One day, you were born.
You grew up in a standard suburb in Sydney – you always a felt a little odd though, you were that one Muslim kid amongst the sea of white. As you passed through the phases of childhood – public schools, teenage years, university life, you strayed far from the roots of your sacred religion. And eventually, at one point – your truth became silenced by all that noise from the rest of society.
“Hush, hush” they called. “Stay quiet, stay seated and be grateful for what you have been given”, they whispered, like little devils into our ears as they shoved broccoli down our throats.
Eventually we grew accustomed to their incessant buzzing, no longer noticing.
We were made to feel like second class citizens. We were told we were “lucky”. We became the outskirts, and it was only when we forgot ourselves they told us we “belonged”.
They marginalised the Indigenous people of the lands THEY trespassed upon, they marginalised the Muslims from the same lands THEY stole from, they marginalised anyone who threatened their power, anyone different from them. Why were we never good enough? Why were we alienated, made to feel estranged to the only home we had ever known?
Why should we allow ourselves to be less? Australia is OUR HOME just as much as theirs – everyone but the Aboriginals landed here at one point. No one but them are more entitled. So who were they to dictate how we should live and feel?
The Muslims are a people that are quite new to Australia, we have not yet established ourselves. Historically Islam has been in Australia since the 1700’s, long before the first fleet arrived – when Macassan traders were long-term visitors to the Indigenous Arnhem land (now Northern Territory). Which means – it is a fact that our ancestors were here (side note: in peace) first. So “go back to where you came from” doesn’t really apply.
However, it was only after the abolishment of the White Australian Policy in the 1970’s did we mark our presence in larger numbers. Migrants alongside with their Islamic heritage arrived on boats and planes, however upon arrival they were like scattered ants that clustered to their own nationalities. Fighting to survive in this foreign and strange land, we stuck to what was familiar, we weren’t able to build ourselves, together. Separated, we became weak.
It has only been just over fifty years since we started out here, and so the lack of a strong community is understandable. We as first generation Muslims are still processing the culture shock, taking in our new environment.
But now we have become too comfortable.
We have learnt and experienced our unique Sydney context, now the time has come to create the changes we wished were there whilst we were growing up. Look around. All these ideas of the secular man are being tossed – Muslims being swayed left, right and centre with no place to ground them. All these different dictations of what Islam is, no real place to turn to, the sources of knowledge, community, authenticity and safety are dispersed. Do we not care? Do we not understand? Our strength and power will always only come in our unity and numbers.
If not us, to step up and create the waves of change, then who? If not us to wake up and start caring, then who – what happens to our progeny, what happens to us?
The human being is a beating flesh of greatness; the heart, soul and brain is mighty, beyond belief. It is frankly impossible to explain the potential that lies within each and every individual. These emotions, these dreams, ideas, intelligence, pain, darkness, sadness, passion, this ability to think freely, free-will – these intangible, incredible notions within us that my words will never do justice to, are not here without its reasons. So why did God place them there? And what are we going to do about it?
“You say that you are just a body, but inside of you there is something greater than the universe”, Imam Shafi’i once said. When I hear this quote, when I reflect on my own personal experiences, when I look around at the people that I have touched lives with – I see nothing but a greatness that is waiting to be unleashed. We as a wider community have been deprived of this potential – for how much longer until we stand collectively to wreak the havoc we were created for?
The Muslims are prevalent – they are here alright. But what we lack is the courage to conquer our fears and differences and speak to one another, to unite. Almost 3% of Australia is Muslim and a whopping 42% of this percentage is right here in Sydney. And 6% of the Sydney population is Muslim. Our numbers may not be astonishing but they are rising. Just imagine if that 6% came together and teamed up. Imagine the power in our numbers – imagine all the incredible things we could do; imagine combining all of this greatness and creating spaces by Muslim youth for Muslim youth. Just imagine the love, confidence and truth we could instil through building solid, sustainable foundations, initiatives and communities.
Almost 50 per cent of Australian Muslims are aged 24 and under. Do we realise what that means? This change is up to us. My English Teacher once told me, when he looks at the muslim youth he feels hope. Islam, a religion that conquered empires & changed nations did not come through the old, it was carried through the back of the youth and it will be revived once more through the youth. All of this passion, vigour, energy, time, talent, education, skills – greatness that exists within us is exceptional. It is time to hone and wield it correctly. We have the bricks, now we must build. Ants alone are just ants, but ants together are able to lift the seemingly impossible.
We must not allow the spark that ignites from deep within us, the fire that moves us towards activism, justice and change die. Why must we settle for what has been handed to us? Why must we continue lingering on the sidelines as the rest of society does the talking?
It is time to silence their mindless chatter, it is time to find our voice and speak.
It is time to be brave.
It is time to stand up and be tall. To spread the truth, and be unapologetically Muslim.
It’s coming. I swear by God, it is. So where will you be when the revolution hits?
Disclaimer: The views, opinions and conclusions presented in these pieces are strictly those of the authors. MYA does not necessarily endorse the personal views of the authors.
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