The Muslim community in Cebu called for unity and peace as they began celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the end of their holy month of Ramadan yesterday.
The day was marked with the offering of prayers and feasting, said Melo Manonggiring, regional director of the National Commission on Muslim Philippines.
Eid al-Fitr or the “Festival of the Purification After Completing the Fasting Month” is celebrated for three days after Ramadan, he said.
“Today is a day of bonding and sharing,” Manonggiring told Cebu Daily News.
“This is also a day of forgiving and support.”
He said Muslims visit and reconcile with one another and share food and money with the poor during the festivity.
Saudi Arabia announced that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, characterized by dawn-to-dusk fasting and heightened piety, ended after sunset Monday when the new moon was spotted. Muslims follow a lunar calendar.
Saudi Arabia said the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of Ramadan would begin Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia is home to the main Muslim holy sites.
Egypt and several other Arab countries said they, too, will observe Eid al-Fitr starting Tuesday.
The month of fasting and extended prayer began Aug. 1.
For many Muslims, Ramadan is a spiritual exercise, a lesson in self-restraint and a time for empathy and charity.
It is observed by millions of believers around the world.
Manonggiring said there are around 90,000 Muslims in Metro Cebu.
At least 3,000 gathered in Cebu City’s Plaza Independencia to join the Salat, an Islamic morning prayer offered in an open field or large hall called Eed-gah.
The prayer consists of an imam’s sermon followed by invocations from the congregation that “equate to a whole year’s worth of worship,” he said.
Muslims of all ages attended the ceremony. The women wore veils and dresses with bright, festive colors.
After the prayer, Manonggiring said they went back to their houses and prepared food, some of which they shared with the poor.
Manonggiring said the Eid al-Fitr is one of the most important days on the Islamic calendar, as it marks the end of the month-long Ramadan fast that Allah commands in the Qur’an.
Manonggiring said Muslims are a peace-loving people who should not be directly associated with the rebels from Mindanao.
“Allah’s message is for peace. We have a very strong unity here in Cebu,” Manonggiring said.
Engineer Rashid Malawad said he made sure he could attend the Salat since it was his chance to bond through worship with his Muslim brothers and sisters.
“It’s one of our duties as Muslims,” he said.
In barangay Mantuyong, Mandaue City, at least 200 Muslim families celebrated Eid al-Fitr with Mayor Jonas Cortes among their guests.
Cortes gave a Sadaka or voluntary gift of food to the Muslim community through Mantuyong councilor Ali Lacsaman, a Muslim.
The mayor, in a message, urged the city’s Muslim’s to continue cooperating with the local government, “not just in your community but in harmony also with the Christians.”
Lacsaman said he and his Muslim brothers were thankful to the mayor for being a good leader of the city. He said they benefited from the city’s services.
“We are doing our best to observe peace and order and obey the law in our community” Lacsaman told CDN.
He said he hopes Mayor Cortes will entertain their concerns regularly. /Candeze R. Mongaya and Norman V. Mendoza with a report from ap