Muslims fast for Ramadan still under pandemic

By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL
Managing Editor

MANILA

Aleem Said Ahmad Basher, a graduate of the College of Islamic Propagation from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, told the Philippine Muslim Today, of which he is a Consultant on Islamic Religious Affairs that the first day of Ramadan will most likely be on April 13 equivalent to Ramadan 1, 1442.

Aleem Basher who is also the chairman of the Imam Council of the Philippines and the Integrated Movement Access on Moonsighting (IMAM)  added that  if they have glanced at the new moon that signals to Muslims all over the world that they can already start their first day of fasting.


According to him, it is not absolutely necessary for each and every locality to sight its own moon; rather, if the moon is sighted in one region and the others have received the information in time for them to act upon the same, they can start fasting.

He cited that Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was believed to have said: “Fast when the moon is sighted, and break your fast when the moon is sighted. If the skies are cloudy, and you are unable to sight it, then complete 30 days of Sha’ban and fast the next day.”

Aleem Basher said members of the Muslim community should be united in this regard and imam of the masjid (mosque) should observe unity in the beginning and ending of the fasting. Hence, every Muslim should step forward toward unity even in some rituals and acts of worship.

Hence, he said it is now very clear that April 13 is the 1st day of fasting in this month of Ramadan. He also said by April 11 moonset by 5:36 p.m. and sunset at 6:08 p.m. and new moon is at 10:30 a.m. April 12 moon will not be seen so “we have to complete the month of Sha’ban  30 days as according to ‘Hadith’ Prophet Muhammad,  said ‘if the New Moon is not seen, then complete it to 30 days”

In most Arab countries and other Muslim nations in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and Malaysia, including the Philippines, which has a Muslim minority, the first day of the fast takes place while the faithful are still under a state of pandemic because of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic.

“Ramadan, which is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar is a golden chance to purify our hearts and unite our efforts,” Aleem Basher said.

According to him, it is not absolutely necessary for each and every locality to sight its own moon; rather, if the moon is sighted in one region and the others have received the information in time for them to act upon the same, they can start fasting.

Aleem Basher said members of the Muslim community should be united in this regard and Imam of the masjid (mosque) should observe unity in the beginning and ending of the fasting.

The Al-Azhar scholar explained that proper fasting means more than abstinence from food and drink and sexual activity from dawn to sunset but it also means abstinence from slander, backbiting and ill conduct.

This explains why the reward God gives for proper fasting is so generous, he said, also citing the hadith qudsi (divine hadith), Prophet Muhammad quotes God as saying: “All actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I reward it accordingly.”

“Perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of one’s feelings and emotions,” Aleem Basher added.

“This high standard of self-restraint fits in well with fasting, which is, in essence, an act of self-discipline. Islam requires Muslims to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in physical desire. This is indeed the purpose of fasting,” he said.

Grand Mufti of Region 9 & Palawan

Ustadz Abdulbaki Abubakar, the grand mufti of Region 9 and Palawan and also head of Darul Ifta, the Juris Consult  being highest religious  authority in the Philippines, has also announced that the first day of fasting on the month of Ramadan starts April 13 and ending at sundown  on May 11. He said they are all set to conduct the moon sighting on April 12.

Hence, as fasting officially began on April 13, and the one-month period for Muslims to observe fasting will end on May 11, Ustadz Abdulbaki also concurred.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the 5 Pillars of Islam and obligatory for Muslims all over the world who are physically fit.

Holy month

For Muslims, Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, were revealed to Prophet Muhammad more than 1,400 years ago.

Thus during the holy month, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to sunset.

The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of the less fortunate.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity, and performing the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Makkah (Mecca) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ramadan and Covid-19

The age-old advice given more than 1,400 years ago by Islam’s Prophet Muhammad has gone viral in 2020, as the world wrestles with the corona virus outbreak.

Hence, Muslim Filipinos are set to still observe fasting during the whole month even under the corona virus pandemic.

As this developed, disinfection activities are conducted outside the Hassanal Bolkiah Grand Masjid in Barangay Kalanangan 2 in Cotabato City as well as at the Golden Mosque compound in Quiapo, Manila and other masjids in the Philippines. Likewise, health protocols are strictly to be observed also where physical distancing is also to be observed during the month-long Ramadan.

1st day of Ramadan April 13.

Ustadz Abdulbaki Abubakar said the first day of moon sighting should be held in the afternoon of April 12, 2021, few minutes after sunset around 8:00 p.m. If the moon is sighted, First Day of Fasting can be started the following day, April 13.

If the moon is not sighted in the afternoon of April 12, then in all probability, the First Day of Fasting should commence on April 14, 2021. Thus if by the time the moon cannot be seen by 10:30 a.m. of April 12, Muslims have to complete the month of Sha’ban for 30 days according to the Hadith where Prophet Muhammad emphasized if still the moon cannot be seen.

On April 13 the moon can be seen in almost the Whole World. PMT

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