An “open dialogue” between the Islamic and non-Islamic community is central to combating recent reports of religious intolerance in Australia, says Darwin Mosque’s new religious leader.
Daud Yunus will spend his time as Imam focusing on youth issues and educating the broader Darwin community about Islam’s central values.
“Islam to me is a religion of…peacefulness and being approachable,” he said. “It’s about becoming a practical Muslim and an approachable Muslim.”
Mr Yunus described himself as a religious moderate who hoped to strike a balance between “not too extreme or lenient and not old school or too modern”.
“It is not a fundamentalist religion. That is the wrong way to see Islam.
Mr Yunus was born in South Africa’s capital of Johannesburg and continued a tradition of religious service on his paternal side. He spent the first 10 years of his career as an Imam in the South African beach city, Port Elizabeth, before deciding on a fresh career challenge.
He applied for his new position with the Islamic Society of Darwin on a punt and did not expect to be picked from the pool of 20 local and international candidates.
Imam’s first two weeks in Darwin
Mr Yunus flew into Darwin at 2am on a balmy night in October. He was holding his first community prayer just four hours later.
“I was exhausted at the end [of my first day],” said Mr Yunus.
One week later, the Imam hosted a service for the holy festival Eid attended by about 350 local Muslims and six Territory politicians, including the Minister of Multicultural Affairs, Peter Styles.
“The politicians came to show unity,” he said.
Mr Yunus said he appreciated that he had immigrated to Australia during a tough time for his religion’s reputation. There have been ongoing national reports of anti-Islamic attacks and mosque defacements in the last month; although no major incidents have been documented in Darwin.
Mr Yunus said his main goals as the city’s Imam included discouraging the “blind following” of media hysteria and fundamentalism among young Muslims.
Source: ABC News