Monday, January 15, 2018
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our Noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Brothers and Sisters! An Aqiqah is the animal or animals that are slaughtered on the seventh day after the birth of a baby.
From Samurah (RA) that Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said:
“A child is held in pledge by his aqiqah that is slaughtered on his behalf on the seventh day, the harm is removed from him (i.e. the head is shaved) and he is named.” [Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi]
Imam Ibn Mundhir (rahimahullah) stated:
“It is a custom established in the Hijaz region past and present, and practised by the Scholars. Imam Malik mentioned that it is an affair concerning which there is no differing amongst them. From those who held that the aqiqah should be done is: Abdullah Ibn Abbas, Abdullah Ibn Umar and Aisha, the Mother of the Believers (RA). A large body of scholars have followed in this affair the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) – and when it is established by Sunnah, then it becomes incumbent to speak with it – and this practice is not harmed by those who turn away from it. However, the practice was rejected by the People of Opinion (As-habur-Ra’ay) who did not hold the aqiqah to be a Sunnah. In that they opposed the existing body of narrations from the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), and from his Companions (RA), and those Tabi’in who narrated it.” [Tuhfatul-Mawlud]
Abu Zinadah (rahimahullah) said:
“The aqiqah is an affair practiced by the Muslims and leaving it off was hated.”
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah) said:
“I do not like that a person who has the ability to perform an aqiqah on behalf of his child, yet he does not do so. It should not be left because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “The child is held in pledge by his aqiqah.” And this is the severest of what has been narrated in this affair.” [Tahfatul-Mawlud]
Al-Harith said to Abu Abdillah Ahmad Ibn Hanbal:
“What if a person does not have something to slaughter?” He replied:
“If he was to take a loan, I have hope that Allah will replace it for him due to him giving life to the Sunnah.”
Imam At-Tirmidhi (rahimahullah) said:
“Acting upon this affair with the Scholars: is that the aqiqah is slaughtered on behalf of the child on the seventh day – and if it is not possible on the seventh day, then on the fourteen. And if that is not possible, then on the twenty first day.” [As-Sunan]
This order is reported from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) wherein he said:
“The aqiqah is on the seventh, or the fourteenth or the twenty first.” [Reported by At-Tabarani in Al-Awsat and in Majma’ az-Zawa’id]
What is the Meaning of the saying of the Prophet (Peace be upon him):
“Every child is in pledge by his aqiqah.”
Yahya Ibn Hamzah said: I asked Ata Al-Khurasani: What is the meaning of:
“Every child is in pledge by his aqiqah.”
So he said:
“He is prevented from the intercession of his son.”
Others who said the same are: Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Ata Ibn Abi Rabah, Qatadah, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Al-Baghawi. [Tahfatul-Mawlud]
And this pledge remains in place until the aqiqah is performed – or that a person performs an aqiqah on his own behalf. It is reported from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) that he performed an aqiqah on his own behalf after he was appointed as a Prophet.
Likewise some of the righteous Salaf performed the aqiqah on their own behalf, such as Ata, Al-Hasan, Ibn Sirin and others (rahimahumullah).
How many are to be slaughtered on behalf of the girl and the boy?
Umm Kurz Al-Ka’abiyyah (RA) said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) say:
“On behalf of the boy there are two equivalent sheep, and for the girl just one.”
There occurs in a narration:
“It does not harm whether the animal is male or female.”
Meaning a male or female sheep.
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said:
“Equivalent means: The two sheep should be the same or similar.”
Ibn Abi Mulaikah said: Abdur-Rahman Ibn Abi Bakr had a boy, so it was said to Aisha:
“O Mother of the Believers, slaughter a camel in his behalf.”
So she replied:
“Refuge is with Allah! Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said: Two equivalent sheep.” [Ibn Abi Dunya in Al-Iyal, At-Tahawi in Sharh Mushkil al-Aathar, Al-Bayhaqi in As-Sunan Al-Kubra]
Dear Brothers and Sisters! The newborn celebration in Islam (al-aqiqah) is recommended for both boys and girls. One scholarly opinion stipulates that two sheep should be sacrificed for a boy and only one sheep for a girl. It is wrongly inferred from this opinion that boys are more valuable than girls. This interpretation is impossible because it contradicts the Quran, which expresses spiritual value only in terms of righteousness and not gender, race, or any other physical characteristic. Moreover, the alternative scholarly opinion, and arguably the stronger opinion, is that the sacrifice for boys and girls should be the same.
In the Maliki school, the opinion is that one sheep should be sacrificed for each boy and girl, as part of the celebration to distribute a portion of the meat to the poor in charity.
Nafi’ reported that:
“Abdullah Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was not asked by anyone from his family to provide a newborn celebration but that he would perform it. He would perform a newborn celebration for his child by sacrificing a sheep for each boy and girl.” [Al-Muwatta]
Imam Malik related a consensus on this point among the people of Madinah, which is to say that it was the living practice of the city implemented by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) himself.
Imam Malik said:
“The matter in which there is no disagreement among us regarding the newborn celebration, is that whoever performs it does so for his child by offering a sheep for each. The newborn celebration is not an obligation, but rather it is recommended to act upon it.” [Al-Muwatta]
The chain of narration upon which Imam Malik relied is considered one of the most authentic chains of authorities in the Hadith sciences.
“The way of Al-Bukhari is that the most authentic of chains is what is narrated by Malik, from Nafi’, from Ibn Umar.” [Al-Majalis al-Wa’ziyah]
Furthermore, Ibn Umar was an authority on the Prophetic practice (Sunnah), so his practices are usually attributed to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) himself.
“Ibn Umar was the strictest of the Companions in following the Sunnah, so it is an obligation to propagate it… for the male and female are the same regarding (the newborn celebration).” [Sharh al-Zurqani]
And Ibn Hajar said:
“It is related from Malik that the boy and the girl are the same, so the newborn celebration is performed for each of them with one sheep.” [Fath al-Bari]
In support of this opinion, Imam Malik refers to another authentic narration which states that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) sacrificed only one ram for each of his grandsons.
Ibn Abbas reported that:
“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, performed the newborn celebration for Hasan and Husain by sacrificing a ram for each.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
However, a variant report with an authentic chain states that it was two rams each:
“…with two rams each.” [Sunan al-Nasa’i]
And there is a further supporting report from Aisha for sacrificing two animals for a boy:
“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, commanded them to sacrifice two sheep of equal age for a boy and one for a girl.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhi]
These conflicting narrations are the reason for the scholarly disagreement, and the opinion that newborn boys are celebrated with two sheep and girls with one. Since the texts conflict, Imam Malik preferred to give greater weight to equality between genders, which is in agreement with the general rule.
“Rather, the argument for Imam Malik and those who agreed with him is that when the reports about the newborn celebration of Hasan and Husain conflict, he would give preponderance to equality between male and female in practice.” [Sharh al-Zurqani]
Dear Brothers and Sisters! In general, the rules for men and women are the same with a few exceptions related to the nature of men and women, such as menstruation etc.
Aisha reported that:
“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was asked about a man who finds moisture but he does not remember having a nocturnal emission. The Prophet said: He should take a bath.”
Umm Sulaim said:
“Is it the same for a woman if she sees something like that?” The Prophet said: Yes, for women are only the counterparts of men.” [Musnad Imam Ahmad]
In this Hadith, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) stated that the same rule which applied to men also applied to women. Men and women are the same, except when they are different. Hence, Imam Malik gave preponderance to the default position – equality between genders – when the texts contradict each other.
If for the sake of argument, we accept the opinion that a boy is celebrated with two sheep and a girl with one, the reason behind this rule is not stated in the texts. We can only infer and speculate the wisdom behind it.
For certain, it cannot be because boys are better or more valuable than girls. The Quran harshly criticises the pre-Islamic culture that devalued girls, including the cultural pressure that would encourage men to bury their daughters alive.
Allah the Most High said:
“When one of them is told of the birth of a female, his face becomes dark and he suppresses his grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? No doubt, it is evil what they judge.” [Qur’an, 16:58-59]
It would be nonsensical for the beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) to institute a practice that would reinforce the cultural prejudice that the Quran was revealed to dismantle. Rather, it is more probable that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) stipulated two sheep for boys and one for girls in some specific instances, depending upon the circumstances.
Perhaps the Prophet (Peace be upon him) understood that some men, being newly converted to Islam, were still under pre-Islamic cultural pressure and he lessened the recommended amount of charity to make it easier for them. As such, it was a means of further dismantling this cultural prejudice and not reinforcing it.
In any case, the strongest opinion, from both a textual and principled standpoint, is that boys and girls are celebrated equally as newborns. Not only was this the consensus of the scholars of Madinah, it is also in agreement with the Quranic principle of spiritual equality between genders.
Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. Imam can be reached via: email@example.com or +2348038289761.