Udhiyah – Sacrifice
O Allah, bless our master Muhammad, who opened what was closed, who sealed what had gone before ; the helper of Truth by the Truth, the guide to Your straight path, and on his family, may this prayer be equal to his immense position and grandeur.
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]
Udhiyah: Its meaning and definition
Udhiyah refers to the animal (camel, cattle, goat 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?
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. It is also 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.” 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)).
The majority of the scholars uphold the second opinion, i.e. Udhiyah is a confirmed Sunnah (meaning Sunnah mu’akkadah) , and they state it Makrooh (disliked) to neglect this act of worship, if one has the capability to perform a sacrifice.
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’’, and the Hadeeth reported by all the famous Muhadditheen apart from al-Bukharee that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Whoever among you wants to offer a sacrifice, let him not take anything from his hair or nails.” [Saheeh Muslim]
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, 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 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]
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, goat 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 Musli] If a sheep, a goat or a ram is offered for Udhiyah, then sharing is not allowed.
From the conditions of Udhiyah is that the animal offered for sacrifice must have reached the required age, which is one 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 GOOD and He only accepts that which is good. 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.” [(Ashabus-Sunan)
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
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]
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]
It is related from Ali (radhi allahu anhu): “The days of Nahr (sacrifice) are the day of al-Adha and the three days following it.”
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 BismiLLah Allahu-Akbar). He placed his foot on their sides (while sacrificing). [Saheeh Muslim]
Eating from one’s sacrifice is Mustahabb (liked, preferable). It is also Mustahabb for him, who performs Udhiyah, not to eat before he offers his sacrifice; he should break his fast with the meat of his sacrifice after the prayer. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): “Let every man eat from his sacrifice’’.
Allah says ‘Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor who have a very hard time.’ (Sura Hajj verse 28)
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.”
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 and Ibn Umar (radhi allahu anhuma)
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).”
The butcher should not be given anything from the sacrifice, by way of reward or payment. Ali (radhi allahu anhu) 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 compensation. He said: ‘We will give him something from what we have.’ [Agreed upon]
“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.
IF ONE INTENDS TO OFFER UDHIYAH, HE SHOULD NOT CUT HIS HAIR OR NAILS FROM THE BEGINNING OF DHUL HIJJA UNTIL HIS SACRIFCE IS SLAUGHTERED.
Umm Salamah (radhi allahu anha) related that the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “If you see the Hilaal (new moon) of Dhul-Hijjah, and any one of you wants to make a sacrifice, then he should not cut (anything) from his hair and his nails.” and in one narration he said: “…then he should not take (cut) anything from his hair, nor from his nails, until he performs the sacrifice.” [Saheeh Muslim]There is no harm in washing the head, or scratching it, even if some hairs may fall out.
Scholars mention that the wisdom behind this prohibition is so that he may resemble those in Ihraam in some aspects of the rituals and the one who sacrifice may draw nearer to Allah by offering his sacrifice. Allah says is Surah Al-Baqarah, “…and do not shave your heads until the Hadee (sacrifice) reaches the place of sacrifice…”
Allah knows best.
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