What do you know about Ramadan and the Islamic faith?
For some Filipinos, July 17 will be the start of yet another much-awaited long weekend. Holidays, after all, don’t come very often for the busy corporate slave.
For our 11 million Muslim brothers and sisters in the Philippines, July 17 is a significant date in their spiritual calendar and the end of a month-long fasting.
Here are some things you may not know about the role of Ramadan in Islamic faith:
1) Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.
2) Considered as the most venerated month, it is observed through fasting and self-control, the fourth act in the Five Pillars of Islam.
3) The Islamic calendar (hijra) follows the lunar cycle as opposed to the Western/Gregorian calendar, which follows the solar cycle.
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4) The start of Ramadan depends on the sighting of the crescent moon (hilal), which marks the start of a new month in the lunar calendar. In the Philippines, this is determined and made official by the Moon-sighting Committees of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
5) Eid al-Fitr is determined by a confirmed sighting of the new moon after a month of fasting. Also called the “Feast of Breaking the Fast“, it is a joyous occassion similar to the Christian Christmas feast. The celebration lasts for three days. It also marks the start of Shawwal, the 10th month.
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6) Eid al-Fitr is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations. The other is Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated on the 10th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar. This marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the fifth Pillar of Islam. Also called “The Feast of the Sacrifice,” it commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son to God.
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7) In accordance to Republic Act No. 9177, Eid al-Fitr has been recognized as a nationwide regular holiday while Eid al-Adha is a regional holiday in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). “The approximate date of these Islamic holidays may be determined in accordance with the Islamic calendar (Hijra) or the lunar calendar, or upon Islamic astronomical calculations, whichever is possible or convenient,” the directive says.
8) The first national commemoration of Eid al-Fitr was on 6 December 2002, marked by prayers and feasting.
9) Grand congregations at the Manila Golden Mosque and the Quirino Grandstand are attended by Filipino Muslims every Eid. Muslim-majority communities like Marawi City also hold public celebrations.
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10) Most Filipino Muslims hold reunions on Eid al-Fitr and exchange gifts. The meal on this day is considered special because it is their first daytime meal after a month of fasting. Sweet treats are traditionally served in the feast or even before going to Eid services and for this reason, Eid al-Fitr is also known as the Sweet Festival.