The clock ticked down to 2:30 in the morning Monday and I found myself cooking for my first suhoor (pre-dawn meal) for the first day of the month-long fast.
This week marks the start of Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islamic calendar. This is when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, taking nothing, not even water, during the daylight hours.
The first 10 days of the fast are, arguably the toughest: Our bodies must adjust to the fasting so we can focus on prayer and reflection, and work at overcoming the demands of our bodies to nourish our souls.
While we deny ourselves material nourishment during our fasting, Ramadan is not simple abstention from food and drink. During Ramadan, Muslims from all walks of life are equal—we suffer the same daytime hunger and thirst. We all pray to sustain ourselves through this self-denial. We are united as a religious community across the world in this prayer and fasting.
Muslims also refrain from indulging vices, speaking ill of other people or expressing negative thoughts, and activities that may detract from our abstinence and prayer. This is the time when Muslims focus on aligning mind, body and spirit toward one goal: Submission to the will of Allah, to whom we belong. We place the will of Allah above our needs, and affirm our faith that our needs will be met by Allah who sustains us.
Ramadan is a time of unity for all of our ummah, bound together by the faith we share and celebrate throughout this holiest month. This is a time when we reach deep into ourselves for kindness—to ourselves, our communities and all those who touch our lives. We are one in prayer, supporting one another through the fast, and in our gratitude when we can share meals before daybreak and at sundown.
The hunger we experience gives us the opportunity to seek support from each other, as well as to give it to one another. This provides us with ample opportunities to express our solidarity and our gratitude for it.
As we fast during Ramadan, we ensure that we never forget to pray for all Muslims in other parts of the globe who suffer persecution—including the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, China, the Rohingya people, and Palestinians, the Muslim communities now who continue to face oppression and discrimination for our religious beliefs.
We also pray for those who have suffer from war and its aftermath here at home. Muslim Mindanao’s wounds from decades of conflict have only just begun to heal. There is much work before us, and it is fitting that our prayer accompanies that vital work of rebuilding and healing.
Ramadan this year is the first celebration of the holy month for the new Bangsamoro region. May this time of fasting unite the Bangsamoro beyond the personal, and ethnic group affiliations that are part of it.
This Ramadan, like those before it, is not just for us in the Bangsamoro. It is a time for us to pray and assist those who don’t have shelter, food to eat, jobs, or families.
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