CAIRO - Recognizing his effort in boosting interfaith dialogue, a Muslim professor at Melbourne University has been made a member of the Order of Australia for his significant services in setting educational programs about Islam in Australian universities.
Professor Abdullah Saeed has been made a member of the Order of Australia for ''significant service to tertiary education in the field of Islamic studies, and to the community, especially through promotion of interfaith dialogue, the 2013 honors list was cited by The Age newspaper on Saturday, January 26.
The award was announced amid celebrations for Australia Day, the official national day of Australia, celebrated annually on 26 January.
The nomination is usually made and reviewed by the Council for the Order of Australia and then approved by the Governor-General.
Born in the Maldives, Professor Saeed studied in Saudi Arabia before coming to the University of Melbourne where he obtained a PhD in Islamic Studies in 1992.
Now the Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Melbourne University and a Fellow of Australian Academy of Humanities, his work focuses on Islam and human rights, Islamic law reform, Muslim communities in Australia and freedom of religion.
Teaching at Melbourne University, Professor Saeed has been one of the first Australian academics who worked to build a program focused on contemporary Islam.
Thanks to their efforts, courses on Islamic studies have become common at Australian universities.
Such interest in Islamic courses began after 9/11 attacks.
Most universities in Australia started taking an interest in Islamic studies after 9/11, he said.
The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, to recognize Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service.
Teaching at Australian universities, the renowned professor worked to correct misconceptions about Islam, the biggest of which was homogeneity.
The idea that Muslims are just one lot of 1.6 billion people effectively functioning the same, Professor Saeed said.
The esteemed professor also joined interfaith dialogue events looking for a common word between Islam and other Abrahamic faiths.
During one of the event, he attended interfaith meetings with the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
It is how we understand our own religion too, he said.
Islam is Australia's second largest religion after Christianity.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.