Australia’s diverse Muslim community is rapidly growing. To foster a healthy and positive relationship with the growing community, the Australian government, Australian universities, and not-for-profit organisations have come together to offer Australian Muslims a platform to contribute to Australian society and engage in interfaith and intercultural dialogue with the wider Australian community.
In 2010, the Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA) was established. As a not-for-profit platform, the IMA’s objective is to showcase the diverse range of Islamic arts and its contribution to Australia’s diversity. The IMA showcases architecture, calligraphy, paintings, glass, ceramics and textiles.
In the ten years since, there has been a growing interest in the Australian Muslim community, with efforts to combat Islamophobia and increase awareness about the place of Australian Muslims in society. As part of this move toward a more positive relationship with the community, the Islamic Sciences and Research Academy (ISRA), together with the support of Charles Sturt University (CSU), has successfully secured a $26.3 million grant to build the first Sydney Islamic Arts Museum. This grant falls under the WestInvest Community Project Grants Initiative of the NSW State Government.
Established in 2009, ISRA, as an organisation, has played an important role in bridging dialogue about Muslims in Australia with the general Australian public. The organisation provides Islamic Studies and Arabic courses through the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation within CSU – a centre that was established in 2011, two years after ISRA’s founding.
The Sydney Islamic Arts Museum will be the first arts museum of its kind that will provide a platform to facilitate and nurture a deeper understanding of Islam.
Much like the IMA, the Sydney Islamic Arts Museum will facilitate the artistic and cultural output of the Muslim community to recognise the community’s contribution to Australia while also encouraging, and engaging, in intercultural and interfaith dialogue.
“ISRA is looking forward to working with the community and stakeholders in making this pioneering project a reality,” said Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, founder of ISRA. “We would like to thank Charles Sturt University for the ongoing partnership. We would also like to thank everyone who contributed letters of support for this project, we appreciate your support.”
The Sydney Islamic Arts Museum no doubt promises to be a great instrument of dialogue, education and identity expression for Australian Muslims.