Malacañang declares April 21 a holiday for Eid’l Fitr celebration

A congregation partakes iftar or buka meal at the Mohammad Mosque in Purok Palin, Labangal, General Santos City on Sunday, 16 April 2023. MindaNews photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 April ) — Malacañang Palace has declared April 21, Friday, a non-working holiday in the entire country, in observance of Eid’l Fitr or the feast ending Ramadan.

Proclamation No. 201, issued by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., states that “it is necessary to declare April 21 a holiday to allow the entire nation to join their Muslim brothers and sisters in peace and harmony in the observance and celebration of Eid’l Fitr.”

However, authorities in the Muslim-dominated Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have set a tentative date as when to observe and celebrate Eid’l Fitr.

Like the beginning of Ramadan, Eid’l Fitr is observed with the first sighting of the new moon. Thus, the celebration of Eid’l Fitr comes at the start of the 10th month, Shawwal.

In the Hijrah calendar, each month begins with the sighting of the new crescent moon and lasts either 29 or 30 days.

The Bangsamoro Darul Ifta (BDI) announced on April 13 that the end of Ramadan will depend on whether the moon is sighted on Thursday, April 20, or not.

If the moon is not sighted on April 20, Eid’l Fitr will be observed and celebrated on April 22, a Saturday, according to Abdulrauf Guialani, the deputy mufti in the Bangsamoro region.

Guialani said they have formed groups of Islamic religious to be deployed in eight areas in the region that were earlier identified by the BDI.  The moon sighting points include Polloc in Parang town, Maguindanao del Norte; Tantawan, a vantage point at PC Hill in Cotabato City; Timako Hill in Kalanganan Dos, Cotabato City; Barangay Tapian, Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao del Norte; Iligan Bay in Iligan City (Lanao group); Pahut in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi; Pantalan (port) in Jolo, Sulu; and, Isabela City in Basilan.

The moon sighting groups are required to immediately report to the Mufti their observation. Moon sighting has been the basis on whether a significant religious event in the Islamic calendar, Hijrah, is to be observed and celebrated, Guialani said.

Ustadz Alnor Baghdad Mohamad Tan, of the Mohamad Mosque in Purok Palin in General Santos City, told this writer on Sunday they will follow the advisory from the BDI on when to celebrate Eid’l Ftr.

He said that once the moon is sighted, “we recite the takbir – Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar! (God is the greatest) to signify that we have completed our fasting.”

In the old times, moon sighting was done using the naked eye. But there are now telescopes and technological gadgets, he pointed out. Mecca in Saudi Arabia used to be the center of moon sightings.

A woman leaves her slippers at the mosque’s entrance. Muslims congregate at the Mohammad Mosque in Purok Palin, Labangal, General Santos City on Sunday, 16 April 2023, for their evening prayers (tarawee) before they break the day’s fast. MindaNews photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

To Muslims anywhere in the world, Eid’l Fitr is the feast marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Hijrah lunar calendar wherein each month begins with a new crescent moon, Tan said.

The Hijrah calendar consists of Muharram, Safar, Rabi Al-Awwal, Rabi Al-Thani, Jamada Al-Awwal, Jamada Al-Thani, Rajab, Shaban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhul Qadah and Dhul Hijjah. The 12th is the month for Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Tan, an Alim (a Muslim learned in religious matters), explained that Ramadan falls on a different date every year in the western calendar mainly because of the cycles of the moon. The Hijrah, which is based on lunar cycles, is about 10 days shorter than the western calendar, which is based on the cycle of the sun.

The Hijrah calendar also follows its own numerical year, currently it is 1444 AH (Anno Hegirae, Latin year of the Hijrah).

The Muslim scholar said Ramadan is among the holiest months when Muslims are able to observe a fasting period that is considered one of the five pillars of Islam, which include compulsory acts ordered by Allah such as faith, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage to the holy land of Mecca.

During the month, Muslims are encouraged to give to charity, strengthen their relationship with God, and show kindness and patience.

In celebrating the Eid’l Fitr, which comes on the first day of the month of Shawwal, Muslims will attend early morning Eid prayers in mosques, usually in their new clothes. “Before heading to the mosque, believers make sure to eat even a little to signify that they have already completed fasting,” Tan said.

“A day or two before Eid’l Fitr, well-off Muslims share blessings to charity called Zakat al-Fitr, so that those who have nothing can also celebrate the Eid,” he pointed out.

There will be no slaughtering of animals to offer during Eid’l Fitr, only eating sweets and delicacies. Butchering of animals as offerings is done during Eid’l Adha, a feast in the haj month of Dhul Hijjah, Tan said.

During the Eid, which celebration runs for three days, families and friends visit each other. The elders give money to children and younger members of the family as they celebrate together and partake meals in merriments.

To wish someone well during Eid’l Fitr, one can greet with “Eid Mubarak! (Have a blessed Eid)” (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)