Privilege Speech: EID’L ADHA

November 15, 2010

About 1.57 billion Muslims worldwide[1] will celebrate tomorrow the Eid’l Adha—the Feast of Sacrifice that commemorates a story of dedication and obedience to God.
Mr. President, the Eid’l Adha is one of the two important feasts of Islam. While the Philippines is a predominantly Christian nation, it is incumbent upon us to accord the proper respect to other faiths and religions, as any democratic state ought to do. This was our motivation when we pushed the passage of a law that declares the tenth day of the month of Zhul Hijja as a national holiday to commemorate the Eid’l Adha.
Tomorrow, the whole Filipino nation will finally join our Muslim brethren in commemorating the Eid’l Adha, by virtue of Republic Act 9849, which this representation co-authored.
As we observe this special Muslim occasion, we must also understand its significance to the Islamic Faith so that we can create a better understanding with our Muslim brothers and sisters.
The Eid’l Adha signifies the end of the Islamic Pilgrimage to Mecca wherein Muslims pay homage to the Prophet Ibrahim’s supreme act of sacrifice.[2] Ibrahim’s love and obedience to Allah was put to a test when he was asked to offer his beloved son, Ishmael. Ibrahim willingly surrendered to the perceived commandment and Allah was pleased. When Ibrahim was about to sacrifice Ishmael, a voice from heaven stopped him and allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead.[3]
Now, we realize that this story is the same with that of the Christian story about Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to God.
The Muslims see Ibrahim’s act as a demonstration of unswerving devotion to Allah, as the Christians perceive the act of Abraham as the supreme act of perfect faith in God.
Mr. President, what I would want to show here is that, when we put even just a little effort to understand the faith of other people, we realize that we share something in common. We realize that despite the difference in the belief, there will always be a point where two different faiths would meet, and from there we begin to accept and appreciate one another.
Through the years the government has been trying to resolve conflicting issues with the Filipino Muslims especially in the part of Mindanao. We tackle issues about ancestral domain and autonomy for the Muslims. We have been trying to forge a peace deal with Moro groups, but we have not yet succeeded. And even if we did, peace cannot be attained through such a pact alone. There must be genuine respect for their faith and the ways that they have to live in accordance to their religion.
Mr. President, as Filipinos of different religions join Filipino Muslims in commemorating the Eid’l Adha, let us look at this occasion more than just another holiday we must enjoy. As a feast of major importance to the Islamic Faith, let us respect the celebration as a sign of our acceptance to our Muslim brothers and sisters. [30]
[1] Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population, Pew Research Center Publications 2009
[2] Section 1, Republic Act 9849
[3] Eid-al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice. The University of Kansas Medical Center, 2009