Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most mercifu
A few days ago I woke up to the news of the bush fires in Victoria. Hour by hour I heard of the growing death toll and I read of the death and destruction. It is difficult for me to comprehend that such a peaceful place is currently facing so much devastation. It feels strange for me to be away at this time, almost like being away from your family at their time of need. It has forced me to realise that no matter what happens, Australia is, and always will be the place I call home.
I know for most this would go without saying – the country where you were born and lived your entire life, would naturally be the country you would call home. For the vast majority of my life I would have agreed. However, after September 11th that all changed. Its difficult to truly feel at home when you don’t feel welcome. When your government seems to go against everything you believe in, when you are regularly told to go back to where you came from, and when you constantly hear stories of those like you, Muslimah’s in hijab, being abused, both verbally and physically, merely for their attempts to live their lives modestly and piously.
I have always known that some people hate Muslims, that has never been in doubt. But occasionally, when I hear or read the opinions of not only one or two people, but sometimes that of the majority…I am truly in shock. I sometimes find myself walking in the streets and shopping centres, looking around and wondering how many passers by despise me just because I am Muslim.
Its not that I ever stopped thinking of Australia as my home, but it wasn’t quite the same. Like many other thousands of other Muslims in Australia, whether we are migrants, born here, or our families have been here for generations – we have all been made to feel unwelcome.
However, news of the bush fires, and the desire to return home in our hour of need has made me realise that despite everything, despite what anybody thinks and feels about me, Australia will always be the place I call home.
Beyond the ashes there is hope. Hope that we can put our differences aside and try to make life that little bit easier for those mourning the loss of loved ones. Hope that we can put our differences aside and unite to help the thousands left homeless. And hope that we can unite to do everything in our power to plan and prepare to try to avoid this scale of destruction from ever occuring again.
Let not the deaths be in vain. Not only do we need to review our fire procedures and learn from what has occured, but also this is an opportunity to become a pivotal moment in our history and to learn to put our difference aside to work together for a greater cause.
I hope that through this ordeal, others who may have previously viewed us with disdain, will come to realise that we are humans, and like them we have also shed a tear for those who have lost their lives and those who have lost their homes. We have been just as affected and touched by the current events as the next person, and just as both individuals and community groups in Australia have pulled together to donate and help in whatever way they can, so too has the Muslim community within Australia.
The Prophet (may Allah’s peace & blessings be upon him) said, “The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people.” Let us be among those who are the most beloved to Allah, and hopefully our attempts to fulfil our Islamic obligations will help the wider community realise that Islam and Muslims are not the enemy.