S'porean Muslims take sacrificial ritual overseas

More Muslims here are looking abroad to perform the Islamic sacrificial ritual of korban.

But rather than hopping on a plane, they are hiring companies here to do it on their behalf.

Singapore companies Al-Qiblah International and Ibadah.SG, for example, have gone overseas to conduct the ritual on behalf of Muslims here.

Al-Qiblah charges $200 for a goat to be slaughtered in Indonesia and Cambodia. The meat is distributed to the needy Muslims there.

Local company Ampro Holdings also cans halal meat obtained from an abattoir in Australia.

For $245, the finished product is shipped to needy Muslims in Gaza.

In previous years, the company shipped meat to Indonesia, Bangladesh, Somalia and China.

The New Paper understands that there are at least 20 companies here that provide these overseas korban services.

Muslims worldwide celebrate Hari Raya Haji, which is on Oct 5 this year, to mark the end of the annual haj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

Sheep, goats, cows and camels are offered for slaughter in accordance with Islamic rites to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim's subservience to God.

The meat is distributed to the needy, family and friends.

Al-Qiblah International chief executive officer Azmi Abdul Samad said that Singaporeans are seeing companies like theirs as an alternative "because they see it as a way to help the needy".

"There is less waste because in the villages, we distribute the meat to, no parts of the animals are wasted," said Mr Azmi, 45.

Al-Qiblah has been performing the korban ritual overseas since 2005.

INCREASING DEMAND

Demand for overseas korban services has risen sharply, said Ibadah.SG president Mohmed Firdaus, 32.

"When we started in 2007, we had around 170 clients, but that number rose to 2,000 last year," he added.

Another reason for the popularity is the lower cost of carrying out the sacrifice abroad.

This year, the cost of sacrificing a sheep here is $499, according to the Singapore Mosques Korban Committee (JKMS).

This is the highest starting price on record. Last year, it was $455.

Of the 3,500 animals imported this year, 3,125 have been snapped up as of Sept 29, JKMS said. There were 2,000 Australian sheep and 1,500 Irish lambs.

But those who choose overseas sacrifices pay a much lower price, from $200 for a goat in places like Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar to about $300 for one slaughtered in Albania, Myanmar and Sudan.

However, Ampro Holdings director Abdullah Rajib, 61, said the rising costs here are secondary factors for overseas sacrifices. The real satisfaction for most of their customers is from feeding the poor, he added.

Housewife Jamilah Osman told TNP that she spent $250 to sacrifice a goat in Surakarta, Indonesia, last year for that exact reason.

The 55-year-old said: "I didn't go there as I hired a company to do it on my behalf and afterwards they sent me proof by way of pictures.

"I will be sacrificing another goat there again this year.

"I just feel much better knowing my money is spent on an animal that will feed people in need."


This article was first published on Oct 4, 2014.
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