Australian Muslims farewell a founding father
It is with great sadness that I write the obituary for a true community giant and visionary, a man of endless new enthusiasms and ardent commitment to the creation of a harmonious and united Australian Islamic Community – Haj Adib Marabani.
I will truly miss the man who became my second father. I will miss the gentle re assuring voice, saying “Allah Yarr dah Alaak” ( Allah be pleased with you) and encouraging me in what ever new endeavor that I was pursing and saying “reach for the stars my son, reach for the stars, you might just clear the trees!”
Haj Adib served the community for more than half a century and from the day he arrived in Australia till the day he passed, he was always at the service of the community, solving its problems, settling its issues and preparing the next generation of Australian Muslims.
Haj Adib was of the old kind of committed, trusted and trustworthy communitarian, where his word was truly his bond, where due to the unstinting high regard and respect he was held in, meant that no one said no to Haj Adib; to his good Samaritan ideas and ‘latest project ‘for the community.
Till the very end Haj Adib was firm in his belief of his role, focused and purposeful in all that he did and encouraged and led the rest of the community in a variety of formal and not so formal roles. He was an honored husband, father, grandfather and mentor. He was one of a kind.
Haj Adib Marabani was born in Lebanon in 1928, the first-born son of Muhammad Marabani and Ramziyeh Hejazi in Tripoli, on the road of “Mitaan”. At the tender age of 22, Haj Adib Marabani arrived on Australian shores on the 6th of January 1951. He migrated by ship from Tripoli, Lebanon, via Port Said in Egypt.
Having successfully completed his International Baccalaureate, Haj Adib had aspirations to study medicine. However, this meant he had to travel to a distant country such as Italy, Germany or England. His family could not afford to send him at the time. Due to his father’s sudden illness he was forced to forfeit all aspirations for further education and manage the family business.
Having been a determined and ambitious man, Haj Adib instead migrated to Australia. He chose Australia because his classmate had come into his father’s store stating that he was migrating to Australia, Haj Adib agreed to travel with him. Within six weeks a Landing Permit (visa) was arranged and the two friends migrated to Australia together.
Arrival in Sydney
Upon arrival to Sydney, Haj Adib’s industrious nature led him to work immediately at a glass factory in Waterloo. He was quickly promoted to leading hand then foreman because of his sufficient and adequate English language skills.
Although Haj Adib was far away from home he remained mindful of his religious beliefs and practices. He was disappointed on finding out there was no Mosque to pray in at the time in Sydney. Along with four other pioneers of the Lebanese Muslim Community in Australia, an organization was registered in 1961 to help establish a Mosque for Australian Muslims. It was known as “Lebanese Moslem Welfare Limited.”
The group worked hard to try and purchase a house in the hope of converting it into a prayer hall. The group lobbied the community to purchase the house.
On purchasing the house on Wangee Road in Lakemba, walls were removed between the rooms in the house to make the first dedicated prayer hall for the Muslim community in Sydney; especially those who continued to steadily migrate from Lebanon. The prayer hall was also used as a place where children could learn Arabic. The Department of Education at the time donated resources in support of the establishment.
In 1974, Dr Ali Katani a Saudi Arabian academic visited the Muslim community in Australia. He was a guest at the prayer hall in Lakemba. Upon seeing the humble nature of the prayer hall and quasi-Arabic school, Dr Katani returned to Saudi Arabia and secured a generous loan from the late King Faisal for the development of basic infrastructure for the Australian Muslim community. Although the money was dedicated for the broader Australian Muslim community, a substantial sum was allocated to the Lebanese Muslim community in Lakemba in their efforts to build the humble house on Wangee Road into a Mosque. Development of the Mosque began in 1975.
However this enormous venture quickly put a strain on the finances allocated to the Mosque. In an effort for building not to halt Haj Adib went out door knocking each month to collect $100 from local Muslim families to complete the building of the mosque. This effort ensured the building of the Mosque could be completed.
In 1976, the Libyan Ambassador to Indonesia visited Australia. Upon touring the Lakemba Mosque he noticed the Mosque was still lacking essential amenities. He offered to donate a considerable amount for these amenities.
In 1977 migration from Lebanon had increased dramatically due to the civil war. Many families began to arrive to Australia from Lebanon. There was a perceived need to have a spiritual and Arabic language school for these children to attend.
Haj Adib was teaching Arabic at the Mosque at the time. As an executive member of Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) he was invited by the Saudi Minister for Information and Media to head a delegation from Australia to Saudi Arabia to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Haj Adib informed his students of his plans to travel to Mecca to explain his absence from class for a few weeks. One of his students asked on his trip if he could ask the Saudi officials for funds to build a school for Muslim students. Haj Adib promised he would relate the student’s wish to whoever would listen.
During his visit, Haj Adib was randomly asked to be one of three people to give a speech about Muslims in their respective countries at a conference. The two other speaker’s chosen were from Senegal and Indonesia. Unbeknownst to the Haj the king of Saudi Arabia was listening via phone link to the speeches. During his speech, Haj Adib relayed the request of his student who asked for funds for a school for Muslim students. The Minister immediately announced after HajAdib’s presentation that permission had just been granted to build a school for the Muslim children of Australia – upon hearing this all of the delegates stood and shouted praise, as only Haj Adib’s request had been accepted.
Part of the culmination of Haj Adib’s work has resulted in the establishment of the Lebanese Moslems Association (LMA) and the building of Malek Fahd Islamic School.
In 2009 Haj Adib Marabani, was granted by the Australian Government and award within the Order of Australia for his service to the Australian Muslim Community and the community at large.
Bayt Al Zakat
Haj Marabani also founded Bayt Al-Zakat, a charitable organization in 1988. This organization was formed to assist the growing number of orphans in Lebanon; they currently support over 500 orphans who are sponsored by Australian Citizens. Bayt Al-Zakat also runs several local community projects; one project recognizes the high achievers from across the Muslim community, with an annual dinner held to award Australian Muslim HSC students who achieve a UAI above 90%, this also includes a presentation for the Muslim Man of the year and Muslim Women of the Year award.
Haj Adib held the position of Chairman of BaytAl Zakat for over 20 years and worked at BaytAl Zakat till he a passed.
Haj Adib’s passing was a true loss to the Australian community and he will remembered for the good words and deeds he performed for all and sundry. His positive and proactive attitude, his gentle loving approach and his unswerving commitment to do good without recognition or reward, have made him the giant and visionary this community will miss.
He will always be loved. And he will always be cherished.
Haj Adib Marabani – Rahmatallah Alak (May Allah’s Mercy be bestowed upon you).