In the time of fasting and praying

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Bahin sang Bubay

Sunday, July 13, 2014


SOME people would say fasting is easier said than done. For our Muslim sisters and brothers, it is a way of life, and it is not anywhere close to what practicing Catholics do during holy weeks when fasting is only being observed by the ‘pious’ but generally ignored by many among us. There is no comparing religion here, but it is worth noting that fasting by Muslims during the celebration of Ramadan has been observed by many among them, young and old alike.

The cleansing process is not only of the physical nature, but more so of the spiritual. It is said to be one of the Five Pillars of Islam that is observed by the Muslims through fasting and more prayers for 18 hours in a day, breaking it only at dusk when they eat a modest amount of food and water to sustain them through the process.

It is said that Ramadan in the Islamic Calendar changes the timing of observance each year, but it is simultaneously observed by Muslims around the world. During this time, the Muslim populace forego of activities and things that they deem earthly, including engaging in war and sex among others, and eating food on a normal cycle.

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This practice is something that says a lot for me. Not only is it healthier for the physical consideration of such practice, it will effectively also cleanse the thoughts and the emotions, as believers are guided by the teachings and practices of the Koran.

If most of the people especially the so-called leaders in Mindanao and in the whole country pause for a month too, to observe fasting and praying, wouldn’t the ends of peace be served more effectively and speedily? Then, there would be harmony and understanding among peoples, no matter if we have different cultural backgrounds, creed, religious backgrounds and political orientation.

Indeed, Ramadan symbolizes tranquility of the soul. The confusions in the world “are mere reflections of the confusions within us”, a song laments, and when the human body is sustained only by the amount of food that it needs, and not saddled by substances that ensnare the spirit, true harmony can really happen.

In solidarity of our Muslim brethren in Mindanao Duyog Ramadan is being practiced by some Catholic-run educational institutes to journey with them in their fasting and prayer. It is also a way of fostering understanding and harmony among Mindanaoans.

It is what makes living in our troubled land more feasible because it is a unique way of sacrificing for the greater good. And though there are a lot of advantages in this kind of practice, I often wonder why this is not taught as part of studying the different cultures here in Mindanao.

Why does it seem like we are all strangers in our own land? Shouldn’t the Department of Education ensure that we before anything else, all of us should be able to speak about our diverse cultural background rather than be adept at knowing foreign language and culture?

This is a call for government agencies to heed because knowing ourselves can promote peace and understanding, more than any grandstanding. It is what we sorely lack.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 14, 2014.

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