Filipino Muslims to celebrate Eid’l Fitr differently amid pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — Filipino Muslims will have to celebrate the end of Ramadan differently this year as the coronavirus disease remains a threat, forcing people to stay physically apart.

Eid'l Fitr, also called the "Festival of Breaking the Fast," is one of the most important days for Muslims and is an occasion that brings the entire Muslim community together.

During this time, families and friends gather to show gratitude to Allah while celebrating the end of Ramadan, the four-week daytime fast that marks the month Muslims believe their Holy Book, the Quran, was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

But Muslim priest Imam Rashid Marneld Indasan told CNN Philippines that this year would be different, as quarantine protocols remain in place to contain the spread of COVID-19.

"Traditionally, we Muslims are usually, ngayon pagdating nitong eve na ‘to, tong paglubog ng araw, magyayakapan na kami, maghahalikan kami, brothers, sisters, so isa yun sa mga talagang mahirap," Indasan said in an interivew. "At bukas, kung saan ay dapat masaya kami ay di kami magkakasama, yun po ang ating concern ngayon."

[Translation: Traditionally, during this eve, at sunset, we Muslim brothers and sisters start hugging and kissing each other so that's one reason this year is difficult. And tomorrow, when we should be celebrating, we cannot be together. That's our concern right now.]

Indasan admitted that he was feeling emotional this year because they will not be able to celebrate Eid'l Fitr as a community. Instead, he and his family will celebrate in the local mosque.

“Maraming gustong pumunta bukas pero pinipigilan po namin sa pagsunod na rin po ng ordinansa sa lockdown na nagaganap ngayon," Indasan said. "We will do praising, yan ang official call na talagang tapos na po ang Ramadan at ngayon, magbabatian na po kami lahat at may kainan po kami."

[Translation: Many members also want to go tomorrow but we told them not to, following the local ordinance on the lockdown. We will do the praising, that is the official call that Ramadan is over and now, we will all greet each other and have a feast.]

The Eid'l Fitr celebrations focus on the community and family, and a spirit of generosity is encouraged.

Despite the difficulties faced this year, Indasan said he is joyful as he celebrates this day and he encouraged his fellow brothers and sisters to rejoice as they celebrate the Festival of Breaking the Fast. 

The Islam celebration of Eid'l Fitr on May 25, Monday is declared as a national public holiday.

In Proclamation No. 944, President Rodrigo Duterte said "the entire Filipino nation should have the full opportunity to join their Muslim brothers and sisters in peace and harmony in the observance and celebration of Eid’l Fitr, subject to existing community quarantine and social distancing measures."