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In The Name Of God The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate
For many, suburban pockets like Bankstown in Sydney or Coburg in Melbourne are like countries within a country, with their own rules, their own dress code and their own language.
Rightly or wrongly, the perception is simple: non-Muslims aren’t welcome here.
But one person has been welcomed in and granted access to seek out the truth, and dispel the urban myths.
That person is former Miss Universe Australia, TV star and model, Rachael Finch.
According to demographer and social commentator Bernard Salt “the Muslim community – like any community – like to congregate where people speak their language, where their places of worship are located, and newspapers and supermarkets that provide their food.”
Finch is walking in the shoes of Rebecca Kay, a devout Australian Muslim woman and mother of four. Kay was born in Australia and became Muslim about eight years ago.
But Kay, a former Wollongong surfer girl, has a confession. “Before I was a Muslim, I was a Muslim hater. I used to listen to talkback radio a lot, and have that same kind of attitude. I used to love saying to people ‘if you’re not happy here, then you can go back to where you came from’,” she said.
Today however, Kay is the perfect example of the modern Australian Muslim woman – politically active, driven and fiercely protective of her culture.
“Fearing god and believing in god has taught me to love my fellow human being again, and appreciate people for who they are, not their colour of skin, or the way they look,” Kay said.
Before the cultural exchange can begin, Finch gets the blessing of the Muslim Women’s Association.
“For me it’s a respect thing, because I honour and respect what they’ve done, and I see them as role models,” Finch said.
“It’s important to go and see the elders before we continue on this journey of spirituality, and introducing Rachael to the Islamic culture and faith. Without the elders’ approval you can’t really go anywhere,” Kay explained.
For Salt, respect for elders is “one of the areas where native Australians, domestic Australians, could learn a lot from migrant communities – the way they defer to the elderly in many cases.” A big part of Kay’s week is volunteer work at My Home Respite, a community-based respite centre for children with special needs.
“The women who work there are volunteers, they don’t get paid. Five days a week these women are there,” she said.
“Walking into that respite centre, and seeing those women give up their time for free, to help those less fortunate than them, is an overwhelming feeling,” Finch said.
Over lunch at local favourite, Jasmine One, Finch got acquainted with her first Lebanese feast, before heading off to Auburn Gallipoli Mosque.
Outside, Finch’s physical transformation is clear, but it’s inside the Mosque where she feels different and changed.
“As soon as I walked in, there was a sense of peace and happiness, and if I was to drop a pin I could hear it,” she said.
Finishing off her day with the girls with a shopping trip, Kay shows Finch what Islamic fashion is all about, before heading home to prepare dinner.
“We have people over all the time, it never ends. A lot of people have a lot of kids, they all play together, and it’s really loud,” Kay said.
“We have taught the Greeks, the Italians and perhaps the Muslims about the joys of the backyard barbeque, and they have taught us about new food stuffs, and new values perhaps – like valuing family, valuing the elderly in society,” said Salt.
Finch says she thoroughly enjoyed her day with Kay.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “I really learnt a lot, and am so grateful for this opportunity.”
“It was nice to be able to walk in her shoes, and see that stereotypes of Australian Muslim women aren’t particularly true. It was a success – to see what multiculturalism is all about, getting to see at the end of the day, we’re all Australians no matter what colour our skin is, or what we believe in, or what our backgrounds are – we’re fair dinkum, dinky die Aussies,” Finch said.
“They’re intelligent, they’re smart, they’re independent, they want a career and they want a family, and to me that’s empowering.”
Kay hopes that something good can come of this story, and that it can encourage people to be more open-minded.
Salt sees the cultural exchange as a positive step. “I think the experiment with Rebecca shows very much the way of the future, with an open and tolerant mind on both sides,” he said.
If you thought this story was positive, contact Today Tonight and let them know:
CALL: (02) 8777 7777 – (calling is the best way to provide feedback)
Finally today tonight showed something that wasn't offensive or incorrect about muslims. Inshallah it continues.
A Beautiful insight into a Musalmaan way of life. The important thing is "acceptance" for better "understanding". Reminds of a multicultural conference held recently by Hume City Council, where I found Lebanese presentation good, and Turkish best!
Its very rare that u see a program that shows a positive view of Islam, even though when but i thought this one was a positive even though at 31 sec they showed a glimse of negative but its a start :-))
If she does convert to islam then i'm sure there won't be a shortage of brothers lining up to marry her :D
Asalaam aliakum every body who commented. I just wish to point out that some of you, especially, our Muslim brothers, you are missing the point. Under Islamic acceptable Sharia you men should not even have been looking at the face of the Miss Universe (even though she's a non-Muslim) - and as to your comments on her beauty, etc., that's exactly why Islam as Hijab and Nikaab and Pardha for the Muslim women so that strange men may not lust for them. Lower your gaze - my Muslim brothers. Your comments have revealed that you are not practicing what Islam preaches - especially with respect to women. They are your mothers, your sisters and your daughters and as such you, men, in Islam, must respect and protect them.
Whether Rachel Finch had visited the Muslim Community or not - it would have made no difference to them at all - because they are honourable in Allah SWT's eyes for maintaining their Din, and practicing Islam as Allah SWT orders. Islam is the religion of All Allah's creature - whether they submit to it or not. The good will be guided by their fitra to Islam; and as for the deniers of Allah SWT's creation they have chosen the wrong path, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and Allah SWT will deal with everyone as Allah SWT deems fit; and Allah SWT knows best. May Allah SWT bless all of us Muslims (Ummah) with the choicest of blessing in this world and in the hereafter. Ameen.
Well done and Jazak'Allah kheir to Rebecca Kay - a refreshing segment from TT also good to see Rachel Finch felt at ease in the masjid. "Surely are signs for those that reflect"
A great article! I wish *I* could experience what Rachel did! I think a lot of non-Muslim's could benefit from this.
I saw this segment on tv. I have to say, she can pull off that hijab look really well and her facial features are stunning! Mashallah. Inshallah Allah (SWT) will open her heart next.
Firstly, hats off to today tonight for airing this video and secondly, I think she looked better in hijab. May Allah open her heart to Islam, Ameen
:-) open up a bit in flexibility...the outcome resulted in positive responses from both sides. Yes I know Hijaab means covering (whether of head or whole body), I also know clothes should neither be revealing nor tight fitted to contour body - which is apparant here, nor decorative or attractive to call sttention or distract people. But remember, Allah SWT will do the judgement on intention of each individual's every action. I respect your comment and I respect the Muslamaan females who participated in this video clip to give a powerful message - its NOT our "covered dressings" that should matter in Australia, but our skills!
I remember when this Miss universe Australia was enquired about "Burqa" on her winning the contest, she replied " A woman should be allowed to wear whatever she wants to" . Channel 7 possibly used her for the same reason - to get her inside the moderate dressing (lenient) than burqa. So it makes me feel good when she expressed her internal peace & bliss inside the Masjid, her joy at being dressed in Rebecca's suggested wear, her final statement that there was not much difference in the Musalmaan women regarding house chores or work/ careerwise from Aussie women. Hats off to the special / bikini model, who gave up body revealing clothes (out of male eyes feasting on her body) for her husband alone.
As for Hijaab dear, just do what you feel will best please Almighty. For Allah SWT has given guidelines to conform to. Please also keep in mind that the dress changes due to climatic conditions and geographic area. Take care!
@ISubmit2Allah Brother you are missing the point here. In Islam there is no "looking better" in hijab or not. We Muslims do everything to please Allah SWT and earn Allah SWT's pleasure in order that we may be permitted to enter Jannah after the Judgment Day.
@momina My dear Sister Momina Islam is the religion for every creature that Allah SWT has created. Therefore we all are to obey the commands in the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). In the grave you will not be asked "What were your skills in the world?" and as to whether "You changed your dress code due to climatic conditions and geographic areas." Islam is the last frontier for salvation and making excuses for not obeying the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) will just not be an excuse on Day of Qiyama. We are all blessed with "intellect." We are creatures that were taught the "names of everything." Therefore we can learn and teach and be taught. We have choices and we have to ensure that we make the right choices and not go astray because of filmsy excuses. My sincere prayer is that Allah SWT bless everyone with the choicest of blessings in this world and in the hereafter. The whole world over - women - be they Muslim or otherwise - have "house chores." This is nothing new and how different can these "house chores" be? Think about it. It is not only Aussie women who have careers. Women the world over have careers and "house chores" or work. So if this "Aussie bikini model" is short-sighted as to the natural human conditions like "house chores" and careers; we should not let her short-sightedness and "simplicity" infect the rest of us. I am glad - very glad indeed that she gave up body revealing clothes for her husband alone. It was the only moral choice and I praise her for it. Islam is much, much more than "skills" and "dress changes due to climatic conditions and geographic area." May Allah SWT bless us all with guidance. Ameen.
@ShaedaFarooqi It was a personal opinion, not a shariah lesson but thank you nevertheless for commenting. Salam
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