Islamic Rulings for New Born Babies >> 4. The Aqeeqah

Islamic Rulings for New Born Babies

4. The Aqeeqah

Aqeeqah refers to the animal slaughtered as a sacrifice for a newborn child. It is so named because the animal’s throat is cut during the sacrifice.

According to the majority of the scholars, offering the aqeeqah is obligatory upon those who can afford it. There are numerous hadith instructing believers to offer the aqeeqah, he (SAW) performed it himself for his grandsons al-Hasan and al-Husayn.

Salman bin Amir ad-Dabbi (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said,

“The aqeeqah is prescribed for every child. Thus shed blood on its behalf, and remove the harm off it.” [1]

Aishah, Umm Kurz, and Salman bin Amir (RA) reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said,

“Slaughter for a boy two compatible sheep, and for a girl just one. It does not matter whether the sheep are male or female.” [2]

Samurah bin Jundub (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said,

“Every child is mortgaged by its aqeeqah. It should be slaughtered for him or her on its seventh day, the child’s hair should be shaved, and he or she should be named.” [3]

Ibn Abbas, Aishah, Anas, Ali and others (RA) reported,

“Allah’s Messenger offered aqeeqah for al-Hasan and al-Husayn: a ram, a ram (two rams, two rams).” [4]

It is not permissible to offer charity in lieu of aqeeqah:

Ibn ul-Qayyim said,

“Slaughtering for a specific requirement is better than giving its value or more in charity – similar to the hady (hajj sacrifice) and udhiya. This is because the slaughter and spilling of blood are specifically required in these cases…”

a) Animals that may be slaughtered for aqeeqah

The Prophet (SAW) referred to the animals to be slaughtered as a ‘shah’:

According to Ibn Manzur,

“Shah means one sheep; it can be male or female…And it is believed by some that shah can be a sheep, a goat, a deer, a cow, a farm animal or a zebra.”

It is not permissible to slaughter camels:

Abu Mulaykah reported Abd ur-Rahman bin Abi Bakr (RA) had a male baby. His sister Aishah (RA) was told,

“O Mother of the believers, slaughter a camel for his aqeeqah.”

She replied, “I seek refuge with Allah! Only what Allah’s Messenger had said, ‘two comparable shahs.’” [5]

Two animals, regardless of whether they are male or female are slaughtered for a male child and one animal for a female child. The animals should be of good quality and appearance, although the qualities of the udhiyah do not apply to the aqeeqah sacrifice.

b) Date of slaughtering the Aqeeqah

The aqeeqah should be slaughtered on the seventh day from birth:

Sumarah bin Jundub (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said,

“Every child is mortgaged by its aqeeqah. It should be slaughtered for it on its seventh day, its hair should be shaved, and it should be named.” [6]

It is not permissible to slaughter the aqeeqah prior to the seventh day.

If the aqeeqah is not slaughtered on the seventh, it may still be slaughtered on the fourteenth or twenty-first day after birth:

Buraydah (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said,

“The aqeeqah should be slaughtered on the seventh, the fourteenth, or the twenty-first day after the birth.” [7]

If the aqeeqah is not slaughtered on one of these three dates for a legitimate reason, it should be slaughtered as soon as possible after that. Legitimate reasons include: inability to find an animal, forgetting, ignorance, poverty etc. Deliberately neglecting to slaughter the aqeeqah on the specified days is a sin that requires repentance. It should be noted that the dates specified are for the actual slaughtering, not for the cooking, eating etc.

It is permissible for an adult to perform the aqeeqah for himself/herself if it was not done for him as a baby:

Anas (RA) reported,

“Allah’s Messenger (SAW) performed the aqeeqah for himself after he was appointed as prophet.” [8]

c) Method of slaughtering

The aqeeqah must be offered purely and sincerely for Allah, not associating the sacrifice to any other than Him.

The slaughter should be done quickly using a sharp knife. The knife may not be made from teeth, tusks, nails or claws:

Shaddad Bin Aws (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said,

“Allah requires that all deeds be well-performed. So when you kill, kill in a good manner, and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good manner. And let the one of you who performs the slaughter sharpen his blade and make it easy for his kill.” [9]

Animals should be slaughtered with a sense of mercy and compassion. This includes hiding that knife from the animal’s sight and avoiding killing animals in front of each other:

Qurrah Bin Iyas al-Muzani (RA) reported that a man told Allah’s Messenger (SAW),

“O Allah’s Messenger! Indeed, even when I slaughter a goat, I show mercy to it.” The Prophet (SAW) said: “Even for a sheep or goat, if you show it mercy Allah will show mercy to you.” [10]

It is recommended to lay the animal down and to place the foot near the animal’s neck before slaughtering. It is also required to pronounce Allah’s name over the animal while slaughtering it:

Anas (RA) reported,

“Allah’s Messenger (SAW) sacrificed for Eid two wide-eyed and large-horned rams. He slaughtered them with his hand while pronouncing Allah’s name and declaring His greatness. I saw him place his foot on their flanks while saying, ‘Bismillahi wallaahu akbar – with Allah’s name; Allah is the Greatest.’” [11]

d) Dispensing of the Aqeeqah meat

The family may dispense of the meat as they wish according to their condition and finances. Many scholars recommend cooking the meat and inviting others to feast on it, although there are no specific texts prescribing this in the Sunnah.

e) Wisdom behind the Aqeeqah

It is an act of obedience to Allah which provides a considerate way of declaring the birth and is an indication of happiness and gratitude to Allah. It strengthens ties among Muslims and distinguishes from the practice of pagans. The aqeeqah ransoms the child and ends its mortgage.

f) Other matters regarding aqeeqah

It is not permissible to buy the equivalent amount of kilograms of meat instead of slaughtering an animal.

The aqeeqah should be also offered for a baby who dies soon after birth, even if it only lived for a few hours.

Aqeeqah is not required for a miscarried foetus that was lost before 4 months (when life is blown into it), even if its gender is clear.


References

[1] Recorded by at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasai and others.
Verified to be authentic be al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami’ no. 4253 and 5877, and Irwa ul-Ghalil no. 1171).

[2] Combined report by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and others.
Verified to be authentic be al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami’ no. 4105 and 4106, and Irwa ul-Ghalil no. 1166).

[3] Recorded by an-Nasai, Abu Dawud and others.
Verified to be authentic be al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami’ no. 4541 and Irwa ul-Ghalil no. 1165).

[4] Recorded by an-Nasai, Abu Dawud and others.
Verified to be authentic be al-Albani (Irwa ul-Ghalil no. 1164).

[5] Recorded by at-Tahawi and al-Bayhaqi.
Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (Irwa ul-Ghalil no. 1166).

[6] Recorded by an-Nasai and Abu Dawud.
Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami’ no. 4541 and Irwa ul-Ghalil no. 1165).

[7] Recorded by at-Tabarani (in al-Awsat) and ad-Diya.
Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih al-Jami no. 4132 and Irwa al-Ghalil no. 1170).

[8] Reported by Abd-ur-Razzaq, at-Tahawi and others.
Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 2726).

[9] Recorded by Muslim, Abu Dawud and others.

[10] Recorded by Ahmad, at-Tabarani and others.
Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 26).

[11] Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.

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