Ishak Imamovic, a Bosnian Muslim scholar, arrived on the ship Skaugum in Australia in 1949.

Ishak Imamovic was born in Rahic, Bosnia in 1912. He studied Sharia Law in Sarajevo at the Gazihusrev-Bey madrasa and Civil Law in Debar, Macedonia. In Sarajevo he learn Arabic. He worked as a Kadi (judge) in Debar. In Brcko in Bosnia he was appointed as a chief judge in the local court. He lived in Cazin, Brcko and Zagreb (Croatia) and from there moved to Salzburg in Austria where he would live for five years. There he worked in a hospital and also served as an Imam for Muslim refugees.

Ishak studied philosophy at Salzburg University as well as English and German. He loved classical music and there attended concerts. In 1949, Ishak Imamovic arrived in Australia on the ship Skaugum. He settled in Brisbane and soon began to work in sugar cane fields and then at BHP. Later he worked occasionally in administrative jobs. In 1964 his wife Zuhra, daughter and son left Bosnia to join Ishak in Brisbane. Zuhra was skilled in cooking Bosnian meals and also enjoyed gardening. On their block of land in Brisbane, he named two streets with Muslim names, Esma Street and Zuhara Street, and one name for the street called Rahic, after the small Bosnian town Rahic, where he was born.

When Ishak first settled in Brisbane, he searched for a mosque. Distinguished Indian Muslim, Fazal Deen, brought Ishak to a mosque and introduced him to Abdul Rane, later an Imam in the Holland Park Mosque. With his arrival Muslims, mostly from India, met the first European Muslims in Brisbane. Ishak was a muezzin (conducting the call for prayer), ran khutbes (speeches during Friday congregation), taught Islamic belief and practice, and occasionally acted as an Imam. He was often asked for advice by the AFIC. Ishak was a peaceful man of integrity who liked to walk and talk with friends and always avoided arguing. Imam Skaka visited Ishak in Brisbane on a few occasions. This early Muslim educator, although he was qualified as an Islamic religious lawyer (kadi), was deeply engaged within the multi-ethnic Muslim community in Brisbane. By keeping the ideals of the Bosnian Muslim community alive in Queensland he contributed to its development and education. Ishak was respectfully called efendy (a Turkish literary term meaning 'distinguished Mister') by community members.

Ishak wrote several essays about Bosnia and Herzegovina and the national identity of Bosnian Muslims. These works were published in Switzerland for 'Bosnian Views', a newspaper of the Bosnian Muslims in diaspora during the 1960s. He is the author of the book 'Outline of Islamic Doctrine', published in 1971. Ishak died in 1989 and was buried in the old Brisbane cemetery.

Based on Dzavid Haveric's inteview with Sefkija Imamovic, 2017.

More Information