Muslims in several villages in Ambon, Haruku, Saparua and Seram islands in Maluku province have started Ramadhan fasting earlier than other Muslims in Indonesia as Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali on behalf the government will announce the start of the fasting month in an itsbat (confirmation) meeting on Monday evening.
Taher Karepesina, a local from Kabau village in Haruku Island, said they began Ramadhan fasting by taking a pre-dawn meal locally known as ‘kepala sahur’, early on Monday.
“It has been a tradition that we begin fasting earlier after we decided the start of Ramadhan by witnessing the new moon as traditionally taught by our ancestors in Kabau,” said Taher as quoted by Antara news agency.
Muslims in Wakal village in Leihitu district in Ambon Island, Waiputih village in Seram Island and Sirisori Islam village in Saparua Island also started fasting earlier.
Maluku chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) deputy head, Husein Toisutta, said that it should not be a problem if Muslims in those areas began fasting earlier.
“The MUI will still refer to the government decision via the Religious Affairs Ministry; however, we respect people who want to begin fasting earlier because it is a tradition inherited from their ancestors who decided the start of Ramadhan by witnessing the position of the moon,” said Husein. (apt/ebf)