Majority of Filipinos were delighted upon hearing the Presidential Proclamation No. 729, s. 2019, declaring June 5 to be a regular holiday in observance to the ‘Eidul Fitr, or the Feast of Ramadan. But just as Christians commemorate Holy Week as part of their holy canonical celebrations, Muslims also have the Ramadan.
The Muslim population make up 24.1% (1.8 billion) in the world – that’s almost ¼ of the entire human population. Almost, if not all of them, observe a month of prayer and penitence in commemoration the revelation of Qur’an.
To non-Muslims, the holiday would surely be another day to rest; but for Muslims, Ramadan is considered to be the holiest part of the Muslim calendar. But, in order to better appreciate the canonical celebration, one must first understand the significance of the Ramadan.
THE ‘EIDUL FITR
‘Eidul Fitr, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast, is one of the 2 festivities that Muslims celebrate. It marks the end of the Holy month of Ramadan when Muslims took part in periods of fasting from dawn to sunset, devotion to prayer, purification, and charitable acts. It requires devotees to strengthen their faith and remembrance to Allah and trains them self-discipline, self-control, gratitude, and empathy to the less fortunate.
Muslims in the Philippines fast for at least 14 hours a day. Consumption of foods and drinking water is also prohibited. ‘Eidul fitr is celebrated on the 1st day of Hijra or the Islamic month of Shawwal.
Exact date of Eid depends on both new moon sighting and astronomical calculations. The time when ‘Eid starts also depends on where you are in the world. The Eid prayer is performed by congregation in open areas like fields, community centers, or at mosques.
SIGNIFICANCE OF FASTING
The third pillar of the Islamic faith (Sawm) points out fasting as a discipline and embodiment of servitude to the Beloved (Allah). The fast should be accompanied with special prayers and good deeds, which could be learned from various spiritual and religious training programs being conducted. Muslims refrain themselves not only from committing unlawful acts, but also from consuming daily necessities such as eating and drinking starting from dawn until sunset.
The main objective on the month of Ramadan is to inculcate in man the spirit of abstinence from sin, as well as cultivation of good virtues in order to strengthen one’s patience, faith, gratitude, and reliance to God. It is also a month of forgiveness and charity works.
CLEARING UP ISSUES AND PRACTICING ETIQUETTE
1. Eating in Front of Muslims
While Muslims do keep the importance of fasting during Ramadan, there is actually nothing wrong with eating in front of them. However, please do understand that others may be offended out of disrespect. It’s better to approach them in a nice way and excuse yourself from eating in front of them.
2. Joining to Fast
You don’t actually need to fast along with Muslims. You may do so if you’re curious about their fasting habits and practices, but otherwise, it would be totally fine.
3. Joining for Iftar
Iftar is the breaking of the fast after the sunset (an evening meal) by which Muslims end the Ramadan celebration. You could actually join the communal meal even if you’re not a Muslim!
4. Appropriate Greetings
There are actually two appropriate greetings during the celebration of Ramadan: Ramadan Kareem and Ramadan Mubarak. The earlier means “Wishing for a generous Ramadan,” while the latter means “Have a blessed Ramadan.” Refrain from greeting “Happy Ramadan!” to Muslim celebrants because it may offend others, since many Muslims focus on the spiritual aspect, rather than the celebration itself.
Muslims gather together to thank Allah for helping them get through Ramadan.
The Philippines will celebrate ‘Eidul Fitr 1440 AH (Anno Hegirae, meaning “in the year of the Hijra“) on this day, June 5, 2019. Muslims in Cebu usually gather and perform ‘Eid salah (‘Eid prayer) at the Plaza Independencia.