Observing Ramadhan in the time of pandemic: Reflections from the fast

This year’s observation of the holy month of Ramadhan by our Muslim brothers and sisters took place at a time when the coronavirus hit the world at a rapid pace, restricted movements and modified everyone’s life. With strict implementation of quarantine measures, performing the fast during Ramadhan came with adjustments and changes to what most were used to.

On May 25 and 26, 2020, few days after the Eid Al-Fitr (Breaking of the Fast) celebration, Equal Access International and the OURmindaNOW platform came together in an online post-sharing session called “Reflections from the Fast” with the Tech Camp Alumni Community and the Regional Messaging Hubs, respectively. 

The sessions were aimed at sharing experiences, learnings and reflections from the Ramadhan during the pandemic, and reconnect the alumni and messaging hub networks, Muslim and other faith traditions from different areas all over Mindanao.

In the first session, three alumni shared their reflections to more than 40 individuals. Jaime Salva, EAI-Philippines first Olive Peace Prize Awardee and a Muslim convert from Zamboanga City expressed that this year’s Ramadhan is quite challenging compared to the previous ones. Many people have lost their jobs, many are anxious, emotionally distressed, and the freedom to go around is limited.

He also mentioned two important things in his reflections: empathy and compassion.

“It was not just about thirst and hunger but also the restrictions of movement. We cannot hug our loved ones. Many are anxious and all you can do best is show empathy. Compassion to our fellowmen is also important, especially those on the frontline,” shared Jaime as he witnessed how dedicated his frontliner friends are in their duties. 

“This Ramadhan taught me to be grateful for the previous ones. Ramadhan is a teamwork. It is important that every member of the family should work together,” said Anan Ampaso, an alumna from Marawi City who used to spend the Ramadhan with her relatives until the pandemic came. 

Adding to the conversation was Zuar Ampatuan, an alumnus from Sultan Kudarat who works as a frontliner in the province. He shared that visiting far-flung communities while performing fasting was a challenge. 

“Weariness was one of the challenges being in the frontline and being a Muslim spending Ramadhan. But when I started seeing the smiles and hearing how grateful the people whom we served were, the tiredness seemed to vanish,” added Zuar. 

Ending her reflections, Anan shared how this year’s Ramadhan was like a refresh button for her. It encouraged her to become a better person. 

The same post-sharing session was also conducted online with the Regional Messaging Hubs network, which gathered 20 individuals.

The Moropreneur Incorporated (TMI) Executive Director Selahuddin Hashim from Cotabato City shared first his experience from the recent Ramadhan.

He highlighted the positive sides of the pandemic despite the restrictions especially in practicing activities during the Ramadhan, such as being able to pray together with family at home, and acknowledging the efforts of our Muslim brothers and sisters in following quarantine guidelines.

“Since people are encouraged to do quarantine at home, we are given a huge opportunity to stay at home to reflect and read the Quran together with our family. The situation was a test of our faith and humanity”, he shared.

The next sharer, Hadzer Birowa of the Integrated Resource Development for Tri-People (IRDT) based in Zamboanga City stressed the commands of Allah during the holy month of Ramadhan and the significance of family.

“The pandemic on the other side, demonstrated family discipline and leadership. It yielded aptitude for self-devotion and about family as a pillar of a cohesive environment,” Hadzer expressed.

Furthermore, this year’s Ramadhan taught our Muslim brothers and to be self-conscious and value self-discipline.

“It instructed us to exercise better and just judgement and gave realizations to value our internal and external obligations,” Hadzer said as he ended his sharing.

In addition to the sharing session, other individuals of non-Muslim faith also expressed their appreciation towards the activity. Not only it further added their understanding on Islamic faith but it also taught them to show respect and support to their Muslim friends and relatives, not only during Ramadhan but as they work and interact with them everyday./Irish Jane Calungsod, EAI-PH

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