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PERFORMING SACRIFICE ON BEHALF OF OTHERS

introduction
Muslims are required to perform the sacrifice of an animal on the occasion of
ʿĪd [eid] al-Adhā (10th-12th Dhu’l-Hijjah), with the intention of worship. This is
called al-udhiya in Islam. The purpose of this worship is to remind ourselves of our
forefather our master Ibrahim n. Symbolically, this act also serves to highlight the
importance of sacrifice as a concept in Islam.
The Companions once asked the Prophet g, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, what are these
sacrifices?’ He replied, “It is the Sunnah of your father Ibrahim (n).” They asked,
“What benefit does it serve?” The Prophet g said, ‘For each hair is a unit of reward…
for every hair of wool is a unit of reward [also].’ (Sunan Ibn Mājah, §3127. narrated
by Zayd b. Arqam).
can we perform a sacrifice on behalf of others?
The sacrifice that we perform on the occasion of ʿĪd [eid] al-Adhā is wājib
(“necessary”) upon every adult Muslim who is not travelling and is able to afford it.
As a merciful and selfless gesture, Muslims are allowed to make a sacrifice on behalf
of others too. For example, many Muslims perform an additional sacrifice in the
name of Prophet Muhammad g. What is the proof for this?
• Our master Hanash h reported that he observed our master ʿAlī h sacrifice two
rams. When he asked him why? ʿAlī replied, “Verily the Prophet left instructions
to me to sacrifice on his behalf, so I am sacrificing on his behalf.” (Sunan Abu
Dā’wūd, Kitāb al-dahāya, Bab al-adhiyya an al-mayyit, §2790).
ن ا� ضّ ح عنه
ي عنه فا�
ي ض ان ا� ّ
ان رسول الهل صل الهل عليه و سمل اوصا� ن
ي
• As a matter of fact, the our master Prophet Muhammad g himself performed
a sacrifice on our behalf. Abu Talhā h reports that the our master Prophet
Muhammad g sacrificed one ram and whilst sacrificing the other he said, “This
is on behalf of every member of my ummah (“community”) who believed(s) in
me and testified (s) (to my prophethood)’ (al-Tabarānī).
is this act shirk?
Salafi/Wahhabi Muslims deem such an act to be shirk (“polytheism”) (may Allah
protect us from such!). Though it is clearly proven as an act of Sunnah they argue this
is what the pagan Arabs used to do. They would sacrifice animals and then proclaim
‘…this is in the name of Lāt, this is in the name of ʿUzzā.’
They argue that we are doing no different by taking the name of Prophet Muhammad
g. Sacrifices should only be done purely for the sake of Allah d.
Moreover they add that Allah d has deemed this act harām (“totally forbidden”) in
the Qur’an. There are four places in the Qur’an where Allah d says, ‘…something
which has been slaughtered as a sacrifice for other than Allah’ (الهل� لغ به اهل وما ي ( is
forbidden to consume. They argue we are doing exactly the same as the pagan Arabs.
It is a travesty to think that our acts are similar to that of the pagan Arabs.
in reply
1. They believed that the idols were worthy of worship, we do not believe the same
about Prophet Muhammad g. We worship Allah d alone.
2. We are still sacrificing for the sake of Allah d. All we are doing is asking Allah
d to dedicate the reward of the sacrifice to Prophet Muhammad g. This is not
shirk. This is Sunnah.
3. The verse means those who take the name of their idols (and not Allah d) when
they are slaughtering the animal. The pagan Arabs would take the names of their
idols as they placed the knife on the neck of the animal. Muslims only take the
name of Allah d when they are slaughtering the animal. They are required to
recite �اك الهل الهل مس ب� ب and nothing else. Abu Bakr Jassās (Diyā’ al-qur’an, 1:16) offers
the explanation of the verse.
ن ب ان املراد به الذبيحة اذا اهل � ي ا لغ� ب الهل عند الذ�
ن ي املسمل�
ي وال خالف ب�
‘There is no dispute amongst the Muslims that the verse refers to when someone
else’s name is taken other than Allah d at the time of the sacrifice.’
When the Arabs would sacrifice the animal, they did so with the intention of
worshipping the idols whose name they would take. They did not have the intention
of īthāl al-thawāb (conveying deeds to the deceased) for anyone or anything.
Muslims, on the other hand, sacrifice for the sake of Allah d and dedicate the reward
to others, just like the Prophet g did with us.
4. Saʿd ibn Muʿādh h upon the instruction and consent of the Prophet g, dedicated
a well in the name of her mother, Umm Saʿd. If the Salafi interpretation is to be
believed, the water (for drinking and ablution) would be harām. Of course, it is
not (Diyā’ al-qur’an, 2:612).
In short, there are no parallels between what the pagan Arabs used to do, and what
the Sunnah of our master Prophet Muhammad g is in this matter. Performing a
sacrifice for the sake of Allah d and then dedicating the reward to one of His creations
is an act of devotion, worship and compassion.
dr. hafiz ather hussain al-azhari
@hafiz_ather

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