COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: Muslim Filipinos together with other Muslims throughout the world particularly in Islamic countries simultaneously celebrated on Thursday, September 24, the Eid’l Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice amid confusion after Malacanang Palace declared instead today, September 25, as a regular holiday in observance of Eid’l Adha.
This prompted former secretary and now Commissioner Mehol Sadain of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) to write an open letter to President Benigno Aquino 3rd thru Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. to correct the date of Proclamation 1128 dated September 15 that declared September 25 as a regular holiday for the observation of Eid’l Adha.
Sadain explained that as determined by the highest religious authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and here in the Philippines, the date of Eid’l Adha and its observance by way of an early morning prayer is on September 24, not September 25.
He said correcting the date in the proclamation will redound to the benefit of the Muslims in the Philippines who, after all, are the primary and direct beneficiaries of the holiday.
“This will save our country from being criticized by the Muslim world for declaring a holiday after the occasion has lapsed,” the NCMF commissioner pointed out in his letter.
Notwithstanding this appeal, Malacanang has not issued another proclamation making September 24 the day for observing Eid’l Adha.
But Muslims nevertheless went on with their early morning Eid congregational prayer followed by the celebration as scheduled.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd wished Muslims in the Philippines and around the world “solidarity” and “tranquility” on the eve of Eid’l Adha.
“Let solidarity, tranquility and clarity of purpose prevail over you on this solemn occasion as you ruminate on Ibrahim’s tale that reveals unwavering, empowering faith and the tenacity of the human spirit,” Aquino said in his message in observance of the Muslim feast.
Eid’l-Adha is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah’s (God’s) command to sacrifice his son Ishmael.
“May this day likewise remind us of the stories of sacrifice upon which we built our nation; we owe this era of peace to those who laid down their lives to secure a better future for their countrymen,” the President said.
“Never will we let their honor be tainted by mistrust, viciousness and malice sowed by those who seek to hinder us on our march along daang matuwid [straight path],” he added.
In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. expressed the entire government’s solidarity with the Muslim community.
Eid’l Adha or Hari Raya Hadji is a culmination of the annual Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.
More or less 5,000 Muslim Filipinos every year travel for several thousands of miles to participate in this annual pilgrimage to the holy land of the Muslims.
This year, more than 8,000 Filipino Muslims are now in Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Aleem Said Ahmad Basher, chairman of the Imam Council of the Philippines, explained that Eid’l Adha is a tribute to Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim among Muslims), for his willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in obedience to God’s command and test of faith.
“The Eid’l Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice retells and commemorates the beautiful story of Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son Ishmael to demonstrate his trust in Allah,” according to Aleem Basher.
All Muslims aspire to undertake the hajj, or the annual pilgrimage, to the Kaaba once in their life if they are able.
The Kaaba is a cube-shaped structure that is of granite masonry, covered with silk curtain and calligraphy in gold and silver-wrapped thread.
Prayer five times a day and the hajj are two of the five pillars of Islam, the most fundamental principles of the faith.
Upon arriving in Mecca, pilgrims gather in the courtyard of the Masjid al-Haram around the Kaaba.
They then circumambulation (tawaf in Arabic) or walk around the Kaaba, during which they hope to kiss and touch the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad), embedded in the eastern corner of the Kaaba.
Indeed, one of the highlights of hajj ritual is the observance of this Uqof or standing in the valley of Mt. Arafat near Mecca, which is considered as the paramount hajj ritual and that took place on September 24.
Billions of pilgrims from several countries gathered together in this valley.
“If you have not observed the Uqof in Arafat, your performance of hajj is invalid,” according to Aleem Basher.
Datu Yusoph Boyog Mama, the reigning “Masirikampo” sa Marawi, or traditional royal chieftain, in his Eid’l Adha message said, “as the commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his first-born son Ishmael, it is my sincere prayer that devout Muslims in the Philippines would sincerely love and secure their families, especially their beloved children who are true hope and future of Muslim Filipinos.”
“My greetings to our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been blessed this year to perform one of the five pillars of Islam, the pilgrimage or hajj to the holy land of Mecca, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added.
To start the celebration, thousands of Muslims on Thursday performed khutba, a congregational prayer in mosques and open fields in various parts of this Catholic nation.
In Marawi City, the khutba was conducted at mosques and open fields most notably at Islamic center mosque, Jamiatu Muslim Mindanao’s soccer field and Mindanao State University-Main Campus’ oval field, with loud chant heard praising Allah and His prophets with prayers for peace and prosperity in the country.
In Cotabato City, the seat of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, ORG Compound, the People’s Palace and Sultan Bulkiah grand mosque were among place filled with young and old Muslim individuals.
Sheep and goat are the usual livestock being offered during the festivity for the sacrifice called Qurban in honor to Abraham’s strong faith in God, aside from cow and buffalo, among other halal meat in the country.
WITH MOH SAADUDDIN AND JOEL M. SY EGCO