Marking Hari Raya Haji with korban

Thousands of sheep and lambs sacrificed in ritual as Muslims mark end of haj pilgrimage

Worshippers at Al-Mawaddah Mosque praying on Hari Raya Haji yesterday. At the mosque in Sengkang, 224 lambs were sacrificed and a portion of the meat was given to 114 needy families.
Worshippers at Al-Mawaddah Mosque praying on Hari Raya Haji yesterday. At the mosque in Sengkang, 224 lambs were sacrificed and a portion of the meat was given to 114 needy families.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Thousands of sheep and lambs were slaughtered here yesterday in the sacrificial ritual of korban to mark Hari Raya Haji.

In total, 1,980 Australian sheep and 1,855 Irish lambs were sacrificed at 25 mosques and two Malay- Muslim organisations.

There were no fatalities en route to Singapore this year, unlike last year when 174 Australian sheep died on the flight to Singapore because of heat stress.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who was at the Al-Mawaddah Mosque yesterday, said: "I was told that within the cabin, (there were) some adjustments to ensure that we can give enough ventilation for our animals."

Dr Yaacob attended morning prayers with about 3,500 worshippers and observed korban proceedings at the mosque in Sengkang.

He added: "The conversation within the (Singapore Mosques Korban Committee) and our operators, the freight and the livestock owners is an important part of the effort to ensure... that all the livestock come to Singapore safely. That's something which we must continue to preserve."


The animals arrived on Monday and Tuesday by Singapore Airlines (SIA) Cargo. A spokesman for SIA said: "Regular reviews are conducted to ensure that our procedures are updated and relevant."

Ustaz Rashid Ramli, chairman of the Singapore Mosques Korban Committee, said mosques are well prepared to carry out the rituals, adding: "The safety and welfare of the animals remain paramount to us."

Dr Yaacob also urged the Muslim community to "find common ground" despite its increasing diversity of opinions, no matter what they may be about.

"Let us try to settle (the differences) in a gentlemanly manner, in a civil manner, meet one another and discuss," he said. "Whatever it is, we must try our very best to preserve the harmony that we have achieved over the last 50 years."

Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram said in a speech at the Al-Mawaddah Mosque: "No matter how different we are in our thinking, we can remain united in pursuing common grounds like eliminating poverty."

The korban ritual is part of Hari Raya Haji, which is celebrated by Muslims to mark the end of the annual haj pilgrimage to Mecca. This year, 680 Muslims from Singapore went for the haj. Dr Yaacob reiterated that Singapore has asked the Saudi government to increase its haj quota from 680 to 800.

At the Al-Mawaddah Mosque, 224 lambs were sacrificed. A portion of the meat was given to 114 needy families, who also each received grocery vouchers worth $60.

The sheep and lambs cost $490 and $570 each, respectively. Lamb costs more due to higher air freight cost and the logistics involved in importing the animals from Ireland.

Prison officer Muhammad Salik Sidik, 40, bought a lamb this year for the ritual at the mosque. The father of two girls aged nine and seven said: "We want the kids to know the meaning of korban, and for us, it's to give back to those in need and to show appreciation for what we have.

"My parents and my in-laws are also doing the haj this year, so this is especially meaningful."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2015, with the headline 'Marking Hari Raya Haji with korban'. Print Edition | Subscribe