As-aalaam Alaikum, my name is Rahmona. I'm 39 and an Aboriginal Australian and a proud Gubbi Gubbi/Nunukul woman. I'm originally from Logan in Queensland but moved to Melbourne about 11 years ago.
Life before Islam
Life before Islam was a struggle, I drank daily and was lost in many aspects of this Dunya. I was lost and had no intentions of looking for a religion to follow, if anything I was completely anti-religious. I had stopped talking to people if they were too religious and was stubborn. I was living Haram in many ways, but slowly as I learnt my mindset began to change.
My first encounter with a Muslim
My very first encounter with a Muslim I was in 2003 at a TAFE in Queensland and there was this one Muslim girl in my class and nobody would sit near her, talk to her or be nice to her. So I decided to befriend her and as we became friends she would talk to me about any questions I had. I had no real idea about anything to do with Islam and didn't delve deep into anything about the religion, but the encounter was interesting and I accepted her as a person rather than what she wore.
Quite a few years back I was working in a company and a new employee started. She was Muslim and I was the exact opposite of everything she was. Yet somehow we became friends, for years she tried to teach me about some aspects of Islam but I was not ready to listen.
Then one day me and this same girl (now my bestfriend) were out shopping and came across a stall in the local shopping centre, they were selling Hijabs, Abayas and Jilbabs. I was intrigued and they asked if I wanted to try one on. I thought about it and decided why not, once it was on I looked in the mirror and really felt connected and confident with it on.
I decided to buy it then and there and kept it on for the rest of the day. During that shopping trip at another store a lady walked past and tried to pull it off my head, from nowhere a Muslim girl came straight over and fixed my Hijab for me. That moment changed my entire view of Muslims and made me want to know more about this beautiful religion where strangers would come to my aid and assist during a moment of distress.
6 months later after learning more about Islam with my friend, her sharing everything she knows and answering my multitude of questions that I had. I had made the decision that I wanted to make it official and revert. So 3 days before Ramadan 2023, I decided to take my Shahada at my best friend's house while over for dinner. Her husband led me through my Shahada and I officially became Muslim. I was welcomed by both of them and that was the night my life changed completely.
What do I love about Islam?
One of the things I love most about Islam is the beautiful connection in community and how a complete stranger will help you build a closer relationship to Allah. How other Muslims will come to your aid when you are struggling and that complete sense of peace you feel when Allah guides you.
How has Islam improved me as a person?
I feel that Islam has made me see the bigger picture in life, helped me see a different way from where I was. I was lost and so confused in life and I had no real direction. So Islam has helped me make better choices in my life, led me to places I never thought I'd be and connected me with people who have ultimately changed my life for the best. I genuinely wish I had found Islam earlier, but Alhamdulillah I am here now.
My family likes my changes
Most of my family accept my choices and are happy if I am happy. But I have had some who are not as accepting and are confused by my decision. However with time, I am sure that they will be able to see the positive changes Islam has and will continue to bring to my life.
As an Aboriginal Muslim what challenges I have faced?
As an Aboriginal Muslim, I have found that there are some people in my life who aren't as happy for me as I had hoped, because I am no longer being what they want.
I have found Muslims are excited and happy that I am Aboriginal and found Islam. People do treat me differently now that I have reverted, especially because of how I dress, behave and no longer drink.
Almost like I can no longer fulfill the 'token aboriginal' role because I wear a Hijab now, but I still feel Aboriginal even though I have reverted. I do however continue to find it rather difficult to find a balance between Islam and my culture, but InshaAllah with time that balance will come.