History of Islam in Australia

Islam is a minority religion in Australia. Around 2 percent of the population of Australia practise Islam. The religion came to Australia from Indonesia much before the arrival of Europeans. Historians believe that Bugis and Macassan traders from Indonesia brought Islam to the northern part of Australia.

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Muslims from coastal Africa came to Australia along with British settlers. Most of them were laborers. The later part of the nineteenth century saw the arrival of the famous Afghan camel drivers (most of them were Muslims) to Australia. Even though they were popularly known as Afghan camel drivers, they came from different countries.

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The first group of these camel drivers reached Melbourne in June 1860. There were eight members in the group and they came for the Burke and Wills expedition. The next group of camel drivers arrived in the year 1866 with camels for Sir Thomas Elder (a successful public figure in Australia). These camel drivers settled in the northern part of the continent (like Alice Springs). Many of them married the members of the local population.

The Ghan, a passenger train operating between Adelaide and Darwin, is named after these Afghan camel drivers. The first mosque was built in South Australia in the year 1861. The Great Mosque of Adelaide was built in the year 1888 by the camel drivers.

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The White Australia Policy (1901 to 1973) intentionally restricted the immigration of non-whites to Australia. Only Albanian and Bosnian Muslims managed to settle in Australia during this period. Albanian Muslims built the first mosque in Melbourne in the year 1963. Many Bosnian Muslims settled in Melbourne.

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Australian authorities recognized the need for population growth in the middle of the 20th century. The government accepted many Muslims from the Balkan region during this period. Thousands of Turks settled in Australia as part of an agreement between Turkey and Australia. Most of them settled in Melbourne and Sydney.

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Muslims from Lebanon started arriving in Australia in 1975. Their numbers increased during the Lebanese civil war (1975 - 1990). Lebanese Muslims form the core of Australian Muslim population. Sydney has the most number of Muslims in Australia. Many Somalis migrated to this great continent in the 1990s due to civil war in their country.

Today one can find Muslim settlers from various countries (like Lebanon, Bosnia, Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Fiji, Albania, Sudan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh) in Australia. Ed Husic, Fehmi Naji, Bachar Houli, Irfan Yusuf and Osamah Sami are some famous Muslims from Australia.

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Religions in Australia

Religion
% of population
 
Christianity
61.14
 
No religion
22.30
 
Not stated
8.55
 
Buddhism
2.46
 
Islam
2.21
 
Hinduism
1.28
 
Other religious affiliation
0.81
 
Other religions
0.78
 
Judaism
0.45
 

Australians have a free spirit and an ability to think outside the box, and that is why I like Australia so much.

— Brian Schmidt

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