Sacrifice for Eid
“Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.” (Al-An’aam: 162)

Offering Udhiyah is one of the great rituals of Islam, by which we remember the Oneness of Allah, His blessings upon us and the obedience of our father Ibrahim, peace be upon him, to his Lord. Offering udhiyah on `Eid Al-Adha is parallel to paying zakat al-fitr at the end of Ramadan. Both, basically, mean to help the poor and needy and make them content on these blessed occasions. There is thus much goodness and blessings in this act of sacrificing Udhiyah, so the Muslim must pay attention to its significance. The following is a brief look at this important ritual.

The definition of Udhiyah (sacrifice)

Udhiyah refers to the animal (camel, cattle or sheep) that is sacrificed as an act of worship to Allah with a (sincere) intention, in the country in which the person offering the sacrifice lives, during the period from after the ‘Eed prayer on the Day of Nahr (i.e., sacrifice – on the day of ‘Eed al-Adhaa) until the last of the Days of Tashreeq (meaning the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah).

Allah says which means, “So pray to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him alone),” (Al-Kawthar: 2) and,

“Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.” (Al-An’aam: 162)

He also says which means, “And for all religion We have appointed a rite (of sacrifice) that they may mention the name of Allah over what He has provided for them of (sacrificial) animals. For your god is one God, so to Him submit…” (Al-Hajj: 34)

For those not performing Hajjj wishing to offer Udhiyah there are two scholarly opinions about whether it is obligatory or not:

A) It is Wajib (obligatory:
This is the opinion of Imams Al-Awza`i, Al-Layth and Abu Hanifah, and it is one of the two opinions narrated from Imam Ahmad.  It was also the opinion of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, and is one of the two opinions in the madhhab of Imam Malik, or is what seems to be the madhhab of Imam Malik.  Those who favour this opinion take the following as evidence:

1. The verse: “Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only).” (Al-Kawthar: 2). This is a command, and a command implies that something is obligatory.

2. The Hadith of Jundub (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Whoever slaughtered his sacrifice before he prays, let him slaughter another one in its place, and whoever did not slaughter a sacrifice, let him do so in the name of Allah.’” (Reported by Muslim, 3621)

3. The Hadith: “Whoever can afford to offer a sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place of prayer.” (Reported by Ahmad and Ibn Majah; classed as Sahih by al-Hakim from the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him). It says in Fath al-Bari that its men are all sound).

B) It is a Stressed Sunnah.
This is the opinion of the majority, and it is the madhhab of Imam Ash-Shafi`i and the better-known opinion of Imams Malik and Ahmad. But most of those who favour this opinion state that it is disliked for the one who is able to offer a sacrifice to neglect to do so. They base their opinion on the following:

1. The Hadith of Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) in Sunan Abi Dawud, where he said: “I prayed `Eid Al-Adha with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and when he finished (the prayer), he was brought two rams, and he sacrificed them. He said, ‘In the Name of Allah, Allah is Most Great. This is on behalf of myself and any member of my Ummah who did not offer a sacrifice.” (Sunan Abi Dawud bi Sharh Muhammad Shams al-Haq Abadi, 7/486)

2. The Hadith reported by all the famous scholars of Hadith apart from al-Bukhari: “Whoever among you wants to offer a sacrifice, let him not take (cut) anything from his hair or nails.”

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, said, following his discussion of those who say it is obligatory and those who say it is Sunnah, “Each point of view has its evidence, but to be on the safe side, the one who is able to offer a sacrifice should not neglect to do so, because of what is involved in this act of reverence towards Allah, remembering Him, and making sure that one has nothing to be blamed for.

With regard to Udhiyah on behalf of one who is dead, if the deceased bequeathed up to one-third of his wealth for that purpose or included it in his waqf (endowment), then these wishes (of his) must be carried out, otherwise, if a person wishes to offer a sacrifice on behalf of someone who has died, this is a good deed and is considered to be giving charity on behalf of the dead. The Sunnah, though, is for a man to include the members of his household, living and dead, in his (intention for) Udhiyah; thus when he slaughters it, he should say, “Allahumma haadha ‘anni wa ‘an ahli bayti (O Allah, this is on behalf of myself and the members of my household).” Accordingly, he does not have to make a separate sacrifice on behalf of every deceased person.

The scholars have agreed that sacrificing an animal and giving its meat in charity is better than giving its monetary value in charity, because the Messenger sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to offer the sacrifice, and he did not do anything but that which is best and most befitting. This is the opinion of the scholars Abu Haneefah, Ash-Shaafi’i and Ahmad, may Allah have mercy upon them.

The virtues of Udhiyah and the best of Udhiyah (sacrificial animals)

A sheep is good enough a sacrifice for one man, members of his household and his children, because of the Hadeeth of Abu Ayyoob, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “At the time of the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, 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 (of it) to others.” (Ibn Maajah & Tirmidhi)

The kinds of animals prescribed for sacrifice are camels, cows and sheep. Some of the scholars said that the best sacrifice is of camels, then cows, then sheep, then a share of a she-camel or cow. This is so because the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said concerning Friday prayers: “Whoever goes to (Friday prayers) early, it is equivalent to him sacrificing a camel.” On this basis, (since the best act is like slaughtering a camel and so on), a sheep is better than one-seventh of a camel or cow. This is the opinion of the three scholars: Abu Haneefah, Ash-Shaafi’i and Ahmad, may Allah have mercy upon them. Whereas Imaam Maalik, may Allah have mercy upon him, said that the best (sacrificial animal) is a young sheep, then a cow, then a camel, because the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sacrificed two rams and he never did anything but that which was the best. The response to that, though, is that he sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam always chose what was more appropriate out of kindness towards his Ummah, because they would follow his example and he did not want to make things difficult for them, as Shaykh ‘Abdul ‘Azeez Ibn Baaz, may Allah have mercy upon him, has stated in his Fataawa (rulings).

A camel or cow is enough as a sacrifice on behalf of seven people, according to the report narrated by Jaabir, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “We sacrificed at Al-Hudaybiyyah (while performing Hajj) with the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, a camel for seven persons and a cow for seven persons.” According to one version, “The Messenger of Allah sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam commanded us to share camels and cattle – every seven men sharing one animal.” In yet another version, it is stated: “So a cow would be sacrificed on behalf of seven men and we would share it.” (Muslim)

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