OVER six million Filipino Muslims in the country today celebrate the Eid’l Fitr or the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. As with the Quincentennial celebrations of the Filipino Catholics, the celebration cannot be held with large gatherings amid the pandemic’s health protocol on social distancing.
Dr. Ijodin Hadk-Azis Mamacol, executive director of thhe Office of the Muslim Affairs and Indigenous Communities (OMAICC) of the City Government, said Muslims in Cebu City won’t hold a centralized prayer of 800 faithfuls at the Cebu City Sports Center as planned since the facility can only accommodate 200 according to the limitation set by the Emergency Operations Center.
Imams and presidents of Muslim communities are, therefore, advised to hold their celebrations in mosques while keeping in mind the safety protocols. As the Eid’l Fitr originated as a family affair, it may make sense to return to that notion while we’re in a health crisis.
The Eid’l Fitr comes in a variety of names in the Philippines, such as “Hariraya” or “Buka.” It was declared a legal holiday for Muslim Filipinos in 1977 by Presidential Decree 1083 and upgraded in 2002 as a public national holiday through Republic Act 9177.
As the Ramadan starts with the rise of the crescent moon, the Eid’l Fitr also begins with the physical sighting of the new moon or “hilal.” The Eid’l is traditionally festive, being the end of the fasting season. Customarily, too, the day is spent with gift-giving or “eidi,” food sharing and visiting of the sick and elderly. In Mindanao’s Islamic communities, ethnic groups serve sweets at the break of day. In prosperous times Marawi, the sweet and hefty dodol comes omnipresent, the daral and tinagtag. One often wonders how such sweet things couldn’t inspire any seething warrior to lay down his arms and partake of them. Think of the peace that could have solved a thousand problems.
There is much to be talked about on the state of our Muslim compatriots in Mindanao amid the persistent troubles that wracked their communities for generations. The month started with around 200 heavily armed men linked to the Islamic State Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters seizing the public market of Datu Paglas town in Maguindanao. Civilians in the area were held and used as human shield while the warriors set up defensive positions.
The incident could be ripe for another assault ala Marawi seige, but government holds its horses, apparently avoiding a potential repeat of the irreversible damage a full-scale offensive did to communities. Despite having a Mindanaoan President with his perennial promise of pushing for peace in the region, some stillness in the region remains a dream even in the final year of his term.
Reacting to the recent Maguindanao crisis, Duterte vows that if he “cannot at least [give] the barest minimum of a peaceful place,” he’d deem himself a failure.
But the Mindanao peace has always been a project in progress for generations, an executive term wouldn’t suffice to address its complexities, not even a hundred revisions to the laws pertaining it. But it’s worth thinking today as we—Christians and Muslims, included, Filipinos all—celebrate the Eid’l Fitr. If only to indulge ourselves in some serious meaning-making out of this collective rite.