x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Filipinos send home 2,800kg of dates for Ramadan

Dates, prayer mats and copies of the Quran are being shipped to the Philippines in time for Ramadan.

DUBAI // A group of Filipino Muslims in the UAE will ship dates, prayer mats and copies of the Quran to less privileged families in the Philippines in time for Ramadan in August.

The Maranao Community, or Marcom, working in conjunction with Dubai's Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities (IACAD), are behind the initiative, which is now in its third year.

Marcom will ensure that 2,800kg of dates, 300 prayer mats and 250 copies of the Quran are packed and distributed to mosques in Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and other parts of Mindanao, in southern Philippines.

The IACAD made the generous donation, said Camid Pumbaya, 32, Marcom's president.

Maranao is a term used to describe the people of Lanao, also known as Ranao, a predominantly Muslim region located in the south of the Philippines.

There are between 600 and 800 Maranaos in the UAE, most of whom live and work in Dubai and Sharjah.

Mr Pumbaya said the charity initiative is based on the words of the Prophet Mohammed: "Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date fruit in charity".

Muslims generally break their fast by eating dates, but in the south of the Philippines, most Muslims do not have access to the fruit.

"Those with relatives in the Middle East are fortunate to have dates on their iftar tables during Ramadan," Mr Pumbaya said. "But the fruit is not grown in Mindanao and the date variety sold in Manila is very expensive."

This year's donations will be sent to the Philippines via sea freight on June 10 and the shipment is expected to arrive within 45 days - in time for Ramadan, which falls on August 1.

A group of volunteers will distribute the goods. One of them, Khalid Edris, a 30-year-old businessman from Ganassi, Lanao del Sur, planned to take the items to imams at 220 mosques located in the second district of Lanao del Sur.

"The majority of the residents here are poor and I know they will really appreciate the donation," said Mr Edris, who previously worked in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. "Eighty five per cent are rice and corn farmers who could hardly afford to send their children to university."

The 2011 haul is an improvement on previous efforts. In 2009, Marcom sent home 200kg of dates. Last year, 500kg of dates were collected from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman.

rruiz@thenational.ae

This article has been amended. The original version gave an incorrect amount of dates to be shipped.