Sacrifices in Shariah law
Coinciding with the Hajj season, today we will briefly talk about the sacrifice stated in Shariah law during this season and its most important aspects.
The sacrifice is defined as what a Muslim slaughters of camels, cows, and sheep on the day of Eid Al-Adha and on the days of Al-Tashreeq, in order to get closer to God.
This sacrifice’s legitimacy is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and in the Prophetic Sunnah.
This kind of sacrifice was instituted for many purposes, including following the guidance of God, educating the Muslim soul on endurance and patience, and obediently following God’s commands. The sacrifice is an extension of the social bonds between relatives and Muslims, increasing appreciation and love between them.
It also brings happiness to less fortunate people, as well as expressing thanks and praise to God for his many blessings and great virtues, because being thankful for these blessings is a reason for their survival and permanence.
We mentioned earlier that the sacrifice is considered as a confirmed Sunnah from the Prophet Muhammad. If someone neglects the sacrifice when they can afford it, then this is makruh, or disliked.
Now, we will touch on this sacrifice’s main pillars. Firstly, the intention of sacrifice is essential. The Muslim must, when slaughtering his sacrifice, have the intention of sacrifice, distinguishing it from other purposes. A Muslim may slaughter a sheep with the intention of the aqeeqah — the sacrificial animal — or the ransom for a prohibited act. The intention is what distinguishes between these sacrifices.
Also, the Muslim has to align the intention with the act, ensuring that the slaughter of the sacrifice is conducted appropriately.
Moreover, it is permissible for someone to participate with others in a sacrifice, provided that their group does not exceed seven people.
In addition, the sacrifices should be legally owned by the sacrificer, because it is not permissible for the sacrifice to be stolen, usurped, bought via a corrupt contract, or purchased at a forbidden price.
The sacrifices must also align with the regulations that the Shariah has set, including camels, cows, sheep and lambs or goats. The sacrifices must also reach the legal age to ensure that they are free from defects, including any illnesses or fractures.
The jurists agreed that it is acceptable for a Muslim to delegate others to slaughter his sacrifice because the Prophet asked his daughter Fatimah to witness the slaughter of her sacrifice. Jurists have concluded that this is an endorsement by the Prophet that it is permissible for a Muslim to delegate someone else to slaughter his sacrifice, although it is better that the Muslim proceeds with the slaughter of his sacrifice himself.
• Dimah Talal Al-Sharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif