Sharing my Hariraya: Muslims Reach Out in Eid Celebrations

Social media is being tapped to build bridges among Muslims and Christians as a group of Muslim yuppies promote the EID celebrations on

Muslim kids drawing pictures for Christian friends. A Christian customer eating food from a Muslim chef in a Ramadhan fair called Hariraya. Muslim ladies strutting veiled wear. In the heart of Manila, a group of Muslim yuppies are doing a peace process of their own. A group called the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) is organizing events to reach out to the majority Christian population. This August 17 at Glorietta, Makati, Muslim youth will cook, dress up, perform, make friends that there may be an EID experience in Manila for non-Muslims as well. The public can also see that Muslims are just like any ordinary people.

One of the grandest Muslim celebrations is the end of Ramadan, Eid’l Fitr. President Benigno Simeon Aquino III has declared Eid as a national holiday in observance of Eidul Fitr and will host an Eidul Fitr feast at Malacanang on August 13.

During Philippine celebrations of Eid’l Fitr, Muslims dressed in their native or grand Islamic attire converge for the 6-7 a.m. prayers in mosques. Charity, amounting to 2.5 percent of one’s annual salary, is offered to the poor.

After this they share “feast” with family or friends. Ramadan is one of Islam’s “five pillars” or obligatory observances.

The others are: profession of faith in the one God and Mohammed as his messenger (in Arabic, the shahada); five daily prayers recited in Arabic while facing Mecca (salat); a charitable payment, usually annual (zakat); and at least one pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) if possible. (2010)

In the past, YMPN had organized International Ramadhan Fairs. “This Ramadhan Fair is important to us all, both Muslims as well as non-Muslims because it allows people to interact with each other and have an opportunity to discover one another” says Ara Belleng, former YMPN Secgen. “As a Moro, I feel proud that our culture and identity are known throughout the world. I think that we all need to come together and show that there are positive things going on such as this one.”

“Diversity is Allah’s sign in the world,“ said one of the event supporters in the past, former UNESCO Commissioner Taha Basman. An inter-faith program showcasing project partnerships between YMPN and other inter-faith groups proves that unlike what the media is showing, people on the ground actually co-exist and live harmoniously, said the YMPN’s website.

Creating spaces for awareness is one of the objectives of YMPN. “Since the signing of RA 9177 or Proclamation No. 298 or the act proclaiming Eid’l Fitr as a national holiday in October 2006, non – Muslims have enjoyed a restful holiday without fully knowing what Ramadhan is all about. Hence, there is a need to promote greater awareness of the virtue of this holy month the same way Muslims respect Christmas traditions. On one hand, it can promote knowledge of cultural and religious practices, while on the other, promote camaraderie, respect and understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims,” said former YMPN Chairperson  Baibon Sangid  of the National Youth Commission.

Basman, who had passed away years back, once said Muslims should take advantage of the growing openness of society and the government towards Muslims with two Muslims holidays, Eidl Fitr and Eidl Adha recognized as national holidays.

“Our goal in the long run is to help create a Muslim museum in Intramuros, where the legacy of our brave forefathers can be displayed for all and sundry to see,” Sangid said.

We just have to make an effort to reach out to each other. After all, the real enemy is not the “other” but our ignorance of each other,” said the Ramadhan fair website,

Extending their audience to foreigners, YMPN invited Asian students of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) to an International Youth Forum on the Role of Muslim State and Organizations in the Emerging Challenges of New Asia .

Islam came to the Philippines as early as the 1390 when Sheikh Makhdum , an Arab missionary, visited the isles of Tawi-Tawi. He built othe country’s first mosque on the Tawi-Tawi island town of Simunul , and was the first Arab missionary to establish Muslim communities in the province.

Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Hijrah calendar when Muslims fulfill the religious obligation to fast for the entire month. It is during this time that Muslims contemplate on another chance to purify the heart and soul, to shed sins and evil deeds and become closer to Allah (s.w.t.). Ramadhan liberates men from the constraints of their everyday lives in order to focus more on worship and in the strengthening of the iman (faith) and collectiveness of the family and the community.

In the Philippines , Eid’l Fitr (the Feast of Fast Breaking) is recognized as a national holiday. Jamaats (prayer group) are held in large places where there is a large number of Muslim residents.

On August 7, 2012, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (ARMM) Regional Legislative Assembly passed Resolution 65 on Ramadhan as instrument of “solidarity.”

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Resoltion number 65 is a resolution “to express the Assembly’s shared aims in the performance and dutiful observance of the true meaning of the Holy Month of Ramadhan as an instrument of solidarity in the region and the entire Muslim Ummah.”

The resolution noted that Government recognizes the “development and full exercise of distinct ways and culture of its citizens within the framework of national unity and prosperity; that Islam, the religion followed in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), ordains the observance of the Holy Month of Ramadhan as “a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship;” that it is observed by 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, the observance of which is considered as one of the five pillars of Islam; Ramadan enjoins the abstinence from food, water and other immoral acts as well as a time to purify the soul, refocus attention go God and practice self-sacrifice; and that the essence of Ramadhan “may extend to the avoidance of corruption, malpractices and irregularities in all government transactions; a time to cleans the government and remind public officials and employees the propagation of doing what is good and forbidding what is wrong.”

(Samira Gutoc is an advocate  promoting causes on environment and volunteerism on Facebook. She was a former OIC legislator and convenor of Reform ARMM Now (RAN). Now that she is jobless, she invites companies to join the Tawi-Tawi Job Fair on August 23-24. Contact her on Facebook)