Once Were Mahometans: Muslims in the South Island of New Zealand, mid-19th to late 20th century, with special reference to Canterbury
Drury, A. M. (2016). Once Were Mahometans: Muslims in the South Island of New Zealand, mid-19th to late 20th century, with special reference to Canterbury (Thesis, Master of Philosophy (MPhil)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10630
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10630
This thesis analyses and critically discusses the historical development of the Muslim community in the South Island of New Zealand from the 1850s up to the late 20th century. Islam in the South Island – referred to colloquially as the ‘Mainland’ – is a story of the gradual development of an immigrant community, particularly focused around the Muslim residents of the province of Canterbury and, to a lesser extent, Otago. It involves the stories of many contributing individuals and families, focusing on their individual activities as well as their cumulative interactions. At the terminus of this study, Canterbury Muslims were operating an independent religious Association. The scholarly challenge of this thesis is to make coherent sense out of these stories and the historical developments they reflect, determining where (if any) continuity exists. Research for this thesis has relied upon a combination of archival material pertaining to individuals and groups, critical analysis of various media (especially newspapers as well as Muslim community publications, such as newsletters), together with a close study of the limited scholarly output related to this area of investigation. The intention is to explore the South Island Muslim minority in history and to elucidate the reasons why the community developed in the way it has. There is a considerable amount of specific documentation on the activities and interactions of various individuals. The impact and influence of significant early forerunners and pioneering individuals, as well as later settlers and migrants will be examined together with the role played by international students. Themes such as leadership, diversity and co-existence with other settler groups, primarily the Anglo-European and then Pakeha majority, underpin the narrative. The intention is to present a balanced but fundamentally selective survey of the history of South Island Muslims based on hard evidence and clear narratives, and to make visible a religious group that has been neglected in mainstream histories to date; indeed, a social group which in more recent times has been frequently misunderstood and even vilified. Questions raised in the thesis include: How and when exactly did Muslims arrive? What were the determining factors and hermeneutical paradigms of Muslim settlement? What form(s) of Islam was articulated and practised? Does the Muslim community (the ummah) represent here one form of Islam or were there many? And if many, how did they co-exist? What were the tensions and accommodations that applied? The underlying aim of this thesis is to offer a much more nuanced comprehension of the complexities of the Muslim experience in New Zealand than has hitherto been attempted.
University of Waikato
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