Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Eid'l Fitr: A Moment of Peace and Harmony

It has been a wish that one day I will glimpse an Islamic religious celebration and have a deeper understanding and experience of the faith of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Today, that wish came true. 

I am a Christian, but I have celebrated and been immersed in other Religious holidays, particularly Hindu festivals like Diwali and Holi, major celebrations commemorating the triumph of good versus evil. That was a few years back when I could work and travel in India from 2011 until 2014.

In this new world age, we have started to better understand different faith, and slowly we have gained experience, wisdom, and enlightenment. We have begun to embrace the world of secularism not because we have a wandering soul but because we desire to stop interfaith conflicts and wars, prejudice, fanaticism, and misunderstanding. We have one big desire in this world of numerous faiths and creeds: world peace that is achieved through acceptance, humility, and love.

There is so much misconception about the Islamic faith since some radical Muslims are tagged to be involved in terrorist activities, mainly in the Middle East and other countries. The negative actions of a few do not define the character of a greater whole, so it is time to discover more about Islam and break the barriers to understanding their faith.

I have met some Muslim brothers in India but was not exposed to their major Religious celebrations. So now, as the world celebrates the end of the Holy month of Ramadan or Eid-al Fitr and declares a national non-working holiday in the Philippines, I have to take the opportunity to be one with our Muslim brothers and sisters as they celebrate their freedom and victory after a month-long of fasting and sacrifices.

My journey started as a simple walking tour heading towards the Golden Mosque found in the busy district of Quiapo in Manila, considered the old downtown of colonial times. I have visited Quiapo several times to visit the Basilica of the Black Nazarene. Still, I haven't explored much on the other side, where the biggest mosque in Metro Manila is found.

The Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila, has a similar structure to those found in Middle Eastern countries like the giant dome with a crescent moon, the pointed arches, the columns, and the artistic carvings. This is also common in Muslim Mindanao, where more prominent mosques in the country can be found.

Celebrating Eid'l Fitr, they give their last best shot until they return to regular activities and break the fasting ritual. This is purely a day of fun and happiness, a joyous moment.

Starting at dawn, just before sunrise, they would prepare their physical bodies, and wear new clothes before heading to the mosque for prayer and sermon, after which they would do house visits to their relatives and neighbors with greetings like Eid Mubarak or Blessed Eid, have some gift-giving or cash gift and sharing of foods and sweets.

Christians and Muslims share the same creed, and I have found some similarities, which is also the center of our Christian faith. In Islam, their teachings include almsgiving to the poor, giving food to the needy, and helping the poor uplift their lives; an act of compulsory giving which is one of the pillars of Islam similar to the Corporal works of mercy among Christians.

Since it is a feast day for Muslims, I had lunch at Pamanganan Malaysian Halal food just a few steps from the mosque entrance. Other Halal-certified restaurants nearby, like Junaira and Landap café, offer Mindanao cuisine.

We may have read the word "halal" on some food labels in the supermarket. For Muslims, it means 'food that is permitted or allowed according to Islamic law' and the term "haram" is the opposite and would mean 'food that is forbidden,' This shows how strict a Muslim diet could be for the sake of physical and spiritual health.

My day trip to the Manila Golden Mosque was a great experience about the Islamic faith and culture. The Arabic architecture and culture make me appreciate their confidence even more. Forget about the radical groups involved in wars and terrorism; they would also condemn it since they do not represent honest Islam. I know Islam is for peace, and with great appreciation and understanding, we can live harmoniously without instilling harm, hatred, and fear, but instead, a culture of love and respect for each other.

© 2019 Del Cusay