Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research

Episode 7: The Sacrifice

The most prominent practice of the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah is the sacrifice, thats why its called Eid of Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha. And while we know it is symbolic of Prophet Ibrahim (as) and the test of sacrifice given to him by Allah, there is more to it. Dr. Omar Suleiman delves into the significance and meaning of this practice.

Episode Transcript

(Note: the transcript has been edited for clarity)

0:00 – 1:06 The Udhiya (sacrifice)

Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmah Allah wa Barakatuhu, welcome back to the Virtues of Dhul-Hijjah.

So the most prominent practice that we have within these ten days is obviously the Eid of the sacrifice, Eid Al Adha, it’s the sacrifice itself and it is the sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) that we are commemorating. But there’s something very deep about the Eid of the sacrifice or the sacrifice itself and the meaning of the Udhiya.

Udhiya, or sacrifice, and particularly in the in the pre-Islamic context used to be done to the idols that they would bring to the ka’bah and they would surround the house of Ibrahim (as), the house that Ibrahim (as) built for Allah, they would surround it with idols and then they would sacrifice to those idols. This is very embedded in the aspect of
worship that used to be carried out and for us we find in the Quran where Allah mentions “Qul Inna Salati wa Nusuki wa Mahyaya wa mamati lillahi Rabbi Al’alamin, verily my prayer and my sacrifice my life and my death are all for the sake of Allah.”

1:07 – 2:10 The purpose of the Udhiya (sacrifice)

So the fact that Allah would even put sacrifice in the same category as Salah, as prayer here, shows you really how deeply embedded this was in worship, to the idols and in the way that they would offer sacrifices to the idols. So what is it with the sacrifice and what
do we take from the sacrifice? There is a deep meaning in the Abrahamic way in the
way of Ibrahim (as), it’s obviously embedded in Judeo-Christian thought, in Jewish thought with Ibrahim (as), in Christian thought, you know even calling Isa (as), Jesus (pbuh), the lamb of God, the sacrifice of Allah. For us, we look at this as first and foremost a means of drawing close to Allah SWT.

So it’s honoring the one God that there’s only sacrifice to the one God, and also it’s a means of drawing close to Allah SWT.

The word Qurbani, Qurb, which by the way is the same word in Hebrew – that the Jews would use – Muslims also say Qurbani, Kurbani, Qurbani in Arabic is to draw close to Allah SWT – so it’s a means of honoring the one God, it’s a means of coming close to Allah SWT in the way of Ibrahim (as).

2:11 – 2:48 The Prophet (SAW) would practice Udhiya consistently

Ibn Omar narrates that the Prophet SAW used to offer a sacrifice for all 10 years that he lived in Medina. So every one of the 10 years he lived in Medina, he, SAW, would sacrifice. That’s significant because the Prophet only did one Hajj in the ninth year after Hijrah, but he offered sacrifice every one of those years. Just like he fasted Arafah from the second year after Hijrah onwards, the prophets SAW was still practicing the Udhiya and still practicing the fasting of Arafah even before the Hajj came.

2:49 – 3:56 The significance of not trimming your nails or hair

Now the benefit of the one offering the sacrifice, not trimming their nails or not trimming their hair – any of their hair their body hair – is significant too.

Now if any of you have been to Umrah or Hajj, you know that when you’re in a state of Ihram, there are certain prohibitions for you so you’re not allowed to take from your hair or your nails as you’re in that state of Ihram. Likewise, when a person is in that state or in the state of going to offer a sacrifice for the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah, they’re not allowed to take from their hair or their nails until after the sacrifice is done.

Now what’s the significance of that? One, it connects us to the people in Hajj, it connects us to the people in Ihram, and a lot of times we have a hard time connecting to those people. So the one offering the sacrifice is like the one who’s in a state of a Ihram. Another benefit that a Ashawkany (Rahimuhu Allah) mentions Nayl Al Awtar that just like the person who’s in ihram is completely ransomed from the punishment of Jahannam
on the day of judgment, likewise it is like saying every single part of you is freed and ransomed and and protected from punishment on the day of judgment (bi ithnillahi ta’ala) if it is accepted by Allah SWT.

3:57 – 4:47 Who has to abide by this prohibition?

So it’s freeing your entire body from punishment and ransoming yourself with Allah SWT as you offer that sacrifice. Who is the person that is to abide by this?

It’s the person offering the sacrifice- not necessarily the one carrying it out. What does that mean? If I delegate someone else to sacrifice on my behalf but I am the one offering the sacrifice, that person is not the one subject to the prohibitions, I am.

So the person who’s offering the sacrifice on behalf of themselves and their family-
so not the one that’s carrying it out nor the one that it’s being carried out on their behalf. It’s the one who’s offering the sacrifice that would have to abide by those prohibitions so that they too could inshaAllah ta’ala benefit from the full reward and of
course every one that’s being offered on behalf of also enjoys the same reward
and this is from the wisdoms of it.

4:48 – 6:35 The inclusivity and beauty of the two Eids

Lastly, and I think it’s very beautiful that in our religion we have two Eids. We have these two feasts.

When we have Eid-ul-Fitr, which is the Eid after the month of Ramadan, the fast of Ramadan, you have Zakat-al-Fitr. You have a charity that is due on every one that can afford it, to pay for the feast of someone else, of another family. So all of the Muslims are supposed to give Zakat-ul-Fitr. The able Muslims are supposed to give Zakat-al-Fitr so that they are not the only ones that get to enjoy Eid, but the entire community gets to feast on that day, even if they’re not able to feast throughout the year.

Likewise, here you have on Eid ul-Adha, a requirement or a Sunnah – a practice, in which a person who can offer a sacrifice is to offer a sacrifice and then that meat is distributed so that other people can feast as well, that typically would not be able to feast. And in a lot of countries- Muslim countries and places where the sacrifices take place- many people would only eat from from, you know from an animal that day in particular. They would not be able to afford it throughout the year, but that’s the only day that they get to eat from the Udhiya, to eat from the sacrifice. So everyone gets to feast on that day, even the poor who are typically left out.

And so it’s just beautiful that both of the Eids require us to include the wider community that typically does not get to celebrate- everyone should celebrate on this day and everyone should have the means to celebrate on this day.

So just like in Eid ul Fitr, if you can pay it so that someone else can enjoy it, you must. And likewise with Eid-ul-Adha, if you can offer a sacrifice so that others can enjoy that sacrifice- enjoy the meat of that sacrifice and feast as well, then you should do it and that allows the entire community to truly enjoy Eid together.

6:36 – 7:02 Du’a

May Allah SWT allow us to see the benefits of it in this life and in the next, and join us with our beloved Prophet SAW, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and all the Prophets in the highest levels of Janah Al-firdous.

Allahum Ameen. JazakumAllahu Khayran. Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmah Allah wa Barakatuhu.

Dr. Omar Suleiman

Dr. Omar Suleiman

President | Imam Dr. Omar Suleiman is the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, and an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at Southern Methodist University.