Vae Imeleta

Introduction.

Assalamualaikum I am Vae Imeleta. My parents are Samoan.

NewZealand is the place I reside and the place I call home, I was born and raised here.

Life before Islam.

Life before Islam was unfulfilling, anything I would try do felt empty. Any plans I had for the future felt unfulfilling.

I had been struggling to figure out my purpose, so I couldn’t choose a career path.

My moral compass had cracks. Drinking was a means to self destruct. Smoking was about to become an addiction.

Cussing was stress relief. My younger siblings were starting to pick up my bad habits too.

My first encounter with a Muslim.

First encounter was sister Zeynab, she complimented my nose piercing on the train. We both went to Victoria University of Wellington, she studied early childhood. She is Somali, she is gorgeous," love her dark illuminous skin"and she is a hijabi.

It was the first time meeting a Somali and a hijabi. She made hijab look like the most beautiful thing in the world.

To my surprise she was a normal girl like me. MashAllah I will always remember her beauty.

When I tried hijab for the first time privately in 2018, I saw the woman I wanted to be.

We never spoke about Islam and I never saw her again after I graduated. May Allah bless her for the impression of Islam she made on me.

My conversion.

I reconnected with a high school friend, Hannah. She converted a year ago and got married. I spent a lot of time around her and her husband. They taught me things about Islam that I

realised I agreed with. I was extremely agreeable to all of the teachings.

I was at a point in my life where I was showing face at Church but I did not agree with a lot of the beliefs and practices. It was very unfulfilling.

The hardest part of converting was letting go of the idea that Jesus was not God. I loved everything I knew about Islam, except the fact that Jesus was not God. One night, my friend and her husband questioned why I believe this concept, I realised that my belief in this notion was rooted in insecurity more than it was in truth and understanding. SubhanAllah, that night I let go of Christianity and opened my heart to Islam. I could never go back after that night.

What do I love about Islam.

I love the salat prayer.

I love that it holds me to a standard and encourages me to be a better woman.

I love that it guides me in all facets of my life, personal and professional.

I love that Islam teaches us our pain is not in vain.

I love Muslims.

I love Allah SWT and his messenger Muhammad PBUH.

I love the Prophet Essa PBUH.

How Islam has improved me as a person?

It’s helped me focus on healing. My decisions and actions are all in line with my goal to be a better woman.

My family likes my changes.

My siblings were in full support of me because they had seen me self destruct before reverting. They knew I could do better. My mother is accepting and my father is learning to accept.

As a Polynesian Muslim, what challenges have I faced?

I’ve faced abuse, scrutiny, disownment, critiques, harassment and intimidation.