Islamic sermons 'should be in English'
October 24, 2006 – 5:19PM
Sydney Morning Herald
A visiting Muslim leader has supported the federal government's call for Islamic sermons in Australia to be spoken in English.
Imam Abduljalil Sajid, from the Muslim Council of Britain, says according to the Koran, God's message should be translated in English in Australia.
Dr Sajid said English-spoken sermons would help the wider community avoid misunderstandings and ignorance about Islam.
“If we all speak in the language of the nation then it will help promote harmony,” he said.
“The Koran speaks very clearly that God has sent the messenger in this world in the language of the particular nation where the messenger has been sent.
“So I derive my interpretation from that we have been given instruction by God that wherever we go as a preacher we have to speak in the common language of the nation.
“To me it is a commandment, we should do it, but it should not be imposed, it should be done through persuasion and encouragement.”
Dr Sajid is on the Sydney leg of a two-month tour of Australia aimed at building understanding between Muslim and people from other faiths.
His trip is being funded by a group called Initiatives of Change, which says it is an international network promoting peace and harmony in the world.
Dr Sajid, who says he is pro-integration but anti-assimilation, said all sections of the Australian community have to demonstrate their belonging to the nation.
“Australia will do even better if it includes all sections of its community in its power and resource sharing and include everybody irrespective of their differences,” Dr Sajid said.
In September, the federal Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Robb, called on Australian imams to preach in English to promote understanding between cultures.
A few days later, Prime Minister John Howard said he feared a small section of Australia's Muslim community backed violent jihad.
Dr Sajid said he has seen no evidence of Islamic extremism or radicalism in Australia.
But he warned that excluding sections of the community from consultation and power sharing can create extremists.
“There is a possibility that victimisation may lead to isolation and isolation may lead to extremism and also radicalisation,” he said.
Dr Sajid arrived in Australia on September 28 and has so far travelled through three eastern states giving talks and meeting community leaders.
He intends to visit every state before he returns to the UK on November 26.