Ramadhan begins in the Philippines

Ramadhan begins in the Philippines

The official start of Ramadhan varies throughout the world since it is traditionally determined upon the sighting of the new moon. This year, the month-long celebration of Ramadhan in the Philippines started on July 10. For years, Filipino citizens have shown unity and respect during the Holy Month of Ramadhan. What is Ramadhan?

In observance of the Holy Month of Ramadhan, our Muslim brothers and sisters practice fasting, or Sawm, one of the five pillars of the Islam faith. The five pillars of Islam are (1) Shahadah, means believe only to one God; (2) Salah, praying five times a day; (3) Zakat or charitable giving, (4) Fasting during month of Ramadhan; and (5) Hajj, Pilgrimage to Mecca. So why do they fast?

Many people know that Ramadhan is all about fasting – abstinence from eating and drinking. Yes, this is true and fasting starts before sunrise and ends at sun down. But aside from that, they also avoid mundane activities like conjugal relations, strolling in malls, etc. Why? Because during Ramadhan Muslims focus and devote great time to Allah alone.

How important is this to our fellow Muslims? Through fasting they learn self-control and discipline that help them become better persons. When they feel hungry or thirsty, they learn compassion as they are reminded of the poor. It is believed that during the month of Ramadhan, the gates of Heaven are opened and the doors leading to Hell are closed in the meantime. Therefore it is important to avoid all wrongdoings. Muslims ask for forgiveness and offer great time worshiping, asking for guidance, reflecting on faith, and cleansing their souls. Ramadhan is the time to redeem oneself. It’s like starting anew. These admirable acts have become a true testament of solidarity and devotion. Muslims believe in life after death. In practicing the five pillars of Islam and good deeds, they achieve success and happiness in life after death. They believe that serving Allah is their ultimate goal.

They also believe that angels descend from heaven and those who conform to the traditions of Ramadhan will have their wishes granted. Also, it has been known that the Holy Quran was revealed to Muhammad in the month of Ramadan.

However, exceptions in fasting apply to pregnant women, and those have their period; the elderly, children, and the sick. Children don’t necessarily have to fast until they reach the age of puberty. Those exempted can make up for the lost days after Ramadhan and Eid al-Fitr.

The holy month of Ramadhan usually lasts for about 29-30 days and its end is marked by the 3-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr. This highlights Muslim brotherhood and family traditions where they share meals together thus creating a harmonious relationship with each other. It creates a wonderful sense of enthusiasm among Muslims. They look forward to having specially prepared meals with their loved ones. Eid is like a reward for all the sacrifices during Ramadhan. Muslims feast, buy new clothes, visit family and friends, and engage in charitable acts like giving sadaqah (alms) to children or the poor. Charity is an important obligation for Muslims and this is greatly emphasized during Ramadhan.

The Philippines has become home to diverse races, cultures and religions. And despite these individual differences, the acceptance, respect and understanding among each other have brought about harmony among communities and growth of our nation.

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