DUBAI- More than 5,000 people thronged Zabeel Hall at the World Trade Centre on Thursday evening to hear one of the world’s foremost scholars on Islam deliver an inspirational and thought-provoking lecture – organized as part of the 13th edition of the Ramadan Forum – that offered a completely new perspective on the issue of expression of Islamic identity and left the multi-faith audience awe-struck.
The cavernous hall was packed to capacity as Dr. Naik – a highly popular Indian speaker whose talk was billed as one of the highlights of this year’s Ramadan Forum lecture series – took to the stage to present his lecture on the theme, ‘If the Label Shows Your Intent, Wear It’.
For the next hour and more, the crowd listened with rapt attention as Dr. Naik addressed some of the fundamental issues facing today’s Muslims, including the critical question of identity and belonging and the persistent labeling of Muslims in the present-day world, before making a compelling case that a true Muslim must not only strive to preserve his religious identity but wear his faith proudly.
“If you are proud to be a Muslim, you should look like a Muslim. You don’t have to hide your Muslim identity by trying to look or dress in a manner that makes your religious identity indistinguishable only in order to blend into society,” Dr. Naik said. “It is the duty of each Muslim to be recognizable to his fellow brothers and sisters in Islam.”
At the end of the hard-hitting lecture, the audience which included a sizeable segment of non-Muslims erupted in rapturous applause; the lecture was followed by an engaging question and answer session which went on for more than an hour and a half.
During the question and answer session, 7 non-Muslims among the audience – 3 from India, 3 from the Philippines and 1 from Cameroon – expressed their desire to embrace Islam, inspired by Dr. Naik’s convincing, logic-based response to their queries. They duly joined the “Ummah” by reciting the “Kalimah” led by Dr. Naik.
A medical doctor by training, Dr. Naik has lectured on Islam and comparative religions all around the world to packed audiences. He is ranked in the top 62 list of the ‘500 Most Influential Muslims in the World’ published by George Washington University in the year 2011 and 2012. Dr. Naik, 47, is also the president of the Islamic Research Foundation, Mumbai, and one of the founders of Peace TV, the Islamic channel with the largest viewership of any religious channel in the world.
Alongside Thursday’s lecture, a blood donation drive was organized in the true spirit of Ramadan, as part of the ‘Health of the Fasting’ awareness campaign. Another key event of the day involved the ‘Preacher of the Nation’ competition, with 11-year-old Abu Hanash Abdul Rasheed stepping up before the audience to give a sermon in English.
As part of the Ramadan Forum, two ‘Ramadan Forum Umrah’ packages, two Samsung S5 smartphones and two iPad Air tablets were given away in a raffle draw. Participants can increase their chances of winning by registering on the forum website: www.almultaqa.ae, via the iOS and Android apps or at the venue itself.
The Ramadan Forum is set to host an insightful lecture in Tagalog on Saturday evening (12th July), which will be co-presented by Omar Penalber and Nuh Caparino. Penalber, Vice President of the ‘Islamic Studies, Call & Guidance of the Philippines (ISCAG)’ centre, and Caparino, a well-known Islamic speaker who has served at prestigious da’wah organizations in both KSA and the Philippines, will deliver a talk on ‘Islam: Past, Present and Future’.
The 13th annual Ramadan Forum is organized by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and is being held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation. The 12-day forum will run until July 14, 2014 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), offering an enhanced and bigger agenda of activities and events this year including educational programs, training workshops and more.