Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Muslims kick off Ramadan

source: philstar.com

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The country’s Muslim community started last Saturday the observance of Ramadan during which they fast from dawn to dusk and focus on good deeds and reparation for wrongdoings for one lunar cycle, or 30 days.

Islam prescribes abstention from food and water from sunrise to sunset, and sex at daytime, to inculcate among Muslims the importance of self-restraint to achieve spiritual perfection and harmony with people regardless of religion and racial identities.

The observance of the 30-day Ramadan is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, which include praying five times a day facing the direction of Mecca, Saudi Arabia; giving of zakat or alms to the poor; performing the hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca (for the financially capable); and fear of Allah.

Ramadan is also a season when Muslims reconcile with adversaries and resolve family disputes through dialogue.

It is also a strong tradition among wealthy Muslims to share food with poor neighbors for buka, or the first meal after a day-long fast, believing the gesture would earn divine indulgence and forgiveness of sins.

“The mere intention alone of giving even just a glass of water for someone who is to break a fast lasting from dawn to dusk is already sure of earning a reward from Allah. That’s what Islamic teachings say,” said Mayor Hadji Tucao Mastura of Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao, an active benefactor of local da’awah (preaching) activities by different Islamic organizations.

Mastura, provincial chairman of the Liberal Party for Maguindanao, and his brother, Mayor Armando Mastura of Sultan Mastura town, allocate P200,000 of their personal money every Ramadan for food supplies they provide to mosques in impoverished communities in their respective municipalities.

Ustadz Esmael Ebrahim, newly appointed commissioner of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, said fasting for the Ummah (Islamic world) is also a sacrifice meant to let the wealthy realize how the poor feel when they are hungry.

“Muslims, regardless of what nationality, will feel absolute equality with all Muslims around them. Islam has a strong teaching on equality of all men,” Ebrahim said.

Islamic books tell of Islam’s greatest prophet, Mohammad, telling his followers to “fast when you see the new moon, break your fast when you see the new moon” in teaching them when to start and end the 30-day Ramadan period.

There are stories of how Mohammad and his poorly equipped army defeated strong pagan empires in the ancient Arabian deserts of the Middle East during the Ramadan.

According to historians, the most famous of these campaigns, waged in defense of land, race and religion, was the Battle of Bad’r, where Mohammad and his army of only about 300 fighters defeated more than 3,000 warriors of mixed Arab groups from what are now the independent states of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Mujiv Hataman, formally inaugurated Thursday afternoon a Ramadan trade fair inside the 32-hectare ARMM compound where native delicacies are to be sold at low prices.

Hataman said employees of the ARMM’s line agencies and support offices will work from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday during the Ramadan so they can leave their offices early and have enough time to prepare food for their buka, which families partake of after fasting from dawn until sunset.

Harsh punishment

The central leadership of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), meanwhile, warned yesterday their members of harsh punishment if they fire guns in revelry to greet the start of the 30-day Ramadan season.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, said their forces will not use guns in their revelry to highlight the start of the month-long fasting.

Jaafar said violators will be penalized and disarmed.

The ARMM police have a long list of recorded deaths and injuries as a result of firing of guns in celebrating of either the start of Ramadan or the Eid’l Fitr, the culmination of the month-long fasting season.

For his part, Cotabato City Vice-Mayor Muslimin Sema, chairman of the largest of at least three factions in the MNLF, said his followers have also been ordered not to use their guns to greet the start of Ramadan.

Sema said the MNLF will let the ARMM police criminally prosecute any member caught firing a gun once clerics see the new moon.

“There is no single verse in the Qur’an which espouses Muslims to create noise in any religious celebration. Religious teachings tell us to be solemn always in any religious event and spend what we have to feed our poor and needy neighbors rather than use our money to show pomp and vanity,” Sema said.

“Firing of guns during revelries is extravagance. It is a wrong tradition, thus, why start the holy month with a wrongdoing? It’s good to start the observation of Ramadan with group prayers among relatives, friends,” Sema said.

Major Gen. Rey Ardo, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said any soldier or member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit under his jurisdiction caught firing guns will be dishonorably discharged from the military service.

source: philstar.com

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