A group of Australian Muslim men have successfully finished lifesavers program in Sydney, filling a gap in the community.
The Swim Brothers organization, founded by Omar Mahmoud and Feroz Sattar, launched the lifesavers program after a group of men from a western Sydney mosque almost drowned at a remote beach and were saved by off-duty surf lifesavers.
It began as a learn-to-swim program providing men from diverse communities with culturally-appropriate training – both in the pool and in the surf.
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“All these guys are from culturally diverse backgrounds and had very little swimming ability when they first started,” Feroz Sattar told The Leader.
“Now they’ve not only met the prerequisite, but they’ve successfully taken that extra step to finish their Bronze Medallion and become surf lifesavers.
“We’re excited to get out there in the summer and patrol on the beaches.
“This is an entry point but there is still a lot to learn and we can’t wait to keep progressing.”
“The opportunities are endless now,” said Omar Mahmoud.
The program’s ultimate goal is to support participants in achieving their Bronze Medallion and becoming volunteer surf lifesavers.
“This has so many benefits for Surf Life Saving and the community more broadly,” said Surf Life Saving NSW CEO, Steve Pearce.
“To have seven Muslim men graduate as surf lifesavers is groundbreaking. These members will take water safety messages back to their communities and their families.
“If we can save even one life through this program, then that is something very valuable.”
Australia Muslims make up 2.6% of the population of 26 million, according to the last census in 2016. This was up from 2.2% in the 2011 census.
Muslims are urged to teach their kids swimming.
In a statement many Muslim scholars attributed to Umar Ibn El-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, he says, “Teach your children swimming, archery, and horse riding.”
Islam encourages anything that promotes refreshing mind or revitalizing the body provided it does not lead to or involve sin, cause harm, or hamper or delay religious obligations.
The traditions of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, undoubtedly encourage involvement in sporting activities as a way to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage brotherly love and family togetherness.