DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 July) — Thousands of Muslims will gather on Friday, July 17, at the Tionko Football Field in Agro-Foundation College of the Philippines in Davao City to celebrate Eid’l Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.
Basit M. Baraguir Al-Hadj, program officer of the Office of the Madrasah Comprehensive Development and Promotion Program, said the city government will provide 25,000 food packs to be shared by the Muslim families for their first daylight meal after Ramadan.
Each food pack contains five kilos of rice, coffee, sugar, and canned goods.
At the start of Ramadan last June 18, Muslim families received the same amount of goods.
“This is very beneficial for us. Somehow, it can help our people,” Baraguir said.
Baraguir, who has gone on pilgrimage to Mecca, explained that Ramadan is the time of the year when millions of Muslims across the world abstain from eating food, water, or even from speaking ill of others and lustful thoughts, starting before the break of dawn (4:15 a.m.) until sunset.
“And anything that gives us pleasure, even the air that we breathe,” he added.
He said that the observance of month-long fasting reminds them that Muslims, be they rich or poor, are made equal.
“Both rich and poor experience the same thing during fasting. Even if he has money, a rich person could not use it to buy something because he is on fast. It’s the same feeling for the rich and poor,” he said in Filipino.
This way, the sense of compassion is strengthened when a Muslim gives a helping hand to another, he said.
Ramadan is also a test of discipline among the Muslims, as they are called to adhere to do fasting, or Sawm, one of the five pillars of Islam. The other four are Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Hajj.
“Dito natin malalaman kung ano ba yung bunga ng sacrifice ng fasting natin for 30 days at significance ng ating pagpupuasa,” he said.
But the discipline and the heart to help should start at a young age, and Muslim values are taught at Madrasah Centers, Baraguir said.
He emphasized the need to teach the young ones because he believes that the most disciplined Muslims are those who are well-versed in Islamic education.
“Hindi yan maliligaw kahit kailan kasi may foundation sya na matakutin sa Allah,” he said, adding that teachers give students a deeper sense of spiritual learning.
In fact, at least 50 to 70 percent of the subjects at Madrasah schools are centered on values formation, he pointed out.
There are 52 Madrasah Centers spread across the city, with 4,000 students enrolled every year, supported by the Local School Board (LSB) since 2004.
Baraguir said it is only in the city in the country that Madrasah schools get P11,747,000 in support from the local government through the LSB.
“We are thankful of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Since he became mayor he is supportive of the education of our Muslim children,” he said.
Even Christians are admitted to Madrasah schools.
“Para malaman nila kung ano ang itinuturo sa Madrasah. The way teachers teach our students is general knowledge,” he said.
Just like in regular schools, however, the Madrasah schools are short of 30 more teachers, what with only 120 teachers at present who cater to thousands of students a day.
Two months after Eid’f Fitr, the city will sponsor 20 participants who will be sent to Mecca for a month-long pilgrimage. The program started in 2001 and has since produced around 200 Hajis. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)