The first Islamic Mosques in Australia

by fulltimestudent 3 Replies latest jw friends

  • fulltimestudent

    You may not recognise this little building as a mosque, but it was actually built as a place of worship by Afghan camel train drivers brought to Australia to service Outback Australia. Its located in Bourke NSW.

    The first Muslims of this type were brought to Australia in 1860.according to Hanifa Deen's historical account:

    Quote: "On 9 June 1860, three ‘exotic-looking’ Afghan camel men landed at Port Melbourne from Karachi with twenty or so animals to participate in the (ultimately tragic) Burke and Wills expedition organised by the Royal Society of Victoria. The ill-fated journey, however, proved the merit of camel over horse and bullock. Over the next ten years, British entrepreneurs imported significant numbers of camels with their handlers, and more animals were unloaded at Derby and Fremantle in Western Australia, Port Augusta in South Australia and Port Melbourne."

    ( Reference: )

    The first mosques were basic utilitarian buildings as clearly indicated by this next image:

    The image shows a mosque at Maree (South Australia) in 1884. It could be the first mosque built in Australia, probably in the early 1860's.

    These building (and the builders) were not the first Islamic contacts with Australia,

    Australia's nearest neighbour, Indonesia, had gradually converted to Islam after Islam was brought into Indonesia by Sufi traders from Gujarat, India during the 13th century (CE) and by the 16th century, Islam had surpassed Hinduism and Buddhism as the dominant religion of the peoples in the Indonesian island chain.

    By the early 18th century, Muslim Macassan traders from Indonesia were visiting the N.W. coast of Australia. Local indigenous art and language attests to their visits. If they built places of prayer or mosques, nothing has survived.

    What I've quoted here comes from an academic study by Sam Bowker, a lecturer at Charles Sturt University.

    The full essay was posted in 'The Conversation'

    You can access it at:

  • fulltimestudent

    All of the above of course, brings up the claim by newly elected Senator Pauline Hanson, that Australia is being swamped by Muslims.

    It is interesting to compare Pauline's One Nation party's share of the vote and the number of Muslims in Australia.

    In the 2011 census, 476,291 people were described as Muslim. (Out of 25 million approx. people in Australia. 61.1% described themselves as Christian, 22.9% said they had no religion. and Buddhists could count 2.5%. In that census, Muslims were the fourth largest group).

    In the recent (2016) election, Pauline's party 'One Nation,' polled 593,013 votes representing a percentage of 4.3%. not so different to the number of Muslims in Australia.

    The question of interest to other Australians is, what percentage are prepared to be terrorists?

  • smiddy

    Thank you for this post FTS it is as interesting as all your other posts , truly , I really enjoy them very informative,

    It is an interesting part of Australian history ,that should not be overlooked .And their contribution to Australian society should not be diminished or underestimated

    However , in the 1860`s their was no such organizations such as the Taliban , or Isis , or any other tribal group that wanted to target violently Australian citizens with death and destruction,and our way of life.

    They, the early muslims were law abiding citizens that appreciated the country they were living in and living here peacefully .

    Their were no fringe benefit groups in the 1860`s doing what Isis or the Taliban or any other Terroist organization is trying to do today in our Country.

    However with the rise of Isis ,the Taliban ,the Tribal Lords etc. their is this real threat today and we cant ignore it .

    Of course not every Muslim is an enemy of the state , however their is a percentage that are , and we need to be able to contain that, if not eradicate that threat.

    We cant compare the Muslims of 1860`s with the Muslims of the 2016`s anymore than you could compare Christians of the 1860`s compared to the year of 2016.

    I bet their werent 40,000 Christian sects in the year 1860. , and while they dont engage in blowing each other up with bombs , many of them do destroy familys with there policys.

  • fulltimestudent

    Thanks Smiddy, for your kind thoughts. I guess, after some 8 years of focusing on Asian history, that I'm in the fortunate position of not only knowing the framework supporting Asian history (which is where all the main threads of contemporary religious history were initiated) but having some understanding of where I can find information.

    I understand you're thinking, (and Pauline's rather simplistic view of the world also). But (maybe unluckily for me) I am also in a position to understand other viewpoints. I don't want to appear to be nit-picking your post, so please understand that when I read something I can also think of information that validates or not the thought expressed.

    So let me make some comments:

    They, the early muslims were law abiding citizens that appreciated the country they were living in and living here peacefully .

    Yes, I can agree with those sentiments, and those early camel train drivers (brought here with governmental agreement) performed a useful service in opening up the outback. I've only just realised that in writing about them, that I have little idea of how they were treated by their "English to the bootstraps" contemporaries. Perhaps, considering white settler attitudes to Chinese miners in the goldfields, they may have not have been treated so well.

    But we may get some idea from what is known as the "the Battle of Broken Hill," perhaps the only time that at an enemy action has occurred on Australian soil.

    Writing in 'The Monthly,' (An Aussie journal) Nicholas Shakespeare describes his view of what happened on that sad day when WWI came to outback Australia.

    To really appreciate the feelings of the two men involved you likely need to know something of the last years of the Ottoman Empire. If you'd like to understand that (and other events still influencing our world ) you could try to get hold of Pankaj Mishra's great book, "From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Re-making of Asia"). Mishra goes into the detail attendant to the efforts to modernise Islam and other sections of Asia)


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