| Our Story (19 Part 2)|
Harnessed From Tapestry Of The Mind
Dr Fazlul Huq
Bangladeshis have made significant contributions in the establishment of Mosques, Islamic Centres and schools in Sydney and other parts of Australia. Some are listed below.
Bangladesh Islamic Centre on Helen Street Sefton
Bangladesh Islamic Centre on 11-13 Helen Street Sefton NSW 2162 was the first mosque established by Bangladesh community in Sydney after much attempts were made to establish the same in other parts of Sydney where Bangladeshis were found to concentrate. But it was hoped that like other mosques in Sydney, Bangladesh community would grow around the mosque once it was established. However, that did not happen for Bangladesh Islamic Centre in Sefton. Hence the main worshippers at Sefton Mosque to this day are Muslims of Lebanese heritage who live close to the Mosque. But what is important to note that the Mosque remains in active use by Muslims as Jum’a and five daily prayers are regularly held.
But as you reflect on the development of Sefton Mosque, you cannot help the feeling of pain and sorrow to know that much time and resources have been wasted in internal disputes and court cases primarily among the Bangladeshis involved in running the mosque and now the cases have gone even beyond the community. Perhaps, these problems are more of the first generations, and it is hoped that like for other communities, things will get better when the coming generations take the charge.
Naturally some members of Bangladesh community had a prominent role to play in the establishment of Bangladesh Islamic Centre at Sefton. Some of the persons who had significant contribution to make included our elder Salahuddin Ahmed, Faruk Choudhury, Dr. Rashid Raashed, Md Alamgir, Mufazzal Bhuiyan, Sheikh Osman, Shah Parvez, Fakhruddin Chowdhury, to name just a few. I often conducted the annual or bi-annual election in which Sheikh Osman and Mufazzal Bhuiyan regularly provided assistance.
Rooty Hill Mosque
A few of the Bangladeshis including late M.A. Khan, Faruk Choudhury, Late Fazlul Karim, Kazi Ali had a role to play in the establishment of Rooty Hill Mosque. Indeed, the seed of establishing first Mosque in the far west of Sydney was planted in the house of Late M.A. Khan at Blackett.
Alhamdulillah Rooty Hill Mosque at 33 Headcorn Street, Mount Druitt, NSW 2770 has grown into a major mosque in Sydney including a fully functional Islamic school. But when the place was bought, all around it were mostly firm or grazing lands. There was a pub on one side and the first person to take Shahada in the Mosque was someone who walked into the mosque from the pub. As the Creator says when He wants to guide someone, He opens his/her heart.
For some reasons partly due to distance, Bangladeshis did not seem to be so keen to be involved in Rooty Hill Mosque and at that time very few Bangladeshis lived beyond the city of Blacktown. Later on, as Muslim communities including those from Bangladeshi heritage grew around Rooty Hill Mosque, Bangladeshis living close to the Mosque were found to be actively involved in activities of the mosque.
Parramatta mosque project stands as a glowing example of cooperation between Muslim community and the local government. Once again, a number of Bangladeshis including Akteruddin Ahmed, Mizan Chowdhury, Dr. Rashid Raashed, Dr. Shahadat Chowdhury, Sirajul Islam and Qamrul Hasan had a significant role to play in the establishment and running of the Parramatta Mosque as did Late Neil El-Kadoomi and Dr. Aladdin Matter.
The Mosque opened its door on the 4th of March 2010. It occupies the first floor of a new multi-storied building located at 150 Marsden Street Parramatta. The internal layout of the floor is designed to serve as a fully functional Mosque cum Islamic Centre. Five daily prayers and Friday Jum’a prayer are held regularly. With a floor space of over 600 m2, the Mosque can accommodate over 700 worshippers.
With over 20,000 Muslims living in and around Parramatta and a significant number of additional Muslims working in the city, Parramatta felt the need of a Mosque for a long period of time. Parramatta Islamic Cultural Association (PICA) was formed about thirty years ago with one of the key objectives of establishment of a Mosque cum Islamic Centre. Finding a suitable venue for the Mosque was an enormous challenge because of high cost of property in the city. For a number of years, the worshippers used to perform Dhur and Juma prayers at the Parramatta Council Town Hall. An opportunity arose in 2007 when a Muslim brother, Dr. Aladdin Matter was about to build a multi-storeyed building at 150 Marsden Street Parramatta. The concept of housing a Mosque within the building was suggested by Dr Rashid Raashed. PICA and Dr. Aladdin Matter immediately embraced the idea with eagerness. It was agreed that the proposed Mosque would occupy the entire first floor of the building. With tremendous help and support from the then Lord Mayor of the Parramatta City Council, prior Council approval was obtained for the development of the first floor as a place of public worship according to Islamic traditions.
IPDC St Marys Masjid
Located at 117-119 Forrester Road St Marys NSW, it was established in 2008 at the initiative of Professor Ismail Hossain, Professor Ataur Rahman, Abdul Goni Chowdhury and Ruhul Amin. Facilities include: Five Daily and Jum’ah prayers for both men and women. Capacity 200-300 people. Quran classes for boys and girls are held regularly as are Eid prayers and festivals. The Mosque also houses a library on Islamic literature.
Melbourne Multicultural Centre and Golden Wattle Masjid:
Established in 2014 at 700 Davis Rd, Tarneit VIC 3029, Australia. Those who made significant contributions in establishing the Mosque included Associate Professor Rafiqul Islam, Mohammad Moniruzzaman, Dr Monjur Morshed. Facilities include: Five Daily and Jum’ah prayers for both men and women. Capacity of the mosque is 400-500 people. Regular Quran classes are held for boys and girls as are Eid prayers and festival. The mosque houses a library on Islamic literature.
Canberra Islamic School:
Canberra Islamic School was established in 2004 located at 33 Heysen Street, Weston, ACT 2611. Current Governing Body includes Associate Professor Rafiqul Islam, Professor Ismail Hossain, Assistant Professor Majharul Talukder. Principal is Dr. Mahmoud Eid. Classes are held from Kindergarten to Year Eight.
FAMP is an acronym for Forum for Australian Muslim Professionals. It was established under the initiative of a number of Muslims including Dr. Rashid Raashed, Dr. Quasem Chelat and myself. The aim of FAMP was to organize periodic Islamic seminars and discussion sessions, recognize achievement of Muslim youth and run HSC Enrichment Classes.
Hills District Islamic Discussion Forum is held regularly on the first Saturday of every month. It has been running for over twenty-three years until it was suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19. We hope that the programs would make the comeback soon. Sessions are held at residences of the hosts in the Hills District where invited speaker gives a talk on the chosen topic for about forty minutes followed by questions and answer session. At the end all present in the gathering share the evening meal and prayers are held at the appointed hours. And at every gathering, fund is raised from voluntary contributions for a worthy cause. Contributions made by the residents of the Hills District are acknowledged with much thanks. Although I have been coordinating the gatherings, contributions made Sonya Rashid, Late Kea Ali and Naznin Ahmed in organizing refreshments are acknowledged with thanks.
In my humble attempt to recognise below some for their contribution towards the growing Bangladeshi community over the years. I believe I may have missed some names who are just equally to be recognised and also have left their mark in big and small ways. Not to be able to include all of them here is a limitation I attribute to myself.
Mostafa Abdullah: Founder President of Dhaka University Alumni Association, Australia (DUDAA). Initiator of this project to collect and collet the history of Bangladeshi diaspora into Australia be left behind for our future generation as documented history of our migration to this land.
Abdul Momen Bhuiyan: establishment and running of an orphanage in Bangladesh.
Dr Abu Jalaluddin: contribution to finance, especially for the column in Australian Muslim Times.
Afsar Ahmed: prolonged contribution to Bangladesh Australia Disaster Relief Committee, Bangladesh Association of New South Wales and community sports. A certified cricketing umpire.
Azad Alam: literary prowess and conductor of Islamic discussion forum.
Iftekar Abdullah: the architect of the DA application for Sefton Mosque, which he provided free of cost.
Salahuddin Ahmed: scholarly and intellectual contributions to Islamic literature and heritage, and community building projects. A true student of law, he has devoted a lifetime in making clearer the distinction between the lawful and prohibitions in accordance with Islam.
Md Alamgir: a contributor to Islamic literature and guidance to the young and old. His radiant smile and willingness to engage, have the capacity to earn respect and confidence of all. Like early Muslim scholars he has brought into open knowledge and wisdom from far and near, wanting to inspire and confirm. Age has not daunted his will to seek knowledge and to generously share it with others. Those who had met Md Alamgir would instantly be charmed by his generosity, humility and humbleness and ability to engage with both young and the old. I have often felt that this friend of ours has truly taken light from the words of the Creator: “Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.”
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Fakhruddin Chowdhury: prolonged service to the community including responsibilities in Bangladesh Association in Australia and Bangladesh Islamic Centre.
Dr Shahadat Chowdhury: a contributor in the establishment and management of the Parramatta Mosque.
Dr Waliul Islam: service to the Bangladesh Islamic Centre and Bangladesh Australia Disaster Relief Committee.
Mizan Chowdhury: contribution in the establishment and management of the Parramatta Mosque.
Sirajul Islam: contribution in the establishment and management of the Parramatta Mosque.
Qamrul Hasan: contribution in the establishment and management of the Parramatta Mosque.
Late Shahadat Ali: a significant contributor to the welfare and education of the deprived in his home village. An extremely unassuming social person. Remember our leisurely walk together through the underground walkway of the Central Railway station to the Broadway from our place of work.
Late Sami Azmol: died in the prime of his life at the age of 37 leaving indelible marks in minds and hearts of all of who came across him including his place of work. A yearly scholarship of $10,000 titled “The Sami Azmol Scholarship” was launched by the local health district on the 23rd of November 2019 in the presence of his Family. The Hills Shire Council too has made a plaque to immortalize his words to his wife: “Be thankful for each moment. Be kind to everyone you meet. Live each day to the fullest. For tomorrow is never promised.” While Sami’s plaque now adorns entry to the RPA finance department. May Allah accept Sami’s good deeds and let his memories inspire many younger and elder towards goodness and good deeds.
Dr. Rezaul Karim: established community building projects including high school education, health care, vocational education and training in his ancestral village Shyampur in Upazilla Melandaha of District Jamalpur.
Late Nazrul Islam: promoted the cause of Bangladesh in Australia during the war of liberation and for his life-long devotion to the welfare of the needy and deprived, in particular for his contributions to Grameen Support Group in Australia and Grameen scholarship program for the gifted poor and needy. In his memoir completed not long before his death, he wanted to get history corrected as applied to contributions made by Australian Government and its communities in the initial phase of Bangladesh. Late Nazrul Islam had the ability to connect with both young and old and would go out of the way to come to the aid of the needy and the poor.
Dr Tanveer Ahmed: a psychiatrist to Bangladeshi and broader Australian communities and a commentator and media personality.
Dr. Rashid Raashed: major role player in the establishment of Sefton Mosque. Contributions towards education and welfare for the people of Maheshkhlai in Bangladesh. A key role player in the establishment of first Muslim bank in Australia.
Late Dr Abdul Haque: initiator of Australia’s biggest Morning Tea event that raised the highest amount of contribution for the Cancer Council and Ahsania Cancer Hospital in Dhaka by any one single community. One of the leaders of establishment of Quakers Hill Mosque. One who always gave to Bangladesh community in particular and Australian communities in general, never expecting anything in return. May Allah accept his good deeds and grant him highest place in the Abode of peace.
Late Faheem Bhuiyan: one with kind manner and scholarship, and firm belief and practice within the bounds of Islam in submission to the Creator.
Faruk Choudhury: a significant contributor to the establishment of Rooty Hill Mosque, Bangladesh Islamic Centre and active participation in Hills District Islamic Discussion Forum.
Late Dr Abdur Razzak and Late Uzzal Huq: initiators of Pahela Baishak (Bengali New Year) event in Australia.
Late Kazi Qamrul Huda: generously provided his services and use of his house at Killara for countless days together for various preparation of social events. A true gentle man with a welcoming smile.
Late Dr F.M. Mokhlesur Rahman: unparallel hospitality and generosity towards the new settlers in Australia and to his own people back home in Bangladesh. When one had met this contented soul, invariably he/she noticed a gentle smile on his face with some degree of shyness, but not as an expression of being unsure or hesitant. But it was intended to make you feel at home with simplicity of his purpose and firmness of his determination that said in soundless words: “Be not worried or feel lost any more as along as you are with rest of the community, we are here to look after each other”. Just as anyone who had met him, Alhamdullilah I feel privileged of knowing Fakhir Mohammaded Mokhlesurr Rahman who was truly inspired by the words of the Creator: “Whoever believes and do good words would have rewards never ending.”
Late Shahidur Rahman: a person of kind hospitality with a hand and heart to provide assistance to new settlers. Their house in Carlingford was always known for entertaining guests.
Dr Sazidur Rahman: a contributor of dissemination of knowledge and information on Islam and Islamic practices.
Late Mohammed Raquib Ud Dowla: a renowned scientific researcher and a direct participant (ভাষা সৈনিক) of the Bangladesh Language Movement of 1952.
Dr M.R. Chowdhury: a doctor with helping hands towards the Bangladesh and broader community. He has been bound to wheelchair for a number of years as a result of a massive heart attack. May Allah make it easy for him and his family and grant him a place in the eternal house of peace.
Mr. Allan Khan: an ever-smiling amiable personality, known across Australia and overseas for his photography and video productions.
Kazi Khaliquzzaman Ali: a recipient of distinguished AOM for his service to the Muslim community and for his ability to connect with broader Australian community across religious and cultural divides. His personal involvement in the process of Muslim burial and obtaining/establishing burial grounds are unmatchable. In his own words; as he walked on the path of life there has been marked changes in the path that he travelled and the goals that he set. He has always felt at ease with it when engaging with the community and beyond.
Mufazzal Bhuiyan: service to Muslims in need and for work on minimising environmental stress.
Shah Parvez: a contributor to ICFAR, Bangladesh Islamic Centre and Parramatta Mosque.
Emeritus Professor Rafiqul Islam: laudable achievement in education, teaching, research and scholarship and standing of Bangladesh in Global community of scholars.
Professor Anis Chowdhury: contributions to education, teaching, research and scholarship and service to the needy and poor and international organizations.
Professor Sheikh Shahidur Rahman: contributions to education, teaching, research and scholarship, eastern suburb mosque project and playing a key role in the running of community school on Islamic education and welfare for children.
Professor Fazlur Rahman: contributions to education, teaching, research and scholarship.
Anisur Rahman: Editor of the website www.bangla-sydney.com as a forum for dissemination of news and views of Bangladeshi community in Australia.
Dr. Abdur Razzak: a contributior to education, teaching, research and scholarship and social activities on community welfare.
Kishwar Chowdhury: the acclaimed participant and winner of the Master Chef Competition promoting Bangladeshi food and culture.
Shahan Ahmed: contribution to the development of Parramatta Mosque and for his service to Australian communities as a barrister.
Dr Maruf Khan: contributions in the establishment and running of Islamic Co-operative ICFA, Quakers Hill Mosque and Halal meat product (Halal Australia).
Dr Zubair Hasan: contributions to community building activities especially Islamic education and welfare from an early age.
Mrs. Hosne Ara Rahman: hospitality and contribution as a teacher in charge of educating handicapped children.
Anis Mazumder: establishment and running of Dhaka University Alumni Association Australia as its founding Secretary General.
Dr Zakia Hossain: contribution to education, research and scholarship and her role in the Dhaka University Alumni Association.
Professor Atiqul Islam: contribution to teaching, research and tertiary administration.
Late Umme Kulsum Nargis Begum: scholarship and service to education and welfare, and love for the poor and the deprived.
Ones who left us
The Bangladesh Community in Sydney has grown from less than a handful before independence to close to over sixty thousand at present. As this happened some had already died as many more are now at an advanced age. A number of those who have already completed their terms on earth, are listed here.
Abu Taher Mohammad Billah (2012).
Alamgir Chowdhury (1990).
Ali Akbar (11 April 2021).
Belal Ahmed (4 October 2021)
Dr Abdul Haque (27 August 2016).
Dr Abdur Razzaque (31 January 1946, 22 December 2019).
Dr F.M. Mokhlesur Rahman (August 2019).
Dr Raisuddin Ahmed (22 July 2020).
Dr. Yasmin Ahmed (2020).
Faheem Bhuiyan (27 February 2005).
Feroza Begum (15 February 1996).
Kaji Qamrul Huda (1987).
Khaleda Bhuiyan (12 December 2020).
Khudeza Khatoon Chowdhury (3 September 1999).
M A Khan (24 February 2003).
M. Haroone. Muhib Chowdhury.
Mosaddeq Ali (6 December 2011).
Muzaffar Ali Bhuiyan (19 March 2003).
Nazrul Islam (20 June 2021).
Noorhahan Yasmeen Chowdhury (26 July 2010).
Nurul Huq. Mokhlesur Rahman (Mukul) (2 February 2020).
Rezia Faruque Chowdhury (1 May 2011).
Shahadat Ali (30 September 2016).
Shahidur Rahman (26 June 1999).
Shawkat Rahman (2020).
Ziauddin Ahmed (2005).
Mrs. S.R. Chowdhury (2021).
Shahad Nomani (2020).
Sami Azmol (6 December 2020).
Shams Ahmed (2020). (2016).
Shams-Uz-Zaman (12 March 1942, 26 December 1985).
Tanvir Haider (9 October 2021).
Tarik Rahman (16 April 2013).
Tasmin Billah Osman (15 December 2009).
Umme Kulsum Nargis Begum (1 October 1952, 11 October 2021).
Zahanara Begum (23 March 2012).
Dr Fazlul Huq, Sydney, Australia
Writes with the pen name Jujube at Allpoetry.com with over 45,900 compositions.