My Conversion Story.
I am Kara Kainamamu.
From Kaitaia, NewZealand.
Iwi tribe Nga Puhi.
Life before Islam.
I have a typical Māori family growing up in poverty, a gang is common in Northland as an adult it still haunts me from time to time. My dad like many dad's in NZ was in a gang.
During High school I wasn't into the party scene that was all around me. I didn't fit into that environment.
I was missing that sense of belonging all I wanted was peace.
I was searching and wanted something with a deeper meaning.
So In search of that deeper meaning in life, I went to Christian youth groups with friends and Church but I didn't feel a connection.
My first encounter with a Muslim.
I saw Muslims at my College, I thought the girls were very elegant and modest in their hijab. Their conduct and behaviour stood out, it was different and I liked it.
A friend invited me one day to the Mosque for Eid.
When the time for salat prayer came I was bewildered as to what I was witnessing. I literally thought they were doing yoga or some kind of exercise. I didn't realise they were praying.
I went to the Mosque and saw how peacefully they prayed. The energy I felt at the mosque, touched a part of my soul, I did not know existed. I felt all my troubles lift away.
I said my Shahada at the Mosque in 2015.
My Conversion was difficult as I thought everyone would be happy for me but they weren't. They thought I was crazy which hurt a lot.
I became afraid and anxious and I struggled with the emotional and mental taunts from my family because of my hijab, it became such a struggle to wear it as I was laughed at and called a raghead.
What do I love about Islam?
I love the peace I feel, how it aligns with my Māori culture, with how family orientated it is.
How has Islam improved me as person?
Islam has improved me In every aspect of life, my mental spiritual and physical health improved.
I started helping others in the community.
Islam literally opened my eyes to a whole new world.
My family likes my changes.
My family like it now. They see that I have grown and matured. I was shut off before and I didn't speak to anybody, as I didn't like my surroundings.
As a Māori Muslim what challenges I have faced?
My main challenge has been other people's ignorance.
I have received negative comments and verbal abuse.
I am Māori and Muslim and I identify as both.