What is AI-Ud-hiyyah?
The Arabic word Ud-hiyyah' comes from the trilateral Arabic root daad • haa • alif, represented here as d • h • aa, signifying mid-morning. The linguistic meaning of al-udhiyyah is the animal that is slaughtered the day of 'Eed-Al-Ad-haa. In Sharee`ah, divinely revealed Law, Udhiyyah means the ritual sacrifice performed with the intention of coming closer to Allah, the sole Creator of all being, on specific days and fulfilling explicit conditions. Hence, anything slaughtered on other days for the sake of Allah is not an Udhiyyah, and what is slaughtered on the designated days of sacrifice, but not directly for the sake of Allah in fulfillment of the ritual of that day, such as a butcher slaughtering for sale, is not an Udhiyyah.
The prescription of Al-Ud-hiyyah
The sacrificial slaughter (al-ud-hiyyah) on the days of slaughter (Ayyam an-Nahr, the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th of Thul-Hijjah, the 12th month of the lunar calendar) is something prescribed in Islam as part of the Hajj ritual. The Quran, the Sunnah and the consensus of Muslim scholars (Ijmaa`) establish its practice. As for the Quran, Allah, Splendid and Resplendent, states in verse two of Surah 108, AI-Kawthar (The Abundant Goodness) what means: “So perform the salah for your Lord and slaughter (an animal)." This is a commandment to the Prophet which makes it an injunction upon all believers since they must follow him. As for proof from the Sunnah of the Prophet it was his established tradition as well as that of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and those who followed them in faith to slaughter an animal (usually a sheep) on the Day of Al-Ad'haa. There are numerous reports of the Prophet and his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, making this sacrifice on 'Eed and commanding others to likewise sacrifice.
The wisdom behind Al-Ud-hiyyah
It is impossible for the human being to completely fathom the wisdom behind the Udhiyyah. We can, however, discern some of its wisdoms:
a. It is an expression of gratefulness to Allah for bringing one into existence.
b. It is a revival of the primordial way of Ibraaheem, Father of Prophets, may Allah exalt their mention. So when the believer slaughters an animal, he is reminded of how Ibraheem and Ismaa'eel, may Allah exalt their mention, patiently obeyed the commandment of Allah and put forward their own lives (in the case of Ismaa'eel) and the lives of their sons (in the case of Ibraaheem) as a sacrifice to Allah, Most High and Exalted. Thus when the believer remembers this, he strives to follow in their footsteps.
c. AI-Ud-hiyyah is an open act of refutation against those who say it is unlawful for human beings to slaughter animals and eat meat due to the pain it causes them or on account of the sacredness of their lives.
d. Al-Udhiyyah establishes that the most humane method of killing an animal is to slaughter it.
e. Al-Ud-hiyyah increases our gratitude to Allah as an overt demonstration of how He subjugated the earth to humankind and made moral the taking of the life of these designated beings for the human being's own needs.
The nature of the Ud-hiyyah prescription
The majority of scholars are of the opinion that the Ud-hiyyah is an emphatically recommended action following the Prophet's, salallaahu alayhi wa sallam, way, Sunnah Mu’akkadah. This was also the opinion of two of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, Abu Bakr and 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both. Their proof that it was not obligatory (Fardh) was the statement of a the Prophet “If the 10 (first days of Thul-Hijjah) enter and one of you wishes to slaughter, then let him not take from his hair or skin anything” [Muslim]. The Hanafis say it is Waajib (obligatory) based on the previously mentioned verse from the Quran [Quran 108:2].
Furthermore, those who claim that it is Waajib say it is Fardh ‘ayn for every one upon whom its conditions duly devolve. However, those who say it is recommended hold that it is so for every household upon which its conditions duly devolve, not every person. The definition of a ‘household’ here is people living together whose finances are intertwined and who are related in one way or another, even if they are distant relations.
Conditions under which it is obligatory, according to those who hold it as an obligation, and under which it is Sunnah, according to those who hold that it is Sunnah
a. That the one slaughtering be a Muslim. The Ud-hiyyah is not stipulated from a non-Muslim because it is an action to get closer to Allah and one must submit one's will freely to Allah's Will before trying to come closer to Him.
b. That the one slaughtering be a resident, not a traveler. The traveler is not obligated to perform the Ud-hiyyah since it must be a sacrifice of an animal and it is a burden to have to carry an animal with one on a journey.
c. That the one slaughtering be in a state of financial ease. The proof of this is the statement of the Prophet conditioning the Ud-hiyyah for “One who has ample wealth…”
d. That the one slaughtering be an adult of sound mind. This is a condition according to those who say the Ud-hiyyah is Sunnah. As for those who hold that is an obligation, some say that the Ud-hiyyah must be performed with the wealth of the insane, or the child if he is wealthy, on their behalf.
Conditions for the validity of Al-Ud-hiyyah.
a. What is slaughtered must be of what is normally considered livestock, namely cattle, sheep, goats, camels, water buffaloes and the like. So slaughtering, for example, one or many chickens does not count.
b. It matters not whether what is slaughtered is male or female.
c. The Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, were never reported to have slaughtered anything other than the above mentioned animals for 'Eed al-Ad-haa.
d. A sheep or goat counts for one person, while a camel or cow can be shared by up to seven people. Jaabir, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “We slaughtered with the Prophet in the Year of (the Truce) of Hudaybiyyah seven to a camel and seven to a cow.
e. The animal slaughtered must be fully grown, about six months for a goat, one year for a sheep, three years for a cow, and five years for a camel.
f. The sacrifice should also be free from defects, especially those which affect the meat.
The time of AI-Ud-hiyyah
The time of al-Ud-hiyyah begins at Fajr (dawn) of the second 'Eed. However, it must be performed after the 'Eed prayer, permissibly before the Khutbah (sermon), but preferably after it. If one lives in an area with a number of 'Eed prayers, it is sufficient for one of them to complete its prayer. If one lives in a place where the 'Eed prayer is normally held but is delayed to the second day of 'Eed for some reason, or is not held at all, then the time of slaughter begins when the due time for 'Eed prayer on the first day ends, and that would be after the sun crosses its zenith. However, if one lives in a place where there is no 'Eed prayer, then one can slaughter any time after sunrise. The time of sacrifice ends, according to the Hanafis, Maalikis, and Hanbalis, with sunset of the third day of 'Eed. However, the Shaafi'is are of the opinion that the Days of Slaughter are four, including 'Eed Day. Their proof is the reliable statement of the Prophet : “All the days of Tashreeq (of laying out meat for jerking) are days of sacrifice.” Any sacrifice outside these times is not an Udhiyyah.
Distribution of the meat
The Sunnah of al-Ud-hiyyah is fulfilled by letting the blood of the sacrifice flow, that is, by performing the sacrifice. However, it is preferable that one distribute a third of the meat to the poor in charity, give a third away as gifts to neighbors, relatives, and friends, and keep a third of the meat for one's household. Furthermore, they should be in equal proportions, one third each. If one's own household is in need of the meat, the one slaughtering should keep most of it. If one has a needy relative and is not in need, one should give most of it to him or her. And if the one sacrificing and his or her relatives are wealthy, then one should give most of it away in charity.