Hari Raya Haji
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Hari Raya Haji, or the "pilgrimage festival", commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail in an act of obedience to God. In Singapore, Hari Raya Haji is a public holiday.
Hari Raya Haji (Aidil Adha) falls on 10 Zulhijjah, the 10th day of the 12th month of the Muslim calendar. The Muslim calendar, with the months alternating between 29 and 30 days, is 11 days shorter than the 365-day Gregorian calendar.
On this day, which is also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, Muslims worldwide sacrifice sheep, cows or camels for the sake of religion and community. It is done in remembrance of the sacrifice undertaken by Prophet Ibrahim, who was ready to sacrifice his son Ismail, but a ram appeared in his place at the last moment.
Male volunteers at mosques or Muslim institutions usually perform the sacrificial slaughtering after the Hari Raya Haji congregational prayers. This sacrificial slaughtering, also known as korban, is a voluntary act. Sheep, goats and cows are ritually slaughtered as sacrifice. The meat is then distributed to the community, neighbours and relatives, with special attention to the needy and poor, as a reminder to share one's wealth with others. Muslim Singaporeans are increasingly doing korban with Muslim associations and mosques, locally and abroad.
During the sacrifice, prayers are uttered and the sheep's throat is slit with razor-sharp knives. This act must be done with confidence and quickly, so as to minimise the animal's suffering. This is in accordance with Islamic law, where halal does not literally mean that the food contains neither pork nor lard, but it has to be prepared properly according to Islamic requirements.
Arshad, A., & Wong, S. M. (2002, February 24). Learning firsthand the Muslim way of life. The Sunday Times.
Kadir, S. (2000, March 16). Ritual of charity and sacrifice. The Straits Times. Life!, p. 6.
More Muslims here opt for export korban. (1999, February 24). The Straits Times, Home, p. 31.
How Muslims here celebrate Hari Raya Haji. (1993, June 1). The Straits Times, p. 12.
Mann, R. (2001). Festivals and celebrations in Singapore. Singapore: Pan Pacific publications.
(Call no.: JRSING 394.2695957 MAN)
Sacrifice of sheep a reminder to share wealth. (1991, June 24). The Straits Times, p. 1.
The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.