Majority of Muslims from all over the world today celebrate Eid al-Adha or the Festival of the Sacrifice. Considered as one of the holiest celebrations in the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha commemorates the Biblical time when Ibrahim, also known as Abraham, showed his willingness to obey God through the sacrifice of his only son Isaac. The celebration also marks the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which Muslims must partake of at least once in a lifetime.
Like many of their Muslim counterparts, Filipino Muslims kicked off the celebration of Eid al-Adha early Friday morning with prayers. According to GMA News, Muslims in war-torn Marawi City gathered at the Mindanao State University-Marawi grandstand for a day of prayers and animal offerings. The feast also includes partaking of the meat from the offered animals such as cows, goats, sheep and carabaos.
Unlike previous celebrations, however, Muslim leaders noted that this year’s Eid al-Adha observance is markedly different from the past because of the ongoing Marawi conflict. The island of Mindanao, home to over 10.7 million Muslims, has been under martial law since May 23 after the Abu Sayyaf militants and pro-Daesh Maute group laid Marawi under siege. Muslim leaders said that many of the devotees are still in evacuation centers and unable to secure permits to return to Marawi for the celebration.
The eve of Eid al-adha in Marawi has seen one of the bloodiest clashes between the government forces and Maute militants. At least three soldiers were killed and 52 were wounded, making the tally of soldier casualties to 136 as of Thursday. Armed Forces spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr. said the military’s offensive will continue although operations were halted Friday morning for the Muslim celebration.
“Early this morning prior to the moment for prayers, we momentarily silenced our guns and ceased operations to show respect to today’s observance of Eid’l Adha. The silence was observed for the entirety of the time for prayers,” GMA News quoted Padilla as saying. Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa also released a statement Friday morning that he prays for “peace and unity” and “that all Filipinos of diverse beliefs will be one in the common quest for peace, harmony and progress under a firm conviction to One Almighty God, one country and one nation as embodied in the message of Eid Al-Adha.”
WATCH: Libu-libong Muslim, sama-samang nagdasal sa Luneta Park sa Maynila ngayong araw ng Eid'l Adha. pic.twitter.com/IkZdg7HapS
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Thousands of Muslims also flocked at Rizal Park for the Eid al-Adha celebration that includes morning prayers for peace, sharing of food and gifts and an imam’s sermon. Macatanong Dibarosan, national president of the Philippine Muslim Students Association (PHIMSA) Alumni Association, said they would also extend help to their Muslim brethren in Marawi City and other conflicted areas as part of their sacrifice this year.