The Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA) has completed its first project documentary and photography book of an expedition, which will document the Muslim History in Australia that dates back to as early as the 18th Century to where it is now. The book and film was launched by Senator Hon Kate Lundy and Yusuf Islam (Cat Steven's) in May 2012.
Overview and Objectives of the Project
The Islamic Museum of Australia will make a documentary of an expedition by four young Muslim Australians who go on a journey to discover and document the Muslim history of Australia. The documentary will include interviews with townspeople, academics, in areas of Australia, which have hosted Muslim communities and have a contribution to make to tell the story of Muslim history in Australia.
The documentary aims:
- to educate Australians and people in other countries about the contribution made by Muslims to Australia,
- to foster a sense of closeness and acceptance to Australia for young Australian Muslims and
- to inform other countries about Australia's Muslim past and promote tolerance in the Australian community.
The Islamic Museum of Australia owns the rights to the video and will air it at the Museum, events, school's and also seek to have it aired in other countries around the globe, particularly partner countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the countries of the Arab world.
The project accords with the Islamic Museum of Australia's aim to foster community harmony and facilitate an understanding of the values and contributions of Muslims to Australian society. It will also highlight Australian historical links with the Malay Peninsula and Indonesian Archipelago.
The video contains filmed footage of rock paintings as old as 20,000 years and artifacts from remote Arnhem Land, which illustrate the interaction between Indonesian fishermen and the local Aboriginals that dates back pre-European settlement.
It also includes interviews with the 101 year old daughter of an Afghan cameleer and with aboriginal camel trainers who use the afghan language to train the camels and riders. Including other Afghan descendants today and covers Broome and the historical links with Malaysian Pearl Divers. Yusuf Islam song "Where in the World" features in the film.
The Muslim population in Australia is ethnically, linguistically, and culturally diverse—a mix from over 120 countries. Muslims have been visiting Australia and contributing to Australian culture and society for hundreds of years.
Muslim fishermen from Indonesia have visited Australian shores since the 18th century. They interacted with Aborigine populations, intermarried and shared culture and use Indonesian words in their language.
Islam immigrants stood shoulder to shoulder with their Australian countrymen during Australia's pioneering days. Malay pearl fishers and Afghan cameleers brought their religion to Australia in the 19thth century. The first mosque in Australia was built of mud brick at Marree, South Australia in 1861. It was followed by other mosques built by the Afghan cameleers including the onewhich still stands in Bourke, built in the 1880s, Broken Hill and Australia's first City Mosque.
Following the Second World War, the Muslim community in Australia expanded due to the post-war economic boom, which created employment opportunities and encouraged many European Muslims to migrate to Australia to seek a new life.
In 1975 another wave of immigration came from Lebanon resulting from the Lebanese Civil War. Lebanese Muslims now constitute the highest profile Muslim group in Australia, and form the core of Australia's Arab Muslim population.
Since the 1970's Australian towns and cities with sizable Muslim populations have witnessed a change in streetscapes. Mosques and prayer rooms are now seen in public places, along with Islamic schools and halal food stores. Islamic centers have also recently developed in Australia, offering the growing Muslim community facilities such as youth centres, sports, social activities and providing cultural advice for new arrivals.
The documentary, aired on TV in neighbouring countries,-notably Indonesia and Malaysia- will serve as a useful means to raise awareness among these populations, of the historical links and positive contribution of Muslim to Australian development and of the diverse nature of Australian society.
Much of Australia's broader population are unaware of the positive contributions made by Muslim Australians in diverse endeavours throughout Australia. The unfavourable perception of Islam resulting from events of 11 September 2001and the 2005 Bali bombings have threatened Islam's acceptance in modern Australian society.
Achieving the Objectives
The documentary was made in two parts, which covered Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, SA, NT, WA has been filmed and is now in near complete production. Over 20,000km of vast terrain covered namely: Melbourne, Snowy Mountains, Bourke NSW, Broken Hill, Mareeba, Adelaide, Marree, Port Augusta, Alice Springs, Uluru, Darwin, Arnhem Land, Broome and Sydney. The participants in the documentary project are:
Moustafa Fahour – Islamic Museum of Australia Founder and Board Member, his family came to Australia from Lebanon in late 1960's and he has had a successful banking career in Australia. He is currently the founder & director of the Islamic Museum of Australia.
Ashraf Naim – General Manager, Islamic Museum of Australia. Migrated to Australia at a young age and has been educated in Australia.
Peter Gould – An Australian who converted to Islam in his early 20's and is a photographer and graphic designer.
Jehad Dabab– Producer and Director and production director of comedy TV program "Salam Café". He is also part of a rap group in Australia called the Brothahood, who have a popular following in Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Australia.