x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Filipino Muslim scholar returns to inspire countrymen

Last year, 76 Filipinos recited the shahada, or the testimony of faith, after his lecture. In 2010, 125 Filipinos embraced Islam with Mr Penalber's guidance.

Omar Penalber, a prominent Filipino Muslim scholar, will visit the UAE next month.
Omar Penalber, a prominent Filipino Muslim scholar, will visit the UAE next month.

DUBAI // A prominent Filipino Muslim scholar hopes to lead his compatriots in reciting the testimony of faith during his visit in Dubai next month.

Omar Penalber, 57, was invited by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing to be one of the speakers at the Ramadan forum. This is his third visit to the UAE.

Last year, 76 Filipinos recited the shahada, or the testimony of faith, after his lecture. In 2010, 125 Filipinos embraced Islam with Mr Penalber's guidance.

Conversion to Islam is a simple process that requires the convert to say the shahada in front of two witnesses. He or she must then adhere to Islam's four other pillars, including prayer, fasting during Ramadan, giving to charity and going to Mecca at least once for pilgrimage.

"I'm happy they've invited me again to speak to the Filipino community," Mr Penalber said. "I would like to inspire them by focusing on the teachings of the prophets of God and preparing for the afterlife, for paradise."

On August 2, Mr Penalber will talk, in Filipino, about "Islam and the Path to Salvation" at a Ramadan tent in Al Tawar near the Dubai Airport Free Zone. Other lectures will be in English, Urdu and Malayalam.

"Muslims should put into practice the valid and concrete teachings of Islam to attain salvation," he said.

"Islam teaches us to worship one god based on his will and in accordance to the practices and the teachings of the prophets."

Mr Penalber converted to Islam in March 1988, after two years of working in Riyadh as an executive secretary. After returning home from Saudi Arabia in 2007, he became actively involved in an Islamic centre in Dasmarinas, Cavite, 30km south of Manila.

His wife and two daughters are converts, as was his mother.

During the first half of this year, he assisted 1,200 Filipinos in various parts of the Philippines to convert to Islam.

"My advice to those who wish to convert is not to hesitate and not to have any second thoughts in accepting Islam," said Mr Penalber. "Islam is the truth and the right path."

The six lectures for non-Arabic speakers will start tomorrow. All lectures start at 10.30pm and there will be a special section for women and children.

For more information about the programme, visit www.almultaqa.ae or contact 04 224 5252.

rruiz@thenational.ae