• Islam came to Oceania a few decades ago and now is fast growing. In Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Vanuatu there are several young Muslim communities. They are almost not connected with the Muslims from the rest of the world and their members mix Islamic practices with their ancestors’ beliefs.

    Melanesian Muslims often perform customary dances and ceremonies and hunt with bow and arrows, like their ancestors.  While Muslims in PNG do not eat pork, some still use pigs  (sacred animals in Melanesia) to resolve tribal conflicts or pay a bride price, despite them being a religious taboo in the rest of the Muslim world.

  • In Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands is an Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque, which opened in 2012. Many Marshallese people have converted to the Ahmadiyya version of Islam, since it was introduced by Fijian missionaries in the 1990s. While Majuro has the only mosque in the Micronesia region, some atolls around the country have small Ahmadiyya Muslim communities.

    After Indonesia annexed West Papua, many Muslims from the main part of the country moved to the new province. Islam was introduced to the Papuan people and it slowly gained popularity among the locals. Despite Indonesia imposing Islam as a state religion, many Papuans remain Christians or have retained the practices or beliefs of their ancestors.

     

Muslihuddin Anton Kura, 49, in front of the wooden mosque in Waingar village, Chimbu Province. In 1992 he left the Catholic Church and converted to Islam

A Muslim woman plays with her daughter on the outskirts of Port Moresby

Kids help their mother to prepare chicken that will be eaten by PNG Muslim’s at their evening Ramadan meals. Port Moresby, Hohola area

Abdus Salam Banga Kama (far right), 39, and his family wait for the evening Ramadan prayer in front of the Port Moresby mosque. Abdus Salam, his wife Abida Ana (centre), 27, and their five children converted to Islam in March 2013. Abdus says that before he became Muslim he had abused his wife, but since they converted he has stopped hitting her

Idris Francis Ghape, 50, plays with his son in the yard of the Islamic Community Centre of PNG, in Port Moresby

Abdul Gafar, 34, from Chimbu Province stands in a PNG Islamic Community Centre room in Port Moresby. Many Muslims from other PNG provinces come to Port Moresby during Ramadan to spend a holy month in the main mosque. Most of them sleep in the mosque or community centre buildings

People in front of the Port Moresby Hohola mosque during Ramadan

PNG women wait to start breaking their Ramadan fast at the mosque in Port Moresby

Food distribution in front of the Port Moresby mosque during Ramadan. Many Muslims come every evening to Hohola mosque to pray and get a free meal

Muslims at the entrance of the Hohola mosque in Port Moresby

Apa Musa Pige, 78, a Muslim from Karilmaril village, Chimbu Province

Papuan Muslims reading a fashion magazine. They buy their second-hand Muslim dresses in local markets, as there are no shops selling Islamic clothes in PNG

Tariq Plamp, 44, imam of the mosque in Anga village in Western Highlands Province gives an Islamic lesson to the young children from his village

Idris Francis Ghape, 50, with his family in their house in Bushwara village, National Capital District. The village accommodates a large community of Muslims from Chimbu Province

Muslims near the mosque of Bushwara village in the outskirts of Port Moresby

A Muslim woman in the mosque in Bushwara village

Muslims pray in a small wooden mosque in Bushwara village

Yakub Ibrahim, 4, with other Muslims in front of the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Kimbe town, West Britain Province. Every Friday more than 50 local Muslims go to this mosque to worship

Muslim kids watch TV a sermon in a Ahmadiyya Muslim community house in Kimbe town

Jamila Pueme, 39, wife of the president of PNG’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, with her children near her house in Kimbe, town

Baitul Kareem mosque of Kimbe town was built by Ahmadiyya Muslims in 1988. It is the oldest mosque in PNG

Imam of Mele village, Mohammed Sidik Sambu, 56 (left) and Bruno Muohammed Husein, 43, (right) near a mosque. Vanuatu

A Muslim woman, Atika Nawuata, near her house in Ivel village on Tanna Island, Vanuatu. Islam recently came to Vanuatu, but it's gaining popularity among locals. There are only few mosques in the country, which has a large Christian population

Muezzin of the Ivel mosque, Abdul Masjeed, 32, (left) calls for prayer while the imam, Abdul Karim, prepares for worship. Tanna Island, Vanuatu

A young Muslim girl holds a mirror in the female section of the mosque. Ivel village, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

A prayer in the female section of the Ivel mosque

Muslim women of Ivel village on Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Abdul Masjeed, a young Muslim from Ivel village in his Muslim dress (left) and in his customary clothes (right)

Abdul Masjeed holds the bow and arrows that he uses to hunt birds and flying foxes. Many people who have converted to Islam on Tanna Island still keep local traditions. Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Ni-Vanuatu Muslims from Ivel village perform a customary dance after worshiping in the mosque

Baet-Ul-Ahad Mosque was built in 2012 for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands. It is the only mosque in the Micronesia region of Oceania

Children play with a laptop in the library of the Ahmadiyya mosque in Majuro

Kalona, 13, helps in the community kitchen in the Ahmadiyya mosque in Majuro. She and her mother converted to Islam in 2011

Evening prayer in Ahmadiyya mosque in Majuro, the Marshall Islands. The local Muslim community has many children and sometimes only kids can be seen praying when the adults are absent

People on the street of Wamena town in Baliem Valley, Papua Province of Indonesia

A boy in front of the mosque in Arigaram village, Papua Province, Indonesia. After Indonesia annexed West Papua, Islam was introduced to Papuan people and it is gaining popularity among the locals

A Papuan "bechak" (bicycle ricksha) driver on a street of Wamena town in Baliem Valley. Despite Indonesia imposing Islam as a state religion, many Papuans remain Christians or practice their ancestors’ beliefs

Indonesian Muslim girls near the shop in Wamena town, the capital of Baliem Valley in Papua Province, Indonesia

A Papuan community leader of Megapura village wears his Muslim dress for prayer. Baliem Valley, Papua Province, Indonesia

Papuan Muslim, Abdullah Lakobal, with his son near the Al Hijraj mosque in Megapura village during Ramadan

A Muslim girl, Gode Lakobal, 9, near her house in Megapura village

Muslim children of Megapura village doing ritual ablution to prepare themselves for the evening prayer

Abdullah Lakobal, with his and his neighbours' children in his house in Megapura village during Ramadan. Baliem Valley, Papua Province, Indonesia

© 2017 Vlad Sokhin. All rights reserved.
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