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The ‘Eid Sacrifice is an emphasised Sunnah: An opportunity not to be missed
The Ud’hiyah (sacrifice on ‘Eid Al-Adhā) is an emphasised Sunnah that is legislated for both men and women ― it is accepted from a man for himself and his household. Likewise, it is accepted from a woman for herself and her household. That is due to the fact that Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) used to sacrifice two horned rams every year, they were white in colour mixed with some blackness. He sacrificed one ram for himself and his family ― and the other ram on behalf of those in his ummah who worship Allah alone yet were not able to sacrifice, as occurs in a report of At-Tirmidhi (no. 1504):
هَذَا عَمَّنْ لَمْ يُضَحِّ مِنْ أُمَّتِي
“This is on behalf of those who did not sacrifice from my Ummah.”
So the least one should sacrifice is one goat (or sheep or ram) and that will suffice him and his family. Abu Ayyūb Al-Ansāri (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) said:
كَانَ الرَّجُلُ فِي عَهْدِ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يُضَحِّي بِالشَّاةِ عَنْهُ وَعَنْ أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ فَيَأْكُلُونَ وَيُطْعِمُونَ ثُمَّ تَبَاهَى النَّاسُ فَصَارَ كَمَا تَرَى
“A man in the time of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) would sacrifice one sheep for himself and his household ― they would eat from it and feed others. Then later, people started boasting with their sacrifices as you can see.” (Ibn Mājah, no. 3147, graded authentic by Al-Albāni)
It is allowed for seven families (or seven people) to share in the sacrifice of a cow or camel. Jābir bin Abdillāh (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) said that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) stated:
الْبَقَرَةُ عَنْ سَبْعَةٍ وَالْجَزُورُ عَنْ سَبْعَةٍ
“A cow is shared between seven and a camel is shared between seven.” (Abu Dāwūd, no. 2808, graded saheeh by Al-Albāni)
The ud’hiyah (sacrifice) is to to be performed on the day of Nahr which is the first day of ‘Eid, 10th of Dhul-Hijjah and on the days of Tashreeq, i.e. 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah. Any of these days is allowable for sacrifice. The sacrifice is to be performed every year.
The slaughtering cannot be performed before the Eid prayer. Bukhāri and Muslim reported from Anas (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “The one who slaughtered before the ‘Eid prayer, then his sacrifice is not counted, rather it is merely meat that he had offered to his family.”
Ahmad and Ibn Hibbān reported from Jubayr bin Mut’im that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “All the days of Tashreeq are for slaughtering.” (Hasan, see As-Silsilah, no. 2467). The days of Tashreeq are 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah.
Healthy and handsome animals without defect
The animal should be the best one can afford, healthy and pleasing to the eye and free from defects. Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) said:
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُضَحِّي بِكَبْشٍ أَقْرَنَ فَحِيلٍ يَنْظُرُ فِي سَوَادٍ وَيَأْكُلُ فِي سَوَادٍ وَيَمْشِي فِي سَوَادٍ
“Allah’s Messenger would sacrifice a noble, sturdy, horned ram that had black around its eyes, its mouth and legs.” (Abu Dawūd, no. 2796, graded saheeh by Al-Albāni) In narration, he warned against sacrificing animals that have obvious defects. Al-Barā bin ‘Āzib narrated that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:
أَرْبَعٌ لاَ تَجُوزُ فِي الأَضَاحِي الْعَوْرَاءُ بَيِّنٌ عَوَرُهَا وَالْمَرِيضَةُ بَيِّنٌ مَرَضُهَا وَالْعَرْجَاءُ بَيِّنٌ ظَلْعُهَا وَالْكَسِيرُ الَّتِي لاَ تَنْقَى قَالَ قُلْتُ فَإِنِّي أَكْرَهُ أَنْ يَكُونَ فِي السِّنِّ نَقْصٌ قَالَ مَا كَرِهْتَ فَدَعْهُ وَلاَ تُحَرِّمْهُ عَلَى أَحَدٍ
“There are four animals not allowed for sacrifice (on ‘Eid): The one-eyed animal which has obviously lost the sight of one eye, a sick animal which is obviously sick, a lame animal which obviously limps and an animal with a broken leg with no marrow.” Al-Barā said: “I also detest an animal which has defective teeth.” So, the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Leave what you detest, but don’t prohibit it for others.” (Abu Dawūd, no. 2802, Al-Albani declared it to be saheeh)
Abu Dawūd and Ibn Mājah also reported from Ali bin Abi Tālib (radiyallāhu ‘anu) that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) commanded the Companions to examine the eyes and ears of the animals and he prohibited from sacrificing an animal that has lost most of its ear.
It is from the Sunnah that the one who offered the sacrifice to eat from the meat, to give some to his relatives, neighbours and to give some away as charity for the needy.
Withholding from cutting hair and clipping nails
It is not allowed for the one offering the sacrifice to cut any of his/her hair or to clip their nails. This is due to the saying of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam): “When the month of Dhul-Hijjah begins, and one of you intends to make a sacrifice (ud’hiyah), then let him not take anything from the hair of his body, or his nails until he has sacrificed.” (Muslim, no. 1977 from Umm Salamah) The time begins from sunset, the night before the first day of Dhul-Hijjah.
If a person forgetfully cuts their hair or nails, then they are not held accountable or sinful ― this also applies to the one who combs their hair, washes it, or scratches their scalp and hair falls out or if they pull away a broken nail―they are excused. However, if a person deliberately cuts any of the hair of his body, or clips his nails, then he has disobeyed the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) but it does not invalidate the sacrifice.
As for the one who is appointed to carry out the sacrifice on your behalf such as the butcher or another Muslim, then he is not prevented from cutting his hair or clipping his nails because he is not offering the sacrifice himself, rather he is only carrying out the sacrifice on someone else’s behalf.
(See Majmoo’ Fatāwā Ibn Bāz 18/38 ― with additional comments and proofs from Abu Khadeejah)
The Animals that are acceptable to be sacrificed and their ages
The sacrificial animals are not accepted unless they are cattle due to the saying of Allah:
وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنسَكًا لِّيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ ۗ فَإِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَلَهُ أَسْلِمُوا ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُخْبِتِينَ – 22:34
“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 (Allah), so you must submit to Him alone. And (O Prophet) give glad tidings to those who obey Allah with humility.” (Al-Hajj: 34)
So, the cattle are the following animals: Camels, cows, sheep and goats ― whether male or female, even though the male animal is better as a sacrifice.
As for the ages, then in all categories, the animal should be of Thaniyy age. A Thaniyy animal is one that is old enough to lose its front teeth permanently.
For a camel (الإبل): Five years old and entered into its sixth year.
For a cow (البقر): Two years old and entered into its third year.
Sheep (الضأن): One-year-old and entered into its second year.
Goat (المعز): One-year-old and entered into its second year.
Any animal less than these ages is not acceptable as a sacrifice except in the case when one finds it difficult to acquire a sheep of thaniyy age, then he is permitted to sacrifice a jadha’ (الجَذَعُ) which a sheep that has reached six months in age. This is due to the saying of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam):
لَا تَذْبَحُوا إِلَّا مُسِنَّةً، إِلَّا أَنْ يَعْسُرَ عَلَيْكُمْ فَتَذْبَحُوا جَذَعَةً مِنَ الضَّأْنِ
“Do not sacrifice except a mature animal unless that is difficult upon you―then you should sacrifice a jadha’ah (younger) sheep.” (Muslim, no. 1963) And in that case, the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:
إِنَّ الْجَذَعَ يُوفِي مِمَّا يُوفِي مِنْهُ الثَّنِيُّ من المعز
“Verily, a younger sheep is as acceptable as a mature goat.” (Abu Dāwūd, no. 2799, Ibn Mājah, no 3140 and graded saheeh by Al-Albāni)
Questions to Shaikh Ibn Al-‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullāh):
1. Sacrificing (Ud’hiyah) on behalf of the deceased
Singling out a sacrifice on behalf of a dead person is not from the Sunnah ― and it is not reported from the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) from what I know that he made individual sacrifices on behalf of any dead person and nor on behalf of his Companions during his lifetime, rather a person is to sacrifice an animal for himself and his family. And if he adds the deceased in that intention, then there is no harm.
2. Can a woman slaughter the animal for ud’hiyah?
Yes, it is allowed for a woman to perform the sacrifice or anyone other than her too. That is because the origin is that men and women share in the acts of worship unless there is a specific text [that prohibits it]. It is established in a hadeeth that Ka’b had a slave girl who used to graze his sheep on a small mountain called Sal’u, situated near the market. Once a sheep was attacked by a wolf [that then fled] so she broke a stone and slaughtered the sheep with it. When they mentioned that to the Prophet, he, permitted them to eat it. (Bukhāri, no. 5502)
3. The one who intends to sacrifice and then cuts his hair or nails before the sacrifice of the animal has taken place.
The ruling on such a person is that he has disobeyed the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) because the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “When the month of Dhul-Hijjah begins, and one of you intends to make a sacrifice (ud’hiyah), then let him not take anything from the hair of his body, or his nails until he has sacrificed.” So, a person who violates this command should repent to Allah, the Most High. As for his sacrifice, then it is not affected at all. And it is not as some of the common people think that if a person cuts his hair or his nails, then his sacrifice is invalidated ― this is not correct.
4. Is it allowed for a Muslim who has offered his sacrifice to give some of the meat to a non-Muslim and should the person who has offered the sacrifice eat from the slaughtered meat himself?
It is permitted for a person to give some of the meat (cooked or raw) to a non-Muslim as a charitable act on the condition that the non-Muslim is not fighting or killing the Muslims, and if he is fighting and killing them, then he should not be given anything.
As for a person (and his household) eating from his own sacrificed animal, then yes, he should―if he has prayed ‘Eid, and then sacrificed the animal and he eats from it before eating something else, then that is fine. In fact, the scholars say that is better. It is from the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his Companions that they would eat from the animals they sacrificed.
(See As’ilah wa Ajwibah Fi Salāt Al-‘Eidayn of Al-‘Allāmah Ibn ‘Uthaimīn)
Sending the ‘Eid Sacrifice (Qurbāni) abroad to the poor?
In this audio Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaimīn (rahimahullāh) states that it is not allowed to send money for Ud’hiyah (‘Eid sacrifice) overseas as a means of feeding meat to the poor. Then, he explains in detail why―and here are the main points he mentions:
- People send the price of their sacrifice (Ud’hiyah) overseas to poor countries and the meat is given to the poor. Some people encourage this and adverts are placed to convince people to send money overseas for the sacrifice. This behaviour in the most part is due to their ignorance of what the Sharī’ah intends and ignorance of the Sharī’ah ruling in this matter.
- The first and most important reason for the ud’hiyah is that the slaughter of the animal itself is an act of nearness to Allah ― it is from the most virtuous types of worship. So, the intent is the slaughter itself done by the one who is offering the sacrifice.
- The slaughter in the name of Allah is mentioned at the time of sacrifice which one cannot do when the money for the animal is sent overseas to be carried out by others.
- If the money is sent overseas, one cannot eat from the meat that is sacrificed as his ud’hiyah ― and eating from the sacrificed meat is something that is enjoined by Allah in His Book and also established as the Sunnah of the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), his family and his Companions. In fact, eating from the sacrifice is regarded as an obligation by a large number of scholars ― so, regardless of whether it is obligatory or recommended, if the sacrifice is done overseas, he cannot eat from his sacrifice (nor can his family, relatives, neighbours and the poor people of his town).
- By sending it overseas, one has removed a great distinguishing sign of this day of ‘Eid from his land.
- This great distinguishing act of Islam of Ud’hiyah is removed from our presence, and our offspring do not see it or feel its greatness ― when it is done in the location you live, the whole household feels this goodness and benefits from the sacrifice of ‘Eid.
- So, it is a clear and great error to send the cost of the sacrifice to another land instead of doing it where you live.
- The mistake they make is that they see the sacrifice solely as food for the hungry―and that is an error. If you are truthful in desiring to help the poor and to feed the hungry, then you should send money to them for food, drink and clothing. Who is preventing you from that?
- So, you should clarify to the people that what they do is wrong (by sending money for sacrifice overseas)―explain to them that they should perform the ud’hiyah in their homes (locally) and eat from the sacrifice (and feed others).
- So, the intent of the sacrifice is not to obtain meat for the poor―rather the most important intent is to attain nearness to Allah by the slaughter (dhabh) of cattle.
- If one truly wants to help the poor and feed them, send them your money so they can eat, alhamdulillāh.
وَالْبُدْنَ جَعَلْنَاهَا لَكُم مِّن شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ لَكُمْ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ ۖ فَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا صَوَافَّ ۖ فَإِذَا وَجَبَتْ جُنُوبُهَا فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْقَانِعَ وَالْمُعْتَرَّ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرْنَاهَا لَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ – 22:36
“And the cows, oxen, or camels driven to be offered as sacrifices ― We have made for you as among the symbols of Allah, therein you have much good. So mention the Name of Allah over them when they are drawn up in lines for sacrifice. Then, when they are down on their sides after slaughter, eat thereof, and feed the poor who does not ask, and the beggar who asks. Thus have We made them subject to you that you may be grateful.” (Al-Hajj: 36)
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