Al Momina down under: The untold stories and legacies of Muslim women pioneers in Australia

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Muslim women have had a longer presence and connection to Australia, through Maccassan trepang traders and later the settled Muslim cameleers. However, in the decades that followed the Second World War and the influx of Muslim migration to Australia, witnessed the myriad of challenges and difficulties for the post migration settlement. This paved the way for Muslim women to fill the vacuum in the newly settled and settling community. Australia became a pivotal and conducive station for the development of Muslim women’s social activism; many women who were disempowered in their own countries of birth discovered newfound opportunities in their host country. The agency that Muslim women came to play seemed to have strongly correlated with their religious and faith identities and this was a unique relationship in the untold stories and legacies of Australian female Muslim pioneers.

In the years that followed Muslim women were involved in various aspects of community building that included the establishment of different programs and participation in weekly community focused activities that was pivotal in the formation and growth of the young community. Amongst the Muslim women immigrants of the post war period were those who came to be the founders of associations, schools and other institutions that have been critical in forming and cementing the Muslim presence in Australia.

Australian Muslim women established their first organised women’s circle in the years between 1979 to 1981 in Sydney and started to publish a newsletter called Al-Muslima and later on Al-Momina and started a Muslim women’s department store. These activities evolved and led to the establishment of an organisation for Muslim women, run by Muslim women in 1983. Arguably the first Islamic school in Australia was also established by an Australian Muslim woman. For many of these women, their stories, struggles, achievements and their place in history lie in scattered sources preserved by family members and colleagues. The achievements and successes of their histories into the historical and socio-political contexts that were either obstacles or opportunities behind the names of these early Muslim pioneers have been captured very sparingly, as a result an in-depth insight is lacking.

These women belong to an era, which stood as a nexus between the first pioneering Muslims and the cosmopolitan Australian Muslim communities of today. This paper will explore the existing gap in Muslim women studies in Australia, tracing and recounting the historical map of Muslim women activities in Australia (with a focus in NSW due to limitations of time for this research). By drawing upon the available oral histories of these women, as well as their contributions captured in the various publications and institutional archives, this research brings to light the significant role and contribution of Muslim women in the post-World War era in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMuslim women abd agency
Subtitle of host publicationAn Australian context
EditorsGhena Krayem, Susan Carland
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9789004473225
ISBN (Print)9789004400573
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2021

Publication series

NameMuslim Minorities


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