Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar has three great rituals; Eid Ul–Adha, Takbir Tashriq and Qurbani. Here I will explain the Fiqh rulings and the rationale behind them, as we re-tell the wonderful story of Ibrahim (Alayhi Salam) and the sacrifice of his son, this will help you fulfil your obligations of this great month.
The festival Eid Ul Adha is the most sacred, historical and faith-reinvigorating occasion in the Muslim calendar. It is a time of intense spiritual activity as pilgrims are preparing to go to Makkah and there is a buzz in the Muslim community, whilst those who remain begin preparations for the Qurbani (the sacrifice of the animal). It is the time when the Imams and preachers extol the greatness of Ibrahim, the great-great-grandfather of the Prophet (peace be upon him), of whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) was so proud that he called the Muslims “Nation of Ibrahim”.
This particular time of the year and the festival of Eid Ul Adha is a practical course in sacrifice. The life of Ibrahim is thoroughly studied and one can see how this great Prophet of Allah made every conceivable kind of sacrifice to fulfil the divine pleasure. He gave up his home, his family, and his fond memories of the place of his birth, and wandered in the desert and in the rough terrain of Palestine seeking to establish God’s way. When you read about the sacrifices of this great man you are bound to be inspired and enthused to do the same, one cannot fail to see the extent of devotion and love that Ibrahim had for his God. Who has the stomach to even think about sacrificing their own son?
Eid Ul Adha
Eid means “the returning” since it comes again and again, as the favours of Allāh are showered on us repeatedly and thus Eid refers to all happy occasions. However, there are two famous Eids:
- Eid Ul-Fitr celebrated at the end of Ramadan
- Eid Ul Adha celebrated on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah
The Eid was instituted in the first year of the Ḥijrah (emigration to Madinah). Anas reports the blessed Prophet (peace be upon him), arrived in Madinah and the people used to celebrate two festivals, so he (peace be upon him) asked them, “What are these two days?” They said, “We used to celebrate them in the days of ignorance”, so he (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has substituted two better ones for you: the Day of Sacrifice and the Day of Fitr” (Narrated in Sunan Abī Dawūd).
Desirable practices on Eid
Grooming and beautifying oneself, wearing the best clothes, cleaning the teeth, using perfume, clip nails, trimming hair, beard and moustache. So look smart and clean as an expression of thanksgiving. To put on perfume, to give donations and be generous, to express happiness and cheerfulness. The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), used to meet one another by saying “May Allah accept it from us and from you.” Going to the prayer early to guarantee a place in the first row, which gives an extra reward, reading the Takbir aloud on the way to Eid prayer.
It is wajib to say the Takbir al-tashriq loudly once (thrice is better) after each Fard prayer starting from Fajr on the Day of Arafah (9th of Dhul Hijjah) and finishing after the Asr prayer on the third day after Eid (13th of Dhul Hijjah) inclusive. There is no harm in reading the Takbir after the Eid prayer.
“Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, There is no god except Allah. Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest and all praise is for Allah.”
The Takbir should be said immediately after the salam and should not be delayed. It is sinful to talk intentionally after the salam thus missing the Takbir. If the Imam forgets the Takbir, the congregation should nevertheless start reading it out aloud.
Qurbani; The ritual of sacrificing an animal
When Ibrahim had the dream that God told him to sacrifice, the next day he sacrificed a hundred goats. He had the same dream the second night, so he sacrificed 100 camels, however, the dream came back to him on the third night. This time Ibrahim said, “O Lord! I have been sacrificing for two days.” The voice said, “my dear friend sacrifice your beloved Ismael!” The Quran continues this wonderful story in the following way:
“When he was old enough to work with him, one day he told him: “My son, I saw in a dream I’m sacrificing you; tell me what you think?” He replied, “Father, do as you were told; you’ll find me patient, Allah willing.” When both submitted and Ibrahim laid him face down, We called out: “Ibrahim you have fulfilled the dream. This is how We reward the righteous” (As-Saffat: 102-105).
Ismael was only 13 or 14 years old, a teenager, enjoying the prime of his life, however, when the time came, he presented himself for the sacrifice. It is narrated that Satan did everything to dissuade both Ismael and his mother Hajrah, to resist this great historical and momentous sacrifice. They pelted Satan with stones and told him to be on his way, for they too were in love with their Lord and were willing to make any sacrifice like Ibrahim. The next thing we see in this story is Ibrahim sharpening the knife and tying the hands and the legs of his allotted teenager and preparing to make that great sacrifice. When he had laid him on the ground ready to be slaughtered the Lord said to him “Stop! This is all but I wanted to see and to show the world how much you love me and for my pleasure, you are willing to make every kind of sacrifice.” The Quran goes on to say:
“It was a clear test of faith. We saved Ismael in exchange for a slaughtered ram, and left his tribute among future generations. Peace be on Ibrahim. That’s how We reward the righteous, he was Our faithful servant” (As-Saffat;106-111).
This is not merely a story, it is a particular philosophy of life, which believes that a believer must love his Lord more than anything else and always be willing to make sacrifices for him. This is because God is good, all good comes from Him. He only commands that which is good for us and good for the rest of humanity. Qurbani makes us aware of the true spirit of Islam that a believer is really a Mujahid, always engaged in a struggle against evil and expending every ounce of his energy for ensuring that truth prevails.
Qurbani encourages us to deeply reflect on making sacrifices for the divine, and always be ready to stand up against social injustices and support the weak and the oppressed. Qurbani is saying Labbayk; oh Lord I am here, I hear your words and I am ready to submit before you just like Ibrahim submitted, I too am willing to do the same. Qurbani reinvigorates the spirituality of a person and gives life purpose and meaning, submission to the Divine will. It also signifies the fact that the believer has self-control, self-mastery and is able to discipline himself. He’s not the slave of his passions.
Qurbani is the great sunnah of Ibrahim
Qurbani is the sacrifice of an animal on the days of Eid Ul Adha, 10th to the 12th of Dhul Hijjah, it is a form of worship to please the Lord and follow the footsteps of Ibrahim (May Allah be pleased with him). Qurbani is compulsory (wajib) for every person who has the Nisab – this is the minimum amount of wealth that makes a person liable for paying Zakah. It is 85g of gold or an equivalent amount of money, the current value of this is approximately £3500.
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The best deed of the son of Adam on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah is to sacrifice an animal and his sins will be forgiven before the blood drops on the ground” (Tirmidhi).
Imam Hassan (may Allah be pleased with him) also reported that the Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever makes the sacrifice of an animal will create a barrier between him and hellfire” (Tabrani).
It is reported that some disciples enquired about the Qurbani and asked the Messenger (peace be upon him), what is the Qurbani?” He (peace be upon him) responded by saying “This is the sunnah of your father Ibrahim.” They then asked, “What is in it for us?” He (peace be upon him) said, “For every hair of the animal, you receive reward and for every piece of the wool, you receive reward” (Ibn Majah).
Fiqh rules of Qurbani
- Qurbani is Wajib on everyone who possesses the Nisab, this means that if both husband and wife have the Nisab then each must give their own Qurbani.
- There is no alternative to the Qurbani i.e. you cannot pay money to the needy in lieu of Qurbani.
- The animals for Qurbani are Camel (5-year-old), Cow, Ox, Buffalo (2 yr old), Goat (1 yr ), Sheep and Ram (6 months). All the animals for sacrifice must be healthy, strong and free from physical defects.
- A maximum of seven people can share in the sacrifice of a camel, cow and buffalo, however, each must have a sincere intention when making the Qurbani.
- The meat of the Qurbani can be divided into three parts, one part for oneself, the second part for relatives and the third part for the poor and needy in the community. This is the preferred way of distributing Qurbani meat, however, if one wants to keep all of the meat for oneself that is permissible as well, and the meat can be kept for any length of time. It is a good practice to distribute the meat to non-Muslims as well.
- The hides of the Qurbani animals must be given to poor people or religious organisations and schools.
- It is preferred that a person slaughters the animal by himself, rather than asking others to do it for him.
- It is recommended to avoid cutting your hair and nails until your animal has been sacrificed.