By Yusuf Sulaiman (6th Year ʿĀlim Student, DarusSalam Seminary)
The History of Uḍḥiyah
In a well-known account, the Prophet Ibrāhīm n was ordered to slaughter his son, the Prophet Ismāʿīl n, as a means of testing his obedience to Allāh D. In compliance with God’s command, he proceeded. However, the Prophet Ismāʿil nwas replaced with a ram. Allāh informs us of this incident in Sūrat al-Ṣāffāt:
فَلَمَّا أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُ لِلْجَبِينِ وَنَادَيْنَاهُ أَنْ يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَا إِنَّا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ إِنَّ هَذَا لَهُوَ الْبَلَاءُ الْمُبِينُ وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ
So, at last, when they had willingly submitted themselves [to the will of God], and he had laid him down [for sacrifice, his son’s head turned away] upon his temple, We then called out to him: O Abraham! Truly, you have confirmed the [truth revealed in your] vision. Thus do We reward those who excel in good. Indeed, this was most surely a manifest test [for father and son]. But we ransomed him with a sacrifice of a magnificent offering. (37:103-107)
This practice continues during the Ḥajj pilgrimage when the pilgrims sacrifice an animal for their ritual pilgrimage to be complete. Even for non-pilgrims, the annual sacrifice is an obligation. This is called “uḍḥiyah.” Allāh D mandated this rite upon the Muslims during the second year AH when He revealed the following verse:
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ
Pray to your Lord and sacrifice [to Him alone] (108:2)
Some Virtues of the Uḍḥiyah
Uḍḥiyah, like all other ritual practices, is ordained for the ultimate purpose of seeking God’s pleasure. The Prophet ﷺ informs us of the enormous rewards that lie behind the ritual sacrifice:
يا فاطمة قومي إلى أضحيتك فاشهديها فإن لك بكل قطرة تقطر من دمها أن يغفر لك ما سلف من ذنوبك قالت يا رسول الله ألنا خاصة أهل البيت أو لنا وللمسلمين؟ قال بل لنا وللمسلمين
O Fāṭimah! Proceed to your sacrificial animal and witness it. Indeed, for every drop of blood that falls from it, your past sins are forgiven. She said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Is this a special privilege for the People of the Household (the Prophet’s family) or is (this reward) for us and all Muslims alike?’ He ﷺ said: ‘It is certainly for us and all Muslims.’”
Some Legal Rulings Specific to the Uḍḥiyah
The sacrifice is mandatory (ar. wājib), according the Ḥanafī School. According to the Shāfiʿī School, it is an emphasized sunnah (ar. sunnah muʾakkadah). Every adult who has sufficient wealth on the day of Eid has been commanded to slaughter.
The niṣāb that is mentioned for zakāh is used to assess one’s wealth. If one possesses the niṣāb amount on these days, he must observe the uḍḥiyah. The Ḥanafīs consider that one who possesses two-hundred dirhams or twenty dīnārs, excluding what is needed for his home, basic needs, and debts, is wealthy. That is equal to $5,310.
It should also be noted that one who intends to offer the sacrifice should avoid clipping his nails and trimming his hair. By doing so, he imitates the pilgrims who are performing Ḥajj. The Prophet ﷺ informed us:
عَنْ أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِذَا رَأَيْتُمْ هِلَالَ ذِي الْحِجَّةِ، وَأَرَادَ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يُضَحِّيَ فَلْيُمْسِكْ عَنْ شَعْرِهِ وَأَظْفَارِهِ
On the authority of Umm Salamah, the Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said: When you see the moon of Dhū al-Ḥijjah, and one of you intends to sacrifice (an animal), then let him refrain (from trimming) his hair and nails.
The sacrifice should be done after performing the Eid prayer. It should not be done prior to one completing the congregational prayer, however, as long as an Eid prayer has been performed somewhere in the city, the sacrifice will still be valid.
The sacrifice is valid until the sunset on the twelfth day of Dhū al-Ḥijjah. It is preferable to do the sacrifice during the daylight hours.
The Sacrificial Animal
Since this is an act through which Allāh’s pleasure is sought, one should take the utmost care in presenting to Allah the best that he can offer.
Animals that have any defects must be avoided; those in prime condition should be selected for the sacrifice.
The animal must reach the required age, which, one year for a goat or sheep, two years for cattle, and five years for a camel. However, if a six-month lamb looks as big as a one-year old sheep, then it may be slaughtered as well.
An animal, after being specified for sacrifice, cannot be sold nor gifted away.
A tripart division of the meat is recommended (ar. mustaḥabb): a third to be partaken by the one slaughtering, a third given away in charity, and a third given as gifts to friends and family.
We ask Allāh to accept our efforts and sacrifice. Āmīn.
 Kashf al-Astār ʿan Zawāʾid al-Bazzār, 1202.
 Radd al-Muḥtār, 5:198.
 Masjid DarusSalam, “Zakat Calculator,” July 22, 2020, http://www.masjidds.org/zakat-calculator/. Today’s gold price is $60.70 per gram. The current value of gold x 87.48 grams = $5,310.
 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 1977.
 Hidāyah, 4:83.
 Ibid., 4:87.