After a break in 2020 due to COVID-19, ISRA resumed its unique graduation ceremony for the class of 2020-2021 on Saturday 11 December 2021 at Sydney Olympic Park showcasing excellent performance by its graduating students.

The Islamic Sciences and Research Academy (ISRA) is integrated with Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation (CISAC) at the Charles Sturt University (CSU) delivering quality Islamic education for all Australians for more than a decade.

Following its strong performance in the teaching of Classical Arabic, three of its graduates in Masters of Classical Arabic, Asra Anjam, Fraiba Joyan and Shukria Mujaddedi passed with distinction while the top student Aisha Armstrong was awarded the Postgraduate University Medal by the CSU.

Master of Classical Arabic graduate, Aisha Armstrong, winner of Postgraduate University Medal by the CSU. Photo by Zia Ahmad.

Amongst graduates in other degrees offered by ISRA, Kamel Kheir passed with distinction in Batchelor of Islamic Studies while Amina Baghdadi passed with distinction in Master of Islamic Studies.

Bachelors and Masters degrees, graduate diplomas and graduate certificates in Islamic Studies and Classical Arabic were awarded to the graduating students by Professor Lucie Zundans-Fraser, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Education and Associate Professor Clive Pearson, former Head of School of Theology and Senior Research Fellow in the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre at CSU.

ISRA graduations are a unique combination of intellectual, academic, emotional and spiritual experience held in a dignified yet family-friendly atmosphere where the graduating student is given the opportunity to deliver a short reflection on his/her educational experience.

Reflecting on what my Masters meant for me

The formal event was also attended by ISRA staff from Sydney as well as Melbourne and Charles Sturt University academics, community leaders and families of the graduates.

Mobinah Ahmad receiving her Masters in Islamic Studies Award from Associate Professor Clive Pearson. Photo Courtesy Shemsi Ilham, SHEM’s Photography.

In addition to brief comments by staff, the graduates shared their feelings from the stage in a one minute speech, thanking their teachers and family members, many of them shedding tears of joy at the completion of their unique educational journey.

The program was started by Makiz Ansari with the acknowledgement to country and welcome to all those present followed by recitation of Quran by Anas Agha.

Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, Executive Director of CISAC addressing graduating students. Photo by Zia Ahmad.

Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, Executive Director of CISAC during his address congratulated the graduating students for their high achievement and thanked CSU for facilitating the delivery of Islamic studies and Arabic language programs.

The keynote speaker Dr Sheikh Arif Chaker, Imam at Sydney’s Lakemba Mosque who also teaches Islamic Sharia courses inspired the graduating students by reflecting on his research on Quran, community service experience and family counselling.

The main highlight was the admission to the degrees for the graduating students by Professor Lucie Zundans-Fraser and presentation of the awards by A/Professor Clive Pearson followed by a brief speech by each student.

Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad OAM at theISRA Graduation 2021. Photo by Zia Ahmad.

After a brief address by Professor Lucie Zundans-Fraser congratulating the students for their achievement, ISRA alumni members presented gifts to the graduating students followed by concluding remarks by Associate Professor Zuleyha Keskin, CISAC Course Director who acknowledged the presence of veteran Islamic leader, Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad OAM who was turning 91 next day on Sunday 12 December 2021.

Associate Professor Zuleyha Keskin, CISAC Course Director speaking at ISRA graduation. Photo by Zia Ahmad

During the years 2020-2021, ISRA has 106 graduates, 1 Associate Degree in Islamic Studies, 37 Bachelor of Islamic Studies, 9 Graduate Certificate in Classical Arabic, 3 Graduate Certificate in Contemporary Islamic Studies, 5 Graduate Certificate in Islamic Studies, 4 Graduate Diploma of Classical Arabic, 3 Graduate Diploma of Contemporary Islamic Studies, 3 Graduate Diploma of Islamic Studies, 1 Islamic Studies Research, 16 Master of Arts (Classical Arabic), 1 Master of Contemporary Islamic Studies, 23 Master of Islamic Studies.