After Christchurch Attacks, More Kiwis Convert to Islam
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After Christchurch Attacks, More Kiwis Convert to Islam

After Christchurch Attacks, More Kiwis Convert to Islam
Megan Lovelady, 22, of Christchurch outside Al-Noor mosque. Photo: Janneth Gil

For Megan Lovelady, long years of feeling spiritually and emotionally lost ended when she found Islam after the March-15 terrorist attacks on two Christchurch mosques, Radio New Zealand reported.

“I actually feel more at home and more a part of a community than I ever have in my life,” she said.

“Allah was calling me home.”

The Canterbury resident had migrated with her family from America to New Zealand when she was seven-years-old to settle in Christchurch.

A few years ago, personal tragedy struck when she watched her boyfriend get hit by a train.

“After that,” Megan says tearfully, “I was like ‘why me?’ – why did I have to go through that?”

“If God is so mighty and he could do anything, why couldn’t he save me from having to go through that? It pushed me away even further from wanting to be faithful.”

After Christchurch Attacks, More Kiwis Convert to Islam - About Islam

People gather outside Al Noor Mosque Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

After Christchurch attacks, Megan went to Hagley Park for Friday prayers along with thousands of others still reeling from the attacks. She remembers how the Imam’s prayers deeply moved her.

“It was rhythmic and it made me feel inside,” said Megan. “I wanted to join in to do the movements but I didn’t know how – so I just stood there and I cried.”

Megan is not the only Kiwi woman to find Islam recently.

Converting to Islam

According to Imam Nizamul Haq Thanvi of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand, a growing number of New Zealanders were converting to Islam.

The imam said that all sorts are coming to mosques.

“Pākehā, Māori, former Christians, even one Hindu,” he said.

Imam Thanvi said in the few weeks after the attack, three to five people a day had converted at a Wellington mosque. For another month after that, it was one or two a day.

In Manawatu, the local Muslim Association Chair, Zulfiqar Buton, has met six converts and has heard of many more.

In Otago, they ran out of materials at a recent open day and are planning another while Auckland mosques also reported more visitors.

Kiwi

Only a few days after the attacks, a British woman from Nottinghamshire visited Ibraheem Mosque in Beeston town to pay her respect and got out of it as a Muslim.

The All Blacks rugby player Ofa Tu’ungafasi also accepted Islam following a visit with his Muslim teammate Sonny Bill Williams to the survivors of Christchurch mosque terrorist attack.

Kiwis are flightless birds native to New Zealand.

The kiwi is recognized as an icon of New Zealand, and the association is so strong that the term Kiwi is used internationally as the colloquial demonym for New Zealanders.

In 2000, the Department of Conservation set up five kiwi sanctuaries focused on developing methods to protect kiwi and to increase their numbers.

According to Tahir Nawaz, the president of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand, the number of New Zealand’s Muslims has reached almost 60,000 people.


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