Why we make udhiyah=animal sacrifice in Islam?

Why we make udhiyah=animal sacrifice in Islam?

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


By Maulana Abu Hudhaifa  Muhammed Karolia

Before explaining why we make¬†udhiyah, we first have to understand why we make hajj. Although there are a number of activities in hajj (tawaaf, sa‚Äôee,¬†the stay in ‚ÄėArafah, the stay in Muzdalifah, pelting of the jamaraat, offering of a sacrificial animal, shaving of the hair etc.),¬† Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam said that,¬†‚ÄúHajj is ‚ÄėArafah‚Ä̬†‚Äď as if hajj is only about ‚ÄėArafah.

That, however, is not what he meant. Instead, he meant that the stay in ‚ÄėArafah is so important, it is as if there is nothing else in hajj besides ‚ÄėArafah. Thus, the fuqaha agree that even if a person diligently observes all the injunctions of hajj, his hajj will be invalid if he does not spend any¬† time ‚Äď no matter how short ‚Äď between¬†zawaal¬†of the ninth of Dhil Hajj and¬†subh saadiq¬†of the tenth in ‚ÄėArafah.

On the contrary, if person spends some time between¬†zawaal¬†of the ninth of Dhil Hajj and¬†subh saadiq¬†of the tenth in ‚ÄėArafah, his hajj will be valid even if he omits all or some of the other injunctions of hajj.

This means that ‚ÄėArafah is the climax of hajj ‚Äď as though the pilgrim‚Äôs aim in making hajj is merely to reach ‚ÄėArafah. The question now is, ‚Äėwhat is ‚ÄėArafah all about?‚Äô Looking beyond the performance of¬†dhuhr¬†and¬†‚Äėasr¬†at one time and the fervent¬†du‚Äôaas¬†and cries for forgiveness, those who comprehend the deeper dimensions of our¬†‚Äėibaadaat¬†contend that ‚ÄėArafah is a meeting with Allah.¬†

Before meeting with worldly kings and presidents (or any other dignitary), we take a bath, wear the best clothes and apply some perfume. In fact, we do this before attending any function. Similarly, before meeting with Allah in ‚ÄėArafah, we have to be clean.

This meeting, however, demands spiritual cleanliness. Thus, we keep¬†saum¬†and exert ourselves in other¬†‚Äėibaadaat¬†(obligatory and optional) in the month of Ramadaan. Hence, the last moment of Ramadaan is the first moment of hajj. Consider two questions viz.¬†¬†¬†¬†

The  answers to both these questions are the same ‚Äď when the crescent  of ‚Äėeid-ul-fitr is sighted. The moment Ramadaan ends, hajj  begins. Remember, Allah Ta‚Äôaala said:

‚ÄúHajj comprises a (few) known  months.‚ÄĚ [Surah  Al-Baqarah,  Aayah, 197]

These known months are Shawwaal, Dhul-Qa‚Äôdah and the  first ten days of Dhul-Hajj.

In the past, in the days of kings and  queens, whenever a man was granted a meeting with the king,  he would be required to present the king with a gift. Similarly, when the haaji meets Allah, he too is required to present Allah with a gift. Since nothing is more valuable to man than his life, the  most appropriate gift that the  haaji could present to Allah is his  life. Nonetheless, suicide is impermissible.

‚ÄúDo not kill yourselves; certainly Allah is Most Merciful unto you.‚ÄĚ [Surah An-Nisaa, Aayah 29]

So what does the haaji do? When Nabi Ibrahim (alayhissalaam) tried to slaughter Nabi Isma‚Äôeel (alayhissalaam) in accordance with the command of Allah, Allah Ta‚Äôala sent him a ram from the sky and told him to slaughter the ram instead. Thus, the haaji is commanded to slaughter an animal instead of himself. This sacrifice is his ‚Äėgift‚Äô to Allah. 

In the Farewell Hajj, Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam slaughtered one hundred camels.  The reason for doing so is that the blood money for a human life is one hundred camels. Thus, if one may not sacrifice his life, it  would be appropriate to slaughter a hundred camels instead. However, not everybody possesses so many camels.

(That is why the blood money for manslaughter is paid by the killer‚Äôs¬†‚Äėaaqilah, a group of people related to the killer.)¬† Furthermore, there would be a¬† colossal problem if every haaji were required to sacrifice a hundred camels each. Hence, the¬† sharee‚Äôah requires the haaji to slaughter a single animal as his ‚Äėgift‚Äô to Allah.¬†

I guess that you are probably wondering what all this has to do with udhiyah. We do not make hajj in Benoni, Springs or Lenasia. Hajj can only be made in Makkah. So why are we who are not hujjaaj commanded to make udhiyah?  The answer to this is imitation; we are commanded to imitate the hujjaaj

‚ÄúRecall the time when we made the ka‚Äôbah a place to which people repeatedly return ‚Ķ‚ÄĚ [Surah Al-Baqarah, Aayah 125]

It is for this reason that we observe countless people who repeatedly go for hajj and ‚Äėumrah.¬† We also observe that those who lack the ability to return fervently desire doing so. Thus, their hearts ‚Äėbleed‚Äô when they see the¬†hujjaaj¬† departing for hajj.

When they hear the live transmission of the¬† ‚ÄėArafah¬†khutbah¬†on the ninth of Dhul-Hajj, they cry again. If only they were there. Pitying such people, Allah tells them not to despare. Sitting at home, you too can earn a reward similar to that of the haaji. Just imitate him.¬† Remember¬†the¬†hadith:

‚ÄúWhoever imitates a people will  be among them.‚ÄĚ Thus:

Just as the haaji does not cut or shave his hair and pare his nails  while he is in ihram, the non-haaji refrains from doing so  during the first ten days of Dhul-Hajj.  

‚ÄĒ  Just as the haaji recites  talbiyah, the non-haaji recites the takbeer-ut-tashreeq.  

‚ÄĒ  Just as the haaji sacrifices an  animal called hady or dammush-shukr on the tenth of Dhul-Hajj,  the non-haaji sacrifices an animal  called udhiyah on the same day.  

‚ÄĒ  Just as the haaji slaughters  after the assembly in ‚ÄėArafah, the  non-haaji slaughters after the  assembly in the musalla (‚Äėeid gaah).  

‚ÄĒ  Just as the haaji only cuts or  shaves his hair and pares his nails after slaughtering his hady,  the non-haaji only cuts or shaves  his hair and pares his nails after  slaughtering his udhiyah.

Another  Explanation
The¬†people¬†of¬†Madinah¬†had¬†two¬† annual¬†festivals.¬†After¬†hijrah¬†(migration),¬†Rasulullah¬†sallallahu¬† alaihi¬†wasallam¬†substituted them¬† with¬†the two ‚Äėeids¬†(‚ÄėEid-ul-Fitr¬† and¬†‚ÄėEid-ul-Adha).¬†The reason¬† for this,¬†as¬†explained¬†by¬†Shah¬† Waliullah¬†(rahmatullahi alayh), is¬† that every nation‚Äôs festivals are¬† based on either¬†un-Islamic¬† customs or¬†praise for their heroes.¬†

The¬†festivals¬†of¬†the¬† people¬†of Madinah¬†were¬†no¬† different.¬†Thus,¬†Rasulullah¬† sallallahu alaihi wasallam¬† substituted¬†them¬†with ‚ÄėEid-ul-Fitr¬† which¬†is¬†based¬†on successful¬† completion¬†of¬†the¬†siyaam¬† (fasting)¬†of¬†Ramadhan¬†and ‚ÄėEid-ul-Adha¬†which¬†is¬†based¬†on¬†the¬† memory of¬†Nabi Ibraheem (alayhis salaam).¬†Now¬†if¬†you¬†ask¬†why¬†we¬† need to¬†remember¬†Nabi¬†Ibraheem (alayhis salaam),¬†the answer¬† would¬†be¬†that¬†Islam¬†is¬†based¬†uponhis¬†deen¬†(the¬†Qur‚Äôaan uses¬†the¬† word¬†millat).¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

‚Ķ The religion of your father,  Ibrahim. He called you Muslimeen  ‚Ķ‚ÄĚ     

The Sunnah of Ibraheem (alayhis salaam)
‚ÄúWhat are these adaahy  (plural  of udhiyah), O Rasool of Allah?‚ÄĚ asked the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum). ‚ÄúThe sunnah of your  father, Ibraheem,‚ÄĚ he replied. [Sunan Ibn Maajah, Hadith 3127]

Considering this hadith, we could  say that the reason why we make  udhiyah is simply because it was  the sunnah of Nabi Ibraheem  (alayhis salaam). The motivation  for observing this sunnah was to  thank Allah for sparing his son  Isma’il (alayhis salaam)’s life.

Remember¬†that¬†Nabi¬†Ibraheem¬† (alayhis salaam) was¬†commanded¬† to¬†slaughter Isma‚Äôil¬† (alayhis salaam) in a dream in order¬†to¬† prove his love¬†for¬†Allah.¬†He¬† ‚Äėpassed the test‚Äô.¬†As¬†he¬†passed¬† the knife on his son‚Äôs throat¬†and¬† wondered why¬†it¬†was¬†not¬†cutting,¬† Allah¬†Ta‚Äôaala sent him¬†a¬†ram¬†from¬†the heavens¬† and¬†commanded¬†him¬†to¬†slaughter it¬†in¬†place¬†of¬†his¬†son.

Consequently, Nabi Ibraheem  (alayhis salaam) would slaughter  a ram every year as a token of  thanks to Allah  for saving his  son‚Äôs life. Since we follow  Nabi  Ibraheem (alayhis salaam)‚Äôs millat  (Islam is based on his millat) and  Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi  wasallam is from Nabi Isma‚Äôil  (alayhis salaam)‚Äôs progeny, it is only  appropriate that we follow his sunnah  and thank Allah for saving Nabi Isma‚Äôil (alayhis salaam)‚Äôs  life.  

A Reminder
Finally, the udhiyah also serves as a reminder. At the time of the  slaughter, one is reminded that  he should be prepared to sacrifice  himself for Allah‚Äôs  pleasure. ‚ÄėNabi Ibraheem (alayhis salaam) was prepared to  sacrifice his son to please Allah.  How much am I prepared to sacrifice to please Him?‚Äô

O Allah, guide us to the true  spirit of udhiyah. O Allah, guide  us to the true spirit of sacrifice, Aameen.