April 7, 2022. Ramadhan is the ninth month in Hijra Calendar. It is a holy month in Islam. Ramadan is a month of sharing. It is a month where rewards to good deeds are multiplied. During Ramadhan, Muslims (believers of Islam religion) around the world perform fasting. They only eat for suhoor (meal before sun rise) and break the fast at sunset. Fasting on Ramadhan is the fourth among the five pillars of Islam.
As regularly being preached, Ramadhan is not only about burning of fats and calories, moreover, it is a chance for the Muslims to burn their pride and sins. This blessed month encourages Muslims to multiple their good deeds, because it is said that the gates of heaven are open this time. Worldwide, common practice among various organizations is the distribution of food items to most needy communities, affected by poverty, crisis, natural calamities, war, others.
In Bangsamoro, Southern Philippines, known for its history of conflict and struggle, different humanitarian institutions come every year to deliver assistance to conflict- affected families in the region.
Food packs provided to selected families are significant to supplement the daily meals of the beneficiaries, who are usually relying to daily income for day-to-day living.
Saadia Alipolo, 64 a senior citizen in Brgy. Matuber, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao received 16 kilos of rice along with other food items this Ramadhan. Living with her family of four, with the four grandchildren, Saadia said that the items will be good enough for the family’s meal for at least seven days.
Bong Ansa, a farmer and fisherman has four kids and is happy receiving also food packs this Ramadhan. Like him, Nasir Bunter, an operator of pump-boat, with five children, did not mind the heavy rain just to get the relief goods for his family this holy month. They are from Brgy. Katidtuan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
A mother beneficiary in Kabuntalan, Maguindanao was speechless when she was receiving the food pack. She could not even utter his name, because of overflowing emotion and repeatedly saying “shukran (thank you), we will have food for suhoor”. She does laundry and dishwashing, while her husband does fishing and sometimes construction works, to sustain the family.
Orphans in Bangsamoro are also receiving Ramadhan aid this blessed month. Some are chosen for free Iftar (breaking of fast) and others are getting gifts, usually prayer dress/ clothes.
In a neighborhood in Cotabato City, people voluntarily share any amount from which, the total cost will be used to buy food that they can eat together to break the fast before a congregational prayer upon sunset.
It is common among rural communities to share foods on Ramadhan. Neighbors usually share the food they have in belief that food shared are more blessed.
Non- fasting Muslims, usually women (due to menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding or illness) can earn rewards while not fasting on Ramadhan. They can help prepare foods for Iftar, an act which is being blessed. Good deeds counted are not limited to preparation or cooking for meals, doing house chores during Ramadhan and after meals e.g., washing the dishes are also rewarded. "Every good deed is charity." (Sahih Muslim 1005).
Al-Bukhaari (1425) narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If a woman gives from the food that is in her house, without causing any damage [i.e., without spending unreasonably], she will have a reward for what she gave, and her husband will have a reward for what he earned, and the storekeeper will have a similar reward, without the reward of any of them detracting from the reward of the others at all.
Informed by the phrase “‘Whoever feeds a person breaking his fast will earn the same reward as him, without anything being lessened from the reward of the fasting person’. [Tirmidhi]”, Muslims who can afford sponsor free meals for iftar (breaking of fast). Some organize symposium where a religious leader is invited to deliver teachings about Ramadhan and Islam. Individuals are encouraged to read the holy Qur’an during this month. Taraweh (an evening prayer during Ramadhan) is a not obligatory but Muslims are strongly encouraged to perform it. It is a confirmed Sunnah. Abu Hurayrah said: “The Prophet used to urge the people to pray night prayers in Ramadan without him authoritatively ordering them to do so.” The Prophet said: “Whoever stands at night prayer in Ramadan while believing in Allah Who prescribed it and while seeking its reward from Him, will have his past sins forgiven.” [Muslim]
In Bangsamoro Region, Ramadhan Fair is opened every year in relevance to this holy month. Food stalls along with other items that is relevant to Ramadhan are typically available at Ramadhan Fairs. Fairs are decorated with colorful lights that gives attraction to people visiting the place. People usually come after Taraweh to enjoy local attractions, meet with friends and or relatives and eat foods together, buy non- food items like prayer clothes, hijab (veil), others. Ramadhan Fair helps local entrepreneurs while promoting the spirit of this holy month by getting together during this time of the blessed month.
Dishes in Ramadhan
Ramadhan may not only be a fasting from foods, but let us be honest about loving and craving for special foods during this blessed month.
For this article, it is fair to say that it is not actually forbidden to buy luxurious foods on Ramadhan, especially that one can afford it. But as Muslims, we must always be reminded of humility and compassion to others, especially those who are less fortunate. One can have the best food, and it would be best of the best if it is shared to others.
On Ramadhan, local restaurants install food stands right outside their location for easy pick-up of buyers. This strategy is saleable to people who have limited time for cooking and preparation of foods.
Ramadhan and peacebuilding
Ramadhan brings a special message to mankind. As fasting is required for all Muslim, regardless of social status (with exemption for those in special conditions e.g., health), everyone will have the same feeling of hunger and thirst, hot, hardship and sacrifice, thus the rich realize the life of the poor who experience limited food on their table, and difficulties to survive life, most of the time.
During this holy month, non- Muslims become used to the culture and are respectful to friends, neighbors and colleagues who are fasting on Ramadhan. In Bangsamoro Region, office hours are usually modified in this month to give enough time for the Muslim employees to do preparations for Iftar and other relevant activities. Classes in regular schools (before the pandemic) were also modified to less the burden to Muslim students.
Ramadhan is also a month of forgiveness. This month is divided into three parts; the 1st ten days (rahmah/ mercy); 2nd ten days (maghfirah/ forgiveness) and; last ten days (nijat/ safety from hellfire).
On the 2nd ten days, Muslim seeks forgiveness from Allah (s.w.t). It is the period for repentance and rebuilding relations between those who were in conflict, thus promoting peace.
Every Ramadhan, it is a common prayer that everyone may feel and enliven the true spirit of this significant month, and the message of love, patience, hope and peace.