My iwi (tribe) is Ngati kahungnunu,
Ngai tahu on my mother's side.
Ngati Kahungnunu, Ngati Porou father's side.
Kia ora, I am Jameela Hawkins.
Life before Islam.
I was raised by my grandparents and brought up with Te õu Māori values. My mum was a single mother of three, so my grandparents stepped in.
My mother remarried and got into the church scene which was quite strict, so at the age of 14, I rebelled and started getting involved in the party and nightclub scene.
I met my ex T.A at a party at the age of 15.
Years flew by and 6 children later, I got fed up with our lifestyle.
I wanted a divorce and my family's church frowned on that, so I tried to work things out.
I was pregnant, stressed and suicidal. I got on my knees beside my bed to pray.
I was crying and pleading earnestly, totally broken and said "if you are there I need you."
Then I gave T.A an ultimatum and he accepted, the ultimatum was to clean up our lives and take a spiritual path.
On our spiritual path we investigated different religions seeking a faith inline with our Māori values. We looked into Buddhism and the Bahai faith. A Māori man was Bahai so we were attracted to it, however, we got confused with the spiritual aspect of it.
My first encounter with a Muslim.
T.A encounted a Muslim first, while he was at University. He saw a Māori brother who was dressed in Pakistani clothes, who would slip out of class everyday at the same time. TA later found out it was to pray.
His character was different, he respected woman, wasn't promiscuous and kept to himself.
T.A asked him what he was, and he said "a Muslim", and before he reverted he was in a gang.
T.A told me about his encounter and we both started to research and study about Islam.
T.A said his Shahada (declaration of faith) before me and with out me.
I wanted to do it together, so I got so angry at him and told him, "I don't want to be Muslim" and that "I'll never wear that thing on my head."
That night I went to sleep still angry. I had a dream saying "It's your turn."
T.A showered and dressed for Jummah (Friday prayer) and I said "I want to become Muslim" he looked surprised because of my mood the previous night.
I was happy and at peace with my decision. It felt right. I showered and we went to the Fordlands showgrounds. There was a building being used as a Mosque, as the skin heads burned the local Mosque.
I was ushered to the sisters section. A lovely revert sister Madina, gave me a warm welcoming smile.
I felt naked compared to them as I was wearing a t-shirt and long skirt.
The Imam, brother Mustapha Faruk announced that "a sister will take her Shahada after Jummah prayer" and invited the brothers to stay and witness.
Twenty brothers formed a circle around me as I took my Shahada.
Sis Madina popped her head in and congratulated me.
After my Shahada, I felt the years of heaviness fall away, I felt light and at peace. I was 22 years old.
What do I love about Islam?
I love the segregation of men and women. I experienced the burden of the mixing and mingling which can cause marital problems.
I love the lowering of the gaze and respect for woman.
I love that the status of a mother is a Noble one.
How has Islam improved me as person?
I was a very angry person, I was holding onto a lot of hate because of what I experienced in my childhood. I was even homeless on the streets for a few months.
Sixteen years of marriage and 6 children later took it's toll. We divorced when I was 31 years old. Ending that chapter of my life, helped me improve and develop my relationship with Allah swt.
I remarried at 33, to an Egyptian man, whom the children call Baba.
He's been a blessing and a source of comfort and healing. He gives emotional and spiritual support, to the children and I.
Islam has helped me learn patience and forgive all those who have hurt me. I have healed and have been able to break the cycle of anger and abuse.
To surrender my affairs to 'Him', so I can heal and move forward.
My family likes my changes.
My family love my changes they can see that Islam is good for me and my children.
My Ngati Porou uncle said at my father's tangi (funeral) that my dad and him are proud of me.
Before they were dead set against me being Muslim especially since we're Māori.
As a Maori Muslim what challenges I have faced?
Convincing my community that I can be both a proud Muslim and Māori, I value both.
I have found many similarities between my Māori culture and Islam.
In our culture our head is tapu (sacred) it's a source of our mana (honour, dignity) and hijab crowns it beautifully just like our Māori queen and tipuna.