The Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) was formed in 1962 and has just celebrated its 60th year of operation.

Over the past six decades, the Sydney-based LMA has grown in both size and stature, expanding its positive presence and influence in the community to become a nationally-recognised organisation, which is representative of and which provides a wide variety of services for the benefit of the Muslim community.

Established by a group of Lebanese immigrant families, the LMA originally held its meetings and other gatherings (including a Sunday school) in a community hall.

Its aims all those years ago were – and still are – to provide social, religious, recreational and educational services for the Muslim community in Australia.

Once established, the LMA set out to unify the community with a common place of worship and in the late 1960’s, the organisation purchased a house on a parcel of land in Wangee Road,  Lakemba, on the site of the current mosque.

The house was initially used by the LMA as a place of worship before it was demolished in the early 1970s. The construction of the current building commenced in 1972.

Australia’s first purpose-built masjid, Lakemba mosque was completed in 1977 and the majestic Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb Masjid opened its doors.

To this day, Lakemba mosque remains Australia’s most famous and iconic masjid, with beautiful interior artwork and calligraphy.

Thousands of worshippers pass through the doors of Lakemba mosque each and every week and these already huge numbers increase further in times of major events.

The LMA facilitates Australia’s largest Ramadan program, with around 3,000 worshippers visiting Lakemba mosque each night of the Holy month for Taraweeh prayers: numbers which double on Laylat-al-Qadr.

Eid Prayers at Lakemba mosque see worshippers travel from near and far for the biggest gathering of its type anywhere in Australia, with a congregation of tens of thousands praying not only in the mosque but spilling over into the car park and surrounding streets, which are temporarily closed to traffic.

The LMA has traditionally enjoyed a strong working relationship with local politicians (which it maintains to this day) and senior figures from Federal, State and Local government invariably attend the Eid prayers gathering, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Indeed, former Prime Minister, the late Gough Whitlam, was a special guest at the official opening of Lakemba mosque in 1977.

Space does not permit me to reference the LMA’s many, many achievements over the past six decades, but its work in the area of funerals must be recognised: establishing the first Islamic funeral parlour in Australia, instituting out-of-coffin burials and successfully petitioning for Muslim-designated areas in cemeteries.

As well as Lakemba mosque, the LMA also owns masjids in Cabramatta and Young, which both opened during the 1990s.

Also during the 1990s, construction commenced on the multi-purpose LMA services building at 71-75 Wangee Road, Lakemba (adjacent to Lakemba mosque).

Since 2014, the LMA has supported and co-ordinated National Mosque Open Day when participating mosques from around Australia open their doors to welcome members of the public, regardless of their faiths – the first such event being held on 25 October  2014.

National Mosque Open Day is one of the LMA’s most significant events and a return to an ‘in person’ format in 2022 following a three-year hiatus owing to COVID restrictions saw an excellent response from the public, who turned out in their numbers at Lakemba Mosque and other participating masjids.

Commenting on the ongoing success of National Mosque Open Day, state local member the Jihad Dib MP said following of the 2022 renewal, “I am grateful for my ongoing relationship with Lakemba mosque….may Allah reward Lakemba mosque and the LMA for their tireless efforts and contributions towards the community.”

Over the years, the LMA has implemented a host of programs, services, projects, events and other initiatives for the benefit of the Muslim community, playing an integral role in advocating for the rights of all Muslims in Australia, including recently arrived immigrants and refugees, while another key target areas is youth.

All LMA activities have a strong Islamic focus.

The LMA’s extensive growth and networking sees it collaborate with and engaged in partnerships with a huge number of community stakeholders and sponsors, federal and state government departments and not-for-profit organisations.

As an organisation, the LMA is embracing new technologies, constantly utilising and developing online platforms to enhance its presence as one of Australia’s pre-eminent organisations within the Muslim community.

Now in its 61st year of operations, the LMA’s strong awareness of history cannot be emphasised strongly enough but at the same time, it is a body with a dedicated, proactive and future-focused board of directors.

In the past 12 months alone, the LMA has added acquired complexes at Bankstown and Greenacre which will be used to assist and care for the most vulnerable in our community.

Additionally, the organisation did some fantastic work to assist those in need overseas, including the sending of a special aid team to Lebanon last August, where they provided much-needed food, water and other supplies to poverty-stricken communities, including the donation of the flesh from several hundred sheep as part of their Adahi Project.

Also during 2022, the directors signed off on a major upgrade of Lakemba Mosque and its grounds as well as the LMA Islamic Funeral Services and the LMA services building (an artist’s impression of the front of the proposed upgraded mosque is at the top of this story).

The infrastructure repairs and upgrades are needed to support the capacity and delivery of the LMA’s services to the Muslim and broader community.

The year of 2023 will be a period of further growth, activity and progress by the LMA as it strives its utmost to help develop a community capable of addressing the many challenges and issues that it faces with both confidence and professionalism.