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Introduction

 Assamualaikum 

Ko Tongariro te Maunga'

Tongariro is the mountain.

 

Ko Taupo nui a Tia te Moana'

Taupo nui a Tia is the sea.

 

Ko Te Arawa te Waka.

Arawa the canoe.

 

Ko Ngati Tuwharetoa te Iwi.

Ngati Tuwharetoa is the tribe.

 

Ko Ngati Parekaawa te Hapu.

Ngati Parekaawa is the sub tribe.

 

Ko Oku Matua Tupuna.

Oku Matua is my Grandparents.

 

Ko Te Tomo toku Papa.

Tomo is my Father.

 

Ko Te Aomarie taku ingoa. 

My name Te Aomarie means 'World peace'.

I am also know as Haaniya' meaning happiness.

 

Life before Islam

My Dad is a direct descendant of Chief Te Rangiita' of Tuwharetoa on his father's side, and King Tawhiao on His Poutama Mothers side.

He became a soldier in the 28th Maori Batallion, he lied about his age to fight someone else's war. He left young fresh and enthusiastic. 

He returned shell shocked, with severe PTSD and overcome by a great sadness, manifesting as anger.

 

My mum born In Jerusalem a hard working real mcCoy organic gardener, dedicated her life to growing some of the best crops of kai in the region. 

 

She supplied the local Marae and community with fruit and vedges, she worked on from dawn till dusk with hand tools, and often working alone.

 

Despite their efforts I was raised a 'ward of the state, I was the 7th of 11 children.

 

 I lived in Dunedin and Ohakune with my foster parents, Peter and Lynn Taylor, a very well established English family who gave me the best formative years imaginable. 219 York place I shall not forget.

 

I was put into another foster home at the age of 8, there I lost my innocence from the on going molestation I had to endure. 

 

Unfortunately my adolescent years changed my life negatively, violent abuse and slavery, were to be my tribulations.

 

If I may be so blunt, sex drugs and heavy metal, would rush me head first into my teenage and young adult life. 

I was heavily affected by Gang association and all it's debauchery.

 

My first encounter with a Muslim.

Prior to reverting to Islam, I always prayed to one true GOD.

I met the man of my dreams on  facebook. My amazing Husband Tairu Oyeniran Isiaka, a polished dark handsome Nigerian. A born Muslim of the beautiful Yoruba tribe. 

He is smart, humble and loving, his Muslim lifestyle is obvious. His actions reflect his genuine  commitment to Islam.

I was intrigued with him, and curious about Islam, the subtle dawa triggered a stirring In me, where I knew I was ready for more. 

ALLAH swt was calling, It felt natural.

I was led by an overwhelming inner peace which increased daily, I began to dress differently, and pray more.  

 

I  fasted my first Ramadan before saying the Shahada, although I had said it to myself, but I didn't feel that it was significant.

I love people and I desperately yearned connection with other Muslims. 

 

I heard  korero talk, about a local Maori kuia elder, Muslimah in Kaikohe. 

Sister Maryam, she is in her seventies. She gave me my first Qur'an, abaya and hijab, and much needed advice and guidance.

 

Once I was hokohoko shopping In Browns bay, there I met precious sister Amal from North shore Islamic centre. I thank ALLAH for her infectious smile and sweet soul, that encouraged me that day.

 

A week later I returned to the area, this time I met Brother Janif Khan and his beautiful wife, who would later initiate my desire to become Muslim.

 

My Conversion.

It was timely and simple.

Brother Janif and his wife kept their word and organised a Sheikh to take me through the Shahada. 

This took place at Northshore Islamic centre the night before Eid 2021.

 

Was it my turning point? 'No, that's because I am still turning, its a starting point.

I feel that the time line of my life led me to the very moment of my Shahada.

 

My first attendance for Eid prayer, I met sweet sisters Ruma, Naaz from Bangladesh and sister Bann from Iraq, who commented on my moko Kauwae because it reminded her of her nanas chin markings. 

 

What do I love about Islam?

I love hearing the Athaan, I love hearing the recitation of the Quran, I listen to it as I go to sleep. It settles my soul,

I love the concept of ummah, it is a normal concept to Maori whanau family, and unity is important, after all it  takes a whole village to raise a child. 

 

I love Islamic clothing for women, graceful, elegant, modest and beautiful.

I saw this feminine armour and couldn't wait to wear it.

When you've grown up in an era of promiscuity, skimpy clothing and worst of all believing that wearing very little was a good way to attract  love, what a deception.

 

I also love the sisterhood, we need one another no matter the age group.

I am also impressed by the level of skilled professionals in Islam, and the drive they have to develop themselves as a community.

 

I adore the Islamic sense of charity.

I love the fact we prostrate before ALLAH feels honorable to me,  I love the sense of submission to the one true GOD.

after all this is the way the prophets prayed they bowed their head to the floor.

 

How has Islam improved me as person?

I'm not entirely certain because I'm a work in progress..

I am learning a new discipline all in honour of ALLAH, it is beautiful I still have plenty to improve on, although my Gratitude to GOD for all he has blessed me with and my desire to worship and honor him has improved.

 

My family like my changes.

My family accept my changes simply because they love me.

I have 4 birth children 4 whangai adopted, 17 grandchildren.

They were slightly shocked  initially, based on what media and ill informed others negatively contributed, painting the picture that all Muslim women are oppressed, because of hijab and all Muslim men are terrorist, good old mainstream media.

 

I love the fact that all of my family are more God fearing now than ever before, and that my 12 year old whangai adoptee, who attends Zayed College now is happy in her hijab too, even if it is mainly because it is uniform.

I love it when she sits quietly practising Salah in Arabic, I tune in like a doting mum, quietly whispering words of thanks to ALLAH for these moments.

 

As a Maori Muslim what challenges have I faced?

My heart goes out to my people, nothing in the system has helped those dealing with serious social issues on a large scale, the answer lies in Islam and in our approach. 

The challenge to get them to this point is in how we plant the seed, my people are hands on. Long sermons don't attract them, show them by your lifestyle, teach them the basics as you eat together, be consistent and they will come. Set our captives free on every level with your love.

 

We are already very much like Muslim's, our concept as whanaunga has absolute similarities to ummah in Islam. 

Our compassion for others, ability to give joyfully to whatever extremes.

Caring for our kaumatua elders kuia, peepi babies and the less fortunate, regardless of race and creed.

 

We respect the whenua land, and begin all things with karakia prayer, those are our norms as Maori traditionally.

 

Dropping Maori tikanga customs, has been a little challenging, as it is normal for us to greet with Hongi, not being able to do this I felt slightly rude.

 

Getting my tongue around some of the Arabic language has been entertaining, and finding the correct kupu words, in Maori, when reading Quran, especially knowing that we cannot just transliterate.

Always being on time for salat has its moments.

 

But dispite all things, I am grateful for there is never a dull 

moment, I have much to learn.

And therefore my hikoi walk continues.