Virtues of Thul-Hijjah and Meaning of Udhiya
As the sacred month of Thul-Hijjah begins, it’s worth remembering the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, “No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on the first ten days of Thul-Hijjah.” When the companions asked: “Not even Jihad?” the Prophet ﷺ replied: “Not even Jihad, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger for Allah’s sake and does not return with any of these things” (Bukhari).
Superiority of good deeds during Thul-Hijjah
Every Muslim is encouraged to take advantage of the superiority of the first ten days of Thul-Hijjah by increasing their practice of righteousness. Islam emphasizes, particularly in these days, the following actions:
Perform Hajj and Umrah
Fast the nine days of Thul-Hijjah, especially the Day of Arafah
Read from the Quran
Offer the Udhiya/Qurbani sacrifice
Pray Nafl (optional prayers)
Make Thikr (remembrance of Allah)
Donate to the less fortunate
Send blessings on the Prophet ﷺ
While these activities are ongoing practices and concerns of Muslims, they must undoubtedly be multiplied in these days more than any other time of the year.
“Say (O Muhammad): ‘Verily, my prayer, sacrifice, living, and dying are for Allah, Lord of all that exists” (Quran 6: 162).
Scholars have stressed that the first ten days and nights of Thul-Hijjah must be set aside for intense dedication to worship, occupation with virtuous acts, and contemplation. Virtue and reflection go hand in hand in Islam.
“And for all religion, We have appointed a rite [of sacrifice] that they may mention the name of Allah over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. For your god is one God, so to Him submit. And, [O Muhammad], give good tidings to the humble [before their Lord]” (Quran 22:34).
What is Udhiyah/Qurbani?
Udhiyah or animal sacrifice is an act of worship that reminds us of the great sacrifice that Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail were willing to do for Allah. Allah relates to us one of the most profound instances of total servitude to Him ever exhibited in human history. We are told of Ibrahim migrating from his people and home to find a place to worship Allah safely. His people, his own family, including his father, attempted to kill him. When this failed, Ibrahim turned to Allah in hijrah (migration) with total conviction and trust that Allah would be his keeper on this journey. He left with only his dutiful wife, Sarah, saying to her at one point: “Sarah, there isn’t on the face of the earth a believer aside from you and me” (Sahih Bukhari). Despite his loneliness, he persisted; praying to Allah for a righteous offspring to carry his legacy.
After much prayer, patience, and trust in Allah, at the age of 86, Ibrahim was finally granted a pious and noble son, Ismail. But with every blessing comes a test. Ibrahim was commanded to take Ismail’s life with his own two hands. Ibrahim never wavered, not even for a moment, saying: “I have seen in a vision that I am slaughtering you [Ismail], so tell me then what your opinion is.”
Neither Ibrahim nor Ismail questioned Allah’s command; they were in total submission and obedience to Allah and His will. Ibrahim took his son and laid him on his belly, so as not to look into his eyes as he drew his final breath. Suddenly, a piercing light came through the darkness bestowing Allah’s relief. Ibrahim fulfilled Allah’s command without shedding his son’s blood. “Indeed, Allah does not judge you based on neither your outward images nor your wealth, rather He judges you based on your hearts and actions” (Sahih Muslim).
Instead of sacrificing his son, Ibrahim was given a ram to be slaughtered. The meat was distributed to feed the poor and needy. Hence, Ibrahim fulfilled his destiny to become the Father of the Prophets as it were. “And [mention, O Muhammad], when Ibrahim was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [Allah] said, ‘Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people'” (Quran 2:124).
This great sacrifice our father, Ibrahim, was willing to make, his ultimate reliance on Allah and his subsequent reward, is honored as Eid-ul-Adha. This is why we celebrate every year on the 10th day of Thul-Hijjah. Ibrahim was tested with the most incredible test. We are to carry on this legacy. We do not slaughter our children, nor are we commanded to; instead, we are instructed to reap the fruits of our forefather’s sacrifice and continue this tradition for generations to come. It is for this reason that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ says: “Whoever does not sacrifice while having the ability to do so, should not even come near our place of prayer” (Ibn Majah). In other words, it is as if to say, if you do not do your part to uphold the legacy of Prophet Ibrahim, so long as you can, then as a Muslim, you have missed the entire point of what we celebrate on this day.
A Special Time for a Special Sacrifice
The time for providing a sacrifice begins after Eid-ul-Adha prayer. According to a Hadith, the Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said, “Whosoever offers a sacrifice before Eid prayer, they slaughtered an animal for meat, but whosoever makes a sacrifice after Eid-ul-Adha prayer, offers a sacrifice” (Al-Bukhari, Sahih).
Indeed, Udhiyah is an act of worship. In the same way, we have assigned times to pray; we also have an appointed time to sacrifice during Eid-ul-Adha. The time of sacrifice remains until sunset on the 12th Day of Thul-Hijjah.
Followers of other faiths, who claim to follow Prophet Ibrahim have forgotten this tradition, but Muslims have kept it alive without interruption. There is no substitute for Udhiya. However, if one wants to offer a Nafl (optional) sacrifice on behalf of oneself or one’s deceased parents or other relatives, one can choose to make Udhiya or give the price of the animal in charity.
The meat of the Udhiya should be divided into three equal portions:
Oneself and family
Friends and neighbors
The poor; if there are many poor people, then it is advisable to donate all of your Udhiya.
It is not required for the head of the family to offer a separate sacrifice for every member of the house as one sacrifice is sufficient for the whole family.
Udhiya is the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Ismail, and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It has meaning and significance. It reminds us of the great act of sacrifice that Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail were willing to do for Allah’s sake. Allah spared the life of Prophet Ismail, but He told us that, “And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice” (Quran 37: 107). The momentous sacrifice is the sacrifice of billions of people who have been remembering this tradition for the past four thousand years.
Donate your Udhiya/Qurbani through the Mosque Foundation website at mosquefoundation.org/donation to the region of your choice, until Thursday, July 30, 2020. Or you can stop by the Masjid office 7 days a week after any of the 5 daily prayers.