Muslims observing a safe celebration


GEORGE TOWN: Muslims are observing this year’s Hari Raya Haji with a quiet celebration as safety is uppermost on their minds amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Kampung Makam, where about 1,000 villagers would get together to celebrate the occasion every year, no decorations were seen. Muhammad Doffy Satria, 35, said his family of five would spend precious time together at home this year.

“Hari Raya Haji used to be a major affair for us as I was part of the team who performed the slaughtering ritual at the nearby mosque.“My family would spend the remaining holidays travelling down to Johor to visit relatives.

“This year, my wife will prepare lontong and rendang with our kids,” said the father of two boys and a girl aged five to 12 yesterday.

Muhammad Doffy, a phone accessories trader at a nearby market, said besides safety, economic hardship was another reason that made them scale down the celebration.

“My stall is not allowed to open and I’m relying only on a few customers from online sales,” he added.

He said with Covid-19 cases in high numbers among the community, his family was worried and reducing contact with other folk.

“For now, it’s ‘kita jaga kita’ and everyone should follow,” he said.

Hari Raya Haji usually starts with Muslims gathering at mosques for the Aidiladha prayers.

It is an auspicious day in Islam where Muslims around the world slaughter animals, usually cows, buffaloes or goats, in honour of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of submission to God.

Kampung Makam qariah chairman Syed Hassan Syed Kechik said villagers might still perform their prayers at the mosque but there would be no gatherings or additional ceremonies.

“Prayers are limited to only 100 people but we may consider splitting the session in two if there is crowding,” he said.

“The usual gathering to cook and perform the sacrificial ceremony will not be held. The mosque used to sacrifice six cows on average every year but there will be none this year.”

As for the needy, he added, they had delivered the necessary aid for them to celebrate at home.

“Some of them are shy to ask for help but we have a database of all villagers, so we sent aid to their homes,” he said.

In Pajak Song on the mainland, Masjid Jamiul Jalal Wal Kamal secretary Mohd Alias Omar said only 10 cows would be slaughtered with 25 people in attendance this year following the standard operating procedure set.

“The SOP this year is tight and we are limiting the number of people present for the sacrificial ceremony.

“As gatherings are prohibited, participants may still follow it through live streaming which we will broadcast online,” he said.

In 2019, the 136-year-old mosque saw 24 cows slaughtered with close to 100 people gathered to help in various tasks.

The meat was then distributed to about 400 underprivileged families in the village of over 2,000 people.

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