education in Schools, an umbrella body for Australian Islamic schools now known as ISAA (Islamic Schools Association of Australia).
Mr Hassan’s community service was recognised when he was awarded The Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) at the 2007 Queens Birthday awards at Government House in Melbourne. He was more recently awarded lifetime achievement awards by Mission of Hope and the Centre for Islamic Thought and Education (CITE)
Mr Hassan retired from Minaret College at the end of 2016, but still participated in College life. In late 2017, he opened the Minaret College masjid, a long-held dream come true, exactly 50 years after arriving in Australia in 1967.
He passed away peacefully during his sleep on Sunday 7 June 2020 and Janaza prayers were held in the masjid of his beloved Minaret College, may he be blessed with Allah’s mercy. He is survived by his wife Soad (Susie), daughter Inas, son Dr Ahmed Hassan and many loving grandchildren.
His personal attributes of patience, gentle manners, polite collaboration and deep faith endeared him to all who knew him.
Mr Mohamed Hassan OAM’s constant community service throughout his adult life makes him a true pioneer of Australia’s Muslim community, which he has served sincerely for 50 years in the fields of youth development, interfaith dialogue and Islamic Education.