The imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca did not lead prayer as promised, disappointing worshipers.
Peace prayers bring thousands together
DUBAI // Thousands of worshippers were disappointed by the absence of a prominent imam from Mecca who Dubai International Peace Convention organisers had said would lead Friday prayers.
Organisers were not able to explain why Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and 2005 Islamic Personality of the Year, did not show up at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
"Until prayers started we were expecting him," said Dr Hassan Dawood, communications director for the three-day convention, which ends today.
"We do not know yet what has happened as the organisers have not informed us."
Sheikh Al Sudais is known globally for his distinct and melodic voice and emotional recitations of the Quran in accordance with Tajweed. He has also called for peaceful interfaith dialogue.
"It is disappointing. I came to listen to him and pray with him," said Abdullah Tan, a Malaysian worshipper.
Sheikh Mishary Rashid Al Afasy, imam and preacher of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait, led the prayers and spoke of the importance of peace to Islam.
Organisers said as many as 60,000 people attended.
"I was very excited to follow and listen to the imam of the Grand Mosque [in Mecca]. However, Sheikh Afasy is also a great scholar," said Mohammed Taiwo from Nigeria.
Prominent Islamic scholars at the convention stressed the importance of peace in Islam, emphasising brotherhood, the status of women and the Prophet Mohammed as the ambassador of peace.
Dr Zakir Naik, the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, took questions from the audience about world peace and how different religions perceive the notion of peace. Dr Naik said Islam was a peaceful religion about which there were many misconceptions.
"It is the duty of every Muslim to remove these misconceptions and present a true picture of Islam," he said.
Dr Naik said Muslims around the world were going through a tough time as they were not following the religion properly.
"Muslims should read Quran and follow the path shown by the Prophet Mohammed," he said.
Sheikh Muhammed Al Shareef, an Islamic preacher from Canada, noted the significance of the mother's role as the first school from which the child gains its notions about its surroundings.
Sheikh Hussein Yee from Malaysia stressed how the road to God is a road of peace in different religions and divine laws.
People who attended the lectures, which were all followed by open discussions, said the sessions had broadened their knowledge of Islam.
"Not many of us are aware about the important aspects of Islam, brotherhood and the truth," said Mohammed Shafique from Dubai. "This convention would really benefit us."