Imam hits vote buying as Muslims mark Eid'l Fitr

MANILA, Philippines – Leading the morning prayer for the feast of Eid'l Fitr, an Islamic Studies expert blasted vote buying and corruption in Muslim communities, even while Muslims observed the monthlong period of fasting called Ramadan. 

The imam for the Eid'l Fitr prayer at Quezon Memorial Circle on Wednesday, June 5, said that "the highest amount of vote buying is actually found in Muslim communities."

"We just experienced the elections recently, right? And we witnessed that even though the elections were conducted in the month of Ramadan, people still engaged in vote buying. Ramadan did not teach them. They did not reflect on the wisdom of Ramadan," said the imam, Dr Jamel Cayamodin.

Cayamodin is an assistant professor at the University of the Philippines Institute for Islamic Studies. He led the Eid'l Fitr prayer at Quezon Memorial Circle around 6:35 am on Wednesday, a holiday in predominantly Christian Philippines to mark the end of Ramadan

Cayamodin said that if Muslims could stop themselves from eating, drinking, and having sex before sunset during the month of Ramadan, then surely they could avoid sins like vote buying – which is banned even outside Ramadan.

Vote buying was prevalent in the newly-created Muslim region in the southern Philippines during the last elections, said the think tank International Alert Philippines. The selling price of votes was between P300 and P3,000, said the group. 

International Alert also said intense political rivalries, intimidation, and violence were also prevalent in the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the recently concluded midterm polls. The whole of Mindanao itself was declared an election hot spot.

In his sermon on Wednesday, Cayamodin also lamented how corrupt officials and institutions can be found in Muslim communities. He added that many Muslims "are actually engaged in usurious business activities," such as the money lending scheme called "5-6."

"Mas marami po ang gumagawa ng katiwalian, ng masama, sa Muslim communities, kaysa mga gumagawa ng mabuti," said Cayamodin. (More people commit evil in Muslim communities, compared to those who do good.)

The imam challenged Muslims to uphold righteousness, "the very purpose of Ramadan."

On the values that Eid'l Fitr aims to teach Muslims, Cayamodin said, "We just need to uphold the teachings of Ramadan during the 30 days, after Ramadan. The main teaching of Ramadan is taqwa, meaning righteousness."

The imam said, "Allah wants us to change." – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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