Things you should know about Hari Raya Haji
It's that time of the year when Muslims all over the globe celebrate Hari Raya Haji to mark the end of the Muslim pilgrimage. It is the fifth pillar of Islam that requires all able-bodied Muslims to perform the Haj if they can afford to do so.
Let’s take a closer look at what goes on during Hari Raya Haji in Singapore, and the rituals involved during the pilgrimage.
What is Haj?
Hari Raya Haji is the commemoration of Ibrahim’s willingness to be obedient to Allah and to sacrifice his own son, Ishmail. At the last minute, Allah provided a ram for the sacrifice as a substitute for Ishmail.
The story of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God is symbolic of how important making sacrifices in our life is.
Hajj involves several actions and rituals to be performed in Mecca , and three other locations surrounding it, namely Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.
These actions include staying in Mina for the entire day and night on the eight day of Zulhijjah (the last month in the Islamic calendar). The pilgrims then proceed to Arafat the next day. The following day, they travel from Arafat to Muzdalifah and spend the night there, leaving the next morning back to Mina.
On the tenth day of Zulhijjah, animals such as goats are sacrificed. The pilgrims also throw pebbles at three stations for the next three days. This is called the Ramy al-Jamarat which signifies their defiance against the devil. Lastly, before leaving Mecca, the pilgrims go around the Kaabah (a cuboid building in the centre of the mosque) seven times.
How Singaporeans celebrate
Muslims in Singapore celebrate this day by visiting the mosque in the morning for prayers, and to listen to sermons.
There will be meat from the sacrificed sheep and lambs at the mosques, which will then be distributed among the Muslim community, with focus on the less fortunate.
Image credit: Ooi Boon Keong
Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Aidilfitri are not the same
The culture here is that after the prayers, families will gather at the homes of relatives, especially of the elderly and those who have performed their Haj.
This celebration is not the same as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which is a celebration to mark the end of fasting for 30 days.
Image credit: Wak Tanjong Mosque