Oct 25, 2012

A Brief Look at the Important Rituals of Udhiyah - Sacrifice

From Islamic Newsletter 'As-Sunnah' Issue no: 10

Submitted by Brother Abdul Majeed Alee Hasan

"Turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice to Him alone." [Soorah al-Kauthar (108): 2]

Udhiyah (sacrifice) is among the great rituals of Islam, which signify the Oneness of Allah, His Blessings, and Bounties. It reminds us the exemplary obedience of our father, Ibraheem (alaihi as-salaam), to His Lord and his great sacrifices to Him. Udhiyah encompasses much goodness and blessings and thus acquires a great deal of importance in the lives of Muslims. 

"And for every nation We have appointed religious ceremonies, that they may mention the Name of Allah over the beast of cattle that He has given them for food. And your God is One God, so you must submit to Him Alone (in Islam)…" [Soorah al-Hajj (22): 34]

Hereunder is a brief look at the important rituals of Udhiyah.

Udhiyah: Its meaning and definition

Udhiyah refers to the animal (camel, cattle or sheep) that is sacrificed as an act of worship to Allah, during the period from after the Eid prayer on the Day of Nahr (Eid al-Adha) until the last day of Tashreeq (the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah), with the intention of offering sacrifice. Allah says: "Say (O Muhammad sallalahu alaihi wa-sallam): 'Verily, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Aalameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists)." [Soorah al-An'aam (6): 162]

Is Udhiyah an Obligation?

Scholars differ concerning the ruling of Udhiyah, some are of the opinion that Udhiyah is wajib or obligatory while others hold Udhiyah as a confirmed Sunnah.

Among those who uphold the first opinion (wajib or obligatory) are Imaam al-Awzaa'i, Imaam al-Layth and Imaam Abu Haneefah, and it is one of the two opinions narrated from Imaam Ahmad. It was also the opinion of Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, and is one of the two opinions in the mathhab of Imaam Maalik. Those who favor this opinion take the following as evidence:

Allah says: "Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only)." [Soorah al-Kawthar 108:2] This verse is a command and a command implies obligation.

Also, it is related in the Saheehayn (i.e. Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim) from Jundub (radhi allahu anhu), "The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Whoever slaughtered his sacrifice before he prays, let him slaughter another one in its place, and whoever did not slaughter a sacrifice, let him do so in the name of Allah." [Saheeh Muslim vol. 3, no: 4818-21]

and: "Whoever can afford to offer a sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place or prayer." [Musnad Ahmad and Ibn Majah. (Saheeh) by al-Haakim (from Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu)), it is related in Fath al-Baree that its men are thiqaat. This Hadeeth is declared Hasan (Good) by Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Majah v: 2, no: 2532-1323]

Those who assert to the second opinion, i.e. Udhiyah is a confirmed Sunnah (meaning Sunnah mu'akkadah) are the better-known opinion of Maalik and Imaam Ahmad, and the mathhab of al-Shaafa'ee. It should be mentioned here that majority of the scholars uphold this view, and they state it Makrooh (disliked) to neglect this act of worship, if one has the capability to perform a sacrifice. [Rasaa'il Fiqhiyyah by Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen, p. 46]

This opinion is based on the following Ahaadeeth. 

Jaabir (radhi allahu anhu), narrated: "I prayed on Eid al-Adha with the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), and when he finished (the prayer), he was brought one ram, and he sacrificed it. He said: "In the Name of Allah, Allah is Most Great. This is on behalf of myself and any member of my Ummah who did not offer a sacrifice." [Awnul M'abood Sharh Sunan Abee Daawood by Muhammad Shams al-Haq 'Adheem Aabaadi, vol. 8, pp. 3-6] 

And the Hadeeth reported by all the famous Muhadditheen apart from al-Bukharee that the Messenger of Allah (radhi allahu anhu) said: 

"Whoever among you wants to offer a sacrifice, let him not take anything from his hair or nails." [Saheeh Muslim vol. 3 nos. 4869-73]

Conclusion: Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) following his discussion of those who say it is obligatory and those who say it is a Sunnah said, "Each point of view has its evidence. It is safe for the one who is able to offer a sacrifice should not neglect to do so, because of what is involved in this act of reverence towards Allah, remembering Him, and making sure that one has nothing to be blamed for."

The Principle of Udhiyah

The basic rule of Udhiyah is that sacrifice is required at an appointed time from one who is alive, on behalf on himself and on behalf of his household. He may also include in the reward all those whom he wishes, dead or alive.

It is from the Sunnah that one includes his household living and dead in his Udhiyah. So, when he slaughters his sheep, he should say, "Allaahumma haatha 'annee wa 'an ahli baytee" meaning "O Allah! This is on my behalf and on behalf of my family members."

It is from the virtues of Udhiyah that one animal is sufficient for one man and his family; he is not required to make separate sacrifices on behalf of every member (living or dead).

Narrated Abu Ayyub: "At the time of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), a man would sacrifice a sheep on behalf of himself and the members of his household, and they would eat from it and give some to others." [Sunan Ibn Majah v: 4, no: 3147. (Saheeh) by Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Majah v: 2, no: 2546] [also, see previously mentioned Hadeeth reported by Jaabir (radhi allahu anhu) (Abu Dawood)]

With regards to Udhiyah of a deceased person, if he has bequeathed up to one third of his wealth for the purpose of sacrifice or included it in his waqf (endowment), then his wishes must be carried out. Otherwise, offering sacrifice on behalf of the deceased is a good deed and it is considered to be giving charity on behalf of the dead.

Animals prescribed for Udhiyah are camels, cattle and sheep. With regards to sharing a sacrifice, then a camel or a cow can be shared by seven people, this is based on the narration of Jabir (radhi allahu anhu), who said: "The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) commanded us to share camels and cattle, each seven men sharing one animal." [Saheeh Muslim v: 2, p. 662, no. 3024] If a sheep, a goat or a ram is offered for Udhiyah, then sharing is not allowed, since no evidence is found in the Sunnah for it.

It should be mentioned here that the scholars agree that sacrificing an animal and giving its meat in charity is better than giving its value in charity. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) chose to perform sacrifice and he did not do anything but that which is best and most befitting. This is the opinion of Abu Haneefah, al-Shaafa'i and Ahmad. This refutes the saying of those who say that today people need money more than they need food, therefore it is better to give the money rather then sacrifice an animal.

From the conditions of Udhiyah is that the animal offered for sacrifice must have reached the required age, which is six months for a lamb, one year for a goat, two years for a cow and five years for a camel. The animal should be completely free of any faults because sacrifice is an act of worship and Allah is Tayyib and He only accepts that which is Tayyib.

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) "There are four that will not be accepted for sacrifice: a one-eyed animal whose defect is obvious, a sick animal whose sickness is obvious, a lame animal whose limp is obvious and an emaciated animal that has no marrow in its bones." [(Saheeh) by Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh al-Jamee no. 886]

Milder defects do not disqualify an animal, but it is Makrooh to sacrifice such animals, for e.g. animal with a horn or ear missing, or an animal with slits in its ears, etc. Whoever honors the rites of Allah, this has to do with the Taqwa (piety and righteousness) of his heart.

The Sacrificial animal is not for sale. It is forbidden to sell the animal chosen for sacrifice, except for a better exchange. If it gives birth to an offspring, the offspring must be sacrificed along with it. It is permissible to ride the animal.

Narrated Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu), the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) saw a man leading his camel. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Ride it." The man replied: "It (the animal) is for sacrifice." The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Ride it." A second or a third time." [Saheeh Muslim vol: 2, no: 3046]

Prescribed time for sacrifice: The animal can be sacrificed after the Eid prayer and the Khutbah (not when the Khutbah or the prayer starts) until before the sunset of the last day of Tashreeq, which is 13th Dhul-Hijjah.

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Whoever sacrifices before the prayer, let him repeat it." [Saheeh Muslim vol: 3, p. 1084, no: 4818]

It is related from Ali (alaihi as-slaam): "The days of Nahr (sacrifice) are the day of al-Adha and the three days following it." This is also the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basree, Ataa Ibn Abi Rabaah, al-Awzaa'ee, al-Shaafi'e and Ibn al-Munthir (rahimahullahum ajma'eem)

Slaughtering the animal with one's own hands is better, but if one does not do so, it is Mustahabb (liked, preferable) for him to be present at the time of slaughtering.

Anas (radhi allahu anhu) reported that Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) sacrificed with his own hands, two horned rams with black markings, reciting the name of Allah and glorifying Him (saying Allahu-Akbar). He placed his foot on their sides (while sacrificing). [Saheeh Muslim: vol. 3, p. 1087, no: 4841]

Eating from one's sacrifice is Mustahabb (liked, preferable). It is also Mustahabb for him, who performs a Udhiyah, not to eat before he offers his sacrifice; he should break his fast with the meat of his sacrifice the prayer. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): "Let every man eat from his sacrifice." [(Saheeh) by Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh a-Jamee no: 5349]

Buraidah (radhi allahu anhu) reported: "The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) would not go out on the day of breaking the fast (Eid al-Fitr) until he had eaten and on the day of sacrifice (Eid al Adha) he would not eat until he had returned [from Salaat]" This is related by at-Tirmidhee and Ibn Majah and also by Sunan Ad-Daaramee who added: "And he would eat from his sacrifice." [Sharah as-Sunnah, vol. 4, p. 306, footnote no: 1. Shaikh al-Albane said, its isnaad is Saheeh, al-Mishkaat, vol: 1, p. 452, no: 1440]

Dividing the meat into three is Mustahabb (liked, preferable), one-third to keep for oneself, one-third to be given as gifts and one-third to be given in charity. This was the opinion of Ibn Mas'ood (radhi allahu anhu) and Ibn Umar t. [(Saheeh) by Shaikh al-Albanee in Sunan Ibn Majah vol: 2, p: 203, no: 2546]

Selling any part of the sacrificed animal is prohibited: Scholars agree that it is not permissible to sell anything from the sacrificed animal's meat, skin or fat. 

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Whoever sells the skin of his Udhiyah, there is no Udhiyah for him (i.e. his sacrifice is not counted)." [(Hasan) by Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh al-Jamee, no: 6118]

The butcher should not be given anything from the sacrifice, by way of reward or payment. Ali (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) commanded me to take care of the sacrifice and to give its meat, skin and raiment (covering used for protection) in charity, and not to give anything of it to the butcher as a compensation. He said: 'We will give him something from what we have.'" [(Agreed upon). Saheeh Muslim, vol: 2, no: 3019]

"It was said that it is permissible to give the butcher something as a gift. It is also permissible to give some of it to a Kafir, if he is poor or a relative or a neighbor, in order to open his heart to Islam." [Fatawa Shaikh Abd al-Azeez Ibn Baaz]

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