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Moonrise tonight marks end of Muslim holy month of Ramadan

Muslim faithful all over the country begin tonight a nationwide sky watch to monitor the rising of the crescent moon signaling the end of the holy month of Ramadan.


The Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA) has deployed moon watchers in Manila, Marawi City, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro and other parts of the country to monitor the rising of the moon.


In Manila, Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin urged Muslims yesterday to continue observing their religious values and work toward "authentic peace" in the country.


In a message for the closing of the 29-day Ramadan, Sin said Muslim men and women have a role to play in the promotion of peace, justice and development.


According to the lunar calendar which is being used by Muslim religious scholars in the observation of Ramadan, the moon is expected to rise on Dec. 4.


Sky watchers, composed of Muslim high priests equipped with radio and cellphones, will report their sighting of the crescent moon in their location to the OMA central office in Quezon City.


Aside from the official sky watchers, Muslim faithful are also expected to gather in open fields to have a personal glimpse of the moon.


"The sky watch will start at dusk and as soon as the crescent moon is sighted, the OMA will officially announce the end of Ramadan," Datu Zamzamin Ampatuan, OMA executive director told The STAR.


OMA director for Region X Ombra Gandamra said that they have already formed a "moon-sighting coordinating committee" which is tasked to look for the moon using the facilities of PAGASA.


"Once they have sighted the moon, they will then sound the alarm to all our Muslim brothers and sisters here that the Ramadan is officially ended," he said.


Ampatuan said the end of Ramadan also marks the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the most festive celebration in the Islamic community.


The sighting of the moon also signals the start of the month of Sahwwal in the lunar calendar.


President Arroyo has declared Dec. 6 a national holiday, but the actual end of Ramadan will be determined by the rising of the crescent moon tonight.


In a statement, Gov. Parouk Hussin of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao expressed the appreciation of Muslims in the country for Mrs. Arroyo’s declaration of Eid al-Fitr as a national holiday.


"The Muslims will long remember this precedent-setting declaration by President Arroyo that Eid al-Fitr would be observed as a holiday for both Muslims and Christians," Hussin said.


Ampatuan said this is the first time since the rule of the Sultan of Sulu that the Eid al-Fitr Harirayah Puasaya Puasa has been declared a holiday.


The Islamic celebration is family-oriented marked by congregational prayers in mosques or open fields immediately after sunset tomorrow.


The celebration of the holy month of Ramadan varies every year, depending on the cycle of the moon. Ramadan is one of the pillars observed by the Muslim faithful all over the world. – Perseus Echeminada, Mayen Jaymalin, Bong Fabe

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