• Ramadan inspires ‘peace, progress’

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    AS the holy month of Ramadan commences today, President Benigno Aquino 3rd called on some ten million Filipino Muslims to “foster greater understanding and cooperation” with other faiths to attain “lasting peace and progress.”

    “Warmest greetings to the Muslim-Filipino community as you begin the observance of Ramadan. As one of the five pillars of Islam, this sacred month calls the faithful to seek to be closer to Allah and to ask for His mercy,” the President said in his message.

    “It is a vital aspect in the life of every Muslim, as this occasion allows not only for contemplation and atonement, but also for you to be more mindful of the Prophet’s teachings,” Aquino added.

    The Chief Executive also urged everyone to remain united to attain lasting peace and stability.

    “May your prayer and fasting evoke a deeper and more profound connection with your heritage and faith, inspire discipline, restraint, and generosity of spirit; and help guide you towards becoming greater embodiments of harmony and social justice,” he said.

    ”I wish you a solemn and meaningful Ramadan, may this event foster greater understanding and cooperation among our varied faiths, and guide the Philippines towards lasting peace and progress,” Aquino said.

    Presently, the Aquino administration is in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the biggest Muslim rebel group in the country that has been waging a decades-old war against the government.

    Ramadan, one of the most important Islamic occasions observed by Muslims annually, is celebrated worldwide during the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is a period of fasting, reflection and sacrifice.

    Ramadan would have started on July 9 but the crescent moon, which signals the start of fasting, was not sighted.

    Muslim scholars called mufti declared the official start of Ramadan today.

    The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos deployed moon-sighting committees nationwide to help them confirm and announce the official start of the Holy Month.

    Considered as one of the greatest religious observances in Islam, Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar or Hijrah. The calendar has 12 months that follow the phases of the moon.

    Since Ramadan depends on the lunar calendar, the date of Ramadan varies every year.

    The month lasts 29 to 30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramida or ar-ramad, which means scorching heat or dryness.

    Fasting is “obligatory for adult Muslims, except those who are ill, traveling, pregnant, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding.

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