When is it celebrated?
Hari Raya Haji or Hari Raya Aidiladha is celebrated on the on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Zulhijah, the last month in the Islami calendar.
What is the Significance?
Hari Raya Haji marks the culmination of the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. Hence it is called the ‘Festival of the Pilgrimage’. Every year, millions of Muslims make the journey to the holy land of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj, a requirement in Islam, as it makes up one of the 5 Pillars of the religion. Muslims who have the financial means and are able health-wise, must perform the Hajj at least once in his/her lifetime.
Aidiladha also commemorates the sacrifice made by the prophet Abraham. The word ‘Korban’ which means sacrifice is also sometimes used to refer to Hari Raya Haji.
Customs and Practices during Hari Raya Aidiladha
On the first day of Aidil Adha, prayers are held at the mosque in the morning. After the morning prayers, Muslims who have purchased animals for the ritual sacrifice will remain at the mosque to witness the korban. Animals, such as sheep, goats and cows are slain in accordance with the proper religious rites, such that they suffer minimal pain. The meat from the animals will be distributed to the poor and destitute. Other portions will be retained by the individual who purchased the animal and shared with family, neighbours and friends.
Story Behind Hari Raya Haji
Prophet Abraham was commanded to offer his only son Ishmael up for sacrifice to the Allah. Though it grieved him greatly, he made ready to perform the task. However, as he was about to strike his son, God stopped him and revealed that it was a trial of his devotion to the Lord. Ishmael’s life was spared and a ram sacrificed in his place.
Muslims perform the religious sacrifice to commemorate this act of supreme devotion to Allah and to share their blessings with the poor.