Sunshine Coast Muslim community leader Imam Zainadine Johnson.
Sunshine Coast Muslim community leader Imam Zainadine Johnson. Patrick Woods

'My life under Sharia no different than 10 commandments'

AN AUSTRALIAN Imam for the Sunshine Coast has told how his life under Sharia Law is no different than life for Christians who follow the 10 commandments or Buddhists who follow the teaching of Buddha.

Imam Zainadine Johnson has described the "grey areas" of following Sharia in Australia, his views on extremism and why a strong Muslim community is the best way of fighting extremism.

The Imam was speaking to ABC Sunshine Coast's Annie Gaffney and Robert Blackmore on Tuesday morning.

The interview came after the Imam was first featured in the Sunshine Coast Daily last month.

The Imam said the Quran instructs Muslims to honour any covenant they have with others, which in Australia means that he is to abide by Australian laws

"If I'm an Australian citizen, and have an Australian passport -- I don't have any other citizenships or passports," he said.

"If I'm here in Australia, I can call the police if someone is breaking into my house.

"There is a covenant between Muslims and the country I live in.

"It's not permissible in any way to kill anyone in the country that you're living in."

He said there is a saying from the prophet that "whoever kills someone who you have a covenant with, you will not smell the fragrant of paradise".

The Imam said those who seek to do harm through terrorism or acts of violence in the name of Islam in Australia do not properly understand Islam.

He said the Muslim community was part of the answer.

"I think people should not be scared," he said.

"As long as there is a prayer centre and an Imam with knowledge, that's the answer to violent extremism.

"Teaching is the way. Education is the way.

"A lot of these guys who are doing these acts and carrying out these acts -- they have never studied Islamic knowledge.

"Most don't speak Arabic.

"They don't understand the religion correctly."

The Imam was also asked where Sharia conflicts with Australian laws, what were the "grey areas".

The Imam said there was confusion over the idea of "multiple wives" in Australia because it's legal to have multiple girlfriends, multiple wives are illegal under Australian law.

Sharia marriages, he said, were not recognised by the law and require the usual visit to the registrar to formalise them.

Under Sharia, girlfriends are forbidden.

So it raised the question, he said, of whether Muslim men could have multiple "wives" under Sharia when they are not considered legal marriages under local law.

He said he learned about Islam after first becoming what he describes as a "born-again Christian" who felt he had questions that were unable to be answered by the Bible.

That curiosity led him to learn more about Islam after he and his wife met Muslim students while studying on the Gold Coast.

He said after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in the United States in 2001, he was hearing a lot of conflicting information from the Muslim community and sought answers abroad, first in Syria then later studying Islam and Arabic in Yemen.

The Imam said the Muslim Organisation Sunshine Coast was preparing a series of "road shows" across south-east Queensland to answer questions from those who are concerned or simply curious about Islam.

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