Islam by topic: Animal Sacrifice

In Islam, animal sacrifice is practiced according to the Quran and the hadith. Though there does not seem to be any theological significance to this.  Also, their writings lack clarity on its purpose.  This is intriguing.  Why are there animal sacrifices yet they are hardly practiced today? We don't know.  Nevertheless, animal sacrifices are to be done in concert with the Hajj.

  1. Can't eat meat sacrificed on stone altars
    1. Surah 5:3, "Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah. that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."
  2. Day of sacrifice is the 10th of Dhu'l-Hijjae
    1. "...After that he did not treat anything as lawful which had become unlawful till he had completed his Hajj and sacrificed his animal on the day of sacrifice (10th of Dhu'l-Hijja)..."(Sahih Muslim, Book #007, Hadith #2832)
  3. Don't violate symbols of Allah or the animal sacrifices
    1. Surah 5:2, "O ye who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the symbols of Allah, nor of the sacred month, nor of the animals brought for sacrifice, nor the garlands that mark out such animals, nor the people resorting to the sacred house, seeking of the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord. But when ye are clear of the sacred precincts and of pilgrim garb, ye may hunt and let not the hatred of some people in (once) shutting you out of the Sacred Mosque lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah. For Allah is strict in punishment."
      1. Commentary: "The verse then forbids specifically harming or destroying the offerings (the livestock set aside to be ritually slaughtered at the conclusion of the pilgrimage; see also 2: 196; 5: 97; 48: 25) or failing to observe their inviolate status as sacrificial offerings, symbolized by the garlands traditionally placed around the necks of these animals (see also v. 97). Such garlands were reportedly used during the pre-Islamic pilgrimage as well, and their use was considered to have been originally an Abrahamic practice (Q). (Nasr, Seyyed Hossein; Dagli, Caner K.; Dakake, Maria Massi; Lumbard, Joseph E.B.; Rustom, Mohammed (2015-11-17). The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary (Kindle Locations 14463-14466). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.)
  4. Offer a sacrifice if you cannot complete the Hajja
    1. Surah 2:196, "And complete the Hajj or ‘umra in the service of Allah. But if ye are prevented (From completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (Necessitating shaving), (He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the ‘umra on to the hajj, He must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, He should fast three days during the hajj and seven days on his return, Making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. And fear Allah, and know that Allah Is strict in punishment."
  5. Place of sacrifice is the Ancient House
    1. Surah 22:33, "In them ye have benefits for a term appointed: in the end their place of sacrifice is near the Ancient House."
    2. Sacrifice of different animals
      1. Cattle
        1. Surah 22:28, "That they may witness the benefits (provided) for them, and celebrate the name of Allah, through the Days appointed, over the cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice): then eat ye thereof and feed the distressed ones in want."
      2. Camels
        1. Surah 22:36, "The sacrificial camels we have made for you as among the symbols from Allah: in them is (much) good for you: then pronounce the name of Allah over them as they line up (for sacrifice): when they are down on their sides (after slaughter), eat ye thereof, and feed such as (beg not but) live in contentment, and such as beg with due humility: thus have We made animals subject to you, that ye may be grateful."
      3. Cows
        1. "A'isba (Allah be pleased with her) said: We proceeded with the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) with no other Intention but that of performing the Hajj. As I was at Sarif or near it, 1 entered in the state of menses. The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) came to me and I was weeping, whereupon he said: Are you in a state of menses? I said. Yes. whereupon he said: This is what Allah has ordained for all the daughters, of Adam. Do whatever the pilgrim does. except that you should not circumambulate the House till you have washed yourself (at the end of the menses period). And the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) offered sacrifice of a cow on behalf of his wives.  (Sahih Muslim, Book #007, Hadith #2772)
      4. Mature animals
        1. Jabir reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Sacrifice only a grown-up animal, unless it is difficult for you, in which case sacrifice a ram (of even less than a year, but more than six months' age).  (Sahih Muslim, Book #022, Hadith #4836)
  6. Throw stones at the devil before sacrificing animals
    1. Abdullah b. 'Amr b. al-'As (Allah be pleased with them) reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) stopped while riding his camel and the people began to ask him. One of the inquirers said: Messenger of Allah, I did not know that pebbles should be thrown before sacrificing the animal, and by mistake I sacrificed the animal before throwing pebbles, whereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: (Now) throw pebbles and there is no harm in it. Then another (person) came saying: I did not know that the animal was to be sacrificed before shaving, but I got myself shaved before sacrificing the animal, whereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: sacrifice the animal (now) and there is no harm in it. He (the narrator) said: I did not hear that anything was asked on that day (shout a matter) which a person forgot and could not observe the sequence or anything like it either due to forgetfulness or ignorance, but Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said (about that): Do it; there is no harm in it.  (Book #007, Hadith #2996)
  7. Ransom of sacrifice
    1. Commentary on the Quran:
      1. "At the end of both ḥajj and ʿumrah, one usually shaves one’s head or cuts one’s hair, and in the case of one who has a head or scalp ailment preventing this act, a ransom by fasting, charity, or rite is required. Rite (nusuk) here refers specifically to sacrifice, though the word literally means “ritual” or “act of worship.” The ransom of fasting is to fast for ten days; the ransom of feeding the poor is to feed ten poor people; and the ransom of sacrifice is at least a sheep (Q). (Nasr, Seyyed Hossein; Dagli, Caner K.; Dakake, Maria Massi; Lumbard, Joseph E.B.; Rustom, Mohammed (2015-11-17). The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary (Kindle Locations 6131-6135). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.)
  8. Ransom is related to sacrifice
    1. "Narrated Ka'b bin Ujra: We were in the company of Allah's Apostle at Al-Hudaibiya in the state of Ihram and the pagans did not allow us to proceed (to the Ka'ba). I had thick hair and lice started falling on my face. The Prophet passed by me and said, "Are the lice of your head troubling you?" I replied, Yes." (The sub-narrator added, "Then the following Divine Verse was revealed:-- "And if anyone of you is ill or has an ailment in his scalp, (necessitating shaving) must pay a ransom (Fida) of either fasting or feeding the poor, Or offering a sacrifice." (2.196)  (Sahih Bukhari, Book #59, Hadith #504)
  9. Uncategorized
    1. Surah 22:32, "Such (is his state): and whoever holds in honour the symbols of Allah, (in the sacrifice of animals), such (honour) should come truly from piety of heart."
    2. The Prophet said (on the day of Idal-Adha), "The first thing we will do on this day of ours, is to offer the ('Id) prayer and then return to slaughter the sacrifice. Whoever does so, he acted according to our Sunna (tradition), and whoever slaughtered (the sacrifice) before the prayer, what he offered was just meat he presented to his family, and that will not be considered as Nusak (sacrifice)." (On hearing that) Abu Burda bin Niyar got up, for he had slaughtered the sacrifice before the prayer, and said, "I have got a six month old ram." The Prophet said, 'Slaughter it (as a sacrifice) but it will not be sufficient for any-one else (as a sacrifice after you). Al-Bara' added: The Prophet said, "Whoever slaughtered (the sacrifice) after the prayer, he slaughtered it at the right time and followed the tradition of the muslims."  (Sahih Bukhari, Book #68, Hadith #453, Narrated Al-Bara)

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.