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Nur ar-Ramadan

Ramadan Not Just Fasting: Young Filipinos

By Rexcel Sorza, IOL Correspondent

ILOILO CITY, Philippines,

Many think Ramadan is simply a month of fasting. But for many young Muslim Filipinos this holy month is more than just a period of going hungry, thirsty and abstaining from anything that gives pleasure from sunrise to sundown for about 30 days.

“Ramadan is the month of abstinence from all earthly things. It is the season for nourishing our soul and spirit. More importantly, it is a time for remembrance of how great our Creator is for giving us a lease in life in this world of beauty and madness,” Baibonn Sangid told

“Ramadan reminds us of the beauty of hunger and poverty as it connects us to the simple needs of our earthly flesh. It makes us see the beauty of abundance, and drive us to cry in repentance for not being able to confront our human frailties squarely,” Sangid, a Philippine National Youth Commission member, further added.

Sangid, who is also the president of the Young Moro Professionals, stressed “whoever perfectly survives the trials of Ramadan, hers is a life of beauty, wisdom and courage. For whoever conquers himself, conquers hell.”

To Samerah Razuman, a physician based in the American state of Florida, “The month of Ramadan reminds me of my humanity. Rich or poor, powerful or not, every Muslim has to fast and observe abstinence. It tells me that in the eyes of Allah, everyone is equal and that it is your Iman (Faith) that brings you closer to Him, not anything else. It is also an opportunity to rejuvenate spiritually and improve my relationship with our Creator, hoping and praying that past mistakes be forgiven. It gives me the chance to start life anew.”

Ayesah Abubakar, a development worker based in Malaysia, says, “It’s the time when we commune with ourselves and with Allah. In abstinence, we sharpen our senses and strengthen our souls. Through this, we become humble beings again.”

University student Ayesa Sadain says Ramadan means relearning or increasing Taqwa (Fear of Allah). “During Ramadan, we talk about self-restraint, charity, the rich and poor becoming equal since both are fasting, abstinence, self-purification, etc. But we often forget the word Taqwa. Besides establishing abstinence, more self-control, and being reminded of Allah’s blessings, we are also reminded to fear the Almighty.”

She explains that “Without this fear, we can eat without being seen and we can drink at any time we please. Without this fear, we can gossip and backbite, we can provoke others, and we can pray Tarawih without sincerity. But with Taqwa, we are reminded that fasting and performing Tarawih is a relationship only between man and God.

“It is not for others to applaud our physical restraint or our regular appearance in the mosque. May Allah strengthen our Imam, forgive us our sins and establish Taqwa in our hearts even after Ramadan.”

Vernon Puengan, meanwhile, adds that Ramadan is “a miraculous month.” “It mollifies our thought, behavior, and passion from incorrigible bad deeds. Ramadan educates us further about the Islamic course of life. It also teaches us patience and self-evaluation for us to better ourselves in the eyes of Allah. It fecundates hope and enlightenment, a chance to transform ourselves into full veritable Muslims.”

To Anifa Alonto, a graduate student, Ramadan is a period of self-reflection. She emphasized that “how one acts during Ramadan shouldn’t be any different with any other month of the year.”

Alonto said, “if a Muslim finds himself having to change many of his ways during Ramadan, it is a clear indication that he has yet to embody the qualities of a devout Muslim. It is with this personal belief that Ramadan has become a gauge for me to assess myself and reflect upon my commitment, or lack of, to being a Muslim. I have to be honest in saying that there is still much for me to change about myself and much more to learn about Islam.”

“Anyone will agree with me when I say that being a Muslim is not easy. It takes a lot of discipline. In fact I think that the greatest achievement in life, and the hardest to attain as well, is to become a Muslim in the truest sense of the word, although only Allah can be the true judge of this.

“But going back to my point, it is suffice to say that if one finds that he doesn’t have to change his ways during Ramadan then one is close to personifying the true values of Islam and that should be the kind of objective we must all set for ourselves as Muslims.

“So for this Ramadan and for the many more that will come, I will continue with Allah’s will to reflect upon my values and actions as a Muslim and change what I can. It is with fervent hope as well that time will come when I need not be consumed with changing my ways and be devoted instead to strengthening my piety and faith in Allah.”

On the other hand, Abdul Rahman Beup says it is not merely a holiday, “but an opportunity to gain by giving up, to prosper by going without and to grow stronger by enduring weakness. As a secondary goal, fasting is a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the less fortunate and learning thankfulness and appreciation for all of God's bounties.

“Ramadan is also a time of intensive worship, reading of the Qur'an, giving charity, purifying one's behavior, and doing good deeds.

“Being a believer, I have always found it a moving experience to be with my brothers and sisters in faith and to share the blessings received by another, as well as give what I can share for everyone to partake.”