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Big Sallah and the perfection of sacrifices

Yesterday, Friday September 1, 2017 was Big Sallah, as it is popularly known in this part of the Muslim world. The main event of Big…

Yesterday, Friday September 1, 2017 was Big Sallah, as it is popularly known in this part of the Muslim world. The main event of Big Sallah which is slaughtering of animals is still on and will not cease until tomorrow Sunday September 3, 2017. Other Arabic names for this feast include Eidul Ad-ha and Eidul Nahr; both meaning Feast of Sacrifice. The act of making the animal sacrifice is called Dahiyyah. It is one of the two major festivals in Islam; the other being Eidul Fitr (also described as Small Sallah), which is observed at the end of Ramadan fast. Big Sallah which comes up annually on the tenth day of the twelfth and last month in the Islamic lunar calendar is traditionally part of the activities that mark end of the year in Islam.

The Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) teaches that those that are able to offer sacrifices on the occasion of the Eid ul-Kabir should eat out of the meat and also give some portions of it to others. While some scholars fix two-third (2/3) of the entire meat as the portion to be given out, others opine that the proportion is not mandatory. The most important thing is for the person who made the sacrifice to (along with his family members) eat out of it and also give part of it to relations, friends and neighbours. If sharing fresh meat would be a burden to the recipient(s), it is preferred that the meat is roasted, fried or cooked before it is shared to them.

The act of sharing the Dahiyyah meat with others symbolizes the will to give up some of our own bounties not just to help those in need but also to strengthen ties of friendship. Overcoming the common grievances we hold against one another which impede mutual co-existence is the ultimate spirit in sacrifice. Sacrifice reinforces the quality of patience in us just as perseverance increases our capacity to sacrifice. Sacrifices bring us closer to Allah. It makes us stronger and the stronger we are in faith, the greater our will to make sacrifices. 

The most significant aspect of Dahiyyah is the inner dimension of its lessons. The occasion of Big Sallah goes beyond animal slaughter or sacrifice. Allah (SWT) already makes this clear in Qur’an 22:37 that “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah. It is your piety that reaches Him”. Sacrifice by Muslims seeks to epitomize that their submission to the will of Allah (SWT) is absolute. The animal sacrifice on the tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah is in furtherance of this submission. It is a sincere demonstration of submission to Allah when a Muslim gives out that which he loves most for the sake of the most Beneficent. Giving out that which the owner does not consider valuable would thus sum up to an imperfect sacrifice. The Dahiyyah sacrifice is thus perfected when a person making the sacrifice shares out parts of the best portions of the meat.

Whoever remains genuine in his sacrifices shall, like Prophet Ibrahim (AS), attain a ‘win-win’ situation. As an obedient servant of Allah, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) neither earned divine anger for his obedience to Allah’s command nor lost his son. Rather, his creator was pleased with him and gave him a sheep as alternative to sacrificing his son. Whenever we express our faith in Allah’s will and command in this manner, the end would surely be pure bliss. Let us therefore try to sacrifice parts of our interests, comforts or possessions for the sake of Allah (SWT) in these first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. We could sacrifice a portion of the night (when sleep is most desirous) to stand in prayers; worshipping Allah. We could also sacrifice some morsels of our delicious meals(s) to satisfy someone else’s hunger. 

It is required that the sacrificial ram or sheep should have attained a year or at least eight months. A goat is expected to have entered its second year. A cow should have entered its fourth year and a camel should not be less than six years of age. It is not right to use a sick, emaciated or blind (partial or full) animal that has one or other deformities for the sacrifice. The animal with a broken horn or split ear(s) should not also be used for the Dahiyyah sacrifice. Maliki scholars opine that the one with a broken horn can be used if no blood gushed forth from the injury. 

Believers are free to slaughter their animals within the prescribed three days (tenth, eleventh and twelfth of Dhul-Hijjah). However, the first day (tenth Dhul-Hijjah), is preferred over the succeeding two days (i.e. eleventh and twelfth Dhul-Hijjah). The slaughtering on each of the days is preferred before sunset. Anyone who slaughters his animal at night shall have made no sacrifice. If for any reason (including loss of the animal intended for the sacrifice) one was unable to make the slaughtering before sunset, it is recommended that the slaughtering be postponed until the following morning. It is not permitted to sell anything out of the slaughter-animal; not even the hide of the animal.

It is recommended that the following supplication is recited after every obligatory prayer beginning from the noon (zuhr) prayer of the Eidul-Kabir day (tenth of Dhul-Hijjah) and terminating at the morning (subhi) prayer of the fourth day of the Eid (i.e thirteenth of Dhul-Hijjah). The supplication is “Allah Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar; La ilaha ila-llah; Allahu Akbar, Allah Akbar; Wa li-llah il-Hamd”; meaning “Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest; There is no God except Allah; Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest; All praise is due to Allah”. May Allah (SWT) accept our sacrifices and supplications, amin. Happy Sallah! 

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