Issue 111


Grassroots with passion

Do all Muslims have to fast during Ramadan?

AllMuslimsareobligedtofastduringthemonthofRamadan, however, some are exempted from it. Among them are children who have not yet reached puberty, the elderly, the ill and infirm, women who are menstruating, expectant and nursing mothers, and those who are travelling. What’s the difference between Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji? As every Singaporean knows, there are two Hari Rayas on our calendars, the other being Hari Raya Haji, sometimes referred to as the Festival of Sacrifice. Known as Eid al-Adha in Arabic, this holiday honours Prophet Ibrahim’s faith in God. When asked by God to sacrifice his son, Ismail, Ibrahim obeyed, showing his faith. God stopped him, however, and provided him with a sheep to sacrifice instead. Korban, the sacrifice of a sheep, goat, cow or camel, is a prominent part of Hari Raya Haji, with meat from the animals being distributed to the poor and needy, family and friends, and the person who performs the Korban. Hari Raya Haji, as its name suggests, is also linked with another pillar of Islam, the pilgrimage to Mecca – known as the Hajj. Hari Raya Haji takes place on the 10th day of the month of Zulhijah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar, and marks the end of the Hajj. Hari Raya Haji will be observed on 11 August this year. Where can I join in the Hari Raya Puasa festivities? Geylang Serai is, of course, the best-known place to celebrate Hari Raya. One day at the Hari Raya bazaar is simply not enough to explore all that it has to offer. From food and drinks – both traditional and modern – to clothing, carpets and home décor, you’ll find it all here, all surrounded by a stunning light-up along the streets surrounding the bazaar. According to the Straits Times, last year’s Geylang Serai bazaar drew 1.86 million visitors. The bazaar will take place from May 3 to June 5 in 2019, with up to 700 stalls awaiting visitors. Other bazaars to check out include the one at Our Tampines Hub. Kampong Glam is also a must-visit during the Hari Raya season, particularly the area around the iconic Sultan Mosque. While you’re in the neighbourhood, it’s also worth stopping by theMalay Heritage Centre to immerse yourself in the culture and history of Singapore’s Malay community.

Why do Muslims fast?

Fasting – abstaining from food and drink between sunrise and sunset – is one of the pillars of Islam, the others being faith, prayer, charity and the pilgrimage to Mecca. Fasting is about discipline and is a means for Muslims to avoid distractions and focus on their relationship with God. Fasting also enables Muslims to reconnect with their families, as they gather each morning for sahur (pre- dawn meal) and each evening for iftar (breaking the fast, commonly referred to as “buka puasa”). The pillar of charity also comes into focus during Ramadan as fasting allows people to empathise with those who are less fortunate than them and understand what it’s like to live a life without many of the things we take for granted. Zakat Fitrah, or tithes which benefit the needy, is also paid during Ramadan, with the amount donated tied to the median price of 2.3kg of rice (the normal rate is currently $5). What else do people avoid when they are fasting? In addition to food and drink, people who are fasting also refrain from smoking and avoid any habits, practices or behaviour that would negate their fast, such as engaging in arguments, gossiping and using vulgar language, for example.

Sources: NLB Infopedia,, BBC, Oxford Dictionaries, MUIS, Khaleej Times, The National, Vox, Al-Huda Mosque, The Straits Times • • • • • • • • • • •

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