'I wasn't really happy': From rappers to boxers, converts share journey to Islam at Emirati iftar

The iftar included traditional outfits and dishes for guests to try out


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Mon 1 Apr 2024, 8:45 AM

Last updated: Tue 2 Apr 2024, 5:05 PM

It was an evening of serenity as celebrities, including renowned rappers, professional boxers and influential people who embraced Islam gathered under one roof to break their fast.

The event titled Emirati Iftar Experience, showcased Emirati culture and iftar practices, and was hosted by Dar Al Bar Society and the Islamic Information Centre.

The evening kicked off with speeches by renowned religious Emirati and expat influencers, where they shared different practices that are followed in their cultures. This communal iftar served as a platform for them to share their journeys towards embracing Islam and reflecting on the significance of the holy month.

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One among them was Amir Muhaddith, popularly known by his stage name Loon, who used to be a rapper before embracing Islam. He transported the audience back to 2008, when he embraced Islam in Abu Dhabi.

“In 2005, I was in the UAE for a layover while I was going to Tanzania. And that was the first time I heard the Adhan (call to prayer), it struck cords with me. After that I travelled to a lot countries and finally in 2008, when I was at a hotel in Abu Dhabi, I became a Muslim,” said Amir.

Amir Muhaddith
Amir Muhaddith

“In 2011, I was invited to give a talk on Islam in the UAE and on the Emirati experience. A suhoor was spread for me, my wife and my daughter, and it was grand. That was the Emirati experience for me. I recently became a resident of UAE during the blessed month of Ramadan,” added Amir.

For Amir, Ramadan is an opportunity to get closer to God and to have an intimate relationship with his creator. “We all are born with this natural disposition that there is only one god,” he said.

A mouthwatering spread was laid at the gathering where local dishes like thareed, maqloub, luqaimat and harees for iftar took away all the limelight.

A special kiosk was set up for people to try out Emirati clothing like the kandoora for males and jalabia, abaya and niqab for the women.

Three time world champion in different weight class, Gambian-Swedish professional boxer Badou Jack, graced the event with his son. “My dad was a Muslim and I grew up with my mom. I took the Shahada when I was just 16 years old. I wasn’t practicing Islam to the fullest, but whenever I took a step closer to Allah, he took a thousand steps towards me,” said the former world champion.

Badou Jack
Badou Jack

“I am a resident of UAE and I enjoy the Emirati cuisine and traditional dishes that fill you and give a burst of energy but are light on you,” said Jack, adding that the kandoora is his favourite outfit.

Abdul Rahman, a Londoner and a resident of UAE, underwent transformation at the age of 18 when he embraced Islam. Raised as an atheist, his journey to Islam began at a party when a simple yet profound question about the purpose of existence ignited a quest for meaning nearly 32 years ago.

For two years, he dived into literature and engaged in discussions with various people, seeking answers to life's fundamental questions. It was at Hyde Park's Speakers' Corner where Abdul Rahman encountered a Muslim speaker talking about the teachings of the Quran. Struck by the integrity of the message, he found himself drawn to Islam's profound truths.

Abdul Rahman
Abdul Rahman

“After months of contemplation and study, I embraced Islam, finding solace and purpose in its teachings, convinced of the existence of a creator and the guidance provided through divine revelation. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of my spiritual journey, shaping my world view and guiding my path forward,” said Abdul Rahman.

“Before I became a Muslim, my life was all about having fun. I went to nightclubs, partied a lot, and did all sorts of things. But deep down, I wasn't really happy. True happiness, I learned, isn't just about having fun. It's about finding peace, even when things aren't going well. And that's what I found in Islam,” said Abdul Rahman.

“Now, no matter what's happening in my life - whether it's good or bad - I always feel peaceful. I know that life is a test from Allah, and it's up to me to handle it with faith,” he added.


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