KUALA TERENGGANU: For the first time ever, the Hari Raya sermon for the Terengganu community in New South Wales, Australia, was conducted in English on Sunday.
Terengganu Foundation’s graduates transformation and sponsorship assistant director, Ustaz Mohd Zaki Mat Yakim, 43, led the proceedings for a 1,000-strong congregation, which this time also comprised worshippers of other nationalities and ethnic groups, particularly Middle Eastern.
Zaki, who also led Friday prayers two days before Raya, was given the honour at the Robyn Webster Sports Club in Tempe, Sydney.
“This is a rare occasion for us to celebrate Aidilfitri with prayers and sermons in English.
“Unfortunately, it will be the last, too, as the club authorities will not allow the premises to be used for a similar occasion next year.
“We had to use the club this year, as the Darul Imaan mosque in Wolli Creek, run by the Islamic Malay Australia Association of NSW (Imaan), cannot accommodate such a large congregation,” he said.
Zaki added that he had served as an imam in Sydney during the Ramadan period this year, and led the ‘qiyamullail terawih’ prayers at the Darul Imaan mosque.
His services, since 2015, have been made possible by the Terengganu state government following the request of the mosque management.
“Two imams are sent there to conduct prayers and sermons, including tazkirah and khatam quran, for the Muslim population,” said Zaki.
For this year, Zaki was accompanied by imams Muhammad Fitri Ahmad Nasir from Selangor and Mohd Hafiz Abd Rahim from Pahang.
“After the other two imams completed their Raya sermons, I explained to the congregation about the proper methods of saying prayers for the joyous occasion,” said Zaki, who hails from Air Putih in Kemaman, Terengganu.
Zaki previously conducted sermons at the Crystal Mosque at Taman Tamadun Islam in Pulau Wan Man in Kuala Terengganu.
He explained that former Terengganu Menteri Besar Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad had made the initiative to establish an Islamic religious class in Sydney many years ago, which led to the setting-up of the Datul Imaan mosque.
“This helped foster greater rapport among the Muslim population in Sydney, and helped propagate the notion that Malaysia is a peaceful and respectful country,” said Zaki.
He also paid tribute to current Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman for supporting his tenure there.
Zaki’s wish is for more imams to master English and Arabic, owing to the large Arab and English-speaking Muslim congregation in Sydney.