Compiled by Muhammad al-Jibaalee
Copyright ©1996 by Al-Qur’aan was-Sunnah Society of North America
All Rights Reserved
Thanking Allaah 3
The Importance of Thankfulness (3)
A Quality of the Messengers and the Believers (3)
Between Thankfulness and Ingratitude (4)
Children Are a Bounty from Allaah (4)
Raising the Children Thankfully (4)
Meaning of ‘Aqeeqah 5
Ruling for ‘Aqeeqah 6
Evidence that It Is Obligatory (6)
Evidence that It Is Voluntary (7)
Animal to Offer as ‘Aqeeqah 9
Size, Age, Etc. (10)
When to Offer the ‘Aqeeqah 10
What to Do with the ‘Aqeeqah 11
Dividing the Meat (11)
Smearing Blood on the Head? (12)
Wisdom behind the ‘Aqeeqah 12
Various Sunnahs for the Newborn 13
Giving Good Names (14)
Shaving the Head (14)
Other Sunnahs (14)
The Importance of Thankfulness
Thanking Allaah (T) is a main objective of worship. Thanks signify acknowledging Allaah’s bounties with gratitude, contentment and love.
One should strive to be thankful in all situations and circumstances. Thanks are offered with the tongue through words of praise, dedication, and glorification. They are also offered with the body and limbs through actions that display submission and obedience to the Lord (T).
A Quality of the Messengers and the Believers
Thankfulness is a quality that Allaah (T) praises, and to which He calls His messengers and their followers. For example, He (T) praised His Khaleel (close confidant) Ibraaheem (S):
«He was thankful for His Graces. (Allaah) chose him and guided him to a Straight Path.»" (1)
And He (T) praised His prophet Nooh (S):
«Verily he was a grateful worshipper.»(2)
He (T) commanded the believers, just as He commanded the messengers, to adorn themselves with the virtue of thankfulness:
«Oh you who believe, eat of the good things from which we have provided you, and thank Allaah.»(3)
«So, remember Me - I shall remember you; and thank Me - and do not deny (My bounties).»(4)
Between Thankfulness and Ingratitude
Allaah (T) promised an increase of bounties for thanking Him:
«If you are thankful I will give you more.»(5)
And He (T) condemned and censured those who lack in thankfulness:
«And it is He Who has given to you the hearing, the eyesight and the hearts. But little do you thank (Him).»(6)
Children Are a Bounty from Allaah
One of Allaah’s great bounties is the pious offspring:
«So be ever aware of the One who provided you with what you know. He provided you with cattle and children.»(7)
«And He provided for you, from your mates, children and grandchildren.»(8)
Raising the Children Thankfully
A believer strives to make his offspring pious, submissive to Allaah, consistent in their prayers, and responsible bearers of the da‘wah to Islaam. He raises the youth on these Lordly instructions for thankfulness:
«And (remember) when Luqmaan said to his son when he was advising him: ‘O my son! Join not in worship others with Allaah. Verily! Joining others in worship with Allaah is a great injustice indeed ... O my son, establish the prayer, enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and bear with patience whatever befall you. Verily! These are some of the important commandments of Allaah.’»(9)
Allaah’s Messenger (S) said:
Command your children to perform the prayers when they reach seven; and beat them (if they neglect it) when they reach ten.(10)
Among the aspects of thanking Allaah for the bounty of children is that the parents sacrifice animals on their behalf when they are born. This is what is termed in the Islaamic Sharee‘ah as ‘aqeeqah. It is a sunnah that has become neglected among the majority of Muslims.
Meaning of ‘Aqeeqah
The root of ‘aqeeqah derives from the Arabic verb ‘aqqa, which means split or cut. According to al-Asma’ee, az-Zamakhsharee, and others, it derives from a similar word that describes the baby’s hair at the time of birth. The first opinion is more correct, as indicated by Ahmad, Ibn ’Abd il-Barr, al-Khattaabee, and others. (11)
In Islaamic terminology, ‘aqeeqah refers to the animal slaughtered as a sacrifice for a newborn child. It is so named because its throat is severed during the sacrifice. It is also called naseekah (sacrifice).
Ruling for ‘aqeeqah
The scholars have differed as to whether the ‘aqeeqah is voluntary (nafl) or compulsory (waajib).
Evidence that It Is Obligatory
Those who hold the position that the ‘aqeeqah is waajib base their opinion on the following hadeeths:
1. Salmaan bin ’Aamir Adh-Dhabbee reported that Allaah’s Messenger (S) said:
A ‘aqeeqah is prescribed for every child. Thus shed blood on his behalf; and remove the harmful thing(12) from him. (13)
2. ’Aa’ishah, Umm Karz, Asmaa’ Bint Yazeed, and Ibn ’Abbaas (y), all reported that Allaah’s Messenger (S) said:
(The ‘aqeeqah is) two [equivalent(14)] sheep for the male child, and one for the female. [There is no harm whether they be male or female animals.] (15)
3. Samurah bin Jundub (R) reported that Allaah’s Messenger (S) said:
Every child is mortgaged by his ‘aqeeqah. It should be slaughtered for him on his seventh day, his hair should be shaved, and he should be named.(16)
4. Ibn ’Abbaas, ’Aa’ishah, Anas, ’Ali, and others (y) reported:
"Allaah’s Messenger (S) offered ‘aqeeqah for al-Hasan and al-Husayn [two rams, two rams]." (17)
From these reports, it is clear that Allaah’s Messenger (S) commanded people to offer ‘aqeeqah, indicated that it is compulsory for the newborn, and offered it himself for his grandsons al-Hasan and al-Husayn.
It is well established in Islaamic fiqh that a command from Allaah (T) or His Messenger (S) implies an obligatory duty - as long as there is no additional evidence to reduce it from the status of obligation to that of being optional.
In the case of ‘aqeeqah, the above evidence clearly classifies it as an obligation. In what follows, we shall discuss the counter evidence.
Evidence that It Is Voluntary
As for the scholars who hold the opinion that the ‘aqeeqah is voluntary, they believe that the following reports reduce it from the level of wujoob (obligation) to the level of recommendation:
1. ’Amr Bin Shu’ayb reported from his father, from his grandfather, who said that Allaah’s Messenger (S) was asked about ‘aqeeqah. He (S) replied:
Allaah does not like ’Uqooq(18); whoever is granted a child, and likes to sacrifice for it, let him do so - two equal sheep for a boy, and one sheep for a girl. (19)
2. Abu Raafi’ (R) reported:
"When Faatimah (R) gave birth to al-Hasan (R), she asked Allaah’s Messenger (S), ’Shouldn’t I sacrifice blood (as ‘aqeeqah) for my son?’ He replied:
No! Just shave the hair of his head, and give sadaqah (charity) equivalent to its weight in silver.
She did that; and when al-Husayn was born, she did the same." (20)
The scholars who take the position that the ‘aqeeqah is voluntary argue that in the first hadeeth, the key words, Whoever likes to sacrifice make it optional and dependant on the person’s inclination. However, this cannot stand in face of the previous evidence, because it could be understood to mean, "Whoever likes to sacrifice because he can afford it.".
They also argue that, in the second report, the Prophet (S) prevented his daughter from offering ‘aqeeqah. However, the earlier report by Ibn ’Abbaas and other Sahaabah, including her husband ’Ali (R), makes it clear that the reason he prevented her is that he had already offered it himself.
As presented above, the evidence is clear in that the ‘aqeeqah is obligatory; and the counter-evidence is not strong enough to reduce it to the level of being optional. Therefore, whoever can afford to offer ‘aqeeqah for his children should do so; and Allaah (T) knows best.
As for the one who cannot afford it, he is exempt; but he may still borrow money to offer it. Ahmad (r) was asked about one who borrowed money for the ‘aqeeqah. He replied:
"I hope that Allaah (T) will enrich him, because he revived a sunnah."
Animal to Offer as ‘aqeeqah
The Sunnah only mentions kabsh (ram) and Shaah (or Shaat) to be used for ‘aqeeqah. According to Lisaan ul-’Arab by Ibn Manzoor:
"Shaah means one sheep; it can be male or female ... And it is said that Shaah can be from sheep, goats, deer, cows, farm animals, or zebras."
The common practice in ‘aqeeqah among the Salaf is to slaughter sheep and goats. But the texts of the hadeeths do not exclude offering larger animals.
As has been indicated in the reports presented earlier from the Prophet’s (S) words and action, a ‘aqeeqah consists of two animals for a male child and one for a female.
The difference between males and females in ‘aqeeqah is to be compared to the difference between them in matters of testimony, inheritance, blood ransom, etc. It arises from the difference in social rights and liabilities, and gives no guarantee of added value or higher rewards for either side - a thing that only depends on piety.
As indicated above in the hadeeth of ’Aa’ishah, Umm Karz, and others, There is no harm whether they be male or female animals.
Size, Age, Etc.
There is no authentic text to indicate other qualities of the ‘aqeeqah, such as size, age, color, etc. Some scholars hold the opinion that it should have similar qualities to the udhhiyah (21). This has no proof, and acts of worship cannot be subjected to qiyaas (analogy). Yet, it is important that the ‘aqeeqah, being a sacrifice offered to Allaah (T) like the udhhiyah, should be an animal of the best description that one can find or afford.
When to Offer the ‘aqeeqah
In the hadeeth of Samurah mentioned earlier, the Prophet (S) instructs to offer the ‘aqeeqah ... on the seventh day ... after the child’s birth. Waliyy Ullaah id-Dahlawee (r) said:
"It is offered on the seventh day to give the family enough time to recover from the pains and hardship of childbirth, and to enable them to find the animals needed for ‘aqeeqah."
Furthermore, Buraydah (R) reported that the Prophet (S) said:
The ‘aqeeqah should be slaughtered on the seventh, the fourteenth, or the twenty first (from birth).(22)
If one deliberately misses these three chances, he may not offer it at a later date. However, if one could not find the animals, forgot, miscalculated, or did not know that it was obligatory, he may offer it as soon as he remember or can do so, because Allaah (T) does not ask of any soul more than it can offer.
It is important to note that these times are set for the actual slaughtering of the animals. As for cooking and feeding, it is not restricted by that, and can be done any time after the slaughtering.
What to Do with the ‘aqeeqah
Dividing the Meat
Making analogy with the udhhiyah, some scholars recommend dividing the ‘aqeeqah into three parts: eating one part, feeding the second, and giving the rest as charity. This has no proof, except in one weak hadeeth recorded by al-Haakim from ’Aa’ishah (R).
Thus, it is left open for one offering ‘aqeeqah to dispense of it in a way suitable to his finances, time, etc. He may keep it all, give it away, cook it and feed the people, and so on.
Many scholars recommend feeding people from the ‘aqeeqah. Even though there is no specific text in the Sunnah prescribing this, there are general texts encouraging Muslims to feed others. Ibn ul-Qayyim (r) said:
"It is recommended to cook it rather than give it away as raw meat, thereby relieving the poor people and the neighbors from the need to cook; this is an act of added goodness and thanks for the bounty, and a sign of good character and generosity."
However, some people are under the wrong impression that the purpose of the ‘aqeeqah is to feed people in a banquet or waleemah type gathering. They care more about this than about offering the sacrifice itself, some buying the meat instead of slaughtering. This is wrong, as it misses the basic idea behind the ‘aqeeqah: to offer sacrifice.
Smearing Blood on the Head?
An old practice before Islaam was to smear the head of the newborn with the ‘aqeeqah’s blood. Islaam prohibited this practice, as is reported by Buraydah (R):
"In Jaahiliyyah, when one of us got a child, he would slaughter a sheep and smear his head with its blood. When Islaam came, we (were commanded to) slaughter the sheep, shave the child’s head, and cover it with saffron." (23)
Also, Yazeed Bin ’Abdillaah al-Muzanee reported that the Prophet (S) said:
A ‘aqeeqah is to be offered for a child; but his head may not be touched with blood.(24)
Wisdom behind the ‘aqeeqah
The scholars have suggested some aspects of wisdom behind the legislation of ‘aqeeqah in Islaam. In the following, we present the most important of those as proposed by Ibn ul-Qayyim and Waliyy Ullaah id-Dahlawee:
1. It is a considerate way of declaring the birth and lineage of the newborn. It is certainly better than announcing the birth in the marketplaces (or newspapers, media, etc).
2. It promotes generosity and suppresses stinginess.
3. It is an act that distinguishes the Muslims from the disbelievers in Jaahiliyyah, who used to rub the child’s head with animal blood, or the Christians who baptize their children with water.
4. It is a sacrificial act that reminds the parents of Ibraaheem’s (S) sacrifice - thereby strengthening their link with the pious, and encouraging them to be consistent in doing good.
5. It is a sacrifice that helps protect the child - like other acts of obedience and benevolence.
6. It ransoms the child and removes the mortgage from him, so that he would be in position to intercede for his parents on the Day of Judgement. Imaam Ahmad (r) said:
"The meaning of ’mortgage’ in the hadeeth (25) is that the child is confined from interceding for his parents."
And Ibn ul-Qayyim said:
"The apparent meaning from the hadeeth is that the child is himself confined from some good that would otherwise reach him. That does not necessarily mean that he would be punished for it in the Hereafter."
Various Sunnahs for the Newborn
In addition to offering the ‘aqeeqah, there are other actions recommended for the newborn in the Sunnah of the Prophet (S). For example, Anas (R) and Sahl Bin Sa’d (R) reported:
"Some newborn babies were brought to Allaah’s Messenger (S); so he gave them names and chewed some dates and rubbed their mouths with it." (26)
Giving Good Names
It is recommended in the Sunnah to choose good names for the newborn.
Some recommended names for boys are ’Abdullaah, ’Abd ur-Rahmaan, Haarith, Hammaam, prophets’ names, and Sahaabah’s names.
Some recommended names for girls are Maryam, Saarah, names of the Prophet’s (S) daughters and wives, and names of the Sahaabah’s women.
Shaving the Head
It is recommended to shave the head of the newborn, whether boy or girl, on the seventh day, and give sadaqah equivalent to the weight of the hair in silver. This was cited earlier in the Messenger’s (S) order to his daughter Faatimah (R).
It is also recommended to circumcise the boys on the seventh day, and to do tahneek (rub something sweet in the mouth) for them.
As for giving athaan in the right ear of the child and iqaamah in the left ear, the reports concerning that are weak, especially the one for iqaamah.
"Ahkaam ut-Tifl (Rulings Pertaining to the Child)" by Ahmad al-’Eesawee, Daar ul-Hijrah, Riyadh, 1992.
"Hujjat Ullaah il-Baalighah (Allaah’s Overpowering Evidence)" by Waliyy Ullaah id-Dahlawee
"Manhaj ut-Tarbiyat in-Nabawiyyati lit-Tifl (the Prophetic Guidance in Educating the Child)" by Muhammad Noor Suwayd, ar-Rayyaan Publishing Institute, Beirut, 1994.
"Thalaathu Sha’aa’ir (Three Rites)" by ’Umar al-Ashqar, ad-Daar us-Salafiyyah, Kuwait, 1984.
"Tuhfat ul-Mawdoodi fee Ahkaam il-Mawlood (Gift for the Beloved about the Newborn’s Rulings)" by Ibn ul-Qayyim
"Zaad ul-Ma’aad (The Provision of the Return)" by Ibn ul-Qayyim, ar-Risaalah Publishing, Beirut, 1992.
1. An-Nahl 16:121.
2. Al-Israa’ 17:31.
3. Al-Baqarah 2:172.
4. Al-Baqarah 2:152.
5. Ibraaheem 14:7.
6. As-Sajdah 32:9.
7. Ash-Shu’araa’ 26:132.
8. An-Nahl 16:72.
9. Luqmaan 31:13-14.
10. Recorded by Abu Daawood; authentic.
11. Review Fath ul-Baaree 9:501.
12. That is, shave his hair.
13. Recorded by at-Tirmithee and an-Nasaa’ee (Saheeh ul-Jaami’ no. 4253).
14. That is, close to each other in size and description.
15. Recorded by Ahmad and Abu Daawood, an-Nasaa’ee, at-Tirmithee, and others (Saheeh ul-Jaami’ no. 4105-4107, and Irwaa’ ul-Ghaleel no. 1166).
16. Recorded by an-Nasaa’ee, Abu Daawood, Ibn Maajah, and others (Saheeh ul-Jaami’ no. 4541, and Irwaa’ ul-Ghaleel no. 1165).
17. Recorded by an-Nasaa’ee, Abu Daawood, and others (Irwaa’ ul-Ghaleel no. 1164). Note that some reports mention "A ram, a ram." But what is included here is more correct, as is argued by Ibn ul-Qayyim, al-Albaanee, etc.
18. Iniquity, especially toward the parents. The Messenger (S) understood the question; but he took the chance to point out the prohibition of this sin, which derives from the same root word as ‘aqeeqah.
19. Recorded by Ahmad, an-Nasaa’ee, Maalik, and others. Authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah no. 1655.
20. Recorded by Ahmad and others. Judged hasan (good) by al-Albaanee in Irwaa’ ul-Ghaleel no. 1175.
21. The sacrifice offered on the day of Adhhaa.
22. Recorded by at-Tabaraanee and others; judged authentic by al-Albaanee (Saheeh ul-Jaami’ no. 4132).
23. Recorded by Abu Daawood, al-Haakim, and others; authenticated by al-Albaanee (Saheeh ul-Jaami’ no. 1165).
24. Recorded by Ibn Maajah; authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah no. 2452.
25. This refers to the hadeeth of Samurah (R) on page 7.
26. Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.