Australia Halal Travel Guide
Islam in Australia
Islam in Australia is a minority religious affiliation. According to the 2016 Australian Census, the combined number of people who self-identified as Muslim in Australia, from all forms of Islam, constituted 604,200 people, or 2.6% of the total Australian population, an increase of over 15% of its previous population share of 2.2% reported in the previous census 5 years earlier. Of that earlier 2.2% figure, “some estimate more than half are non-practicing” cultural Muslims stemming from all the varying denominations and sects of Islam present in Australia.
That total Muslim population makes Islam, in all its denominations and sects, the second largest religious grouping in Australia, after all denominations of Christianity (52.2%, also including practicing and non-practicing cultural Christians).
Demographers attribute Muslim community growth trends during the most recent census period to relatively high birth rates, and recent immigration patterns. Adherents of Islam represent the majority of the population in Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an external territory of Australia.
The vast majority of Muslims in Australia belong to the two major denominations of Islam, the Sunni and Shia denominations, with the followers of each of these further split along different Madh’hab (schools of thought within Islamic jurisprudence for the interpretation and practice of Islamic law). There are also practitioners of other smaller denominations of Islam, including Ahmadiyya Muslim Australians of various national backgrounds, Ibadi Muslim Australians of Omani descent, as well as some non-denominational Muslims, and approximately 20,000 Druze Australians whose religion emerged as an offshoot of Islam which arrived in Australia with the immigration of Druze mainly from Lebanon and Syria. There are also Sufi (Islamic mysticism) minorities among Muslim practitioners in Australia.
While the overall Australian Muslim community is defined largely by a common religious identity with “Islam”, Australia’s Muslims are not a monolithic community. The Australian Muslim community is fragmented into not only the traditional sectarian divisions of what each sect defines as Islam, but it is also extremely diverse racially, ethnically, culturally and linguistically. Different Muslim groups within the Australian Muslim community thus also espouse parallel non-religious ethnic identities with related non-Muslim counterparts, either within Australia or abroad.
According to the 2016 census, the Muslim population numbered 604,235 individuals, of whom 42% live in Greater Sydney, 31% in Greater Melbourne, and 8% in Greater Perth. The states and territories with the highest proportion of Muslims are New South Wales (3.58%) and Victoria (3.32%), whereas those with the lowest are Queensland (0.95%) and Tasmania (0.49%).
4.2% of people in Greater Melbourne are Muslim. Many Muslims living there are Bosnian and Turkish. Melbourne’s Australian Muslims live primarily in the northern suburbs surrounding Broadmeadows, (mostly Turkish), Coburg, Brunswick and Epping (mostly Lebanese) and a few in the outer southern suburbs such as Noble Park and Dandenong (mainly Bosnian).
Very few Muslims live in rural areas with the exceptions of the sizeable Turkish and Albanian community in Shepparton, which has Victoria’s oldest mosque, and Malays in Katanning, Western Australia. A community of Iraqis have settled in Cobram on the Murray River in Victoria. There has been an established Albanian Muslim community in Mareeba, Far north Queensland from the 1920s, where they established Queensland’s second oldest mosque.
Mirrabooka and Beechboro contain predominantly Bosnian communities. The oldest mosque in Perth is the Perth Mosque on William Street in Northbridge. It has undergone many renovations although the original section still remains. Other mosques in Perth are located in Rivervale, Mirrabooka, Beechboro and Hepburn.
There are also communities of Muslims from Turkey, the Indian subcontinent (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) and South-East Asia, in Sydney and Melbourne, the Turkish communities around Auburn, New South Wales and Meadow Heights and Roxburgh Park and the South Asian communities around Parramatta. Indonesian Muslims, are more widely distributed in Darwin.