Encounter with Death and Faith
By Fozail Aqdas Ghazali
An experience at sea caused a turn around in the life of Legaspi. On close observation of life in the Saudi Kingdom, he joined the fold of the faithful.
Legaspi was born in a poor fisherman’s family in December 1959 in the Bicol province of South Philippines. Living a life full of adventures and hardships, he used to help his father in fishing since he was hardly seven. His mother stayed at home and grew vegetables in the backyard. Hardships since childhood made him more determined to fight against odds.
Legaspi wanted to become a pilot, and after graduating from high school, sat for the entrance test at the Philippines Military Academy, but failed. So, in 1981, he enrolled at the Philippines Merchant Institute to obtain a degree in catering services and became a waiter at the Metropolitan Sports Club in Manila. However, life in a big city was hard as he had to support a big family. His only alternative to improve his financial position was to seek work abroad. He arrived in Jeddah in November 1991 and since then he is working as a butler at the residence of his sponsor, Jamal Jawa.
Narrating an episode which turned his life around, Legaspi says: “One day I went fishing alone. This took me far from the shores. Suddenly, a typhoon surrounded my boat and seeing the capsizing of the boat imminent, I jumped out and started swimming towards the shores. But, I was not an expert swimmer. I was far from the shores and was too little, too weak to swim to the shores safely. At that dreadful moment, I prayed to God to save me and make me His servant, providing me with opportunities to do the deeds that invoke His blessing and happiness. Then, I, somehow, managed to swim to the shores safely. That was the most remarkable moment of my life which I still recall. A miracle, a struggle against the lethal high tides and waves of the sea, an unforgettable experience to fight back..”
As Legaspi was born in a Catholic family, he celebrated the Holy Week, Christmas and attended Sunday congregational prayers. Although not convinced with the Biblical doctrines, he had to study the Bible at his school. The problem was the differences in various versions of the Bible and the sharp differences among the followers of various sects of Christianity, all claiming to have the “original” version with them. This made him nervous and confused. He prayed to God to show him the right path and give him wisdom and insight to distinguish right from wrong, truth from falsehood.
After coming to the Kingdom seven years ago, Legaspi observed closely the Islamic culture and social traditions. “The serene words of the adhan always strike deep into my heart. They make me feel never to forget my Lord. It urges me to practise His teachings even in business trade and family affairs. The annual Haj perpetuates the concept of brotherhood and universality of the teachings and guidance which God sent down through Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). Muslims are one nation, wherever they live, whatever languages they speak. Divisions of geographical regions, language and race do not divide them. They have only one text of the Holy Qur’an and anyone can understand its teachings directly from it if he properly learns the Arabic language. Its language is so simple and its teachings so appealing that even an ordinarily educated person can easily follow them. Finally, I took the bold decision and became a Muslim on December 29, 1997, in Jeddah.”
Legaspi changed his name to Mustafa. He joined the Islamic Education Foundation on Prince Majed Street in Jeddah this year to enhance his Islamic knowledge and to learn the Arabic language.
(Courtesy Saudi Gazette)