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Aqeeqah (the sacrifice)

List of Topics:

(A) Introduction

(B) Its Prescription

The ahaadeeth about the prescription of the "Aqeeqah are very many. From them is that which al-Bukhaaree reports: that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: <With the child there is "Aqeeqah, so spill blood for him and remove the harm from him>1 And from them is the hadeeth of Samurah who said: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: <Every child is in pledge (raheenah)2 for its "Aqeeqah which is sacrificed for it on its seventh day, and it is named on it, and its head is shaved.>3 and other ahaadeeths.

(C) The Ruling for the 'Aqeeqah.
The scholars differ about the ruling for the 'Aqeeqah upon three sayings:

The first saying:
That it is obligatory (waajib). This is the view of some of the scholars such as Imam Ahmad in one narration, al-Hasan, al-Layth and Ibn Hazm. They use as their proof that it is obligatory the order of the Prophet in his saying: <So spill blood>. And also its being declared like something held in pledge for a debt as occurs in the hadeeth of Samurah.

The second saying: That it is not prescribed, or that it is merely something permissible and lawful. This was the view of Imam Aboo Haneefah rahimahullaah-.

The third saying: The scholars of this saying take a middle view saying that it is a recommended (mustahab) sunnah, and it is the view of many of the scholars such as Imam Maalik, ash-Shaafi'ee, and it is what is preferred and best known from the saying of Ahmad. Their proof for this is the hadeeth: <Whoever has a child born to him and wishes to offer a sacrifice, then let him sacrifice.....>.4

So this hadeeth leaves the sacrifice up to the father if he wishes to do it which shows that it is a recommendation and it dispels the idea of it being an obligation which might be understood from the other ahaadeeth.5 Imam ash-Shaafi'ee said: "Two men took extreme positions about the 'Aqeeqah. One man saying that it is obligatory, and the other saying that is an innovation!6 So it is a confirmed rite and an emphasized Sunnah, therefore Imam Ahmad loved that a person should even borrow money in order to perform it, and said: "Because he is giving life to a Sunnah".7

(D) The Ruling for Performing 'Aqeeqah for a Miscarried Fetus or a Baby which dies after Birth.

The ruling for 'Aqeeqah which has preceded does not apply to the miscarried fetus, even if it is clear whether it was male or female, since it is not described as being a new-born child, nor as being a boy or a girl - and these are what the prescription of 'Aqeeqah is related to/ However, if the child is born alive and then dies after birth, the question of whether 'Aqeeqah is prescribed or not applies, and there are two views on the matter: Some of the scholars hold that 'Aqeeqah should be done for it on the seventh day since the reason for the 'Aqeeqah i.e. the child's birth occurred - this can be understood from the hadeeth: <with the child there is 'Aqeeqah>.8 Others hold that it no longer applies if the child dies after birth since the blessing of a new born child is therefore rendered incomplete due to his death and Allah knows what is correct.

(E) The Ruling Regarding Giving Charily Equal to its Price (Instead of Making the Sacrifice)

We have shown that the "Aqeeqah is an emphasized Sunnah - but can the place of the sacrifice be taken by giving its price in charity? The truth is that the sacrifice and spilling the blood of the sacrificed animals is what is required from the 'Aqeeqah, as seen by the hadeeth: < .. sacrificed for him ...> and the hadeeth: < .... so spill blood for him ....> - therefore giving money in charity cannot take the place of the sacrifice and "Aqeeqah will not be achieved by it. This can be seen from the hadeeth: <Whoever does an action which is not from what we have commanded, then it is rejected.>9 So it is the same in this regard as the sacrificial animals to be slaughtered on 'Eid-ul-Adhaa and on making Hajj - if charity is given instead, it will not count for them, and Allah knows best.

(F) What is to be Sacrificed for a Boy and for a Girl

This rite is to be performed for the new born child whether it is a boy or a girl, however, two sheep are to be sacrificed for the boy and one for the girl. This is what is correct and witnessed to by the narrations established from Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him), as will follow, and was the position of Ibn 'Abbaas and 'Aa.ishah-radiyallaahu 'anhum - and the majority of the people of knowledge such as Imam ash-Shaafi'ee, Ahmad and others.

The proof for the saying of the majority who hold that two sheep are to be sacrificed for a boy and one for a girls is the hadeeth of 'Aishah and Umm Kurz-radiyallaahu 'anhumaa - from the Prophet (peace be upon him) who said: <For the boy two equal sheep and for the girl, a single sheep.>10 Therefore, the Sunnah is not accomplished unless two sheep are sacrificed for a boy for one who is able to do that.11 Another saying is that the number is also a recommendation and that the Sunnah would be achieved by sacrificing a
single sheep. However, the first saying is stronger and precedence since it agrees with what is clearly stated in the hadeeth12 ash-Shawkaanee said: "The outcome is that the "Aqeeqah is a Sunnah from the Sunnahs of Islam and is not properly fulfilled unless two sheep are sacrificed for a boy and one for a gir1.13

(G) The Type and Kind of Animal to be Sacrificed for 'Aqeeqah

The Messenger (peace be upon him) gave a general order that sacrifice should be done for the new-born, and that blood should be spilt for it, saying: <With the child there is to be 'Aqeeqah, so spill blood for it>14, then he explained this further by saying: <For the boy, two sheep, and for the girl a single sheep (shaatun), it will not harm you whether they are male or female.>15 i.e. the sheep.


What I consider most correct is to take a middle position between these two sayings, namely that the "Aqeeqah is prescribed to be done with sheep and that this is what is best and most perfect, however, if someone sacrifices camels or cows for the "Aqeeqah instead, then it will suffice him even though he has not achieved the Sunnah and what is best. As is clear, the fact that sheep alone are mentioned in the hadeeth does not mean a denial of the acceptability of sacrificing other animals instead.16 This view is further supported by the saying of 'Aa.ishah-radiyallaahu 'anhaa - to one who had vowed to sacrifice camels for "Aqeeqah. She said: "Rather the Sunnah is better."17 So the statement that it is 'better' is an evidence that other than sheep will still count - and Allah knows best.

(H) The Characteristics and the Age of the Sheep which are Conditions for the 'Aqeeqah Sacrifice

With Regard to the Health of the Sheep.

(a) A group of the scholars hold that it must be free from the defects mentioned with regard to the sacrifice for the - -adhaa - due to analogy with it. This is the saying of most of the scholars, such as Imam Maalik, and Ahmad rahimahumullaah -

(b) Others such as Ibnul- 'Arabee al-Maalikee and Ibn Hazm hold that this is not a condition, and this is the saying preferred by ash-Shawkaanee and as-San'aanee. The strength of this saying is indicated by the unrestricted use of the word 'sheep' (shaatun) in the ahaadeeth about the 'Aqeeqah - since it is mentioned without any further qualification. Therefore, anything to which the term 'sheep' (shaatun) applies can be sacrificed for the 'Aqeeqah. However, the more complete it is in its attributes - then the better it is:

(And whosoever honors the Symbols of Allah, then it is truly from the piety of the heart.) [Soorat-Hajj: Aayah 32]

Ibnul-'Arabee al-Maalikee said: "The condition that the 'Aqeeqa sacrifice must be like that for the Adhaa sacrifice is not established by any authentic or weak hadeeth, so those who hold it to be a condition have no proof other than analogy."18

Second: As Regard its Age.

The same goes with regard to the age of the sheep for sacrifice. If the sheep has passed the age required for the Adhaa sacrifice i.e. that it is six months or older (according to one saying) - then that is better and more complete, but if it is less then it appears that this is still allowable, al-Maawardee holds the view, in his book 'al-Hawee' that a sheep younger than this will still count for the 'Aqeeqah, whereas he does not allow that for the Adhaa sacrifice,19 and neither do others beside him. There is also a report from Imam Ahmad which indicates this since he was asked about giving 'Aqeeqa with an animal below this age, so he said: "An older one is better."20

(I) Sharing in a Single 'Aqeeqah

It is not correct to share in a single sacrifice for 'Aqeeqah. This is because the allowance is based upon analogy, and analogy with the sacrificial animals of Adhaa and Hajj is not correct for 'Aqeeqah as has preceded. Ibnul-Qayyim said: "A single head (of sheep) can only count for a single person and this is a matter where the 'Aqeeqah differs with the sacrificial animals of Hajj and Adhaa.... And since the 'Aqeeqah sacrifice is like a ransom for the child then it is prescribed that it should be entirely for him - so that one is a ransom for the other. Also if it were correct to share in it, then the goal of spilling blood for the child will not be attained. This is because spilling the blood will count for one of them, then all that will remain for the others will be the distribution of the meat, whereas the desired goal was to spill blood for the Child.21 This is the saying of the Hanbalees and is what is correct - if Allah wills - due to what has preceded.

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(J) The Time of the 'Aqeeqah and the Ruling about delaying it

The birth of the child is the reason for sacrificing the 'Aqeeqah as shown by the hadeeth: <with the child there is to be 'Aqeeqah>. Therefore it is not correct to sacrifice it before the birth. So after the birth, then the sacrifice is to be done at any time on the seventh day after the birth whether during the night or the day, as he said < ... which is sacrificed for him on his seventh day ...> - the first of these days being the day of the birth. So if the child was born on the day of Jumuah, for example, then the 'Aqeeqah is sacrificed on the day of Khamees (Thursday) of the following week. Likewise, if the child dies before the seventh day, then the sacrifice is still done on the seventh day after the birth.22

This is the Sunnah with regard to the timing of the 'Aqeeqa sacrifice, however, what is the ruling if the seventh day passes and the sacrifice has not been done?

The scholars have a number of views about this - rahimahumullaah

The first view: That if it has not been done on the seventh day then it should be done sometime thereafter, without any specification as to when.

The second view: That the 'Aqeeqah is specific to the seventh day, so it may not be done before or after. So if it is not done on this day, its time has been missed. This is the view of Imam Maalik - rahimahullaah.

The third view: That the time for the 'Aqeeqah has a limited period of extension after the seventh day. So if one misses the seventh day due to preoccupation, some need or some excuse, then its prescription remains since it is still required in order to free the child held in pledge for it as occurs in the hadeeth: <Every child is in pledge for its 'Aqeeqah>. So in this view, it should then be sacrificed on the fourteenth day, then if that is missed due to and excuse, it may be postponed until the twenty first day. These are the three days for 'Aqeeqah to be done and it should not be delayed beyond them except due to a valid reason or excuse. Then if it is delayed beyond that it should be sacrificed at any time without any specification of the time. This is the view of a group of the people of
knowledge amongst them: 'Aisha -radiyallaahu 'anhaa-, and Ahmad, at-Tirmidhee, Ishaaq, al-Raghawee and Aboo 'Abdullah al Booshanjee from the Shaafi'ees, and others.


The third saying is the one which the heart feels at peace with and which is witnessed to by the narrations, and is held by most of the scholars. Its being the preferred saying is supported by the following:

(1) From Buraydah radiyallaahu'anhu - that Allah's Messenger said: <The 'Aqeeqah is to be sacrificed on the seventh, or the fourteenth, or the twenty-first.>23

(2) From Umm Kurz that a woman vowed to sacrifice camels if the wife of 'Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Abee Bakr gave birth to a child. So 'Aa.ishah said: "No, rather the Sunnah is better. For the boy two equal sheep, and for the girls a single sheep. It is to be cut up with limbs cut only at the joints and no bone broken. So one should eat, feed with it, and give it in charity. Let that be on the seventh day, and if not then on the fourteenth, and if not then on the twenty-first."24

These two hadeeth are what is relied upon in this matter, so those who hold that they are authentic and acceptable has this one as his saying, and those who hold that both the hadeeth are weak will support one of the first two sayings. Ibn Qudaamah said: "The proof in the matter is the saying of 'Aa.ishah - - radiyallaahu 'anhaa - given that she would obviously not have said it except due to a hadeeth."25

I say: and Allah knows best. And a further evidence here is the hadeeth of Buraydah which has preceded.26 This is also what at-Tirmidhee reports from the people of knowledge, saying: "They recommend that the 'Aqeeqah for the child is sacrificed on the seventh day, and if it is not possible on the seventh day, then on the fourteenth day, and if that is not possible, then on the twenty-first day."27

(3) In addition to what has preceded - this saying also provides some degree of ease and facility for those fathers who - for whatever reason - are unable to perform the sacrifice on the seventh day, just as it may remove some of the difficulty of performing all the actions" sharing the head, giving the weight of the hair in silver as charity, the circumcision and distribution of the meat: on the seventh day.

Note: The 'Aqeeqah is an emphasized Sunnah as we have seen. So the question here was concerning the time for the sacrifice which will be in accordance with the Sunnah and will be the recommended time. Ibnul-Qayyim said: "What is apparent is that its limitation to the seventh day is something recommended, however, if he sacrificed on the fourth day, or the eighth day, or the tenth day, or thereafter, then it will count, and what is counted is the day of the sacrifice - not the day of cooking it and eating the meat.28

(k) A Question

If sacrificing the 'Aqeeqah is delayed until the fourteenth or twenty-first day - then should the other actions such as shaving the head and circumcision be delayed as well?

Perhaps what is correct - and Allah knows best - is that the other actions should not be delayed, since it (the delay) was only reported with regard to the 'Aqeeqah.

(l) Who is to Perform the Sacrifice.

The sacrifice for the child is required from the father - since he is the one addressed by the prophetic ahaadeeth. However, it is also correct if done by someone else. So it is permissible for a near and beloved relative - such as the grandfather, uncle and brother to take on the responsibility of the 'Aqeeqa and donate it. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave the 'Aqeeqah of his two grandsons, al-Hasan and al-Husayn - and their father was present. This matter is also indicated in his saying: < ... which is sacrificed for him ... >. So he mentioned the sacrifice without assigning a particular person to do it.

(M) What is to be said whilst Sacrificing.

Whilst sacrificing the 'Aqeeqah, it is obligatory to mention Allah's name upon it - as is the case with all sacrifices. However, the question arises - is anything else to be said? As is the case with the Adhaa sacrifice?

There occurs in some Prophetic ahaadeeth an addition to be made besides the saying of 'Bismillaah' - i.e. a mention of who the sacrifice is made on behalf of - just like the Adhaa sacrifice. From 'Aa.ishah - - radiyallaahu 'anhaa - who said: "The Prophet said: <Sacrifice with (mention of) his name, so say: In the name of Allah, O Allah, it is Yours and for You, this is the 'Aqeeqah of so and so>29 (Bismillaah . Allaahumma laka wa ilaika . Haadhihi "Aqeeqah ....) And from Qataadah who said: "The name is said over the 'Aqeeqah just as over the Adhaa sacrifice: 'Bismillaah, 'Aqeeqatu (so and so)", and in another narration he added: "Allaahumma minka wa laka 'Aqeeqah ......, Bismillaah, wallaahu Akbar." (O Allah, it is from You and for You. The 'Aqeeqa of so and so. In the name of Allah. Allah is greater.)30

And Imam Ahmad - rahimalluaah - was asked about this, so he said: "Say: Haadhihi 'Aqeeqah .... " (This is the 'Aqeeqah of so and so)31 Ibnul-Mundhir said: "This is good, even if he had the intention of 'Aqeeqah but did not say it - then it will suffice - if Allah wills."32

(N) Making Use of the Skin of the Sacrifice and its Offal

It is permissible to make use of the skin of the animal sacrificed for 'Aqeeqah and its offal - such as its stomach and gut. Its price being given in charity or it may be sold.33 Since there is nothing reported to affirm or deny this. It is also not to be analogized with the Adhaa sacrifice. Ahmad said: "The skin, head and offal may be sold and charity be given with it."34 As for everything that is mentioned in forbiddance of that - then it has no proof except for analogy which is not applicable here - and Allah knows best.

(O) Distribution of the Meat of the 'Aqeeqah

What is meant is to whom is the meat to be distributed after the sacrifice and I have not come across any acceptable hadeeth about this - except what is reported from 'Alee - radiyallaahu 'anhu - that he gave a leg of the 'Aqeeqah - which Allah's Messenger sacrificed for al-Hasan and al Husayn - to the midwife.35 So distributing it in this way is established by this hadeeth.

There also occurs in a mursal hadeeth36 an order to eat from it and to feed with it (in the form of a gift or charity). The wording of the hadeeth is: <Eat and give food>37 And 'Aa.ishah said about this matter: "It should be eaten, fed to people and given in charity"38 Imam Ahmad when asked what should be done with the aq said: "However you wish." It was said to him: "May the people who are responsible for it eat it? He said: "Yes, but they should not eat all of it, rather they should feed others with it also."39 This was also the saying of 'Ataa.

So the how the sacrifice is to be distributed is a matter which has been made easy - and all praise and thanks is for Allah, since the goal was the sacrifice. If that is done, then it is permissible for the person and the people of this household to eat the meat, and to give some of it as a gift to his friends and brothers, and to give some in charity to the poor - without any specified amount to be given and without analogy with the Adhaa sacrifice.

(P) Should the Meat be Cooked or Not (Before Distribution)?

It is permissible to distribute the meat raw or cooked - after being cut up, each limb being divided at the joints, and some of the scholars prefer that it be cooked before being distributed. 'Ataa - rahimhullaah - said: "It should be cooked." And he said: "There is no harm if it is roasted."40

And Imam Ahmad - rahimahullaah - was asked about cooking the 'Aqeeqah meat. He said: "Yes .... it should be cooked with unbroken bones." This also does not mean that it has to be cooked on the seventh day, since what is taken account of is the sacrifice - not the cooking and eating - as has preceded.

From those who like that it should be cooked is Ibnul-Qayyim - who gave as his reason that it is an increase in goodness, thankfulness and a greater blessing - since it will mean that the poor and the neighbors do not have the burden of cooking it and they will be able to make use of it readily. He then mentioned that all food given out of thanks is given cooked - like the wedding 'waleemah', invitations to meals, and food given at the occasion of circumcision.41

This, however, will depend upon circumstances and it may be that sometimes it will be better if it is distributed uncooked.

(Q) Inviting to a Meal for the -'Aqeeqah.

We have spoken about the permissibility of cooking it - but is it allowed to invite those whom one loves, one's brothers and the poor to a meal prepared from the 'Aqeeqah?

Then - inviting to such a meal is permissible, beloved and good and is not disliked by anyone except Imam Maalik - rahimahullaah - 42. As for the Shaafi'ees, then they hold that distributing it in cooked form - as has preceded - is better than inviting to a meal, but that if people were invited to a meal, then that is allowed, and that if some meat were distributed and some given as a meal - then that is also allowed.43

And if the Aqeeqah is made a general invitation - then it should not be restricted to the well-off to the exclusion of the poor, since this was forbidden by our Prophet Muhammad who said: <The worst food is the food of the Waleemah to which the rich are invited and the poor are prevented from.>44 It is recommended for the one invited to the meal that after eating he should supplicate for the father and the child and say:

"May the fasting people break their fast with you, may the righteous eat your food, and may the angels pray for you."45 or make any du'aa reported from the Messenger in this regard.

(R) The Dislike of Breaking its Bones

Their are two views amongst the scholars - rahimahullaah - about breaking the bones of the Aqeeqah sacrifice after it or when preparing it for eating.

The first view: That there is nothing to prevent that. This is the view of Imam Maalik and Ibn Hazm, and is the view preferred by an-Nawawee in 'al-Majmoo'. They mention that there is nothing authentic to prevent it and nothing established in the Sunnah showing it to be hated. They add that it is a common practice that bones of the meat are broken and there is no benefit in preventing it.

The second view: Is that it is something disliked (makrooh). This is the saying of 'Aa.ishah - radiyallaahu -anhaa -,'Ataa, ash-Shaafi'ee and Ahmad, and was the view preferred by Zaynuddeen al-'Iraaqee and a group of the scholars- rahimahumullaah.

* Discussion and Preference.

Despite the suitability and soundness of the first view - the saying that it is disliked to break the bones is stronger and closer to correctness since it is aided by a number of things indicating its preference which are:

(1) What is reported in 'mursal' form from the Messenger that he said about the Aqeeqah which Faatimah gave for al-Hasan and al-Husayn: <Send a leg of it to the midwife, and eat and give it in food and do not break its bones.>46

(2) The saying of 'Aa.ishah - radiyallaahu 'anhaa - to the one who vowed to sacrifice camels: "Rather the Sunnah is better." until she said: "And do not break its bones."47

And this hadeeth has preceded, so those who declare it authentic it is a proof that the bones should not be broken, since 'Aa.ishah attributed it to the prophetic Sunnah.

(3) 'Ataa used to say about the 'Aqeeqah: "It should be cut up only at the joints and no bone should be broken."48 And Ahmad said: "Its bones are not to be broken, rather each bone should be severed at the joint, so that the bone is not broken."49

This saying is also inclined to by Ibnul-Qayyim in 'at-Tuhfah'. So perhaps the aforementioned narrations support one another and strengthen one another. Then they are further strengthened by the practice of a group of the Salaf, together with the points of wisdom and benefit mentioned by Ibnul-Qayyim.49 and from them are:

(i) Expressing ones hope for the well-being, health and strength of the limbs of the child.

(ii) A manifestation of the excellence of food, each piece being complete in itself and not deficient and this is better than its being cut up into small pieces.

(iii) An expression of the nobility of the newborn child and status - since the excellence of the animal sacrificed is an expression of the excellence of the one for whom it is sacrificed.

(S) What Should be Done for a Grown-up for whom the Aqeeqah was not performed?

If the child (male or female) attains adulthood and then comes to know that the father did not carry out their 'Aqeeqah - then he may in this case perform 'Aqeeqah for himself, since it has preceded that if the 'Aqeeqah is not performed on time it may be done at any time thereafter. So he should do it since its prescription remains and in order to free himself from being in pledge as occurs in the hadeeth. This is the saying of 'Ataa and al-Hasan and it is the view of the Shaafi'ees - rahimahumullaah-.50

Another saying is that is prescription remains but that he should not perform 'Aqeeqah for himself, rather his father should carry it out - and this is the saying of the Hanbalees - rahimahumallaah - 51 and it is said that it is no longer prescribed if the person attains adulthood.

(T) Performing 'Aqeeqah during the Time of 'Eidul-Adhaa

If the 'Aqeeqah coincides with the sacrifice of Adhaa - then can one take the place of the other?

There are two sayings with the scholars, al-Hasan and Ibn Seereen hold that the Adhaa sacrifice when performed will be sufficient to count for the aq. This is also one of the two narrations from Ahmad and the Hanbalees give ruling according to it.52

The view of Qataadah and Ahmad in another narration is that it will not suffice, and this is what is correct - if Allah wills - since each sacrifice has its reasons and separate intention and actions are only according to the intention. Ahmad - rahimahullaah - said when asked about this matter: "It will either be the Aqeeqah of the Adhaa sacrifice, depending upon what he declared."53

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