As the Holy Month of Ramadan starts on June 17, this week, the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP) has set the interfaith spirit of its members – and, hopefully, the whole of a troubled city – towards making the fasting season more meaningful and rewarding.
The ISP held a “Solidarity Forum” last Saturday, June 13 in the city with the theme of “Holy Month of Ramadan and the Mindanao Peace Process”. It was attended by over a hundred ISP members made up of Muslim, Christian and Lumad religious members and representatives of organizations like the police, armed forces, schools, non-government organizations, government agencies, and youth groups. About a third of the city’s estimated one-million populations are of Islam faith.
Theywere oriented on the theological, moral, ritual and beneficial aspects and elements of the Ramadan fast. The speakers and reactors were Ustadz AbdullahIbrahim – principal, Madrasah School of Sabiel-Al Muhtadeen Foundation; Prof.BukhariPutal – faculty member, College of Asian and Islamic Studies, WMSU;Ustadz Abdulbasit Amilhassan, Salaam volunteer; and, Prof. Moh. Taha Akarama,city director, Department of Interior and Local Government.
Prof.Arakama said holy fasting which comes in religious and spiritual forms purifies starting with the physical body to the heart, then on to the mind and up to the faster’s social behavior and relationships. The speakers said the fasting – from all kinds of pleasures – andprayers reinforce and renew the believer’s intimacy with Allah and good relationships with people. Arakama said this is how Ramadan fasting contributes to peace-making in society.
ISPlead convenor Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF, said Christians should imbibe the spiritual experience and rewards of fasting by empathizing with this Muslim obligationand practice, noting that the Ramadan fast has been a hallmark of his personal interfaith journey and missionary work in the country. “I try to fast, too”, he said.
Fr.Calvo announced that the annual Iftar – breaking of the fast ceremony – of ISP this year will be held in Arena Blanco barangay. The barangay is home to hundreds of Sama and Tausug families majority of whom were adversely affected by the 2013 war in the city.
Another activity of ISP, Fr. Calvo announced at the forum, during the holy month would be the ground-breaking for a housing project in Sumariki islet to re-settle a number of Badjao families who also lost their houses during the same 2013war. The project will be implemented bythe Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA), headed byFr. Calvo, and funded by the Spanish government’s Agencia Espanola de CooperacionInternacional para Desarollo (AECID).
He also revealed that on the eve of Eid-ulFtri feast day, which climaxes the Ramadan period, the ISP will hold an interfaith prayer vigil to supplicate fordivine support for the peace process and to promote greater justice and peace in the city.
Fr.Calvo challenged the participants to commit themselves to interfaith solidarity that build and sustain socio-economic structures that work to eliminate poverty, protect the ecology, resolve conflicts, rise up the youths, assist indigenous peoples, engender good governance, strengthen security, and foster social peace.
The forum was co-sponsored by the GoldenCrescent Consortium of Peace Builders and Affiliates, Inc. headed by Prof. AliYacub, Al-Haj.