Part V: Pilgrimage (Al-Hajj)

Chapter 39

Eid-ul-Azha And Sacrifice


         We have already reproduced a Hadith reported by Anas that when the Prophet migrated to Madinah and was told that the people of Madinah had fixed two days in a year for sport and merry making, he said to them: Allah has appointed two better days than these for you to celebrate in a year and they are: Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha (Abu Daud). Since then, the Muslims all over the world celebrate these two Eids every year. About Eid-ul-Fitr which is celebrated on the first day of Shawal after the month of Ramadhan, we have already written in chapter 29. About Eid-ul-Azha, we would write here.

         Eid-ul-Azha is celebrated on 10th day of Zil-Hajjah. Preparations for this Eid start many days before its actual date. Since animal sacrifice has to be made by the well-to-do Muslims, animals like camels, cows, goats and sheep are purchased a few days before. They are sacrificed on 10 or on 11th to 12th of Zil-Hajjah. The people also purchase provisions, clothes, shoes, perfumes for themselves, for their children and for their servants. Some rich people purchase eatables, clothes, etc. for the poor and the needy also, so that they can also join in the Eid celebrations. After sun rise people offer Eid prayers, then they come home and slaughter animals of sacrifice, eat their meat themselves and distribute it among the relatives and the poor and the needy persons. They visit each other and exchange gifts and articles of food. They eat and drink and have fun and sport within the limits fixed by Islam.


Eid Prayer

         Prayer after sunrise called Eid-ul-Azha prayer is one of the most important things which the Muslims are obliged to perform on the day of this Eid. About this prayer as well as Prayer of Eid-ul-Fitr we have already written in detail in chapter No. 16 of this book. Please refer to that.

Animal Sacrifice

         The followers of Islam offer sacrifice every year during the days from 10th to 12th of Zil-Hijjah, by slaughtering animals such as camels, cattle, goats and sheep. Those who have gone to Makkah for pilgrimage offer the sacrifice at Mina. The animal sacrifice is made in the memory of the offer of the great sacrifice by Prophet Abraham of his son Prophet Ismail. Though the sacrifice of the son by the father actually did not take place but the way the father and the son surrendered to the will of God was very pleasing to the Almighty Who ransomed Ismail with the tremendous sacrifice (of a ram which Abraham subsequently found near Ismail and slaughtered it).

         However, it would be most appropriate if we present here some of the verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) before discussing the rules and regulations of sacrifice.

Verses of the Qur’an

1)            Perform Hajj and Umrah for Allah. And if you are prevented (to reach Makkah) then offer sacrifice (where you have been prevented) such as you can afford and shave not your heads until the sacrifice has reached its destination….. And if you are in peace and any one of you makes benefit of performing Umrah with Hajj he must offer sacrifice such as he can…….. (2:196).

2)            Say: Surely my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the Universe …… (6:162)

3)            And for every nation We have prescribed a way for sacrifice so that they may mention the name of Allah over the cattle that He has given them for food….. (22:34).

4)            …. So mention the name of Allah over them (i.e. the camels) when they are drawn up in lines, then when they fall down on their sides eat thereof and feed the contented (who does not beg) and the beggar…….. (22:36).

5)            Their meat and their blood does not reach Allah, but it is the piety from you which reaches Him…… (22:37)

6)            So pray to your Lord and offer sacrifice (108:2)

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

1)            Jundab-b-Abdullah reported: The Prophet prayed on the day of sacrifice and then he delivered sermon and then sacrificed. He said: Whoever sacrifices before he prays, let him sacrifice another in its place; and whoever has not sacrificed, let him sacrifice in the name of Allah.  – (Bukhari, Muslim)

2)            Ibn Omar reported that the Prophet stayed at Madinah for ten years and used to make sacrifice.  – (Tirmizi)

3)            Zaid-b-Arqam reported that the companions of the Prophet asked: O Messenger of Allah! What is this sacrifice? He said: The way of your fore-father Abraham (P.H.). They said: What is for us therein, O Messenger of Allah? He said: There is one reward for every hair. They asked: For wool, O Messenger of Allah? He said: There is one reward for every strand of wool.  – (Ahmad, Ibn Majah)

4)            Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah made sacrifice with his own hand of two rams having whiteness with black marking. He took the name of Allah and recited Takbir. He said: I saw him putting his one foot upon their buttocks and saying; In the name of Allah, and Allah is Greatest.  – (Bukhari, Muslim)

5)            Ibn Omar reported that the Apostle of Allah used to slaughter and sacrifice at the praying place.  – (Bukhari)

6)            Jaber reported that the Messenger of Allah said: A cow serves for seven and one she-camel for seven.  – (Muslim, Abu Daud)

7)            Omme Salamah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: When the first ten days come and some of you wishes to make offering by sacrifice, let him not touch anything out of its hairs and skins. And in a narration: He must not take hairs, nor nails. And in a narration: Whoso sees the new moon of Zul-Haj and wishes to make sacrifice, let him neither take off his hairs, nor his nails.  – (Muslim)

8)            Hanash reported: I saw Ali sacrificing two rams. I asked him: What is this? He said: Verily the Messenger of Allah left instruction to me to sacrifice on his behalf, and so I am sacrificing on his behalf.  – (Tirmizi, Abu Daud)

9)            Ali reported: The Apostle of Allah ordered us to examine the eye and ear (of the sacrificial animal) and not to sacrifice an animal whose ear has been cut off in front portion or in back portion, or whose ear has been silted long or round.  – (Tirmizi, Abu Daud, Nisai, Ibn Majah)

10)         Ali reported that the Apostle of Allah prohibited to sacrifice an animal with horn and ear torn off. – (Ibn Majah)

11)         Bara’a-b-Ajeb reported that the Apostle of Allah was asked: What should be given up from the sacrificial animal? He pointed out with his hand and said: Four (animals): The lame animal whose lameness is open, the blind animal whose blindness is open, the diseased animal whose disease is open, and the lean animal which has no marrow. – (Malik, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Daud, Nisai, Ibn Majah)

12)         Mujashe from Banu Solaim reported that the Apostle of Allah used to say: Verily a lamb of more than six months is sufficient for what a year old goat is sufficient. – (Abu Daud, Nisai, Ibn Majah)

Rules and Regulations

1)            To offer sacrifice of an animal is not only essential for those who perform Hajj but it is also essential for all the well-to-do Muslims wherever they live.

2)            Every adult and sane Muslim man and woman is required to offer sacrifice provided he or she has the financial capacity to afford it. About the financial capacity the views differ. According to some jurists it means level of wealth at which one can afford Hajj expenses; according to some others it means level of wealth which makes a person liable to pay Zakat or Sadaqah al-Fitr.

3)            According to some jurists sacrifice is Wajib (imperative), but according to majority of them, sacrifice is Sunnat and not Wajib. So a person who can afford sacrifice but does not do it is highly condemnable.

4)            Sacrifice is offered on 10th of Zil-Hajjah or on 11th or on 12th.However, according to Hadhrat Ali, it can be offered on 13th also.

5)            The pilgrims offer sacrifice at Mina after Rami of Jamrah al-Aqbah, and the other Muslims offer it in their homes after performing Eid Prayer.

6)            Sacrifice is to be offered every year and not once in life like Hajj.

7)            Animals for sacrifice are: Camel, cow, sheep and goat whether male or female. Cow includes male and female buffalo while sheep includes ram whether male or female.

8)            A goat or sheep can be offered on behalf of one person only, whereas a cow or camel can be offered by seven persons provided share of each is one-seventh and each has intention of offering sacrifice.

9)            A camel should be of at least five years, a cow should be of two years, a goat should be of one year and a sheep or ram should be of more than six months.

10)         A fat, healthy and good looking animal should be offered for sacrifice, and not a lean and thin one or just a skelton.

11)         An animal which is blind of one or both eyes is not fit for sacrifice. An animal having horns broken off from the root is not fit. A lame animal or an animal which walks on three legs is not fit. An animal whose ears or tail is cut off by more than one-third of its normal size is not fit. An animal having all or most of its teeth broken is not fit.

12)         An animal having no horns or having no ears from birth is, however, fit. An animal having most of its teeth intact or an animal having a little of its horns broken off is also fit.

13)         A castrated he goat or ram is fit for sacrifice.

14)         It is preferable for a person to slaughter his animal himself. If he cannot, he can entrust any other person to slaughter it, but he should stand nearby when it is being slaughtered.

15)         Shariah has not prescribed how to divide the meat of sacrificed animals. The Qur’an in its verses 28 and 29 of Surah 22 says that you may eat the meat yourselves and also give it to the poor and the needy who may or may not beg. So you can eat yourselves, you can give it to your relatives and friends or you can give it to the poor and the needy persons in whatever quantity you consider proper.

16)         The skin or the meat of the sacrificed animal should not be given to the butcher or any other person rendering services in connection with the sacrifice in lieu of their wages. Such persons should be paid their wages properly, and if you consider them deserving you may give them skin or meat as charity.

17)         The skin of the animal you can use yourself or you should give it in charity to some needy person or to a charitable institution.

18)         To distribute meat among the affecteres of flood, earthquake, storm, famine, cyclone or any epidemic is preferable.

19)         In critical situations, meat should not be kept for more than three day. However, in case of good circumstances, it may be preserved for as much time as possible for personal use.

20)         It is permitted to deposit money with some reliable person or an institution who may purchase animal on your behalf and sacrifice it.

21)         It is essential to make intention (niyyah) for offering sacrifice like other acts of Ibadah (worship). Intention may be made in the heart.

22)         You can offer sacrifice on behalf of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), your parents, your wife or children if you can afford to do so.

23)         Many of the Ulema and Jurists hold that the meat of the sacrificed animals can be given to the non-Muslim poor only when no Muslim needy is available or the need of Muslim poor has been satisfied.

24)         Method of slaughtering: Make the animal lie on the ground facing Qiblah, sharpen the knife and slaughter it saying:  (Bismillah Allahu Akbar) or

Bismillah wa Allahu Akbar, Allahuma minka wa laka Allahumma taqabbal mini.

I slaughter it in the name of Allah.  O Allah! It is from you and it is for you. O Allah! Accept it from me.

25)         This view of some people is not correct that sacrifice made by the head of the family is sufficient for all the members of the family. Each member of the family who is adult and sane and who has means is required to offer sacrifice as sunnat of the Prophet.

This view of some people is also not reliable that instead of making sacrifice, one must give the price of sacrificial animal to a needy person or to an affectee of flood, earthquake, cyclone, epidemic, war, etc. Such people must be helped with alms or Zakat funds but not at the cost of the sunnat of sacrifice.


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