CCN's Personality of the Month: Sheikh Ahmed Abu Ghazaleh
Ahmed Abu Ghazaleh has become a virtual household name amongst residents of Brisbane having made appearances at many of the major functions held recently in and around the city.
Many have had the distinct privilege of hearing his songs and poetry at the recent Al-Nisa and MBN launches as well as at his appearance as the star attraction at the Fund Raiser for the victims of the Lebanese and Palestinian conflicts.
But other than being inspired by his lyrics and melodious voice, how much do we know of the man behind the duff. CCN's Man-on-the-Mussalaah sought out the good Sheikh and posed to him a number of probing questions to find out more about his achievements, ambitions and vision for his fellow countrymen.
[MotM] Brother Ahmed, what is your country of origin?
[AAG] Palestinian descent born in Syria and lived in Jordan
[MotM] What was life like in your country of origin?
[AAG] Very socially and community active. Close family ties.
[MotM] How long have you been in Australia?
[AAG] 5 years
[MotM] What made you come to Australia?
[AAG] My marriage to Naseema Mustapha made me come to Australia and the great lifestyle and opportunities this wonderful country has to offer.
[MotM]Tell us about your family?
[AAG] I have three brothers who all live at home with my mum. One of them is married with 2 beautiful children. I am the eldest and the only one who has moved out of the Middle East. I have many half-brothers and sisters.
[MotM] What is your occupation, who do you work for and describe your role here?
[AAG] I have a few roles. I am the Principal of Kuraby Madrasah, my role involves administration, supervision of teaching, adult education, Islamic syllabus development, managing finance, Public Relations and behaviour management. I am often invited locally and internationally to deliver lectures on Islamic topics. I am regularly invited as a Khateeb to deliver Khutbas at various Mosques. I offer adult education classes through the Rochedale Mosque.
I have been involved in the Madrasah Teachers Diploma as a lecturer teaching the subjects of Psychology, Methodology, Fiqh, Tajweed (the art of recitation), Islamic Mannerisms. I am a professional Islamic singer who has mastered the art of Arabic Maqamaat which includes seven different tunes. I have three CDs on Nasheed and Qiraáh and am currently compiling my next CD. I have represented at a number of Multicultural and Interfaith Forums and Symposiums in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. I have been invited as a Speaker and Artist at the 2006 Woodford Folk Festival representing Islamic faith and culture.
[MotM] How did you come by this job, and what qualifications/training did you need to secure your job?
[AAG] I'm a qualified Islamic Studies Teacher. I have completed courses in Management and Psychology. I've furthered my studies with prominent Sheikhs from Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt in various disciplines of Islamic Studies. My father Sheikh Hazim Abu Ghazaleh is an Islamic Scholar and an author of many books. He is the Head of an Islamic Institution and a Spiritual Leader who has a large following in different parts of the world. He is one of my main teachers.
[MotM] Which community organizations do you/did you belong to?
[AAG] Darul Uloom Academy of Brisbane; Islamic College of Brisbane; Gold Coast Masjid; Kuraby Madrasah; Algester Islamic Society; Rochedale Mosque; Logan Mosque
[MotM] What is/was your role with them?
[AAG] Darul Uloom - Arabic language and Tajweed Tutor, Secretarial duties; Islamic College of Brisbane - Islamic Studies Teacher and Syllabus Coordinator; Gold Coast Masjid - Fulltime Khateeb for three months and ongoing Guest Khateeb; Kuraby Madrasah - Principal and Adult Education; Algester Islamic Society - Guest Khateeb, Reciter, Lecturer; Rochedale Mosque - Reciter, Lecturer; Logan Mosque - Reciter, Lecturer
[MotM] What do you consider your achievements and the highlights with them?
[AAG] Development of Islamic Studies as a well-liked academic subject at the Islamic College of Brisbane. My students achieving the Overall Winner at the Queensland Quraan Competitions two years in a row; the development and production of my CDs; Participation in the International Quraan Competition representing Jordan in Malaysia; Personal invitations to present Nasheed and Qiraáh to various countries including Nigeria, the Sudan, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, South Africa, Botswana, Iraq, Syria and of course within Jordan; Invitations to present Islamic Lectures, Nasheed and Quraan Recitals at various significant mosques in South Africa and Botswana.
[MotM] What do you think about living in Australia?
[AAG] I think that I am very fortunate to be able to live here. Australia offers a rich and diverse lifestyle with beauty that constantly reminds me of my Creator. It is a land that represents the spirit of Islamic teachings in many ways including democracy, human rights, social security for the underprivileged, education for all, freedom of religious practice and speech. Australian soil is incredibly fertile for Da'wah and the opportunities are huge for Muslims to excel.
[MotM] What advice would you give to potential migrants?
[AAG] Know your strengths and promote yourself. Be optimistic.
[MotM] What advice would you give to your fellow citizens?
[AAG] Be grateful for the privileges you have and the peaceful environment in which you live.
[MotM] What pastimes, hobbies and/or sport do you enjoy playing or watching?
[AAG] I enjoy playing and watching soccer. Enjoy watching Tennis and Basketball. I'm a nature enthusiast and enjoy the outdoors. I appreciate listening to other artists in Quráan Recitation and Nasheed. I cherish family time.
[MotM] What is your favourite food?
[AAG] Hmmm my favourite Arab food that I've grown up with is Makloubah - a rice dish with chicken. Since I'm married to an Indian that cooks well and allowed my tastebuds to develop further - my favourite Indian food is Curry. I really enjoy Thai food.
[MotM] What is your favourite book?
[AAG] Men Around The Messenger
[MotM] Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
[AAG] My wishes for the future: I would really like to see Muslims overlook minor differences with other Muslims and seek the similarities and avoid preconceived judgments and ideas - to allow for unity. As Muslims we must excel at what we do and LIVE our beliefs. We must try to understand the spirit of Islam and share it with others.
"Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around!"
[MotM] Thank you for giving us an insight into so many aspects of your life and ambitions. We wish you well for the future, inshaAllah