COTABATO CITY –- Fasting season in the Philippines officially starts Sunday after the naked-eye moon sighting by Muslim religious leaders failed to view the crescent moon.
Ustadz Mike Ibrahim, commissioner of the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), said the Darul Ifta, Islamic House of Opinion and members of the Ulama Council of the Philippines (UCP), failed to view the moon in viewing sites in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), thus fasting officially starts Sunday.
”Since the crescent moon was not sighted clearly on Friday evening, fasting officially starts tomorrow, Sunday,” Ibrahim said, adding that it will last until July 27 where the Hariraya Puwasa or the end of Ramadhan is celebrated.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam that every Muslim must perform except for pregnant women, elders or senior citizens and minors.
The other pillars include performing pilgrimage in the Holy Land of Mecca, praying five times a day, offering material and financial aid to the needy brethren and those in need.
Fasting from food, water and earthly desires, including engaging in sex are observed by Muslim faithful from dawn to sunset.
According to Ustadz Jaafar Ali, speaking for Darul Iftah, the organization of Islamic religious leaders, said during the fasting month, Muslim faithful are obliged to fast from sunrise to sunset, breaking the fast at about 6 p.m.
During the fasting month, Islam believers refrain from taking solid and liquid food, smoking and other earthly desires.
Fasting is the most important Islamic religious activity.
Various activities like nightly presentation at the ARMM compound have been prepared ahead of the fasting month.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hatamn said a food festival is being prepared at the ARMM compound so Muslims can break the fast shortly after work.
The start of fasting month is a regular working day but Muslim workers are allowed to work until 3 p.m. without noon break to give them ample time to prepare for the breaking of the fast at sunset.
For a devout Muslim, Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection and sympathy for those who are suffering and needy.
“During the fasting month, we pray that Allah that peace will reign in our land and that we continue to provide help to our brethren who are in need, physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually,” said Allan Hamdila, a 29 year-old government employee.
Ustasdz Ali urged Muslims to share part of their wealth to the needy during the fasting month.
He urged those who have extra money to share by buying food and donate them to less privileged Muslims.