CAIRO - Spreading `Eid festivities, Emirati officials helped scores of new Filipino and Chinese Muslim converts to celebrate their first `Eid Al-Adha, emphasizing on social solidarity between Muslims.
The department wants to share Eid happiness with new Muslims and to emphasize the virtue of Eid and social solidarity between Muslims, Aisha Al Kash, the head of Edification and Religious Guidance Department at the New Muslims Section of Dubai's Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD), said in a statement cited by Gulf News on Sunday, October 28.
The event, held on Saturday and Sunday, was hosted by IACAD which invited new Filipino and Chinese Muslim converts in the UAE.
Filipino expatriates were invited on Saturday and Chinese expatriates on Sunday.
Offering new converts answers about the significance of `Eid al-Adha and Islam, guest speakers also gave lectures and took questions from the audience.
New Muslims were also invited for a get-together in Mamzar Park after the presentations.
Games and religious rhymes for children were arranged, said Xiaoping Gao, Chinese Languages Senior Guide at IACAD.
A number of non-Muslims from the two communities also showed up to learn about Eid and Islam in their own language, a Chinese IACAD official said.
`Eid Al-Adha, or "Feast of Sacrifice, is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations, together with `Eid Al-Fitr.
The four-day `Eid, which started on Friday, October 26, marks the end of hajj season.
After special prayers to mark `Eid Al-Adha, Muslims offer udhiyah, a ritual that reminds of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God.
Festivities and merriment then start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.
Traditionally, everyone wears new clothes for `Eid, and the children look forward to gifts and the traditional `ediya (cash).
Receiving Muslim converts all through the year, the event was praised as a chance to emphasize on social solidarity between Muslims.
We get people coming in everyday to accept Islam, sometimes five at a time, sometimes 20, Gao, the Chinese Languages Senior Guide at IACAD said.
Many are Filipinos and some are Chinese also; it's the first time we've done something like this for them.
Similar initiatives in Arabic and English are also planned, he added, saying even Arab Christians from Egypt or Lebanon, for example, are accepting Islam. Non-Muslims are welcome; the idea is to give people the right information about Islam because many people have got the wrong information.
During the event, some converts shared details of their journey to Islam with attendance.
The conversion of Omar Ibrahim to Islam, a 33-year-old Chinese Muslim, did not only change his life, as his wife, son, parents, some in-laws and cousins have also become Muslim in his footsteps.
I had too many questions in my heart, about life, death and what happens next. I started learning about Islam because I met good Muslims in the UAE, Ibrahim, who runs a garments business, told Gulf News on the event's sidelines on Sunday.
I read the Quran in Chinese, studied it for six months, and told myself I want to be like such Muslims.' I called my wife in China and said come here, our lives are going to change.'