KOLAMBUGAN, Lanao del Norte (PIA)--About 150 Muslim and non-Muslim women here and in nearby municipalities joined the Forum on Legal Awareness Program on the Rights and Obligations of Muslim Filipino Women, February 18.
The forum was spearheaded by the Inner Wheel Club of Lanao del Norte with support from the offices of Lanao del Norte 1st District Representative Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo and 2nd District Representative Sittie Aminah Dimaporo.
During the forum, participants from the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, and Department of Education learned about Sharia Law, Presidential Decree No. 1083, otherwise known as the Muslim Code, and the wearing of the hijab by Muslim women.
Magsaysay Vice Mayor and Inner Wheel Club in Lanao del Norte President Haleah Omar shared that the forum was conducted to raise awareness about the wearing of hijab by Muslim women. She said that it is more than just about fashion because it is about how Muslim women embrace their Islamic faith. Their club aims to empower women and inspire them to do better for their communities.
"This [forum] is a first-of-its-kind activity in the province of Lanao del Norte. With this awareness program, the participants will learn more about Sharia law and the Muslim Code and gain a wider and deeper appreciation of our very unique culture, which is really the message of peace," said Lawyer Abdul Mahid Ati, who is one of the speakers.
Meanwhile, Lawyer Jadalhaq Panggo, also a resource speaker, encouraged the non-Muslims to learn about their culture deeply. He said that this will help them know how to interact better with Muslims.
Beauty in modesty
With the awareness forum, 2nd Lieutenant Ma. Leonora Theresa Galdones of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion was able to appreciate and understand the wearing of the hijab by Muslim women. As a new officer, the forum is a good way for her to learn more about the Muslim faith.
"It’s my first time to wear a hijab. Bilang Christian, mas lalo kong naappreciate ang kahalagahan ng pagsusuot ng hijab. Before nakikita ko lang siya as fashion, iba-iba yung colors, design, and style. Then now, naintindihan ko deeper kung ano talaga ang kahalagahan ng pagsusuot which is related talaga sa belief nila," she said.
(It's my first time wearing a hijab. As a Christian, I appreciate the importance of wearing the hijab. Before, I only saw it as fashion, with different colors, designs, and styles. Now that I understand the significance of wearing it, I realize it is directly related to their belief)
Meanwhile, Grace Galon, one of the participants in the forum, shared in an interview how she had embraced Islam. Her family is devotedly Catholic. It so happened that she fell in love with a man who is a devotee of Islam.
It was through him that she found the beautiful faith of Islam. He was the instrument through which she now embraces the beautiful faith of Islam. Although they did not end up being together, she is thankful for the gift given to her, which is her faith in Islam.
Fostering understanding between Muslims and Christians
Lanao del Norte 1st District Representative Dimaporo said the House-approved National Hijab Day bill aims to foster understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.
"The Hijab Day Bill is actually just a statement of understanding na bill. It will mandate all local government units, all national line agencies, and the Department of Education on February 1 to have an information dissemination campaign on what exactly the hijab is and its role in the Islamic culture and Islamic religion," he said.
Dimaporo clarified that the wearing of the hijab is voluntary. This is just to make non-Muslims understand and appreciate why Muslim women wear hijab. He also stated that there is no prohibition on LGBTQ+ members participating in National Hijab Day as long as they do so with respect and do not mock their religion.
The 1st District Representative, who also chairs the House Committee on Muslim Affairs, is also pushing for the Islamic Burial Act, or House Bill 5594. It aims to speed up the processing of necessary documents and the release of the remains of Muslims because they must be buried within 24 hours in accordance with their religion. (LELA/PIA-10/Lanao del Norte)