Shania Ahipene Ruru
Assalamu Alaikoum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
My name is Shania Carolyn Rangimarie Ahipene-Ruru. I am an Australian born Māori, currently living in Chester Hill, Sydney.
I am 22 years young and happily married to my revert husband Mapafisi Ali.
Life before Islam.
Growing up in Sydney, I was an agnostic leaning towards Catholicism due to my dad, who wasn’t religious himself. My mum wasn’t really too religious either. So it wasn't something we discussed often.
It was also a time of adolescence where my ears were painted on most of the time.
My first encounter with a Muslim.
I met alot of Muslims at school but did not take much notice of the deen. Not until, my older brother came to visit us one Christmas and had told us he reverted to Islam.
It was definitely a shock for the whole whanau to hear, but the mean aroha he gave to us was something we were definitely not use to. Especially, the beautiful spirit he had only inspired me to learn and know more.
Well I took my first shahada with my older brother, as I was curious of how to pray Salat. He told me to join him and to take my declaration of faith before we proceeded with the prayer. Although, at first it came as a shock of knowing that I had reverted.
However I was crying my eyes out in my salat when my brother was leading the prayer. I felt as though all of this weight had lifted off my shoulders. It was one of the most beautiful, yet unexplainable moments I've ever felt.
What do I love about Islam?
I love how everything has a purpose or meaning, that the deen makes absolute sense. No religion to me, can prove it's truths as much as Islam. It's not like it's made up stories, there is actual history to back it up, there are witnesses, there are chains to follow up on. There are so much things about Islam to learn that no matter how high ranked you are, you will still never know everything about Islam. It is a religion you could go on for years still learning.
How has Islam improved me as person?
It has made me look at life with a purpose. I have learned the beauty of this deen and how amazing everything is, SubhunAllah. I've learned to appreciate the little things in life and how everything happens for a reason. Alhamdulillah
My family likes my changes.
My dad loves me wearing hijab even though he's Catholic. He really supports me in wearing it and encourages me to go 120% in my faith.
My mum and step dad have accepted me of being Muslim and has supported me no matter what, although they may disagree with some things.
However, overall whanau are all good with my changes. Allahu Akbar!
As a Māori Muslim what challenges I have faced?
My biggest challenge I currently face is not having Māori and Polynesian brothers and sisters to relate with in my area.
Most are Arab and I feel left out alot when it comes to those cultural groups at Islamic festivities.
Also to have brothers and sisters around my age as well would be a bonus so we could learn more content at some of the islamic associations.