November 2: The Meranaws’ perspective

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Saturday, November 1, 2014


MARAWI CITY – As Christians all over the world celebrates November 2, remembering all the souls gone to wherever, cleaning and visiting graves and mausoleums of their loved ones has been the traditional deed, and offering flowers and food and prayer has been another, I wonder how do Meranaws celebrate theirs?

Staying in an institution situated in an Islamic City is a very interesting one. Knowing their culture will always be an adventure.

Buying flowers for the dead. Cooking their favorite foods. Trick or treat. Halloween parties. Pumpkins. Horror movies to all cinemas. Horror stories and documentaries aired on radios and television and even in the social media. That is November 2 for Christians.

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And how about our Muslim brothers and sisters?

They are often misunderstood and sometimes discriminated, but nevertheless, they are the most religious person one will know.

Imam Achmad Solaiman told me, “Hindi kami naniniwala sa mga espirito at mga nakakatakot na mga pangyayari tungkol sa mga namatay na. Naniniwala kaming may buhay sila pagkatapos ng kanilang kamatayan at diretso na sila sa kanilang kahahantungan (We don’t believe in spirits and scary stories about the dead. We believe they live after their deaths and they go directly where they should be).”

Eid ul Fitr (Eid’l Fitr) and Eid ul Adha (Eid’l Adha) are the only times of the year when they celebrate festivities.

Eid ul Fitr marks the end of the fast of Ramadan, on the other hand, Eid ul Adha, marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca where animals are sacrificed and their meat are shared among the poor.

“That is the only time kung saan pwede kaming mag celebrate,” Imam Achmad added. That includes their celebration for remembering their loved ones in heaven, which will depend on their families.

Kandori

In Islam, they don’t have the specific celebration for the dead.

The Christians commemorate it with masses and prayer at the first, second, third year of the dead, or in the nth death anniversary while the Muslims offer kandori – this is when they offer food and celebration on the 100th day from the day of death.

While Christians spend nine days for the dead, called the wake, Muslims do not. From the day of death, the body has to be buried within 24 hours.

It is not allowed in Islam for Muslims to celebrate "Undas" as Christians do, “bawal yun, according to Qur’an,” Imam Achmad said. Halloween parties trick or treats and Halloween costumes are forbidden.

When Christians have their mausoleums and graves in the cemetery, Muslims also have their own, “ang sementeryo namin ay para lang sa mga Muslim talaga,” Imam Achmad added.

Despite these differences, with these culture distinctions, November 2 is still considered a holiday in the Muslim region especially in the Philippines.

These differences are ways to understand more our Muslim brothers and sisters. And with all these differences, they only show our various ways of remembering the departed.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 02, 2014.

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