Esmail Bullock Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: The Muslim community should be the support mechanism of new Muslims so they can be guided in leading new lives, Islamic scholars said at the New Muslim Summit in Dubai on Saturday.

“The biggest challenge for New Muslims is social pressure. With making such a drastic change in their lives, often they feel cast out as they cannot do the things anymore that they used to do,” Nabeel Azeez, member of the executive committee of Kalemah Islamic Centre, told Gulf News.

“When some lose friends and family members, they lose their sense of belonging. So it’s the communal obligation of Muslims to welcome them and guide them into their new life,” he added.

The two-day Islamic conference held at the Cultural and Scientific Association theatre in Al Mamzar aimed at addressing specific issues and questions New Muslims face. New Muslims are a rapidly growing community in the UAE, with more than 1,500 people embracing the faith yearly.

“We noticed that there is a void, a niche, if you will, where these issues and needs of new Muslims are not being met in the current system. One of the issues include lack of access to accurate information about Islam. There is no systematic education for new Muslims, that’s the biggest problem,” Azeez said.

Some certain issues like choosing a Muslim name, or growing a beard, for example, shouldn’t be rushed as they could overwhelm new converts, British Islamic scholar Ismail Bullock said at the summit.

Instead, the community should make it a point to welcome new Muslims and encourage them to “read, learn and seek the truth.”

Bullock encouraged born Muslims and new Muslims alike to pursue Islamic knowledge and study the Quran.

He emphasised on the importance of knowing five compulsory knowledge first being understanding the Shahada or confession of faith in Islam, second, the knowledge of the life and teachings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), third, the knowledge of the five pillars of Islam, fourth, the knowledge of what is permissible and forbidden, and lastly, the knowledge that relates to the affairs of the heart and one’s character.

The summit, which was attended by more than 1,000 Muslims and new Muslims, was held in English, Tagalog and Mandarin.

“Filipinos comprise 60 per cent of the new Muslim converts in Dubai and same goes in the UAE. They have always been a strong community here. The Chinese community embracing Islam has been growing very rapidly as seen in the programmes that we have for them at Kalemah,” Azeez said.