While the Catholic faithful celebrate Easter Sunday, the world’s Muslims silently fete the weekend with thanksgiving for the Nisfu Sa’aban—the start of a 15-day countdown to the first day of Ramadan.
Sa’aban is the eighth of the 12-month lunar-based Hijra Calendar, followed by Ramadan when Muslims fast dawn-to-dusk daily in 30 days—absolutely abstaining in day time from food, drink and marital sex.
The last 15 days of Sa’aban are devoted to supplications and charity among Muslims in prayers for renewed lease in life improved in more aspects in the coming year.
Mayor Zam Ampatuan of Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao said in Islam’s history, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad named Mahdi was born on this day.
From a state of “occultation, Mahdi shall rise before the end of time” and “together with Christ, the Messiah, shall reign in peace to establish justice everywhere,” and it will be a “fulfillment of God’s Kingdom on Earth,” Ampatuan said referring to the Second Coming which is foretold in both the Bible and in the Qur’an.
Ampatuan said not many local Muslims share the belief on the advent of Mahdi, but what is common to every Muslim is the belief that Jesus was a great Prophet of God.
He said people can find non-Muslims insulting the Prophet Muhammad, but not Muslims insulting Jesus or Mary. In the Qur’an Jesus is referred to with much reverence as Eesa Ibnu Mariam (Jesus son of Mary).
But Muslims reject the story of the Crucifixion, believing instead that a substitution took place when the Roman soldiers executed the arrest at dark in the Garden of Gethsemani, and that apparently, they did not know Jesus of Nazareth (John 18: 4-8).
In the Qur’an, the Romans arrested and later slew a man that God made to appear like Jesus of Nazareth in an ensuing commotion during the dark night arrest in the Garden of Gethsemani. God instead raises Jesus to the Third Heavens to save him from the atrocities of the Romans and the colluding Pharisees.
According to the Gospel of John, the arrest was resisted by Peter with a “sword [drawn] and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear” (John 18:10).