Muslims from Afghanistan, India and present day Pakistan had a successful cultural contact with Australia. This is so different too, as people coming and taking their women and establishing themselves as superior. We can consider it an important reason that why the sense of compatibility of aboriginal and Islamic beliefs is not so uncommon. Here we are sharing a blog written by Ayshah Syed in Current Affairs UK on 31st Jan 2016.
Australia Day; a day of progress, a day of fireworks and laser shows, a day of communities gathering, unified in celebration of what makes Australia great – or so they would have us believe. The truth of the matter is that Australia Day marks the anniversary of conquest, slaughter and invasion. For the indigenous people, January 25th is Invasion Day and marks 228 years of genocide. It is a Day of Mourning.
For the British powers, Australia was terra nullius – land belonging to no-one (read: no one important), and they therefore felt justified in colonising the country without a treaty or any recognition of the rights of indigenous people to their land. In 1788, the First Fleet of British Ships arrived, and Captain Arthur Phillip raised the British Flag in a symbol of British Occupation.
On this day, 228 years ago, British fleets invaded what is now known as Australia, beginning a systematic extermination of its indigenous people that was to last hundreds of years. Like other victims of Western imperialism, the indigenous people were regulated under legislation until the 1960s and legally hunted like animals. Their children were also often taken from their families and put into abusive residential schools to ‘integrate’ them into ‘modernity’ and instil within them ‘superior’ Western values.
In an abhorrent display of their colonial blood-lust, Britain stole the indigenous people’s land, exterminated the indigenous people’s identity and repressed the indigenous people’s independence. With a global history of foreign relations such as this, it is no wonder that people view the idea of a borderless world with such trepidation. “They come because they hate our freedom; they come because they want to change our way of life; they come because they want our jobs, our resources, our land; they come with malintent.” It sure does sound like you’re projecting, oh Saintly Colonisers. But, I digress.
In an article titled ‘Black History did NOT start with Slavery’, Dawwud Loka emphasises the rich history of a native people before colonial rule. Such is the case with the indigenous people of Australia. Theirs is a history of tradition, beliefs, progress, foreign trade and hospitality. Trade? Hospitality? Who would deign to trade with the ‘lowly natives’? Which naval fleet would come upon this terra nullius and see people, deserving of their own land and equals in terms of business, and leave without propping up their flag? It was the Muslims. Anthropologist John Bradley from Melbourne’s Monash University explores the success of their international relations pre-British colonisation.
“They (the Muslims and the Aboriginal people) traded together. It was fair – there was no racial judgement, no race policy.”
Few Australians are aware that the country’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had regular contact with foreign Muslims long before the arrival of Christian colonisers. Muslim fishermen rode over on Indonesian fishing boats from the trading city of Makassar.
They made annual trips to gather the sea cucumbers, which fetched a high price because of their important role in Chinese medicine and cuisine. The Makassan Muslim cucumber traders stayed, married Aboriginal women and left a lasting religious and cultural legacy in Australia. Alongside cave paintings and other Aboriginal art, Islamic beliefs influenced Aboriginal mythology.
The first Muslims to settle permanently in Australia were the cameleers, mainly from Afghanistan. The Muslim camel men worked the inland tracks and developed relationships with local Aboriginal people. Intermarriage was common and there are Aboriginal families with surnames including Khan, Sultan, Mahomed and Akbar. Muslim Malays worked as labourers in the pearl-shelling industry. They, too, formed longstanding relationships with the indigenous people they met. A significant number married local Aboriginal women, and today there are many Aboriginal-Malay people in the top end of Australia. Unfortunately, Muslim trade with the indigenous people ended when heavy taxation and government policy restricted non-white commerce.
John Bradley describes his findings of the Aboriginal tradition infused with Islamic heritage, a memento of a peaceful, progressive time before Western Colonisers took their land, took their women and established themselves as superior.