1. In Singapore, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the community has fallen since the circuit breaker measures were implemented on 7 April. While this is a positive development, the virus is still present in the community and a new wave of transmission can still occur from a small number of cases. Therefore, we must press on with our safe distancing measures together as a country to keep the rates of infection low.
2. Muslims in Singapore will celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri on Sunday, 24 May 2020. The Hari Raya period is still within the duration of the Circuit Breaker. The safe distancing measures implemented during this period can only bring about the intended results when everybody works together to adhere to them. As such, Muslims should abide by the national restrictions on gatherings in public and private spaces, and therefore refrain from traditional Hari Raya visits and gatherings across households. Persons going out to purchase festive items should do so individually and keep their trips as short as possible. 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.
3. In abiding by these measures, the Malay/Muslim community recognises that we need to be very mindful of how we can celebrate Hari Raya safely and responsibly. 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. The risk to them will be raised if they receive more frequent visits of long duration and high intensity of close physical interaction. 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.
4. Muslims in Singapore will need to make adjustments to some religious aspects of Hari Raya. Muis has planned several initiatives to help Muslims fulfil their religious duties while adhering to safe distancing measures.
Eve of Hari Raya
5. Traditionally, on the eve of Hari Raya, Muslims will congregate at the mosque after the breaking of fast, for communal prayer calls (known as takbir). However, this will not be possible this year due to the closure of the mosques due to the ongoing circuit breaker measures.
6. Instead, the community will recite the takbir in their own homes together with family members, led by Mufti and various asatizah, via YouTube Live on SalamSG TV, Facebook (FB) Live on Muis FB and the FB pages of mosques. This will be done for the first time in Singapore.
7. Following the “live” online takbir, Mufti will address the community on SalamSG TV on how the community can fulfil its religious duties during Hari Raya amidst the COVID-19 situation. Mufti will be joined by former Mufti Dr Fatris Bakaram and President of Singapore, Mdm Halimah Yacob, as a special guest.
The Morning of Hari Raya
8. Typically, on Hari Raya morning, Muslims will go to the mosque to perform takbir and Aidilfitri prayers, as well as listen to the Hari Raya sermon.
9. This year, as our mosques remain closed, Muslims will celebrate the morning of Hari Raya in their homes with their family members of the same household. They can join in the “live” takbir via Warna 94.2 FM, or online through the Facebook pages of our 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.
10. Our community has shown great resilience and responsibility throughout Ramadan in fulfilling our religious obligations and is committed to doing so throughout Syawal and the months ahead. Today, technology has given us the opportunity to creatively use teleconferencing tools and mobile messaging applications to fulfil our religious obligations and even make “virtual” Hari Raya visits to our loved ones, so as to keep our ties and traditions alive.
11. This will be a special Hari Raya season that requires all of us to remain vigilant, resilient and united. We must take a serious view of the COVID-19 threat, exercise social responsibility, and keep our loved ones and the larger Singapore society safe. Only then can we overcome this challenge and emerge stronger as a community.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA
[May 15, 2020]