Performing a 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).

ان رسول الهل صل الهل عليه و سمل اوصا ض ي� ان ا  ض ّ� عنه فا� ا  ض�ح عنه

  • 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)  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.
  • 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.
  • 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 �ك ا الهل الهل مسtب  and nothing else. Abu Bakr Jassās (Diyā al-quran, 1:16) offers the explanation of the verse.

وال خالف ب ي� املسمل ي� ان املراد به الذبيحة اذا اهل ب�ا لغ� الهل عند الذ�

‘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.

  • 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.

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