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Muslims start Ramadan today

COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: The Muslims from all over the world, including the Muslim Filipinos, have begun their 30-day fasting in the month of Ramadan today.

Aleem Said Ahmad Basher, chairman of the Imam Council of the Philippines said that they have started with their first day of fasting. In an exclusive interview with The Manila Times, Aleem Basher said he is happy to note that many Muslims from the different countries and practically all over the world have joined together to have a simultaneous start of their fasting beginning Thursday.

He said this is despite the fact that the Moon Sighting Committee tasked to gaze the crescent moon of the month of Ramadan failed to see it. “Maganda at nagkaisa ang buong mundo na June 18 ang umpisa ng Ramadan (It is nice that the whole world has united to make June 18 as the first day of Ramadan),” Aleem Basher said.

The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) secretary Yasmin Busran Lao, in coordination with other religious sectors including the Darul Iftah of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, a regional jurisconsult comprising of Ulama or Muslim clerics, declared Thursday as the official start of the holy month of Ramadan “as no one” in the country have seen the hilal or new moon on Tuesday.

The failure of the Moon Sighting Committee to see the crescent moon of Ramadan can be best explained by what a known Arab scholar in his observation.

As narrated by Ibn Umar from the book of Sahih Al-Bukhari: “When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadan), start observing Saum (fast), and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwal), stop observing Saum; and if the sky is overcast (and you can’t see it) then regard the crescent (month) of Ramadan (as of 30 days)”.

Aleem Basher who is one of the few Filipino Islamic scholars who graduated from the Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt said Saum (fasting) is obligatory upon the physically and mentally fit Muslim individual.

He also explained that when a person is observing his fasting he is forbidden to eat and drink before dawn to sunset. He is also prohibited from smoking cigarettes, avoid sexual intercourse with his wife; and he should not behave foolishly. And if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should say to him twice, “I am observing Saum (fast).

Fasting is therefore one of the five pillars of Islam required for every Muslim to perform every time the holy month of Ramadan comes.

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