Saturday, September 19, 2015



Ibn Qudaamah said in al-Mughni (11/95): “Indeed The Prophet (SAW) performed the sacrifice as did the rightly guided Khulafa, after the Prophet (SAW). And if they knew that giving sadaqa is better they would have turned to it and enacted it. However giving the sadaqa instead of the Sacrifice leads to abandoning a sunnah which the Prophet (SAW) established.”

This article is specific to Udhiya in relation to Eid Al-Adha during the month of Dhu’l-Hijjah with some supported text. The topic of offering an animal sacrifice for voluntary sadaqah is not within the scope of this article.

Quick Checklist

  • It is Wajib (obligatory) according to Imam Abu Hanifa and sunnah mu'akkadah (compulsory Sunnah) according to the majority of jurists for one who can afford it
  • There is a prescribed time for it (10th of Dhu’l-Hijjah is preferred)
  • Certain animals have been prescribed for it
  • Slaughtering the animal with one's own hands is better
  • It is essential to recite: Bismillah, Allahu Akbar
  • Eating from one's sacrifice is Mustahabb (liked, preferable)
  • Dividing the meat into three is Mustahabb (liked, preferable)
  • It’s share can be given as charity to needy Muslims and Non-Muslims
  • Selling any part of the sacrificed animal is prohibited
  • Anyone who wants to make a sacrifice should not cut from his hair and his nails once the Hilaal (new moon) of Dhul-Hijjah is sighted


Udhiya is an Arabic term which means sacrificing an animal, and Qurbani is an Urdu and Persian word derived from the Arabic word Qurban which literally means an act performed to seek Allah’s pleasure. It is technically used for the sacrifice of an animal slaughtered for the sake of Allah.

It reminds us the exemplary obedience of our Prophet Ibraheem (alaihi as-salaam), to His Lord and his great sacrifices to Him. Udhiya encompasses much goodness and blessings and thus acquires a great deal of importance in the lives of Muslims.

“And for every nation We have appointed religious ceremonies, that they may mention the Name of Allah over the beast of cattle that He has given them for food. And your God is One God, so you must submit to Him Alone (in Islam)…” (22:34)

Aisha, Mother of the Believers, reported the Prophet (SAW) as having said, “No deed is more beloved to Almighty Allah on the Day of Eid Al-Adha than offering sacrifices (for His sake). The animals sacrificed will come on the Day of Judgment with their horns, hair and hoofs [to testify to the sincerity of the people who have offered them]. The blood of these animals takes its place in Almighty Allah's sight before it is dropped on the ground. So, be pleased on offering them.” Jami at-Tirmidhi Vol. 3, Book 17, Hadith 1493

The Ruling: Wajib vs. Sunnah

Ibn `Abbas reported that the Prophet (SAW) said, “There are three things that are obligatory for me but voluntary for you. These are the witr prayer, sacrificing an animal and the prayer of late morning.”  Imam Ahmed’s Musnad, Vol 1, Hadith 231

It is Wajib (obligatory) according to Imam Abu Hanifa. Those who favor this opinion take the following as evidence: Allah says: “Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only).” (108:2). Also “Whoever can afford to offer a sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place or prayer.” Musnad Ahmad and Ibn Majah

It is sunnah mu'akkadah (compulsory Sunnah) according to the majority of jurists for one who can afford it. It should be mentioned here that majority of the scholars uphold this view, and they state it Makrooh (disliked) to neglect this act of worship, if one has the capability to perform a sacrifice. This opinion is based on the following hadith narrated By Jabir ibn Abdullah: I witnessed sacrificing along with the Apostle of Allah (SAW) at the place of prayer. When he finished his sermon, he descended from his pulpit, and a ram was brought to him. The Apostle of Allah (SAW) slaughtered it with his hand, and said: In the name of Allah, Allah, is Most Great. This is from me and from those who did not sacrifice from my community”. Abu Dawud Book 009, Hadith Number 2804, and that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Whoever among you wants to offer a sacrifice, let him not take anything from his hair or nails.” Sahih Muslim Book 022, Hadith Number 4869-4873

Type of Animal

The animals eligible for Udhiya are ram, goats, sheep, cattle (cow, ox and buffalo) and camels, male or female. No other type of animal is allowed for Udhiya.

The animal to be sacrificed should have reached the required age, which is 6 months (or more) for sheep, 2 years (or more) for cattle, and 5 years for camels. It is desirable that the animals offered for sacrifice be fat (that is, have more meat), big, and free of the faults that may affect the quantity and quality of their meat. That is why it is not sufficient to offer an animal that is one-eyed or has lost a great part of its horn.

Narrated By Al-Bara' ibn Azib: Ubayd ibn Firuz said: I asked al-Bara' ibn Azib: What should be avoided in sacrificial animals? He said: The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) stood among us, and my fingers are smaller than his fingers, and my fingertips are smaller than his fingertips. He said (pointing with his fingers): Four (types of animals) should be avoided in sacrifice: A One-eyed animal which has obviously lost the sight of one eye, a sick animal which is obviously sick, a lame animal which obviously limps and an animal with a broken leg with no marrow. I also detest an animal which has defective teeth. He said: Leave what you detest, but do not make it illegal for anyone. Abu Dawud Book 009, Hadith Number 2796

It was narrated from Qatadah that he said that he heard Juray bin Kulaib narrate that he heard ‘Ali narrate that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) forbade sacrificing animals with broken horns and ears. Sunan Ibn Majah Vol. 4, Book 26, Hadith 3145

When to perform Udhiya at Eid Al-Adha

Udhiya is only valid during the three days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, namely the 10th, 11th and 12th, and cannot be performed in any other day of the year. Although Udhiya is permissible on each of the above three days, the first day (i.e. the 10th of Dhu’l-Hijjah) is the most preferable and desired day.
Narrated By Al-Bara : The Prophet said (on the day of Eid-ul-Adha), “The first thing we will do on this day of ours, is to offer the ('Id) prayer and then return to slaughter the sacrifice. Whoever does so, he acted according to our Sunna (tradition), and whoever slaughtered (the sacrifice) before the prayer, what he offered was just meat he presented to his family, and that will not be considered as Nusak (sacrifice).” (On hearing that) Abu Burda bin Niyar got up, for he had slaughtered the sacrifice before the prayer, and said, “I have got a six month old ram.” The Prophet said, “Slaughter it (as a sacrifice) but it will not be sufficient for any-one else” (as a sacrifice after you). Al-Bara' added: The Prophet said, “Whoever slaughtered (the sacrifice) after the prayer, he slaughtered it at the right time and followed the tradition of the Muslims.” Sahih Bukhari Volume 007, Book 068, Hadith Number 453

How Many?

It is from the virtues of Udhiya that one animal is sufficient for one man and his family; he is not required to make separate sacrifices on behalf of every member (living or dead). If a man sacrifices a single sheep or goat on behalf of himself and his family, that will suffice for everyone he intended of his family, whether living or deceased. 

Narrated Abu Ayyub: “At the time of Allah's Messenger (SAW), a man would sacrifice a sheep on behalf of himself and the members of his household, and they would eat from it and give some to others.” Sunan Ibn Majah Vol. 4, Book 26, Hadith 3147

Narrated 'Ata bin Yasar: “I asked Abu Abyub [Al-Ansari] how the slaughtering was done during the time of the Messenger of Allah. He said: 'A man would sacrifice a sheep for himself and the people in his household. They would eat from it and feed others, until the people (later) would boast about it and it became as you see now.” Jami at-Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 17, Hadith 1505

One may also offer a whole camel or cow as sacrifice on behalf of one, and seven people can share in offering one cow or camel, whether they belong to the same family or not.
With regards to sharing a sacrifice, then a camel or a cow can be shared by seven people, this is based on the narration of Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported: In the year of Hudaibiya (6H), we, along with Allah's Messenger (SAW), sacrificed a camel for seven persons and a cow for seven persons. Sahih Muslim Book 007, Hadith Number 3024

If a sheep, a goat or a ram is offered for Udhiya, then sharing is not allowed, since no evidence is found in the Sunnah for it.

The Principles of Udhiya

A person should slaughter his own animal if he is able to slaughter properly, otherwise he should entrust it to someone to slaughter on his behalf. However it is recommended that he at least be present at the time of slaughter should he be unable to do the actual slaughter.

It is reported that the Prophet (SAW) said to his daughter Fatimah, “Be present when your Eid sacrifice is slaughtered. Allah forgives you as the first drop of its blood comes out.” Narrated by al-Bayhaqi

The niyyah for Ushiya should be made. It is sufficient to make niyyah with the heart and to be aware of the fact that you are doing the worship of Allah. Intention for sacrifice may be made at the time of purchasing of the animal. However it is recommended to renew the intention at the time of sacrifice. The following intention should be made: O Allah, I intend to sacrifice this animal for your sake or “Allaahumma haatha 'annee wa 'an ahli baytee” meaning “O Allah! This is on my behalf and on behalf of my family members.”

The animal has to be placed down very gently on its left side, with the throat facing Qiblah. It is permissible to slaughter in any direction but it is a sunnah to slaughter facing the animal towards the Qiblah.

It is essential to recite: Bismillah, Allahu Akbar (In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest). It is meritorious to sacrifice the animal with one's own hand and so is meritorious the recitation of Bismillah (in the name of Allah) and Takbir (Allah o-Akbar)

Aisha reported that Allah's Messenger (SAW) commanded that a ram with black legs, black belly and black (circles) round the eyes should be brought to him, so that he should sacrifice it. He said to Aisha: Give me the large knife, and then said: Sharpen it on a stone. She did that. He then took it (the knife) and then the ram; he placed it on the ground and then sacrificed it, saying: Bismillah, Allah-humma Taqabbal min Muhammadin wa Al-i-Muhammadin, wa min Ummati Muhammadin (In the name of Allah, “O Allah, accept [this sacrifice] on behalf of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and the Umma of Muhammad”). Sahih Muslim Book 022, Hadith Number 4845

The throat of the animal should be cut in a manner to ensure that the gullet, the wind pipe and the two external jugular/ arterial veins are swiftly and clearly severed. If only two of the passages and veins are cut, the slaughter would be deemed incorrect. If any three of the four are severed, the slaughter will be valid. The spinal cord of the animal must NOT be severed at the time of slaughter.

Kindness to the animal is the essence of the slaughtering process and hence one should abstain from posing for pictures or recite lengthy incantations at the time of slaughter. The blood of the animal should be allowed to drain until down to a trickle. Skinning of the animal as well as severing of the spinal cord is only permitted once the animal is motionless.

The above laws are only applicable at the time of sacrifice for the period 10th Dhul Hijjah to 12th Dhul Hijjah and when sacrificing an animal for a new born child (aqeeqah). For purposes of meat consumption at any other time some of these laws will apply and not all.

What to do with the meat (Dividing, Consuming & Distributing)

It is recommended to keep one-third for oneself and the family, gift one-third to friends, relatives and neighbors and give one-third as charity to the poor and needy and who come to ask for meat. Exact distribution is not necessary. Meat as charity can be given to Muslims or non-Muslims. There is no condition as to what type of needy person one must give it to. Allah says, “So feed the one who asks out of need, and the one who needs but does not ask” (22:36).

Dividing the meat into three is Mustahabb (liked, preferable). A person offering a sacrifice may consume, without any restrictions, any amount of meat he may desire. He may likewise give away or offer in charity any amount he may wish. Some scholars said that one may eat half and give away the other half in charity, while others said that the meat be divided into three parts. Of these one may keep a part, distribute a part, and give in charity the third part. Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 5.115 Amount of Meat to be Eaten of the Sacrifice

Consumption of this meat is considered a great favour of Allah as previous nations of the past were not able to consume their sacrificial animals. Allah Almighty says, Eat thereof and feed the beggar and the suppliant.” (22:28).

Eating from one's sacrifice is Mustahabb (liked, preferable). It is also Mustahabb for him, who performs a Udhiya, not to eat before he offers his sacrifice; he should break his fast with the meat of his sacrifice the prayer. Narrated Sulaiman bin Buraidah: From his father that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “I used to prohibit you from (eating) the meat of Sacrifice beyond three days so that those who have the ability would give to those who do not have it. So (now) eat as you like, feed others, and save from it.” Jami at-Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 17, Hadith 1510

Udhiya for the deceased

In regards to performing Udhiya for a deceased person, there is no authentic Sunnah where the Prophet (SAW) performed Udhiya for a deceased person.

The one exception is offering the sacrifice on behalf of the dead in fulfillment of their last wishes (wasaaya). This is obligatory except in the case of one who is unable to do it. The basis for this is the verse in which Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Then whoever changes the bequest after hearing it, the sin shall be on those who make the change. Truly, Allaah is All-Hearer, All-Knower”. (2:181)

The distribution for this meat has two major opinions and they are:

The Shaafi’i Fiqh says:

As regards the obligation of donating in charity the sacrifice offered on behalf of a dead person, then the jurists  stated that whoever offers a sacrifice on behalf of the dead from his money [dead’s money] or if you are sacrificing on your own (i.e without his/her money), then it is not permissible for him to eat from it. Rather, he should donate all of it because the sacrifice is done on behalf of the dead and it is only with his permission that one can eat from it, and getting his permission now is impossible because he has already died. Therefore, it is an obligation to donate all of it in charity on his behalf, whether the sacrifice is done with a cow, sheep or goat, or camel, and this is the view of the Shaafi’i School of jurisprudence.

The Hanbali Fiqh says:

The sacrifice offered on behalf of the dead may be treated like a sacrifice offered by a live person, one can donate from it in charity, eat from it and gift from it.

It is permissible to act according to any of the above two opinions, Allah willing, but the Shaafi’i opinion is better for it will benefit the deceased more.


It should be mentioned here that the scholars agree that sacrificing an animal and giving its meat in charity is better than giving its value in charity. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) chose to perform sacrifice and he did not do anything but that which is best and most befitting. This is the opinion of Abu Hanifa, al-Shaafi'i and Ahmad. This refutes the saying of those who say that today people need money more than they need food, therefore it is better to give the money rather than sacrifice an animal.

If you live in a place where the law does not allow the practice of Udhiya or you are very far from resources so much that it creates hardship on you then it is recommended you read this article for information only and consult a scholar with your specific situation to understand the options available to you.  May Allah accept from us all. Ameen.


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