Despite this year’s “no Raya bonus” by the government, many are still flocking to the department stores and the more traditional “pasars” or markets.

This is the time of year that families indulge themselves in shopping for their new “baju kurong or kebaya,” “telukong” or prayer clothes for the women, “baju melayu” or traditional suit for men, together with their sarong and “sungko” or hat to complete the men’s attire. 

Besides these, there will be shopping for new home furnishing, curtains, and “koay raya” or home-made biscuits and sweets that families serve for the Eid.  

A couple of days just before the Eid, parents will be trooping to the banks to change their money into smaller Malaysian Ringgit bills to be put in money envelopes called “duit raya.” These will be given to all children, elder folks, and other non-working relatives and close friends. 

However, just before the Eid itself, they will all have to be trooping to their respective “masjids” or “zakat” counters where they pay their “fitra” or charity money on behalf of all their family members. Normally, it’s the husband who pays for his wife and children’s “fitra." The amount paid for “fitra” is equivalent to three gantas of rice per person/donor. 

This Holy Month can be very busy–both in attending the usual work obligations, family and community affairs, and an individual’s own devotion during this season. At a more personal level, a Muslim’s great challenge does not focus on the “abstinence” from food per se, but on the ability to control one’s desires, anger, and other negative behavior. 

Imagine, one would have to be “nicer” even to your own enemies and be restrained from “bad-mouthing” other people? Therefore, Muslims are best reminded of the virtue of “sabar” or patience, compassion towards others, and humility among others. 

In practice, this becomes easier to do when one attempts to pray more often and that includes the “taraweeh” or evening prayers. It is in prayers that Muslims find their strength to overcome any hardship or conflict.  

The Month of Ramadhan is also known as the Month of the Holy Quran for it is during this time that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received the words of the Quran from the Angel Gabriel. 

Thus, during taraweeh prayers, verses of the Quran are read and that Muslims are encouraged to read the Quran on their own. At the end of Ramadhan, Muslims all over the world would welcome and celebrate the Eidl Fitre. 

All families attend the congregational prayers in the morning and enjoy the rest of the day in celebrating in their homes. In places like Malaysia, however, the  Eid does not end as a one-day event. 

It is a norm that families get together on that whole week. This celebration is also extended to the whole community when “open houses” are held and friends and neighbors are invited in their homes or offices. 

Ramadhan is the most significant time for Muslims. More than the “act of fasting” and the Eid festivities,  this is a time of remembrance and gratitude for all the blessings from Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala (No One But He). 

Selamat Berpuasa to everyone! 

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews' effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries, the countries they're presently working in, their growing up years or homecomings in Mindanao, their hopes and dreams and suggestions for Our Mindanao. Ayesah Abubakar is the coordinator of the Mindanao Peace Program at the Research & Education for Peace Universiti Sains Malaysia or REPUSM in Penang, Malaysia. E-mail This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it )