Hari Raya Haji in Penang
Hari Raya Aidil Adha is a religious festival
celebrated by Muslims worldwide to mark the time when one of its prophets, Nabi
Ibrahim, was tested for his overall patience and unquestioning faith in Allah.
Also known as Hari Raya Haji, the festival commemorates the period of time when
Mecca is open to pilgrims performing their Haj annually. This year, 2015, Hari
Raya Haji is celebrated on 24 September and it is the second most important
Muslim celebration in Malaysia. In the Muslim calendar, it is celebrated during
the month of Zulhijjah.
As was translated and relayed from the Quran, during the time of Nabi Ibrahim,
Allah decreed a test of his patience, love and unwavering faith in the religion
and to Allah itself. In this test, Nabi Ibrahim was to sacrifice his only son,
Ismail who later became a prophet himself. According to the Quran, Ibrahim was
about to carry out the sacrifice unquestioningly when Allah intercepted, sure
of Ibrahim’s faith and patience, and replaced his son with a four-legged animal
Till today, throughout history, during this festival, the sacrifice of cows or
goats is carried out during Hari Raya Haji to symbolise and in remembrance of
Nabi Ibrahim’s unshakeable belief in Allah’s greatness and the great sacrifice
he was ready to perform due to it. To this day, Nabi Ibrahim is remembered as
one of the five cardinal prophets of Islam and his exemplary behaviour.
Like all Muslim festivals, the day will begin with a prayer at mosques where
Muslims congregate to mark the day. The main and most marked ritual of Hari
Raya Haji is the korban or the sacrifice of cows and, at some countries, goats
to symbolise the test Nabi Ibrahim went through all those centuries ago.
Done on the premises of mosques, the sacrifice is done accompanied by prayers
and part of the meat is then cooked for the consumption of the village or
community. A big portion of the fresh meat is given away to the needy, making
the ritual a mainly charitable deed. The meat is considered berkat or (loosely
translated) blessed and its consumption by Muslims is encouraged.
Unlike Hari Raya Aidil Fitri also known as Hari Raya Puasa that celebrates the
end of Ramadan and is therefore more festive and food-centric, Hari Raya Haji
is a more sombre, contemplative and religious festival. Donning new clothes,
however, is not an uncommon practise during this time and this ritual certainly
lends a festive air to the day.
Image credit: Leonard Selva