İslam “Down Under”

My husband, Suleyman Kurter, my granddaughter,Ayse Nur and I knew this was going to be a long trip but we did not realize how arduous until we landed in Melbourne, Australia. We flew 10 hours from Chicago to Istanbul, in Istanbul we were met by Br. Nejat Eren, from Antalya, Turkey, and then we all flew 4 hours to Qatar and another 14 hours to Melbourne. By that time we felt like Lahmajun (flattened pizza). Since we landed after midnight, I thought no one would be there to greet us. To my surprise, there were over fifty Australian Muslims anxiously awaiting our arrival! There were hugs, kisses and beautiful smiles from the Islamic brothers and sisters that greeted us. They were teenagers, college students, children and their parents. I felt revived by their warm and sincere welcome.

islam-down-under 1They drove us to a comfortable, one-level Australian brick home that was one of the Jamaat’s families that was on vacation and gave their home for us to live in during our stay. What generosity! I was amazed at this family and those that came to the house; they prepared fruit and beverages for us before we slept. This was also my first introduction to the Vakif (Islamic workers), Zenep and Ruhan Kaya. They would be my link to everyone and everywhere in Melbourne. They were our guides, translators and schedule keepers throughout our stay. Ayse Nur was always by my side while my husband, Suleyman and Br. Eren often had a parallel program with the brothers.

I met two other Islamic workers, Ayten Yargi and Bedriye Koyu, who work day and night at the Melbourne center, called

The Nur Foundation. They, with the Vakif workers, organize, clean, cook and call many sisters promoting the programs at The Nur Foundation. I soon realized how strong the members are and how well they work together to make this amazing complex succeed. Originally it was an old motel with a huge empty lot. Presently, The Nur Foundation is open and used from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

There are various sohbets (Islamic Gatherings)every day for different age groups.Also, there are brothers and sisters from various other countries that attend the gatherings because they feel welcome and comfortable there. The Nur Foundation is the hub of the jamaat’s (congregation) activities. It is located in Melbourne’s industrial center. I felt it is an oasis among metal. The old motel was completely gutted and renewed into an efficient, extremely clean complex with a mosque, numerous classrooms for the study of the Qur’an, Hadith and the Risale I Nur, as wellas English as a Second Language and sewing classes for the ladies. There is a social club for the elderly and brothers, several kitchens, and a numerous reception hall for conferences, weddings, etc.

For the women, there is a separate entrance to a women’s dershane (learning center). It has comfortable sofas, a large prayer area, kitchen and dining area.An amazing area is in the back of the complex. At first I thought it was a public park, I was informed that this land is also part of the Nur Foundation. It was beautiful. There were roses blooming everywhere.It also included a full garden for the community with vegetables, herbs and even chickens that produce numerous eggs each day. There was a covered shelter with picnic tables and barbeque grills for the entire community.I was amazed at how the community worked so well together to build these picnic tables, organize a garden and there was a playground with swings and slides for the children to play with. There was also an enclosed soccer field, all built by the brothers. They are now in the process of building enclosed swimming pools for the men and one for the ladies.I was asked on several occasions to give the “ders”/presentation on the Risale. It was an honor and there was no need for a translator since all the Turkish women speak English but with a unique Australian accent. It was pleasant to hear them speak. These Muslimahs (Muslim Women) are second and third generations in Australia.Some of the sisters came to Australia as children from Turkey because their fathers found employment at the Ford Motor Company in Melbourne; other sisters came as new brides many years ago. Usually, our sobhets (Islamic studies) steered toward the topic of how to raise a Muslim family in a non-Muslim country. Similar to what many Muslim families are struggling with today in the USA.

islam-down-under 2After the ders on the Risale I Nur, we were fortunate to have Br. Fatih Yargi show us a bit of Melbourne, mainly for Ayse Nur’s sake since she is only 13 years old. It is the month of May but it is autumn in Australia so it rained quite a bit. We were able to see kangaroo’s and Kuala bears. Br. Fatih is the director of the Nur Foundation and he has excellent organizational skills and patience. May Allah (SWT) bless him for all his work. May Allah also bless his wife, the sisters that volunteer to clean, organize, assist in many duties and teach all for the cause of Allah. The vakif workers, Zeynep and Ruhan, were also relentless in their efforts to make sure all the programs and the center are running smoothly. They are dedicated to the Hizmet (service). It seems that nothing is too big or small for them to complete.Even though we averaged four hours of sleep a day, it was worth it. It was an amazing experience to meet and be with these Muslim families. These families made breakfast for us and we were the guests of honor for dinners. They rotated the responsibility and everyone had an opportunity to have us at their home if they wished. This was excellent organization among them. We thoroughly enjoyed all the meals and the It was one of the most inspiring sites.

This mosque was built as a replica of the Sultan Fatih Mosque in Istanbul.Inside the Gallopoli Mosque the walls are blue, white and gold amid golden Ayats (verses) from the Holy Quran. It is truly majestic. Ayse Nur and I prayed there in the women’s section. Several sisters joined us and gave us insight on the history of the mosque. Outside the mosque, it is surrounded by rows and rows of roses all various colors.The roses were still opening even though it was autumn in Australia. Again, it was amazing to see such dedicated Muslim families that are striving to live Islam in a non-Muslim society. They are extremely hard working families that came to Australia with little and were able to purchase and build their homes without interest or loans. Some of the homes After the conference, we were able to see the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Bridge and docks. The stories told by the locals of the aborigines and European convicts and their treatment reminded me of the original pilgrims and their treatment to the Native Americans in the USA.

islam-down-under 3Sydney has numerous parks like the Olympic Park and its beautiful Botanical Gardens. We even had the pleasure of taking a boat ride throughout the bays in Sydney, I almost expected Nimo to jump out of the bay at any moment. The Sydney Jamaat is working collctively to build a large dershane, currently they are renting an entire floor for their activities. I pray they will find a building soon. It is very expensive to purchase a building in both Sydney and Melbourne. Even a modest three bedroom home is $250,000 to $500,000. While a modern, new 3 or 4 bedrooms home usually costs 1 million. Those two cities are the most expensive cities in the world to live in.

After Sydney we returned to Melbourne and the Nur Foundation complex. The sisters were there to greet us and showered Ayse Nur and I with gifts of appreciation and remembrances. I cried because we have known them for a little over a week, yet I felt I had known them for a lifetime. So many smiling, beautiful faces filled with the light of Islam. Meeting and being with them was a gift from Allah (SWT) and I will never forget my Muslim sisters in Australia.

By Havva Kurter

Kaynak: Risale Path-Risâle Yolu-Amerika Nur Bülteni

Risale Path, All Rights Reserved Vol. 2 No. 4 January 2013

Haber: Risâle Tâlim

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