The Month of Dhul Hijjah
All praise is due to Allah who has guided us to the right path and through whose mercy we were able to complete the blessed month of Ramadhan with fasting and optional worship (i.e. the month which all Muslims have observed two months ago). Like the month of Ramadhan there are also other blessed months in the Islamic Calendar that are known for their great amount of virtues and blessings. One such month is that of Dhul Hijjah, the month in which two great acts of worship in Islam are conducted which are known to every Muslim throughout the world. They are, Hajj and Qurbani. We thank Allah for having blessed us with another opportunity to reap a great amount of spiritual benefits and blessings through the presence of this sacred month of Dhul Hijjah.
In a tradition narrated by Imam Tirmizi and Ibn Majah, the blessed Messenger of Allah, (S.A) said: There are no other days in which doing good actions are more beloved to Allah than the ten days of Dhul Hijah, (i.e. the first 10 days), the fast of one day from it equals to the fast of one year and the standing by night in worship on any of these nights equals to the standing of Lailatul Qadr.
The hadith shows how virtuous and blessed the days and the nights of the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah are in the sight of Allah, as such, muslims should take maximum benefit of such precious and valuable time. Hazrat Aisha (R.A) said that there was a young man who at the sighting of the moon for Dhul Hijjah would begin to observe optional fast. The information reached the Prophet (S.A) who then summoned him and asked, What is the reason you begin to fast (at the sighting of the Dhul Hijjah moon)? The young man replied, May my mother and father be sacrificed for you, O Prophet of Allah; these are the days of Hajj and other symbols of Islam. Is it not possible that through these acts of mine Allah will also include me into the supplications of those righteous people who are in the worship of Allah through their Hajj? The Prophet (S.A.) replied, Certainly (Allah would include you) and for every day you have fasted, you will be rewarded by Allah as if you had freed 100 slaves, sacrificed 100 camels (for Allah in Qurbani) and given 100 horses to the Mujahideen to fight in the path of Allah. It is because of such virtues, which are promised for doing good actions during the course of the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, Abu Darda (R.A) a great companion of the Prophet (S.A.) used to say, Pay special attention to the fast of the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah. During these days supplicate much to Allah for His forgiveness and give much sadaqah for I have heard the Prophet (S.A) saying, Woe unto that person who is deprived of the blessings and goodness of these 10 days.
In another tradition reported by Abdullah Ibn Umar (R.A), he narrates that the Prophet (S.A) said, There are no other days on which performing good actions are dearer and greater to Allah than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. On these days you should frequently recite such kalimahs as Laa ilaaha il-lal-laah, Alhamdu lil-laah and Al-laahu akbar. It is for this reason the Sahabahs and pious predecessors engaged themselves constantly in these kalimahs whether they were walking, sitting, lying, in the market places or at home. The Prophet (S.A) also highlighted the greatness of another day, which is found within the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah. It is the day which is known as the Day of Arafah, where all the pilgrims (during Hajj) must gather at the sacred plains of Arafah to remain in supplication to Allah for the entire day. In this regard the Prophet (S.A) said, The fast on the day of Arafah (i.e. the 9th of Dhul Hijjah) extinguishes the sins of two years, one year before and one year after. (Muslim)
Hajj or Pilgrimage means a special visit to a special place during a specific time. It is the fourth pillar of Islam which is performed in the month of Dhul Hijjah over a period of five days, from the 8th to the 13th. Although it is a physical ritual act of worship which becomes compulsory upon a believer when he/she has the necessary means and provisions to undertake the journey, muslims believe that in reality it is the response to a call which was made by the great prophet and friend of Allah, Hazrat Ibrahm (A.S). This fact is clearly borne out by the teachings of the Holy Quraan which states that Allah commanded Ibrahim (A.S) in the following words, "And proclaim the pilgrimage among men, they will come to you on foot and on every camel, lean on journeys, through deep and distant mountain highways." (22:27)
According to authentic traditions, it is narrated that after Ibrahim (A.S) and his son had completed the construction of the Holy Kaba upon the order of Allah, he (Ibrahim) received the above command. Upon this, Ibrahim (A.S) submitted to Allah, How can I make my voice reach out to mankind? (It is important to know that at the time of receiving the command there were only 3 people on the soils of Makka and Madina, they were Ibrahim, his wife Hajirah and his young son Ismail (A.S). As such, Ibrahim realized that it was very difficult for him to reach out to mankind through his proclamation of the order of Hajj) In reply to Ibrahim (A.S), Allah said, Call and I would cause it to reach. And so, Ibrahim (A.S) called out to mankind in the following words, O Mankind! Your Lord has taken a house (as His house), so make pilgrimage to it. The mountains were humbled by this so much so that the statement reached the deep recesses of the earth. It was made to be heard by all mankind even to those who were still in the wombs of their mothers and backs of their fathers. Everything heard it and answered with the words Here I am O Allah, here I am. These are the very same words recited by pilgrims on Hajj.
Compulsion of Hajj
"Pilgrimage to the House is a duty men owe to Allah, Those who have the ability."(3:97)
Ability, in the above verse, means the health, strength and wealth to do the pilgrimage. The verse goes on to say, "Whoever disbelieves, Allah is independent of the world."(3:97)
It means whoever refuses to perform the Hajj then Allah is not in need of it. In a Hadith reported by Imam Muslim, it is stated that the Prophet (S.A) delivered a sermon and said in it, "Oh Mankind! Pilgrimage has been made incumbent upon you, so you should make the pilgrimage. The reward of an accepted Hajj is known from the hadith, "Whoever perform the pilgrimage without talking indecently and committing any faults returns from the pilgrimage as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him."
Allah says in the Quraan about those people upon whom the Hajj was compulsory and died without performing it, "O you who believe let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And spend something out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on you before death should come to any of you and he should say, Oh my lord, why don't you give me a little time that I may give some charity."(63:9-10)
Hajj is such a unique form of worship that the benefits of all other acts of worship can be found in it. For example:
- In salaat we face the direction of the Kaaba but in Hajj we are able to go directly to the Kaaba and look at it.
- In Zakaah we part with a small amount of our wealth but in Hajj we have to part with a larger portion including our strength, health and our time.
- In fasting we are taught to observe self control during the day. However in Hajj we must have self control during the day and the night (while we are in the state of Ihram).
Hajj teaches us many things. It teaches us that to achieve closeness to Allah we must sacrifice and the closer we are the more sacrifice we must make. An example of this is the life of Ibrahim (A.S). From his early age his sacrifice began.
- He was thrown into fire
- He had no children until he was 86 years old.
- He was turned out of his hometown while he was only a child.
- He was ordered to sacrifice his son.
Many of the rites of Hajj point to this direction of sacrifice. First of all spending the money and the time is a great sacrifice for most people.
Then there is the hardship and the turmoil of journey. Then there are the rigours and hardship of the restriction of Ihram.
Along with this we then have the running between Safaa and Marwa where the pilgrim walks seven times between the mounts of Safaa and Marwa, re-enacting the action of Hajirah the mother of Ismail and the wife of Ibrahim (A.S).
This is also connected to sacrifice. Hazrat Ibrahim after living for 86 years without a child, when he does receive an offspring, Allah commanded him to carry the child and his mother to the barren, red valley of Makka and leave them there.
This is where Hajirah ran between Safaa and Marwa in search of water or people with water.
It was at this time that the well of Zam Zam came into being at the heels of her son, Ismail (A.S). There we see the great sacrifice of the father, mother and son.
All these acts show that sacrifice is necessary to get closer to Allah. Another rite of Hajj that signifies sacrifice is the sacrifice of animals, which is connected to an even greater sacrifice, that of a father sacrificing his son.
It is mentioned in the Holy Quraan: "O my Lord! Grant me a righteous son, so We gave him news of a boy, forbearing. Then when the son reached the age of work with him, he said, "O my son! I see in a vision that I offer you in sacrifice. Now see what is your view." The son said, "O my father! Do as you are commanded, you will find me, if Allah so wills, one practicing patience. So when they both submitted to Allah and he had laid him on his forehead we called out to him, O Ibrahim! You have already fulfilled our vision Thus indeed do We reward those who do right for this was truly a trial. And We ransomed him with a greater sacrifice."(37:100-107). The Holy Quraan teaches us that we will not attain righteousness until we sacrifice that which we love most.
From this incident of Ibrahim and Ismail (A.S), comes another rite of Hajj. The pelting of the Jamaraat or the pillars. These pillars represent the three places where Satan tried to dissuade Ibrahim and Ismail (A.S) from carrying out the command of Allah.
Hajj also teaches us to observe the sanctity of place and time. For Hajj cannot be performed in any other place but Makka and its environs and at no other time but in Dhul Hijjah from the 8th to 13th.
It teaches us about the brotherhood of mankind under the banner of Laa ilaa ha il-lal-laah. A gathering of people from every corner of the world with one goal, to please Allah and to fulfill His commands.
Hajj is the similitude of death. The pilgrims leave their homeland for the holy cities. Then leaves everything and everyone behind. The only thing they carry is the provision that they made for their journey. Death is the same. We leave everything and everyone behind. We only carry provisions for the hereafter.
When the Haaji (Pilgrim) puts on the Ihram it reminds of how he will be dressed for his burial.
On the plain of Arafah he is reminded of how it will be on the Day of Judgement. The sun will be above his body and he will be concerned with begging for mercy and fearful of sinful acts. All of these acts and rites that remind us of death are meant to also remind us to prepare for death.
Preparation for death means obeying Allah. One of His command is to perform Hajj. We should all make the intention to perform the Hajj Inshaa Allah.
Qurbani is an Urdu word derived from the Arabic origin Qurbaan which indicates any means of nearness to Allah, be it an animal sacrifice or even common sadaqah (charity). In usage, the word Qurbani, is mostly used for the sacrifice of an animal or any act of worship to Allah to gain nearness to Him. It is also referred to as Adhiya.
In history the very first sacrifice of an animal, in the name of Allah to be accepted was performed by Haabeel (Abel), the son of Adam. He presented a ram while his brother Qaabiil (Cain) presented a sacrifice of sadaqah from the harvest of the fields. The Quraan mentions:
they offered each a sacrifice. (5:27)
The sacrifice of animals annually on the occasion of Eidul Adhaa is linked to the sacrifice of Ibrahim (A.S). In a narration from Zaid bin Arqam, he narrates that the Sahaba of Rasullah (S.A) enquired: O Prophet of Allah, what are these sacrifice (of animals)? He replied: It is the sunnah (practice) of your father Ibrahim.
Since our sacrifice is linked to Ibrahim (A.S) a short history of his sacrifice is necessary to be mentioned. Even at an early age Ibrahim (A.S) made sacrifice for Allah like leaving his parents and community and being thrown into the flaming fire etc.
Allah tested Ibrahim (A.S) and his family. He was commanded to take his wife, Hajirah, and the suckling infant to the hot and barren desert of the Hijaaz, (which is now Makka) and to leave them there. Hajirah (A.S) left the infant kicking on the sand and ran to and fro, from Safaa to Marwa in search of water but Allah provided for them the well of Zam Zam.
At the age of 86 he made dua to Allah for a son and Allah granted him Ismail (A.S). Allah says: So we gave him tidings of a gentle son. (37:101).
When this beloved son, Ismail was a young boy, Ibrahim (A.S) saw in a dream, for three consecutive nights, that he was slaughtering his son and he understood it to be a command from Allah. Immediately, Ibrahim, his wife and son unhesitatingly submitted to the order of Allah with patience, obedience and firm faith.
Satan then tried to prevent this act of obedience and sacrifice. He failed at influencing the mother and tried several times to deter and trick Ibrahim. Ibrahim (A.S) pelted him on three occasions at Jamarut Aqba, Wusta and Ula with seven stones each times, reciting - Allahu Akbar.
Eventually Ismail was placed for the slaughtering But the knife could not penetrate, he then heard the voice of Allah saying, O Ibrahim you have surely fulfilled the dream. (37:108). A ram was then slaughtered in his place.
On Whom is Qurbani Wajib?
As a commemoration of this sacrifice of Ibrahim (A.S), Qurbani is considered a ritual of Muslims all over the world. Allah says And perform salaah for your sustainer and sacrifice. (108:2) The Prophet (S.A) lived in Madinah after the Hijrah for ten years and every year he did a Qurbaani. (Tirmizi) Thus the majority of scholars have considered Qurbani to be waajib on every Muslim (male or female) who is of sound mind, mature and possesses wealth on the Days of Sacrifice to the amount of the nisaab. (i.e. the minimum amount of wealth which makes zakaah compulsory on a person).
It is not waajib on a musaafir (a traveler according to the Shariah), nor upon a child or an insane person even though they may possess wealth.
The Days of Qurbani
The days of Qurbani are the 10th, 11th and 12th of Dhul Hijjah. The actual time commences from after the Eid Salaah and ends just until before sunset on the 12th of Dhul Hijjah.
Although it is allowed to do sacrifice during the nights, it is however not advisable to do so. The sacrifice done before Eid Salaah is not proper. The best day to do the sacrifice is the day of Eid, the 10th, then the 11th and then the 12th.
The Qurbani Animal
Qurbani can be done with camels, oxen, buffaloes, cows, goats and sheep.
A camel must be at least 5 years old, oxen; buffaloes & cows must not be less that two years. One of these animals will suffice as seven shares (i.e. seven people may slaughter one) but all must have the intention of Qurbaani and not for the acquistion of meat.
Goats must not be less than one year old. Sheep should also be one year old. However a sheep less than one year old but resembling the size of a one-year old can be sacrificed.
Animals for sacrifice must be free from defects such as:
- blindness in both or one eye,
- animals born without ears or a third or more of an ear or the tail cut off,
- a horn broken off from the root,
- majority of teeth has fallen out,
- animals that are squint eyed,
- animals with total lameness of one or more legs,
- animals sick and weak so that it cannot walk to the place of sacrifice.
Note: animals which are castrated or those born without horns or part of the horn is broken can be used for Qurbani.
The Qurbani Meat
The meat of Qurbani should be divided into three parts. One part for the family, one for relatives and friends, and one for the poor and needy. This division is only mustahab (commendable) and is not compulsory. As such it is allowed that all the meat be kept for oneself and family if one has a large family.
The meat can be kept for any length of time.
The meat of animals which are shared should be distributed by weight and not by estimation. The price of the animal for slaughtering must be fixed before slaughtering and not determined by the weight of the meat.
It is permissible to give the meat of Qurbani to non-muslims.
It is Haraam to sell the Qurbani meat. The skin or meat of the Qurbani animal cannot be given to a slaughterer or skinner as a payment. It is allowed that the skin be kept for personal use or be given away with the niyyat of sadaqah (charity).
According to the Hanafi Jurists, there are seven parts of lawful animals that are considered as foul and are abominable (Makruuh tahriimah). They are: Flowing blood; penis; testicles; vagina; glands; bladder; and gall bladder (bile).
Rules at the time of Slaughtering
- It is preferable for the owner of the animal to slaughter the animal himself provided that he is able to slaughter. If he cannot do it then one may delegate another muslim who is acquainted with the laws of slaughtering.
- If one has delegated another then it is desirable that the owner or sharer of the animal be present.
- The Islamic slaughtering requires that the gullet, windpipe and the two jugular veins be severed. At least three out of the four must be cut together with the recital of the name of Allah.
- The knife should be very sharp. It should not be sharpened in front of the animal.
- An animal should not be slaughtered in the presence of another.
- An animal should not be slaughtered with such force that the head is severed or the knife reaches the spinal cord.
- After slaughtering the head should not be cut off nor should the animal be skinned until it is completely dead.
(Al-laahu akbar Al-laahu akbar, Laa ilaaha il-lal-laahu wal-laahu akbar, allahu akbar wa lil-laa hil hamd.)
It is wajib upon males and females to recite this takbeer once after every fard salaah from after the Fajr salaah of the 9th of Dhul Hijjah untill after the fard of Asr salaah of the 13th. The takbeer should be recited whether the salaah is performed individually or with Jamaah. Males will say it at a moderate voice while females will recite it softly.
Sunnah Acts on the Day of Eid ul Adhaa
- to awake early in the morning,
- to perform ghusl and miswaak,
- wear ones best clothes,
- to apply Itr (perfume),
- to abstain from eating anything before Eid Salaah until sacrifice meat is available,
- to recite the takbeeraat audibly while going for Eid salaah,
- to go for Eid Salaah in one route and return by another,
- to go early for Eid Salaah
Rewards of Qurbani
Hadith from Aisha (R.A), she says that Rasulullah says: There is nothing dearer to Allah during the days of sacrifice than the sacrificing of animals. The sacrificed animals shall come on the day of Qiyaamah with its horns, hairs and hooves. The sacrifice is accepted by Allah before the blood reaches the ground. Therefore sacrifice with an open and happy heart. (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)
From Zaid bin Arqam, the companions asked the Prophet (S.A), What benefit do we get from it (sacrifice)? He answered, a reward for every grain of hair or fiber of wool. (Ahmad, Ibn Majah)
The person who sacrifices with a willing heart and with the niyyat of reward, then on the Day of Judgement that sacrifice will shield him from the fire of Hell.
Allah looks at the heart of the believers in all their actions. Through their sacrifice, Allah wants to see the Taqwa, (piety) and Ikhlaas, (sincerity). Allah says, The meat nor the blood reaches Allah but it is the piety from you that reaches Him.
The sacrifice would signify our willingness to give up our vain desires for Allah; our determination to submit to His will even though it may mean to sacrifice our wealth, our family, our lives, our comfort, our time etc. May Allah reward us with a blessed Eidul Adhaa.
The Method of Slaughtering
When the animal is laid down facing the Qiblah it is sunnah to recite this dua:
In-nii waj-jah tu waj hi ya lil-la dhii fa taras-sa maa waa ti wal arda hanii faw-wa maa ana minal mush rikiin.
Certainly I have directed my face truely towards Him who created the Heavens and the Earth and I am not from those who ascribe partners to Allah.
In-na salaatii wa nusukii wa mahyaa ya wa ma maati lil-laahi rab-bil aalamiin. Al-laa hum-ma min ka wa laka.
Verily my worship and my sacrifice, my living and my dieing are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. O Allah this sacrifice is from You and is for You.
Then the slaughter will begin. While slaughtering the animal one should read:
Bismil-laahi Al-laahu Akbar
In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest.
Immediately after the sacrifice the following dua is read:
Al-laa hum-ma ta qab-bal hu min (nii) ka maa taqab-bal ta min habiibika muham-mad, wa khaliilika ibraahiim, alaihimas-salaatu was-salaam.
O Allah accept from (me) like you have accepted from Your beloved Muhammad (S.A) and Your friend Ibrahim (A.S)
Note: At this point the name or names of those whose Qurbani is being done should be called. If one is reciting the Dua in Arabic then instead of the word (Nii) in brackets the name or names of those for whom the sacrifice is done is mentioned.
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