By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy
All praise is for Allah. We praise Him, we seek His aid and we ask for His forgiveness. We seek Allah’s refuge from the evils of ourselves and from our evil actions. Whosoever Allah guides, there is no one who can misguide him; and whosoever Allah misguides, there is no one who can guide him.
I testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone, who has no partner; and I testify that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His servant and Messenger.
Dear brothers and sisters, sacrificing an animal on Eid-ul-Adha means to sacrifice an animal out of the goods that Allah gave in order to approach Him and attain his pleasure and consent.
Allah the Most High states the following in the Chapter Al-Hajj:
“It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him.” [Qur’an, 22: 37]
Accordingly, it is understood that the real aim of sacrificing an animal is to fulfill the command and order of Allah and show that one fears Him. It means we can sacrifice even our most valuable things if Allah asks us to do so. The aim is to show that we can even sacrifice our lives just like Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) who decided to sacrifice his son, Ismail (Ishmael). In a sense, sacrifice means we can get rid of the feeling of loving worldly possessions and sacrifice everything for the sake of Allah the Almighty.
Respected servants of Allah, the real purpose of sacrifice is to attain Allah’s consent and to wish to approach Him. A person who sacrifices an animal approaches Allah and attains His consent through it. Sacrifice is also an example of social assistance and solidarity. In general, the poor eat most of the meat of the animals that are sacrificed. As it is seen, the understanding of approaching Allah and helping the poor exist in the essence of this worship. No matter what the fiqh decree about it is, sacrifice has had an important place for centuries in our religious life as a kind of worship that is a symbol and sign of Islamic nations (Ummah).
The religion of Islam aims to make the individual attain spiritual wisdom and human virtues; meanwhile, it introduces some unifying and integrating commands and practices for the nation (Ummah). This superior characteristic of Islam becomes more apparent in financial kinds of worship with social dimensions like Zakah, Hajj and Sacrifice. These kinds of worship have existed since the first days of Islam without undergoing any change and intervention in their general principles and essence in all Islamic nations and have been transferred to new generations.
- The Wisdoms of Sacrificing Animals
- Sacrifice lexically means something through which one can approach Allah. As it is understood from the word sacrifice is an opportunity to be close to Allah and to gain His consent. The following is stated in the Qur’an:
“To every people did We appoint rites (of sacrifice), that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food). But your Lord is One Lord, submit then your wills to Him (in Islam): and give the good news to those who humble themselves.” [Qur’an, 22:34)]
In that verse, it is expressed that Allah the Almighty commanded that decree in order to remind His servants that He is the owner of all animals and that He offered them to human beings as an indication of His mercy and grace. Man, can fall into heedlessness and forget in the course of time that the real owner of his possessions and wealth is Allah the Almighty, who gave him all the possessions as a grace. Like Qarun, he may think that he obtained all of the things through his own hard work, knowledge and ability; and he may start to appropriate the Divine blessings for himself and assume that he has a power and might. He may feel conceited and go beyond the limit. So, the command of sacrifice reminds him that all the possessions and commodities, vineyards and orchards, wealth and money are the bounties of Allah the Almighty who bestowed them on him and that Allah is the real owner. He informs man that he cannot have anything without His permission and will. Thus, man gives up arrogance and becomes humble. He starts to behave like a real servant and tries to give thanks to Allah. And that behaviour becomes an opportunity to approach Allah and gain His consent.
- Allah does not need sacrifice, nor does he need all of the other worship performed by man. However, with the command of sacrifice, Allah tests His servant, measures their devotion and their attention to that Divine decree and their closeness to Him. The following is expressed in the Qur’an (Al-Hajj: 37).
“It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah, it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that you may glorify Allah for His guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do good…”
As it is seen in this verse too, the purpose of sacrificing animals is sincerity, devotion and being close to Allah. The purpose is to remember Allah with the bounties He gave and especially to gain His consent. Unless those purposes and aims are intended, no matter how much meat is given away nor how much blood is shed, they have no value before Allah.
- Sacrifice is also an opportunity to remind the salvation of Prophet Isma’il (Ishmael Peace be upon him) as a favour of Allah from being sacrificed. Allah, the Most High, tested Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham Peace be upon him) and wanted him to sacrifice his only son, Isma’il. Both Prophet Ibrahim and his son Prophet Isma’il (Peace be upon them) complied with that will sincerely. Prophet Ibrahim laid down his son and started to slaughter him in the throat. However, the knife did not cut Prophet Isma’il (Peace be upon him). It was because the intention of Allah, the Most high, was not Prophet Isma’il’s being slaughtered but to show and inform angels and people who will come till the end of time about those two noble Prophet’s inaccessible submission, obedience, devotion and generosity. Because that wisdom occurred, Allah the Almighty had commanded the knife not to cut Prophet Isma’il. Instead of Prophet Isma’il, He had sent down a ram to them from Paradise to be sacrificed. So sacrificing is a commemoration of that great and exemplary event.
There are many characteristics that define the Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) – but one of his most revered qualities is that of complete and unwavering submission to Allah. His prayers and supplications are quoted more than any other Prophet in the Qur’an, and have deep meanings for us today. They are prayers of deep pain, and deep hope. They are prayers of acceptance, and ambition.
- Every year, thousands of animals are sacrificed by Muslims. It is, in a sense, a symbolic expression that a Muslim can sacrifice anything he has in order to worship Allah and to please Him, to comply with His command and give up anything he has for His sake.
- The decree of sacrificing an animal imposed by Islam is also a great bounty and mercy upon people. Poor people who have had difficulties and have not been able to eat meat for one year may have an opportunity to get a lot of meat to eat with the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha. Thus, the aspect of Islam that realises social justice will be seen.
Dear brothers and sisters, Eid sacrifice is a great Sunnah of Islam recommended for any Muslim who is able to do it. This is the opinion of the majority of the scholars of Islam.
It is also one of the good deeds of Islam, as Aisha narrated from the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as saying:
“No son of Adam has done any deed on the Day of Immolation more likable to Allah than shedding blood (slaughtering the Eid sacrifice). So be pleased with it.”
Most scholars believe that slaughtering the Eid sacrifice is better than giving its value as alms. The sacrificed animal should be from the livestock (cows, camels, sheep, goats). As for the prevailing view in this concern might be that the sheep and goats are the best animals for the sacrifice according to some scholars because the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) never slaughtered on the Eid sacrifice but these kinds of animals. But the camels, the cows and the buffaloes could all be slaughtered as Eid sacrifices.
The Eid sacrifice should be in a good state and fat enough so that its meat could be eaten as this is a symbol of Allah. And Allah the Almighty says:
“And whosoever honours the symbols of Allah, then it is truly from the piety of the heart.” [Qur’an, 22:32]
The Eid sacrifice should be more than six months old if it is a sheep as narrated by Ibn Majah in a Hadith traceable in ascending order to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as saying:
“Only a Jaza’ah of sheep can suffice as Eid sacrifice.”
And the Jaza’ah is the sheep that is at least six months old. As for Eid sacrifice from the goats, it should be at least one year old. The cow, if chosen to be Eid sacrifice, two years old. But the camel should not be less than five years old.
On the other hand, one should avoid making sacrifice with a defective animal. Al-Barrah Ibn Azib said the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) stood before us and said:
“Four (kinds of animals) are not sufficient in the sacrifices: The one-eyed whose loss of one eye is evident, and the sick whose sickness is evident, the limp whose limpness is evident and the skinny one which has no flesh or fat on it.” [Al-Bukhari]
The majority of scholars are agreed that the four defects that are mentioned in the previous Hadith could be taken as a reference for other kinds of defects. So any defect that is equal to one of them or worse than it makes the sacrifice invalid like (the blind or one which lacks one foot).
The castrated animal can suffice because the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) made Eid sacrifice with two castrated rams.
Also the sheep that was born without a fat tail or which has at least half of its fat tail can suffice as Eid sacrifice. But the sheep whose fat tail was completely cut off does not suffice.
One sheep or one goat is sufficient as Eid sacrifice for the man as well as his own family. It is also lawful for seven people to slaughter one cow or camel as Eid sacrifice. Jabir Ibn Abdullah said:
“In the year of Hudaibiyyah, we along with Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him), sacrificed a camel for seven persons and a cow for seven persons.” [Muslim]
The participant among the seven involves his family with him because the seventh here is the same as a sheep or a goat.
The time for slaughtering it is after the Eid-ul-Adha prayer and slaughtering it before the prayer does not suffice as the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“The first (act) with which we start our day (the day of Eid-ul-Adha) is that we offer prayer. We then return and sacrifice the animals and he who does that in fact has adhered to our Sunnah (practice). And he who slaughters the (animal on that day before the Eid prayer), for him (the slaughtering of animal is directed to the acquiring of) meat for his family, and there is nothing of the sort of sacrifice in it.”
He (Peace be upon him) also said:
“He who sacrifice the (animal) before offering (Eid) prayer, he should offer again in its stead, and he who did not sacrifice the animal should slaughter it by reciting the name of Allah.”
It is likable for one to witness slaughtering his sacrifice or to slaughter it himself and to divide it into three parts. He eats one third with his family, he gives out one third as alms and one third as gifts as the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said to his beloved daughter Fatimah (May Allah be pleased with her):
“Be present when your Eid sacrifice is slaughtered. Allah forgives you as the first drop of its blood comes out.” [Narrated by Al-Baihaqi, and Abdul-Razzaq in their collections of Hadith]
He should also say when slaughtering it:
“Bismillah, O Allah! It is from Your favour and for You.”
Respected brothers and sisters, although Hajj is off-limits for the majority of Muslims around the world this year, know that the blessings of this time of the year are not.
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O Allah! Forgive our sins, purify our hearts and safeguard our chastity.
Oh Allah! Make every single aspect of our life be for You and in service of all your creation, irrespective of their race, tribe, region or religion.
Oh Allah! Remove all false intentions that we have.
Oh Allah! save humanity from being its own enemy. Protect your creations from oppression. Save our country and all the people of Nigeria from internal and external oppressors, and give them justice.
Oh Allah! Protect us all from violence, fear and danger, You are our Protector.
Oh Allah! increase us in beneficial knowledge, and let this knowledge be with sincerity, not for seeking fame, glory, status or material wealth. Let this knowledge serve your cause in a way that you accept, and let it benefit humanity.
Oh Allah! Safeguard and protect our children and all the children of the world from evil people, they are surrounded by so much temptation and forbidden things, protect them our Lord from all of the evil influences that are around them, give them friends who will strengthen their Iman (faith) and help them stay on the straight path.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: email@example.com or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Dhul-Hijjah 3, 1441 A. H. (July 24, 2020)
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