By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Saudi Arabian Royal Supreme Court has announced that the new moon was sighted in parts of the kingdom Monday night, signalling the start today, Tuesday, of the Eid’l Fitr feast marking the end of Ramadan fasting.
“The Shawwal crescent moon was visible from some parts of the Kingdom on Monday evening, meaning Eid will begin the following day,” the Saudi’s Arab News online network quoted the royal court as saying.
Saudi Muslim residents were urged by the royal court on Saturday to help the crescent moon Monday evening, 29th of Ramadan 1140 Hijra, corresponding to June 3, 2019.
In the Philippines, the crescent moon was not sighted on Monday night, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) said a few hours before the Saudi Kingdom’s announcement.
“Muslims will celebrate the feast of Eid’l Fitr on Wednesday, June 5, and not a day earlier, after Islamic moon-sighting committees reported no sighting of the new moon on Monday evening, June 3,” NCMF Sec. Saidamen Pangarungan said.
“As such, and as declared by the Bangsamoro Darul Ifta, it is hereby officially declared that the 1140H Eid’l Fitr will be celebrated on Wednesday, June 5,” NVMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan said in a statement posted a few hours before the Saudi government’s announcement.
President Duterte has declared June 5 a non-working holiday nationwide in observance of Eid’l Fitr.
Muslim Filipino professionals said there should be “no big issue or confusion” about the contrasting announcements from Saudi Arabian and Philippine authorities, noting that South East Asian countries including the Philippines are five hours ahead of Saudi time.
Eid’l Fitr is one of the most important feasts in Islam. It marks the end of Ramadan, the period of month-long fasting among Muslims from dawn to dusk to seek forgiveness, increase self-control, and exercise charity. The other feast in Islam is Eid’l Adha, which marks the end annual hajj rituals among pilgrims in the Holy shrines of Saudi Arabia.
Both Islamic feats are celebrated with congregational prayers and thanksgivings, among other festivities.
NCMF spokesman Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos announced that the six-ton packages of dates donated by the Saudi government were received last May 26 and distributed the following day to its regional and provincial offices in the country.
“All regional offices will receive 80 boxes each, except for Cagayan de Oro and Caraga that will get 50 boxes each, while Lanao and Cotabato will be allotted 110 boxes each. The provincial offices will receive 30 boxes each, except for General Santos City which will get 20 boxes,” Datu Ramos said.
He said NCMF Secretary Pangarungan had sternly warned all agency personnel nationwide to ensure that such food packs will be distributed free, and “not for sale” as previously experienced in past donations of dates.
In previous years, some packs of dates at one kilo each ended up in commercial stalls and sold at P500 each.
“This (irregularity) must not happen under my watch. Defiance will be dealt with strictly,” Pangarungan reportedly said.