Rulings of Udhiyah (Sacrifice)

Offering Udhiyah is one of the great rituals of Islaam, by which we remember the Oneness of Allaah, His blessings upon us and the obedience of our father Ibraaheem, peace be upon him, to his Lord. There is much goodness and blessings in this act of sacrificing Udhiyah, so the Muslim must pay attention to its significance. The following is a brief look at this important ritual.

Udhiyah refers to the animal (camel, cattle or sheep) that is sacrificed as an act of worship to Allaah with a (sincere) intention, in the country in which the person offering the sacrifice lives, during the period from after the ‘Eed prayer on the Day of Nahr (i.e., sacrifice – on the day of ‘Eed al-Adhaa) until the last of the Days of Tashreeq (meaning the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah). Allaah says which means, “So pray to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him alone),” (Al-Kawthar: 2) and, “Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allaah, Lord of the worlds.” (Al-An’aam: 162) He also says which means, “And for all religion We have appointed a rite (of sacrifice) that they may mention the name of Allaah over what He has provided for them of (sacrificial) animals. For your god is one God, so to Him submit…” (Al-Hajj: 34)

(Sacrificing) Udhiyah is a confirmed Sunnah according to the majority of scholars; some scholars say that it is obligatory – this will be discussed in more detail below. The basic principle is that it is required at the appointed time from one who is alive, on behalf of himself and the members of his household, and he may include in his intention, the hope for reward for whoever he wishes, living or dead. With regard to Udhiyah on behalf of one who is dead, if the deceased bequeathed up to one-third of his wealth for that purpose or included it in his waqf (endowment), then these wishes (of his) must be carried out, otherwise, if a person wishes to offer a sacrifice on behalf of someone who has died, this is a good deed and is considered to be giving charity on behalf of the dead. The Sunnah, though, is for a man to include the members of his household, living and dead, in his (intention for) Udhiyah; thus when he slaughters it, he should say, “Allaahumma haadha ‘anni wa ‘an ahli bayti (O Allaah, this is on behalf of myself and the members of my household).” Accordingly, he does not have to make a separate sacrifice on behalf of every deceased person.

The scholars have agreed that sacrificing an animal and giving its meat in charity is better than giving its monetary value in charity, because the Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallamused to offer the sacrifice, and he did not do anything but that which is best and most befitting. This is the opinion of the scholars Abu HaneefahAsh-Shaafi’i and Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy upon them.

A sheep is good enough a sacrifice for one man, members of his household and his children, because of the Hadeeth of Abu Ayyoob, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: “At the time of the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi 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 (of it) to others.” (Ibn Maajah & Tirmidhi)

The kinds of animals prescribed for sacrifice are camels, cows and sheep. Some of the scholars said that the best sacrifice is of camels, then cows, then sheep, then a share of a she-camel or cow. This is so because the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said concerning Friday prayers: “Whoever goes to (Friday prayers) early, it is equivalent to him sacrificing a camel.” On this basis, (since the best act is like slaughtering a camel and so on), a sheep is better than one-seventh of a camel or cow. This is the opinion of the three scholars: AbuHaneefahAsh-Shaafi’i and Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy upon them. Whereas Imaam Maalik, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said that the best (sacrificial animal) is a young sheep, then a cow, then a camel, because the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sacrificed two rams and he never did anything but that which was the best. The response to that, though, is that he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam always chose what was more appropriate out of kindness towards his Ummah, because they would follow his example and he did not want to make things difficult for them, as Shaykh ‘Abdul ‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, may Allaah have mercy upon him, has stated in his Fataawa (rulings).

A camel or cow is enough as a sacrifice on behalf of seven people, according to the report narrated by Jaabir, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: “We sacrificed at Al-Hudaybiyyah(while performing Hajj) with the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, a camel for seven persons and a cow for seven persons.” According to one version, “The Messenger of Allaahsallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded us to share camels and cattle – every seven men sharing one animal.” In yet another version, it is stated: “So a cow would be sacrificed on behalf of seven men and we would share it.” (Muslim)

(As stated above), Udhiyah is one of the rituals of Islaam. It is mentioned in the book Jawaahir al-Ikleel Sharh Mukhtasar Khaleel that if the people of a city or country neglect Udhiyah, they should be fought against because it is one of the rites of Islaam (that they have abandoned). There are two scholarly opinions regarding Udhiyah:

Firstly, that it is waajib (obligatory). This is the opinion of Al-Oozaa’iAl-Layth and Abu Haneefah, may Allaah have mercy upon them; it is also one of the two opinions narrated fromImaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy upon him. Moreover, it was the view of Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah and is one of the two opinions in the school of thought of Maalik, may Allaah have mercy upon them both. Those who favor this opinion take the following as evidence:

a)     The verse in which Allaah says which means, “So pray to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him alone).” (Al-Kawthar: 2) (They believe) this is a command and a command implies that something is obligatory.

b)     The Hadeeth of Jundub, may Allaah be pleased with him, who narrated that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever has 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 Allaah.” (Muslim)

c)      The Hadeeth: “Whoever can afford to offer a sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place of prayer.” (Ahmad & Ibn Maajah)

Secondly, that it is a confirmed Sunnah (Sunnah mu’akkadah). This is the opinion of the majority; it is the belief in the school of thought of Ash-Shaafi’i and the better-known opinion ofMaalik and Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy upon them. Most of those who support this view have also stated that it is makrooh (disliked) for the one who is able to offer a sacrifice to neglect doing so. They base their opinion on the following:

a)     The Hadeeth of Jaabir, may Allaah be pleased with him, where he said: I prayed on ‘Eed Al-Adhaa with the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. When he finished (the prayer), he was brought two rams and he sacrificed them. He said, ‘In the Name of Allaah; Allaah is Most Great. This is on behalf of myself and any member of my Ummah who did not offer a sacrifice.’ (Abu Dawood)

b)     The Hadeeth reported by all the famous Muhadditheen, eminent scholars of Hadeeth, apart from Al-Bukhaari“Whoever among you wants to offer a sacrifice, let him not take anything from his hair or nails.” Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said, following his discussion of those who say it is obligatory and those who say it is Sunnah“Each point of view has its evidence, but to be on the safe side, the one who is able to offer a sacrifice should not neglect doing so, because of what is involved in this act of reverence towards Allaah and remembrance of Him, and to make sure that one has nothing to be blamed for.”

The conditions for Udhiyah are:

1.      The sacrificial animal should 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.

2.      It should be free of any faults, because the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “There are four that will not be suitable for sacrifice: a one-eyed animal whose defect is obvious, a sick animal whose sickness is noticeable, a lame animal whose limp is evident and an emaciated animal that has no marrow in its bones.” (Saheeh al-Jaami) There are milder defects that do not disqualify an animal, but it is disliked to sacrifice such animals, such as one with a horn or ear missing or one with slits in its ears etc. Sacrificing Udhiyah is an act of worship to Allaah – and Allaah is Good and accepts only that which is good; “…And whoever honors the symbols (i.e., rites) of Allaah – indeed, it is from the piety of hearts.” (Al-Hajj: 32)

3.      It is forbidden to sell it. If an animal has been selected for sacrifice, it is not permissible to sell it or give it away, except in exchange for one that is better. If that animal gives birth, its offspring should be sacrificed along with it. It is also permissible to ride it if necessary. The evidence for this is the report narrated by Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw a man driving a she-camel to the place of slaughter. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to the man, “Mount it.” The man replied, “It is a sacrificial animal.” The Preophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to him twice or thrice, Woe be to you! Mount it.” (Bukhaari & Muslim)

4.      It should be sacrificed at the specified time, which is from after the prayer and Khutbah (sermon) of ‘Eed – not from when the time for the prayer and Khutbah starts – until before sunset on the last of the days of Tashreeq, which corresponds to the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whoever sacrifices before the prayer, let him repeat it.” (Bukhaari & Muslim) ‘Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The days of Nahr (sacrifice) are the day of (‘Eed) Al-Adhaa and the three days following it.” This is also the opinion of Al-Hasan Al-Basri‘Ataa’ Ibn Abi RabaahAl-Oozaa’iAsh-Shaafi’i and Ibn Al-Mundhir, may Allaah have mercy upon them all.

What is to be done with the sacrifice? It is mustahabb (preferable) for the one who has offered a sacrifice to not eat anything on that day before he eats from it, if this is possible; this is so because of the Hadeeth“Let every man eat from his sacrifice.” (Saheeh al-Jaami’) This consumption should be after the ‘Eed prayer and Khutbah; this is the opinion of the scholars, including ‘AliIbn ‘AbbaasMaalikAsh-Shaafi’i and others, may Allaah have mercy upon them. The (other) evidence for this is the Hadeeth of Buraydah, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said, “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would not go out on the day of (‘Eed) Al-Fitr until he had eaten and he would not eat on the day of (‘Eed) Al-Adhaa until he had slaughtered (his sacrifice).” (Al-Mishkaat)

It is also better for a person to slaughter the sacrifice himself, but if he does not do so, it is preferable for him to be (at least) present when it is being slaughtered. It is also mustahabb to divide the meat into three parts: one third is to be eaten (by one’s self and family), one third is to be given as gifts and one third is to be given in charity; this was the opinion of Ibn Mas’oodand Ibn ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with them. The scholars agreed that it is not permissible to sell anything from its meat, fat or skin. In a Hadeeth, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “Whoever sells the skin of his Udhiyah, there is no Udhiyah for him (i.e., it is not counted as Udhiyah).” (Saheeh al-Jaami’) The butcher should not be given anything of it by way of reward or payment, as ‘Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded me to take care of his sacrificial animals and to give its meat, skin and raiment (covering used for protection) in charity, and not to give any portion of it to the butcher. He then said, ‘We will give him something from what we have.’ (Bukhaari & Muslim) It is said that it is permissible to give the butcher something as a gift and that it is permissible to give some of it to a disbeliever if he is poor, a relative or a neighbor, or in order to open his heart to Islaam, according to rulings by Shaykh ‘Abdul ‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, may Allaah have mercy upon him.

The question arises as to what the Muslim should avoid in the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, if he wants to offer a sacrifice. The Sunnah indicates that the one who wants to do so must refrain from taking anything from his hair, nails or skin from the first day of Dhul-Hijjah until the sacrifice is made. This is based on the Hadeeth in which the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallamsaid, “When you see the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah, and any of you wants to offer a sacrifice, let him not remove anything from his hair or nails until he has offered his sacrifice.” According to another report: “Let him not touch any part of his hair or nails.” (Muslim) This command implies obligation and the prohibition implies that it is forbidden, according to the most correct opinion, because these are absolutes with no exceptions. If a person deliberately takes something (from his hair or nails), he must seek the forgiveness of Allaah, but he does not have to pay any fidyah (penalty) and his Udhiyah is still valid. Whoever needs to remove some of his hair or nails because leaving it will cause him harm, such as a torn nail or a wound in a spot covered by hair, can remove it and there is no sin on his part if he does so. This is not more serious (or any different) than the Muhrim (person in the state of Ihraam for Hajj or ‘Umrah) who is allowed to shave, if not doing so will cause him harm. There is nothing wrong with men and women washing their hair, though, during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, because the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam only forbade removing of the hair and because even the Muhrim is allowed to wash his head.

The wisdom behind the prohibition of removing hair and nails is that since the one who is about to offer a sacrifice is like the one who is in Ihraam (state of a pilgrim in which he performs Hajjand ‘Umrah) for Hajj and ‘Umrah with regard to some rituals, such as the offering of a sacrifice in order to draw closer to Allaah, thus some of the rulings of Ihraam also apply to the one who wants to offer a sacrifice. Therefore, he should not touch his hair and nails until he has slaughtered his sacrifice, in the hope that Allaah will release him from the fire of Hell – and Allaah knows best.

Moreover, if a person removes some of his hair and nails during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah for the reason that he is not planning to offer a sacrifice, but then he decides to do so, he should refrain from cutting his hair or nails from the moment he takes that decision.

There are some women who delegate their brothers or sons to do the sacrifice on their behalf so that they can cut their hair during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. This is not correct as the ruling applies to the one who is making the sacrifice, whether or not he or she delegates someone else to do the actual slaughtering. The prohibition does not apply to the person appointed; rather, it applies to the person who wants to offer a sacrifice on behalf of himself, as is indicated by Hadeeth. As for the person who is doing the sacrifice on behalf of another, whether because of a will or because he has been assigned to do so, the prohibition does not apply to him.

It is obvious that this prohibition applies to the one who is offering the sacrifice and does not extend to his wife or children, unless one of them is sacrificing on his or her own behalf. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to slaughter on behalf of ‘the family of Muhammad’, yet it is not reported that he forbade them to remove anything of their hair or nails.

Whoever is planning to offer a sacrifice then decides to go for Hajj, should not remove anything from his hair or nails when he wants to enter into the state of Ihraam, because this is Sunnahonly when there is a need for it. Yet, if he is doing Hajj Tamattu’ (where one performs ‘Umrah, then ends Ihraam and enters a new state of Ihraam for Hajj), he should shorten his hair when he finishes the ‘Umrah because that is part of the ritual.

The things that are forbidden for the person who wants to offer a sacrifice are reported in the Hadeeth quoted above. It is not forbidden for him to wear perfume, to have intercourse with his wife or to wear sewn garments and so on, and Allaah knows best.

by Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid

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“Invite to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious..”
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