Filipino Muslims thankful for pray-at-home Eid this year

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An Imam prays at a mosque in Coatabato City on the island of Mindanao ahead of Eid Al-Fitr. (AFP)
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Filipino Muslims take a selfie during the first day celebration of Eid al Fitr before morning prayers at Luneta Park in Manila, Philippines June 15, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Updated 24 May 2020

Filipino Muslims thankful for pray-at-home Eid this year

  • Anti-virus measures vital for public health and greater good, say residents

MANILA: For as long as Dr. Potre Diampuan can remember, celebrating Eid Al-Fitr was about assembling at the local mosque for prayers, followed by a meet and greet with family and friends over an elaborate feast of piarun, rendang, sweet snacks and dates.

It has been the same routine for years.

On Sunday, however, Diampuan will join millions of other Muslims in the Philippines to observe the festival at home as part of government efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus across the country.

“There are only three of us who will celebrate Eid at home,” she told Arab News. “I'm going to prepare some food, but we are not expecting people to arrive.”

A core aspect of the Eid prayer is the khutbah (sermon) that precedes it, but social distancing makes congregational prayers and religious gatherings impossible.

“Islam has emphasized that if it is for the greater good, then let us join that where there is a benefit for the greater number of people. If staying at home will benefit the majority, then that is the better decision,” she added.

The Philippines, anticipating congregations for Eid and a spike in infections, banned gatherings at mosques and open spaces. Several areas in the country were placed under community quarantine.

To reiterate the importance of anti-virus measures the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) secretary, Saidamen Pangarungan, acknowledged in his Eid address that this year’s Ramadan was “unprecedented.”

“But this contagion has given us the golden opportunity to offer more supplications to Allah (swt) and read the Qur’an in the comforts of our homes,” he said. “It has afforded us precious time to reflect upon life’s travails with sab’r or patience.”

I am proud of how all Muslim Filipinos have acted throughout Ramadan under lockdown.

Saidamen Pangarungan, Secretary of National Commission on Muslim Filipinos

The pandemic also displayed people’s steadfastness as a nation during the crisis and showed their commitment to national unity, he added.

“I am proud of how all Muslim Filipinos have acted throughout Ramadan under lockdown. The pandemic exposed the weakness of most, but was also able to highlight one of the most important teachings in Islam, which is charity.”

He had previously urged Muslims to celebrate Eid “under the spirit of unity and solidarity” and to abide by government rules for people’s safety and well-being.

He was joined by NCMF spokesperson, Dimapuno Datu Ramos, Jr., who said that ensuring public health was a government priority.

“Ramadan teaches us about love for others, and there is no better way to do this than to ensure the safety of your family, friends and colleagues. Celebrate Eid Al-Fitr at home so that we may all live to experience next Ramadan,” he added.

A state-run television station will air the Eid prayer and khutba by Dr. Julkipli Wadi, from the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Islamic Studies, on Sunday as part of the government’s measures.

Bangsamoro MP Zia Alonto Adiong said that the last day of fasting coincided with the anniversary of the 2017 Marawi siege, the months-long battle between security forces and Daesh-inspired militants that devastated the Muslim city.

“For the Bangsamoro people, most especially the Meranao people, the threat of COVID-19 makes the rebuilding and rehabilitation of Marawi City all the more urgent and necessary. Our history teaches us that being a Moro and Muslim is not easy, but our faith also reminds us that we are not given burdens that we cannot bear. Let us welcome this year’s Eid with a heart filled with joyous spirit — grateful for the chance to worship as a community.”


New coronavirus cases in Hong Kong raise concerns of local cluster

Updated 47 min 10 sec ago

New coronavirus cases in Hong Kong raise concerns of local cluster

  • The infected woman is a night-shift worker at a Kerry Logistics warehouse
  • The government was expected to extend a ban on group gatherings larger than eight later on Tuesday

HONG KONG: A cluster of nine coronavirus cases raised concerns in Hong Kong over renewed local transmission in a city that has been one of the most successful in keeping the pandemic under control. The first two cases in the cluster — a husband and wife — were confirmed on Sunday. Since then four neighbors, two of the wife’s work colleagues, and a fire department medical officer who had sent the woman to hospital have been confirmed to have been infected. None had been abroad recently.
“We are very concerned about this cluster of nine,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told her weekly news conference on Tuesday, before an executive council meeting.
The infected woman is a night-shift worker at a Kerry Logistics warehouse, where she labels food items imported from Britain, local media reported.
The government was expected to extend a ban on group gatherings larger than eight later on Tuesday. It was due to expire at the end of Thursday, and has been extended several times for two-week periods.
The limits on the size of gatherings prompted police to reject for the first time an application of the annual vigil tens of thousands of Hong Kong people traditionally hold in a downtown park to commemorate pro-democracy protesters killed in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 31 years ago.
A further extension is also likely to thwart plans for legally organizing anniversary marches of the anti-government protests that started in June last year and resumed recently after Beijing announced plans to impose national security laws on Hong Kong.
Lam has repeatedly said health measures had no political motive. On Tuesday, she said they were not about “taking away people’s freedom,” but about protecting people, adding that public health was “also part of national security.”
As of Monday, Hong Kong had reported 1,088 coronavirus cases and four deaths.