Australia is one of the countries in the world where Islam is on the rise. Islam has been recognized as the second-largest religion in the country since 2016. Muslims, whose population has been steadily increasing in the country, have started to be noticed in the general life and politics of the country.

Australia’s Contact with Islam

Some sources indicate that the encounter between the new continent of Australia and Islam occurred in the 1500s or 1700s. Indonesian Makassan traders, who traded in fish, pearls, and sea cucumbers, traveled to and from the continent, settling in areas such as Darwin, the Broome region in the north of the country, and Thursday Island. This commercial activity in the northern part of the continent also led to cultural interactions. Even today, traces of Islam can be observed in the language and religious rituals of the Aboriginal people in the region.

The Makassan Muslim traders were reportedly the first foreign people with whom the indigenous people of Australia, known as Aborigines, had contact. Studies suggest that Aboriginal people encountered people from outside the continent long before Captain James Cook, who first explored the continent in 1770. Researchers have described the indigenous people’s relationship with Muslims as a success, emphasizing that Muslim traders contributed to the establishment of Islam as a permanent element in Australia through trade, cultural exchanges, and intermarriage with the indigenous people, without aiming for colonization.