Muslim Community Based Organisation in Darwin


History of Muslims living in Darwin goes back many years. Indonesian Muslim (Macassans) used to sail to North Eastern Coast of Northern Territory with their boat “Praus” since 1500 AC. Trade between Aboriginal people and the Macassans continued until it was stopped by the South Australia Government in 1906. What also significant was the number of Malay Muslims working as migrant workers in the Pearl Industry of Northern Australia. A famous anti white Australia policy Movement “Stay put Malay” involved three Malay Muslim Pearl workers. Though the Muslim connection was not new to Darwin but any history on the Muslim community based organisation in Darwin goes back to 1971.

During the 1971’s the following Muslims used to live in Darwin, some with families and some were single. They used to meet with each other for socialising as well as religious purposes. Among them, Mr. Nasser was living in Australia for a long time. He was a diver in Brome and married to a local Christian lady. After retirement, Mr. Nasser settled in Darwin. Although he was a Muslim, his children did not follow Islam as their religion and started living as Australian Christian.

1.    Shamees Deen Rane (Australian)
2.    Dr. Ayub Khan (Pakistani)
3.    Amal Uddin Siregar (Indonesian)
4.    Dr. Masood Ahmad (Indian)
5.    Abu bin Nasser (Indonesian)
6.    Abdul Qayum (Pakistani)
7.    Fazal Muhammad (Pakistani)
8.    Nasrullah Khan (Pakistani)
9.    Armien Kurim (Indian)
10. Besim Naga (Albanian)
11. Mithat Cervoj (Albanian)
12. Dr. Ansari (Pakistani)
13. Mr. Shah (Pakistani)
14. Ali bin Pawero (Malaysian)
15. Ali Adam (Indonesian)
16. Salim Boda (Indonesian)
17. Mah Nu Mokak (Malaysian)
18. Samuel Hossain (Indonesian)
19. Maha Buyong (Malaysian)
20. Amina Binte Latif (Malaysian)
List of Pioneer Muslims of Darwin in 1971 and their Ethnic Background

Mr. Shah, another Muslim of Darwin at that time was also married to an Australian Christian woman and his children also left the fold of Islam and became Christian. Seeing the conditions of these two families, other Muslim families living in Darwin at that time became worried about the future of their own children. They seriously thought that unless they do something as soon as possible, the Muslim identity will be lost very quickly.

It is through this urgent need and urge to have some kind of a Muslim environment and atmosphere the Muslims of Darwin thought about forming a Muslim Group that they called the “Muslims living in Darwin”. That group was working like a steering committee at that time to discuss about forming  a Muslim society for their mutual benefit and for the future generation and to organise / perform religious activities like Eid and other festivals. After that Muslims living in Darwin during 1971 decided to form an Islamic Society. In September 1971 they officially formed the “Islamic Society of the Northern Territory (ISNT)”.

Mr. Armien Kurim became the first President of ISNT. After a few months Mr. Armien Kurim left Darwin, and Dr. Ayub Khan, a medical doctor at the old Darwin Hospital of Myles Point became the President of the ISNT. With the formation of ISNT, the Muslims of Darwin started collecting funds from it members for building a future mosque. Mr. Nasser very generously promised one thousand dollars donation for the mosque.

In 1972, brother Fazal Muhammad brought his wife and three children from Pakistan. Mr. Shah passed away around March/April 1972. Mr. Shah’s wife wanted to bury him like a Christian but the local Muslims opposed that and wanted to bury him as a Muslim. At last Mrs. Shah and his children agreed to have Janaza Prayer and some other Islamic rituals but he was buried with the coffin in the usual Christian method in McMillan Road Cemetery.

In July 1972, Mr. Muhammad Nurul Haq migrated to Darwin with his wife and three children. Within a month he came to know everybody within the Muslim community and became an active member of the ISNT. During 1972, Muslims used to get together in one of the Muslim brother’s house to celebrate religious festivals. The Eid prayer was held at Nightcliff Community Centre in Aralia Street. Member of the Muslim community then started talking about building a Mosque in Darwin, or buying a house for their get-together and prayers. They planned to collect money for that purpose.

The Islamic Society of the Northern Territory was registered as an incorporated body by the Registerer of Companies, Darwin on 25th September 1972 (A221).

During 1973 and 1974, more Muslim families came to Darwin. They were Yusuf Rane, Hayat Qureshi, Umit Turan, Rasheda Wright, Ghazzali Awang, Fareeda, Ali Al Habsji, Ali Djawas, Ridwan Shyamsuri, Agus Sudjoko, Yusef Asar, Anwar Lamaya, Qumaruddin Adjreen.

In the mean time Dr. Ayub Khan left Darwin to NSW and Mr. Shamees Deen Rane became the President of the Islamic Society of the NT. ISNT received an invitation from the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils 9AFIC) to send a representative to AFIC’s Annual General Meeting and Congress in Melbourne.

Mr. Mohammad Nurul Huq, Secretary of the ISNT, was nominated to attend the meeting in Melbourne during Easter break in April, 1974. Mr. Huq accepted the offer and attended  the meeting in Melbourne at 30 Crommer St. Preston, Victoria. It was a house purchased for the use of the Islamic Society of Victoria for prayers and get-togethers. This is the same site of the present Preston Mosque. At that time, there were no Mosque in Melbourne. A discussion with interstate Muslims and getting to know each other was a great experience for Mr. Huq. It was also useful sharing views, ideas and experiences. In that meeting, Dr. Abdul Khaleque Kazi was elected as President of AFIC for the second term. It was an opportunity for Mr. Huq to explore the possibility of financial and other kinds of support that AFIC may be able to offer for the Darwin Mosque. He made a formal request to AFIC for financial support. AFIC at that time could not make any financial commitment, but they, including all Islamic Societies in Australia, had their full moral support for the ISNT. It was a successful and productive meeting.

Mr. Nurul Huq returned to Darwin and with the ISNT committee applied to the Commonwealth Government for a block of land at Darwin for the construction of a Mosque and Islamic Centre building. At that time Northern Territory was under the administration of the Department of Northern Territory of the Commonwealth of Australia.

During the year 1974, to generate funds for a Mosque, the following Muslims agrees to donate $500 each. They were Shamees Deen Rane, Mohammad Nurul Huq, Hayat Qureshi, Amaluddin Siregar, Mithaj Cervoj, Besim Naga, Masud Ahmad, Fazal Mohammed and Abdul Qayum Khan. By the middle of 1974, ISNT generated a fund of about $6000.

As the approval of application for available land in Darwin was a slow and long process, ISNT tried to buy a house for weekly gatherings and prayers. By September/October 1974, a suitable three-bedroom Housing Commission house was located in Jingli / Alawa area at a price of $13000. ISNT had only about $6000 and remaining and the remaining of $7000 plus registration costs were to be borrowed from the Commonwealth Bank. Mr. Huq, Mr. Qureshi and Mr. Siregar agreed to be the guarantors of the loan money. A solicitor was engaged to organise the purchase of the house and as per request from the solicitor a deposit of $6000 was made for the purchase.

Source: Book of A Brief History of The Islamic Society of Darwin (ISD), 2009.


1 Comment

  1. M AKRAM said,

    April 1, 2015 at 5:06 pm


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