x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Filipino Muslims to benefit from Abu Dhabi centre's Eid zakat donations

Seventy to 80 per cent of more than 3,000 new converts at the centre are Filipino.

ABU DHABI // Needy Filipino Muslim families will benefit from this year's Eid zakat donations by the New Muslim Centre in Abu Dhabi.

Zakat Al Fitr is given to the poor before Eid, and is compulsory for anyone who possesses more food than he or his family need for a whole day and night.

The tithing is about two kilograms of dates, wheat or barley or the cash equivalent.

There are now more than 3,000 Muslim converts at the centre,  which opened in June 2004 under the patronage of the late Ali bin Ghanem bin Hamoodah. About 70 to 80 per cent are Filipino.

Dr Nasr Raciles, the administrator of the centre, expects donations of between Dh20 and Dh25 per person.

The money will be used to buy goats, rice and other ingredients for the elaborate Eid feast for needy families in cities and provinces all over the Philippines.

"An average of 100 Filipinos are converting to Islam every day in the country," Dr Raciles said. "We have coordinators who will be responsible for handing out Zakat Al Fitr by August 5."

The centre will also give zakat to new Filipino Muslim labourers.

"How can they celebrate Eid with such a low salary?" Dr Raciles said. "We're here to help them out."

The main purpose of zakat is to provide the poor with the means to celebrate Eid with other Muslims.

One of those sending donations to the Philippines is Luz Gabiola, 36, an office assistant in Abu Dhabi who converted to Islam from Christianity in 2009.

"I feel closer to Allah this Ramadan because I spend more time worshipping him and giving charity," she said. "Giving Zakat Al Fitr is our obligation as Muslims so that fasting will be acceptable to Allah."

Jannet Alia Gomez, 29, another convert, has been offering funds through the centre since 2010. "We usually send the money five to 10 days before Eid Al Fitr," she said.