Muslim religious leaders in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao are gearing up for the moon sighting that will signal the start of this year’s Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Religious leaders of the regional advisory council in the Muslim region have agreed to hold the start of the moon sighting on Wednesday, April 22.
“If the moon is sighted on that day, the first day of Ramadan would be Thursday, April 23,” said Abuhuraira Udasan, grand mufti of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
He said, however, that if the moon is not sighted, the start of the holy month of fasting for Muslim Filipinos will be on Friday, April 24.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar when Muslims across the world fast from dawn to dusk, pray and give alms in observance of Islam’s holiest month.
Udasan said the regional advisory council has already issued a fatwa or religious guideline suspending the holding of congregational prayers in the mosques due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
“This is in compliance with the Islamic preventive measure such as social distancing,” he said, adding that the new coronavirus disease remains a global threat.
The religious leader urged Muslim Filipinos to perform prayers in the comfort of their home.
Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur province has also urged his constituents to perform the “Taraweeh,” the Ramadan nightly congregations, in their homes.
The Taraweeh is observed immediately after performing the evening prayers “Maghrib” and “Isha” during the holy month of Ramadan.
“We are prohibiting the conduct of prayers in mosques to avoid mass gathering,” said Adiong.
The conduct of Friday prayers in mosques has been suspended across the province the entire Muslim autonomous region following the implementation of an “enhanced community quarantine.”
Mosques, however, continue the “adhan,” or the ritual call to prayer.
“We are trying our best to combat COVID-19 and we need your cooperation,” Adiong appealed to his constituents in a message posted on social media.
“Once we beat this virus, we can resume the holding of prayers at mosques,” he added.
As of April 19, the Health ministry in the Muslim region reported nine confirmed COVID-19 cases, four of whom have recovered, and 235 suspected COVID-19 cases.