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The Islamic Ruling on Denying a Parent Access to Children from Scholars in UK

Written for UK context, for those in non-abusive situations

After a marital breakdown, children are all too often used as pawns by feuding parents. In theory, both parents should put the interest of their children first, and although they have equal responsibility, it is wrong to assume that they have equal power, when it comes to access to and custody of the children. Under the current legal framework in the UK, the resident parent (the one with the custody of the children) has disproportionate powers regarding the children.

In our society, it is almost always the mother who has custody and rights over the children, where as the father faces a potentially uphill struggle to realise his rights. This anomalous position has led to a lot of abuse, particularly because many mothers use it to instantly and absolutely deny the father access to the children. In a number of cases, all relations between him and the children are severed at the mother’s behest, and she will demand that he seeks contact with his children by obtaining a child arrangement order through the courts, if mediation fails, which can all take between three and four months or even longer, and by that time, the children have already been further traumatised due to the sudden absence of their father. Also this gives unfair advantage to the mother who can abuse her privilege of custody and unduly influence the children vis a vis their father. The children find themselves torn by their loyalty to both parents but tend to yield to the mother’s pressure not to see the father and to inform Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) that they do not wish to see their father. Again this puts the father at a disadvantage and in the difficult situation of having to show that the children have not been negatively affected. This could be viewed as a form of child abuse, because the situation is imposed on the children (particularly very young children), who are powerless and have no opinion in the matter; their right to see the father is taken away from them.

Often, some mothers will continue to obstruct contact, even after the courts have issued a contact order, which gives the father the legal right to regularly see the children at agreed times. This is simply another severing of the bond between the father and the children that must be endured until a further court hearing takes place which could be months later.

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The courts at times may be reluctant to enforce the contact order, because they may believe that labouring the mother is not in the best interests of the children. The question is, is it, then, in the best interests of the children for a situation to be created, which prolongs the absence of their father from their lives? It could be argued, the legal hurdles are creating a new generation of fatherless children, who know nothing of their own father, other than his name and the fact that he is biologically related to them. Similarly, there are also cases of fathers with custody engaged in the same process.

This reluctance of the lawmakers to reprove mothers who breach a contact order could be seen as an implicit green light, at some instances, permitting these mothers to continue denying fathers access to the children. Of course, this separation damages the relationship between the children and the father and in some cases the frustrated father feels forced to give up, as he has to bear extremely high legal cost due to the many court hearings, caused by the mother’s non-compliance with the contact orders.

This situation was publically echoed by a senior Judge, Mr Justice Coleridge, in 2010 by making a statement, outlined below:

‘Family courts are losing their authority because so many people take no notice of their judgments. Around 5,000 new cases a year come before the family courts in which parents – almost always mothers – defy orders to let the other parent have contact. Judges are extremely reluctant to jail such mothers because of the damaging effects on the children, so many continue to get away with it.’

This abuse is rife among all communities in Britain and the unfortunate consequences of a fatherless society are undeniably visible. As a result, we see the proliferation of groups like Fathers for Justice and Families need Fathers, advocating the rights of fathers who no longer reside with their children. A recent report appeared in the Sunday Express [1], where it had been found that since June 2003, 8,515 non-resident parents have committed suicide due to the distress of not seeing their children. The study found that 94.8 per cent of the deaths involved a male non-resident parent.

It is a fundamental right of the child to have access to both parents, and likewise both parents have a natural right over the child that they have given birth to. Thus, rationally speaking, by default there are no grounds to exclude either parent from having access to their children. This separation is justified under some exceptional circumstances, for example, if one of the parents poses a genuine threat to the children and/or displays violent and harmful conduct at home (domestic or sexual abuse and violence). If such cases are backed with evidence and/or a court order, then temporary separation of that parent from the children has merit whilst a permanent solution is being sought.

The Muslim community of Britain has not been immune to this situation, where some mothers and fathers sever all ties between the children and either of the former parent. This runs contrary to basic Islamic values, teachings and culture. All Muslim societies have evolved through family units, and where there is a breakdown, the practice of imposing any sort of separation between children and parents or any other family members has traditionally been unknown. It should be self-evident that imposing separation between a child and any relative is an unnatural and unkind act, as ugly as the pre-Islamic custom of burying female children alive (imposing a permanent separation), which was carried out in Pagan Arab society, and was swiftly abolished by Islam.

Despite this, the problem is rife within some Muslim communities, and is frequently carried out even by those professing to be practising Muslim parents. This is partly because this issue has not been explicitly pronounced as unlawful under Islamic law, unlike, for instance, the consumption of alcohol and pork.

Even before we seek textual evidence, its prohibited status under Islamic law is obvious, because it runs to contrary to human nature. The most basic human social structure is the family unit, and the father-child and mother-child relationships are a fundamental part of this. To destroy that is like waging war on society, and those who attempt to destroy society by violent acts are given the severest punishment under the law.

All Islamic scholars agree that this severing of the bond, regardless of whether it is done voluntarily by an irresponsible parent, imposed by the mother or the father, is a cardinal sin. The prohibition of, and warnings against taking such action are very emphatic and Islamic teaching clearly states that the consequence is prevention from entering Paradise on the Day of Judgment. The first evidence from the primary source of Quran clearly states this.

“Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and cut off your ties of kinship?”   (Quran 41:21)

The above is corroborated by many Hadiths. For example, Imams Bukhari and Muslim have collected the following saying of the Prophetṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

“One will not enter paradise if he/she cuts off relations with relatives.”

Another Hadith also collected by Bukhari and Muslim and narrated by Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) states:

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Do not turn away from your fathers, for he who turns away from his father, will be guilty of committing an act of disbelief.”

This prohibits severing of the bond with members of immediate family, and most specifically one’s father. Scholars are in agreement that this is the case whether one turns away from one’s own father or forces others to be separated from their fathers.

Also, the Islamic obligation on both the father and the mother to raise the children is well established; hence, the imposed separation of children from either the father or mother is clearly prohibited. If children willingly cut themselves off from their parents then they are committing a grave sin. Likewise, if someone else is preventing children from forming a close relationship with their parents, that person is also considered blameworthy.

Parents should be aware of the religious, moral and spiritual consequence of severing family ties in the sight of God. Unfortunately, it is all too common for either parent to deny the right of access to their children solely because of their personal feud. Perhaps they gain some temporary emotional satisfaction from doing this at the expense of their own children, but the long term consequences are detrimental to their worldly life and after-life, and any Muslim who is engaged in such actions should think very carefully before continuing on such a path of emotional abuse and harm.

Signed:

Sheikh Abdul Qayyum, East London Mosque

Dr Sh Suhaib Hasan, Islamic Shari’ah Council, Leyton

Sheikh Mawlana Mohammad Shahid Raza (Leicester Central Mosque)

Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf, www.zamzamacademy.com

Imam Qari Asim Muhammad, Makkah Masjid, Leeds

Sheikh Khalifa Ezzat, London Central Mosque

Shaykh Dr Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri, Al Mustafa Islamic Centre, Ireland

Dr Abdul Kalam Azad, Adam Academy, London

Sheikh Fahimul Anam, Beacon Institute

Imam Abdullah Hasan, Imams Against Domestic Abuse (IADA)

Imam Abdul Wahhab, Plashet Grove Masjid, London

Dr Kamal Abu Zahra, Ad-Duha Institute

Imam Irfan Chishti – Rochdale Council of Mosques

Imam Ghulam Moyhuddin, Ashton Central Mosque

Imam Yusuf Rios, Shaukani Institute, USA

Sheikh Muhammad Sa’di, European College of Islamic Studies, Birmingham

Sheikha Selina Begum Ali – Oak Education for Children

Notes

[1] (http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/550037/Family-separation-fatal-toll-absent-parent-die-earlier)

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Mabonline

  2. Avatar

    ash

    November 18, 2016 at 6:12 AM

    I’ve been looking for answers to my questions and i think they have been partly answered, what if the child is a out of wedlock, and b the mother makes things so difficult for the non resident parent that it is affecting his sanity, surely then no blame would be attributed for walking away?

    • Avatar

      A500Own

      October 26, 2017 at 8:19 PM

      I will answer your question with ease. If a child is born out of wedlock the child does not belong to the father. The child is exclusive to the mother. She can do whatever she wishes then, including denying the man from seeing the child. In return the man have zero obligation to financially support the child in any means or have any connections to that child in any means.

      The child will inherit only from the mother and not the man and the child will have the mother’s last name and not the man who she had sexual intercourse with out of wedlock.

      In order for the man to have any right over the child it have to be done through marriage. Check with the Islamic scholar on this but as I was reading from islamic websites with questions and answers this is what I understood and read.

      Out of wedlock children belong to the mother only and they inherit from the mother and they have the last name of the mother and she can take the child anywhere she wishes outside the reach of the man who she had out of wedlock intercourse sex with. The man have no responsibility to financially support the child if he chooses not too.

      But the only victim here is the child. Because of the stupid move of the man and the woman who did have intercourse out of marriage the child will be deprived of a house raised by both a father and a mother, will be deprived of inheriting from the father and will be deprived from having the last name of the father.

  3. Avatar

    Maha Rida

    November 25, 2018 at 4:55 AM

    Mashallah. This article is exactly what is happening. Similar case here for two girl children aged 3 and 7 deprived of basic needs of care and nourishment only because of their mother’s devilish and uneducated mind and childs maternal grand parents. Those children were much cared and enjoyed their fathers exclusive caring to them. I am waiting for God’s judgement on them. “Man-made laws are always flawed”.

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Help! I Can’t Make Dua For More Than 30 Seconds On The Day Of ‘Arafah

Much emphasis has been given on the importance of fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, but don’t forget, this was a day the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) “made du’a from the time of Dhur til the time of Maghrib on the day of ‘Arafah while STANDING.” (Sahih Muslim)

He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said, “The best du’a is that which is made on the day of ‘Arafah.” (Sahih Muslim)

If we can develop the capacity to binge watch on Netflix 5-6 for hours a day, we can develop the capacity to make du’a longer than 30 SECONDS on the day of ‘Arafah.

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I used to be a person who couldn’t make du’a longer than 2 minutes.

3 things changed

1. I started writing my personalized du’as on a mini-notebook

2. I started reading du’as using Hisnul Muslim (The Fortress of the Muslim)

3. I started following the etiquettes of making du’a.

As an Imam, I have numerous meetings with members of my community. Sometimes, at the end of my meetings, I asked the community member to end our meeting with a du’a. It is surprising that many of them do not know the etiquettes of making du’a. By following the above etiquettes of making du’a, you can make du’a longer than 2 minutes inshAllah!

Here are 16 etiquettes of making du’a from the Qur’an and Sunnah

1) Have 100% conviction that Allah will answer you

2) Find a way to praise Allah before making your request

3) Use the proper names of Allah

4) Send salutations upon Muhammad (upon him be peace)

5) Raise your hand like a beggar

6) Face the qibla

7) Be in a state of wudu

8) Cry

9) Be a lone wolf (Be alone)

10) Ensuring that your food is pure

11) Acknowledge your sins (Privately)

12) Repeat the du’a 3 times

13) Start the du’a by praying for yourself

14) Expand your heart, pray for everyone (in particular those Muslims in China who wish they could fast on the day of ‘Arafah, but they are prohibited from doing so.)

15) Say Amin after making du’a.

16) Make du’a during the “prime-times” (From Dhur till Maghrib on the day of Arafah is primetime!)

Bonus tip: If you’re like me, you may get stuck when making du’a. An excellent tip given by our master Muhammad (upon him be peace) is to use the “filler du’a”. This “filler du’a” was actually what Muhammad (upon him be peace) and all of the Prophets made on the day of Arafat!

He said, “The best invocation is that of the Day of Arafat, and the best that anyone can say is what I and the Prophets before me have said:

Lā ‘ilāha ‘illallāhu

wahdahu lā shareeka lahu,

lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu

wa Huwa ‘alā kulli shay’in qadeer.

Translation:

None has the right to be worshipped but Allah

Alone, Who has no partner.

His is the dominion and His is the praise,

and He is Able to do all things. (Al-Tirmidhi)

To recap, here are 5 action items you and your family can perform on the day of Arafah.

1. Go over the following hadith with your family members.

“Allah frees far more people from Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day, and Allah comes closer this day and proudly says to the angels, ‘What do these people want and seek?’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)

2. Say to your family members or whoever you have influence over,

“The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made du’a on the day of Arafah from Dhur till Maghreb. How long do you think we can make du’a for on this day?”

3. Go over the 16 etiquettes mentioned in this post.

4. Challenge your family members to make a 10 minute du’a.

     Materials needed

  • Whiteboard
  • Markers
  • A Creative mind
  • Brainstorm with your family members what du’a you want to make and then write them on a whiteboard.

5. Whenever you get stuck and you can’t don’t know what du’a you want to make, make the “filler du’a” the Prophet (upon him be peace) made on the day of ‘Arafah.

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 19: My Mercy Encompasses All Things

Now that we have learnt about when the angels surround us, let’s now talk about how Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy encompasses all things.

We say بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ  (bismillah Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem) a lot, right? It means ‘in the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.’ 

We say it when we pray, before we eat, and we’re encouraged to say it before we begin any new task. But do we really understand what rahma (mercy) means? 

Question: What do you think rahma means?

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Do you know that the word rahma comes from the root word, رحم (rahim), which means womb? 

Question: Who can tell me what a womb is?

That’s right. A baby is usually in their mommy’s womb for 40 weeks. The baby gets all the nourishment it requires; the temperature in the womb is perfect, the nutrients are always administered, it is safe and warm. All the baby has to do is grow, and alhamdulillah all its needs are being met. 

Question: How do you think the womb relates to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy?

Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy is constantly surrounding us like a safety net. That doesn’t mean that we’ll never experience any pain, but Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is constantly showing us mercy with every breath we take. Even blinking is a mercy from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that we don’t even have to think about. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) even has more mercy for us than a mother has for her own child! 

One day the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was walking with a group of his companions, and they passed by a woman who was frantically looking for her child. She would take any child to her breast and try to feed him/her. Then the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to the companions: “Do you think that this lady can throw her son in the fire?” We replied, “No, if she has the power not to throw it (in the fire).” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) then said, “Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is more merciful to His slaves than this lady to her son.”

And guess what? There’s even more mercy in the hereafter than we’re experiencing right now. 

Salman al-Farisi reported: The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Verily, on the day Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created the heavens and earth, He created one hundred parts of mercy. Each part can fill what is between heaven and earth. He made one part of mercy for the earth, from it a mother has compassion for her child, animals and birds have compassion for each other. On the Day of Resurrection, He will perfect this mercy.” [Sahih Muslim]

99 parts of mercy on the Day of Judgment! That is one reason why it’s so important to have a good opinion of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)! Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) even tells us in Surat Al-A’raaf:

وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۚ

“My mercy encompasses all things” (Surat Al-A’raaf; 156]

And you all, my dears, are all encompassed by Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy, alhamdulillah. 

 

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The Inner Dimensions of the Udhiyah

Apart from Ḥajj, the greatest action a Muslim can do in the blessed days of Dhū al-ijjah is to offer the udḥiyah (qurbāni/sacrifice).

‘Āisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reports that Rasūlullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A human does no action from the actions of the Day of Naḥr [slaughtering; refers to the day of Eid al-Adḥā] more beloved to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) than sacrificing the animal. On the Day of Judgement, it will appear with its horns, and hair, and hooves, and indeed the blood will be accepted by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) before it even falls upon the ground, so let your heart delight in it.” [Tirmidhī]

Although we all know that this is an action that is traditionally performed on Eid al-Adā, a lack of understanding of its reality has led some to question the importance of doing it in the first place. In past years, and increasingly during the current pandemic, many have been asking, “Can I give ṣadaqah (charity) instead?”

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To answer this, it is necessary to understand the following.1 Everything in this world is comprised of an outer form – an appearance and a desired outcome – a “soul.” These two are intertwined in such a way that separating them is impossible. One cannot survive without the other. The clearest example of this reality is in ourselves.

سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ

“Soon we will show them Our Signs in the horizons [external] and in themselves [internal] until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth.” [Surah Fussilat; 53]

We are made of a body, which is comprised of several parts, and a soul, which fills the entire body and allows each part to fulfill its unique function. Without a body, our soul cannot survive, and without a soul, our body cannot survive. Additionally, if any part is missing, the whole person will be considered to have some deficiency. Likewise, the same principle applies to our n. Our n has an outer form, which is comprised of the actions that we perform, and a soul as well. The fact of the matter is that our goal in life is to achieve a complete connection with Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The Quran identifies this quality with the word taqwā. The soul that permeates our entire n and therefore, all our individual actions is taqwā. All these actions display a different aspect of taqwā and together form complete n in a person. If anything is missing, a person’s n will be deficient.

For example, the soul of ṣalāh is the portion of taqwā that relates to expressing humility in front of Allāh. The soul of fasting is the portion of taqwā that relates to suppressing one’s desires for Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The soul of is adaqah is the portion of taqwā that relates to curing one’s love for wealth by donating in the path of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Each of these things is necessary, and although they are all types of taqwā, they are not interchangeable. To expand on this, imagine that a person had $100 in cash, $100 worth of food, and $100 worth of furniture.2 The values of all three would be the same, but the functions they perform are different. None is more important than the other but all are necessary.

Similarly, a person cannot discard the outer form (different forms of ibādāt) and say that the only thing that matters is the soul (taqwā). If this were the case, our entire religion could be discarded. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

لَن يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَٰكِن يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنكُمْ ۚ

“Neither their flesh reaches Allāh nor their blood (the udḥiyah animal); it is your taqwā that reaches Him.” [Al Hajj; 37]

There goes udḥiyah. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“Oh you who have believed, fasting has been prescribed on you as it has been prescribed upon those before you so that you may become people of taqwā.” [Surah Al-Baqarah; 183]

There goes fasting.

 إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ ۗ

“Verily ṣalāh prevents indecency and sin” (in essence, taqwā) [Surah al-‘Ankabut; 45]

Ṣalāh can also be put to the side.

لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

“Virtue is that one sincerely believes in Allāh, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets and, out of His love, spend of one’s choice wealth for relatives and orphans, for the needy and the wayfarer, for beggars and for the ransom of slaves, and establish ṣalāh and give zakāh. And the virtuous are those who keep their pledges when they make them and show fortitude in hardships and adversity and in the struggle between the Truth and falsehood; such are the truthful people, and such are the people of taqwā.” [Surah Al-Baqarah; 77]

There goes our entire dīn.

The soul of udḥiyah is that portion of taqwā that expresses our total submission to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). “O Allāh, my life is in your Hands. Do with it whatever you wish!” The actual command was to sacrifice the thing that is most dear to you – a life. And in Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) case, the life of his only child. The life of the child who for decades, he prayed and hoped for. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commanded Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in a dream to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismā’īl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) said, “My beloved son, I have seen that I was sacrificing you in dream. What do you think?” Without hesitation, Ismā’īl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) responded, “O my beloved father, do as you have been commanded. Inshā Allāh, you will find me among the patient.” When Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) tried to push the knife on his son’s neck, it became dull and “We called on to him, O Ibrahīm! You have surely fulfilled your dream. This is how we reward those of excellence. Indeed, this was a clear test. We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice.” [As-Saffat; 100-107]. From that day until the end of time, Muslims have and will continue emulate this sacrifice of Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) as a reminder of what true submission is.

When standing before Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we will need to present all types of taqwā. If we were to have a surplus of one type, for example, ṣadaqah, we would be rewarded for it, but that would not change the fact that something else is missing. If we were to tell our child to make sure that their room is clean for Eid and, instead of doing that, they cooked a delicious meal, we would thank them for their gesture, but then say that there is a time and place for everything and this time is for cleaning your room.

The purpose of ṣadaqah is to cleanse our hearts from the love of wealth by giving it to the poor. Although it is recommended to give a portion of the sacrifice to the poor, it is not the purpose, nor is it a requirement for its validity. The purpose of udḥiyah is to follow the command of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), in the way that He commanded it. In the past, and even now in some agrarian societies, the most beloved belonging to many people was their animals. This is because unlike other wealth, animals serve many purposes. They are a means of milk and clothing, a status symbol, a means of breeding, and also can be sold or eaten. To sacrifice an animal was truly a great sacrifice.

However, times have changed. Yet due to this very reason, udḥiyah is still a sacrifice, especially in America. We are used to the comforts of our home and would much rather donate money than take a day off from work and spend time, money, and energy in going to a farm and performing the udḥiyah. This is our sacrifice. We cannot abandon this great act.3,4

May Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) preserve our pristine religion in the manner it was practiced by Rasūlullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his companions.

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“Surely my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allāh alone, the Sustainer of Universe. He has no partner. This is what I have been ordered, and I am the first to submit.” [Al-An’am; 162]

و ما توفيقي إلا باالله عليه توكلت و إليه أنيب

[1] The concept of actions having an outer form and inner soul were expanded upon in the Khutbāt of Hakīm al-Ummah Mawlāna Ashraf Alī Thanvī (throughout volume 16 – Barakāt e Ramaḍān) and Hakīm al-Islām Qāri Muḥammad Ṭayyib رحمهما الله تعالى رحمةً واسعةً . Qāri Ṭayyib specifically spoke about this concept in relation to the udḥiyah (Sunnat e Khalīl ‘Alayh al-Salām, volume 3, page 211). I benefited from these works immensely in the course of writing this article and hope the readers appreciate the depth and foresight of our pious predecessors’ foresight.

[2] This general idea – actions of being of the same value but different types – is proposed by ‘Allāma Ibn Taymiyyah and mentioned by Muftī Rashīd Aḥmad Ludhiyanvi رحمهما الله تعالى رحمةً واسعةً  in Aḥsan al-Fatāwā in relation to another topic, but the concept fits here as well.

[3] This article is not meant to say that having someone else perform your sacrifice by sending it overseas is invalid. Its purpose is to explain that the sacrifice itself is an important part of our dīn, and its full benefit will be realized when we perform the sacrifice by ourselves. It should also be noted that perhaps the reason that there is confusion over why the sacrifice cannot be substituted with ṣadaqah and thus, the distinction between the two is not clear.

[4] This article was started before the current pandemic. In a situation like this, if someone does not feel comfortable from a health perspective to perform the sacrifice on their own, they can appoint someone else to perform it for them, whether here or overseas. However, the current situation does not allow for ṣadaqah to be given in place of the sacrifice. Many ahadith (Bukhārī, Ahadith 968, 984, 985; ‘Ilā al-Sunan 17:212-217) indicate that the sacrifice is wājib. A wājib act cannot be substituted based simply on our thoughts or opinions. For more details on the obligation of the sacrifice, please read Muftī Abdullah Nana’s upcoming article about the fiqh of the udḥiyah.

* Two more points should be kept in mind. First, despite the pandemic, people have not stopped eating meat. In the current climate, if one is not able to perform the sacrifice by themselves, having it done in another country will also be a means of helping others. In fact, for many, Eid al-Adhā is the only time of the year that they able to eat meat. Second, we must broaden our thinking about charity. Our charity should not be restricted to only those things that are obligated upon us by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) such as zakāh and udḥiyah. If Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed us with the means,  we should strive to give ṣadaqah above and beyond these obligated act.

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