MANILA: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. urged Filipinos to stand in solidarity with the country’s Muslim community as they marked the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
Muslims make up about 5 percent of the almost 110 million predominantly Catholic population. The minority Muslim communities mostly live on the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago in the country’s south, as well as in the central-western province of Palawan.
Philippine Muslims, like about 2 billion of the world’s population professing Islam, entered the holy month on Thursday, during which they will fast from sunrise to sunset each day.
“In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful, I join the Filipino Muslim community here and around the world as they welcome and observe the holy month of Ramadan,” Marcos said in a statement.
“The rituals and services during Ramadan remind us of our shared moral obligation — regardless of faith — to compassionately take care of each other, uphold our human dignity and stand in solidarity.”
Fasting and charity are among the five main obligations of Islam and during Ramadan there is a strong focus on helping others, especially throughout the month’s final 10 days, when Muslims believe God revealed the text of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, to the Prophet Muhammad.
“This season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving is an opportune time to embody the values of discipline, reverence and humility,” Marcos said.
“The spiritual belief that the gate of heaven is open during this sacred month calls upon our brothers and sisters to purify their souls against the perils of worldly pleasures as well as seek for forgiveness and peace.”
In his Ramadan message, Marcos also called on all Filipinos to promote peace and unity.
“As a nation enriched with cultural diversity, let us allow our hearts to embrace the profound truth that respect conquers division, understanding obliterates prejudice and love prevails over all,” he said.
Ramadan is the ninth of the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar. This year’s Ramadan will end on either April 21 or April 22 April, as there are either 29 or 30 days in a lunar month.