Coronavirus: Singapore

Muis: Muslims have made sacrifices and should continue to act responsibly to keep S'pore safe

The Muslim community here, as it celebrates festive days, has made important sacrifices and adjustments to protect itself and the wider community from the virus since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) has said.

And as they celebrate Hari Raya Haji today, it is important that Muslims continue to uphold such civic responsibility to keep their loved ones, especially the elderly, safe, Muis added in an advisory.

"With the recent drastic increase in community spread of Covid-19, important measures are being implemented to help our community celebrate safely with their loved ones. We urge vulnerable individuals, especially the elderly who have yet to be vaccinated against Covid-19, to stay home as much as possible over the next few weeks."

Muis noted that the community has acted responsibly in significantly scaling down celebrations for Hari Raya Haji, or Hari Raya Aidiladha, as well as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, over the past two years.

"This has been instrumental in reducing the risk of transmission arising from religious activities."

Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the Haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca which has had to be scaled down for the second year in a row. The festive day also commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's trust in God, who had asked him to sacrifice his son. The boy's life was spared and a ram was slaughtered instead.

Muslims mark the day with prayers and the korban ritual - the slaughter of livestock with the meat distributed to the poor. For the second year running, mosques will not organise the korban here, but are facilitating arrangements for it to be done in Australia. The meat will be chilled and transported here.

Separately, President Halimah Yacob said in a Facebook post: "Covid-19 has affected so many aspects of our lives and for many Singaporean Muslims, especially the elderly, who have been looking forward to perform this one act of faith in their lifetime, it's particularly wrenching as they could not perform the Haj two years in a row. They understand that it's for health and safety reasons but it's still painful."

She noted that Muslims have experienced restrictions for Friday and Hari Raya prayers. "They have been admirable in complying with these restrictions peacefully although it's been difficult," she said.

"We can be proud that as a community we have been contributing our part in keeping Singapore safe for everyone during this very difficult period. This is completely in keeping with the spirit of Islam and, in particular, the Haj which is all about sacrifice and love for peace and humanity," she added, noting that the distribution of meat to the needy is a reminder of duty to those who are less privileged.

Today, 66 mosques will conduct congregational Hari Raya prayers with safe management measures in place. A total of 19 mosques will offer over 100 spaces per time slot for people who are fully vaccinated or have undergone pre-event testing, and 11,550 prayer slots have been booked. Another 47 mosques will offer a single zone of 50 spaces per time slot, and a total of 6,630 prayer slots have been booked.

The prayer and sermon will be broadcast live online. Muis also reminded the community to continue observing safety measures.

In a Facebook post, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli acknowledged the community's sacrifices and adjustments, including the limited number of prayer spaces at mosques.

"Despite these challenging realities, our community has continued to be understanding and resolute in making the necessary adjustments because they understand that these are for the greater good of saving lives and keeping the nation safe," he wrote. "I am very grateful and proud of the cooperation and resilience displayed by the Malay/Muslim community."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2021, with the headline 'Muis: Muslims have made sacrifices and should continue to act responsibly to keep S'pore safe'. Subscribe