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The loneliest Eid'l Fitr in my life

Maranao Muslims perform the Eid'l Fitr prayer in Iligan City Hall. (MNY)


By MAS YAHYA
Iligan City, Philippines
June 25, 2017


Today's Eid'l Fitr is the loneliest in my life. It was so solemn but so sad. And just like everybody else in the congregation, I guess, I could almost burst into tears as the Imam of the Eid congregation in his khutba (sermon) pondered on what is happening in Marawi since the May 23 siege was perpetrated by the armed Maute group and its allied forces.

Tears, however, kept on falling silently. Worshippers could not hide tears in their faces as the Imam, Aleem Maulana Mamutuk, read his khutba which was held at the Amphitheater of Iligan City Hall Sunday morning. It is an act of seeking for whatever helps that Heaven above can spare us in this time of need, nay, tragedy.

The youthful Imam, said to be a graduate of Islamic education abroad and himself a media practitioner, said the Marawi crisis is a test to the Maranaos on how steadfast they are in their faith to the Almighty. Mamutuk is the station manager of Ranao Radio and TV 13 station.

He explained how Almighty Allah enjoined the believers on the hikmah of fasting during Ramadan. He said the Creator has made everything easy to the believers but "Why does He require us to abstain from what is lawful to us like eating and drinking halal food and drink, doing intercourse among legally married couples, and others?"

Mamutuk had said of many beautiful phrases and paraphrases of Qur’anic verses, so inspiring that I saw many eyes in the congregation filled with tears and if only the supplication could be heard out loud, the open stadium will be echoed with loud cries. I never saw such a solemn and heart-breaking congregation.


Aleem Mamutuk leads the Edi'l Fitr Khutba in Iligan City. (MNY)


MARAWI WILL RISE

Authorities claimed the Marawi crisis killed hundreds of casualties and wounded in government troops, terrorists, and civilians. But unofficial accounts I heard refuted that claim. Reports reaching me said over a thousand have died already since the siege started on May 23.

It was learned that dead bodies are scattered in streets in houses hit by bombs or bullets. Worst, many cadavers swollen and many were eaten by dogs.

Homes, buildings, and infrastructures were devastated by airstrikes and mortar bombs. Business center which is in the heart of the city is totally devastated and until now the military is using airstrikes and mortars to hit areas where terrorists are believed hiding.

Tens of thousands internally displaced Maranaos who fled the Marawi clashes sought refuge in Iligan City, accommodated in home-based or in evacuation camps. And I am thankful the city government of Iligan shows the Christian-majority city love and care of the Muslims victims.

Mamutuk said Marawi City may have been devastated and the Maranaos may have lost all their wealth and material properties in the siege but their capability as intellectuals and educated people are not lost.

"Marawi will rise. The Maranaos will stand," he pointed out.

Rescue volunteer Anuar Marabur was interviewed by mainstream media during the Eid celebration in Iligan../TNRS

"A Muslim tops in the famous University of the Philippines as valedictorian. Just recently, over eighty of the more than a hundred Muslim bar passers are Maranaos." That is Mamutuk's way of inspiring an almost desperate mind or motivating a wounded heart.

But he is absolutely right to say so, referring to the many Maranao professionals and religious scholars which made the community proud.

About a thousand Maranao Muslims performed the congregation in a mood of solitude and sorrow differently far from a normal Eid which is ought to be merry and jolly as the word Eid means Feast.

I agree with the organizers of the event that the number of participants to the Congregational Prayer would double or be more if it was announced earlier. But text messages and social media information about the event's date and venue only circulated last night.

Of course, the ARMM's Darul Iftah official announcement of the sighting of the moon was also made last night which meant the Holy Month of Ramadan had ended. Eid'l Fitr falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal which immediately follows Ramadan.

Today's congregation is for the first time held in a city hall compound of local government unit in the Philippines headed by non-Muslims executives.

It was made possible upon the coordination of such young Maranao leaders as Elian Macala, Atty. Khaled Ansano, Commissioner Samira Gutoc, Administrator Penny Disimban, among others.



THANKS TO ILIGAN CITY LGU AND PEOPLE


Earlier, Muslim young leader Elian Macala said the city government of Iligan under the stewardship of Mayor Celso Regencia has offered the Amphitheater to Muslims as a sincere gesture of the city administration and the majority Christian Iliganons for solidarity with their Muslim brothers especially at this time when Maranaos have been displaced due to the Marawi crisis.

Macala and the organizers of the Eid prayer expressed their thanks to the city government leadership and its good people for allowing the Muslims perform one of the important festivals in Islam, Eid'l Fitr.

Tens of thousands internally displaced Maranaos who fled the Marawi clashes sought refuge in Iligan, accommodated in home-based and evacuation camps.


MARAWI TRAGEDY MOST PAINFUL THAN OTHERS IN THE PAST

I have been a witness to many a  tragedy that befell our people. The Moro War at its height during the Martial Law regime of Ferdinand Marcos indeed had afflicted many Muslim lives and displaced over a hundred thousands or two.In fact, every now and then, Muslim Filipinos were repatriated from Malaysia. The neighboring Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah was the running refuge of IDPs of the Moro war.

Evacuees too found solace in many localities in the country, where until now many are still living for good -- some made a fortune. Most Maranaos who make good in localities far and near are bringing their fortune back to Marawi and Lanao for they still believe no home is sweeter than Ranao and her city Marawi.

I heard too the history of our forebears who lost their lives in fighting foreign invaders. Many of them chose the path of martyrdom if only to defend their Homeland, Ranao, and preserve the Islamic Faith and Culture for us, their generation, to live with, and to teach us to thread their path should there be another invasion so that our generation will still live according to this Faith and Culture of their fathers and forefathers. 


But this one in Marawi now is the most tragic of all. 


Old photo of the City of Marawi taken from the lake during the 80's. (File)

We may have lost all those material wealth that we have strived hard in our life; our city has been devastated; our people have been killed, fled to nowhere running for their lives and survived only upon the mercy of mostly non-Muslim donors, and suffered pains and humiliation. But no matter how painful, these are not the worst. 

What will be worst is that when we, Maranaos, no longer totally live with the teachings of our forefathers to defend our Homeland, our God-given Right as a People which is even recognized by the so-called International Law for which they had fought for. Should that happen, we will lose our identity, we will have no more Homeland and become the modern day "Wandering Maranao."

But I certainly believe the worst will not happen. What will be our lot in the very near future is standing tall with a more reinvigorated and peaceful Marawi that is fully owned by the undefeated Maranaos who could turn tragedy into opportunity and victory. Because We, Maranaos, are endowed with exceptional properties, are capable of many things and with the help of God, we will be saved from doom. /TNRS)
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