Dhul-Hijjah is the last month of the Islamic calendar. The literal meaning of Dhul-Hijjah is ‘the month of hajj’. The ﬁfth pillar of Islam, hajj, is performed in this sacred month.
The tenth day of this blessed month is known as ‘Īdul-Adhā (the festival of sacriﬁce) or yawmun-nahr (the day of camel sacriﬁce). Muslims all over rejoice and sacriﬁce animals for the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā with the intention of gaining His nearness, and commemorate the incomparable and unique obedience of Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis salām towards Allāh ta‘ālā Who ordered him to sacriﬁce his only son who was the apple of his eye.
It is an important ‘ibādah (worship), and from among the sha‘ā’ir (symbols) of lslām. It is not a custom of ‘Īd or a source of merry-making and celebration; but it is a religious command to renew the commemoration of the sunnah of Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis salām and create the spirit and desire of selﬂessness and sacriﬁce.
The Qur’ān says:
It is not their ﬂesh nor their blood that reaches Allāh; it is your piety that reaches him. (22:37)
Thus, the actual purpose of udhiyah is to create piety, devotion and a desire for obedience and submission in a human.
Mas’alah: Udhiyah cannot be offered in the name of anyone besides Allāh ta‘ālā. It is stated in the Qur’ān:
Indeed, my salāh and my sacriﬁce, my living and my dying are for Allāh, Lord of the worlds. (6:162)
The History of Udhiyah
Although udhiyah had been ordained an ‘ibādah from the time of Sayyidunā Ādam ‘alayhis salām, special importance was attached to it only after an incident which took place with Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis salām, and consequently it was made wājib (incumbent) in the time of our Beloved Nabī Muhammad sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam in memory of Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis salām. This is a unique incident in world history and of great spiritual value, which the Qur’ān mentions in Sūratus-Sāffāt:
Thereafter, when he (his son) reached an age in which he was able to work with him, he said: ‘O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you, so consider what is your view?’ (37:102)
The dreams of the Prophets are regarded as revelations; thus, the observance of slaughtering in a dream is just like receiving the command to slaughter. Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis salām therefore asked, ‘Are you ready to fulﬁl this Command of Allāh?’ The son replied, ‘O my father! do that which you are commanded. If Allāh wills, you will ﬁnd me to be among those who are patient.
This was a great trial for Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis salām. He is commanded to slaughter his only child. A child, who was blessed to him by Allāh ta‘ālā in his old age after making numerous supplications and now reaching the stage where he could assist his old father in his duties and mission. Similarly, it was a great trial for the son too. To obey the command and give away his life was not a trivial or simple thing. However, the son too showed the qualities of his father by submitting and not relying on his own intentions, determination and courage. Entrusting himself to Allāh ta‘ālā, he said, ‘If Allāh wills.’ Further, he did not say, ‘I will have patience,’ but said, ‘you will ﬁnd me to be among those who are patient’, which is a sign of humility that indicates that he does not claim the quality of patience for himself only.
Through the blessings of entrusting themselves to Allāh ta‘ālā and their humility, they did not falter during the stages of this difficult path. The sole bread winning father and his obedient son left home for Minā to carry out the Command of Allāh ta‘ālā. When they ﬁnally reached Minā, the father turned the face of his son and placed the knife on his throat and used his full strength to fulﬁl the order and decree of sacriﬁce, but the Power of Allāh ta‘ālā intervened in the function of the knife and a call from the heavens turned the events of this whole scene:
Then when they had both surrendered (to Allāh) and he had ﬂung him down on his face, we called unto him: ‘O Ibrāhīm! You have already fulfilled the vision. Indeed do we reward the good. Indeed this was a clear test.’ And we ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice. (37:103-107)
And with it a ram was sent down from the Heavens as a ransom for Sayyidunā Ismā‘īl ‘alayhis salām, so that it may be slaughtered in his place. Allāh ta‘ālā accepted this sincere act and deed of his Messenger, Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm ‘alayhis salām - so much so that to keep this act alive as a rite of remembrance till the Day of Judgement, He made it wājib (incumbent) upon the pilgrims in particular and upon the Muslims in general to sacriﬁce an animal.
The Command of Udhiyah is for All Muslims
The udhiyah has been made wājib (incumbent) upon the whole Ummah and not only upon the pilgrims. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum, Tābi’īn and the whole of the Ummah all over have kept up this wājib steadfastly throughout all ages. It is a Command of Allāh ta‘ālā to all, be they in Makkah, Madīnah or any other part of the globe. It is not a distinguished feature conﬁned to Makkah Mukarramah, nor as wrongly understood by some, to be a speciality only attached to rituals of hajj and for pilgrims therein. The udhiyah under discussion is incumbent on every person in every town after ascertaining its conditions which are mentioned under the heading ‘On Whom is Udhiyah Wājib?’. The sacriﬁce offered by pilgrims as part of the rituals of hajj is known as damush-shukr (the sacriﬁce of thanksgiving), which is wājib upon those performing hajjul-qirān or hajjut-tamattu‘ and mustahabb (desirable) for those performing hajjul-ifrād.
Those who hold the view that udhiyah is conﬁned only to Makkah Mukarramah have based their opinion on total ignorance of the Qur’ān and Sunnah. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam and the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum performed udhiyah in Madīnah and elsewhere every year as is evident from the Ahādīth mentioned hereunder:
- Sayyidunā ‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam lived in Madīnah Munawwarah for ten years. He performed udhiyah (every year). (At-Tirmidhī)
- Sayyidunā ‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Abbās radhiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that we were with Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam in one of his travels. The day of ‘Īdul-Adhā came. We became seven partners in a cow (and sacriﬁced it). (At-Tirmidhī)
- Sayyidunā ‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam used to sacriﬁce (the udhiyah animal in Madīnah Munawwarah) at the Musallā (i.e. where the ‘Īd salāh is performed). (Al-Bukhārī)
- Sayyidunā Barā’ Ibn ‘Āzib radhiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam went towards Jannatul-Baqī‘(the cemetery of Madīnah Munawwarah) on the day of ‘Īdul-Adhā and offered two raka’āt of salāh and faced us and said, ‘On this day of ours, our ﬁrst act of worship is the offering of salāh, thereafter we will return and slaughter the sacriﬁces. Whosoever acts accordingly, concords with our sunnah (way), and whosoever has offered udhiyah (before the salāh) then that was a thing which he prepared earlier for his family and it would not be considered as a qurbānī.” (Al-Bukhārī, Muslim)
- Sayyidunā Anas Ibn Mālik radhiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam offered salāh on the day of ‘Īdul-Adhā and then delivered the sermon and ordered that whoever had slaughtered his sacriﬁce before the prayer should repeat it. (Al-Bukhārī)
- Sayyidunā Jundub radhiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam offered the salāh on ‘Īdul-Adhā, delivered the sermon and then slaughtered (the udhiyah animal). (Al-Bukhārī)
- Sayyidunā Anas Ibn Mālik radhiyallāhu ‘anhu narrates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam used to offer two rams as sacriﬁce, and I also used to offer two rams. (Al-Bukhārī)
- Sayyidunā Anas radhiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam came towards two horned rams having black and white colours and slaughtered them with his own hands. (Al-Bukhārī)
- Sayyidunā ‘Uqbah Ibn ‘Āmir radhiyallāhu ‘anhu narrates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam gave him a few sheep to distribute among his companions to slaughter as sacriﬁce. (Al-Bukhārī)
- Sayyidunā Abū Umārah Ibn Sahl radhiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that we used to fatten the udhiyah animals in Madīnah and the Muslims used to fatten (the same). (Al-Bukhārī)
- Sayyidah ‘Ā’ishah radhiyallāhu ‘anhā narrates that we used to salt some of the meat of sacriﬁce and present it to Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam in Madīnah. (Al-Bukhārī)
- Sayyidunā ‘Alī radhiyallāhu ‘anhu sacriﬁced two rams for udhiyah; one on behalf of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam and one for himself, and said, ‘Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam ordered me to offer udhiyah on his behalf, therefore I will always do so (for as long as I remain alive).’ (Al-Hākim)
- Sayyidunā Anas radhiyallāhu ‘anhu relates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam sacriﬁced two horned rams, black and white in colour, in Madīnah. (Al-Bukhārī)
Virtues of Udhiyah
- Udhiyah is a practice commanded by Allāh ta‘ālā:
.. So turn in prayer towards your Rabb and sacrifice (animals). (108:2)
- The son of Ādam does not carry out on Yawmun-Nahr (10th Dhul- Hijjah) a deed more beloved to Allāh than the animal sacrifice. The sacrificed animal shall come on the Day of Judgement with its horns, hair, and hooves (to be weighed). The sacrifice is accepted by Allāh ta‘ālā before the blood reaches the ground. Therefore, sacrifice with an open and happy heart. (At-Tirmidhī)
On Whom is Udhiyah Wājib?
- Udhiyah is wājib on every Muslim who is of sound mind, mature (who has reached the age of puberty), muqīm (i.e. he is not a Shar‘ī traveller) and possesses the amount of fifty two and half tolas of silver (612.36 grams) or wealth equivalent to that value which is in excess of one’s aslī (basic) needs. It is not necessary that this amount be in one’s possession for a complete lunar year. Its possession during the three days of udhiyah will make udhiyah obligatory. Udhiyah is not incumbent on a child or an insane person whether they own wealth equivalent to the amount above or not, nor is it wājib upon their guardians to perform it on their behalf. Similarly, it is not wājib on a Shar‘ī traveller.
Note: A Shar‘ī traveller is he who goes on a journey with an intention of travelling forty eight miles. He will be regarded a Shar‘ī traveller as soon as he goes out of his town.
- It is also highly virtuous for one on whom udhiyah is not wājib to offer sacrifice for the Pleasure of Allāh ta‘ālā. He will be eligible for all the reward mentioned in the Ahādīth.
- During the days of udhiyah, sadaqah (charity) cannot compensate for udhiyah nor fulfil the wājib. Udhiyah is a unique ‘ibādah. Just as zakāh cannot compensate for hajj, or sawm (fasting) cannot compensate for salāh, similarly sadaqah cannot compensate for udhiyah. However, if the days of udhiyah had passed and the udhiyah was not offered due to not knowing, negligence or for some other valid reason, then it becomes wājib to give in sadaqah the price of udhiyah animal or the animal itself to the poor.
- If a traveller returned home or a person acquired the required wealth on the 12th of Dhul-Hijjah before sunset, it will be wājib upon him to perform udhiyah.
- A traveller who makes intention of staying at a certain place for fifteen days or more, no longer remains a traveller. He must offer udhiyah if he possesses the prescribed amount.
Days of Udhiyah
- The days of udhiyah are the tenth, eleventh and twelfth of Dhul-Hijjah. The first day is better than the second, and the second better than the last.
Time for Udhiyah
- In towns and cities where Jumu‘ah and ‘Īd are performed, the time for udhiyah is from after the ‘Īd salāh until before sunset of 12th Dhul Hijjah. If the udhiyah has been offered before the ‘Īd salāh, it will have to be repeated.
- It is permissible, but not preferable to perform udhiyah at night.
The Udhiyah Animal
- It is permissible to offer in sacrifice a goat or she-goat, sheep of all kinds, cow, bull, buffalo or camel.
- It is necessary that the goat is one (full) year old, whether male or female. A cow, bull or buffalo will have to be two years old, and a camel five years. Animals that are younger are not suitable for udhiyah.
- A sheep (of any kind) not less than six months old, so strong and fat that it appears to be one year old will suffice for udhiyah, otherwise it will have to be one (full) year old.
- A cow, bull, buffalo or camel will suffice for seven persons provided no one’s share is less than one seventh and the niyyah (intention) of all partners is to attain thawāb (for udhiyah), and not merely to obtain meat.
- The udhiyah of only one person can be performed from a goat, sheep or ram.
- If an animal seller says that the animal has reached the required age, and outwardly there is no sign to disprove it, then it is permissible to rely on his statement.
- Animals that are castrated can be used for udhiyah. In fact, this type of animal is preferable.
- The following cannot be used for udhiyah:
- Animals that are blind, one-eyed or has lost one-third or more of its eyesight.
- Animals that have lost a third of the ear or the tail. Similarly, the animal which has no ear from its very birth.
- Animal whose horn has been broken off from the root.
- Animal which has one leg lame to the extent that it walks on three legs only and is unable to use the fourth leg.
- Animal so lean and thin that its bones have no marrow.
- Animal so weak that it cannot walk to the place of slaughtering on its own.
- Animal completely toothless or one that has lost most of its teeth.
- It is virtuous to purchase the animal for udhiyah a few days prior to slaughtering and care must be taken in feeding and nursing it.
Method of Sacrifice
- It is more virtuous to slaughter the animal with one’s own hands. If one does not know how to slaughter, it is preferred that he remain present while someone else is sacrificing the animal. It is not necessary to make the niyyah (intention) of udhiyah with the tongue, however it is necessary to say the Name of Allāh, preferably Bismillāhi Allāhu Akbar when slaughtering.
- Use a sharp knife and slaughter the animal quickly so that it does not suffer.
- Do not sharpen the knife in front of the animal.
- After slaughtering, do not skin the animal before it becomes completely cold.
- Do not slaughter one animal in the presence of another.
- It is mustahabb (desirable) for the one who intends to perform udhiyah to refrain from cutting hair or clipping nails from 1st Dhul-Hijjah until one’s udhiyah animal is sacrificed.
The Udhiyah Meat and Skin
- It is impermissible to sell the meat or skin of the udhiyah animal. However, they may be given away in charity or as a gift.
- It is permissible to eat the udhiyah meat. It can also be distributed to relatives and friends whether wealthy or poor, muslims or non-muslims. It is better to divide it into three parts. One for the family, one for relatives and friends and one for the poor and needy.
- The skin of the udhiyah animal can be kept for personal use, e.g. using it as a prayer-mat, water bag etc.
- If the meat or skin of the udhiyah animal is sold, then it is wājib to give that amount in sadaqah to the poor (i.e. those who are eligible for zakāh).
- It is not permissible to give the meat, skin, fat, etc. of the sacrificed animal to the butcher as his wages.
- The meat of the animal slaughtered by partners should be shared by weight and not by estimation.
- The rope, cover, etc. of the animal should be given away as sadaqah.
Udhiyah on Behalf of the Deceased
If one has been favoured by Allāh ta‘ālā with wealth, then he should also perform udhiyah on behalf of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, the Ambiya ‘alayhimus salām, the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum, the Ummah, and for his own living or deceased relatives, friends, mashayikh and teachers who have conveyed to him Dīnī knowledge.
One should always remember our Beloved Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam and perform udhiyah on his behalf. Sayyidunā ‘Alī radhiyallāhu ‘anhu sacriﬁced two rams for udhiyah; one on behalf of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam and one for himself, and said, ‘Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam ordered me to offer udhiyah on his behalf, therefore I will always do so (for as long as I remain alive).’ (Al-Hākim)
Our Beloved Nabi sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam himself performed udhiyah on behalf of his Ummah. Sayyidunā Abū Talhah radhiyallāhu ‘anhu has related that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam sacrificed one ram and while sacrificing the other he said, “This is on behalf of every one of my Ummah who believed in me and testified (to my prophethood).” (At-Tabarānī)
It is a matter for deep thought and consideration that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam kept his Ummah in his mind while offering the sacrifice; hence it would be inappropriate for the Ummah not to remember him and offer udhiyah on his behalf.