Assalam alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh family
I want to first thank Allah SWT for the many blessings and opportunities, mainly the blessing of Islam! Alhumdullilah
My name is Vineta Faikimua and I am Tuvaluan - a small Pacific Island comprised of 9 islets.
I grew up with the Tuvaluan language, culture, and the religion of Christianity.
Mum and Dad are both Tuvaluans and are devout Christians.
Life before Islam.
Christianity is a huge part of Pacific life. This is mostly true for us as Tuvaluans - our culture, linguistics, and family structures revolve around Christianity. Mainly speaking Protestant denomination (The belief Jesus is God - Doctrine of the Trinity).
Due to this fact, I was raised with strong Christian principals - strictly the 10 commandments. Or rather, how we knew them.
Being a Polynesian, social gatherings at Church was a huge part of my life, and so was Sunday School.
My mother taught my siblings and I stories about some Prophets, and quizzed us on our knowledge. Obviously at a young age, I did not question the stories, neither did I really indulge in reading and understanding the Holy Bible.
During my high school years, I became an introvert. So I was never really out partying, drinking, or doing things that many teenagers did. Because of this, I had more time at home. Lonely and dark hours pondering and overthinking!
My first encounter with a Muslim.
I'm ignorant of my surroundings, and I never paid much attention to the biased media propaganda about Muslims being portrayed as violent and oppressive people.
I feel, because of this fact, it was easier for me to meet people of different faiths.
My first encounter with a Muslim was at the age of 19, ending my first year of University. We were not close per say, but I got to know him through our mutual friend.
After a year, we became closer and he started questioning me about Christianity.
I was practising, but I will admit, I was slowly losing faith in the religion. However, my faith in God, and the fact there is a God, was always there and never faded.
Alhumdullilah, despite my lack of prayer during these times, my faith in God was still present.
During these questions, I was embarrassed for not being able to answer. So I studied Christianity to give my friend the answers!
The one question that made me really curious and confused was; "Is Jesus God?" From memory, I was never told Jesus was God, or God was Jesus.
I never heard of the doctrine Trinity, and yet pastors ended their prayers "in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit." I genuinely thought this was an ending of respect!
I prayed and learned Christianity in my language, so there were clear mistranslations which made it harder for me to understand.
It was this question, "Is Jesus God?", that made me REALLY research Christianity, and confusions piled over a short period!
My questions were not able to be answered by my parents, and it's sad to say there were times they got defensive!
I felt maybe they were right!
Satan truly did overtake my mind and I have lost faith!
My parents warned me, but I was curious and I needed to find these answers.
Retrospectly and thinking back, I find it a bit humorous that I was not aware of this.
Nor was I aware of the different Christian denominations. I was always told I was Christian, and Catholics were different, Seven Day Adventists were different etc!
When in fact, they are of the same root, branching out.
Further research led me to a verse: "John 14:16" - Jesus (pbuh) promises a "paraclete" (Greek) which translates to an advocator after him.
This verse became the headline of my research - who is this, and why is this person coming after Jesus pbuh?
The friend I mentioned earlier asked me to watch a 3hr long movie about the story of Phophet Muhammed pbh, ( the name of movie "The Message" starring Anthony Quinn).
I learned so much and became more intrigued! I hadn't even cracked open the Qur'an, and yet I was softening my heart to Islam.
I learned the history of the religion, how it grew, and how it functioned (partially). I wanted to order a Qur'an, but was afraid of what my parents would think.
Alhumdulliah after a year and a bit of research, I decided this was the religion for me.
I became a practising Muslim in August 2020, after reading the Quran and fully accepting Islam.
What do I love about Islam?
The equality and treatment of both genders.
The strict belief in monotheism and respect in all Prophets (peace be upon them all).
How has Islam improved me as person?
I was in a dark place during my late teens and early 20s, however, Islam gave me a sense of purpose. Learning about Islam, praying Salah, are the few things that gave me peace.
I overcame my anxiety and attened the Mosque in Dunedin for Jummah and the lessons I learned, mainly regarding patience has helped me greatly!
I will not say I am perfect, but alhumdullilah I am improving and I feel and see the changes.
My family likes my changes.
My parents have noticed the changes, and have mentioned it to me.
I am happy that the positive inner changes have impacted my surroundings!
As a Polynesian Muslim what challenges I have faced?
Unfortunately, despite the positive changes, my family will never accept the fact I am Muslim.
My mother reminds me of her disapproval daily and my parents have always tried to get me to join them for prayer or church.
As a hijabi Polynesian, or Hijabi in general, I face a lot of questions, ugly gestures, and judgment.
I am sad that people are so ignorant and arrogant - their hate for the unknown truly shows in their behaviours and words.
But regardless, this is not even comparable to the blessing I recieved! Alhumdulliah for Islam.
Subhan'Allah for the haters, they give me more motivation to be better and prove that Islam is a beautiful religion.
I apologize for the very long story, I tried to keep to the main points I am very thankful for being able to share my story, to be heard, and to read about others' stories!
May Allah swt make it easy for us all. Aameen.
Asalam alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh