My Conversion Story.
Bismillah ar rahman ar raheem
Assalamu alaikum wa ramatullahi wa barakatuhu.
Hello and Kia ora friends and whanau.
My birth name is Sophia and my Muslim name is Amira.
Life before Islam.
I was raised in Gisborne by 2 loving parents, along with my 4 siblings being, 1 sister and 3 brothers.
I met my husband of 20 plus years at the young age of 16. I left home to work and start living an independent life because at that age, I knew what was best for me and my parents didnt. So their good advice and intentions fell on deaf ears.
As the years passed, Alhumdulillah I became a mother and life became a routine of working and forfilling my duties at home cooking, cleaning and everything in between.
Partying was also one of my weekly roles but drinking was never really something I enjoyed. I think l just loved socializing with friends and having what I called 'time out.'
My first encounter with a Muslim.
Oneday l made a Fb page which opened me up to the social networking world and without thought I was adding any and everyone.
I noticed some strange looking writing on one of my fb friends pages and decided I would ask questions about it.
Alhumdulillah, my questions began a conversation that would change my whole perspective on life and how l was living it.
This dear brother had a respectful way of giving Dawah. His patience with my questions and the answers he gave were understandable and logical. He showed me as much as he could about Islam. Eventually introducing me to a sister from Algeria who introduced me to many more Algerian sisters.
Talking with them helped my learning of Islam progress, eventually leading me on a spiritual path of self discovery.
One morning I placed a hijab on my head and began with Bismillah not even fully understanding what I was saying.
Just knowing it would make me feel comfortable if I said it. And it did. I felt wearing my hijab came naturally because I always wore something on my head. I felt a contentment in my heart that I can't put into words as I walked out of my home for the first time with it o , unsure of what lay ahead for me.
Living in a small town where Muslims are a minority I was sure I would stick out like a sore thumb and receive some looks or comments and I did!
Alhumdulillah I was faced with smiles, looks of curiosity, and also with some harsh comments. I wont bother to repeat, because it gave me a chance to practice Sabr (patience). Especially being a firey Maori who would normally flick them the bird while telling them a thing or two.
However, I was more focused on the welcoming feeling and smiles I was receiving. I had a sense of gratitude for the beautiful people of the community I was raised in.
Above all, I was humbled and felt blessed to be Muslim which was strange but it felt right. Alhumdulillah.
After a month of researching and learning about Islam with my sisters in Algeria,
I made a firm decision to enter Islam.
I still had lots to learn and implement into my life but in order for me to feel and become a true Muslim, I had to make my declaration of faith by Shahada being 1 of the 5 pillars of Islam.
"La ilaha illa Allah Muhammadur-rasulu llah"
"I bear witness Allah is the only God and Muhammed pbuh is the final messenger of God."
Allahu Akbar, I made my shahada on Skype with what seemed to be about 20 plus Muslimahs who looked like beautiful angels. My heart was overwhelmed with the amount of love they showed me and tears they shed with me.
Praising Allah swt and smiling with joy, they became an instant family to me. Checking up on me and my family daily and always reminding me of Allah and simply just being there if I needed guidance in my journey. Sometimes it's those little things that matter most. Alhumdulillah I,ve been a Muslim for 8 years now.
I will be forever greatful to my Algerian sisters for all their kindness patience, understanding and time they gave me during my journey into Islam.
Their natural character to me was the essence and beauty of a true Muslimah. Subhana’Allah such beautiful company to be in.
I didn't understand at the time, what taking my Shahada meant to them.
I do know now Alhumdulillah
What do I love about Islam?
I love the way a Muslim is another Muslim's sister or brother, regardless of culture or nationality or financial statu. The willingness to help or give help, comes naturally because we all strive for goodness and to please the Almighty.
I love that Islam is easy and your relationship with God is between just you and God, not a building or another creation of God.
I love Islam for the good it offers to humanity and for the simple fact it offers a beautiful way of life to all.
How has Islam improved me as person?
I'm a wiser mother, daughter sibling, wife and friend.
I've become more patient and understanding towards others. But myself improvement is a work in progress and it's something I work on daily.
My family likes my changes.
Alhumdulillah, although not all my family appreciate my changes, they accept me for who I am and I'm greatful for that.
As a Maori Muslim what challenges I have faced?
Alhumdulillah, I am happy to say, I have not faced many negative challenges in regards to being a Māori Muslim, however I do get upset if I find separation between Muslims because of nationality or culture.
With that being said, "I am a Proud Māori wahine and I feel blessed to be Muslim, Alhumdulillah."