Clerics in holy war
Islamic leaders quarrel over top Australian imam
IT’S the question dividing Muslim Australia: Just who is the country’s top Islamic cleric?
Controversial Sheik Taj El-Din Hilaly, who once likened “immodestly dressed” women to pieces of meat, has been reappointed as Grand Mufti 11 years after stepping down.
But that comes as news to acting Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammad. When asked yesterday who the Grand Mufti is, he replied: “Ibrahim Abu Mohammad.”
The split exposes a bitter feud among the two leading Islamic factions — the Australian National Imams Council and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils — following the death of former Grand Mufti Abdul Azeem al-Afifi in July. Each faction claims they alone have the right to appoint the Grand Mufti.
Dr Abu Mohammad had previously held the position for six years, after which he was required to stand down for 12 months before running again. Muslim community sources claim Dr al-Afifi, who was suffering from terminal cancer, was only appointed to allow Dr Abu Mohammad to be reinstated after his death.
However, on Friday, Sheik Hilaly was anointed as Grand Mufti by Queensland’s long-serving Imam Abdul Taub Raza at Logan ogan Mosque in Brisbane in front of fellow llow imams and a crowd of community unity leaders and worshippers from om AFIC.
Sheik Hilaly was the first person to serve as Australia’s Grand Mufti after AFIC, FIC, an association of community munity groups, local leaders and Muslim organisations, ns, created the position in 1988. However, in re- e- cent years ANIC, made up of Islamic scholars, has tried to usurp AFIC’s grasp on who appoints the Grand Mufti. Dr Abu Mohammad said Sheik Hilaly’s appointment was invalid and the only authority that could appoint the Grand Mufti was the Australian National Imams Council.
He said: “They have no authority to appoint anyone.”
Australian International Islamic College chairman Imam Abdul Quddoos, who was at the Logan Mosque ceremony, said Sheik She Hilaly’s appointment wou would be finalised after a meetin meeting of imams in Sydney next w week. Asked why Sheik Hilaly was reinstated, Imam Quddoo Quddoos said: “Because he is the mos most capable person in A Australia.”
This all came a d day after Sheik Hilaly reposted on social media a call he made in 2016 for the position of Grand Mufti to be terminated.
He wrote: “The position was established through the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils to defend Islam and Muslims. This title has now become a stepping stone for every fallen person. I call upon the powers of AFIC to issue a resolution to cancel this position in Australia.”
Sources claim Sheik Hilaly was “pressured” into the role. A source said: “They were begging him. They said he is the only person for this position.”
Among those endorsing Sheik Hilaly is AFIC vice-president Jamal El Kholed. He said: “We need people in this position who work from the heart. This position is very popular in the Muslim community and not just anyone can be Grand Mufti. Sheik Hilaly is the only person I support.”
ANIC released a statement: “Any other announcement of a new Grand Mufti is void and unjustified”.
Picture: John Gass/AAP
Dr Ibrahim Mohammad.