Filipino Muslims prepare for Ramadan

John Unson - Philstar.com

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Clerics will start observing the skies Sunday night to monitor the new moon as basis for the start of the month-long Islamic Ramadan fasting season.

Local Islamic theologians said the Ramadan might possibly start Monday.

Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during the Ramadan, which lasts for one lunar cycle, about 28 to 29 days, as a religious obligation and as atonement for sins.

Islamic teachings also emphasize the need to fast at daytime during the Ramadan to inculcate among Muslims the importance of self-restraint to achieve spiritual perfection.

Imam Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, regional executive director of the Darul Iftah (House of Opinions) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), on Saturday told The STAR groups of clerics in the ARMM-component provinces will use newly-distributed Newtonian reflector telescopes in monitoring the appearance of the new moon starting Sunday night.

The sighting of the new moon will mark the end of the Islamic month of Shaban and the start of the Ramadan, a “holy month” among Muslims.

The ARMM’s Darul Iftah is comprised of clerics from across the autonomous region, among them graduates of the Al-Azzhar University in Cairo, Egypt and the World Islamic Call University in Libya.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

Muslims believe it was during Ramadan when Allah sent down from heaven angel Jibrail (Archangel Gabriel) to bring a Qur’an to Mohammad, while in a cave with his herd of animals.

Mohammad, an illiterate shepherd, was to become progenitor of Islam, revered for his acts of piety, fairness among his followers, regardless of colors and races, and for his examples of religious tolerance and co-existence with non-Muslims, including the Jews and the Christians.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said he had ordered the regional police office and members of the inter-agency regional peace and order council to cooperate in ensuring a peaceful observance of the Ramadan.

“This year’s Ramadan is meaningful because it comes after the May 9 local, regional and national elections. It will help rebuild bridges, mend fences and reconnect families and political leaders that became adversaries during the campaign period until the elections were over,” Hataman said.

He said Muslim employees of all ARMM departments and support offices shall be allowed to leave the office early in the afternoon for them to have enough time to prepare for their first meal after a day-long fast.

“But they have to report to work early and work during lunchtime. No noon break,” Hataman said.

He said the executive department of ARMM has lined up various religious and cultural activities during the fasting season.


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