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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Filipino Muslims prepare zakat for less fortunate at home

ABU DHABI // Filipino Muslims preparing to celebrate Eid Al Fitr have been asked to give generously to those less fortunate back home.

“Every year we finance the Eid celebrations of our less-privileged Muslim brothers and sisters in the Philippines,” said Dr Nasser Raciles, the administrator of the New Muslim Centre in Abu Dhabi.

“Prophet Mohammed has commanded that we break our fast and celebrate Eid at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, but many families do not have the means to do so.”

Of the nearly 3,000 Muslim converts at the centre, 2,307 are Filipino. Seventy-three have embraced Islam since the start of Ramadan, with the help of the centre.

The facility opened in June 2004 under the patronage of the late Ali bin Ghanem bin Hamoodah. The mosque next to the centre was named in his honour.

Zakat Al Fitr is an obligatory deed required of all Muslims who have the food or provisions to sustain themselves, and those who they are obligated to support.

“It is equivalent to one full meal or the cash equivalent to the cost of one full meal,” Dr Raciles said. “At a meeting it has been decided that one full meal costs Dh25. Those who can afford to give more are encouraged to give more.”
Zakat Al Fitr is given directly to the needy before Eid prayers. Arrangements for payment should be made ahead of time so that recipients receive the funds in time to make use of them at Eid.

“Many of our Muslim brothers and sisters had been affected by Typhoon Glenda [Rammasun] which damaged their crops and livestock,” Dr Raciles said. “We need to ensure they receive the money ahead of the first day of Eid Al Fitr.”
Funds from Abu Dhabi will be used to buy 100 goats, five cows, rice, sugar and other ingredients for the Eid feast for Muslims in Manila and in several provinces in the Philippines.

One of those sending zakat is Rosie Cabalbag, who converted to Islam from Christianity in 2011. The 36-year-old housemaid earns Dh1,100 a month and gave Dh25 as Zakat Al Fitr.

“I feel good about being able to help our compatriots back home,” said Ms Cabalbag, who chose Sajah as her Muslim name.

She will be among the 200 Filipino Muslims who are expected to visit the Ghanem bin Hamoodah mosque, near the New Medical Centre on Electra Street, for early-morning prayers. They will later have an elaborate feast featuring Filipino delicacies.

For Jocelyn Domingo, 42, the arrival of Eid is cause for great joy and a chance to bond with family and friends. She converted to Islam from Christianity in 2005. Her Muslim name is Janah.
“After a month of fasting, Eid Al Fitr is a day of thanksgiving and jubilation,” she said. “At this centre, Filipinos from different parts of the country are united by our faith. Eid is also an occasion of generosity as we give Zakat Al Fitr to the needy.”

Roberto Alvarez, 42, an office assistant who is now known as Omar, became a Muslim in 2006.
“Eid is the culmination of the fasting month but it is also important to continue the good deeds practiced during Ramadan,” he said. “I look forward to the early-morning prayers and the prospect of celebrating it with my Muslim brothers and sisters.”

(The National / 27 July 2014)
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