Zil Hajjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar has three great rituals; Eid Ul–Adha, Takbir Tashriq and Qurbani. Here we give both Fiqh rulings and rationale behind them, as we retell the wonderful story of Abraham 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 Makka 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 God made every conceivable kind of sacrifice to fulfil the divine pleasure. He gave up his home, his family, his fond memories of the place of his birth, wondered 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 al-Fitr, celebrated at the end of Ramaḍan
- Eid Ul Adha, which is celebrated on the 10th of the month Dhū al-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, “Allāh 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: to wear the best clothes, clean the teeth, use perfume, clip nails, trim hair, beard and moustache. So look smart and clean as an expression of thanks giving. 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 Allāh accept it from us and from you.” Going to the prayer early to guarantee a place in the first row, which gives extra reward, reading the takbīr aloud on the way to Eid prayer.
It is wājib to say the takbīr al-tashrīq loudly once (thrice is better) after each Farḍ prayer starting from Fajr on the Day of ʿArafah (9th of Dhū al-Hijjah) and finishing after the Aṣr prayer on the third day after Eid (13th of Dhū al-Hijjah) inclusive. There is no harm in reading the takbīr after Eid prayer.
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illaahu, Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lilla hil hamd
“Allāh is the Greatest, Allāh is the Greatest, There is no god except Allāh. Allāh is the Greatest, Allāh is the Greatest and for Allāh is all praise.”
The takbīr should be said immediately after the salām and should not be delayed. It is sinful to talk intentionally after the salām thus missing the takbīr. If the imām forgets the takbīr, 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 hundred goats. He had the same dream during the second night so he sacrificed 100 camels the second day, however the dream came back to him on 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 the boy was old enough to work with his father, Ibrahim said, my son, I have seen myself sacrificing you in a dream. What do you think? He said, father do as you are commanded and, God willing, you will find me steadfast. When they had both submitted to God, and he had laid his son down on the side of his face, we called out to him, Ibrahim, you have fulfilled the dream” (As-Saffat: 102-5).
Ismael was only 13 or 14 years old, a teenager, enjoying the prime of his life, however when 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 telling 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:
“We ransomed his son with a momentous sacrifice and we let him be praised by succeeding generations. Peace be upon Ibrahim! This is how we reward those who do good, truly he was one of our faithful servants” (As-Saffat;106-11).
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 Dhuil Hajjah, it is a form of worship to please the Lord and following the footsteps of Ibrahim (May Allah be pleased with him). Qurbani is compulsory (wājib) on 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 equivalent amount of money, current value of this is approximately £3,000.
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 the Zil Hajjah is to sacrifice an animal and his sins will be forgiven before the blood drops on the ground” (Tirmadhi).
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 that 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 a merit and for every piece of the wool you receive a merit” (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, good-looking, strong and free from physical defects.
- 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, second part for relatives and the third part for poor and needy in the community. This is the preferred way of distributing Qurbani meat, however if one wants to keep all of the need 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 the 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.
By Dr Musharraf Hussain al-Azhari
Director – Karimia Institute