(SDN) — ISLAM’S holy month of fasting — Ramadan — concludes today, May 24.
It started on April 24, thus Muslims have completed a 30-day abstention from food, drinks, cigarettes and intimate marital relations.
This year’s fasting (1441 in the Hegirah Muslim lunar calendar) came in summetime, a trying time for those who fast, and doubly made difficult because of Covid-19 restrictions, such as quarantine and lockdown, characterized by social distancing, wearing of masks, and stay-at-home injunctions.
The day-long fast among Muslims starts with a before-dawn breakfast, after which even a morsel of food, a sip of drink, a puff of smoke are prohibited.
Backbiting, gossiping, thinking of evil are prohibited, more so during the month of Ramadan.
Performing the fast is obligatory to adult Muslims; exempted are pregnant women, those suckling an infant, those with monthly visit, the sick, travelers, and children.
Except for children, the rest of those exempted are required to fast when they are able to make up for every day of fast they missed.
At dusk, usually signaled by the Azan (call for prayers) for Maghreb, comes iftar, or the breaking of the fast. The whole evening, until the next pre-dawn meal, is open for eating, drinking water or juice, and smoking.
Then the cycle starts again for next day’s fast.
Fasting ends at the appearance of the crescent moon just as it begun because the months of Hegirah start and end with the new moon. So, every new moon is a new month. Islam’s calendar also has 12 months, but the Hegirah year is short by about 11 days compared to the solar Gregorian calendar.
Thus, moon-sighting is conducted to see by the naked eye, following the tradition of Islam’s messenger, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), if the new moon has appeared. In these modern times, moon-sighting is also aided by science and technology.
Once religious authorities have determined that Ramadan has ended, it’s time for Eid’l Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast, which comes on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of Hegirah.
Eid celebration starts with an early morning congregational prayers in mosques and open fields. But because of quarantine and lockdown, religious activities in public spheres are temporarily suspended on the order of the Inter-Agency Task Force for and Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).
While fasting is an arduous task, Muslims are already looking forward to the next Ramadan.
Eid’l Fitr is a three-day celebration. In Muslim countries the celebratory activities can last for over a week.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte last week declared Monday, May 25, a regular holiday so the entire Filipino nation can join their brothers and sisters in the celebration.
The President made the proclamation on the recommendation of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) under the leadership of Secretary Saidamen B. Pangarungan.
Eid Mubarak! (Edd K. Usman)