Millions of Muslims around the world, including the Muslim Ummah among Muslim Filipinos,ended their fast on Thursday and will mark the much-awaited Eid’l Fitr (Feast of Ramadan) today, with Muslim leaders praying for lasting peace in Mindanao.
Eid’l Fitr is celebrated as a national holiday after then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law Republic Act 9177 declaring the festival ending the holy Muslim month as a non-working holiday.
Hariraya Puasa, another term for Eid’l Fitr especially for the Tausugs of Sulu, is a joyous occasion similar to Christmas in its celebration but with strong religious significance. It is literally the Feast of Breaking the Fast and is naturally the day when Muslims are no longer allowed to observe fasting.
Eid’l Fitr falls on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month that follows Ramadan as the 9th month in the Hegira or Islamic calendar. This year, Eid’l Fitr is celebrated simultaneously around the world on July 17, 2015, which is equivalent to Shawwal 1, 1436. The Islamic calendar follows the phases of the moon, which can make it confusing to people who are used to reading the Gregorian calendar.
Unlike in past celebrations, Eid’l Fitr varies since it is depending on visual confirmation of the crescent-moon of the month of Shawwal.
In the book of Sahih Al-Bukhari, it says “stop observing Saum [fasts]on seeing the crescent-moon of Shawwal.” It is naturally the day when Muslims are no longer allowed to observe fasting.
Aleem Said Ahmad Basher, chairman of the Imam Council of the Philippines, explained that Muslims express their gratitude to Allah for enabling them to observe the major acts of worship and performance of the 30-day fasting during Ramadan preceding each Eid.
Aleem Basher said the number of days in Ramadan is categorized into three phases. Now since Muslims are going to end their fast today, the period from 21st to the 29th day is known as “itkan minan nar” or to save from hell fire. While the 1st day to 10th day of Ramadan is “rahma” meaning mercy; and 11th day to 20th day is known as “magfira,” which means forgiveness.
According to the Sunnah or traditions of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), everyone is urged to attend Eid’l Fitr prayers.
A Takbir Murshal is being chanted akin to the pabasa during the Christian Holy Week. This is being done before the Eid’l Fitr prayer. Thus before the prayer, the Muslims will chant the Takbir for Eid’l Fitr wherein loud chanting is one of the greatest Sunnahs of this day. The transmitted wordings of Takbir are: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illa allah; Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Walillah Al-hamd Allahu Akbaru Kabeeran, Wal hamdu lillahi Katheeran.”
It means “Allah is the greatest. There is no god worthy of worship except Allah. Mohammad is the messenger of Allah. All praise be to Allah. God is greatest than everything that exists. High gratefulness and thankfulness is to be to Allah, the creator.”
Hence, an early morning prayer before sunrise known as Eid’l Fitr prayer will culminate the end of the 30-day fasting in the holy month of Ramadan. This is highlighted by congregational prayers to be held usually inside the mosque or to some extent in an outdoor location or open space as long as the prayer is geared towards the Qiblah or direction of the Holy Kaabah in Makkah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“The solemn day of Hariraya Puasa provides the Muslim an opportune time to have a new dawn, to reform his character as he strides and stays the course of his life and of his children’s future in order to better the man,” according to Aleem Basher.
Aleem Basher, an alumnus of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, also explained that during the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict fast and participate in pious activities such as charitable giving and peace-making.
It is a time of intense spiritual renewal for those who observe it. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous celebration called Eid’l Fitr.
The observance of fasting in the month of Ramadan is very significant since it was also during the time of Ramadan when the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon Him).
The giving of a special charity known as Fitra for this occasion is obligatory for every Muslim. Therefore, before the day of Eid, during the last few days of Ramadan, each Muslim family gives a determined amount as a donation to the poor. This donation is of actual food — rice, dates, etc. — to ensure that the needy can have a holiday meal and participate in the celebration. This donation is known as Sadaqah Al-Fitr (charity of fast-breaking).
Among Muslim Filipinos and just like any other Muslims in the different countries, right on the day of Eid they undergo the usual taking of a bath in the early morning, then perform the ritual washing or ablution. Then don new or wear the best clothes, and splash perfume before heading out to the mosque or other place of gathering to join the Eid’l Fitr congregational prayer.
After the prayer one is obliged to listen intently to the Khutbah or special sermon of the Imam and should not leave the prayer area unless the Imam has finished the delivery of his sermon.
Datu Yusoph Boyog Mama, a Muslim leader from the Islamic City of Marawi and concurrently the regional director of the Philippine Amateur Track And Field Association (Patafa) for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has called upon the entire Filipino nation to join the Muslim Filipinos in the celebration of the Eid’l Fitr.
Datu Mama, whose agency deals with physical fitness, said Ramadan is a cultivation of spiritual fitness and purification through the practice of month-long austerity and disciplines through fasting involving consciousness of thoughts and actions.
“It is my prayer that my fellow Muslims and other residents, our Christian brothers and sisters and even the Lumads, in ARMM continue to engage, to lobby and to champion measures that will further peace and tranquillity in the region,” he added.
Somehow, Eid Fitr is not only a day of joy and thanksgiving to Allah, but also a day of reconciliation for among those with misunderstanding, as well as a day to foster brotherhood, and unity toward peace.
Vice President Jejomar Binay said the end of Ramadan is a time for government officials to reflect on their service to others and how compassionate they have been to people in need.
For the past month, followers of Islam “have sought to cleanse themselves spiritually and make a conscious effort to follow God’s commandments, all in the desire to bring themselves closer to Him.”
Charity is a concept “deeply ingrained” in the celebration of Eid’l Fitr, where they have gained a better understanding of the needs of others during their holy month of fasting and worshiping.
“This exhortation to think of others is one that resonates not only with Christians, but with all who aspire to a meaningful life,” Binay said.
“For us in government, it is a timely reminder to put ourselves in the shoes of others–to think of the agony that our people experience daily so we can understand the cost of inaction on longstanding issues like public transport, access to health care and education and employment,” he added.
Binay sincerely hopes that with such understanding, government officials can start acting with compassion in addressing woes of the people that public servants have sworn to fix as their duty.
“As we Filipinos chart a path toward a future where peace and progress for all reign, the call to charity in Eid’l Fitr is a timely reminder for us to think of and act for others,” the Vice President said.
With BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON