Officials look forward to safe ‘Hariraya’ feast in Maguindanao PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 August 2013 10:56

The police and military in Maguindanao are again on “red alert” to prevent saboteurs from possibly disrupting the celebration of the Eid’l Fitr, which may possibly fall on either August 8, or 9, depending on the sighting of the new moon that would mark the end of the Ramadhan.

President Benigno Aquino III already declared August 9 as a nationwide “Eid’l Fitr Holiday.” Muslim leaders hailed the President’s move, something they perceived as good for promoting religious solidarity among the country’s Muslim and Christian communities.

Scholars, however, will still forge ahead with their centuries-old Islamic congregational moon sighting starting Wednesday night (August 7) to determine the exact date of the Eid’l Fitr.

Islamic theologians, among them graduates of the secular Al-Azzar University in Cairo, Egypt and Islamic universities in Libya, said Eid’l Fitr might possibly fall on Thursday (August 8) if the new moon is sighted on the evening of Wednesday this week.

“But if the new moon is seen on Thursday night (August 8) we shall celebrate the Eid’l Fitr on August 9, Friday ” said Imam Musa Aripin, an ethnic Yakan preacher.

The traditional moon sighting is a strong Islamic practice for determining the last day of Ramadhan, and the start of the month of Shawwal in the Hijrah lunar calendar.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, whose office is busy with relief missions for thousands of  his constituents displaced by last week’s flashfloods that hit his province, urged flood victims and evacuees from conflict-stricken areas to pray for peace in their communities during Eid’l Fitr.

“The Ramadhan sacrifices of our people in still flooded areas in Maguindanao and those in areas where there were recent skirmishes between armed groups and government forces became very difficult and challenging yet they persisted to fulfill a centuries-old religious obligation,” Mangudadatu said.

He said it is, in fact, the “spirit of Ramadhan,” which teaches Muslims to be resilient with the challenges and trials they face every day, which emboldens ethnic Maguindanaons in perennially-flooded towns and in conflict-prone villages to surmount the ordeals brought about by natural and man-made calamities.

“We should also pray for the enlightenment of the `peace spoilers’ creating troubles at a time when Malacañang is trying its best to peacefully address the Mindanao `Moro issue’ that has been hounding us for decades now,” said Mangudadatu, chairman of the provincial peace and order council.

Mangudadatu said he had asked the more than 2,000 scholars of the provincial government’s education program to participate in the traditional moon sighting activities of religious leaders in their respective communities as perpetuation of a tradition pioneered by ancient tent-dwelling Muslims in the deserts of what is now known as Middle East.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman, who has political jurisdiction over close to three million Muslim constituents, said the regional police command and the military will tightly secure the ARMM when local folks celebrate the Eid’l Fitr.

“We are grateful to President Aquino for having declared August 9 as an `Eid Holiday,’ which is for us a strong recognition of the existence of Muslim communities in the country,” Hataman said.

Ramadhan, a “holy month” in Islam, is also traditionally started with the sighting of the new moon on the last day of the month of Shaban.

Healthy Muslims are obliged to fast from dawn to dusk for one lunar cycle during the Ramadhan, both as a religious obligation and as a means of strengthening spiritual perfection through self-restraint and discipline.

The Eid’l Fitr is one of the most important religious events in Islam, capped with congregational thanksgiving prayers in open fields after sunrise, following the sighting of the new moon the night before.

Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes of the ARMM police, and the commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Maguindanao. Major Gen. Romeo Gapuz, both told Zamboanga Times that while security in the province will be tight during the Eidl Fitr, Muslim policemen and soldiers will be given time to celebrate the event and perform open-field congregation prayers.

“We have enough non-Muslim soldiers that can guard potential flashpoint areas in the province,” Gapuz said.