What I feel about Hari Raya Haji in This Period of COVID

In this multiracial country, Malaysia, there are different festivals celebrated by different races. However, Malaysia citizens would celebrate together no matter what festivals it is nowadays. It is because everyone would invite their friend from different races to celebrate the festivals together. Hence, everyone should at least have some knowledge about what traditions to be done during the festivals.

When is Hari Raya Haji?

According to the Islamic lunar calendar, Hari Raya Haji falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days. However, in the Gregorian calendar, the date varies from year to year. Hari Raya Haji fell on 31st of July for last year and it will fall on 20th of July this year

What is Hari Raya Haji?

Hari Raya Haji (Eid al-Adha or Eid Qurban) is also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice. It is to honour the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command. The reason of doing this is to show devotees’s devotion to Allah (God) by sacrificing something they love the most.

It marks the end of the Hajj.

What is Hajj?

Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims which usually performed about 5 to 6 days. It means “heading to a place for the sake of visiting”. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims and must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable to go for the journey and this is known as istita’ah. Any Muslims who fulfill this condition will be known as mustati.

During Hajj, pilgrims gather together to perform a series of rituals. Each person would walk counter-clockwise around the Kaaba for seven times.

They would also trot back and forth between the hills of Safa and Marwah seven times.

Hills of Safa and Marwa – two small hills that are connected to the larger Abu Qubais and Qaiqan mountains, respectively, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Then drink from the Zamzam well, go to the plains of Mount Arafat, Muzdalifa, and then perform symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones and the three pillars.

Zamzam well

The Pilgrims would have to shave or trim their heads for male and trim end of the hair for female after sacrificing the animals.

It would then proceed with a celebration of the global festival of Hari Raya Haji. After the pilgrimage, man would be given the title “haji” while woman would be given the title “hajjah”.

What will be done during Hari Raya Haji?

  • An animal (usually sheep) is sacrificed ritually through “Korban” and divided into three parts, one is given to the poor, one for families and the other one is given to friends or relatives. This is because before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to be sacrificed instead.
  • Devotees will dress themselves with their finest clothes to perform Eid prayer in a large congregation in an open waqf field called Eidgah or mosque.
  • Muslims wear their best clothes.
  • Women cook special sweets and ma’amoul (filled shortbread cookies)
  • Gathering with family and friends.

Many people would be confused between Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Haji. I hope that after reading this post, you may have a more detailed knowledge about Hari Raya Haji and differentiate it from Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

My Thoughts

I don’t really have much expectation for Hari Raya Haji for this year, mainly because COVID cases are not really that contained yet. Rumors about vaccines are heard everything, but common citizens who actually got them are not that many. Therefore, I don’t think that such a big congregation of people will be allowed in the near future. Unless everyone really got the vaccine that rid of the possibility of getting ill from COVID.

On one hand, I really wish that we have a happy holiday during Hari Raya Haji, while on the other hand, I don’t want the numbers of COVID cases to rise up. My feelings about celebrating Hari Raya Haji is quite complicated. I just hope they will make a rational decision that will guarantee everyone safety and comfort.

Last but not least, let’s pray for this COVID to be solved soon!