Muslim educator, author, and community leader Dr. Maysoon Salama has been recognized in this year’s King’s Birthday Honors, in recognition of her services to the Muslim community and education.
Named as Honorary Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, the Muslim educator said she was humbled to get the honor, Stuff reported.
“I didn’t expect it and I am really grateful. It is very humbling and uplifting,” Salama said of her hoour.
“But my family was not surprised. They have been very supportive.”
Salama came to New Zealand with her husband and family 30 years ago. Born in Palestine and raised in Kuwait, she completed a PhD in the US before moving to Christchurch in the 1990s.
Donning her hijab, she overcame first thoughts of being an alien to the society, co-founding the National Islamic Sisterhood Association in 2000. She also worked as the chairperson of the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand from 2012 to 2020.
She also co-founded and runs the non-profit An-Nur preschools in Christchurch and Dunedin, New Zealand’s first Muslim preschools.
“I’ve always loved education, it is an essential tool for success. We follow the Government curriculum, plus we add something Islamic. We have children of all colors and from all walks of life.”
Salama’s son Ata Mohammad Ata Elayyan was among those killed in the March 15 terror attacks.
After the terrible events in Christchurch in March 2019, Salama suggested a series of illustrated storybooks developed to support and celebrate New Zealand’s Muslim community.
Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region.
It is also home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand’s 3rd most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington.