Australia launches a debate on Islam’s role and responsibility in society

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SHAFAQNA – Australia is home to more than half a million Muslims. A community of this size will inevitably produce success stories as well as shortcomings – the same case with the rest of Australian society. Yet, it seems that when it comes to Muslims a different set of standards is applied.

There is an increasing feeling amongst members of the Australian Muslim community that whenever an act of violence or crime committed by someone with a Muslim background, the entire community is expected to answer for it. The members of the community are anxious of being held under the spotlight for any wrong action committed by Muslims around the world. The blaming of an entire community by the actions of a few is “unjust and inequitable” says Lydia Shelly, solicitor.

Muslims are expected to condemn the actions of those whom they’ve never met, never agreed with or cannot even comprehend. For Sheikh Ahmed Abdo, Australia is an egalitarian society where everyone is given a ‘fair go’, a concept not at odds with the precepts of Islam, “Let’s give everyone a fair go, let’s give everyone the opportunity to fulfill their God given rights and realize their potential”.

On the other hand, Muslims themselves would concede there is room for improvement, especially when it is Islam that expects the best from Muslims. The overwhelming majority of Muslims would acknowledge that violence committed in the name of Islam have nothing to do with Islam, and that Islam holds Muslims to much higher standards. All criminal acts are also sins in Islam. Islam goes further and expects Muslims to the best of conduct in everyday life transactions in family, society and when doing business.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “I have been sent to perfect noble character.” (Sunan Al-Bayhaqee). Even though people may be unfair to hold Muslims to higher standards, Muslims themselves must follow the Prophet’s guidance and aim for the highest moral and ethical standards. This means Muslims must strive to demonstrate the best character and manners wherever they are. This entails a higher account of one’s standards, “if you want to be the best…you will be held to higher standards” says Bassam Adasi.

It seems, on one hand, Muslims are unfairly put to a higher set of standards than the rest of society because of the wrong actions of the few, on the other, Muslims are expected to put themselves to higher standards irrespective of what the circumstance is by Islam. So, what do you think, ‘should Muslims be held to higher standards than other people in Australia’.

This is the latest discussion topic for ISRA’s i-deb8 series and promises to be one of the best yet. Each new debate brings to the fore an important issue facing the Australian Muslim community.

The seventh debate in the series (the first for 2015) brings together an excellent line up of speakers and promises to hone the mind and enlighten the thought. Critical thinking is advised and a great night out is guaranteed.

 

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