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Illustrious sirs, VW sirs, worshipful sirs, brethren, good evening.

Assalaamo Alaikum, that is, peace be with you!

Distinguished brethren, I am pleased to be speaking here before you but with some uneasiness
considering that I might be venturing a field which is considered a taboo in Freemasonry as I will
be discussing the topic Fasting Among Muslims, it relates to Islam, my religion and the religions
of Muslims. However, I was persuaded to take up the challenge by the encouragement of our Very
Worshipful brother, Donard Pamplona, whom I could not disappoint.

Before delving on the topic, let me have these preliminaries.

As we all know, Islam has been much in the limelight because of the BBL - the Bangsa Moro
Basic Law, which have been a hot issue in the social media. But mind you brethren, we could not
say that it is unconstitutional because it is not yet a law. It is only when it will be passed as a law
that we could say that there will be actual controversy which could be considered ripe for judicial
determination whether or not it is constitutional or unconstitutional. So far it is premature to
discuss, but we, the constituents of the province of Sultan Kudarat, do not want to be a part of the
Moro government, not that we are against the self-determination of our Muslim brothers, but we
are still contented living with our Christian brothers and we are still enjoying the privilege and
benefit as Muslims whose rights are recognized and respected in the community we live in.

From the time I was initiated, passed and raised as a master mason, I have been diligent in attending
to my duties as both, a mason and a Muslim and have come to realize that Islam and masonry are
indeed compatible. Freemasonry may even be considered complementary to Islam as its principles
only go to reinforce a Muslim brothers own faith; contrary to the misconceptions widely held
among my Muslim brethren. The distrust perhaps arises from the fact that Masonic symbols are
derived from segments of the Old Testament such as the Temple of King Solomon, which gives
the uninstructed world the erroneous impression that masons are followers of Catholicism or
Christianity. Yet, the Old Testament is not excluded from the beliefs of Islam. On the contrary,
King Solomon is considered to have been a follower of Islam. He was known to us as Suleiman
while Jesus Christ is commonly known as Prophet or Nabi Esa. I think it would be safe to surmise
then that both Islam and masonry existed from time immemorial and raised from the same roots.

Brethren, I have already laid down to you the groundwork of the relationship of Islam with
Masonry and it is incumbent upon me to edify you on the objective of fasting during Ramadan.

Fasting, commonly understood to mean abstention from food and drink is not the core or the
essence of Ramadan. The importance of fasting during the month of Ramadan is the sharing
sharing with the community and the society; it is the unity that makes the difference: that all
Muslims in every corner of the earth are sharing one action at the same time, starting Ramadan at
the same time, celebrating Eid and marking the end of Ramadan at the same time: that is what is
important.
So what is the function of fasting? The Quranic verse which imposes the obligation of fasting
upon the Muslims ends by stating the goal to be achieved by fulfilling the obligation of fasting:
Laallakum tattaqn

This phrase has been variously translated into English as that you may fear God that you may
learn to fight yourself that you may learn how to struggle against your desires that you may
learn self restraint that you may learn to deny yourself.

The benefits accruing to an individual from fasting include physical, psychological and spiritual.

When someone offers us a drink and tells them I am on fasting If he stands fast and holds fast
to his principles then that is what is called self esteem it indicates that this man is proud of his
faith and is sticking to his principles. The obligation of fasting helps us to build our identity
wherever we are.

Every obligation in Islam has benefits in this world as well as benefits in the Hereafter. People eat
three regular meals a day and with snacks in interval of meals. Fasting gives a holiday to our
digestive system; it helps you keep the stomach relaxed a little bit.

The psychological benefit of fasting is that it teaches man how to fight himself. The food is in front
of you; you are hungry, it is one hour before Maghrib, the 6pm prayer, and your stomach is
screaming while your wife is preparing the foods for buka and you are just looking at these things
but you cannot extend your hand. In the normal circumstances as soon as the food comes and you
are hungry, you will eventually eat right away. But during ramadhan, there is an element which
will forbid you from doing the same. You are fighting your desires and that is what is called jihad.

Some translate the word jihad as holy war. But this Jihad I am citing is the war against yourself.
If you conquer your desires, if you achieve victory against yourself you will achieve victory
anywhere you are. That is why the Prophet, peace be upon him, when he came from one of the
battles, he said: We came back from the smaller jihad to the bigger one. He meant that fighting
in the battlefield was the smaller jihad and the bigger jihad is the Jihad fighting yourself so that
you may learn selfrestraint. So, learning and practicing Jihad is one of the benefits of fasting.

It also teaches us how to be patient. The Maghrib is 6:00 P.M. and we are used to eating at 6:00
P.M. but we are waiting patiently. Patience is very important. Patience is a concept in Islam as
well as in the craft which is utilized in every sphere and we also learn this through the obligation
of fasting.

Fasting teaches Muslims a sense of what hunger feels like and what poor people feel all year round.
So when someone is asked to donate to the poor and the needy people it will hit home because he
knows what it means to be needy, to be poor, to be hungry, because he tasted the consequences of
such dire circumstances during the month of Ramadan. And that will urge him to act on another
one of the five pillars of Islam, which is zakat the poor due. That is how all the obligations of
Islam are interconnected with each other.
You might ask HOW DO MUSLIMS FAST? Observant Muslims abstain from eating and
drinking from dawn to dusk for the entire month of Ramadan, with a single sip of water or a puff
of a cigarette considered enough to invalidate the fast.

Muslim scholars say it's not enough to just avoid food and drinks during the day. Spouses must
abstain from sexual intercourse during the day, and Muslims should not engage in cursing, fighting
or gossiping. We must be saints or appear to be saints.

Muslims are also encouraged to observe the five daily prayers on time, that is 4am, 12 noon, 3 pm,
6pm and 7pm prayers or sambayang. We are also encouraged to use our downtime just before
breaking their fast at sunset to recite verses in the Holy Quran and intensify remembrance of God.

To prepare for the fast, Muslims eat what is commonly called "suhoor or sohl a pre-dawn meal
of power foods to get them through the day. This is usually around 2 to 3 am.

HOW DO MUSLIMS BREAK THEIR FAST? Muslims traditionally break their fast like the
Prophet Muhammad did some 1,400 years ago, with a sip of water and some dates at sunset. That
first sip of water is by far the most anticipated moment of the day.

After a sunset prayer, a large feast known as "if tar" is shared with family and friends. Iftar is a
social event as much as it is a gastronomical adventure. Across the Arab world, juices made from
apricots are a staple at Ramadan if tars. In South Asia and Turkey, yogurt-based drinks are popular.
In the Phils., we have this sendol or what is known in your dialect as binignit.

Across the Muslim world, mosques and aid organizations set up tents and tables for the public to
eat free if tar meals every night of Ramadan.

CAN MUSLIMS BE EXEMPTED FROM FASTING? Yes. There are exceptions for children, the
elderly, the sick, women who are pregnant or menstruating and people traveling, which could
include athletes during tournaments.

Many Muslims, particularly those who live in the U.S. and Europe, are accepting and welcoming
of others around them who are not observing Ramadan. They also shorten their hours of work, as
is the case in the public sector in our country. We start our office work at 7:30 in the morning and
continuously serving without noon break until 3:30 in the afternoon. This is authorized by the Civil
Service Commission.

However, non-Muslims or adult Muslims who eat in public during the day can be fined or even
jailed in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, home
to large Western expat populations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. While in our country we do not do
that.

WHAT ARE SOME RAMADAN TRADITIONS? Typically, the start of the month is welcomed
with greetings such as "Ramadan mubarak!" Another hallmark of Ramadan is nightly
congregational prayer at the mosque called "taraweeh."
Tomorrow will be the end of our fasting or what we commonly call buka. According to my
Christian friends, what is good in the buka is that it is a holiday and of course it is a time for
merriment, a time for celebration. Actually, the Muslims do not celebrate end of fasting. What they
are practicing is what had been practiced by Prophet Mohammad before. They slaughter camel in
Saudi but here we slaughter or sumbali a goat or belibeli or carnero to be distributed among our
neighbors as this is the tradition passed on to us by the practice of the followers of Mohammed.
That should be the tradition but there are changes in the custom, now, we ate what we slaughtered
and just invited the neighbors to join with us.

That marks the end of fasting. The end of fasting is a general time for everything worthwhile. It is
a time for families, clans to get together, to be reunited. For sure, our beaches and resorts will be
full tomorrow. It is our reunion. It is an honored time of reconciliation. Those who have long felt
grudges are advised to make efforts to reconcile. It is a time to start a new life. It is also our all
Souls Day as we visit the graves of our loved ones and offered prayers for their eternal repose.

Holy month of Ramadan as we all know came like a seasonal rain. This rain did not water the
plants and crops -it is showered upon the hearts of believers. It is sad, but true, that the hearts of
the majority of Muslims are stricken with spiritual drought and spiritual decadence. It is a drought
caused by excessive indulgence in un-Islamic activities, immoral behavior, unjust actions, unfair
dealings etc. Drought caused by lack of rain destroys crops - drought caused by lack of piety, lack
of fear of Allah and lack of Allah consciousness destroys the SPIRITUALITY of the heart.

Ramadans spiritual rains brought to life our mosques, our churches and other places for prayer.
Ramadan had fanned the dying spark of charity. It enlivens the goodness in mans heart. Ramadan
had awakened the dying spirit of tolerance, patience and sympathy for the less fortunate.

Now that we are about to end the Ramadan, the big question left is what happens after Ramadan?
Will we practice charity even Ramadan is no longer in the corner? Or did we go through all the
spiritual exercises in Ramadan in order that after Ramadan we may have the freedom to indulge
in all types of immoral, shameless and indecent amusement? Did we restrain ourselves from halaal
food, drinks and other pleasures from dawn to sunset throughout Ramadan, so that we may return
with renewed vigor to gambling, drinking, adultery and fornication? Will the spirit of tolerance,
mercy, patience, charity and sympathy be still evident or will these noble qualities be shelved until
the dawn of the next Ramadan?

I close with a fervent and humble hope that our mosques which were filled on most nights in
Ramadan remain the same and not to be become empty after Ramadan. And I am hoping that our
lifestyles after Ramadan will show that we used the month to bring about a total reformation within
ourselves and not wasted the valuable opportunity laid down among us Muslims during Ramadan.
More importantly, I hope that I have provided my brethren in the craft enough light to appreciate
what is there in fasting. Thank you and wassalam.