Latest Articles

Soteriological Semiotics within the Qur’an

Allah states within the Qur’an “We will show them Our signs on the horizons and within themselves, until verily they know that this is the Truth” (41: 53). This paper will take a twofold and interrelated approach to this verse, providing a commentary on this verse and, in doing so, draw out a hermeneutic tool that can be applied to the Qur’an as a whole. In order to understand this verse and highlight one particular hermeneutical approach, key elements within the verse will need to examined, such as “Our,” the “signs,” “the horizons,” “within themselves,” and “the Truth.” The aim of exploring these elements is to show how a particular understanding of their combination highlights the correlation between the showing of the signs and the individual knowing the relationship between the signs and the Truth. It is suggested that the process of showing, coupled with the subsequent knowing, makes possible the elucidation of a hermeneutic tool that will here be called soteriological semiotics. Through a tentative description of soteriologial semiotics, it will be shown that, in taking account of the signs and the individual’s reception of them, this hermeneutic tool can provide a framework for examining the method of communication from the Creator to the creation.

Reinvigorating the Role of Spirituality in Patient-Centered Care: Islam as a doorway to increased understanding of patient spirituality

Spirituality is seen to be an important aspect of patient-centered practice. However, heavy focus on the scientific and technical aspects in modern clinical teaching misses key elements of holistic patient-centered care. Incorporating spirituality in the provision of healthcare may foster better communication, respect, and empathy. This article focuses on a series of interprofessional education sessions directed at undergraduate health students that have become a regular part of the Broken Hill Rural Clinical School undergraduate training programme. The sessions promote an increased understanding of world faiths to improve the patient-centered focus of healthcare. The authors discuss and outline the findings from interactive interprofessional education sessions focused on the Islamic faith, conducted in a regional city of New South Wales, Australia. A voluntary self-reporting survey was used to gain an understanding of participant reflections and perceptions. Students from a range of health disciplines – medicine, nursing, speech pathology, dietetics, and pharmacy – attended three separate education sessions focused on Islam. Students indicated that the interprofessional learning (IPL) sessions enhanced their understanding of Islam along with the confidence and readiness to ask questions about the spiritual needs of patients and families. Students indicated the activity was beneficial, both personally and professionally. They also voiced their willingness to attend similar sessions on other world’s faiths. Students who have attended these sessions have articulated their intention to be more aware of the spiritual needs of their patients and to make changes to their practice when engaged in future health activities.

Australia’s Indigenous Peoples and Islam: Philosophical and Spiritual Convergences between Belief Structures

There is a growing scholarly interest in Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ engagement with Islam. This interest has highlighted some significant historical points of contact, such as with the Makassan fishermen, the Afghan cameleers, and the Malay pearl divers. Historical engagements with Islam, such as these, have influenced the contemporary identity formation for some Indigenous peoples, by acknowledging the historical connections without embracing Islam or identifying as a practicing Muslim. That some Indigenous people with no known familial historical engagement with Islam have embraced Islam has raised surprise, concern, and confusion. As it has primarily been historians, sociologists, and anthropologists that have heretofore been attempting to document and understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ engagement with Islam, it is unsurprising that the suggested reasons for such engagement have been historical, sociological, and anthropological. Without dismissing or contradicting the existing research, this paper will suggest that current literature does not explicitly account for philosophical and spiritual convergences between the belief structures of Australia’s Indigenous peoples and Islam in the explanation of both historical and contemporary engagements.

Tasawwuf ‘Ustraliya: Prolegomena to a History of Sufism in Australia

Tracing the history of Sufism in Australia is a challenging task. The reasons for this include the wide dispersal of source materials, the primarily oral transmission of Sufism and the diversity of the manifestation of Sufism. Detailing a history of Sufism in Australia is not possible in a short article. Rather than attempting to do so, this article will emphasise it is a neglected area that deserves significant scholarly attention. Contrary to reports that Sufism’s traditional hiddenness makes it unexaminable, this article surveys Makassan and cameleer engagements with Australia, as well as early media reports, to show that Australia has a rich and diverse heritage of Sufism. This is not without some challenges and raising these will support any study that attempts to engage Australia’s Sufi heritage, especially those that attempt to detail the earlier emergences of Sufism within Australia. Some solutions to the challenges of studying the history of Sufism in Australia will be proposed. In this light, Sufism in Australia can be seen to make an important contribution to the development of Australia generally and Australian Islam specifically.

The Role of the Sufi Centre within the Muslim World

For Muslims generally, and Sufis in particular, the Sufi Centre is often the heart of a community across the Muslim world. Known variously as a zawiya, ribat, khanaqah, tekke, and dargah, the development of these institutions shows some historical diversity that has converged into a soteriologically significant place for individual development and congregational worship. In tracking the historical development of these institutions, this paper highlights how the once literal meanings have retained symbolic significance in referencing the functions of a Sufi Centre. There have been some scholarly attempts to make specific distinctions between these institutions. However, the convergence with regard to function and content has meant the differences are often indicative of location and/or cultural heritage, and the titles used to refer to a Sufi Centre have become almost equivalent.