Singapore Muslims have made sacrifices to keep country safe, important to continue upholding civic responsibility, says Muis

President Halimah also noted that Muslims have experienced restrictions on Friday and Hari Raya prayers. PHOTO: ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - 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) said on Monday (July 19).

And as it celebrates Hari Raya Haji this year, it is important that Muslims continue to uphold such civic responsibility to keep their loved ones, especially the elderly, safe, Muis added.

"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," the council said in an advisory on the eve of the holiday on Tuesday (July 20).

"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," it added.

Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the Haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca which has had to be scaled down due to the coronavirus 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, which involves slaughtering livestock and distributing the meat to the poor.

This year is the second year in a row that mosques will not organise the korban in Singapore.

Instead, they are facilitating arrangements for the ritual to be performed in Australia, and the meat will be chilled and transported to Singapore.

Traditionally, one-third goes to the person sponsoring the animal, one-third to family, friends and neighbours, and the rest to the poor.

Separately, President Halimah Yacob said in a Facebook post on Monday (July 19): "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."

President Halimah also noted that Muslims have experienced restrictions on 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.

On Tuesday morning, mosques in Singapore will conduct congregational Hari Raya prayers with safe management measures in place.

A total of 19 mosques will offer more than 100 spaces per time slot for congregants who are fully vaccinated or have undergone pre-event testing (PET), and 11,550 prayer slots have been booked.

Another 47 mosques will offer a single zone of 50 congregants each time slot, and a total of 6,630 prayer slots have been booked.

The Hari Raya Prayer and Aidiladha sermon will be shown live at SalamSG TV for those who are unable to book a slot for prayers at the mosque.

Muis also reminded the community to continue observing safety measures, including limiting social gatherings or home visits to no more than two a day, for households to receive no more than five unique visitors a day, to avoid the shaking of hands, and to keep masks on when visiting relatives and friends when not consuming food or drink.

"We thank the community for its patience and cooperation and let us continue to remain vigilant to keep Singapore safe," Muis added.

"We fully empathise with the difficult adjustments that the community has had to make over the past two years and pray that the situation will further improve so that more religious and social activities can resume safely."

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli also acknowledged the many sacrifices and adjustments made by the Malay/Muslim community, especially in its religious practices.

In a Facebook post, he said: "We have grown to accept the limited number of prayer spaces at mosques, the option to perform korban or slaughtering of livestock overseas, as well as the postponement of the Haj pilgrimage for local pilgrims for the second consecutive year.

"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. I am very grateful and proud of the cooperation and resilience displayed by the Malay/Muslim community."

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