The Feast of Sacrifice in Marawi
The Maranaw recently celebrated Eid’l Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, even as Marawi is being “sacrificed” on the altar of false Islam savagely proselytized by the Maute-Islamic State. The irony did not escape the despondent bakwit crowding evacuation centers or sheltered in relatives’ houses. They attended Eid prayers in unfamiliar settings facing a bleak future.
Setting aside the Eid’s religious significance when the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians) was about to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah SWT, the occasion brought pain to residents recalling the happy days of yore.
On the day of Eid’l Adha, families would wake up early for the dawn congregation, followed by an exchange of visits and a reunion of relatives over a repast marked by beef and mutton (Muslims and Christians agree that a sheep was substituted by God for the son, hence the carnivorous food). Rich families would have cows slaughtered and the meat divided evenly for giving to the poor and to relatives. (I remember that a school of a Turkish foundation distributes meat regularly to the needy during Eid. It was accused, unjustly, of being a destabilizer.)
This is a revered tradition faithfully followed through the years — until the marauding jihadists came and wrought chaos on the “Islamic city.” Houses were bombed into ruins by responding government troops. Worse, more than 100 days later, residents are still not allowed by the military authorities to see what has been left of their cherished and hard-earned possessions, even if 90 percent of the city has been cleared of the violence of hostilities. Yes, there are still domes and minarets on the mosques towering in the ash-filled skyline of Marawi following an order from the President and international customs on warfare to spare houses of worship. But there are ghostly skeletal structures precariously standing, looted, and riddled with bullet holes.
The Eid salah (prayer) consists of two parts—the physical supplication and the khutba (sermon). The latter is the most-awaited part because of the words of Allah SWT recited in verses in the Quran by the imam. The khutba is one occasion when an imam can breach the so-called separation of the church and state to discuss issues that are more political than religious. During the recent Eid, the imams who led the prayer in the different mosques nationwide were near-unanimous in warning the flock of the exponential growth of Islamist extremism. They cited the siege of Marawi. They warned of the perverted interpretation of the words of Allah SWT by the disciples of the megalomaniac Al-Baghdadi, who is hallucinating of a world caliphate. They exhorted the faithful not to take the words of charlatan alims and ulamas hook, line and sinker.
While listening to the sermon, it struck me that here is one venue where the government can expound its campaign against extremism. No, it is not to convert the pulpit into a propaganda tool and the imams as puppeteers of the government. In this time of severe crisis, we need to tap nontraditional media to help convey the message of the government. The khutba is observed weekly during the salatul juma or Friday congregation. The imam is not only a religious authority but also a leader of the community who commands respect and obedience. For this purpose, the government can utilize the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos. The organization of imams in Metro Manila, if not nationwide, which was organized and is supported and supervised by the NCMF, could be a potent group for the campaign.
Meanwhile, with the war in Marawi ending in a few days — or so we are told for the nth time — the government has reported the massing of armed extremists who could be reinforcements for the cornered Maute-IS. The solution is getting more and more out of reach by the day.
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Macabangkit B. Lanto (email@example.com), UP Law 1967, was a Fulbright Fellow in New York University for his postgraduate studies. He has served the government as congressman, ambassador, and undersecretary, among other positions.
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