By Nicole Lagrimas
Another lunar cycle was completed, but this natural occurrence was not lost on us, especially to the Filipino Muslim community – when the sighting of the new crescent moon marks the beginning of a day of happiness, joy and repentance: the Eid al-Fitr.
Eid al-Fitr, Arabic for “The festival of the breaking of the fast,” is the tenth month in the Islamic calendar. It comes right after the Ramadan, a month-long daytime fast done by healthy Muslims all over the world in observance of one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which promotes restraint and self-discipline.
“Ramadan is considered a holy month because it was in this same month when the first verse of the Qur’an was revealed,” said Allynna-Haneefa Macapado, a Muslim and head of the People’s Struggles Committee of the UP Diliman University Student Council.
Since the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, Macapado said, the date of Eid al-Fitr is determined by the “moon-sighting of religious leaders” from various locations on the 29th day of Ramadan.
The rise of the hilal or new crescent moon signals the start of the annual celebration of the Eid al-Fitr. This year, it was seen on the night of Aug. 7 in several Arab and Muslim countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Jordan, Kuwait and Palestine.
A celebration for Filipino Muslims
In the Philippines, the Eid al-Fitr (or Feast of Ramadan) was set on Aug. 9,Friday. It was then declared a regular non-working holiday by President Aquino.
The celebration usually includes putting up house decorations, giving zakat or alms to the needy, praying in large outdoor venues, and sharing a feast or a simple meal with one’s family.
Thousands of Muslims in Metro Manila congregated in the Quirino Grandstand and performed their Eid prayers Thursday morning.
Muslims in Mindanao, though not simultaneous in their observance of the end of Ramadan, were also one in their prayers of love, peace and unity, especially now in the midst of bombings and tension in Cotabato.
Muslims in UP
The University of the Philippines Muslim Students’ Association, established in the 1960s and formally recognized in 1983, continues to organize and empower Muslim students within the university.
Macapado recalls no incident of discrimination in her two-year stay in UP.
“Alhamdulillah (praise be to God)… People in UP, I believe, are open–minded enough to not judge people based solely on their religious affiliations,” she said.
UP also houses the Institute of Islamic Studies, which was established to create a deeper rapport between Filipino Muslims and the rest of the national community.
“Let this (occasion) be a new beginning for us to be better Muslims, to serve the Ummah well, to protect our brothers and sisters especially the poor and oppressed ones, and to praise Allah in everything that we do in this dunya (world),” Macapado said.
While this day is especially for the Filipino Muslims, this is an opportunity for the rest of the country to appreciate the diversity in terms of religion, culture and tradition – a quality that is truly Filipino.