Dean Sahu Khan, OAM: King’s Birthday Honours 2023

Canberra's Dean Sahu Khan received the OAM this King's Birthday for service to the community, and to interfaith relations

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Dean Sahu Khan’s message of hope for all of us is quite simple – seek to understand yourself better, in order to understand those around you of a different faith.

“When we truly see the similarities, that’s when we will understand – and accept – the differences that unite us,” he tells Indian Link.

Dean received the Order of Australia Medal this King’s Birthday – for his services to bringing different faiths together, with the goal of uniting all in order to serve the community better.

Dean appreciates the acknowledgement and recognition of his work as founding member and chair of the Canberra Interfaith Forum, as well as the national board member of Religions for Peace, Australia – through which his vision has come to fruition.

Dean Sahu Khan: Interfaith climate action
Dean Sahu Khan at an interfaith group at Parliament House standing up for meaningful action on climate change (Photo: Religions for Peace Australia)

A lawyer by profession (he is currently a Criminal Law Expert with Legal on London,  and has been Prosecutor, Director of Public Prosecutions with the ACT Government), the vision for interfaith activism was planted as a seed when Muhammed Sadarud Dean Sahu Khan was a young boy growing up in Fiji. He recounts with a smile a minor school yard altercation when the boisterous lads decided that the best use of their time at recess was to argue about whose god was more powerful – Jesus, Allah or Bhagwan.

“My father took the time to educate me on the seminal message – that religion is a collection of rituals that we participate in, but at the heart of that religion are fundamental truths that are universal. And within that heart is the soul of the religion – which is, that there is one creator.”

He adds, “All religions teach us how to be, and how to live a good life – but we often miss the point of the key messages. We fail to realise that we are all children of the one creator – regardless of how that creator manifests in our religious texts.”

Dean Sahu Khan says he is religious, as well as spiritual. Many of us judge the actions of the individual as a reflection of the religion, when the reality is that the crucial messages of the scriptures are misunderstood, misinterpreted, and often subject to the whims of the human condition.

Additionally, he observed, the similarities of the scriptures – the germane ideas and fundamental truths – are overlooked in favour of the focus on the differences.

So how do we shape a kinder world which is becoming more relaxed about religious practices? How do we influence better behaviours in ourselves and others- in the absence of being able to advocate from a platform of a religion?

The answer is simple, says Dean. “We look within ourselves to ask – I might be following all the practices and rituals my religious beliefs tell me, but does this follow through in all my actions, thoughts and behaviours? As an example, after I have prayed, do I ensure all my thoughts are charitable towards my fellow beings, and not just my family? In choosing my generosity, am I focusing only on those near and dear to me, or do I see the bigger human family – regardless of their faith?”

Dean Sahu Khan Interfaith
(Photo: Supplied)

Dean Sahu Khan won the Bluestar International (Interfaith) Award in 2012, and ACT Government’s Volunteer of the Year award in 2016 for his work with the Fiji Australia Association of Canberra.

He is humble about his latest honour on this King’s Birthday, and hopes that the legacy he will leave is one of people asking themselves – no matter their faith or religion – was there love for all in each of my thoughts and actions?

“Then, only then, will we know there is a true intersection of faith and hope.”

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