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Why Are Australians Embracing Islam?

In today’s complex world, many search for meaning and answers to life’s big questions. This podcast episode explores the growing trend of Australians in search of those answers, and finding them in Islam. We’ll discuss what Islam offers that resonates with modern seekers, and challenge the misconception that Islam is all about blind faith. Join us as we delve into the idea that Islam, at its core, encourages critical thinking and logical reasoning and how the Holy Quran emphasises questioning and reflection as pathways to a deeper understanding of the faith. 

Click above to watch the video podcast on our YouTube channel, listen to the episode below, or read through an abridged transcript below. 

Imam Hadi: Assalamo Alaikum everyone! What if I were to tell you that on a daily basis, we receive requests from people all over Australia from diverse backgrounds either requesting to learn more about Islam, or even convert to the religion?  More often than not, these people, if not all of them, are seeking the answers to life’s biggest questions. The existential questions that affect us all.

For example, one person wrote to us saying, “I am going through a very rough patch in my life and I would love some guidance from faith and would love to learn more about Islam and devote myself to the teachings so I can better myself and my future and also help to understand myself better.” 

Similarly, another wrote: “I’ve been struggling with anxiety, depression and angst and a definite crisis of faith. I don’t know if Islam would help. But I feel I need to consider it.”

So, if this sounds like you, or you at least resonate with these statements, then maybe you should keep listening because in this episode we will be discussing exactly this! 

Why are people turning to Islam today? What teachings does Islam espouse that may enable or help us at least with dealing with life’s existential questions and how should we be going about studying Islam to try and help us in our lives in this way?

So, to discuss this, I have with me today a dear friend, Murtaz Riaz, who I hope will be joining me for future episodes as well. Murtaz Riaz is a student studying at the University of Queensland. Thank you so much for talking to me today. 

Murtaz: Thank you for having me. Assalamo Alaikum and peace be upon you to our audience.

Imam Hadi: Yeah, so, going straight into it, why do you think people are turning to Islam today?

Murtaz: Well, there isn’t just one reason, if there’s multiple people writing to us, right?

But, I think everybody kind of is reading the temperature of the room, so to speak. The way that things have been going about in the world and frankly, like the ideological nightmare that’s happening right now, compounded with so many other things, can drive a person to seek help from something greater than themselves. I think never before have people been more lost with what to believe. Whether they should or not (believe), right? The rates of religiosity are just at an all-time high. There’s so much confusion out there.

And I think it’s reflected in the messages that you were reading out earlier, and in the many more that we get on a daily basis.

Imam Hadi: Absolutely. You’re right. Because even now when I think over some of the messages that we’ve received, one of the most common themes that we’ve come across is exactly this. People are just looking for a semblance of structure, clarity, and discipline in their lives at a time when we’ve pretty much renounced religion and the structure that it provides.

So, obviously, you then would be looking for something to replace that and you see it already happening. I think it’s very commonly seen today where people are readily or actively looking to self-help books to help them navigate through life. But, I think you still get to a moment where no amount of self-help books can reconcile that, I think the way you put it once was  ‘that void’ or the ‘God-sized hole in your heart.’ So that void where we ask ourselves that there must be something more to all of this. There must be something more to this grand orchestra of life, right? But why Islam? Because the thing is, you could turn to any other religion, right?

Murtaz: Yeah, that’s a very reasonable and a good question. One that should be asked. Well, again, there are a lot of reasons. But Islam is a religion that is kind of characterised by many things, including its sense of, most importantly, its belief in the Oneness of God. It’s discipline. It’s a way of life, right? Islam is not just a religion that prescribes a belief, and that this is how you should approach your spiritual life. But Islam is this code of conduct for your everyday life. There’s a prayer for everything, and there’s a way to go about doing everything, whether it be pertaining to social discourse, whether it be about eating, far beyond the bounds of a mosque. Islam is everything!

Imam Hadi: I’m really happy you said that. It’s not limited to a place of worship on one particular day or limited to, let’s take it further, limited to a set of dogmatic rituals performed at a place of worship on one particular day and that’s it. And you know another thing that I’m really happy you mentioned and the most important thing that you mentioned right in the beginning which was the Oneness of God. 

It’s really interesting because of what I’ve experienced or what I’ve witnessed, and I’m sure you must have too – so, on our website we provide resources for people wanting to learn more about Islam in the English language. I mean, there’s so much already out there in other languages, but sometimes the English audience finds it difficult to find set resources, so we’ve provided a very simple understanding of what Islam is and then the ability for you to go to certain websites providing you a certain aspect of Islam. So, for example, you can check out the Rational Religion website. You can check out the Review of Religions, which is one of the oldest comparative religion magazines, and so much more. But the reason I mentioned that is because, for example, the Review of Religions nowadays is doing wonderful videos. They’ve toured America, and now they’re in the UK, and they’re talking to everyday people about the concept of God.

What I found very interesting is whenever the concept of God as described by Islam is presented to people, it’s very palatable. Yes, it’s not something that is beyond reasoning, and what I’ve very much enjoyed is when you give a description of God as per the Holy Quran, people would turn around and say, ‘I completely agree with this, if that’s what you consider to be God, or who you consider to be God, then it sounds about right’ So I think that’s definitely another aspect.

As you said there, there could be multiple reasons. And I hope those who are listening to us or watching this, particularly those who are reaching out to us, will be resonating with some of these statements. Is it a better idea of who God is? Is it a more principled, balanced way of life? A structured life? Or is it a life that is away from the madness that we just are seeing today, where everyone can come up with whatever they like?

Murtaz: I think it’s a little bit of both, to be honest. When you especially consider the state of the world in which Islam was revealed, it’s not too far off from the state that we’re in right now. The days before Islam are traditionally called the days of ignorance, characterised by all sorts of deplorable behaviours. But yeah, that’s similar to the position we find ourselves in presently. 

Imam Hadi: A position that which human society has continuously found itself. There’s always been the rise and the fall, and it’s cyclical, isn’t it? It’s a cycle that human society has been going through over and over again. And that’s exactly how Islam describes it. Because Islam says that ultimately, never has there been a time when God hasn’t provided some sort of guidance through His prophets. And in every period, whenever society is atrophied, God Almighty has always once again kind of steered the ship in the right direction, right? I mean, that’s ultimately what Islam has to say, through prophethood.

Murtaz: One thing you mentioned was the different avenues and the different resources online. An interesting thing is the faculties that we are given as human beings and the appropriate use of those faculties to discover God. I think we kind of want to make it a little bit clear, is that Islam, although it is a code of conduct in a religion, it encourages inquiry and earnest discussion. You know it is not a religion to shy away from critical thinking.

Imam Hadi: That’s really important because I think it’s important to acknowledge though, all those people that are reaching out to us. Ultimately, they’ve got to this point of trying to find guidance due to that very critical thinking and self-analysis. And I think it’s also very important to clearly mention, and I think people already know this if you’ve already decided to consider Islam as the way forward. One of the reasons why it would have appealed to you is because it doesn’t tell you to forego that faculty. In actuality, in line with what we’re trying to discuss today, when you approach Islam or when you decide to move forward with Islam, it’s not necessary for you to leave behind your reasoning, and fall into a world of dogma. 

Murtaz: Yes, it is not right to. Human beings haven’t been given all these faculties to maximise human potential and that is the purport of Islam. Islam does not, or any interpretation of Islam that people espouse, should not hamper human potential. It should only flourish it, otherwise the mind or the soul, so to speak, is at war with the body. Or you know you’re in internal conflict. Religion should move you towards a higher state in every way. 

Imam Hadi: So, maybe we can surmise that there is no concept of dogma in Islam or you shouldn’t find yourself in a position of dogmatic belief, right?

Ultimately Islam pushes you to ask questions constantly. I mean, if we’re looking at the fundamental source of Islam. Islam is only two things. It’s the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him). These are the two things that basically tell us what Islam is. So, the Holy Quran is the revelation that was given to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from God Almighty, and the Sunnah is the way in which he enacted that revelation exactly. But in both, what we come to understand is that it’s important to always keep your mind open to inquiry, and in actuality, the Holy Quran goes as far as to say that those who are appropriately walking on the path of faith, do not fall upon the verses or the signs of God Almighty blindly. They always approach it with their rational mind.

The other thing which is really important, is that the whole enterprise of Islam, you can say if you want to put it that way, that the whole exercise that it puts you through is to try and develop a connection with God. But the question that may come to mind is – can we develop an understanding of God with just pure reasoning alone?

Murtaz: That’s a good question. So, can we conceptualise God with reasoning alone or can we reach God? What we can say, with reason alone, is that we can have all the scientific data that we have available, right? And if we approach it with kind of some level of sincerity, intellectual humility, people have kind of said this same kind of sentiment throughout history that at the very best you will get to a place of God should exist, but it can never get you over that fence to the realm of that God does exist, or that God not only exists, but he speaks to me or he shows me, demonstrates His signs to me. Logic can only get you so far right? You should use it. You should absolutely use it, but to completely become reliant on it, it’s once again that entire thing about human potential comes in, right? Human potential is fully maximised when each faculty is used, not to its maximum, but as it should be within, funnily enough, reason, it should be used within reason. So, when it comes to the question of God’s existence, the best and the furthest someone can go is to a place of ought to be. 

Imam Hadi: And I think that’s exactly where a lot of these people would be, though, isn’t it? For those who are reaching out, if you’re feeling this kind of void in your heart and you’re asking yourself, well, there must be more to everything than meets the eye. Then you’ve already got to that point where you’ve asked that question that there should be a God. Yes, there should be something more. Now, how do we transition from there should be something to there is something? And what does Islam say about this? Well, Islam is very clear on this matter. Again, reasoning and intellect are incredibly important. They’re important because they help us distinguish between what is right, and what is wrong. They help us navigate and make the correct decisions for what’s appropriate in our lives.

But reasoning alone is not sufficient for us to grasp the idea of God. And, what Islam quite overwhelmingly states is that the God that you should believe in, is a living God. It’s not some sort of conceptualised deity that is limited to your imagination, right? It is a being who is engaging with you on a daily basis, right? And I think deep down everyone to a certain degree understands this. 

Even the most successful person. For example, there was one person I was listening to. And she said something, that I really appreciated. So, she had won some sort of competition. And she had done really well. So, the interviewer asked her, why do you think you won?  And she said something very interesting, she said: Well, it’s not because I think that I’m better than anyone else. It’s just on that day, one, I was my best, but, two, there was an aspect of luck that was on my side.

And time and time again, people observe their lives and how things pan out, right? There comes an age when you kind of realise that there’s only so much control that you have over your life. Maybe, at best, you might have 50%, maybe 30%, that you can control. But then circumstances are not technically in your favour. Nowadays, I mean the modern wisdom guys would say that another way to put it is, life is like a game of poker, right? Ultimately you’re dealt a certain hand and it’s up to you what you do. 

There’s always this kind of level of acknowledging that there’s something more or some sort of invisible hand that is directing one’s life towards some sort of purpose. And there are various ways in which people have described this. The reason I’m mentioning it is that just to kind of describe that, it’s not alien to you, just because we’re speaking from the lens of Islam. Even if you take away the question of Islam. This idea that there’s something more. There’s something behind all of this, that has enabled everything that is around me. Call it Mother Nature or some sort of intellectual supreme being, right? Ultimately, there’s something there, but the question is, how do you connect with it entirely and is it possible for us to do so purely on the basis of our reasoning?

Islam would argue that in actuality that onus is not on you exactly. That is the onus is upon God, yes. Because we’re limited, we’re finite. And if we’re dealing with something which is infinite, then it’s up to the Infinite to reveal itself.

Murtaz: And if the Infinite created us, and we didn’t create ourselves, then we don’t get to stipulate the conditions of that connection. 

Imam Hadi: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that to a certain degree, it’s very reassuring. I know when I was reading this for the first time, even as a born Muslim, when you come to this realisation that in actuality when it comes to the point of, there should be a God, that’s on me and I would naturally come to that kind of conclusion. But in terms of whether there is a God, ultimately, it’s very reassuring to know that that responsibility is not on my shoulders. It’s first and foremost important for that Supreme Being to reveal Himself. 

And Islam describes that that was done time and time again in the past through the various prophets of God. God Almighty did not leave his creation alone. In actuality, Islam would even go as far as to say that civilization itself, including the language we speak, the language that we’ve developed over time, and the various languages all come from one singular language, which was revealed. Similarly, the civilization that we’ve developed in its various forms today also comes from the basic teachings that were initially given and then over time based on our evolution and our development as human beings and our understanding, that teaching was perfected over time. And what Islam says is that that was then given to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in its perfect form of the Holy Quran. 

So, when trying to understand Islam, it’s important to understand that, the next step, that’s associated with the revelation that God Almighty has given to us and treading upon what’s written in that revelation. And what’s amazing is that a lot of people reached out to us, and one person messaged saying that he read the whole Quran from cover to cover, and he was saying that it just really spoke to him. And I asked him because I had the opportunity to speak to him then, and I asked him, I said to him, did you really just go ahead and just read the whole Quran? He’s like, yeah. And I said to him that and you didn’t have any trouble understanding it? And he said, no. And I said, why is that? And he goes, to be very honest, up until then, I was reading a lot of self-help books. I was just trying to get my life fixed. But I still needed more. So I was like, you know what, I’m just gonna read the Holy Quran, cover to cover. And he said, I just got it. The concepts, they were concise. But you could tell they were just very comprehensive as well at the same time. So, that’s another aspect which is important.

But when it comes to approaching the Holy Quran, I think that’s a discussion that needs to be had.  How do we approach the Holy Quran and again, I think it links right back to the question of dogma. OK, well, now you have a manual. Everything has been prescribed. 

Murtaz: But, how do you go about reading that manual with the right interpretation being the one that can apply to everybody? If we believe the Holy Quran to be this book that applies to its cross, its impact and its relevance is across time, across culture, across people, across race, right? How do we interpret the Holy Quran in light of that? And the only way to really do it justice is to do it in a way that the Holy Quran itself actually prescribes it to be read.

You know the Quran itself, or God Almighty, who we believe to be the author of the Holy Quran says that recite, read, and contemplate the words of the Holy Quran. And don’t just do it ritualistically. But really, reflect deeply on what you’re reading. The deeper implications of what you’re reading. And there’s this concept in the Holy Quran and Islam, that your understanding of the Holy Quran grows as your understanding of God grows, and because God Almighty Himself is infinite and never-ending, similar is the case with the Holy Quran that you can read it cover to cover, but it will take a lifetime of reading it cover to cover to extract, and I don’t think it’s possible to extract all the wisdom that’s contained in it, but to get the most out of it that you can in one lifetime. It’s a continuous study. 

Imam Hadi: Absolutely, it’s pretty interesting because I think it’s sometimes it is difficult for us to conceptualise, how could a book contain within it so much complexity and so much depth? It’s a very tall claim and it’s a claim that needs to be experienced time and time again. And in actuality, the Holy Quran invites this. It not only tells us to approach it with that inquisitive mind, but it also recommends, I would say, that we always maintain a level of intellectual humility when it comes to the scripture.  And why shouldn’t it be that way? To be honest, if we’re talking about an infinite Being, and if we’re saying that when it comes to the creation, that level of infinity can be observed as well through science because, you have one branch of science that opens up other several branches of science and then further and further study, right? So, the same technically should be the case when it comes to the revealed word of God. It shouldn’t be something that is flat. Yes, it should be if not 3 dimensional, 4 dimensional, or containing many multidimensions. And that’s exactly the way in which the Holy Quran should be approached.

Murtaz: And just to add on, you mentioned science, right? Science and what the Holy Quran dictates are not two different enterprises. They are the same reality expressed. One is the revealed word of God and one is kind of the action of God. They are completely in accord with one another. 

Imam Hadi: Yeah, well, they would be wouldn’t they because I mean, even if you take certain teachings, like as an example, what does the whole Quran prescribe about nutrition? It prescribes having a clean diet and eating that which is appropriate to you and relevant to your health. And it’s pretty much a bit of a reflection of reality itself in word form. 

But, there’s another aspect of it which I find quite interesting. 

So, the term Quran literally means a book that is often read. Quran means to read over and over again. And then you have the other aspect of Islam, which is Sunna, which is action. The best way to approach Islam is to read the word of God and put it into action. Another interesting aspect or facet of all this is that the layer of complexity that’s found in any given teaching, is also in relation to your experience of that teaching, which can only be achieved through action. 

Murtaz: So it’s legitimately, it’s exactly like the scientific method. It’s read, do your research, hypothesise, read the theory, do the action, and discover more about the world. Go back. It’s this constant iteration process. But the iteration in this case is a continuous positive improvement in your own state of being, not that the Holy Quran has changed. But it’s the way that you view it has changed in the light of the change in yourself. 

Imam Hadi: And again, that might be a very tall claim. But, that’s exactly the objective of this podcast.

Murtaz: Hopefully, in future episodes, we’ll go into the specificities of that claim.

Imam Hadi: Yeah, because that’s exactly what we want to achieve. What we want to do is in future episodes, particularly because our target audience is those people who are reaching out to us time and time again looking for the answers to the big questions and the existential questions right? Particularly in the purview of Islam.

But what we want to ensure is when we look at Islam, one, we look at it with some level of intellectual humility, and, two, we take a teaching and try to understand the layers of complexity within that teaching and the various facets. How does it impact our lives? What does the modern research say? Because the more and more there are scientific advances, interestingly, the more and more we get to understand a particular principle that’s been espoused, and how it can enable us to live a better life.

So, that’s the objective that we have and we’re hopeful that in future episodes, we will be able to demonstrate that to not only our audience but also to ourselves. I think it’s an exercise of learning, right? I’m looking forward to some of the concepts that we’ll hopefully be dealing with in the future, which could range from, diet, to modesty to you name it. 

You name it, justice. The various principles that the Quran espouses we will be looking into them again, hopefully with a level of intellectual humility and trying to understand the depth behind them. So to our audience, if this type of discussion interests you, then please do subscribe and stay in tune because we will be back with future episodes, particularly discussing these various concepts in detail.

If you have questions in the meantime, or particular questions that you feel you would like the answers to, then do reach out to us through our various forms of communication, which would be available to you on screen, on social media, or in the description below.

So in the meantime, I’d request you to like, subscribe, share, and reach out to us if you would like to, and we will join you again with some future episodes containing some very interesting discussions.

Until next time, Assalamo Alaikum!

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In the event we become aware that there has been unauthorised access to, or unauthorised disclosure of, or loss of, any Personal Information collected by the Website. We reserve the right to take reasonably appropriate measures, including, but not limited to, investigation and reporting, as well as notification to and cooperation with law enforcement authorities. In the event of a data breach, we will make reasonable efforts to notify affected individuals if we believe that the unauthorised access to, or unauthorised disclosure of, or loss of, any of the Personal Information is likely to result in serious harm to the user to whom the Personal Information relates to, or if notice is otherwise required by law. When we do, we will post a notice on the Website and send you an electronic mail.

Legal disclosure

We will disclose any information we collect, use or receive if required or permitted by law, such as to comply with a subpoena, or similar legal processes, and when we believe in good faith that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights, protect your safety or the safety of others, investigate fraud, or to respond to a government request.

Changes and amendments

It is at our discretion to update this Privacy Policy from time to time and will notify you of any material changes to the way in which we treat Personal Information. When changes are made, we will revise the updated date at the bottom of this page. We may also provide notice to you in other ways at our discretion, such as through contact information you have provided. Any updated version of this Privacy Policy will be effective immediately upon the posting of the revised Privacy Policy unless otherwise specified. Your continued use of the Website or Services after the effective date of the revised Privacy Policy (or such other act specified at that time) will constitute your consent to those changes. However, we will not, without your consent, use your Personal Data in a manner materially different than what was stated at the time your Personal Data was collected.

Acceptance of this policy

You acknowledge that you have read this Policy and agree to all its terms and conditions. By using the Website or its Services you agree to be bound by this Policy. If you do not agree to abide by the terms of this Policy, you are not authorised to use or access the Website and its Services.

Contacting us

If you would like further information about this Policy or wish to contact us concerning any matter relating to individual rights and your Personal Information, you may send an email to