Students of Islam make history
By: Mahsheed Ansari
Joy, excitement, accomplishment and hope imbued the beautiful marquee and gardens at the Old Government House in Parramatta on 14 December 2013 – being the momentous occasion of the first historic graduation of ISRA Australia and Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation of Charles Sturt University.
The first graduates completed a Master of Islamic Studies course and were diverse not only in age ranging from 25 to 83 years but also representative of different cultural backgrounds including Lebanese, Pakistani, Turkish, Afghani, Anglo-Celtic and Egyptian; as well as professional backgrounds including finance, law, education, business, language and academics.
The class’s most senior and well-respected graduate Sheikh Sayed Kandil (aka ‘Sheikh’) expressed his gratitude and thanks, “By God throughout this course, which has been organised by the ISRA brothers and sisters, I feel that God has preferred me for that kind of study. I have been hailed throughout this study for being the youngest student at 83 years old, may God reward you all”.
Other graduates on the day made the following remarks:
“I’d like to thank the staff at ISRA for their professionalism and patience. I’d like to thank the teaching staff for not only teaching us the knowledge they shared with us, but also for the practice they implemented in their lives, that was an example in itself.” – Ruveyda Ozturk, Law Student
‘…but the beauty about it all was that everybody contributed to each other’s understanding and I felt that was really the enriching part of the program’ – Ahmet Keskin, CEO of Affinity Intercultural Foundation
‘For me personally ……..what stands out is that this course has given me a renewed perspective of knowledge, as a vehicle, as a tool to change things and to serve. So I’d like to thank ISRA and all the hard working staff for giving me this experience and I hope that we are all able to serve this religion, serve this country and hopefully serve God by way of that. ’ – Tamana Daqiq, Lawyer
Chancellor of Charles Sturt University Mr Lawrence Willet AO congratulated the graduates; “You are now better placed with your higher education to contribute to making Australia a better place.”
Since its establishment in 2009 the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation (CISAC) in collaboration with Islamic Sciences and Research Academy (ISRA) is delivering quality Islamic education for Australian Muslims. With ten years of prior experience in the field of Islamic education behind them, ISRA and CISAC were born with the signing of a partnership with Charles Sturt University making them the first and only Islamic institution delivering accredited university courses on Islam, in Australia.
Director of the CISAC Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp states “This is a great achievement not only for the graduates, but for the whole CISAC team and CSU.” He added, “We could not be more proud to achieve such a milestone, it means firm foundations have been set for the study of Islam as a faith tradition in Australian universities to meet the needs of Australian Muslims of this great nation. I know the University’s staff and students and the wider community join me in congratulating our graduates and wishing them every success in their future endeavours”.
Along with supporting family members and friends graduates were also honoured with attendances by Charles Sturt representatives – Chancellor Mr Lawrence Willet AO; Professor Jennifer McKinnon, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts; Mr Ross Chambers, Emeritus Professor; as well as the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Muhammad ; Former Community Relations Commission Chairperson Stepan Kerkyasharian and Reverend Clive Pearson from Uniting Church and Fr Patrick McInerney from the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations..
Following the success of the Islamic Studies courses, CISAC and ISRA Australia have this year launched the Masters of Classical Arabic degree and expect an influx of new enrolments.
The momentous graduation marks the beginning of a new era of academia and Islamic scholarship in Australia.
Masters of Islamic Studies’ Graduating Class of 2014:
Mohammad Hanif Bismi, Tamana Daqiq, Nahla El Ghazawi, Heather Fagan, Ahmad Hassan, Ahlam Ibrahim, Elsayed Kandil, Ahmet Keskin, Leila Khaled, Ruveyda Ozturk, Mehmet Saral, and Siham Tabbouch.