The emirate of Dubai is seeing waves of conversion to Islam over the last 14 years, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan, according to a top official.
Huda Al Kaabi, head of the New Muslims Section at the Islamic Affairs Department, said as many as 13,946 people, from 72 nationalities, have embraced Islam in Dubai over the period from 1996 to 2010. “These include 10,450 new Muslims from 2005 to 2009.”
People are touched by the merciful instructions of Islam which strictly orders its followers to be honest, fair and kind to all people, disregarding their religion, race, language and colour. “When people come to Dubai, they know better about the bright image of Islam, and how it tolerantly meets man’s needs in all places and times,” Kaabi said.
Prof Dr Lewis, one of the new Muslims, said his two PhDs in philosophy and education helped him evaluate Islam reasonably. “I am not convinced to do so because of a passionate idea or imitation, but due to my total heart and mind contentedness.”
John, another convert from the Philippines, said he managed to get information about the rituals, virtues and ways of Islam from his colleagues. “Islam truly respects the mind and heart of human beings,” he said.
Shanju Kamarachi, an Indian working in a bank, was a Hindu before he came to discuss issues with Dr Zakir Naik — at a Ramadan Forum lecture — about paradise which only Muslims will enter as is known in India. “I got clear answers, particularly about the virtues of Islam which calls for one God, morals and what is best for human beings,” he said.
After spending 13 years as a missionary, Rowena said “having seen no Muslim converting to another religion made me ask and read about Islam and finally embrace it.”
While 3,043 people converted to Islam in 2009, the first half of 2010 saw 1,373 new Muslims; most of them were from the Philippines, Russia, China and India. “The nationality of most new Muslims differs from one year to another, however,” Kaabi said. More women than men opt for Islam.
“This year among the converts, 1,098 are women and 275, men. Likewise, 984 of the 1,365 new Muslims in the first half of 2009 were women, and 576 of the 878 people who embraced Islam in the first six months of 2008 were women,”
There are more conversions during Ramadan. The varied activities held therein — including introductory lectures, courses and workshops on Islam, along with mass Iftars, charity meals and contests — attract more people to Islam. “Some 391 people from 35 nationalities converted to Islam last Ramadan.”
The Ninth Ramadan Forum witnessed the conversion of 160 people, mostly Filipinas this year while 205 people converted to Islam at Dar Al Ber Society in June and July this year.
Kaabi said the New Muslims Section provides fully-integrated and free services to Muslims, new Muslims, and non-Muslims.
“Special programmes are held for non-Muslims to integrate them into the UAE society and enlighten them about the religion and culture while new Muslims join courses on the Holy Quran and Sunnah, as well as the pillars, rituals, teachings and ethics of Islam.”
In a bid to answer all queries and doubts about Islam, a new online service Itasel Bena or Call Us is available on the website http://www.iacad.gov.ae/ - - www.iacad.gov.ae . “Most of the questions received are about polygamy, circumcision and the burial norms in Islam,” Kaabi said.
Questions may also be submitted in person or by telephone on 04-6087707. “The seven male and female staff counsellors are geared up round the clock to answer all questions in various languages, including Tagalog, Chinese, Russian, English, Urdu and Malayalam.”
Kaabi said regular visits are paid to the consulates, departments, hospitals, shopping centres and prisons to explain the teachings of Islam, using creative, scientific and persuasive techniques.
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