[Welcome address delivered by Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, President of the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU), during the Symposium for Muslim Filipinas to Welcome Ramadan held at the ADDU’s Martin Hall on May 2, 2019. Ramadan is set to begin on May 5 or 6, depending on the sighting of the moon]
Hon. Dalisay Macadawan, Commissioner, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Women Sector; Alim Mohammad Pasigan, the Grand Mufti of Davao; Mohammed Habeb Al Khulaqi of the Mercy Islamic Foundation; Alim Munib Jamal, the Excutive Director Madrasah Comprehensive; Ada Grace Luspo, Pres. Davao New Moslem Care Center for Women; Deputy Mayors of Davao City of the different tribes: National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Region eleven; Faridah Yap, vice Pres. Faridaton Nissa; To All Commissioners; Yoshria Aragat, OIC of the DavaoNew Moslem Care Center for Women (DNMCCW)/ Organizers and All the Staff of DNMCCW.
It is my pleasure to welcome you in such great numbers to the Martin Hall of the Ateneo de Davao for this Symposium on Understanding the Wisdom of Fasting in the Month of Ramadan organized by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos under the leadership of Noraida M. Lumaan and by the Davao New Moslem Care Center for Women under Yoshira Aragat!
You come here in the name of God, in the name of Allah. You come here in the name of your love for God, your love for Allah. You come here as Muslim Filipinos, and today emphatically, as Muslim women, who worship and love one God, and who recognize his prophet, Muhammad.
As a Catholic Christian, I come here to pray for God’s blessings on you and to wish you well, as you gather today to prepare yourselves for the most holy month of Ramadan, the month when God gave his holy Quran to his prophet, Muhammad. In this month, when divinity and humanity meet in sacred encounter, you are to purify yourselves through such as fasting, prayer, recollection, recitation of the verses of the Quran, alms and good works, all in order to be more worthy of the blessings that Allah bestows on you in great abundance.
Your coming here is a great blessing to Ateneo de Davao and a blessing to all humanity, as all genuine worship of God is a blessing to all those who worship the one God, as it is a blessing to all women and men created by Him with the dignity He bestows on all humanity.
With great humility, I pray that God bless your holy observance of Ramadan, through which you prepare yourselves as earth to be more fruitful in God’s blessings as rain. I say this in the context of the 22nd surah, verse 5, of the Holy Quran which says:
“… And you see the earth barren, but when We send down upon it rain, it quivers and swells and grows [many things] of every beautiful kind” [22:5]
Through your fasting, prayer, recitation of the verses of the Quran, and good works, you prepare yourselves as earth to receive God’s blessings as rain. You prepare your hearts to better receive his love, you prepare your minds to better receive his guidance. Through your fasting, you prepare the soil of your garden by removing its weeds and stones; through your good deeds you plant seeds in the soil, so that when God’s generous rain falls on you, refreshes you, and fills you with life, he transforms you from a dry, parched and barren land, into a lush garden filled with beautiful blossoms and luscious fruit.
Your fasting and prayer, your acts of purification and submission to the will of the Almighty, do not benefit yourselves alone individually; they benefit society, they benefit, as Pope Francis speaking for Christians from the East and the West, and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al Tayyeb, speaking for Muslims from the East and the West, jointly declared, the great Human Fraternity, the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of all human beings created by God in his compassion and goodness, created equal and dignified, each worshipping the Creator in the manner through which each responds to God calling him or her to know Him and to do His will. And so, in the name of God, in the name of innocent life God has forbidden to kill, in the name of orphans, widows, refuges and those exiled from their homes due to war and violence…, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam together call for an end to war and violence – especially war and violence done in the name of religion.
Through your collective self-purification during Ramadan, may all that which is hateful to God be removed from society, especially corruption, deceit, hatred, violence and war.
Since you come here as a group of Muslim women and the Holy Month of Ramadan is about to begin, I ask you to consider the words of Pope Francis and of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar concerning women in our world today:
“It is an essential requirement to recognize the right of women to education and employment, and to recognize their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary to the principles of their faith and dignity. It is also necessary to protect women from sexual exploitation and from being treated as merchandise or objects of plea- sure or financial gain. Accordingly, an end must be brought to all those inhuman and vulgar practices that denigrate the dignity of women. Efforts must be made to modify those laws that prevent women from fully enjoying their rights.”
Again, welcome to Ateneo de Davao! This year, the first year of the implementation of Bangsamoro Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (in) Muslim Mindanao, through your faithful observance of Holy Ramadan, may God rain on us all in Mindanao the great blessing of Islam: Salaam, Peace, lasting Peace! Through your faithful observance of Holy Ramadan may Muslim women submit to God’s will for them in winning the Peace!