COVID-19: No Visits, Gatherings During Hari Raya Says MUIS; Haj Pilgrimage Deferred to 2021
"This will be a special Hari Raya season that requires all of us to remain vigilant, resilient and united. We must take a serious view of the Covid-19 threat, exercise social responsibility, and keep our loved ones and the larger Singapore society safe," - MUIS.
In lieu with circuit breaker measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 global pandemic where numbers have hit beyond the 25,000 mark here in Singapore, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) announced today (May 15), that Singaporean Muslims should refrain from visiting homes and gathering together in celebration of Hari Raya Puasa 2020 that falls next Sunday (May 24).
In addition, MUIS further announced that all visits by Singaporean Muslims to Mecca for the annual Haj Pilgrimage this year, will be deferred to 2021.
Hari Raya Puasa 2020
Directives for Singaporean Muslims by Muis
“Muslims should abide by the national restrictions on gatherings in public and private spaces, and therefore refrain from traditional Hari Raya visits and gatherings across households. Persons going out to purchase festive items should do so individually and keep their trips as short as possible,” the council advised in a press release today (May 15).
“Visits to loved ones in different households, especially elderly family members, should be deferred until restrictions on visits are lifted, except where important caregiving is required,” Muis added.
There will be a live-streamed recitation of the takbir (declaration to express gratitude and joy) on the eve of Hari Raya, led by the Mufti and various other scholars via YouTube Live on SalamSG TV, and Facebook Live on the pages of Muis and other mosques, which the Singaporean Muslim community can follow along in their own homes together with family members. There will also be an address to the community by Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir on SalamSG TV. He will be joined by former Mufti Fatris Bakaram, with President Halimah Yacob making an appearance as a special guest.
With all places of worship, including all 70 mosques in Singapore remaining closed to the public in lieu of circuit breaker measures, Singaporean Muslims can join in the live takbir for Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayers via Malay radio station Warna 94.2 FM, or online through the Facebook pages of local mosques.
There will also be a live Hari Raya Puasa 2020 sermon which will be broadcast over the radio, and various online channels such as SalamSG TV, by Mufti Nazirudin.
Commenting on celebrating this year in times of a global pandemic Muis further noted that “Technology has given us the opportunity to creatively use teleconferencing tools and mobile messaging applications to fulfil our religious obligations and even make ‘virtual’ Hari Raya visits to our loved ones, so as to keep our ties and traditions alive.”
“This will be a special Hari Raya season that requires all of us to remain vigilant, resilient and united. We must take a serious view of the Covid-19 threat, exercise social responsibility, and keep our loved ones and the larger Singapore society safe,” Muis further added.
Haj pilgrimage deferred this year for Singaporean pilgrims
The applications of over 900 Singaporean pilgrims who had previously been accepted to perform their Haj this year will automatically be deferred to next year in 2021 instead, in line with COVID-19 being a global issue.
“We have full confidence in Saudi Arabia’s management of the pandemic, and that appropriate measures will be put in place should haj proceed. However, Singapore has its own considerations to safeguard the health and wellbeing of Singaporean pilgrims,” Muis noted.
According to Muis, over 80 per cent of Singaporeans registered to perform Haj this year are above the age of 50, and therefore belong to the category of individuals who are at greater risk of complications and mortality in relation to the COVID-19 infection.
Further, younger pilgrims who are employed have “expressed challenges in obtaining leave to perform the Haj and concerns over their job security, given the challenging economic situation”. All Singaporean travellers must also serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice upon their return to Singapore, exacerbating challenges with existing employment contracts.
In addition, Muis noted that they are not able to provide this year’s haj delegation with a medical team as Singaporean healthcare resources are fully committed to managing COVID-19.
“The absence of such a medical team will compromise the health and well-being of our pilgrims,” Muis noted.
“While we want to help our Muslim community to fulfil their pilgrimage, we also have a responsibility to protect the pilgrims and their families, as well as the wider community in Singapore, from the risk of infection,” MUIS further added.