A top leader of the Muslim community has called on Muslims in New Zealand to engage in closer partnership with other ethnic groups for greater progress and development of the country.
Dr Anwar Ghani, President of the Federation of Islamic Associations in New Zealand (FIANZ) said every human being required progress in all aspects of life.
Quoting the Holy Quran, he said, “Verily, Allah will not change the condition of people until they change what is in themselves,” he said, speaking at the inaugural session of the Auckland Muslim Convention organised by the South Auckland Muslim Association (SAMA) on November 27.
He emphasised the importance of the participation of parents, elders and women in the overall development of individual initiatives and enterprise.
“The success of a community mirrors the success of its individuals. And the success of the individual is influenced by his or her upbringing as well as the support from the family. Parents play an important role in bringing up our youth with the right attitudes and behaviour, self-discipline and a sense of responsibility to his or her family, community and the Nation,” he said.
New World Vision
Dr Ghani said that while FIANZ had achieved several milestones in its almost 50-year history, there was a need to rejuvenate the organisation with a new vision.
Muslims should reinvent themselves to remain focused in today’s information age and technological advancement, shifting their mindset and paradigm. But the objective should remain on the strong foundation of Islamic values, which underscores the importance of uniting, integrating and reinforcing the Muslim community as one ‘Ummah’ (Community), he said.
Inaugurating the Convention, Opposition Leader Phil Goff said New Zealanders had shown unity, sympathy and support by coming together in mourning the death of the 29 miners in the Pike River Mine tragedy.
“Even as we get together here, our hearts go out to the families whose husbands, brothers, sons and relatives are still underground. All of us have shown love, compassion, understanding and solidarity to the grieving families. This reinforces New Zealand as a great country of great people,” he said.
Mr Goff said the family formed the foundation stone for stronger communities.
“We want our children to grow in safe, stable and loving families. We should also provide them proper education and enable them to build their future,” he said.
Paying tributes to Muslims in New Zealand, he said the community has been contributing significantly for the progress and development of the country.
“We have more than 50,000 Muslims of 48 different nationalities and it is heartening to see them living and working together. All of us are equal in the eyes of God,” he said.
In an obvious reference to Paul Henry and his recent comments on television, Mr Goff said, “All New Zealanders are equal as residents and citizens and all of them have equal opportunities and rights to progress in life and career. By and large, New Zealand is a tolerant Nation and lovers of peace and harmony, we are a better country than many others,” he said.
Mr Goff said the Auckland Muslim Convention promoted inter-faith dialogue to foster the values of peaceful co-existence, mutual understanding and self-respect.
Among those present on the occasion were Pakistan High Commissioner Syed Ibne Abbas, US Consul Dana Deree, Members of Parliament Dr Ashraf Choudhary (Labour), Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National), FIANZ Senior Vice-President Javed Khan and Vice President Eshaq Ali, SAMA President Mohammed Hasim Khan, Sikh Council of New Zealand officials Bachan Singh Nihalgarh and Virpal Singh, Papatoetoe Community Advisor Nimi Bedi and representatives of Maori, Pacific Island and other communities.
Senior Sergeant Mike Fulcher, Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe, Detective Eamonn Whelan and Constable Gurpreet Singh Arora represented the Counties Manuaku District Police.