Monday 27 March 2023 \


Dubai Filipino couple converts to Islam and finds peace

Over five million Filipino Muslims will join the entire Muslim world in the observance of Eid'l Ftir

Source : The National / 19 Jul 2014

Geraldine Paraiso, 28, could hardly contain her joy and excitement at the prospect of celebrating Eid Al Fitr with her husband at the end of the month.

The Filipino couple has spent each day of Ramadan fasting, praying and enjoying iftar meals at their home in Dubai’s Hor Al Anz area.

On July 7, she and her husband, Morris Almazan, 29, recited the shahada, or the testimony of faith, at a mosque in Abu Hail. They got married at the mosque two days later.

Ms Paraiso, who chose Zainab as her Muslim name, was first exposed to Islam during a holiday in Dubai in 2008. Her aunt, who is married to an Emirati, and her cousins had encouraged her to convert at the time.

She made a conscious effort to learn more about Islam and its teachings before deciding to leave her Roman Catholic roots behind.

“A kind Emirati gave me books and pamphlets about Islam,” said Ms Paraiso, who works in sales.

“I read the Quran with great interest. After embracing Islam, I felt a sense of peace and happiness.”

She had her mother’s blessing, which meant a lot to her. Her boss was equally happy and congratulated her.

“My mother said she hoped my conversion was wholehearted and sincere,” she said. “She told me that I should be prepared to make some sacrifices since I will have to undergo a lot of adjustments.”

Conversion to Islam is a simple process that requires converts to profess their shahada in front of two witnesses. This is the first pillar of Islam. The other four are prayer, fasting during Ramadan, giving to charity and going to Mecca at least once for pilgrimage.

“Islam has taught me a lot about respect, patience and being a loving and dutiful wife to my husband,” said Ms Paraiso, who married Mr Almazan in civil rites in the Philippines in 2010.

“I’ve developed a deeper sense of respect for him.”

She has learnt to dress more modestly and cover her hair with a shayla.

“I always find time to pray five times a day,” she said.

Mr Almazan, now known as Abdul Malik, said he had been thinking about embracing Islam for a long time.

“Our maid, who’s a Muslim, taught us the beauty of Islam and the belief that Allah is the one true God,” he said. “I’ve found the right path and made a wholehearted decision to convert to Islam.”

This Ramadan he felt the strong sense of community spirit and brotherhood as he joined hundreds of worshippers in a mosque near the Dubai International Hotel, where he works as a waiter.

“I’ve fasted since the start of Ramadan and pray five times a day,” Mr Almazan said. “I’m more patient with my wife and I’ve learnt to be more kind and respectful of others.”

The couple said they would like to perform Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, in the near future.

The ritual is the fifth pillar of Islam and a religious duty that every able-bodied believer must undertake at least once in his or her lifetime.

“We both found peace in Islam,” Ms Paraiso said. “This is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.”


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