We had a wonderful night on Thursday 13 February for the launch for Coming of Age, a book about Growing up Muslim in Australia.
Three of the book's twelve contributors appeared on the night - psychiatrist Dr Tanveer Ahmed, former Miss World Australia, Miss World Asia Pacific and charity ambassador Sabrina Houssami and novelist Randa Abdel-Fattah.
There were many candid, funny and touching stories of young people growing up juggling two cultures, as they aimed to fit in to the Australian culture of schools and their non-Muslim friends, whilst still participating in the customs and cultural norms of family and Muslim communities. Each speaker related how the journey had been very individual, with their resulting level of observance to Muslim doctrine being ultimately a very personal decision, and so the panelists ranged from devout to agnostic. It is this broader understanding of the spectrum of belief that exists among Muslims that needs to be conveyed to the Australian non-Muslim community.
“Aiming to demystify Islam and challenge ‘Islamaphobia’, the contributors succeed brilliantly at highlighting the diversity of Muslim culture and identity.” says Meredith Lewin in her review of Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia, for Books+Publishing Magazine.
This is the nub of this book, and it is also summed up nicely by the heading of Sabrina Houssami’s contribution titled ‘Mishmash Muslim’. Admitting that her own beliefs and practice of her religion are less than strict or orthodox, she makes the striking observation that in the media we only hear about one kind of Muslim – the fundamentalist. Yet when considering other faiths, especially Christianity, we readily accept that followers come in various shades and hues across a spectrum ranging from lapsed to fanatical. The power of this book will be in teaching young minds that faith, of any kind, isn’t black or white.
Special thanks to Andrew Morello for his excellent MC contribution and to photographer Riz Rehman from Rizzography.
A special note of thanks also goes to Warringah Councillor Vincent De Luca OAM and to ABC Radio's Dr Rachael Kohn for attending the evening, and also to the book's publisher Allen & Unwin for working with us on the evening.
About the evening's Speakers
(note: the photos of the audience below are our own snaps)
Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers