Festival of Sacrifice: What is Hari Raya Haji?

Living in Singapore means coming into contact with festivals from many different races and religions. However, some of us might still be unclear about the exact details of certain festivals. With Hari Raya Haji just around the corner, we decided to educate ourselves about this important date by having a chat with Ustazah Wardiah, from Maarof Mosque.

Ustazah is an honorific title used to refer to qualified female Islamic scholars

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Ustazah Wardiah (Middle) with our team! 🙂

“Hari Raya Haji, or as we call it Aidiladha in Arabic, is the festival of sacrifice.” Ustazah Wardiah says with a welcoming smile. Clearing up the confusion between Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa, she elaborates that Hari Raya Puasa is called Aidilfitri which refers to the breaking of fasting after the whole month of Ramadan.

Qurban/Korban is the practice of slaughtering for a sacrificial offering

Not every mosque in Singapore carries out Qurban during Aidiladha. Even when they do, Singapore mosques only carry it out with sheep that have travelled from countries like Australia, while counterparts in the Middle East tend to also include cows and camels in the festival.

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“I do have experience volunteering in Qurban because I used to work in another mosque where we had a Qurban every year.” Ustazah Wardiah recalls, “We have different departments – one will do the slaughtering, while the other does the packing of the meat. We have about 60 to 80 sheep and we will have the event for the whole day.”
While it is not uncommon to see videos or images of Qurban during this period of Aidiladha, do you know the story behind the tradition? As Ustazah Wardiah notes, every Islamic practice has a meaningful tale behind it.

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“We have this story about Prophet Ibrahim, who had a dream where he was told to slaughter his son. He knew it was a guidance from our Lord, so he spoke to his son and they both agreed to obey. The day when Prophet Ibrahim was about to slaughter his son, Allah came, and said that he had proven his obedience, thus wanting Prophet Ibrahim to slaughter a sheep in place of his son. This story teaches the importance of obedience and reminds us how loyal and amazing our prophets are.”

After telling the story with a childlike wonder in her voice, Ustazah Wardiah explains that this is why the Qurban is her favourite part of Aidiladha — because it reminds her of the story. She is aware that many non-Muslims often have negative misconceptions of Aidiladha, to which she shakes her head and patiently explains, “I want them to understand more about the Qurban. They think that we’re just killing the animals with no feeling of mercy or pity, but we love the animal as much as our prophet does.”

Hannah, from our team, also adds “To me personally, slaughtering simply gives me the assurance that the animal is being handled in a more humane way before it’s consumable. How I always explain to people the difference is by using the example of throwing a live chicken in a machine versus slaughtering.”

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“I love to see Muslims in Singapore having these kinds of events where we can unite, it’s very fulfilling to see.” – Ustazah Wardiah

“A mosque is a place where everyone can come and visit, it’s a public place. Non-Muslims can come to the mosque to talk about korban or anything else if they’d like to understand what we really do!” she says with a bright smile.
The interview left us more enlightened about Aidiladha, but it also gave us a deeper understanding of the Muslim culture. We deeply thank Ustazah Wardiah for her time, and for kindly educating us on the Festival of Sacrifice.

We hope that you have learnt a thing or two from this article, and we wish all our Muslim friends Selamat Hari Raya Aidiladha!

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