COVID-19 SPECIAL

A quiet Hari Raya Haji with fewer worshippers at mosques

Worshippers at Masjid Maarof in Jurong West yesterday. Most mosques held three sessions with no more than 50 worshippers - who had to book slots online - each time. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY
Worshippers at Masjid Maarof in Jurong West yesterday. Most mosques held three sessions with no more than 50 worshippers - who had to book slots online - each time. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

Slots for prayer sessions limited due to safe distancing; many conduct prayers at home instead

Prayers at mosques for Hari Raya Haji yesterday were quieter due to safe distancing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The usual prayer assembly at Masjid Sultan used to attract at least 5,000 worshippers but this year it was split into two sessions of just 50 people each.

Mr Zainal Abidin, the head of secretariat at the mosque, which is one of Singapore's oldest and largest, told The Straits Times that cleaners wiped down prayer mats and public areas after each session.

Worshippers had to book a place and their temperatures were checked before entry, he added.

While 65 mosques were opened for Hari Raya Haji prayers yesterday morning, only a total of 8,750 worshippers were able to attend.

Most mosques held three sessions with no more than 50 worshippers - who had to book slots online - each time.

Worshippers, including Mr Zainal, said the prayer sessions were more muted than in previous years due to Covid-19.

Senior architectural coordinator Subhan Jabbar Shahjehan, 49, said he missed the bustle that usually comes with Hari Raya Haji, including having the family rush to the mosque and catching up with old friends and neighbours.

Having to book spots meant losing some of the spontaneity and festive fun of rushing to make it to the prayer sessions, added Mr Subhan, who is married with two daughters aged 16 and 17.

Some worshippers who were unable to secure a spot at a mosque conducted prayers at home.

Mr Afiq Rahman, 31, used to pray at the Darussalam Mosque in Clementi near where he lives but he stayed put this year: "While I appreciate that arrangements have been made to visit the mosque today, I felt more comfortable praying at home.

Pilgrims performing the Tawaf, or circling of the Kaaba, which is the focal point of Islam, during the annual haj pilgrimage amid the Covid-19 pandemic, in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia yesterday. The haj sees one of the world's largest reli
Pilgrims performing the Tawaf, or circling of the Kaaba, which is the focal point of Islam, during the annual haj pilgrimage amid the Covid-19 pandemic, in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia yesterday. The haj sees one of the world's largest religious gatherings. But local media said that this year, only about 10,000 people residing in the kingdom took part, compared with last year's gathering of some 2.5 million from all over the world. PHOTO: REUTERS

"Besides, I think the slots were snapped up quickly online."

HELPING THOSE IN NEED

There will be groups of people who are in greater need of our help and support. We must continue to help one another. We must always be conscious and sensitive to the conditions of those around us.

THE MUFTI, DR NAZIRUDIN MOHD NASIR, in his sermon at Masjid Maarof in Jurong West yesterday.


STAYING SAFE

While I appreciate that arrangements have been made to visit the mosque today, I felt more comfortable praying at home.

MR AFIQ RAHMAN, who used to pray at the Darussalam Mosque in Clementi but stayed home this year.

The Mufti, Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, said in his sermon at Masjid Maarof in Jurong West yesterday morning that the Muslim community understands the spirit and wisdom behind religious practices, though Covid-19 placed limitations on Hari Raya Haji celebrations this year.

"We are also well aware that the situation today will get more challenging as many of us will be affected financially and in terms of employment," he added.

"There will be groups of people who are in greater need of our help and support. We must continue to help one another. We must always be conscious and sensitive to the conditions of those around us."

 
 
 

"Those among us who are in a relatively more comfortable state should help those facing challenges in these difficult times."

Muslims mark Hari Raya Haji with prayers and the korban ritual, which involves slaughtering livestock and distributing the meat to the poor.

The korban did not take place here this year. Instead, the slaughter was performed in Australia, and the meat will be chilled and shipped over to be distributed to the needy.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2020, with the headline 'A quiet Hari Raya Haji with fewer worshippers at mosques'. Print Edition | Subscribe