Ramadan is the time when religious fervor is at its height for Muslims, but there are certain things that Islam believers have to comply with, and things that are taboo, an Islamic leader said Sunday.
Ramadan started on Saturday in the Philippines, connecting the Moros with their brethren across the world’s estimated 1.5 billion Muslims called “Ummah.”
Ustadhz Abdulhadi Daguit, who teaches at the Institute of Islamic Studies, University of the Philippines, in Diliman, Quezon City, spoke with the Manila Bulletin about fasting.
He said Ramadan is eagerly anticipated, though synonymous with sacrifice. It is also an opportunity for one’s charitable nature to shine, he added.
“Ramadan intensifies the worship and devotion of Muslims, their fear of God more keenly observed during the month-long period. It is a time for Godliness, for piety, for sacrifice, for charity, for humility,” said Daguit, who also works with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
So how is the fast being done?
“If non-Muslims have Muslim neighbors, they will observe their neighbors’ house is alive after midnight, after an hour or two, their kitchen abuzz as they prepare for the day’s last meal (suhoor),” Daguit said.
He said those who fast should have finished their meal before the strike of dawn, and start the day’s fast, not a morsel of food, not a sip of water, not a puff of smoke, not even back-biting, evil thoughts, etc., for about 14 hours.
“That is Ramadan fasting, both physical and psychological,” he said, adding that “your body synched with your mind to achieve the sacrifice and feel the pangs of hunger gnawing at you inside.”
During Ramadan, he said Muslims are expected to perform worship more intensely, read the Qur’an, perform charity, and continue to do their work.
Ramadan should not be a hindrance to one’s performance of duties, the UP-IIS mentor said.
He said Allah has made Islam easy, that during Ramadan the sick, pregnant women, and those who have their monthly visit, the travelers (even athletes at the 2012 London Olympics Games) are exempted. “But they have to replace the days they missed their fast,” said Daguit.
He said children under 13 years old are not obliged to fast, but some parents train their children early and allow them to fast for half a day.
“Many children are known to complete the 14-hour total abstention,” he said.
Aside from abstention from eating, drinking, smoking, Daguing said a person who is on a fast should stay away from his wife (including not his wife) because sexual relations are forbidden only during the day time.
“Back-biting, slandering, quarreling, and even getting mad may invalidate one’s fasting,” he said, with the fasting not even knowing that his or her sacrifice has not gained any rewards from God.
Daguit said that at “iftar,” or breaking of fast at sunset, mainstays of the table include fruits, sweets, bread, a mixture of banana, kamote, sticky rice in cube or rounded cooked in coconut milk called “sindol,” and the other usual fare for the daily meal to gain one’s strength.
In Muslim communities, the breaking of fast provides a festive atmosphere, neighbors asking neighbors to have the iftar with them to gain more rewards, he said.
“Even just a sip of water that you give a fasting person to break his fast has rewards like that of a person who is fasting,” said Daguit. But to get this reward, the one who is offering should be fasting, also, he said.
By EDD K. USMAN