|Muslim community marks beginning of the legal year|
|Monday, 23 April 2012 12:01pm|
©Law Society Journal (Used by permission)
First published in Law Society Journal, March 2012 Vol 50 No. 2
Arabic recitations from the Koran solemnised the first Muslim Opening of Law Term Service in NSW, which was hosted by the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in early February. In the colonnaded courtyard alongside the mosque’s great dome, Mehmet Ozlap welcomed a large gathering of judges, solicitors and barristers, including Attorney General Greg Smith, Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, Law Society President Justin Dowd, and Muslim Legal Network president Zaid Khan.
Imam Haisam Farache, a practising solicitor and member of the Law Society, spoke to the gathering of the many similarities between Islamic law and the common law, and of the law’s long tradition in Islamic society and the central role it plays in maintaining peace.
In his address to the service, Justin Dowd recalled that the practice of holding religious services in conjunction with the Opening of a Law Term dates back to Catholic France.
“The first such recorded service occurred in 1245,” he said. “At that time in history, we have to acknowledge, there were serious tensions between the Muslim and the Christian worlds. The seventh crusade, led by King Louis IX of France, commenced in the Middle East in that year.
“While there remain significant tensions in the world today, this ceremony is testament to the ability and willingnes of people of goodwill to share traditions, to build bridges and to work together for a better society. This very mosque, named as the Gallipoli Mosque, recalls the battle in April 1915 between the Turkish forces and the many Australian and NZ forces.
“The great Turkish leader, Ataturk, in 1934, famously and most graciously wrote a tribute to the ANZACs killed at Gallipoli: ‘Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives ... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.’
“Today we are here to celebrate the start of the law year. In doing so, we celebrate the things we have in common, while recognising and acknowledging and embracing our differences.
“One of the talking points now and for the future will be the intersection of Australian civil law and Sharia. These will be opportunities for us to meet and to understand each other better and to work, within the legal frameworks, to a better society.”
Other services to mark the beginning of the legal year were held at St Mary’s Cathedral, St James Church, the Great Synagogue, St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta and the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation.
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