Offering Udh-hiyah on Behalf of the Deceased

Offering Udh-hiyah on Behalf of the Deceased
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Types of Udh-hiyah

An Udh-hiyah (sacrificial animal) that is offered on behalf of the deceased is divided into the following three types:

The first type: For the deceased to be part of an Udh-hiyah being offered on behalf of living people. This is like when one offers an animal for himself and on behalf of his household, and the deceased is one of the household members. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) used to say: “O Allah! This is on behalf of the entire household of Muhammad.” It is confirmed that some of his household members had died prior to him  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) offering this animal.

The second type: To be an Udh-hiyah that is voluntarily offered and is exclusively for a deceased. This is like when one offers an animal on behalf of someone as a favor. The scholars differed whether or not the deceased will get the reward of this animal. Hanbali scholars  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  them are of the opinion that the deceased will benefit from it and will get its reward. They ruled this by analogy comparing it to charity and that the deceased benefits when one offers charity on his behalf. However, other scholars ruled that it is not permitted to offer on behalf of the deceased unless it is part of his will before his death.

Nonetheless, people commit a big mistake by slaughtering on behalf of the deceased (whether it is done voluntarily or fulfilling a will) and do not offer their own Udh-hiyah and that of the living members of their family. This is plain ignorance, because if they had any knowledge they would know that offering the Udh-hiyah on behalf of their families include the deceased as well as the living.

The third type: To be an Udh-hiyah that is offered on behalf of the deceased as a part of a will he had left, and is thus fulfilled as it is.

The Time to Offer Udh-hiyah:

Udh-hiyah is offered after finishing the prayer of 'Eed. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “The one who slaughters after the 'Eed prayer has fulfilled his rite and coincided with the Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) which the Muslims follow.” Its time finishes after sunset of the last 'Eed day (13th of Thul-Hijjah), and thus one has four days to slaughter, the 10th through the 13th of Thul-Hijjah. It is permissible to slaughter during the daytime or at night.

The one who slaughters before the 'Eed prayer would not have fulfilled the Udh-hiyah and must offer another animal in place of the one who offered. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “Anyone who slaughters before the 'Eed prayer must offer another animal in place of the one who offered, and the one who did not slaughter before the 'Eed prayer, then let him offer another and recite the Name of Allah on it.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The Conditions of Udh-hiyah:

Offering an Udh-hiyah is an act of worship by which the slave comes closer to Allah The Almighty and is thus not accepted unless it fulfills the following two conditions without which no act of worship is accepted:

First: Sincerity to Allah The Almighty: One should offer the animal seeking the reward of Allah The Almighty and not to show off and boast in front of others.

Second: Coinciding with the Sunnah (tradition) of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ): The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “Any deed that does not coincide that which we are upon (the Sunnah) will be rejected.” An Udh-hiyah will coincide with the Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) only if it fulfills the conditions set forth by him  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ).

In addition to fulfilling the conditions of time (i.e., offering within the legislated period) there are four main conditions that are related to the offered animal for an Udh-hiyah in order to be accepted:

1)  Ownership: An Udh-hiyah is not accepted if one does not own the animal.

2)  Animal type: It must from the specified types which were legislated, like cows, sheep and camels.

3)  Age: The animal must reach a certain age before they suffice as an Udh-hiyah. Camels should be over 5 years of age, cows must be 2-3 years of age, and sheep and goats must be six months and older.

4)  Health: The offered animal must be healthy and free of any defect and should be healthy. Examples for defective or sick animals are: an animal that limps due to a problem in its leg, an animal that has lost its eyes and an extremely weak animal that appears to have poor health.

If one buys the sacrificial animal and on the way to slaughter it the animal falls and breaks its leg, then he may slaughter it and it would suffice him because this defect was unintentional. However, if it happens due to his negligence in maintaining the animal till the time of slaughter, then he must replace it.

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