x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Filipinos' Eid feast for the less fortunate

Ramadan 2012: UAE expatriates give part of their salaries as zakat to help others .

ABU DHABI // Hundreds of underprivileged Muslims in the Philippines will have an elaborate feast for Eid Al Fitr thanks to their compatriots in Abu Dhabi.

More than 2,000 Filipino Muslim converts at the New Muslim Centre in Abu Dhabi are helping those who do not have the means to celebrate this weekend.

"There are so many less fortunate people in the Philippines," said a Filipino administrator of the centre. "We need to share our blessings with them."

The facility opened in June 2004 under the patronage of the late Ali bin Ghanem bin Hamoodah. Three quarters of the converts are from the Philippines.

They are financing Eid celebrations at mosques and Islamic centres in Manila and two provinces north of the city by setting aside part of their salaries. The money will be used to buy 100 goats, rice, flour, cooking oil and other food items for a feast.

"Eid Al Fitr is the culmination of 30 days of fasting," said the centre's administrator, who embraced Islam in Abu Dhabi in 2005. "It is obligatory for every Muslim to celebrate this day as commanded by the Prophet Mohammed."

Zakat, meaning charity, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are required to pay the zakat al fitr to support the poor at the end of the Holy Month.

One of those sending zakat al fitr to the Philippines is Omar Alvarez, 39, a security guard who converted in 2007.

"Eid Al Fitr is such a joyous occasion for us Muslims because we have fulfilled the fourth pillar of Islam, which is fasting," he said. "But Eid is not just a celebration. We also set aside time for prayer and worship."

Meanwhile, a group in Dubai is buying a ticket home for at least one of the dozens of Filipinas staying at a shelter in Dubai after fleeing their employers' homes.

Muslim Overseas Filipino Workers, which has 1,000 members in the UAE, is collecting money for a one-way air ticket.

The group has been hosting iftars at the shelter every Friday of Ramadan.

"Ramadan is all about prayer, charity and fasting," said Abulcair Capatagan, the group's president. "It is a month when all sins are forgiven and, as we go out to the mosque for Eid prayers, we feel that we're reborn and free of sin."

rruiz@thenational.ae