Muslims in Singapore should refrain from traditional Hari Raya visits and gathering across households as the religious celebration – which falls on 24 May – is still within the circuit breaker period, said Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) in a statement on Friday (15 May).
The Council called for all Muslims to comply with the national restrictions on gatherings in public and private spaces during the circuit breaker period.
“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,” MUIS noted.
It also advised those who are going out to purchase festive items to go individually and keep their trips as short as possible.
MUIS asserted that the long duration and high intensity of close physical interaction during Hari Raya visits could increase the risk of the elderly people contracting the virus.
“We have to protect our loved ones from the spread of COVID-19, especially elderly family members who are at highest risk of severe disease, complications and mortality,” said the Council in its statement.
MUIS added, “It is all the more important to take precautions now and adjust to the new norms, so that we can visit our loved ones later when it is safe to do so, in more Hari Rayas to come.”
Additionally, the recitation of takbir – which is usually held on the eve of Hari Raya – will not be conducted in the mosques, given that all places of worship have been closed in light of the circuit breaker period.
However, the takbir prayers will be streamed online via YouTube Live on SalamSG TV and Facebook Live on the Facebook pages of MUIS and the mosques.
Noting that the prayers will be led by Mufti Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir and various asatizah, MUIS stated that Muslims will recite the takbir in their own homes together with family members instead of going out to the mosques.
Following this, Mufti Dr Nazirudin will address the Muslim community on SalamSG TV on how to fulfil their religious duties during Hari Raya in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Halimah Yacob and former Mufti Fatris Bakaram will join this session together with Mufti Dr Nazirudin.
According to MUIS, Muslims can also perform the traditional Aidilfitri prayers at home by joining the live takbir via Warna 94.2 FM, or online through the Facebook pages of local mosques.
“After the traditional Aidilfitri prayers at home, Mufti will lead a ‘live’ Hari Raya sermon which will be broadcast over radio, and various online channels such as SalamSG TV, the first time it has been conducted in this manner in Singapore,” the statement read.
Hari Raya visits will be allowed in Malaysia on the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, with a limit of not more than 20 people
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, Muslims are allowed to engage in Hari Raya visits on the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
However, it was noted that the visits will be limited to close family members of not more than 20 people as part of standard operating procedure (SOP) for Hari Raya, Pesta Kaamatan, and Gawai celebrations, as reported by New Straits Times.
“The size of the house must also be taken into consideration. If a flat unit is 600sq ft (55.74 sqm), 20 people would be too crowded. Use (your) discretion. Maybe only allow a few people at one time,” said Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Wednesday (13 May).
However, the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) was “deeply disappointed” with the Government’s decision on allowing Hari Raya visits as it believe that this ruling will potentially “undo all the good work” in controlling the spread of the coronavirus in Malaysia.
The Academy explained, “It has been proven that it only takes one infected person (especially asymptomatic or false-negative ones from the COVID-19 testing currently used) to spread the disease unknowingly to family members.”
“We propose that face-to-face Hari Raya celebrations should be only with family members residing in the same house. We must remember the immense difficulties and massive resources needed to do contact tracing. We would like to request the Government to review this policy,” it added.