Dubai, UAE, 28 June, 2015: The non-Arabic lectures on themes connecting to Islam and Ramadan, presented as part of the events and activities of the 14th Dubai Ramadan Forum. The event was organized by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) in Dubai under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation.
The event is attracting a large number of attendees from numerous nationalities. On Saturday, 27 June, the Forum hosted an inspirational lecture in the Tagalog language, which was delivered by former Filipino singer Freddie (Farid) Aguilar and well-known preacher Sheikh Nadhir Oquindo.
The special get-together commenced with Freddie Aguilar, one of the Philippines’ most well-known singer-songwriters whose 1977 song “Anak” remains one of the best-selling Philippine music records of all time.
He gave an honest and heartwarming account of his journey to Islam during his presentation titled “How I Came to Islam”. Talking about the factors that influenced his decision to wholeheartedly accept Islam as his religion, Aguilar said that the quest for one true God began long before he became a star.
Born into a Roman Catholic family, Aguilar’s had a strict father, who was a chief of police. With firm disciplining and the strict rules and guidelines that he was told to follow, the young Freddie decided to ran away from home and ended up in a province that was foreign to him. He was isolated from his family, and would miss them, especially his mother.
His inspiration and emotions made Aguilar compose the song “Anak” which became a huge success all around the world. The song was translated into 28 languages and sung by more than 100 different artists from various nationalities.
Aguilar was feeling empty despite of all the fame and fortune. He then joined the Born Again Christian community but was aware that something was still missing in his life. He later followed no religion, but still in his heart he believed that there was one true God. After years, he found himself falling in love with a young lady (now his wife) whom he met during an election campaign in a province in Southern Luzon. The considerable age gap between them, which was ridiculed by the Philippine press and many of his followers, was the instigator for Aguilar to make the biggest decision of his life. With the help of a Muslim friend, he made a public declaration that “There’s no other God worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad (PBUH) is a slave and the final messenger of Allah”. He then decided to be known by his adopted Muslim name, Farid.
Aguilar also mentioned that since he became a Muslim, he felt peace in his life. All the rumors and negativity were blown away, he said, and his life has become a humble testament of Allah’s mercy. He also proudly announced that his son Jericho embraced the Islamic religion just before he delivered his lecture.
A powerful and and engaging presentation by Sheikh Nadhir Oquindo, titled “The Eternal Life” also highlighted. A well-known and respected preacher, Sheikh Oquindo completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology in the Philippines before flying to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to continue his studies at the Islamic University of Madina Al Munawarra, where he finished B.S. Daawah and Usool ad-Deen. He is presently a Secretary-General of Discover Islam in Baguio City, Philippines, an Islamic center that caters to the needs of Muslims as well as non-Muslims. He is also an active Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education Teacher at Josefa Carino Elementary School in Baguio City.
Sheikh Oquindo spoke about enlightening and the audience was told about the truth behind the concept of ‘life after death’. He stated that according to the teachings of Islam, there are only two places where we’re led after death: (1) Paradise with joy and peace, and (2) Hell with pain and sorrow. Sheikh Oquindo put emphasis on striving to be able to get to paradise. He said, one should follow the seven conditions of Islam including seeking knowledge of shahada and recognizing that Allah is the only one worthy of worship, firmness in the belief of Allah, acceptance that there is no other religion but Islam, compliance with the teachings of Islam, truthfulness in following the religion, sincerity in believing, and love for Allah.
After the Tagalog lecture, 12 members of the audience, including 10 women and 2 men adopted Islam as their religion on the spot.
The night also witnessed one of the finalists of the “Preacher of the Nation” competition step forward on stage to deliver an inspiring sermon in Arabic, and concluded with a raffle draw for members of the public attending the lecture, which saw exciting prizes being given away including “Umrah” trips, tablets, and smartphones.
The non-Arabic lectures at the 14th Dubai Ramadan Forum are delivered in five foreign languages, namely English, Malayalam, Urdu, Bengali, and Tagalog.
The 14th Dubai Ramadan Forum offers a bigger and improved agenda of various activities and events including Arabic and non-Arabic lectures, “Preacher of the Nation” competition, the “Convoy of Goodness” campaign, “Be a Preacher” zone, “Health of the Fasting” awareness campaign, mass Iftar tents, and Iftar experience for non-Muslims.
Other activities held as part of this year’s Forum include an exhibition on the “History and Art of Arabic Calligraphy” hosted at The Dubai Mall, and the “Origins of Creation” exhibition at the DWTC, which presents exclusive CGI animated posters and 3D animations containing verses of the Noble Qur’an talking about the origins of creation, along with the English translation of the Qur’anic verses and explanation.
The 14th Dubai Ramadan Forum has gathered support from strategic partners – Al Maktab for Culture & Media and Hamdan Bin Mohammed Initiative of Literary Creativity. Also as main sponsors, Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Holding LLC, Seddiqi Holding, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, Dubai Channels Network, and Flicker Show. The support sponsors include – DP World; iPhoneIslam; Tamani Marina Hotel and Apartment; Emirates National Oil Company Limited (ENOC) LLC; and Power Printing Press.
Photo courtesy: Supplied