ABU DHABI // Members of one of the UAE’s largest Filipino Muslim groups have sent 500kg of dates to mosques in their homeland for Ramadan.
“It has been a tradition to send home dates during Ramadan for the past five years,” said Sahron Roy Tamano, 39, an adviser to the Maranao Community group.
“We are grateful not only to our fellow Muslims, but also to Christians who joined us in the Ramadan spirit of giving by donating packs of dates to benefit underprivileged Filipino Muslims in the southern Philippines.”
The initiative is based on the words of the Prophet Mohammed: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date fruit in charity.”
Muslims customarily break their fast by eating dates, but in the southern Philippines many do not have access to the fruit.
“Before coming to work in the UAE eight years ago, I could hardly find dates in Marawi City,” Mr Tamano said. “Those who returned from haj would share them with relatives and friends, while a few had access to the fruit sent by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Manila.”
There are more than 14,000 Filipino Muslims in the UAE. Between 2,500 and 3,000 are Maranaos, a term used for the inhabitants of Lanao, a predominantly Muslim region in the south of the country.
The dates, which arrived last week, were collected from members of Marcom and their Filipino and Emirati friends and colleagues. Other people, including Pakistanis, Americans and Jordanians, donated cash to pay for air freight charges.
Marcom members who have returned to the Philippines helped a group of volunteers to distribute the dates to mosques in Iligan City, Marawi City and other neighbouring towns.
“Next year, we plan to stock up on dates, prayer mats and copies of the Quran at least four months before the start of Ramadan,” said Abdullah Asgar, 31, Marcom’s president, who lives in Abu Dhabi.
“We believe that we can help make a difference in the lives of our underprivileged Muslim brothers and sisters every Ramadan.”