AS Muslim Filipinos prepared for Ramadan on Friday, Mindanao folk rushed last-minute final touches before opening the only pink mosque in the country.
But unlike the Masjid Nasir al-Mulk in Shiraz, Iran, much of the Masjid Dimaukom in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao was built by Christian workmen to symbolize unity and inter-faith brotherhood, according to Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom.
Vice President Jejomar Binay agreed with the sentiment and asked Filipino Muslims to practice tolerance, foster equality and celebrate diversity.
“The holy month of Ramadan is a time for self-sacrifice and self-restraint for our Muslim brothers and sisters as they cleanse the body and soul from worldy temptations. It is also a time for reflection and re-focus one’s self on the worship of God and practice of selflessness,” Binay said in his Ramadan message.
“So as this holiest of months begins, may we also remember to respect the rights accorded to each one of us by the laws of God and man,” he added.
“Let us practice tolerance, foster equality, and celebrate diversity; and fight discrimination and prejudice based on color, gender, or religion.
“Ramadan is also a time to uphold moral discipline. Let us therefore let the rule of law reign based on what is morally right, untainted by prejudice, partisanship or political affiliation,” Binay said.
Dimaukom, who paid for the building of the mosque on property owned by his family, said he decided with his wife to have it painted pink to represent peace and love, which they hope will transform the image of their province which is sometimes marred by violence.
Town officials said the Masjid Dimaukom was opened to the public at dusk Friday during the Muslim tradition of searching for the new moon that marks the beginning of Ramadan.
“If the moon is sighted tonight, the month-long Ramadhan starts Saturday,” said Commissioner Mike Ibrahim of the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos, hours before a moon sighting was held by the Darul Ifta (House of Opinion) of Islam in Cotabato City.
“If the crescent moon is not sighted today anywhere in the world, fasting automatically starts on Sunday,” added Ibrahim, who is also chairman of the Ulama Council of the Philippines.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadan, a practice meant to inculcate among them the importance of self-restraint in achieving spiritual perfection and harmony with all people, regardless of religions and races.
Ramadan fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and all able-bodied Muslims must observe fasting as a religious obligation, according Ustadz Jaafar Ali, speaking for Darul Iftah, the organization of Islamic religious leaders.
Various activities like nightly presentations at the compound of the Autonomos Region in Muslim Mindanao have also been prepared ahead of the fasting month.
Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman said a food festival is being prepared at the compound of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao so Muslims can break the fast shortly after work.
The start of fasting month is a regular working day but Muslim workers are allowed to work until 3 p.m. without noon break to give them ample time to prepare for breaking of the fast at sunset.
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