I broke my fast with a confession.
While Ramadan is a time when desires and longings are supposed to be washed off our hands and hearts, I harbored too many. I am guilty of not spurning all of them.
My fast was spent thinking about the children in the war-torn areas of Mindanao. They are the No. 1 casualties of war. At the evacuation centers, away from the comforts of their homes, the children are cold, hungry, traumatized and sick.
In my moments of silence, images of human suffering—of women and children—flashed in my head like a nasty slide show—but this one is in real life and, often, in real time.
In my moments of prayer, I asked Allah that children be able to live life without having to experience the darkness of war. A war drives them away from their villages, steals their opportunity to learn and get the education they deserve, and kills their fathers and brothers. A war will perhaps encourage them to join the rebellion, and will most likely kill them in the end.
I fasted with the hope that there will be no more Mamasapano incidents, where the lives of civilians are disrupted violently and the gains of years of negotiations for peace dangled dangerously close to being wasted.
Just in time before the start of Ramadan, families staying in various evacuation centers in Mindanao left for home. It was a happy development, knowing how much they wanted to observe Ramadan in their homes.
Along with them, I fasted with the hope that they would be able to live normal lives again, sharing among themselves, other families, and the rest of the community the value of peace. I desired to witness a display of compassion and mercy from those who have plenty to share with those who have almost nothing but the overflowing determination to live and the undying will to love.
I fasted with the desire that the collective voice of thousands of Muslims in Mindanao would continuously be heard and hopefully drown out the voices of war. There is an urgent need for more voices of peace to overcome the confusion and resistance of those who are standing against genuine autonomy for the Moro people.
Slowly, over the past weeks, the clamor for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law appeared to have been subdued by issues that reek of dirty politics at the national level. Will the muting of our voices eventually lead to a complete silence?
I fasted with the desire for those who are working for peace in Mindanao to step back a little and reflect on what has been done, what is being done, and what should be done to keep the fire burning—all for peace and the development of Mindanao.
I fasted with the desire for the wounds of war, especially in children, to heal. But as these wounds heal, it is my desire that justice be served.
Ramadan is not just for the life that we have today. It is also for the life that we intend to have after our physical demise. It is important that we are cleansed, and we can only do that by following the teachings of the Holy Koran and of Prophet Mohammad.
Ramadan is a gift from God, an opportunity for us to become better persons, an opportunity for spiritual cleansing and physical reconditioning.
Eid-al Fitr officially ended Ramadan, just as the crescent moon disappeared into the night. It gathered families and friends together in a festive celebration over food and stories to delight everyone, especially the children.
The promise of Ramadan is for everyone to move along and work together in peace, and find comfort and strength in diversity as we reach out to non-Muslims. These and more are the promises that we should claim and own.
Let the continuing celebration show the world a glimpse of that special journey of sacrifice and obligation, a period of total surrender, a time of thanksgiving, of remembrance, of forgiveness, and of desire and hope for brighter days ahead.
Amir Mawallil, 27, is the executive director of the Bureau of Public Information of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.