This piece from the Aussie Mossie blog was published on Saturday 14 October 2006.
Daisy breaks her fast
Tonight I went to an iftar party at Canberra. It is the month of Ramadan and it is traditional for Muslims to break their fasts together. Tonight it was the turn of the Indonesians to stuff our faces with rendang and chicken curry.
One of our guests was a lady named Daisy. She had wheatish brown hair and milky-white skin. She was from northern Queensland and had a broad Strayn accent. She was there with her daughter, a young mother who wore a headscarf.
I presumed the daughter was a convert and that Daisy was one of the token Catholics at the function. How wrong I was!
Daisy was one of a large number of Albanian Muslims living in Mareeba. Her dad migrated to Australia from Albania in 1927, her mum in 1935. Daisy was born in northern Queensland.
Albanians are among Australia’s oldest central European migrants. The bulk of Albanians are of nominally Muslim faith. They have built and continue to manage a number of mosques and centres in regional areas such as Mareeba and Shepparton (in Victoria) where they have large communities.
Daisy was telling me about the Bayram (Eid – the post-Ramadan feast) in Mareeba. She said the Albanians get together and have a barbecue in true Aussie style, just as they’ve been doing since they first migrated here. Their Eid is somewhat different to the Bosnians, who tend to roast a lamb on the spit.
If John Howard were to meet Daisy in the street, I doubt he would recognise her as Muslim. But Albanians are proud of their faith, even if many aren’t regarded as terribly observant.
Daisy is living proof that Islam is a truly Australian faith with root deep in the Australian soil. It is ironic that Daisy spent much of her time this evening chatting with another Canberra Muslim of Torres Strait Islander background. It was a truly Australian gathering to celebrate a truly Australian event.
In a fortnight or so, hundreds of thousands of Muslim will gather to celebrate the end of Ramadan. The Albanians of Mareeba will also be celebrating Bayram, just as they have been doing for the last 80 years. With steaks on the barbecue and perhaps even a few glasses of arak.
Words © 2006-9 Irfan Yusuf
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