Eidul Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) is celebrated by Muslims all over the world, every year on the tenth day of the month of DhuI Hijjah — the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This day is also known as Yawmun Nahr (the day of sacrifice). It is an important act of worship and religious command from God to renew the sunnah (practice) of Prophet Ibrahim. Muslims who can afford it financially (possessor of a minimum Nisab (limit of wealth) i.e. equivalent the value of 612,36 Grams of sliver) must sacrifice of an animal in commemoration of the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim.
The sacrifice offered by Pilgrims as a part of the rituals of Hajj is known as dam-e-shukr (Sacrifice of thanksgiving), which is also wajib (incumbent) upon those performing Hajj Qiran or Hajj Tamattu and mustahib (desirable) for those performing Hajj ifrad. Muslims who are not on the pilgrimage (Hajj) are encouraged to fast the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah or at least fast on the ninth day, the day just before the sacrifice.
Eidul Adha is celebrated in commemoration of the great sacrifice by Prophet Ibrahim’s (pbuh) offer of the life of his only son Ismail (pbuh) at the command of Allah. The actual purpose of the sacrifice is to create piety, devotion, obedience and submission to God as stated in Quran: “Lo! My prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for almighty God alone” (6:162) Sacrificing animals is mentioned in Quran: “Then turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice” (108:2). The prophet of Islam Muhammed (peace be upon him) stayed in Medina for ten years, and he always made his sacrifices during all ten years (though Hajj was made obligatory eight years later).
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), when asked about sacrifice, is reported to have said: “This is commemorative sunnah of your father Ibrahim.” Allah said in Quran that: “HE called out to Ibrahim who has indeed fulfilled the vision!….. For this was obviously a trial and HE ransomed Ibrahim a momentous sacrifice: and left this blessing of sacrifice for among generations to come in later times” (Al-Qu’ran 37:104-108)
OBLIGATION OF SACRIFICING AN ANIMAL:
On the authority of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: “He who can afford (sacrifice) but he does not offer it, he should not come near our places of worship. On the day of sacrifice no-one does a deed more pleasing to Allah than the shedding of blood of sacrificed animal who will come on the Day of Resurrection with its horns, its hair, its hoofs, and will make the scales of his action heavy, and verily its blood reaches acceptance of Allah before it falls upon the ground; therefore be joyful for sacrificing animals”. (Collection of Ahadith by Tirmidi and Ibne Maja)
To express the idea of sacrifice different words are used in Quran such as:
a. NAHR: (Al Quran 108:2) literally meaning ‘to injure the jugular vein Since Muslims sacrifice an animal on Eidul adha, this day is also called ‘Eidul Adha’.
b. ZIBH (Dhabh): (Al-Quran 2:67, 2:49, 5:3 and 37:107) meaning slaughter, hence the festival is called ‘Eidul Adha’.
c. HADY: (Al Quran 2:196, 5:2 and 5:97) This term refers to the offering of an animal for sacrifice sent to Makka when the pilgrim himself is not able to reach there in time.
d. QURBAN (sacrifice): (Al Quran 3:181 and 5:32) The word ‘Qatala’ is used to express the killing or slaying (sacrifice) and hence this festival is also referred to as ‘Eid-Al-Qurban’.
Sacrifice is symbolic of voluntary submission of the sacrificer to the will of Almighty. It is an external symbol of the readiness of the sacrificer to lay down his own life if needed and to sacrifice all his interests and desires in the cause of Allah. Sacrifice of an animal is essential and in no way should be substituted by any other form of good deed.
DAY AND TIME OF SACRIFICE:
Normally the sacrifice (of the animal) is offered in the morning (Udhiya) on the day of Eidul Adha after the Eid prayer i.e. 10th Dhul Hijjah. Sacrifice is also permitted on the following three days i.e. 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul Hajjia.
Sacrifice of a grown up (Musinnah) animal from any of the following three species is offered. Camel, Cow (buffalo, heifer, steer, bull etc.) Ram (sheep, lamb, goat etc.) Poultry and non–livestock eating animals, such as deer, are not good for sacrifice.
Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying: “Sacrifice only a grown up animal, unless it is difficult for you, in which case sacrifice a ram of even less than a year but more than six month’s age.” (Muslim)
Since ‘grown up’ is a relative term, Islamic Jurisprudence recommends the following minimum permitted ages of different animals for sacrifice.
Camel 5 years of age. Cow (buffalo, heifer, steer, bull etc.) 2 years of age. Ram (sheep, lamb, goat, etc.) 1 year
As the hadith describes, if it is difficult, a ram of less than 1 year but more than six months of age can be sacrificed. Islamic jurisprudence established sacrifice of a goat for one person. The sacrifice of a cow or camel can be shared equally by seven or less than seven persons.
The sacrificial animal must be unblemished. The Animals used for sacrifice must be free from all defects, including any apparent illness or disease. Animals that are blind, lame, have greater part of their tail or ear cut off, very lean to the extent that have no marrow in their bones, animals that are born without ears and the like are not lawful to be sacrificed. The prophet said “Four are not good for sacrifice: the one eyed, the clearly ill, the lame, the very skinny that almost has no marrow inn its bone” (Tirmidi)
As a Muslim we understand the Islamic position of an area which is affected by plague and other serious transferable diseases. It is advised by Muslim scholars that animals for the purpose of slaughter should not be exported or used in any manner which may harm, directly or indirectly, any human being. In these circumstances I suggest that there should not be any animal sacrificed in a slaughterhouse which is affected by any disease (such as Foot and Mouth disease) or in a quarantined area
Animal rights in Islam:
1. Animals should be well fed and well looked after. Animals should not be kept waiting hungry at the point of slaughter.
2. A very sharp knife must be used to ensure minimum pain. The prophet of Islam said: Allah has prescribed the most suitable way of doing everything… Do it well, when you slaughter an animal for sacrifice, you should sharpen your knife, give comfort to animal, slaughter it in such a way that its life departs quickly and it is not left to suffer for a long time. There must be adequate arrangements immediately after slaughter to ensure proper and maximum bleeding.
3. Animals should not be slaughtered in the presence of other animals. Separation between the lair and slaughter area is recommended to ensure that this is so, and that animals awaiting slaughter do not see other animals being bled.
4. The blessed prophet of Islam forbade shooting arrows at any animal which is tied or held up. He also forbade hitting or marking the animal on its face. He said: “If a person unjustly killed a sparrow or even a smaller bird (other than for food) he will have to answer for it before God. One is not allowed to kill an animal for the sake of fun or game.” The blessed Prophet forbade fighting the animals against one another.
5. Show kindness and good treatment to an animal. The Prophet of Islam praised a man who offered water to a thirsty dog. The Prophet said that a person would be punished if he did not feed and gave water or even let it free so it could feed itself.
DISTRIBUTION OF SACRIFICIAL MEAT:
Preferably a Muslim should slaughter the animal by his own hands. If for any valid reason he cannot slaughter, it is desirable that he should at least be present at the time of slaughtering while someone else is slaughtering on his behalf. However, it to allowed to delegate the slaughtering the animal to a professional person.
It is lawful for a Muslim to eat the meat of sacrificed animal by himself, store it or give it to whomsoever he wishes, poor or rich. However, it is a common practice that the meat is divided into three parts: one part is retained for the consumption of one’s own family; the second part is given to relatives, friends and neighbours; the third part is distributed amongst the poor and needy. This practice builds up a feeling of concern and a sense of sharing among friends, relatives, neighbours, and the needy. Every year hundreds of thousands of animals are sacrificed. It is important that meat is not wasted. The pilgrims are encouraged to cooperate with the authorities, who arrange to sacrifice the animals on their behalf and save millions of pounds of edible meat from wastage.
INSTITUTION OF EIDUL ADHA:
The institution of Eidul Adha in Islam serves multiple purposes, it symbolises readiness and various spiritual benefits which cannot be denied; unfortunately its other aspects have not been fully utilised properly by the Muslim Ummah. The majority of the world’s population is malnourished, whether due to insufficient food stock and drought or excessive food intake. Insufficient food intake results in undernourishment and starvation. Seventy percent of the world’s population lives in more than a hundred developing countries where hunger and malnutrition are rampant. When people starve anywhere today, it is not only because there are more people on the earth than can be fed. The main problem, obviously, is not one of production potential; it is one of distribution. Islam has institutionalised the annual sacrifice of animals by every mature Muslim all over the world. Islam has also encouraged the distribution of sacrificial meat amongst the poor and needy besides relatives, friends and neighbours.
With modern technology, this meat can be preserved on large scale without wastage and distributed amongst the needy on a local as well as an international level. The hide, skin, bones, wool etc. of these animals collectively can generate enough revenue to run the distribution centers and establish service institutions such as clinics, hospitals, schools etc
Every year two to two and a half million Muslims perform Hajj. The sacrifice of an animal being an essential ritual of the pilgrimage, hundreds of thousands of animals are Islamically slaughtered. If the meat of these animals is properly stored and distributed, it can feed at least 500,000 starving people though out the year round. This meat can supply daily protein requirements to one million malnourished children every year helping to ensure their full brain development. The hide, skin, wool, bone etc. can be efficiently utilised to generate enough revenue for the execution and management of the entire operation. It will be one of the best Muslim contributions to the needy world extending the benefits of Islam to the humanity at large.