Though it feels like Ramadan and Hari Raya Puasa have just happened, we're already drawing closer to the month of Zulhijjah (al-Hijjah) and the Hari Raya Haji (Eid al-Adha, or "Feast of the Sacrifice") celebration. There are some common questions non-Muslims may have about Hari Raya Haji but with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing this year, many Muslims have their own questions about how things will be carried out too. ?
A major event during Zulhijjah is Hari Raya Haji, which falls on the 10th day of Zulhijjah. On this day, Muslims honour the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. This commemoration is typically done by offering a sacrifice of livestock (called korban or qurban) which is then distributed to the poor and needy.
In Singapore, the korban is typically performed in local mosques under strict guidelines by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). However with hygiene an utmost priority during a pandemic, no livestock will be imported to Singapore for the korban this year. Instead, MUIS will be organising modified korbans that will be performed in Australia. The meat will then be chilled and shipped to Singapore for distribution.
Local mosques will appoint vendors to oversee this process, all of whom must adhere to SFA protocol to ensure hygiene and cleanliness. As with the korban in previous years, the meat obtained will still be distributed to low-income families. ? In this way, though the process may be different, the essence of honouring sacrifice and submission to Allah still remains. More details will be released at the end of June.
Another change in how Zulhijjah will be celebrated is related to the major pilgrimage (Hajj). The month is a significant month for Muslims as it is the only month where you can perform Hajj to fulfil our spiritual obligations to Allah. Due to the COVID-19 situation this year, Singapore's MUIS has officially deferred this year's Hajj. It is a tough and heartbreaking decision but done so in the interest of keeping pilgrims (many of whom are in their 50s or above) safe and healthy. ?
While this year's Zulhijjah and Hari Raya Haji will be remarkably different from previous years, the underlying spirit and essence of honouring our commitment and sacrifice to Allah will remain strong. ❤️