I wrote this in Jan 2010, after a trip to my ancestral homelands in the north of Australia…
Home is where the heart is…
By Eugenia Flynn
They say that home is where the heart is, with home meaning different things to different people. For me, above all else, it means that home is with Allah – when I prostrate during my five daily prayers or when I am wrapped in full hijab I often feel comforted and “at home”. Indeed, during these times, I know that I am taking steps towards Allah.
Going home to Darwin in the Northern Territory always provides me with another sense of home. Darwin is home because much of my extended family live there, I am back on my ancestral country, I look around and I see faces that look like mine, and no one questions or is surprised by my particular mix of cultural heritage.
Darwin is where my parents were married, where my father was born and raised, where my ancestors lived for thousands of years. It is where my mother is buried, where I hope to have my body “returned to country” (insh’Allah) and where I find great comfort, beauty and peace.
Interestingly, Darwin is also where I have found members of the Ummah that I love dearly, although I am told that some of them have since moved interstate. These Muslims are sincere and thoughtful and, much like my family, make up a significant part of the Darwin population and history.
It is significant to me that the Muslim community, in the city that I love so dearly, is one of such good character. Although I am sure it has its faults, I honestly have never felt so welcome at a Masjid as I did the first time I went to the Darwin Masjid – in particular, my non-Muslim family were also welcomed and fed at the Masjid there – they continue to talk about their visit nearly two years on.
I feel as though Darwin’s own breed of laid-back acceptance has infected the Muslim community there. If ever there was a true melting pot in Australia, it is in Darwin. In my parents’ and grandparents’ time it was truly multi-cultural, well before the rest of Australia became so, with significant groups from such diverse backgrounds as Aboriginal, German, Irish, Chinese, Greek, Japanese, Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian and more.
It is with a great sense of pride that I tell people of my hometown, Darwin. Now, as a Muslim, I can also tell people with pride that the Muslims there are already rich with a sense of acceptance that I call for time and time again amongst the rest of the Ummah. Therefore, in many senses of the phrase, Darwin is where the heart is – and I would not have it any other way.