THE arrival of the 4,596 sheep from Australia for the yearly Korban ritual has been delayed by another day.
The animals, due here on Saturday after an initial delay earlier in the week, was to arrive in Jurong Port yesterday.
But the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said at a press briefing on Saturday that it would make sure the sheep are delivered quickly to all 39 mosques that had ordered them, so that the Islamic ritual of slaughtering sheep for the Hari Raya Haji festival could be carried out.
Muis said it had ordered 30 more trucks to speed up delivery of the sheep, adding to the usual 20.
And to make sure the sheep are loaded onto the trucks quickly, a raised wooden platform has been constructed at Jurong Port so the animals can be loaded onto six trucks at one go. In previous years, only two trucks could be loaded at once.
With these measures, the sheep can be delivered in just four hours, instead of the usual 12.
Muis president Alami Musa said the ship transporting the animals from Australia to Singapore had been held up by bad weather and strong head winds.
The sheep were originally due here on Tuesday but bad weather and refuelling problems delayed the ship. It had sailed from Indonesia to Australia to pick up the sheep, but had to wait for four days in Jakarta to get fuel, as ships bringing aid to tsunami-hit Aceh were attended to first.
Mufti Syed Isa Mohamed Semait, the highest Muslim religious authority here, has said that the Korban was valid under Islamic law as long as it was conducted within four days from the morning of Hari Raya Haji, or before evening Maghrib prayers today.
Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the pilgrimage season to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The Korban, carried out to reinforce the practice of sharing what one has with the less fortunate, was supposed to have been done on Hari Raya Haji itself.
Alami said yesterday that Muis would look into how to prevent delays in future and would explore the possibility of air-freighting the animals.
He also appealed to the Muslim community not to be discouraged or distracted by the hiccup.
Abdul Fazil, 47, a fire safety manager, said: The delay is due to reasons beyond our control. As long as the ritual is done on time, it is all right. Its most important that the meat is distributed to those who need it. The Straits Times/ANN