The year of 2023 saw progress, consolidation, exhilaration and the sad loss of a great former spiritual leader for the Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA), Australia’s oldest non-profit Islamic organisation, based at Lakemba in Sydney’s southwest.

A project that the LMA board is particularly excited about is the aged care facility in Bankstown, for which major renovations commenced during 2023. The centre is set to welcome its first intake of clients this year.

In terms of progress in the LMA services building, the Optimus Health and Fitness Centre underwent a sweeping refurbishment, whilst at the neighbouring Lakemba Mosque, the electronic system including monitors and speakers was upgraded.

The opening of the LMA Studio to record podcasts, Qur’an recitals and other messages and broadcast them to the community shows that the organisation is embracing cutting-edge technologies.

Founded in the 1980s, the LMA Islamic Funeral Services has provided exceptional support to the Sydney Muslim community and last year saw the location of the funeral parlour moved to a state-of-the-art Funerals area beneath Lakemba Mosque.

The LMA Islamic Funeral Services has been a vital community initiative for four decades,

The bold introduction of the Al-Azhar Project during 2023 now allows Shariah students to earn an Azhari College degree through the branch of Azhar, Lebanon, recognised by Egypt’s iconic Al-Azhar University.

Under the leadership of the LMA board, 2023 witnessed concerted efforts to reignite community engagement with Lakemba Mosque.

With the allure of distinguished guest speakers, Youth Nights and major events became vibrant hubs of activity, drawing massive crowds in a resounding resurgence.

Echoes of wisdom reverberated through the masjid as luminaries like Mohamed Hoblos, Sheikh Abu Bakr Zoud and The Sunnah Guy graced audiences with their insights, whilst an exhilarating Youth event featuring renowned international speaker Nouman Ali Khan saw over 10,000 attendees, a new benchmark for night-time presentations at the venue (see main photo).

Young Mosque’s recently built children’s playground looks spectacular under lights.

The LMA also owns both Cabramatta and Young Mosques, and through the mercy of Allah and the tireless efforts of their locally based committees and volunteers, both masjids continue to grow and thrive.

The passing late last year of Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly, the Imam of Lakemba Mosque for a record 31 years (1982-2013) and the former Grand Mufti of Australia, was a time of great sadness.

“It is with grieving hearts and broken spirits that we announce the passing of our beloved Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly in Egypt,” LMA president Hafez Alameddine said at the time.

Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly passed away in October 2023. Allah Yerhamo.

“You were the beacon of light when our Ummah was fractured, and the LMA and Lakemba Mosque will forever be indebted to you for your invaluable service and commitment. ”

“May Allah the Almighty reward you with nothing less than Jannah Ferdous.”

For Muslims, the events in Palestine since last October have overshadowed all others on the world stage, with the LMA concentrating most of its charitable efforts on supporting our brothers and sisters in Gaza through its charity arm Feed The World.

The LMA board has been proactive – indeed, outspoken – in its efforts to emphasise the organisation’s steadfast advocacy for Palestine to the Federal and NSW Governments, urging them to take a stronger stand in the wake of the ongoing atrocities in Gaza being perpetrated by the Israeli Defence Force daily.

Over 5,000 worshippers attended the LMA’s ‘Friday Prayer for Palestine’ event at Parry Park, Lakemba, on 20 October, 2023.