Ramadan Talks is a series in which we interview Muslims from around the world about Ramadan. Here’s Australia!
To begin with, can you briefly introduce yourself?
I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. I completed a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Marmara and a Diploma at the Cambridge Muslim College. After working in a private Islamic school in Melbourne for 4 years I have returned to academic studies and am currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Oxford focusing on Islamic thought.
How do Muslims practise Islam during the pandemic? What has the pandemic changed?
Obviously, the pandemic has brought with it many unprecedented challenges. For many Muslims, lacking the accustomed communal ambience had a great impact. At the same time, the pandemic has forced the community to adjust to new conditions and develop programs accordingly. Thankfully, Australia was more organised and took strict measures early on to combat the pandemic. This has allowed the nation to reduce the number of covid patients to zero. I pray it stays this way.
As far as I know, you have lived both there and in Turkey. How do you compare the two in terms of Ramadan experience?
There is an immense difference between opening one’s fast to the sound of the human voice amplified from the minaret compared to a phone’s adhan app. Due to the socio-cultural factors, one is more cognizant of the blessed month of Ramadan in Turkey (or other Islamic countries) compared to societies in which religion is less visible. Nevertheless, the tireless efforts of the flourishing Muslim community and Muslim organisations in Australia provide Muslims with a Ramadan-felt experience.
Australia inhabits a great number of immigrants and is home to many diverse cultures. How does that affect Ramadan?
The question can be applied to other realms of practice. Having a multicultural Muslim community implies a multitude of approaches to what it means to be a Muslim. Despite the minimal challenges, it highlights the richness and diversity of this beautiful religion. We have come a long way in learning to put aside the disagreements and unite on our similarities.
Do you have unique Australian customs during Ramadan? What’s new for you in the holy month?
Generally, the religious customs practised are a reflection of the cultural-ethnic groups one belongs to. We are yet to throw boomerangs from our minarets to announce the commencement of iftar.
Do Muslim communities organize common events during Ramadan?
Yes, from collective iftars to joint programs, many events take place where different organisations unite for a single cause. One recent example is the fundraiser to build a mosque in a town where the initial project was protested by thousands of Islamophobes. Non-Muslims alone donated $100,000 to support the construction of the mosque.
Finally, let me ask about the holiday after Ramadan. How is the holiday celebrated in Australia? What do you do?
For children, eid is generally about the festival that concludes the holy month. For youngsters, it is about collecting money from family and the elderly. And for parents, eid is generally about rekindling their connection with close family and friends. There are exceptions, but overall, eid is a day of joy and happiness for Muslims in Australia, as it is for those around the globe.