It turned out to be a fulfillment of a prophecy for the Maori’s at the Ruaihona Marae in Te Teko, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand when a delegation from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community visited their Marae on Saturday, February 2.
Approximately 40 members of the community led by the National President New Zealand Mr Mohammad Iqbal took a 4 hour journey from Auckland to present the elders of the village with copies of the Holy Qur’an translated into Te Reo Maori, and three other booklets translated into Te Reo Maori.
The delegation received the traditional Maori welcome known as powhiri organised by the Maori elders of the Marae. The protocols involved the ‘Karanga’, which is a unique form of female oratory in which one of the women from the tribe extends a cultural expression to the first calls of welcome. At this stage the delegation walked across the Marae grounds and entered the Wharenui. This phase of the protocol involved the ‘whaikorero’ where formal speeches were made by the host speaker who welcomed the delegates and offered their hospitality. At the end of his speech, a traditional song known as the ‘waiata’ was sung by the Maori hosts. The hosts were also represented by the first Maori Ahmadi Muslim, Matthew Abu Bakr Howell and his wife Vicky Howell who were part of the welcoming committee.
In response to the opening address by the Maori elder, the National President Mr Mohammed Iqbal spoke briefly in Maori and reverted to English to outline the purpose of the visit and extraordinary significance of the visit. He said this was also the first time that the waqf e nau children, who have been dedicated to serve humanity, have had the opportunity of a formal welcome on a Marae in NZ.
The significance of the visit was highlighted during the discussion when the village elders acknowledged a prophecy of their Maori Prophet TeKooti who had prophesized that the people of the Peace Prophet from the East will come to their Marae with his message. In this regards, the Peace Prophet is none other than the Holy Prophet (May the blessings of Allah be upon him) and this message was the Holy Qur’an.
The National President of the Jama’at, Mr Mohammed Iqbal concluded his address by thanking the hosts. Members of the Jama’at than recited a nazm in line with the Maori protocols.
Consistent with the Maori cultural protocol, a monetary gift known as ‘Koha’ was offered by Mr Mohammed Iqbal which was graciously accepted by Mr Howell on behalf of the village elders.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the two groups shook hands and performed the ‘Hongi’ (pressing of noses) signifying the sharing of the breath of life and hence coming together of the Maori tribe and the Ahmadiyya community. The delegation was then invited to a shared lunch in the mess hall.
Following lunch, the group was invited by the tribal elders to perform a joint Dhur and Asr salat in their Wharenui. This was a significant shift from their protocol as other religions are not offered the opportunity to pray in their sacred house. The offering of prayers inside the Wharenuisignified the acceptance of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as being part of their tribe.
Prior to the departure, as part of the farewell protocol, the tribal elders relayed the respect and acceptance of the Ahmadiyya community, opening up their doors for future visits. The central missionary, Mr Shafiq ur Rehman thanked the hosts for their hospitality and love. He drew parallels of the teachings of the Holy Prophet’s (saw) teachings and what was demonstrated by the hosts; of being filled with goodness and doing good deeds. The tribal missionary, Mr Rangi promised to provide Te Kooti’s reference regarding the coming of the peace prophet.