Muslims celebrate end of Ramadan

Philippines — Muslims all over the country are set to celebrate Sunday, August 19, the annual Eid’l Fitr, a day that marks the end of the month-long fast or Ramadan.

Eid’l Fitr is celebrated by Muslims for three days after the end of the month of fasting. President Benigno Aquino III issued an executive order declaring Monday, August 20, as a regular holiday to celebrate the Muslim feast.

“To promote cultural understanding and integration, the entire Filipino nation should have the full opportunity to join their Muslim brothers and sisters in the observance and celebration of Eid’l Fitr,” Aquino said in a statement.

Titina F. Loong, 34, a doctor, said that Eid’l Fitr serves as an occasion for every Muslim family to gather and bond. “Aside from its religious significance, the day also becomes a reunion for everyone, families and friends. It is a special day for all us,” she said.

Special day

During Ramadan – the ninth month of the lunar calendar beginning with the sighting of the new moon – Muslim families gather around simple feasts, pray and converge to eat only at 6:00 p.m.

Fasting starts at daybreak.

Eid’l Fitr, which is locally known as Hari Raya Puasa, starts with an early morning prayer in mosques that lasts for about an hour.

“Eid’l Fitr for me is a cleansing and recognition of old and new ties… a fresh start from this day onwards knowing that you have been given another chance in life,” said Amer Yap Mitmug, 22, who works for an Islamic bank.

Munir N. Arbison Jr, a college student said that Eid’l Fitr brings back all his good childhood memories in his home province Sulu. “As a tradition, a new set of dress, attire is a requirement during the feast,” he said.

For most, it is the best time to celebrate life.

“It’s the best time to have a reunion among family members. I usually pay visit to my Dad’s grave after the prayer and celebration,” said Aleem Guiapal, a 35-year-old public servant and entrepreneur.

Alternate celebration

Muslims find more than one way to commemorate the end of Ramadan, albeit with the same spirit of celebration.

Members of the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN), a growing organization of Muslim professionals in the country, marked the end of the month-long fast with a medical outreach on Saturday, August 18 that catered to over 400 indigent residents in Sangali village here.

“This is our way of giving back to the community as Muslim professionals and it feels so special since we are doing this during the holy month, to be exact at the last day of Ramadan,” said Dr. Abdul Javar Esturco, 25.

YMPN is a non-government organization composed of young Muslim professionals that advocate peaceful means to improve the socio-economic well-being of the Filipino Muslims.

Sharing the tradition

The group also plans to hold an Eid’l Fitr gathering in Metro Manila on Sunday, August 26 at StarMall Alabang.

“Our group will be holding the historic Moro Youth (MY) Hari Raya 2012 which is anchored on the recognition of Muslim youth in the society to advance positive paradigm on Islam, and bridge harmony among different cultures and religions in the country,” said group’s convener Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, 26.

Usman said that the event will be an avenue to gather children, youth and other sectors of the society to celebrate peace and unity. “It will provide an opportunity for Muslims and non-Muslims to come together and enjoy the traditions of Ramadan.”

“MY Hari Raya celebration is a platform to enhance better understanding on Muslims and Islam–recognizing the need to address negative connotations and misperceptions on the beautiful Islamic faith,” she said.[]

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