SINGAPORE — Muslims in Singapore should refrain from making traditional Hari Raya visits this year and avoid gatherings across households, said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) on Friday (15 May).
While the number of COVID-19 cases in the community has fallen since the circuit breaker began on 7 April, Muslims here should still “abide by the national restrictions on gatherings in public and private spaces”, said the council in a media release. Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which marks the end of the Ramadan fasting month, falls on 24 May.
“Visits to loved ones in different households, especially elderly family members, should be deferred until restrictions on visits are lifted, except where important care-giving is required,” said MUIS. It added that those going out to purchase festive items should do so individually and keep their trips as short as possible.
Speaking at a virtual press conference addressing the Hari Raya celebrations and the deferment of this year’s Haj pilgrimage, Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said that three considerations came into play in deciding the changes.
The first was the contagious nature of the virus and how even pre-symptomatic cases can unknowingly spread it. Second was that fact that seniors – those above the age of 50 – are vulnerable “not only from the direct impact of the disease itself, but also long-term damage”.
The third factor is that there is no cure currently available, or “even in the next few months”, for those infected with COVID-19.
Noting that the authorities are particularly concerned about the welfare of seniors, the Ministry of Health’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak said, “A single COVID-19 patient who is not even aware he may be infected, and having minimal symptoms, may attend a gathering. And as a result of close contact within the gathering, then spawn a cluster as he spreads infection to others, and in turn that may set up a new wave of community infections.”
“In Singapore, 95 per cent of all (COVID-19) deaths have been seniors. Nearly one in six seniors who are diagnosed with COVID-19 have developed severe symptoms and have required intensive care in the hospital,” he added.
Thus far, 21 infected people in Singapore have died due to complications arising from the coronavirus.
Eve of Hari Raya
Regarding the takbir prayer gatherings at mosques on the eve of Hari Raya, MUIS said that Muslims here will recite these prayers in their own homes with family members as mosques will continue to be closed.
The prayers will be led by Singapore’s Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir and asatizah (religious teachers) via “ YouTube Live on SalamSG TV, Facebook (FB) Live on Muis FB and the FB pages of mosques”. This is the first time the prayers are being conducted here in such a fashion.
Following the “live” online takbir, the Mufti will address the community on SalamSG TV concerning how the community can fulfil its religious duties during Hari Raya amid the COVID-19 situation. He will be joined by former Mufti Fatris Bakaram and President Halimah Yacob, who will be a special guest.
Morning of Hari Raya
While Muslims here normally visit mosques on the morning of Hari Raya to perform prayers and listen to a Hari Raya sermon, this will also be done at home this year.
Adherents can join in the “live” takbir via the Warna 94.2 FM or via the Facebook pages of local mosques. Following the traditional Aidilfitri prayers at home, Mufti Nazirudin will lead a “live” Hari Raya sermon, which will be broadcast over radio and online channels such as SalamSG TV – another first for Singapore.
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