The Festival of Sacrifice (‛Eed-ul-Adhaa)
A pilgrim visiting Madeenah is highly recommended to visit Qubaa’ Mosque and pray in it, as was the practice of the Prophet ﷺ.
The Festival of Sacrifice (‛Eed-ul-Adhaa), which is celebrated on the tenth day of the lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar, has numerous merits including the following:
- It is one of the best days of the year, being amongst the first ten days of the lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah, as the Prophet ﷺ said, “There are no days in which good deeds are dearer to Allah than these ten days [of Dhul-Hijjah].” His companions enquired, “Not even jihaad in the way of Allah?” He replied, “Not even jihaad in the way of Allah, except for someone who goes out for jihaad, sacrificing both his life and property, and returns with neither of them.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 926; Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 757)
- It is “the day of the greater pilgrimage” on which the greatest hajj rites are carried out, the foremost and most exalted of which are walking round the Ka‛bah (tawaaf), slaughtering sacrificial animals and throwing pebbles at the largest pillar in Mina, known as Jamrat-ul-‛Aqabah.
What Should Be Done On ‛Eed Day?
Islam stipulates that sacrificial animals must be free from defects.
On this day, a Muslim who is not performing hajj engages in the same activities he normally does on the Festival of Fast Breaking (‛Eed-ul-Fitr), with the exception of paying Zakaat-ul-Fitr, which applies only to ‛Eed-ul-Fitr.
A distinctive feature of ‛Eed-ul-Adhaa is the slaughtering of a sacrificial animal, which is considered to be a highly recommended act of worship.
Ud-hiyah, or sacrificial animal, refers to any of the pastoral animals (sheep, cows or camels) that are slaughtered during the Festival of Sacrifice (‛Eed-ul-Adhaa) with the intention of seeking closeness to Allah. The time for offering a sacrifice begins after the ‛Eed-ul-Adhaa prayer and lasts until the sunset of the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah. As the Qur’an states, “Pray to your Lord and sacrifice to Him alone.” (Soorat Al-Kawthar, 108:2) Prayer mentioned here has been interpreted to mean the ‛Eed-ul-Adhaa prayer and sacrifice has been interpreted to refer to ud-hiyah, or the sacrificial animal.
Islamic ruling regarding ud-hiyah:
Slaughtering a sacrificial animal during the Festival of Sacrifice (‛Eed-ul-Adhaa) is a practice which the Prophet ﷺ regularly did and encouraged (sunnah mu’akkadah) for those who can afford to do so. The head of the household may offer a sacrifice for himself and on behalf of his dependents.
A Muslim who intends to offer a sacrifice must refrain from cutting his hair, clipping his nails or picking his skin from the first day of Dhul-Hijjah until he slaughters the sacrificial animal on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah.
The Conditions that the Sacrificial Animal Must Satisfy
اشترط الإسلام في الحيوان المضحى سلامته من العيوب.
- It is not lawful to offer a sacrifice of any animal or bird except pastoral animals, namely sheep, cows or camels.
One sheep or goat would suffice for a man and his household, and seven different households may share a cow or a camel.
- The sacrificial animal must be of the right age. A sheep must be at least six months, a goat one year old, a cow two years old, and a camel five years old.
- It should be free from apparent defects, because the Prophet ﷺ said, “There are four [types of animals] that will not do for sacrifice: a one-eyed or blind animal whose defect is obvious, a sick animal whose sickness is obvious, a lame animal whose lameness is obvious and an emaciated animal that has no marrow in its bones.” (Sunan An-Nasaa’ee: 4371; Sunan At-Tirmidhee, 1497).
What Should Be Done with the Sacrificial Animal?
- It is forbidden to sell any part of the sacrificial animal.
- It is recommended to divide it into three parts: one part for eating, one third to be given as gifts and one third to be given in charity to the poor and the needy.
- It is permissible to authorise someone to slaughter a sacrificial animal on one’s behalf, such as trustworthy charitable societies that undertake the slaughter of sacrificial animals and distribute them to the needy.