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.”


“We were all outraged,” says Arab owner of store at center of US protest firestorm

Updated 31 May 2020

“We were all outraged,” says Arab owner of store at center of US protest firestorm

  • Troops can go in ’very quickly,’ Trump says

CHICAGO: The firestorm of protest, arson and looting that has consumed the US for five days began at the counter of an Arab American grocery store.

Staff working for Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, the owner of Cup Foods, called Minneapolis police after George Floyd, 46, twice tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase.

Officers who arrested Floyd held him to the ground with a knee on his neck, as he pleaded that he could not breathe. He lost consciousness and died later in hospital. One officer has been charged with third-degree murder and further charges are expected.

“What took place outside … was not in our hands,” Abumayyaleh told US TV. “The murder and execution was something done by the police, and it was an abuse of power. The police brutality needs to stop.”

Abumayyaleh said he knew Floyd as a customer, and as someone who was always pleasant. He did not find out until the following morning that the man had died. “We were all outraged,” he said, and Floyd “may not have even known that the bill was counterfeit.”

The store owner and his sons, Samir, Adam and Mahmoud, have gone into hiding in the face of a wave of threats against them on social media. They took down their store’s Facebook page and its landline phone has been disconnected.

Minneapolis has more than 50 Arab- and Muslim-owned stores mostly north of where the incident occurred, all operating under statewide COVID-19 restrictions. Arab store owners said they feared speaking out publicly about the incident.

An unidentified man who answered the phone at one Arab-owned store told Arab News that both the killing of Floyd and vandalism against businesses “is wrong.”

Since Floyd died last Tuesday, protesters have vandalized, looted and burned down more than 200 stores in Minneapolis. On Friday and Saturday, the violence spread to New York, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte North Carolina.

In Minnesota, protesters maintained a daily vigil in front of the Cup Foods store at 3759 Chicago Avenue, painting walls and the street with murals and graffiti in memory of Floyd. After four nights of confrontations in the city, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the state’s national guard on Saturday for the first time since the Second World War.

US President Donald Trump said troops could be deployed if local authorities requested their help. “We could have our military there very quickly,” he said.