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 Sultan Mosque Bussorah Street
Photograph: Sean Hsu/Shutterstock

The guide to Hari Raya Haji in Singapore

Also known as Eid al-Adha, it is one of the two largest and main holidays in Islam

Written by
Delfina Utomo
&
Izza Sofia
Contributor
Simran Panaech
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Hari Raya Haji, which falls on June 29 in Singapore, is a holiday celebrated by Muslims to mark the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage. This pilgrimage is an annual one that takes place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is considered the fifth pillar of Islam that every physically and financially capable Muslim is expected to complete at least once in their life. Also known as Eid al-Adha, which means the festival of sacrifice, it is one of the two largest and main holidays in Islam - the other being Hari Raya Puasa, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. 

This year, Saudi Arabia says it will see the largest Hajj pilgrimage in history with expectations of 2.5 million people. Restrictions have been fully lifted after the pandemic in 2020 where there were caps in numbers for people to attend. For Singapore, some 900 Muslims will be fulfilling their Hajj, as these are the numbers allocated to our island-state.

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Selamat Hari Raya

What is Hari Raya Haji?

Also known as Eid al-Adha, which means the festival of sacrifice, the celebration of Hajj falls on the 10th day of the last month in the Islamic calendar. Depending on which country you're in, the celebration can last up to four days. The day symbolises the end of the Hajj, which is a pilgrimage every able-bodied and financially capable Muslim is obliged to make once in their lives. During the pilgrimage, Muslims have to perform several rituals and actions in Mecca and surrounding cities including Mina, Arafat and Mudzalifah in Saudi Arabia. 

Millions of Muslims gather in Saudi Arabia for this holy obligation annually. Numbers were restricted during the pandemic years but have been lifted. Saudi Arabia imposes an allocation system for countries with Singapore having 900 places.

Origins

Hari Raya Haji is a Muslims’ celebration to commemorate the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail – a sign of Muslims' submission to God. As Ibrahim was about to complete the sacrifice, God intervened and provided a sheep for sacrifice instead. It is said that the father and son were on a task by God to build the square stone building (Kaaba) in Mecca, which is in the direction that all Muslims around the world pray towards.

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Prayers

On the morning of the festival, Muslims head to the mosque for sermons and prayers. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS)’s website states that 68 mosques will be holding prayers for Hari Raya Haji with no booking required for most of them. Prayers are held over three morning sessions and MUIS encourages the community to consider the less crowded mosques for prayers.

The Korban

Hari Raya Haji is always synonymous with the korban, also known as sacrifice. Livestock such as sheep, lambs and goats are sacrificed by those who are financially able as a moment to commemorate prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail. The meat from the sacrifice is donated and distributed to the poor and needy.

Usually, the korban takes place at mosques in Singapore. However, this was modified in 2020 during pandemic times where the sheeps were sacrificed in Australia, their meat chilled then transported to Singapore for distribution at the mosques. This arrangement will continue this year too with 52 mosques participating. Those who wish to perform korban, which also involves donating money to the less fortunate, can do so online.

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Lessons to learn

Compared to the bright and vibrant celebrations of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Raya Haji is a lot more contemplative. But there are many things to take away from this Muslim holiday. Sacrifice is a big theme in most Muslim celebrations and this one highlights the importance of faith in God. On top of that, it is also a reminder that there are many around us that might need our help. This makes the act of donating and distributing the sacrificed meat to those who would enjoy it more than us an honourable one. 

Learn more

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