By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Congregational prayers for the upcoming Ramadhan (Islamic fasting month) were also suspended in compliance with government measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
In a public advisory on April 18, NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan said his agency’s March 16 memo order, crafted with the advice of councils of ulama (Islamic scholars) and imams in the country, remained in effect until further notice pursuant to Presidential Proclamation Nos. 926 and 929 prohibiting mass gatherings.
Ramadhan falls on the ninth month in the lunar Hijrah calendar, during which able-bodied Muslims are required to abstain from foods, drinks, sex, and any wrong doing – from dawn till dusk – for one whole month as one of the five pillars of Islam.
Good deeds and prayers during Ramdhan, according to scholars, deserve Divine rewards 1,200 times over similar acts performed in other months. The Holy Qur’an, as a guidance to mankind, was revealed during Ramadhan, making it the holiest period in Islamic calendar.
But with the recent restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 crisis, holding congregational prayers, including Taraweeh – a special nightly congregational prayer during Ramadhan, will be prohibited in masjid (mosque) or outside residence.
But according to Pagarungan, families, whose members are asymptomatic, may still hold their mass prayers at home. The NCMF official was citing protocols being observed in in Saudi Arabia, “where we look (upon) for spiritual guidance.”
Pangarungan urged Muslims and people of other faiths for more prayers calling for an end to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, NCMF spokesman Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos said their agency continued to coordinate with other government agencies in the delivery of relief goods for Muslim Filipinos outside the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Due to lack of government subsidy for emergency situation, the NCMF delivered relief goods purchased from salaries of volunteering officials and workers, while the rest came from donations from humanitarian organizations, said Datu Ramos.
With NCMF prompt representations, the national Inter-Agency Task Force has exempted deceased Muslims from the prescribed cremation proceedings for virus-afflicted cadavers.
NCMF field offices have also rescued mostly Islamic preachers (tablighs) stranded in cities and terminals during the first two weeks of the national state of public health emergency, notably in local enhanced community lockdowns, Datu Ramos said.