The term Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah (People of the Sunnah and the mainstream) can be traced back to the famous companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood and Abdullaah ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them). Ibn Mas’ood commenting on the verse in the Qur’an in surah A’-Imraan (which means);
“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves.” (3:103)
explained that the rope mentioned in the verse was the Jama’ah. The derivation of Ahlus Sunnah can be made from the following verse, also in Al’ Imraan:
“On the Day (of Resurrection) when some faces will become white and some faces will become black.” (3:106)
Ibn Abbas commented on this verse thus forth, ‘followers of the Sunnah and the Jama`ah will radiate with whiteness’.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen summarized Ahlus-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah as ‘those who adhere to the Sunnah and who unite upon it, not turning to anything else, whether that be in matters of belief or matters of actions which are subject to Islamic rulings. Hence they are called Ahlus Sunnah because they adhere to it (the Sunnah), and they called al-Jamaa’ah because they are united in following it.’
Twenty-five years on since its inception, Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah (ASWJ) as an organization has now 11 centers across Australia by the will of Allaah.
Its main presence remains in NSW, with 4 main centers in suburban Sydney. In addition, ASWJ also has 2 centers in Victoria and one in Western Australia. The organization also enjoys strong ties with many other Mosques and organizations across Australia.
Education is a priority of ASWJ. Its teachings are based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, following closely the understanding of the pious predecessors. The organization directs most of its efforts towards lessons, lectures, seminars and educational circles.
The task of education is carried by a group of Sheikhs who are not only well versed in the Islamic Sciences, but also have vast experience and involvement in the Australian community. Of the Sheikhs and teachers who are part of the organization, the most renowned are Sheikh Muhammad Omran, Sheikh Abdus-Salam Zoud, Sheikh Hatim Eissa, Sheikh Khalid Eissa and Sheikh Feiz an-Nachar. ASWJ is arguably the foremost organization in terms of the number and quality of its teaching personnel.
ASWJ also carries out a number of other community based projects. For over a decade the organization has been holding Eid prayers outdoors in accordance to the tradition of the Prophet. Last Eid the prayer in NSW was held in Olympic Park in Homebush bay, the congregation exceeded a staggering 5000 people. Eid prayers in Victoria and WA easily attract over a thousand worshippers.
Yearly Hajj groups are also organized by ASWJ. The campaign has been ongoing for the last 13 years and is well known to be amongst the best Hajj groups in Australia.
Other community projects include the sponsorship and support of Orphans and widows, yearly Qurban project, Qur’anic competitions, yearly camps, monthly family picnics, and a host of sporting activities.
ASWJ has gained a lot of trust and respect from the community due to its firm adherence to the principles of Islam and its freedom from external political interference. It is an independent body free from any governmental influence both financially and ideologically. It is this ‘no strings attached’ policy that has allowed the Sheikhs of ASWJ to speak with a sense of freedom not shared by many other organizations.
Financially, it draws on the pockets of ordinary Muslims who donate their hard earned money to help the organization function. All of its members, including the Sheikhs, work on a voluntary basis.
The post 9/11, era has seen the organization face its toughest challenges. Yet despite all the efforts to undermine it, the organization is staying strong and perhaps even flourishing in getting its message across to the ordinary Australian.