Regional | Māori

Māori Muslim whānau participate in annual month-long fast

Arif Kahurangi Hussain (Te Roroa) along with his brothers in faith, Tuhoi and Philip, are among the thousands of Muslims in New Zealand participating in Ramadan this year. Although they come from Māori families, they have embraced the teachings of Islam, which is the fastest-growing religion in the country.

According to statistics, there are approximately 50,000 Muslims in New Zealand, including 1400 Māori.

Hussain, who started practising Islam nine months ago, has found acceptance and support within the Muslim community.

“They have been very kind, very welcoming," he says.

"They've helped us understand these things very easily. We've had teachers and people who've sacrificed their time and efforts to make our lives a little bit easier.”

Ramadan, the month of fasting, is a time when Muslims abstain from food and water from dawn until dusk. It is also a time for prayer, self-reflection, and charity, Hussain says.

"Each day begins with a pre-dawn meal called suhoor."

For Hussain and his fellow Māori Muslim brothers, Ramadan is not just about abstaining from food and water, but also from foul language and negative behaviour. He explains, “It's a month of fasting, it's a month of giving, it's a month of charity, for us as Muslims, it's a month where we submit ourselves to our creator.”

While the brothers are content to worship at home and at their local Auckland mosque, they aspire to one day travel to the Great Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The pilgrimage to Mecca, known as Hajj, is an obligatory requirement for Muslims. Arif says, “We are all looking forward to doing that.”