Hajj, Eidul-Azha and sacrifice

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The Spirit Of Islam
Mufti Taqi Usmani
ZULHIJJAH is the last month of the Islamic calendar. Literally, it means “Hajj.” Obviously, this name of the month indicates that the great annual worship of “hajj” is performed in this month, which gives it special significance. Some specific merits and rules relevant to this month are mentioned below:
The first ten days of Zulhijjah are among the most magnificent days in Islamic calendar. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said, “One fast during these days is equal to the fasting of one complete year, and the worship of one night during this period is equal to the worship in the “Lailatul-Qadr”. Every Muslim should avail of this wonderful opportunity by performing during this period as much Ibat (act of worship) to Allah as he or she can.
The 9th day of Zulhijjah is called ‘Youmul-Arafah’ (The Day of Arafah). This is the date when the Hujjaj (Hajj pilgrims) assemble on the plain of Arafat, six miles away from Makkah al-Mukarramah, where they perform the most essential part of the prescribed duties of hajj, namely, the Wuqoof-i-Arafat (the stay in Arafat).
Beginning from the Fajr of the 9th Zulhijjah up to the Asr prayer of the 13th, it is obligatory on each Muslim to recite the Takbir of Tashriq after every farz prayer in the following words. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illallahu, Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahilhamd. (There is no god but Allah and Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest and to Allah belongs all praise.) According to authentic Islamic sources, it is obligatory on each Muslim, to recite this Takbir after every farz salat. For women also, it is commendable though not obligatory. Whether you are performing salat collectively or on your own (individually) makes no difference. You must recite the Takbir. However, male Muslims should recite it in a loud voice, while females should recite it in a low voice.
The Urdu and Persian word Qurbani (Sacrificial slaughter) is derived from the Arabic word Qurban. Lexically, it means an act performed to seek Allah’s pleasure. Originally, the word Qurban included all acts of charity because the purpose of charity is nothing but to seek Allah’s pleasure. But, in precise religious terminology, the word was later confined to the sacrifice of an animal slaughtered for the sake of Allah.
The sacrifice of an animal has always been treated as a recognised form of worship in all religious orders originating from a divine book. In the Shariah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), the sacrifice of an animal has been recognised as a form of worship only during three days of Zulhijjah, namely, the 10th, 1lth and 12th of the month. This is to commemorate the unparalleled sacrifice offered by the Prophet Sayyidna Ibrahim (PBUH) when he, in pursuance to a command of Allah conveyed to him in a dream, prepared himself to slaughter his beloved son, Sayyidna Ismail (PBUH) and actually did so but, Allah Almighty, after testing his submission, sent down a sheep and saved his son from the logical fate of slaughter. It is from that time onwards that the sacrifice of an animal became an obligatory duty to be performed by every well to do Muslim.
Qurbani is a demonstration of total submission to Allah and a proof of complete obedience to Allah’s will or command. When a Muslim offers a Qurbani, this is exactly what he intends to prove. Thus, the Qurbani offered by a Muslim signifies that he is a slave of Allah at his best and that he would not hesitate even for a moment, once he receives an absolute command from his Creator, to surrender before it, to obey it willingly, even if it be at the price of his life and possessions. When a true and perfect Muslim receives a command from Allah, he does not make his obedience dependent upon the command’s reasonability’ as perceived through his limited understanding. He knows that Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise and that his own reason cannot encompass the knowledge and wisdom underlying the divine command. He, therefore, submits to the divine command, even if he cannot grasp the reason or wisdom behind it.
The most important way of worship performed in this month is “hajj”, one of the five pillars of Islam. The Muslims from every part of the world assemble in Arabia to perform this unique way of worship. Hajj is a worship, which requires at least five days to be performed in its proper way. (1) Hajj is obligatory on every adult Muslim who can afford to go to Makkah during the hajj season, whether on foot or by any other carriage. (2) If a person can travel to Makkah to perform hajj, but he cannot travel to Madinah, hajj is obligatory on him also. He can perform hajj without visiting Madinah. (3) A Muslim woman cannot travel for hajj unless she is accompanied by a mahram (i.e. husband or relative of a prohibited degree like son, father, brother etc.) If she does not find any mahram to accompany her, hajj is not obligatory on her until she finds one.
However, she must make a will that in case she dies before performing hajj, his heirs should arrange for her hajj-i-badal out of her left over property. (4) Hajj is obligated only once in one’s life. After performing the obligatory hajj; one is not required to perform it again. However, he can perform the nafl (optional hajj as many times as he or she wishes.) — Courtesy: Albalagh.org