The word Adha is one of the plurals of Udhiyah (sacrifice) which is the sheep slaughtered at ضُحَى (forenoon) time on the Eid day. But nevertheless, a sheep slaughtered at any time of the four Eid days is called udhiyah. Udhiyah refers to a legally edible animal (camel, cow, sheep, or goat) slaughtered and sacrificed on the Day of Sacrifice or the Days of Tashriq for the sake of attaining closeness and Pleasure of Allah. Eid-ul Adha is also called Yawm an-Nahr. The word An-Nahr is the name of the method of slaughtering camels.
Aisha narrated رضي الله عنها that the Prophet ﷺ said, "There is no human deed dearer to Allah on the day of sacrifice than the ritual shedding of the blood of sacrificial animals. The animal will come on the Day of Judgment with its horns, hair and hooves intact. Its blood reaches Allah the Almighty before it even reaches the ground. Therefore, make [the sacrifice] in good will" [Tirmidhi].
What are the Days of Tashriq?
وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَعْدُودَاتٍ
"And remember Allah during the appointed days." [Surah Al-Baqarah, 203]
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The days of Tashriq (the three days following Eid al-Adha, i.e. 11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhul Hijjah) are days of eating, drinking and remembering (dhikr) of Allah, the Most Great and Glorious." [Muslim].
Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali رحمه الله said: ‘The days of Tashriq (11, 12, 13 Dhul-Hijjah) combine blessings for the believers’ bodies and their hearts:
- Their bodies through eating and drinking; and
- Their hearts through the remembrance of Allah and showing gratitude to Him.’
Regarding sacrifice, Allah tells us in the Quran:
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِين
Say, "Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds [Surah al-An'am, 162]
History of Udhiyah/Qurban
Qurban, or Udhiyah, is a term in the Arabic language that means sacriﬁce. It is the act of sacriﬁce by Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام when he was being tested by Allah.
There are 2 stages in this origin story that we should know of:
Allah tells us in the Quran, the story of the two sons of Prophet Adam عليه السلام, Habil and Qabil. To resolve a difference between them, Prophet Adam had asked them both to make a sacrifice; whoever’s sacrifice was accepted would be the clear winner.
Since Habil was a shepherd, he offered a ram to be sacrificed. Qabil tilled the land, so he offered some produce grown from the land. The difference between the two was that Habil selected and offered the best animal, one which was healthy and well-fed, whereas Qabil wasn’t willing to offer the best of his produce. Allah accepted Habil’s sacrifice, and rejected Qabil’s sacrifice. Habil explained to his brother that Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa. Qabil had clearly not made his sacrifice with sincerity, and Allah was aware of that. However, Qabil was jealous of the way Habil had been favoured over him and he killed his brother.
Udhiyah or Qurban is from the legacy and sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام. When Prophet Ibrahim’s son, Ismail عليه السلام was old enough to walk around with his father and work with him, it was revealed in a dream to Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام that he must sacrifice his beloved son. At ﬁrst, he thought that it was just a mere dream, trickery of the devil, so he disregarded the dream. However, the dream appears to be recurring. Then he realised that it is actually the command of Allah.
This was an immense test from Allah. One can only imagine how difficult this must be for him as a parent. Add to the fact that Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام had been childless for years. Now, he was being commanded to slaughter him with his own hands, the only child.
"O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I must sacriﬁce you, so see what you think." Ismail عليه السلام then replied, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will ﬁnd me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast." [Surah As-Saffat, 102].
Despite loving his son, Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام complied with what Allah ordered him to do. At the same time, we see Prophet Ismail عليه السلام being a pious and obedient son. Prophet Ismail عليه السلام did not question this command either, just as his mother Hajar had not questioned it when Allah had commanded Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام to leave her and her baby son in the deserts of Makkah all those years ago. Instead he told his father to carry out the sacriﬁce without any hesitance. What a family this is SubhanAllah!
It is narrated, Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام stoned Shaitan three times as he tried to put doubts into the hearts of Prophet Ibrahim. In other narrations, Shaitan appeared separately to Ibrahim, Hajar and Ismail. Each time, Shaitan tried to put doubts in his mind, Prophet Ibrahim stoned him. [Tabari] It is this stoning that is carried out till date as a part of Hajj.
As Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام prepared a knife to sacrifice his son and a shroud to bury him in, he couldn’t face Ismail عليه السلام, so he turned his son’s face away. According to Imam Ibn Kathir’s رحمه الله tafseer, they both remembered Allah and testified their faith in Him – Ibrahim عليه السلام because he was about to make a sacrifice, and Ismail عليه السلام because he was about to die. Then Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام prepared to sacrifice his son – and when the knife was at Ismail’s عليه السلام neck, he heard a voice calling to him to stop.
Allah had replaced Ismail عليه السلام with a sheep in recognition to Prophet Ibrahim’s عليه السلام commitment and utmost sincerity of faith. Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام sacrificed a white, horned ram instead of Ismail and, like the stoning of the pillars, we remember this sacrifice every year at Hajj. It represents the devotion of Prophet Ibrahim, who was ready to sacrifice his beloved son for Allah’s sake, and the reward and blessing they received from Allah as a result of their submission.
It is for this reason, that our beloved The Messenger of Allah ﷺ even said, ‘I am the son of two sacrificed people’ (Hakim), referring to the fact that both his father Abdullah and his ancestor Ismail were almost sacrificed for Allah’s sake, emphasising his connection with Prophet Ismail عليه السلام.
Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام earned the title of Khaleel (Close Friend) of Allah. What a family SubhanAllah! It is from this family that we would get our own beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
Allah refers to the ram He sent down to Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام as “a great sacrifice”. Allah even used the word ’adheem' to describe the sacrifice. Abdullah Ibn Abbas said it was, ‘A ram which had grazed in Paradise for forty years’. [Tabari] In Tafseer al-Jalalayn, he reports that the ram Allah sent down to Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام was the same ram that Habil had sacrificed – meaning Allah had accepted his sacrifice and taken that ram to heaven, and then sent it back down to Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام to be sacrificed.
Imam Ahmad رحمه الله recorded that Safiyyah bint Shaybah said, "A woman from Bani Sulaym, who was the midwife of most of the people in our household, told me that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ sent for Uthman bin Talhah رضي الله عنه." On one occasion she said, "I asked Uthman, Why did the Prophet ﷺ call you?' He said, 'The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to me, I saw the horns of the ram when I entered the House (the Kabah), and I forgot to tell you to cover them up; cover them up, for there should not be anything in the House which could distract the worshipper.)"' Sufyan said, "The horns of the ram remained hanging in the House until it was burned, and they were burned too."
This shows us that the Quraysh had inherited the horns of the ram that Ibrahim sacrificed, and they had been passed down from generation to generation, until the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was sent. The ram horns remained there until the Kabah was damaged by fire in the Siege of Makkah in 683; the horns were burned and lost in this battle.
Today, Qurban is still being practised by the Muslim community around the world as an act of remembrance and honouring the sacriﬁce, as the deed signiﬁes obedience and submission to Allah.
Is Qurban/Udhiyah An Obligation?
The Udhiyah is a Sunnah and it is disliked that someone who is able to afford it, does not do so. It is a strongly recommended sunnah. If one has real financial difficulty then there is a scope of exemption for them without making it too tough on them. Narrated Ibn Umar رضي الله عنه: "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) stayed in Al-Madinah for ten years performing the Udhiyah. [Tirmidhi]
The Hanafi madhab states that any adult, sane Muslim who possesses the nisab value must offer a sacrifice. So if one is eligible to pay Zakat, they need to offer a Qurbani. This was also one opinion that was narrated from Imam Ahmad رحمه الله and Imam Malik رحمه الله as well as the opinion of Imams al-Layth, al-Thawri, al-Awzai and a few others.
Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Whoever can afford it, but does not offer a sacrifice, let him not come near our prayer place.” [Ibn Majah] Majority of the scholars like Imams al-Tirmidhi, at-Tahawi, Ibn Hajr etc say that this was in reality the words of Abu Hurairah and not the Prophet ﷺ himself.
The majority of the scholars opine that it is not an obligation, but rather it is a highly stressed upon Sunnah. It is stipulated that the one who offers it should be independent of means, in that the price of the udhiyah is surplus to his needs and the needs of those on whom he spends.
Imam Ibn Qudamah رحمه الله said, "The majority of scholars are of the view that udhiyah is a confirmed sunnah and not an obligation.That was narrated from Abu Bakr, Umar, Bilal and Abu Mas‘ud al-Badri. It was also the view of Suwayd ibn Ghafalah, Saeed ibn al-Musayyab, ‘Alqamah, al-Aswad, Ata’, ash-Shafi‘i, Ishaq, Abu Thawr, and Ibn al-Mundhir. ....There is also the report narrated by Imam Daraqutni, with his chain from Ibn Abbas, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “There are three things that are obligatory for me, but for you they are optional.” According to another report, they are: “Witr, the sacrifice (udhiyah) and the two (Sunnah) rakahs of Fajr.”
And the Prophet ﷺ said:” Whoever wants to offer the udhiyah, when the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah begin, let him not remove anything of his hair or skin.” Narrated by Muslim. Offering the udhiyah is connected to wanting to do it, but that which is obligatory cannot be connected to wanting to do it. [al-Mughni (11/95)].
On the same, Imam Shafi‘i رحمه الله said: This indicates that the udhiyah is not obligatory, because the Prophet ﷺ said: “and (he) wants”, so he connected it to his wanting to do it. If it were obligatory, he would have said: let him not remove anything from his hair until he offers the udhiyah. [al-Majmu‘].
Imam al-Bayhaqi رحمه الله narrated from Abu Sareehah who said: I lived during the time of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar; they were neighbours of mine, and they did not offer the udhiyah. [Ma‘rifat as-Sunan wa’l-Athar]
The principle is that actions are not obligatory unless proven otherwise: so long as there is no sound proof of it being obligatory, then the basic principle is that it is not obligatory.
In addition, udhiyah is prescribed for all members of a family, including the children. The Prophet ﷺ said: “The people of each household should offer an udhiyah every year.” [Ahmad] Therefore, it is the responsibility of parents to do so on behalf of their children.
Narrated Aishah رضي الله عنها: That the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "A human does no action from the actions on the day of Nahr more beloved to Allah then spilling blood (of sacrificial animals). On the Day of Judgement, it will appear with its horns, and hair, and hooves, and indeed the blood will be accepted by Allah from where it is received before it even falls upon earth, so let your heart delight in it." [Tirmidhi]
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 the reward for it whoever he wishes, living or dead. The Sunnah is for a person to include the members of his household, living and dead, in his sacrifice. Who is part of his family? It could be the immediate family or anyone the he financially supports. The person does not have to make a separate sacrifice on behalf of every individual family member or the deceased. To slaughter on behalf of the dead is permissible, but it cannot be termed as a Sunnah. One sacrificial animal suffices for the entire family.
Some of the Hanabilah even said, "Offering a sacrifice on behalf of a deceased person is better than offering it on behalf of a living one, because of the deceased's inability and his need for the reward from Allah." [Matalib 'Uli an-Nuha] Imam An-Nawawi رحمه الله said, "As regards offering a sacrifice on behalf of the deceased, Abu Hassan Al-Ebbadi considered it permissible because it is a kind of charity and charity on behalf of the deceased is valid and avails him." [Al-Majmu']
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari رضي الله عنه reported: “At the time of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, 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.” [Tirmidhi]
Imam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله said, "Whoever claims that the deceased do not benefit from the good actions of others has indeed breached the Ijmah." He was asked regarding the validity of offering sacrifice for the deceased. He responded by saying that it is allowed to sacrifice on his behalf as it is valid to perform hajj on his (deceased) behalf.
Imam Ibn Abidin رحمه الله said: “Whoever performs the worship of sacrifice on behalf of a deceased, perform it the same way as if he would perform the sacrifice for himself in terms of the distribution and taking (for eating) of the meat of the sacrifice. The rewards are for the deceased while the ownership is to the person performing the sacrifice.” [Hasjiah Ibn Abidin]
Narrated Ali ibn Abu Talib رضي الله عنه: Hanash said: I saw Ali sacrificing two rams; so I asked him: What is this? He replied. The Apostle of Allah ﷺ enjoined upon me to sacrifice on his behalf, so that is what I am doing [Abu Dawud]. This hadith has been graded weak by most scholars. But despite that, many scholars like Imams Abu Dawud, ad-Dahabi, Hakim, and in recent times Sheikh Ahmad Shakir etc rule that it is strong enough to be acted upon.
The Prophet ﷺ used to make an extra sacrifice on behalf of the poor who could not offer sacrifice. Imam Ahmad رحمه الله records, “The Prophet ﷺ sacrificed for the one who could not sacrifice from his ummah, one who bore witness to the Oneness of Allah and (his) Prophethood”. [Ahmad] This was a Sunnah his sahabah continued. Anas bin Malik رضي الله عنه said, ‘The Prophet ﷺ used to sacrifice two rams, and I also sacrifice two rams’. [Bukhari] This is a Sunnah that needs to be revived in our times.
How can a person divide the animals:
- 1 sheep or goat = 1 person and their family
- 1 cow or camel = 7 people and their respective families (1 qurban = 1/7th of a share of the cow or camel)
One sheep is better that a single share in a cow or a camel.
Jabir ibn Abdullah رضي الله عنه reported: In the year of Hudaibiyah (6 AH ), we, along with Allah's Messenger ﷺ sacrificed a camel for seven persons and a cow for seven persons. [Muslim]
The Person Intending Udhiyah/Qurban
The person intending to sacrifice an animal makes the intention in the heart and not the tongue. Imam Ibn Qudamah رحمه الله said: “The meaning of intention is to resolve to do something, i.e. to have the resolution in the heart to do something, and to be determined to do it without hesitation.” This was explained when Imam As-Suyuti رحمه الله said: “It is Bid‘ah to articulate the Niyyah for Salat, it is not of the Prophet’s ﷺ Sunnah nor was it the way of his Sahaba. They used to recite Takbir only (at the beginning of Salat).” According to Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taimiyyah رحمه الله, the scholars agree that the "place of the niyyah" is the heart and not the tongue. That is because it has never been reported that Prophet ﷺ or his companions would say, 'I intend to fast', 'I intend to pray' or other than that. Therefore, uttering it (i.e. the intention) is an innovation and newly invented affair.
Some scholars say that it is preferred or recommended (mustahab) to actually silently pronounce the intention before beginning a particular deed. They agree that the heart is the place of the intention but they argue that silently stating the intention makes the person more aware of his own intention. To say that something is mustahab is a Shara’ee judgment. One may not call an act mustahab without some proof from the Quran and sunnah. Since there is no proof for silently stating the intention, it cannot be concluded that it is mustahab. Add to this, vocalising the intention could also be a form of showing off or could lead to showing off.
The one who intends to sacrifice cannot remove his hair, skin, or nails in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah till he has performed the sacrifice.
- The position of the Hanabilah and Imam Ishaq bin Rahwayh رحمه الله is that doing so is Haram.
- As per al-Qadhi Abu Ya’la رحمه الله and Imam Majd Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله it is not Haram but Makruh to do so. These are two of the giants and of the pillars of the Hanbali madhab. This is also the position of the vast majority of the scholars including those of the Shafi'i madhab as well. They consider refraining to be mustahab and this was attributed to Saeed ibn al-Musayyib رحمه الله.
- Some of the scholars even consider it to be Mubah like some of the scholars of the Hanafi and Maliki madhab. They say it is not Sunnah and it is not Makruh for one to cut his hair and clip his nails since he is not in the status of ihram like those in the Hajj. He who is not forbidden to touch perfume and wear clothing is not forbidden to shave his hair like those in the status of ihram.
It is safe to give fatwa based on the position of al-Qadhi Abu Ya’la رحمه الله when living in a mixed society. If someone made an intention to offer a sacrifice only once Dhul Hijjah had already started and they cut their nail, hair etc - they need to refrain now. The ruling applies on the person from the moment they made the intention to offer a sacrifice in this case.
The wisdom behind the prohibition on removing hair and nails is because the one who is going to offer a sacrifice is like the one who is in ihram for Hajj and Umrah with regard to some rituals, which is the offering of a sacrifice in order to draw closer to Allah. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “When you see the new moon of Dhul Hijjah, and one of you desires that he offer a sacrifice, then let him keep (i.e. not cut) his hair and nails.” [Muslim]
This prohibition applies to the one who is offering the sacrifice and does not extend to his wife, children, or rest of the family unless one of them is offering a sacrifice on his or her own behalf. A common misconception is that this applies to the one carrying out the actual slaughter. In reality, the ruling applies to the one who intended the sacrifice, whether he or she delegates someone else to do the actual slaughter or not does not matter. The Prophet ﷺ used to sacrifice on behalf of the family of Muhammad, and it was not reported that he forbade them to remove anything of their hair or nails.
But if a person wants, and it is not a burden upon the family, then they also can abstain from cutting the hair and the nails. This has been reported to be the practice of Saeed ibn al-Musayyib رحمه الله (son-in-law of Abu Hurairah) and his family.
If a person does cut his hair or nails etc then the person would be sinning and it would reduce from their overall portion of rewards, but the sacrifice is still considered to be valid.
How To Select The Animals?
The best of sacrifices as per many scholars is a camel, then a cow, and then a sheep. This is when we are talking about slaughtering a whole camel, cow, or sheep. If only a seventh of a camel is being slaughtered, then slaughtering one whole sheep is better. Why? This is a lesson derived from the hadith where Prophet described the rewards of a person coming for Friday prayers.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "When it is a Friday, the angels stand at the gate of the mosque and keep on writing the names of the persons coming to the mosque in succession according to their arrivals. The example of the one who enters the mosque in the earliest hour is that of one offering a camel (in sacrifice). The one coming next is like one offering a cow and then a ram and then a chicken and then an egg respectively. When the Imam comes out (for prayer) they (angels) fold their papers and listen to the Khutba." [Bukhari] - It goes without being said but this does not mean that a person can now offer chickens and eggs as sacrifice (lol).
Another opinion based on the text says that the best sacrifice is a goat as that is what the Prophet (ﷺ) slaughtered. Abu Bakra رضي الله عنه reported that when it was that day (the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah) he mounted his camel and a person caught its nose-string, whereupon he said:
Do you know which day is this? They said: Allah and His Messenger know best. (The Prophet ﷺ until we thought that he would give that another name. He said: Is it not the day of Nahr (Sacrifice) (10th of Dhul- Hijjah)? We said: Allah's Messenger, yes. He (again) said: Which month is it? We said: Allah and His Messenger knows best. He said: Is it not Dhul-Hijjah? We said: Allah's Messenger, yes. He said: Which city is this? We said: Allah and His Messenger know best. He (the narrator) said (that the Prophet kept silent until we thought that he would give it another name besides its (original) name. He said: Is it not Balda (the city of Makkah)? We said: Yes, Allah's Messenger. He (then) said: Verily your blood (lives) and your property and your honour are as sacred unto you as sacred is this day of yours, in this month of yours, in this city of yours. Let him who is present convey it to one who is absent. He then turned his attention towards two multicoloured (black and white) rams and slaughtered them, and two goats, and distributed them amongst us. [Muslim]
It doesn’t suffice to sacrifice any animal for an obligatory hadi or udhiyyah sacrifice except that it has met the requirement of the minimum age. Jabir رضي الله عنه reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: "Sacrifice only a grown-up animal (مُسِنَّة), unless it is difficult for you, in which case sacrifice a ram (of even less than a year, but more than six months' age). [Muslim] The animal is considered to be grown when the front two teeth have fully developed.
It should be a six month old male sheep, or a “ثَنِيٌّ” of a non male sheep. The ” ثَنِيٌّ” of a goat is one that has completed one full year. The thani of a camel is that one has completed five years of age and the thani of a cow is one that has completed two years of age
The age of the animal should meet a minimum of:
- Six months in age for sheep that has lost the front teeth. It is known as Ma'z (معز). Its body is usually covered with wool and not hair.
- One year in age for sheep and goats. It is known as Daan (ضأن). Its body is usually covered with hair and and the male has long hair on the chin.
- Two years in age for cows and buffalo.
- Five years in age for camels.
It is best to slaughter a goat or a sheep that has crossed one year in age to be safe from the difference of opinion. One sheep suffices one person. When we say one person, we include his household who are all those financially dependent on him under this sacrifice. A full camel or a full cow suffice seven people or seven households. Add to this, there is no impermissibility with regards to the sacrifice of a buffalo as is the misconception is certain areas. It takes the same ruling as that of a cow.
Narrated Ubayd ibn Firuz: I asked al-Bara' ibn Azib: What should be avoided in sacrificial animals? He said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) stood among us, and my fingers are smaller than his fingers, and my fingertips are smaller than his fingertips. He said (pointing with his fingers): Four (types of animals) should be avoided in sacrifice: A 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. I also detest an animal that has defective teeth. He said: Leave what you detest, but do not make it illegal for anyone. Imam Abu Dawud said: (By a lean animal mean) and animal which has no marrow.
[Sunan Abi Dawud]
An animal that has deficiencies, or is very lean (without much meat), or is clearly blind does not suffice the requirements. Similarly an animal that is missing its front teeth, most of an ear, or its horn, or one that has an illness that affects the meat is not eligible to be an animal of sacrifice. In another narration we have that an animal whose ear is completely chopped off, or a horn is totally cut off, or one of the eyes is gouged out, or it is so weak that it cannot walk with the other animals, then all such animals are rejected. Why? A sacrifice for Allah has to be from the best and not from the worst. Remember the story of Habil and Qabil. This is against Adab towards Allah and is from the actions of the nations that were destroyed. Small injuries or small damage to the ear etc is acceptable.
An animal that was naturally born with some defects like no tail, no horn, or those that are castrated (provided the penis is not damaged) are permitted as animals of sacrifice. If the animal becomes defective without any negligence on the part of the owner then it will suffice as an animal of sacrifice.
- If the animal is pregnant, then its offspring are also to be slaughtered. The age factor of the animal is not factored here since it wasn't even born technically.
- The slaughter of Mukhannath (hermaphrodite animals) is permissible.
What Is The Time of Slaughter?
The time of slaughtering is after the Prayer of Eid - not from when the time for the prayer and khutbah starts - until the second day of Tashriq. In a place where there isn’t Eid salah or because of some excuse the person cannot pray, then the time for slaughtering begins after the amount of time required to pray the Eid prayer is complete.
Al-Bara' b. 'Azib رضي الله عنه reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) having said:The first (act) with which we started our day (the day of Eid-ul Adha) was that we offered prayer. We then returned and sacrificed the animals and he who did that in fact adhered to our Sunnah (practice). And he who slaughtered the (animal on that day before the Eid prayer), for him (the slaughtering of animal was directed to the acquiring of) meat for his family, and there is nothing of the sort of sacrifice in it. It was Abu Burda b. Niyar who had slaughtered (the animal before the Eid prayer). He said: I have a small lamb, of less than one year, but better than that of more than a year. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) qaid: Sacrifice it, but it will not suffice (as a sacrifice) for anyone after you. [Muslim]
As per the Hanbali Madhab, there are 3 days to slaughter and 4 days according to the second opinion in the madhab. The 2 days are, the Day of Eid, 11 Dhul Hijjah, and 12 Dhul Hijjah. Imam Ahmad رحمه الله says that this is proven from 5 Sahaba. However if someone has left it till the 4th day due to a need or similar, then their sacrifice is valid. So the last day till which the sacrifice can be made is until before sunset on the last of the days of Tashriq - the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah. To remain on the safe side, it is best to get it done earlier and sooner rather than leaving it till the very end.
Narrated Uqbah ibn Amir رضي الله عنه: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: The day of Arafah, the day of sacrifice, the days of tashriq are (the days of) our festival, O people of Islam. These are the days of eating and drinking. [Abu Dawud]
If the udhiyah is being sent to another part of the world then it should be made sure that the slaughter is not carried out before the person who has intended this slaughter has completed their Eid prayers. Udhiyah is linked to time.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever sacrifices before the prayer, let him repeat it.” [Bukhari]. Ali رضي الله عنه said: “The days of Nahr (Sacrifice) are the day of al-Adha and the three days following it.” If a person sacrificed an animal before the three designated days, then they must perform another sacrifice for it to be considered valid.
If all these days are missed, then a person has to make it up as the intention was made, and the sacrifice is now a pending debt that must be cleared. As per Sheikh Ibrahim Nuhu حفظه الله, if the udhiyah has been sent to another country and the three days are coming to an end or ahave ended where the donor resides, the udhiyah is still considered valid as long as the place where the udhiyah is being carried out is still having its days of slaughter. It is best to avoid letting the slaughter reach such a situation, but this happens at times due to logistical issues and time differences, and InshaAllah the udhiyah is still valid.
How to Slaughter The Animal?
Men, women, and even children that are able to do so are allowed to carry out the slaughter. It is best that the person who intended the slaughter be present when the sacrifice is being carried out if they are not doing the slaughter themselves.
Aisha رضي الله عنها reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) commanded that a ram with black legs, black belly and black (circles) round the eyes should be brought to him, so that he should sacrifice it. He said to Aisha: "Give me the large knife, and then said: Sharpen it on a stone. She did that. He then took it (the knife) and then the ram; he placed it on the ground and then sacrificed it, saying:
بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ اللَّهُمَّ تَقَبَّلْ مِنْ مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَمِنْ أُمَّةِ مُحَمَّدٍ
In the name of Allah," O Allah, accept (this sacrifice) on behalf of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and the Ummah of Muhammad" [Muslim] The Prophet ﷺ used to put his foot on the animal’s neck to prevent it from movement at the time of slaughtering as Anas, who saw the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) slaughtering, mentioned that, and this is because of the mercy of the Prophet ﷺ toward it.
It is recommended to slaughter a camel from the bottom of its neck while its is standing and has its left leg tied up. Other animals are slaughtered from the top of the neck by laying it on its left side. Imam Ibn Hajar said in his book, Fath al-Bari, “Scholars agree that the sacrifice should be placed on its left side. The one who slaughters puts his leg on its right side to be easier for him to hold the knife with his right hand and to hold the animal’s head with his left hand.”
Slaughtering is generally of 2 types:
- Nahr is performed by thrusting a knife in the animal’s libba [the hollow between the two collarbones at the base of the neck]
- Dhabh is the most common method of slaughtering, whereby the slaughterer manually slits the animals throat and causes its blood to drain out.
There are adab to be followed even while slaughtering an animal.
- It should not be made uncomfortable or caused to freak out
- It should not be slaughtered where the animals can see it being slaughtered
- It should not be slaughtered in front of its family
- It should be fed, watered, and taken care of properly
- The knife should be sharpened to the maximum
- Everything that can be done for the animal to make it easy and painless should be done and anything that causes distress to the animal should be avoided.
The person slaughtering says:
بِسْمِ اَللَّهِ اَللَّهُمَّ هَذَا مِنْكَ وَلَكَ
In the Name of Allah! O Allah! This is from You and for You!
بِسْمِ اللهِ واللهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُمَّ مِنْكَ ولَكَ اللَّهُمَّ تَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي
With the Name of Allah, Allah is the Most Great! O Allah! This is from You and for You. O Allah, accept it from me. [Muslim]
Saying Allah’s name is obligatory because of the words of Allah:
وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ ٱسْمُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُۥ لَفِسْقٌۭ ۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلشَّيَطِينَ لَيُوحُونَ إِلَىٰٓ أَوْلِيَآئِهِمْ لِيُجَدِلُوكُمْ ۖ وَإِنْ أَطَعْتُمُوهُمْ إِنَّكُمْ لَمُشْرِكُونَ
“And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed, it is grave disobedience.” [Surat Al-An'am, 121]
Saying Bismillah is obligatory. It is also recommend to say that takbeer and an added dua before slaughtering as per our madhab. Anas said: The Prophet ﷺ sacrificed two horned rams that were white speckled with black. He slaughtered them with his own hand, said Bismillah and Allahu Akbar (بِسْمِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ أكبر), and put his foot on their necks. [Bukhari]
At this point when we say the takbeer, we are in a position of power and authority. Scholars say that we say the takbeer to remind ourselves that Allah is the greatest and that we should humble ourselves. We are able to slaughter this animal only because Allah allowed us to do and subjugated the animal to humans.
Shiekhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله stated: “In slaughtering, the esophagus (which is the passage of food and drink), the throat and the two jugular veins have to be cut. Yet, according to the soundest opinion, cutting three out of these four still make the slaughtering lawful, whether the throat is one of these three parts or not, for cutting the two jugular veins is more efficient than cutting the throat and more sufficient to cause the blood to gush.” [Al-Ikhtiyarat]
When the animal is slaughtered, the blood should be allowed to drain out. This leads to ejecting most toxins because the heart of the animal continues to pump for a few seconds after slaughter. The animal may appear to struggle and kick but that’s due to the contraction and relaxation of muscles deficient in blood rather than in pain.
It is also very important that after the slaughter we supplicate to Allah and ask him to Accept this sacrifice. We learn this from Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail. Allah tells us:
وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
And (mention) when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and (with him) Ismail, (saying), "Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing. [Surah al-Baqarah, 127]
How To Distribute The Meat?
It is recommended to split the udhiyah into 3 parts
- To Eat
- To Gift
- To Give in Charity
The first is by saving a third for the person who made the sacrifice. The second is to give a third of the meat to the donor’s family or friends and finally, giving a third to the vulnerable, hungry and less fortunate. This was the opinion of Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud and Ibn Umar.
It is recommended to give charity from the best third of the meat, gift the second best portion, and consume the other portion of it.
A person can eat all of it, except that he should give away a portion in charity so that his sacrifice has meaning. As per the Hanbali madhab, the minimum amount of meat (lahm) should be given. What is this minimum? This would depend from place to place and culture to culture. Some of the Hanabila say that the minimum amount to be given is an uqiyah which is worth 14 Dirhams of silver or approximately 119 grams of silver. Sheikh Mari’ al-Karmi رحمه الله in Daleel al-Talib does not go into numbers. He says that it is obligatory to give that minimum which is considered as lahm. The meat could be distributed to non-Muslims as well and there is no issue with that.
It is not permissible to sell anything from its meat, fat or skin. The butcher or the person slaughtering is not given his wages from the animal, nor is he given the hide or any portion of the hide. Instead, we can benefit from it without selling it. Why? Because this is a sacrifice purely for Allah and using it for the benefit of a transaction is wrong. The Madhab is that it is Haram.
The Prophet ﷺ 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, because Ali said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ 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 a compensation. He said, ‘We will give him something from what we have.’” [Agreed Upon].
Can I Give The Price Of The Animal Instead?
Udhiyah is a symbol of Islam just like adhan or salah which cannot be removed and the Ummah has to continue performing it. This is not talking about the obligation or recommendation of the sacrifice. Here, it talks about the obligation on the Ummah to continue this practice.
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله said, "Offering a sacrifice when it is prescribed is better than giving its price in charity even if one gives more than the price, like sacrifices offered during Hajj and at Eid al-Adha, because the aim is to carry out the actual act of slaughter and shedding the blood, because this is an act of worship which is mentioned alongside prayer, as Allah says: Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only)"
Sheikh Ibn al-Uthaymeen رحمه الله said, "Slaughtering the sacrifice is better than giving its price in charity, because that was what the Prophet ﷺ and the Muslims with him did. And because the sacrifice is one of the ritual of Islam; if the people turn away from it and give charity instead, that symbol will die out.”
Our Sheikh Ibrahim Nuhu حفظه الله said, "Udhiyah is a Symbol from the Symbols of Islam. It is not necessarily linked to the poor as a person can eat all of it and not give any to charity. The authorities should make sure that these symbols are maintained. Giving money to people instead of the Udhiyah (conceptually) is changing the religion of Allah. If we have all the sacrificial animals being sent away from Country 1 to Country 2 in such a manner that no animals are slaughtered in Country 1, then this is wrong. It has to be done in Country 1 and then the rest is sent off to other countries that have a pressing need. If you find someone right in front of you who is in extreme extreme need, only then can you give them the money instead. But if we start looking around the world for the needy, then a person will never give Udhiyah and this is wrong."
What If I Don't Have Money For Qurban?
A person should not take loans or go into debt for the sake of making a sacrifice. It is only for those that can afford to do it and have surplus for themselves and their families. Even those scholars who deem udhiyah to be obligatory say that it is only to be done when one has reached the ability to do so.
Why? Our Sheikh Ibrahim Nuhu حفظه الله said, "Debt is a serious matter. All the sins of such a person will be forgiven, except for debt. Initially the Prophet ﷺ had said that all the sins would be forgiven. Jibreel came down all the way just to correct the Prophet ﷺ and inform that debt will not be forgiven for it is a right of another. This will not be forgiven. This goes to show just how sensitive the matter of debt is. The Prophet ﷺ refused to pray the janazah upon people who had debt of just 3 dinars. The graves of such people are extremely dark. Only when the debt is paid off, the skin of the deceased will be cooled. There's no Riyal or Ringgit in the hereafter. The currency is only good deeds and sins. 1 Riyal of the Dunya's debt could be worth a mountain of good deeds in the Akhirah. What's worse is there is no discount on that Day for everyone is looking to let go of their losses and make profits. Never let yourself enter such a situation knowingly and not do anything to pay it off immediately."
It was narrated from Abdullah bin Amr bin al-As رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah said to a man: "I have been instructed to take the Day of Sacrifice as an Eid which Allah, the Might and Sublime, has ordained for this Ummah." The man said: "What do you think if I cannot find anything but a female sheep that has been loaned to me so that I may benefit from its milk - should I sacrifice it?" He said: "No. Rather cut something from your hair and your nails, trim your moustache and shave your pubic hairs, and you will have a complete reward with Allah, the Might and Sublime, as if you had offered the sacrifice." [Nasai]
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "When it is a Friday, the angels stand at the gate of the masjid and keep on writing the names of the persons coming to the mosque in succession according to their arrivals. The example of the one who enters the masjid in the earliest hour is that of one offering a camel (in sacrifice). The one coming next is like one offering a cow and then a ram and then a chicken and then an egg respectively. When the Imam comes out (for prayer) they (angels) fold their papers and listen to the Khutba." [Bukhari]
Secondly, we know the importance of intentions in Islam and how it is a game-changer. Let's see how it can help a person here. In a long hadith of Abu Kabshah 'Amr bin Sa'd رضي الله عنه who reported: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "I swear by Allah for three (qualities) which I am going to tell you about. Remember them well:
1. The wealth of a man will not diminish by Sadaqah (charity).
2. Allah augments the honour of a man who endures an oppression patiently.
3. He who opens a gate of begging, Allah opens a gate of poverty (or he said a word similar to it)."
He (ﷺ) also said, "Remember well what I am going to tell you: The world is for four kinds of people.
1. One upon whom Allah has bestowed wealth and knowledge and so he fears his Rabb in respect to them, joins the ties of blood relationship and acknowledges the Rights of Allah on him (and fulfills them); this type will have the best position (in Jannah).
2. One upon whom Allah has conferred knowledge but no wealth, and he is sincere in his intention and says: 'Had I possessed wealth, I would have acted like so-and-so.' If that is his intention, his reward is the same as that of the other.
3. One whom Allah has given wealth but no knowledge and he squanders his wealth ignorantly, does not fear Allah in respect to it, does not discharge the obligations of kinship and does not acknowledge the Rights of Allah. Such a person will be in the worst position (in the Hereafter).
4. One upon whom Allah has bestowed neither wealth nor knowledge and he says: 'Had I possessed wealth, I would have acted like so-and-so (i.e., he would squander his wealth).' If this is his intention, both will have equal sin." [Tirmidhi]