Thousands of animals will once again be slaughtered worldwide on the occasion of Eidul Adha to commemorate the astounding spirit of sacrifice of Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam). Indeed the entire life of Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) is filled with incidents of self sacrifice. He embodied sacrifice by totally surrendering himself to the command of Allah Ta‘ala to fulfil whatever was demanded of him on every occasion.
He sacrificed the company of his father and his community to pursue the road to the recognition of his Creator. His wife and infant child were left in a barren land with no apparent means of survival and he eventually placed the sharpened knife on the throat of his beloved son in an attempt to slaughter him to fulfil the command of Allah Ta‘ala, his Sustainer and Nourisher. These incidents speak volumes of the extent to which Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) had surrendered himself to the divine law.
Hence, to kindle within ourselves this spirit of self-sacrifice, we have been ordered to follow this “sunnah” of Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) by sacrificing an animal on the occasion of Eidul Adha. The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) once inquired as to what the significance of sacrificing an animal was. “It is the sunnah of your father Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam)” answered Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). (Ibnu Maajah and Haakim).
Great rewards are promised to that person who performs qurbaani. It is reported in a hadeeth that the one who performs qurbaani will be rewarded for every hair on the body of the animal. (Ibnu Maajah)
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has greatly stressed the performance of qurbaani. In an authentic narration he is reported to have said: “He who has the means to sacrifice an animal but does not do so should not come near our musalla (Eid Gaah)”. (At-Targheeb)
There are various aspects pertaining to qurbaani which should be borne in mind. Some of these aspects are as follows:
– When purchasing the qurbaani animal, one should spend with an open heart. The best animal should be acquired (within one’s means). It is reported in a narration that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “… and verily it (the sacrificed animal) will come on the day of Qiyaamah with its horns, hair and hooves (to be weighed on the scale of good deeds); and indeed it is accepted by Allah Ta‘ala before its blood reaches the ground, therefore sacrifice with an happy heart”. (At-Targheeb) It is also mentioned in another narration that “the best animal of sacrifice is the one that is most costly and the healthiest”. (At-Targheeb) Hence, within one’s means one should spend freely to acquire the best animal.
– On the occasion of qurbaani, the most beloved act in the sight of Allah Ta‘ala is the slaughtering of animals. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “There is no action more beloved to Allah Ta‘ala on the day of Eidul Adha than causing the blood to flow (by sacrificing the animal)”. (At-Targheeb) Hence, the one who has the means must perform qurbaani. It is not sufficient to give the value of the animal in cash to the needy. Just as the injunction of fasting cannot be fulfilled by performing salaah and vice versa, similarly the order of qurbaani cannot be fulfilled by giving charity. Besides this, there were many people who were in dire need even in the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). However, despite this, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) did not give the money to these people. Instead he ordered that the animals be sacrificed and the meat be distributed to the poor.
– It is preferable that the qurbaani animal be divided into three portions; one third should be given to the poor, a third to relatives and friends and the rest could be kept for oneself. One may also give away the entire animal whilst it is also permissible to keep everything. Nevertheless it is sunnah to partake of the qurbaani animal. It is reported that on the day of Eidul Adha, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) would not eat anything until he returned (after the Eid Salaah). He would thereafter first eat from the animal that was sacrificed. (Zaila‘ee). In another narration it is mentioned that he would partake of the liver of his qurbaani animal. (Talkhees)
Similarly, it is reported from Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “When one of you has sacrificed an animal he should eat therefrom”. (Musnad Ahmad – refer Ie’laaus Sunan, vol.17, pg.267)
Hence, from the above it is understood that one should partake of the qurbaani animal. Many people, despite sacrificing many animals, do not eat a single morsel due to some unfounded reasons. This is indeed a great deprivation.
– Many people are accustomed to sending money overseas to have the qurbaani performed on their behalf. If this is done to alleviate food shortages as well as to feed the starving people in that place then it is a noble action. Nevertheless, actions are judged according to the intentions. If this is done merely to save oneself the “work” and “trouble,” it is indeed reprehensible.
Whilst the Qurbani is absolutely valid even if it is performed elsewhere, the most preferable method is that one should choose the animal personally. Thereafter (if possible) the animal should be brought to one’s place some time before the qurbaani and one should tend to it.
It is also mustahab (preferable) to slaughter the animal personally. If this is not possible, one should be present when the animal is being slaughtered. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said to Sayyidah Faatimah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) “O Faatimah, stand by your animal when it is being slaughtered for verily Allah will forgive your sins in lieu of the first drop of the animals blood.” Hence to be present at such a noble time is indeed meritorious.
It is also sunnah to partake from the animal. If possible, the first thing eaten on the day of Eidul Adha should be the qurbaani animal. By performing qurbaani elsewhere, all these virtues cannot be obtained. However, what could be done is that the (one) waajib qurbaani should be performed personally. Besides this, any number of nafl (optional) qurbaanis could be performed elsewhere where the need exists to alleviate food shortages. (Refer to Fataawa Raheemiyyah vol. 2, pg. 85)
Another aspect to consider is that if the qurbaani is always performed elsewhere, the next generation will become totally unaccustomed to the sacrificing of animals on the occasion of Eidul Adha. Hence it is feared that they may completely abandon this great ‘ibaadat.
The Exclusively Humane Islamic Method
The practice of eating the flesh of animals is probably as old as mankind itself. Indeed, among the various purposes for which animals have been created is that some of them would be for human consumption. This is clearly declared in the Quraan Majeed that “it is Allah who has created for you the cattle so that you may use some for riding and you may eat of some”. (Surah Ghaafir v79)
However, since life permeates the entire body of the animal, it is the dictates of humanity that the life should be first released in a humane and dignified manner before any part of it could be consumed. For this purpose nothing is more dignified and humane than the Islamic method of slaughtering.
From a cleanliness and health point of view, no method of killing can surpass our method of slaughtering. In a swift movement of the hand, the sharp knife severs the jugular veins, oesophagus and wind pipe. This causes the blood of the animal to pour out of its body. In the methods of electrocution and the injecting of lethal doses, the blood remains within the body and is consequently imbibed into the flesh. Together with this, the harmful organisms in the blood such as urea and uric acid are also imbibed into the flesh of the animal. Hence slaughtering remains as the most hygienic method of killing.
It is obvious that taking a life involves inflicting a certain amount of pain. However, the sharee‘ah stresses very strongly that the animal should only suffer the bare minimum amount of pain. To cause any unnecessary pain and suffering is totally prohibited in the sharee‘ah. It is therefore tragic that often, especially on the occasion of qurbaani, the guidelines of the sharee‘ah are not fully heeded, hence causing unnecessary pain and suffering. It is extremely important that all the various aspects with regards to slaughtering are fully observed. Listed below are vitally important guidelines with regards to slaughtering.
Every step should be taken to ensure that the animal does not sense beforehand that its life is going to be taken. In this regard, the following must be strictly adhered to:
– The animal should be fed and given water to drink. To keep the animal hungry is makrooh.
– The knife should be extremely sharp. It is also important that the knife should not be sharpened in front of the animal. This should also not be done after the animal has been laid down for slaughtering.
– The animal should either be held by the horns and brought along to the place of slaughter or driven from the back. It is cruel to grab the hind legs of the animal and drag it along. This should be avoided.
– It is preferable that the owner should slaughter his animal personally. However, this only applies if one is capable of executing this in an efficient manner and as painlessly as possible. If one cannot slaughter in a proper manner, one should not venture to do so, since this causes it unnecessary suffering.
– The animal should be dropped for slaughtering with the minimum amount of force necessary.
– It should be made to lie on its left side facing the qiblah.
– The slaughtering should not take place in front of another animal.
– Only the four vessel previously mentioned should be severed. To slaughter up to the spinal vertebrae is makrooh since this causes unnecessary pain.
– Only three legs of the animal should be tied together (if necessary).
– It is important that the slaughtering is done very quickly.
– Skinning the animal should not commence until the body has become cold.
– The neck should not be twisted or broken immediately after the animal has been slaughtered.
The First Ten Days of Zul Hijjah
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said, “On no other day is the worship of Allah Ta‘ala more beloved than the first ten days of Zul Hijjah. The fast of each of these days is equal to the fast of a whole year, and the ‘ibaadat (worship) of each of these nights is equal to the ‘ibaadat of Lailatul Qadr”. (Tirmidhi and Ibnu Maajah)
Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) relates that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “On no other days are good deeds more beloved to Allah Ta‘ala than on these days i.e. the first ten days of Zul Hijjah.” Someone inquired, “Not even jihaad in the path of Allah Ta‘ala?” Not even jihaad in the path of Allah Ta‘ala” replied Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) “except that person who goes out to fight with his life and wealth and does not return with anything (i.e. he becomes a martyr).
It is related from Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “No days are as weighty with Allah Ta‘ala and so liked by Him for good deeds than the first ten days of Zul Hijjah. So in these days increasingly read:
Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah) and
Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) (Tabraani)
Meet the Haaji
Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “When you meet a haaji (on his way home) then greet him, shake hands with him and ask him to beg the forgiveness of Allah Ta‘ala on your behalf before he enters his home, for his prayer for forgiveness is accepted since he is forgiven by Allah Ta’ala for his sins.”
Another hadeeth explains the same point. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said, “The mujaahid (fighter in the way of Allah Ta‘ala) and the haaji are members of Allah Ta‘ala’s deputation. Whatever they beseech of Allah Ta‘ala, it is granted to them and whatever they beg of Him, they receive.”
In another hadeeth it is mentioned that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) once made du‘aa, “O Allah! Forgive the sins of the haajis and forgive the sins of him for whom the haaji prays.” It is reported that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) made this du‘aa three times, which emphasizes its importance. It is also reported that Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) said: “The haaji has the pardon of Allah Ta‘ala and until the twentieth of Rabee‘ul Awwal Allah Ta‘ala answers his prayers in which he begs forgiveness for anyone. For these reasons it has always been the custom and habit of the learned predecessors to welcome the haajis, to walk with them and to ask them to pray on their behalf. (Virtues of Hajj)