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Ramadhan in the Philippines
 
  By John Louie Balagot and Samira Gutoc  
     
 

Philippine Muslims observe their holiest month despite the uncertainty in their homeland. As of this writing, several barangays in Maguindanao, the seat of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are confronted with clan feuds and rebel-military rivalries.  

Ramadhan is the ninth month in the Islamic Lunar year and is the month when the Holy Q’uran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and therefore it is considered to be a period of spiritual glory. During this month, Muslims strive to be pure inside and out - in thoughts, words and in deeds - by fasting and doing good deeds.  

In the Philippines and even in other countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, Ramadhan is a time for merry-making and gift-giving. The Saudi government has distributed some 5 containers of dates for the break of fast. Just like in the Christmas season of the Christians, there are a lot of activities being conducted during the  celebration. There are contests and festivities during the night (such that daytime is the time for fasting) which includes fireworks display and foodfests led by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in Cotabato City. Even the US and UK Embassies are reaching out for iftar (break of fast) celebrations to be in solidarity.  

Truly, Ramadhan is instrumental in forging peace between the poor and the rich because of the similar experience in abstinence. It provides a time to reflect upon our past and our present. It is the time when people from different walks of life -young, old, men and women- are gathered together in a moment of joy and happiness and spiritual realization. It is a time of understanding, forgiveness and reconciliation.  

As for the business sector, being the economically empowered entity in the society, this is the best time to share not only by giving monetary gifts but also by conducting programs that would aid in achieving the goals of Ramadhan.  

This is the chance when we can organize performing groups to do shows and concerts for the public. There can be cultural shows that would showcase the colorful and exquisite art of dance and music of our Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug, Yakan, Iranun and all the Muslim cultural communities in the Philippines. Through this, we open the way to refresh the youth of today about their roots and their wonderful culture thereby countering strong Western pop culture. We make them appreciate the wonders and mystique of the Mindanao Muslim culture and we invite them to preserve this culture. 

Moreover, concerts can be held to showcase Muslim artists like Khomenei and all the local artists who are gaining ground in incorporating the local Muslim dialects in the modern music industry. Through this, we are creating inspiration to the youth and send them a message that Muslims can be also be equals in society.  

While doing good during Ramadhan  is not  the total solution to the problems that we face today, it cannot be denied that it is a wake-up call that we are reminded to  contribute to the good of mankind by respecting the aspirations of our Muslim communities. These little deeds will eventually be building blocks towards building a just and humane society.

 

 

 

 
 
 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
  Copyright 2008 Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication