Another Islamic year is heading towards its end, bringing two of the great occasions celebrated by the Muslim community, which is Hajj followed by Eid Al Adha of 1437 A.H (2016 Gregorian calendar).
Sacrifice is one of the rites of Islam, which is to slaughter an animal on Eid-ul-Adha days. Moreover it is Sunnah of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his devoted Companions (RA). It is the Command of our Supreme Lord, He Almighty says:
“Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only).” (Al-Kauthar 108:2)
This Verse of the Quran clearly indicates the great Importance of sacrifice and it should be done solely and sincerely for seeking the Good Pleasure of Almighty Allah. Hence, it should be done only for Allah without ascribing any partner with Him while slaughtering animal. Allah (SWT) says:
“Say: ‘Verily, my Salah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of all that exists. He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.” (Al-Anam: 6:162, 163)
Background of Sacrifice:
The historical background of this rite is that the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) had a dream in which he was commanded by Lord to sacrifice his only and young beloved son, Ismail (AS). Dreams of the Prophets are like revelation from their Lord and they must fulfill or act accordingly what they saw, commanded and seen in their dreams, as a result, the devoted Prophet of Allah, Ibrahim (AS) told his son about his dream and what he has been commanded by Allah (SWT).
The devoted and fore-bearing son agreed and Ibrahim (AS) took him to a place that was shown to him in his dream and fulfilled his Lord’s command. But, according to the authentic tradition of the beloved Prophet (PBUH) this was accepted from Ibrahim (AS) and a ram was brought to him from heaven and was sacrificed instead of his beloved son.
Achieving sincerity and Taqwa (piety):
Sacrificing an animal is prescribed for this Ummah so that they will remember Allah (SWT) at the time of slaughter, for He is the Creator and Provider.
Nothing of the animal’s flesh or blood reaches the Almighty Allah, for Allah has no need of anything other than Himself. In the times of Jahiliyyah, when the polytheists offered sacrifices in the name of their gods, they used to put parts of the meat from the sacrificed animals on their idols, and spread its blood over those idols.
But Allah (SWT) clearly forbidden this and ordered us to do it for gaining His Pleasure and having Taqwa. Moreover, the sacrifice should be done for obtaining and hoping for reward from Allah (SWT), as He says:
“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is Taqwa from you that reaches Him.” (Al-Hajj 22:33)
The meaning of Sacrifice:
Dahaya is the plural of Dahiyyah, Adahi is the plural of Udhiyyah and Adha is the plural of Adhat. They all refer to the animal sacrificed on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, or after that during the days of Tashriq (the three days after Edi-ul-Adha; the 11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah) as part of the Eid celebration with the intention of seeking the pleasure and drawing nearer to Allah.
What and How to sacrifice?
During the celebration of Eid-ul-Adha, Muslims honor and remember the great sacrifice of beloved Prophet Ibrahim and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). It is allowed to slaughter an animal such as a sheep, goat, camel, cow and buffalo.
Allah (SWT) has given us supremacy over animal and permitted us to eat their meat. Their meats will be lawful for us only if we pronounce His Name while slaughtering them and taking their lives.
Anyone who has the intention to offer a sacrifice, he must refrain from trimming his hair and clipping his finger nails during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, until after they have performed the sacrifice. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“If anyone has an animal for slaughter (as sacrifice), then when the crescent of Dhul-Hajjah is sighted, then he is not to take (cut) from his hair nor his nails until he has sacrificed.” (Muslim 1977)
On the other hand, the one who does not have the ability to offer a sacrifice should, as far as possible, try to follow the ruling of those offering a sacrifice; for instance, he should not get his hair cut, etc., from the moment of the sighting of the crescent. And when those who sacrifice, go for their hair cut, he should also have his hair cut, along with them. Thereupon, he would also get the recompense of the sacrifice.
During the days of Eid-ul-Adha it is compulsory on every capable person to sacrifice at least a goat, or a ram, or a cow or a part of a camel. A member of family should sacrifice the animal with his own hand, which is best in this case. Nevertheless, authorizing someone else for slaughtering is also allowed. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Whoever can afford it (the sacrifice animal) but does not offer a sacrifice, let him not come near our prayer place.” (Ibn Majah 3123)
This highlights that whoever does not offer a sacrifice in spite of being capable of doing so, does not have the right to participate in the joys of the Muslims. It does not mean that he is not required to perform the Eid prayer, but it is to warn him to avoid abandoning the sacrifice.
Sacrificing more than one animal:
Sacrificing more than one animal is allowed, rather it is preferable. But, sacrificing many animals or precious ones out of boasting or competition destroys the basic purpose of sacrifice and ultimately, the reward gets lost. Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari said:
“A man would sacrifice a sheep on behalf of himself and the members of his household, and they would eat some of it and give some to others. Then people started to compete and it became as you see (nowadays).” (Ibn Majah 3147)
What is allowed regarding sacrificial animal?
The sacrificial animal, in order to be a good offering, must be able-bodied and good looking. It was reported from Abu Saeed who said:
“The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to sacrifice a select, horned, ram, black around the eyes, the mouth and the feet.” (At-Tirmidhi 1496)
Moreover, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Do not slaughter but a Musinnah, unless it is difficult for you, in which case you can slaughter a Jadhah lamb.” (Muslim 1963)
Musinnah, in reference to cows, is the one that has lived for more than two years, entering into its third, in the case of sheep, it is the one that has completed one year, and entered into its second. Jadhah is the animal that does not have any teeth growing in place of earlier teeth. For goats it refers to one that has lived for one year. For sheep it is between six months and one year and there are different views about that from the scholars.
What is disliked for sacrifice?
It was narrated that Ali (RA) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) forbade sacrificing the Muqabalah, the Mudabarah, the Sharqa, the Kharqa, and the Jada.” (Abu Dawud 2804)
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“There are four that will not be accepted as sacrifices: The one-eyed animal that is obviously blind in one eye; the sick animal that is obviously sick, the lame animal with an obvious limp; and the animal that is so emaciated that it is as if there is no marrow in its bone.” (Ibn Majah 3144)
Four defects have been mentioned in this Hadith making any animal that has any of these defects unlawful for sacrifice. All the people of knowledge agree on this point.
Actually the sacrifice is a demonstration of love and thanks to Allah from His slave, that He made the animal under his control, therefore, a healthy and admirable animal should be selected for sacrifice. But, a slight limp which is not apparent without investigating or if it is felt when the animal runs, then it is not a defect for a sacrifice. Moreover, an insignificant natural defect that cannot be noticed without keen inspection does not prevent from sacrifice.
The blade used must be sufficiently sharp. The camel is slaughtered in a particular way known as Nahr, which means using a spear to cut in the hollow of its throat near the breastbone. The camel is slaughtered while it is in the standing position, with its left leg fettered in such a way as to prevent it from moving.