Hari Raya Haji, also known as Aidiladha, is one of the most significant days in the Islamic year! On this date, we commemorate the feeling of togetherness and sacrifice. But that’s not all!
There’s many things about this special date that not many people (even us Muslims!) know about. So sit tight as we answer some of the questions you’ve probably always wondered but never dared to ask 😉
1. Didn’t you just celebrate Hari Raya?
Yes we did 🙈 But both celebrations are of different significance! Hari Raya Puasa is to celebrate the end of the fasting month, whereas Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the peak of Hajj (pilgrimage). This pilgrimage is mandatory upon every Muslim to perform the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca at least once in their lifetime – but only if they are physically and financially able to!
Credit: menj on Flickr
There’s only one month in each Islamic year that Muslims are able to perform the Hajj and this is during the 12th month in the Islamic calendar, Zulhijjah. And because of this time constraint and the limited space there is in Mecca, not everyone is able to perform the Hajj every year even if we are able to 😥 The waitlist for Hajj can sometimes even span for years!
2. So if you don’t perform the Hajj, can you celebrate Hari Raya?
Hari Raya Haji is celebrated quite differently from Hari Raya Puasa! As the celebration is also known as the “Feast of the Sacrifice”, the highlight of Hari Raya Haji is not to go house-visiting but to honour the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God.
His son was not actually sacrificed though! When the Prophet was about to carry out the command, God intervened and replaced his son with a sheep. And that is how the ritual of sacrifice (Qurban) came about ☺️
The ritual is also significant as it reminds us of the meaning of sacrifice. Each of us are probably going through our own personal sacrifices and at times, giving up seems easier. But if we stand firm in our belief in God – just like how Prophet Ibrahim did – we will definitely be given the strength to pull through our challenges 🤗
3. But why are the animals tortured to death?
Unfortunately, the ritual has been plagued by conflicting accounts of how they are carried out. But if there’s one thing we can assure you, it’s that the animals are definitely not being tortured! In fact, the animals’ comfort and welfare are of utmost importance during the whole process. Islam’s method of slaughter ensures a quick and humane death to the animal.
Credit: Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi on Flickr
Plus, one of the conditions of animal slaughter in Islam is that a sharp knife must be used and the two jugular veins (windpipe and food-tract) must be cut, not beheaded. As this leads to a sudden loss of blood from the brain, it will shut down almost immediately – ensuring a fast and almost painless death.
During the ritual, some countries like Singapore take it a step further as all ‘slaughtermen’ have to be trained. MUIS (the Islamic body in Singapore) also conducts pre-inspections of participating premises and on-site inspection during the ritual 😀
4. The sheep is so big, how do you finish all the meat?
Well, we don’t! Remember when we said that Hari Raya Haji revolves around the theme of sacrifice? This extends to the distribution of meat too 🤗 Although we ‘bought’ the sheep for the ritual, we are not the only ones who consume the meat. Muslims are highly encouraged to give most of the meat to the needy!
Credit: @globalehsanrelief on Instagram
The widely recommended distribution is that one-third of the meat is given to the poor and needy, another one-third to friends and neighbours, and the last third to be kept for ourselves. And this is not limited to those in your own country! Many people these days choose to do their sacrifice in less developed countries such as Syria, where the meat will be entirely donated to the needy.
5. Do you still get green packets on Hari Raya Haji?
It’s not a norm, but you can if you want to! You’d be surprised to know that the practice of green packets is not mandatory in Islam. Giving green packets is simply a tradition 😌
Credit: @rowdysofficial on Instagram
And even if you’d like to give, just give what you can afford! Sincerity is the very basis of Islam, as we believe that in everything we do, our intentions must be pure and sincere. So there’s no need to conform to the ‘standard’ rate of green packets 😉
There you go! We hope we’ve clarified some of your questions about Hari Raya Haji. But don’t stop here! Share this article with your friends so they too would know what this special date is all about 😊