Story of ALMA... so far... until 2008
In the 1970’s and up to the mid 1980’s, Sri Lankan Muslim’s in Australia numbered just a handful. They were either highly qualified professionals or students enrolled in universities reading for postgraduate degrees. The first gathering of about 8 families from Sydney and Wollongong dates back to 1988 over a picnic in Waterfall. Regular picnics were held but the few families were too busy establishing themselves and scattered, so they were just content on meeting this way.
Meanwhile in the late 1980’s some of the boys had landed in the land of opportunities and trekked their way to Auburn. Some found abode at the famous joint at 96, Maloney Street, Eastlakes. Br. Mohamed Razick was the “Big Brother” to the boys at this joint and welcomed any new arrival to spend their time there. Being single and in a totally new environment, with not many friends around, they shuttled between Auburn and Eastlakes to spend their spare time. During these regular episodes, one topic that always came up was looking for other Sri Lankan Muslims living in Sydney and bringing them together. The boys tracked down many of these new arrivals, and some of those boys spent at least one night at 96, Maloney Street Eastlakes.
By comparison to the numbers in the 1970’s and 1980’s one would say that the flood gates opened up for Sri Lankan Muslim settlements in Sydney in the early 1990’s.
By 1992, the networking had produced a list of 26 names and they were all invited to assemble at 2/72, St.Hiliers road, Auburn. The meeting took place on the 2nd of August at 3.00 pm, and it was formally decided to form “Austra Lanka Muslim Association”.
The following volunteered as office bearers:
President: Ameer Faizal
Vice President: Rizvi Segu Fareed
Secretary: Mohamed Yoosuff
Treasurer: Ubaidur Rahmaan
Br. Mohamed Razick who played a key role in mobilising the boys to form ALMA declined to hold any office. However, his contribution is duly recognised in the very first minutes of ALMA which says: thanks very much, Br. Razick for your initiatives.
After the inaugural meeting the membership increased and the first gathering was held at Warragamba dam in prospects, where members attended with their families, bringing their own food and sharing with others.
In 1993, when an appeal was made by the Surry Hills mosque for funds, ALMA responded to that call and donated a sum of $ 1400.00. Br. Imthiaz Issadeen made a substantial contribution towards this fund. Another significant event during the year was drafting of ALMA’s constitution. Br. Imthiaz played a key role in drafting the constitution.
The constitution was adopted in 1994, which was also the year the first ALMA newsletter was published. Br. Imthiaz was the founding editor and continued in that role for three years, producing some valuable newsletters. 1994 also saw the establishment of the Janaza fund. At the time the community was young and not firmly established. So it was strongly felt that we need a fund for members to obtain as loan in such circumstances. A sub committee was formed under Br. Seenar Sappideen who submitted in detail on procedures of Janaza and what the members should do in such an event.
The first children’s program was held in 1995, which was organized by sisters Najma Mahmood, Azaria Nufail and Zeena Sappideen. The first junior to get onto an ALMA stage was Azhar Munas. In 1996, Sr. Shifa Munas carried the burden of running the newsletter and continued in the role editor for the next five years.
1997 saw a major event organized by ALMA – which was the education seminar titled “Living Islam”. It was held on the 15th of June at King Faizal Auditorium in Auburn. Dr. Farook Mahmood, Sisters Najma Mahmood, Azaria Nufail, Brothers Zaffar Sathar, Fasiel Munas and Ali M Nufail were the organisers of this seminar, which had many academics and professionals from various communities presenting papers.
In 1997 we also had the first festival prayers at Bicentennial Park organized by ALMA. Br. Fuad Dole took the initiative and a leading role in organising this event. Br. Mohamed Fazli conducted the sermon and the prayers. It was a very pleasant experience for all who attended. Ever since, ALMA has conducted both Eid prayers at various locations without any interruption.
In 1998 ALMA took another step forward and was incorporated as a non-profit organisation in NSW. Then it was also felt a need for a logo. Brothers Nilam & Hassan were involved in designing it. During this year religious classes were also started and held at Br. Nilam’s residence. 17 children from the age of 4 to 12 attended these classes and Sisters Zakiya Nilam, Mazeeya Hussain, Munawwara Rizvi, and Jameela Fazli performed as teachers. Due to reasons beyond their control these classes couldn’t be continued beyond a year.
ALMA’s Community Education Program (ACEP) was launched in 2002, through the efforts of Br. M Abdul Gafoor. Brothers Ubaidur Rahmaan, Mohamed Fazli, Irshad Cader and Mohamed Raiz acted as its first teaching staff and joined Br. Abdul Gafoor to draft the Syllabus. Weekly classes began in June 2003 on a variety of subjects with the view to making our children good Muslims and good citizens of this country. Alhamdulillah, ACEP has grown from strength to strength since then and brothers from other communities have also joined hands to support the program. Br. Naleem Siddeek, Br. Nooru Mohamed and Br. Ali M Nufail have taken teaching rolls covering various components of the syllabus. Success of the ACEP is hugely carried on the shoulders of not only the teachers but the active support and encouragement given by the parents and the students who participate with great enthusiasm.
In 2003, it was felt that ALMA’s constitution was in need of revision to reflect the present needs of the association. The revised constitution was adopted at the Annual general meeting in 2004. During this year ALMA also caught up with electronic communication by establishing e-mail contacts with the members.
Another significant event in 2004 was getting a grant of $5000.00 from the state government for ACEP. It was the untiring efforts of Br. M. Abdul Gafoor that enabled us to get this assistance, Alhamdulillah.
In 2004, ALMA had its young achievers award program, where our youth were recognised for their achievements in various fields of study. A total of 22 youth received their awards.
In December 2004 when tsunami struck the Sri Lankan coast, ALMA took a lead role in helping the disaster victims. Our members responded immediately and we were able to raise more than $34000.00 for emergency relief work. ALMA was also successful in obtaining 4 container loads of rice from Pakistan and 1 container load of flour and other goods from Australia to the affected areas. Further, ALMA joined hands with Human Appeal International and other organisations in Sydney in raising more than $300,000.00 for Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
Young ALMA club was formed in 2005. Sereen Mohamed (President), Abdur Rahman Nooru Mohamed and Ilma Mohamed (Vice Presidents), Afrah Fazli (Secretary) and Ikmal Ansareen (Treasurer) were elected as its first office bearers.
When north Pakistan suffered a major earthquake in 2005, ALMA went into action again and raised $6000.00 and sent for relief work.
In 2006, when cyclone Larry hit north Queensland, although our members sent in their individual contributions the ex-co decided to donate a sum of $1000.00 to Innisfail council from the association’s general fund.
2006 is the beginning of the 15th year of the association, and is being fittingly celebrated at Auburn Town hall with the state MP for Auburn Barbara Perry, Federal MP for Reid Laurie Ferguson, Community Relations commissioner Stephan Kerkyasharian and the Mayor of Auburn council Pat Curtin.
ALMA received a further grant of $1500 from the premier’s department in 2007 to purchase a photocopy machine for the ACEP classes.
Since 2007, ALMA has annually participated in the Cleanup Australia Day event.
ACEP program celebrated its 5th anniversary in 2008 at the Auburn Town Hall where the classes first began. ACEP has now expanded to accommodate classes for adults with separate Tajweed classes for men and women.
To be continued…
(Written by Mohamed Fazli & Ali M Nufail)
Last Updated (Saturday, 15 August 2009 16:10)