Philippine Church, secular leaders call for peaceful Eid

Confusion over new moon sighting has some Muslims celebrating end of Ramadan early
Philippine Church, secular leaders call for peaceful Eid

Filipino Muslim women attend morning prayers in a park in the northern Philippine city of Baguio during the celebration of Eid'l Fitr, or the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, on June 5. (Photo by Jojo Rinoza)

A Catholic prelate in Mindanao has issued a call for peace in the restive Philippine region as Muslims around the world marked Eid'l Fitr — the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, on June 5.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro also extended his "prayers and aspirations," hoping that the "season of prayer will also bring about ... fraternal humanity among all peoples."

The prelate, who heads the Episcopal Commission on Mutual Relations, said the end of Ramadan was an opportunity to press for peace in the newly-established autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao.

"We pray that we arrive at genuine development and the reconciliation of the peoples of Mindanao," added Archbishop Ledesma.

The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, meanwhile, said it will remain "firmly committed" in participating in peaceful initiatives to bring together Muslims and Christians.

"We are committed to seeing every person as fellow human beings in God’s image who deserve to be treated with the greatest dignity and respect," said Evangelical Bishop Noel Pantoja.

He said recent attacks in places of worship around the world are a reminder of the "grim reality of religious persecution and the urgency of working ... for genuine solidarity."

"Such transformative moral principles and practices are of utmost necessity if we as members of the single human family are to navigate toward a future wherein diverse communities can truly flourish harmoniously," Pantoja said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, called on all Filipinos to be instruments of "love, respect, and selfless service" in his Eid'l Fitr message.

The president had declared the day a non-working holiday.

"May all Muslim Filipinos observe this day as a time for reflection, enlightenment, and renewal of commitment to a much stronger devotion to the Almighty," he said.

Muslims in Mindanao celebrated Eid'l Fitr on different days this year following confusion over the sighting of the new moon this week.

In Marawi, people flocked to the provincial capitol grounds on June 4 for the celebration.

In Cotabato, authorities banned the practice of "Mobile Takbir" or a noise barrage usually initiated by young people.

Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said the practice is not in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

"I am duty bound to enforce the law. I am urging officials to impose the ban," she said.

The National Council on Muslim Filipinos also urged people to "replicate" their spiritual renewal in "building resilience against evil acts and thoughts permeating modern-day society."

Legislators also joined in wishing Muslim communities a joyous celebration a day after they passed a law creating a "sound legal and regulatory framework" for Islamic banks in the country.

"This is good news as we celebrate Eid’l Fitr," said Muslim legislator Amihilda Sangcopan, referring to the proposed law.

"This will help Filipino Muslim businessmen have access to banking and financial services that are attuned to the principles of Shariah or Islamic law," she added.

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