Muslims in Tasmania – Early HistoryHobart Tasmania. Latitude 42 deg South, Longitude 147 deg East.
It has often been assumed that, until the Post World War II years, the population of Tasmania was almost exclusively Anglo-Saxon/Irish and Christian. However, religious and ethnic minorities have always existed in significant numbers in Tasmania.
The two significant non-Christian groups that have always been present are the Muslim and Jewish Communities. When the Lady Nelson arrived in Hobart on 29th November 1807, on board were Tasmania’s first Muslim settler ( Jacob Sultan ) and first Jewish Settler ( Bernard Walford ).
Most of the early Muslim settlers came from Norfolk Island where they had been shipwrecked at various times between 1795 and 1800. They were of Indian origin and worked on Norfolk as tradesmen and farmers. British authorities decided to close the Norfolk settlement in 1807 and the Muslims were evacuated to Hobart with the rest of the inhabitants. On arrival in Tasmania they were given land grants and convict labour to help re-establish themselves as farmers. The main area of settlement was at first New Norfolk but some moved on to establish larger holdings elsewhere.
Three of the settlers were Antonio Bucknall ( Bukari ), Bastian Suez and Muhammad Abdilla. They were crew on the British Indian ship Hunter which was wrecked at Norfolk Is land in 1799. They were granted land at New Norfolk and farmed successfully for a number of years. In July 1823 the barn of Antonio Bucknall was burnt down and two former Norfolk Islanders, William Standfield and James Crahan, were charged with Arson. At the trial the Attorney General described Bucknall as ” a poor foreign black, who many years ago arrived here from Norfolk Island, and had ever since on a small farm derived from government, laboured with proverbial industry and perseverance. The jury found the accused not guilty on 10th June 1824.”
Bucknall, Suez and Abdilla petitioned Governor Arthur on 20th July 1824 to procure a message on the Ambinia to take them to their native Calcutta. They stated that they were now at their lowest ebb. The request was refused but they were offered assistance to go as far as Sydney.
Bucknall moved to Hobart and lived near the Good Woman Inn in Argyle Street until his death in 1849. He appears to have been a widower and was survived by two daughters. There is no record of the deaths of Suez and Abdilla.
A shipwreck was the cause of another group of Indian seamen coming to Tasmania. In 1795 the settlement at Sydney was very short of food and the ship Endeavour was sent from India with urgent supplies. These included 132 cattle, 350 tons of rice and 150 tons of dahl. On 18th September 1795 the Endeavour left Sydney to return to India via New Zeland. Due to bad weather the ship was scuttled at Dusky Sound on the southern most tip of New Zeland. Fortunately, the survivors found there an almost completed ship that had been built by the carpenter of the Britannia in 1792. They completed building the sip, named it Providence and most of the crew sailed it to Norfolk Island in December 1795.
Four crew members decided to remain on Norfolk Island and were later transferred to Tasmania. They were Muhammad Cossoms, Saib ( Jacob ) Sultan, Ram John Conn ( Khan ) and John Hasan.
Muhammad Cossoms came to Hobart on the Porpoise on 17th January 1808. He was granted land at New Norfolk and in 1822 had a property of 33 acres. He was married with a family. The Cossoms family name still exists in the New Norfolk area.
Jacob Sultan came to Hobart with his wife on the Lady Nelson on 29th November 1807. He was initially granted 11.5 acres at New Norfolk but this was increased to 27 acres by 1822. There is no record of his death.
Ram John Conn ( Khan ) was born in the Muslim town of Inrah in Goograh, India. He joined the East India Service as a Marine and served in 11th Battalion on the 2nd Regiment of the Bombay Army. He went to Port Jackson on the Endeavour in 1795 and when it was wrecked in New Zeland he stayed behind with a small group of men. In 1797 the were rescued by the American ship Mercury and taken to Norfolk Island.
He was successful on Norfolk and purchased 20 acres in 1803 and by 1807 was selling meat to the government. Conn arrived in Hobart on the Porpoise on 17th January 1808. He was granted 35 acres at New Norfolk to compensate him for his loss of land on Norfolk Island. He later gave this land to his God-daughter and moved to the Macquarie River/Campbell Town area. He accumulated about 1700 acres and large numbers of sheep and cattle. In 1835 he married a Scottish convict Christine Cameron. By the time of his death on 21st July 1841 he was a highly respected member of the Campbell Town community. His headstone can still be seen at the Kirklands Cemetery.
John Hasan was one of the last persons to leave Norfolk Island in 1813. He lived there from 1795 to 1813; he came to Port Dalrymple, Tasmania in February 1813. He settled at Norfolk Plains area where he was granted land. There is no record of his death.
Zimran Wriam came to Tasmania with John Hasan. He was born in Hyderabad. He must have travelled to England because he was a convict on the Atlantic in the Third Fleet in 1791. He was sent to Norfolk Island and was granted a Pardon for his work in closing down the settlement. He was granted 40 acres at Norfolk Plains. Unfortunately, he was beaten to death some years later by two men.
The major problem faced by the early Muslim settlers was that due to their small numbers and isolation they were unable to resist the forces of assimilation. As a consequence, their children ceased to have any sense of Muslim identity and were assimilated into the general population. The Jewish community also faced the same problems but was in a stronger position due to having sufficient numbers to organise a religious community. Barnard Walford, who arrived with Jacob Sultan in 1807, organised the Jewish community; he had six children but only one married within the Jewish Faith.
In this article I have only discussed Muslim arrivals before 1820. There has been a steady stream of arrivals since then and they also have interesting stories and have made a contribution to Tasmania’s development.
material by Harun Abdullah
Muslims in TasmaniaJuly 1973 to 11 July 1998 – Jumada II 1393 to 16 R’Awal 1419
Since the late 1960’s a number of Muslim migrants and refugees have been settling in Tasmania creating a small community to be further increased with an influx of Asian Muslim students coming to complete their education in the various educational institutions in the state. Being apart and isolated from their homes and communities, in 1968 the students established the Tasmanian Students Islamic Society to look after their religious needs and interests.
By the early 1970’s, the majority of the Muslim community in Tasmania was comprised of persons from South East and West Asia, Middle East, Africa and East European countries. Apart from the Tasmanian Students Islamic Society there was no organisation in which they could identify themselves with or could provide for their religious, cultural and social needs. This shortcoming was overcome in 1973 when a small group of Muslims laid the foundation of the Association of Tasmanian Muslims under the banner of “Tasmanian Muslim Association”. The general objective was to promote the religious, cultural and social welfare for the all the Muslims of Tasmania, and to establish the “Islamic Centre/Mosque” in Tasmania as the focal point for the community.
The founding members of the “Tasmanian Muslim Association” were: Mohamed Saleh Parkar, Mohamed Safwat Elkateb, A. Razak Khan, Nazli Majid, Nik Amrah Omar and Alauddin Ali who were later joined by Alya Babic, Mehomet Hodzic, Nezir Jezenkovic, Iqbal Pasha and Riyad Fayed.
The Tasmanian Muslim Association was incorporated on 12 February 1976 to become a legal entity representing the Muslim community of Tasmania, later to be a constituent of the National Islamic organisation, the Australian Federation of Islamic Council ( AFIC ).
At this time, the Tasmanian Muslim Association was the only organisation in The Islamic Council of Tasmania which will expand as the community grows in other parts of the state.
By the fund raising efforts of the Mosque Committee and donations of 30,000 by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a further 8,000 from the Government of Malaysia, the first Islamic Centre/Mosque was established at 46 Proctors Road, Dynnyrne, as a temporary measure until the building of a new Mosque on two blocks of land in Strickland Avenue, South Hobart was achieved.
The plans for the Islamic Centre/Mosque were prepared through the services of Mr Sydney Blyth, a well known Hobart Architect. Due to insufficient funds however the building project had to be postponed and in 1980 a suitable property was acquired at 19 Fitzroy Place, Sandy Bay to be used as Islamic Centre/Mosque where for a time, Hasan Hegab and later Fazluddin Parkar carried out the religious duties of Imam until the arrival of Abdur Rahman Abdul Fatah as the permanent Imam through the help of our National organisation ( AFIC ) and assistance from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Muslim community grew more numerous and in 1985 a stately house standing on approximately one acre of land at 166 Warwick Street, West Hobart was purchased for use as ” Islamic Centre/Mosque ”.
Abdur Rahman Abdul Fatah was the Imam and Muslim Marriage Celebrant from 1982 to 1994 when he moved to the mainland. The duties of Imam are presently being carried out by Sheikh Ali El Senossi, assisted by Mohamed Saleh Parkar and Sabri Samson.
The Islamic Council of Tasmania which represent all Muslim organisations in the state and the Tasmanian Muslim Association for over a decade have been pursuing the concern of the community at not being able to bury their deceased according to Muslim tradition. As a result of their efforts the Cemetery Board of Tasmania has realised the needs of the community and has allocated a separate section for Muslims in the public cemetery at Kingston and in the north of the state at Launceston .
An other Community difficulty was the supply of Halal meat . Without local Halal slaughtering in Hobart the concern was partly overcome by the Islamic Council of Tasmania by making arrangements for supply of Halal meat from the Islamic Centre through a mainland supplier.
In 1994, to safeguard and provide long term stability for the Community assets, the Islamic Centre of Tasmania was placed under the management and administration of the ” Islamic Centre of Tasmania Trust ” who are appointed on a permanent basis.
The Trustees are : Mohamed Saleh Parkar, Sabri Samson, Harun Abdullah, Abdul Hannan Haroon, Danny Tew, Alyas Apandy, Alya Babic, Ali El Senossi and Iftikhar Aziz. In 1996 Iftikhar Aziz resigned and Hamza Parker was appointed in his place.
The Muslim community of Tasmania is still aiming for a purpose built Mosque on the present property when adequate finances become accessible, insha-Allah.
From humble beginnings, the Tasmanian Muslim Association has progressed well, achieving its objectives of serving the Muslim community of Tasmania and contributing towards the development of Tasmania.
Condensed from an article written by
Mohamed Saleh Parkar
This piece is taken from the website of the Tasmanian Muslim Association ( T – M – A ).
See on-line at: http://www.southcom.com.au/~tma/history.htm