Today, more than six million Muslims, largely in Mindanao and some parts of Luzon including the metropolis, mark the month-long Ramadan, one of five pillars of Islam in this predominantly Christian country of 110 million people.
In Cotabato City, Ramadan was officially declared by the Bangsamoro Grand Mufti after ground lunar observers from different parts of the country failed to establish a crescent moon has risen Sunday.
The National Commission on the Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) also announced a Tuesday start of the 30-day, dawn-to-dusk fasting followers of Islam whose number has grown to about 1.5 billion the world over.
“By virtue of the mandates vested in me as the Mufti of the Bangsamoro, I hereby declare that the start of day of fasting in the Blessed Month of Ramadan shall be on Tuesday, Insha-Allah (God-Willing),” Bangsamoro Grand Mufti Abubakar Abu Huraira Udasan said over live broadcast and podcast Sunday night.
Charter 2 Verse 128 of the Qur’an, the Holy Book of the Muslims states: “O ye who believe: Fasting is prescribed unto you as it was prescribed unto those before you, so that you may learn self-restraint which will be of great benefit unto you.”
Many Muslims prefer to be with their families during the fasting season to share blessings and break the fast together at dusk.
They rise for an early meal from 2:30 to 3:30 a.m. and abstain from foods and drinks intake before 4 a.m. up to dusk—or within about 14 hours daily.
Exempted are the elderly, pregnant women, children below age of puberty, lactating mothers, and women under menstrual period.
Travellers also have option not fast.
Biblical characters were also reported to have fasted, including Jesus Christ who has fasted for forty days and forty nights.
Fasting is also mentioned in the Books of the Old Testament and of the New Testament Exodus 34:28; Psalm 69:10; Psalm 35:13-14; Daniel 10:3; II Samuel 1:12; Joel 2:12; Acts 13:2 Acts 14:23; Esther 4:16; Luke 2:37; Luke 18:12.
Muslim lunar months last between 29 and 30 days and this largely depends on the sighting of the new full moon usually on the 29th day of each month. If a new moon is not visible, the month automatically lasts for 30 days.
The current year in the Islamic Hijri lunar calendar is 1442. Each year, Ramadan starts roughly 10 days earlier because the lunar year is shorter than the solar year. In 2020, Ramadan began on April 23.
Officials said Ramadan would remain a challenge this year with the country still under pandemic, which means precautions against the coronavirus would mean large public gatherings celebrating Ramadan will be off the menu.
For millions around the world, the breaking of the fast is a communal event which this year will be limited to the closest of family relations.
Muslim officials have said worshippers are advised to take necessary precautions, particularly given that stores will be crowded by shoppers buying ingredients for the end of fast meal between the end of work hours and sunset.
During Ramadan, Muslims take part in fasting and abstain from drinking, smoking, and having sex from dawn to dusk.
They only break the fast with an early meal known as Suhur, and an evening meal called Iftar.
Since Ramadan is considered the most sacred month of the year for Muslims, they also reflect, pray, and improve their relationships with others during this time, officials said.
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