Imam Abduljalil Sajid on being a Muslim in the West

Imam SajidEarlier this week I had the privilege of chairing a lecture by visiting Muslim scholar and imam, Abduljalil Sajid. He was speaking at an Initiatives of Change gathering hosted by Elanora Uniting Church.

Imam Sajid’s topic for the evening was “Being a Muslim in the West”. The local audience, mostly Christian, were interested to explore ways in which the Gold Coast could grow as a multi-faith multi-cultural multi-ethnic community.

The Gold Coast community was reeling from coverage of an ‘honour killing’ in which a Muslim man killed his wife when he disccovered his daughter planned to convert to Christianity. Local media had suggested that this murder had been an expression of Muslim culture. Fortunately Imam Hussein, the local Muslim leader, had been featured in the Gold Coast Bulletin explaining that this case was more about personal fear and pride. Imam Sajid over dinner and during his lecture distinguished between local customs and culture and the mandate set out in the Qur’an.
Imam Sajid gave us a summary of the origins of Islam, helping us understand the phases of Muhammad’s life and teaching. We heard about Imam growing up in Pakistan, learning to study the Qur’an, learning English, Bengali, and moving to the United Kingdom for PhD studies.

The story that stays with me is the impact of hospitality on Imam Sajid’s life and work. Staying in a London hostel Imam was forming a poor impression of life in the UK. Coming from a large gregarious family he was used to lively conversation. But in his first year in London he only encountered people intent on maintaining privacy, whether that be in the hostel, on public transport or in lectures. It wasn’t until he responded to an invitation for a Christmas home stay that he discovered a family that lived out values of dialogue, service and hospitality. The family turned out to be that of a Christian minister.

It was in his interaction with this family that Imam discovered in himself a passion for living a life of passionate faith, more than the loyal submission he’d been living up to that point. From that point he set up Islamic societies and became involved in interfaith projects that helped form a warmer environment for migrants.
The story wouldn’t have sat well with those who’d like the story to end with conversion to Christianity. But it’s a lot more desirable than inter-faith interactions that end in hostility, misunderstanding and resentment.

I came away from the gathering encouraged to keep on taking initiative in building relationships with people in my own community, despite my own fears of rejection or feelings of discomfort.

Pictured here are Lesley Bryant (local organiser), Glennis Johnston (Uniting Church minister in Elanora), Daphne McDonald (Gold Coast City Councillor), Imam Abduljalil Sajid and myself.

Imam Abduljalil Sajid and Elanora Group

Imam Sajid can be heard speaking on the ABC Sunday Night Second Hour program – including MP3.

2 Replies to “Imam Abduljalil Sajid on being a Muslim in the West”

  1. all very nice i am sure but their beliefs are very very different from ours and should not be encouraged in our society. We need to be very aware and unfortunately we are not.

    Australians are all in all a very accommodating, friendly and innocent nation due to our distance from many of the different and dangerous cultures so far from our shores.

    We have accepted many different ethnic nations into our country and will continue to do so in the right way, however there is a huge difference between a religious sect belonging to another nation trying to invade our life.

    We can accept folk from Muslim countries as we would Europeans, Asians etc but we do not and should not allow them to segregate themselves and formally separate schools etc to educate them in a different style and content than that of Australian beliefs and standards.

    If they want to live by their religious systems then they need to live in a Muslim country to foster their own choice of lifestyle not a free nation.

    We tend to think everyone is like us. This is not the case at all and in regard to the belief systems of the Muslims is the opposite of our passive Christian based nation.

    They often can appear very nice in day-to-day life and many are nice folk but the crux of the matter is their belief system is very fanatical and controlling in its demands. It does not in any way follow the free and healthy attitude of our normal Australian life.

    This type of belief system will eventually poison the minds of those taught it and whilst living in our free and open style of life will create tension and acts of violence in our country, as this is the way the teachings guide them to disapprove and try to wipe out such freedoms that we have.

    Many folk compare such opinions as this as though bigot, or racists because we allow Catholic schools, Seventh day Adventists etc, but these are more Christian based beliefs, even Jewish schools will not be teaching such harmful thoughts that will be taught in the Muslim schools.

    We must start to realize the difference between accepting people from other countries to accepting and allowing them to teach such different religious belief systems from our own. Let them practice their religion in their homes if they must but we as a nation need to stand firm on not allowing so much freedom in religious matters that will become a great danger to our free nation if not halted now.

    Researching many countries in Europe one will find great problems with the Muslim status and demands they make as their numbers and power grows. Even now wanting to change the British law system to encompass some of their religious belief laws.

    We are all supposed to be equal and live as one in our country, so why should we have to adjust or even contemplate such things for a religious group foreign to our belief system. The whole idea of complying with their requests and demands is absurd if we want to keep our country the free happy place it has been, and it has been this way due to not having such religious fanaticism groups in our country until recently, which is what has caused so many unfortunate conflicts already and harm to some of our citizens.

    Having lived in a Muslim country my views are strong in the desire that I would not want some of the terrible things I have seen them do in the name of Allah and heard their views on our type of lifestyle.

    One example comes to mind, when the head of the Muslim leader from Sydney, (sorry forgotten his name) went on air in Egypt stating what a disgraceful pack of sinners Australians were, promiscuous, evil and many other terrible things about us. He then was allowed back into our country!! You may think so what, but this broadcast went out to millions of people many who will never really meet an Australian or see how we really live and this is the dangerous image he has planted in their minds and in so doing could encourage action against us in a manner according to their belief systems.

    This is just an example of how they can be so dangerous, living freely in our country enjoying our living conditions then spreading such poison to other fanatical Muslims that could pose threats to us. We should be deporting such dangerous and controlling members of the Muslim society not giving them free reign to expose us to danger.

    We must, take action now to limit the freedom of the Muslim religion in our country or we will be in grave danger. It needs to be done now, firmly but with understanding that they can practice in there own homes but that we will not comply with separation of schools etc for the teachings of their religion, if they still want this sort of separation from our Australian life they need to go back to a Muslim country to follow their belief system not impose it on our country, as it is too different and unhealthy for the way our country functions.

    I am sorry but rules and beliefs followed are so contrary to our free life and would only encourage greater conflict in having to fight for our rights to live a free lifestyle, which is what will eventually happen as it has in many other countries.

    Please politicians, councilors, and every Australian wake up and do some research on what damage the segregation of the Muslim beliefs can do and have done in the past and in other countries and make sure we do not make the same mistakes. Taking a stand on a religion is not the same as not accepting other races. It is the belief system that we must not allow to invade our nations lifestyle, not the actual people of the different countries. This is what Australians need understand and is best done with guidance by those in power.

    Concerned Australian

    Jane Jones

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