The Friday Sermon to be translated into English and Urdu

The application will have a new feature to listen to the content of the Friday Sermon in English and Urdu via the Authority’s official application

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Staff Report

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments has announced an initiative to translate the content of the Friday Sermon into several languages available for listening and reading on the Authority’s mobile application.
The initiative is a result of a fruitful collaboration among many entities and institutions namely the Department of Community Development, the Statistics Centre – Abu Dhabi, Etisalat and Du. The first phase will include providing the content in English and Urdu. The initiative originates from the wise leadership’s vision in cementing the true understanding of our religious teachings among the expatriate Muslim communities, promoting the values of tolerance and cohesion and spreading love and harmony among all segments of society and communicating the weekly, purposeful Friday sermon to them.
The initiative also aims to fulfil the needs of a non-Arabic speaking community and to help them understand the messages and meanings of the Friday sermon irrespective of their languages and backgrounds, as one of the most significant means of guidance and influence to promote virtues and the tolerant values of Islam in society. The translation of the Friday sermon in many languages stems from the significance in fostering the Islamic values and raising awareness about the most critical social issues and disseminating the positive messages that contribute to building a cooperative, tolerant community.

Smart Service
The new service will enable non-Arabic speakers to listen to the Friday Sermon in English and Urdu through the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments’ mobile application. This is a pioneering governmental application in providing smart services to the public, whether individuals or entities and is in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, regarding the transformation towards m-Government. Today, the application has around half a million users.
The application will have a new feature to listen to the content of the Friday Sermon in English and Urdu via the Authority’s official application, based on a recent survey’s findings.

Outstanding Community Participation from Etisalat, Du and Abu Dhabi Media
As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, the Abu Dhabi media company, Etisalat and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company ‘Du’ have together played a prominent role in the success of the initiative.
Etisalat and Du are offering free data packages for the Friday sermon translation service users via the ‘AWQAF’ mobile application during the Friday prayer so that they can access to the application and listen to the translated sermon. The service will encourage the use of the service amongst the targeted audience where they will be provided with free data packages and will be exempt from payment of using the service. Moreover, the Abu Dhabi Media company has also mobilised its resources and expertise to create the media materials related to the initiative, and this should aid in the delivery of the service to the targeted segment and the success of the initiative.

These partnerships come in line with the effective role of the community participation and the wise vision of Abu Dhabi’s leadership of promoting the concept of civic engagement through activating the social role of companies and entities across all levels in the Emirate. For instance, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has announced a new organisation called ‘Together’ (Maan) marking the anniversary of the Zayed Humanitarian Work Day during the last Ramadan. This will promote the societal role of individuals and institutions in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Mohammed Matar Al Kaabi, Chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, said: “In the Year of Zayed, the father and the global leader of humanitarian initiatives, and through the continuous support of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, alongside with HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the UAE leaders, the Friday Sermon will be translated through the ‘AWQAF’ mobile application which will allow the application users to read or listen to the sermon in their preferred language.

Al Kaabi added that the Department of Friday Sermon, part of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, in cooperation with Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai and Sharjah Islamic Affairs prepares and reviews the content of the Friday Sermons so as to ensure that the sermons remain leading, moderate and positive in their topics.

Al Kaabi has also praised the combined efforts between the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments and the Department of Community Development which equally benefits both the local and expatriate populations living in the UAE, and enhance the values of the sermon in instilling mercy, happiness, optimism, and giving. Through this collaboration, sermons of high rationality and humanitarian characteristics that are suitable for all segments of society will be created.

Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development, said: “The leadership of Abu Dhabi has always cared for harnessing the diversity of nationalities amongst the expatriate population living in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi for being a crucial part of the social fabric. With this vision came the need for creating the appropriate culture and climate for the expatriate population to support their integration into society and to ensure cohesion between the different segments of society. In fact, the Friday Sermon is considered to be one of the strongest means of connection between the members of society for it still holds strong societal and religious meanings and values where people of different nationalities, languages and races all join under the roof of one mosque to listen to the sermon. As such, it was clear to us just how vital it was for all of the worshippers to be able to understand the sermon. Thus, the initiative of translating the sermon into both English and Urdu began to ensure that all worshippers get the chance to be involved in the sermon to benefit from all the values that the sermon carries.

“I would like to thank all the entities that contributed to the success of the initiative. Such an active involvement from all the parties is a reflection of how firmly organisations and entities within UAE believe in the power of having a fully integrated society and their willingness to funnel in expertise and resources to ensure benefits to society as a whole is achieved,” added Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili.

The service meets the public’s needs
According to findings of the survey, the Urdu language took the lead, where 55 per cent of respondents preferred the translation of the Friday Sermon into Urdu. Additionally, 92 per cent of the respondents were smartphone users. The findings of the survey were positive to ensure that the service is in agreement with the public needs and would contribute to promoting the level of understanding of the lofty meanings of the Friday sermon.
Considering the above, the Statistics Centre will conduct another survey during the coming months to measure the extent to which the public has benefited from the service and to obtain their feedback and recommendations and verify the extent to which the initiative has achieved its objectives.

Future Initiatives
The joint project between the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments and the Department of Community Development is currently working on developing a future plan to expand the scope of the initiative to include a broader range of foreign languages for non-Arabic speakers through the adoption of the state-of-the-art technologies to ensure delivering an accurate interpretation of the meanings of the Friday speech. -abdulbasit@theuaenews.com