By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Editor Tribune International

Some time back, I was distributing the posters of Halal Expo Australia with some boys in the Muslim populated suburb of Auburn (NSW). Couple of young men having long bear with typical Islamic out-fit came to me, first they looked at the posters then asked ‘who is organizing this Halal event’, I pleasantly replied it’s me, then they asked ‘who are you, Sia or Sunni’, I passionately replied I am a Muslim then very rudely they said if you are Shia go away from here if you are Sunni you can go ahead with your posters? Their behaviour disappointed me a lot not just what they asked but how they understood Islam. Obviously, they must have learned from some school of thoughts or elders. I don’t blame these young fellows who most of the time are seemed in arguing with each other on their sect or ethnic background – you reap what you sow!

The problem which I have been highlighting in my writings in the last 20 years and on every unfortunate event where Muslims are on target that first the Australian Islamic Community should look their own backyard. How our religious cum community leaders are delivering on the concept of Muslim Unity – The Ummah Concept. We cannot deny the ground reality, and I don’t hesitate to express that Islamic community is a divided by Islamic organisations and their leaders. Today there are strong Islamic organisations, across Australia, having have million-dollars assets – schools, community centers, mosques – and thousands of followers and popular leadership. When time comes and needed to have one voice representing the entire Australian Islamic Community on critical issues like terror incident, shooting or reaction on external geopolitical issues, these organisations and their leaders are found with divided opinions keeping their own vested interest up-front and the eventual advantage is cashed by anti-Muslim elements.

Australian Islamic Community is a very diversified community of many ethnicities, native backgrounds, sects, culture and languages. Therefore, the true representation from any Islamic forum cannot be completed until representations of all those varied characteristics are included. Generally, leaders from Arab and Turk background are dominating major Islamic organisations and become the voice of entire Islamic community which leads to a gap of not having representation of Indonesian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Afghani, Iranian, Malaysian and African Muslim communities. The Federal and state government in the Islamic community is also on Arab and Turk leaderships and their major organisations. I hardly experience in any meeting of Muslim leaders where leaders from the said communities are invited.

Therefore, there is a need of a platform where members of different Muslim ethnic communities within Islamic community should be involved.