Hawzah News Agency (Manila, Philippines) - Because it was foreign to his ears, at first he did not understand any word uttered by the muezzin. But it did not stop him from appreciating the melodious sound. "It was very expressive - both pious and poetic," he said.
From then on, the voice from the minaret of the nearby mosque at his accommodation in Naif, Deira, has become a regular fixture for him from before the break of dawn until he goes to bed at night.
He was amazed at how the faithful respond to Adhan and his curiosity led him to look deeper into his own spirituality. Despite being born to parents who are both Christian preachers - Malik's family belong to a Christian denomination called Jehovah's Witnesses who are known for their door-to-door preaching and distribution of Biblical literature - he said he himself wasn't particularly devout.
But he wanted to establish a strong relationship with God. So, he went to the Islamic Centre in Abu Hail, where he immersed himself in Arabic and Islamic Studies.
Another reason for his spiritual journey was to erase the pervading stereotype about Muslims. "Back in my hometown, because of prejudice and ignorance, we had this notion that 'Allahu akbar' is a battle cry uttered by someone who is about to perform jihad and blow himself up along with innocent people," Malik, who is the Dubai administrator of SMPII (Sangguniang Masang Pilipino International Inc.), told the KTimes.
"I was wrong. I learned and fully understood that Islam is a religion of peace - and I experienced first-hand in Dubai about religious tolerance and how people of various religions can live in peaceful co-existence," he added.
Malik fervently studied the Holy Quran, attended Islamic studies and even emerged on top of his batch during exams on Islam. He fully embraced Islam and became a Muslim on a propitious day: 10-10-10 or October 10, 2010, at age 40.
"I then adopted the name Malik, which is one of the Names of God in the Quran, and fully submitted myself to the will of Allah (SWT). When I recited the Shahada (oral declaration of faith) and uttered the words 'La Ilaha Illallah, Muhammadun Rasulullah' (which translates to "I testify that there is no other god but Allah, and Muhammad is God's messenger), I did it will full conviction," Malik said.
He added: "I felt like I was reborn, and I'm now living in God's grace. And it all started when I heard my first Adhan."