x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Muslim convert in Dubai helps spread message of Islam

Rashid Indasan, a Filipino, became a Muslim 25 years ago and is now devoted to spreading the light of Islam to his compatriots, 27 of whom proclaimed their shahada this week.

Rashid Indasan, a Filipino preacher and scholar invited by the DTCM to speak at the 12th Ramadan Forum.  Antonie Robertson / The National
Rashid Indasan, a Filipino preacher and scholar invited by the DTCM to speak at the 12th Ramadan Forum. Antonie Robertson / The National

Filipino preacher Rashid Indasan watched this week as 27 of his compatriots embraced Islam in Dubai.

That ceremony motivated him even more to spread the word of the Muslim faith to his people.

"Our duty is to convey the teachings of Islam," said Mr Indasan, 42, from Quezon City. "Allah opens the hearts of all non-Muslims across the world to the truth."

His compatriots recited the shahada, or testimony of faith, at the World Trade Centre early on Sunday morning, the 12th day of Ramadan. Twenty-four of them were women.

Mr Indasan was among those invited by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing to speak at the Ramadan Forum, which began on July 12.

He spoke in Tagalog about the Challenge of Islam, and his discourse was followed by an open forum.

"Some were confused about who to worship," said Mr Indasan, who is on his first visit to the UAE.

"I highlighted the challenge of the Quran but also showed how amazing it is."

The 12th edition of the Ramadan Forum, held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed, chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, ended yesterday.

The inspirational lectures by renowned preachers were a chance for Muslim and non-Muslim expatriates to experience the essence of Ramadan and learn about Islam in their own languages.

The speeches were in English, Urdu, Malayalam and Tagalog.

"I tried to make them realise that no one can escape worship, that everyone worships someone or something," Mr Indasan said.

"You can worship one true God, a creature like humans, or even one's own desire - a job, a career or a business."

Mr Indasan was raised a Catholic and embraced Islam in 1988. His Christian name is Marneld.

His wife and five children, who range in age between 10 and 20, are also Muslim converts.

"My exposure to Islam began in 1986," said Mr Indasan, who describes himself as a debater and Islamic "propagationist".

"Two years later I embraced Islam and I've now became a full-time preacher and a teacher of comparative religion."

In 2010, he established an Islamic centre called As-Sirat Al-Mustaqim (the Right Path) Dawah Centre.

Omar Gentilezo, 45, a civil engineer who embraced Islam in 2003, said he was impressed with the turnout and the growing interest in Islam.

"Alhamdulilah, they became more enlightened when he explained the true teachings of Islam," Mr Gentilezo said. "I was proud to see my fellow Filipinos recite the shahada and accept Islam."

At last year's forum, 25 Filipinos converted after a prominent Filipino Muslim scholar, Omar Penalber, delivered his lecture.

In 2011 and 2010, 76 and 125 Filipinos converted with his guidance.

"My goal as a preacher of Islam is to propagate the Muslim faith," Mr Indasan said.

"I would like to call non-Muslims to Islam in a peaceful way, without compelling them to accept it."