Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakatuh
Kia Ora Whānau/Tālofa.
My name is sister Jannah & I was born in Aotearoa
(New Zealand) and I’m of Sāmoan descent.
Life before Islam.
Near the end of 2004 I was becoming rapidly disillusioned with my life and felt like I was imprisoned in a shell of emptiness and despair.
The next year, in April, I handed in my resignation as a primary school teacher and sat slowly contemplating, “Where do I go from here?”
My first encounter with Islam.
July 2005 the London underground bombings appeared everywhere on the media and the terms ‘Islam and Muslim’ were being echoed in the newspapers, radio and t.v stations,
I thought to myself what does that word ‘Islam’ mean and what is a Muslim?
I began a week long intensive and extensive research into those very words and came across other terms that I had never heard of before, like Qur’an, salam, Sunnah, Halal, haram, etc.
I was hungrily consuming, hastily inhaling, fervently memorizing, and feverishly absorbing this new knowledge into every fiber of my being. 1Not wanting to miss out on trying to secure a place for myself in Jannah, I immediately sent an email to NZMA (New Zealand Muslim Association) I inquired how I go about becoming a Muslim. (I really thought that they were going to send me criteria that I had to fulfil, because to me this religion just seemed too perfect to be true!). Alhamdulillaah, they referred me to a brother who arranged my Shahada and then several days later I found myself looking at my cigarette. (I was a chain smoker) I promised Allah (swt) that it would be my last before making my declaration of faith to Him.
Two hours later I arrived at the house of sister Regina (who is the current Principal at Zayed College for Girls), there was a group of sisters there that I had never met before. Then more sisters arrived and one of them was wearing a niqab, I said to myself, “What the (bleep) is that?” I had never seen a niqabi in person before.
I performed my Shahada in front of my sisters at 7.30pm. Afterwards, I was euphorically relieved. I felt like a totally different person. It was akin to the old me vacating my soul to make way for a new me, Subhan'Allah.
The sisters and I had a meal together. I relayed to them my narrative of what made me interested in Islam.
Sitting amongst them made me feel like I was attending a United Nations Convention for females because I was surrounded by Māori, Iraqi, Fijian Indian, Pakistani, Pākehā and Syrian nationalities.
Before I departed, I think it was 3 hours later, they gave me gifts.
The next day I walked out of my front door donning the hijab and baggy clothes that didn’t show my figure.
When I woke up that morning I decided that there was this one person that I needed to tell first that I was now Muslim and it was my ex, the father of our four children.
My family likes my changes.
No, when my ex opened his front door the first thing he said to me, in a condescending mocking tone, was “You look like one of those (bleep) terrorists with that thing on your head!” I stood there staring at him intently and it was like a hard object had hit him in the face with such force because his expression became contorted and every obscenity that you would find in an English dictionary sprayed out of his mouth, like bullets.
He then went on ranting and raving about how there is no way that our, then 7 year old daughter, was going to become a terrorist too and wear a terrorist label on her head and that his sons will never follow a terrorist religion.
Change and support.
Subhan’Allah from that time, as the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and the months into years he could see how happy and content our daughter is with Islam and his perspective of Islam began to change.
It’s really cute seeing them together and I constantly give thanks to Allah (swt). Our daughter is now 22 years old and started wearing the hijab when she was 9 years old and to this day still wears it, Mash’Allah.
Her dad is over protective with and very proud of her, when she goes to spend time with him and his wife, they go shopping together so that he can buy her Halal foodstuffs to cook for their Halal meals Mash’Allah.
My eldest son, who is 39 years old, made his Shahada going on 2 years ago, Allahu Akbar.
My other two sons, who are 30 and 34 years old, have not unlocked their hearts for Allah (swt) yet and I make du’aa for them every day.
Why do you continue to follow Islam?
I cannot bear the thought of going back to living my life without Allah (swt) and that my ultimate goal is to score myself a place in Jannah.
“Titiro whakamuri, kōkiri whakamua.”
This whakataukī (Māori proverb) means
Look back and reflect, so you can move.