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The Forgotten Olympic Sized Sunnah of Hijama (Cupping)

A pink yoga mat is laid out on the hard wood floor. In a crisp white coat Lani*, the hijama practitioner, takes the Made in Korea cupping set that I had pre-ordered online.

We go over the medical and liability forms covering diet, lifestyle, areas of pain, and medical history and hygiene. Lani* was trained by Hijama Nation; she took the friends and family version of the course. This 6 month online course culminated in a trip to their London headquarters where she presented her final paper.

The room is tranquil with the whispers of both patient and practitioner as we make dhikr and recite verses of healing. This is an act of worship.

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Lani puts her hands on my back, praying for healing. “You have poor blood circulation, I will first do a dry cupping massage,” she says as she rubs olive oil on my back. I have had severe lower back ache and a pinched nerve. My first visit to Lani was 3 years ago. I rave about hijama because it is a forgotten Sunnah and have seen the results way before the Olympic craze —glad that it is getting the attention it deserves and hope some of the naysayers may actually give a try because, hey, Micheal Phelps does it.

The hadith that moves many to practice this sunnah is that every group of angels that the Prophet Muhammad passed on the night of the Isra said to tell the Ummah to do Hijama.” (Ibn Majah 3477) Muslims over centuries have always believed that it is their basic right and duty to practice Hijama. It is a forgotten sunnah and needs to be revived.


Muslims over centuries have always believed that it is their basic right and duty to practice Hijama. It is a forgotten sunnah and needs to be revived.


“Hijama” literally means “sucking” or bring something to its normal state. Hijama is the Islamic term used for what is known as “wet cupping”. This form of medicine has been practiced for centuries by many cultures, but Muslim physicians in the Golden Ages researched and refined it into a system.

Cupping is performed in several steps. The most common site for cupping is on the upper back between the shoulder blades, away from veins and arteries; though it can also be performed in other areas. Since I suffer from irregular menstruation, backache and elevated heartbeat, Lani* decides to cup me on the eight sunnah points on my back.

After 3 minutes, she takes the cup off, sanitizing the area, makes small incisions in the skin with a sterile disposable diabetic lancet, and places plastic disposable cup over my skin; repeating the procedure a few times. “People get scared of a razor, so I use this,” she says showing me a prick disguised in a pen. It is noted in al-Bukhari and Muslim that healing is “in the incision of a cupper.”

A sunnah hijama treatment involves the release of stagnant, subcutaneous blood from the point(s) being treated. Blood starts gathering in the cup and coagulates.

Muhib Rahman had hijama therapy done for chronic back pain. He had tried physical therapy and medication but the pain was reoccurring. He leads a physical lifestyle as the founder and trainer at Aqabah Karate, in College Park, MD. “Seventy percent of my pain went away; I don’t know if it was psychological but I felt better,” says Rahman. The effect was not immediate; Rahman says it took a few days to feel relief.

Hesitant about Hijama at first, especially concerned about the training of the person doing the therapy as there are many quacks, he finally received therapy when he was referred to a man who had done hijama on several people in his local community. “I would do it again, but the brother has moved out of state” says Rahman. His wife also had cupping done after childbirth.

Saba Syed’s (Umm Reem’s) move from the East Coast to the Middle East enabled her to get hijama treatment for her carpal tunnel. Her sister, who resides in Saudi Arabia had migraine headaches and had exhausted all medical options. When her sister started getting hijama on her head and stopped needing medication, Saba knew that she had to get it done. “The sister did hijama on some specific areas on my arm and shoulder and just after 2 sessions I was able to actually feel my fingers and the pain went away,” says Saba.

Practitioners say that the benefits of Hijama are many, among them detoxification of blood, stimulation of new blood formation, relieves Inflammation ad congestion. “As we age, we suffer from increased accumulation of toxins, stemming from poor diet and lifestyle, pharmaceutical drugs, pesticides, insecticides and other chemicals in our fruits, vegetables and meat, environmental pollutants and chemicals,” writes Dr. Sohail Qureishi on his Facebook page. He runs a hijama clinic overseas.

Finding a practitioner is one of the hurdles that many people who want to get hijama therapy done face. Most do not advertise or set up clinics as they do not have the necessary state licenses. There is a dire need for a self-regulating agency for hijama ractitioners similar to those that govern the Jewish ritual circumcision practitioners (mohelims). There are other barriers to entry —blood disposal services are very pricey and many Muslims doctors, who can practice it, don’t endorse the therapy due to lack of scientific research.

This is why many practioners only practice it on friends and family. Lani* is a friend of a friend of a friend. She wants to make the sunnah easy on people. She doesn’t charge any money or take any compensation. Although people are urged to follow the sunnah of not charging a set fee, patients are also urged to pay the therapist for their time. Some people take Lani* gifts of local honey & fruits, others present gift cards.

She books her appointments according to the lunar calendar, as each patient is given a time of day that is most beneficial for their treatment.

According to the e-book published by Hijama Nation, “the reason behind practicing Hijama at certain times was that it depends on the gravitational pull and the levels of fluid/water inside the human body at certain times of the month. Just as the moon effects the tide of the ocean, it effects the human body. Therefore, cupping should be performed on odd days of the lunar calendar when the forces of the moons assist in removing the dead blood cells.”

According to hadith, the best time to perform hijama is during the third week of the lunar month. The Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said “Whoever performs cupping (hijama) on the 17th, 19th or 21st day (of the Islamic month) then it is a cure for every disease.” [Saheeh Abu Dawud].

People who get treatment expecting overnight miracles will be disappointed as hijama is considered a preventative therapy. “If a person in their twenties get treatment every 6 months, they can prevent the onset of diabetes, heart disease etc,” says Qureishi.

Hijama is spiritual healing, a spiritual process more than a physical process, and qualified therapists suggest finding a practitioner who understands the difference. Practioners also use hijama to remove or significantly reduce the impact of possession and black magic, based on the sunnah of the Prophet. It is recommended in the area beneath the neck and in between the shoulders (al-kahil) and the two areas on the neck just beneath the ears (al-ahda’ayn).

3-glass-cups-2

James M. McConnell, is the author of the book Hijama versus Cupping. He believes that hijama should not be practiced without ijaaza as it is ancient religious healing and the healer should be vetted for moral and spiritual mettle. He received his ijaaza in Syria and has been providing Hijama services for free for thousands of people in Virginia. He also gives lessons.

Dr. Zahra Ahmad of the Dar us Salam Clinic does not practice Hijama but says that she does want to learn about it as is it a confirmed Prophetic Tradition. “I just cannot wrap my head around the science, but will make an effort to understand it.”

The Journal of Contemporary Islamic Studies says the future of hijama lies in scientifically grounded studies to elevate it from a folk remedy to a valid therapy.

I know hijama has been a God-sent for my back pain and I hope all the doctors I know get trained in this ancient form of healing.

More hadith on Hijama:

Anas ibn Maalik raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger r said, “Indeed the best of remedies you have is cupping (hijama)…” [Saheeh al-Bukhari (5371)].

Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “If there was something excellent to be used as a remedy then it is cupping (hijama).” [Saheeh Sunan abi Dawud (3857), Saheeh Sunan ibn Maajah (3476)].

Anas ibn Maalik raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger r said, “When the weather becomes extremely hot, seek aid in cupping (hijama). Do not allow your blood to rage (boil) such that it kills you.” [Reported by Hakim in his ‘Mustadrak’ and he authenticated it and Imam ad-Dhahabi agreed (4/212)].

Jaabir ibn Abdullah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Indeed in cupping (hijama) there is a cure.” [Saheeh Muslim (5706)].

Feature image:hijamalondon.com

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Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Amer

    August 12, 2016 at 1:00 AM

    Due to a lack of studies on Hijama in the West it is not very popular, however there seems to be a bunch of published studies in China from what I’ve gathered (in Mandarin though) as it’s pretty popular over there.

    I think it has less to do with the points you pointed out.. bad blood/toxins and the lunar cycle affecting our blood cycle… and more to do with the blessings on the 17th, 19th, and 21…

    But it really is interesting, we gotta ask the Chinese to share their insights on the matter lol.

  2. Aly Balagamwala

    Aly Balagamwala

    August 12, 2016 at 1:14 AM

    I have been getting cupped on and off for 3-4 years in Karachi where this has seen a revival and more people being trained and more using the service. Results are great. I was getting general points done only and my lower back but this year planning to address some more serious issues.

    Last month I took advantage of a bald head post umrah and got points on my head done and my sinuses and chest immediately felt clear despite suffering from mild bronchitis at that time.

    I plan to work more actively with practicioner from next month to improve symptoms of mild carpal tunnel and asthmaic tendencies in-shaa-Allah.

    • Avatar

      Mahmud

      August 15, 2016 at 12:48 AM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      Awesome

      • Aly Balagamwala

        Aly Balagamwala

        August 30, 2016 at 10:31 AM

        WaAlaikum Assalam Wa Rehmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu

        Indeed….

    • Avatar

      AYEINA

      August 15, 2016 at 9:36 AM

      Indeed. There has been a significant rise in Hijama in Pakistan. Even seen a huge spike in Lahore and Islamabad as well. Alhamdulillah.

  3. Avatar

    Binte Yousuf

    August 12, 2016 at 6:15 AM

    It was just yesterday that I was crying over my sicknesses having tried every form of oral medicine. This comes as a cool breeze and a wonderful reminder! Indeed, Fazakkir Inna Fa’atiz Zikra :) May Allah bless you immensely. I also did some research today and found this useful link – http://www.ummah.co/cupping-therapy-hijama-remedies-from-the-sunnah/

    I have a query which is of urgency. I am not sure if this is the right platform but right now, this is where I can ask. I understand that he Sunnah dates are 17th,19th and 21st of lunar months. And also, Monday, tuesday and thursday are the only days of week when Hijama is beneficial. What if the Sunnah dates (17,19,21) fall on the days of week other than mon,tues and thurs? What should be given the preference. Any answer to this with reference is appreciated.

    • Avatar

      S_

      August 13, 2016 at 5:23 PM

      Preference should be given to (17, 19, 21) of the lunar month. One of these three will indeed fall in Sunnah days as well and it does.

      “Whoever performs Hijama cupping in the 17th, 19th and 21st day (of the Islamic Lunar month), then it is a cure for every disease”. [Saheeh Sunan ibn Maajah (3861)].

      Ibn-Sina explained the prevailing thought at that time on the best timing to perform Hijama: “Some authorities advise against the procedure at the beginning of the lunar month, because the humours are not yet on the move or not in a state of agitation; also against performing it at the end of the (lunar) month, because at that period (of the cycle) the humors are less plentiful. The proper time according to them is the middle of the month (when the humors are in a state of agitation) and during the time when the moonlight is increasing (when the humors are on the increase also). During that period the brain is increasing in size within the skull, and the river-water is rising in tidal rivers”.

      Simply only bad/toxic blood will be removed during this time.

    • Avatar

      Yasser Zia

      August 20, 2016 at 2:57 PM

      As salaam alaikum. In our clinic we follow the opinion of Imam Ahmed as reported in Ibn Al-Qayums book “Tibb An-Nabawi” where he said that Hijamah at any time is beneficial.

      You have to be careful not to try to interpret the hadith yourself as some of them conflict with each other.

      See this link for more details:

      http://hijamahworks.com/uploads/3/4/3/1/34311700/4246549_orig.png

  4. Avatar

    Arshad

    August 14, 2016 at 9:28 PM

    Mashallah, sister has written a very good article, I really liked it.

    Though, on a lighter note, which lunar calendar should be followed for 17, 19 & 21 days ?

    • Avatar

      Binte Yousuf

      August 18, 2016 at 12:59 AM

      The normal Islamic lunar calendar!Its Dhul-Qadah right now in lunar calendar

  5. Avatar

    Bahjeh Rizeq

    August 15, 2016 at 11:34 AM

    Assalaamualaikum,

    It’s a great thing to see a beautiful holistic and prophetic therapy being revived all over thr world. I’ve been practicing hijaama in USA (northern VA to be exact) for a little over a year now Alhamdulillah and had the pleasure of serving a wide array of people for their health needs, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

    You can visit my website and social media accounts
    I am also certified and licensed by Hijaama Nation as well as the Pastoral Medical Association.

    http://www.hijaamahealing.com
    Facebook.com/hijaamahealing
    Instagram.com/hijaamahealing

  6. Avatar

    Khalid

    August 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM

    I got hijaamah done in Pakistan recently. الحمد لله it cured my hypertension problem.

  7. Avatar

    Omer

    August 18, 2016 at 7:50 AM

    The act of perfoming Hijama is a Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad صل الله عليه و سلم and it is extensivly reported in a wide collection of authentic ahadith.
    Hijama was a common practice of the Prophet Muhammad صل الله عليه و سلم and his companions for the treatment of a range of ailments as well as a form of body maininance and health promotion.

  8. Avatar

    Yasser

    August 20, 2016 at 3:02 PM

    BarakAllah feek for the research and summary!

    Anyone in a healthcare related profession should seriously consider learning Hijamah. If not for practical use, at least to understand it’s role in health management. Some of the leading online courses are:
    – simply hijama
    – the optimum cure
    – hijama nation
    – ICAHT
    – DIY Dry Cupping (disclosure: I created this course)

    We have been in practice over 5 years and Alhumdulillah have affected the lives of over 1000 people. May Allah accept and grant you shiffa, Ameen.

  9. Avatar

    MA

    August 23, 2016 at 8:01 PM

    There is no scientific evidence for cupping as a medical treatment. Your evidence is largely anecdotal. I would like to see more evidence on that hadith. Seems made up. It could be that the Prophet did use cupping but because it was a medical treatment back then. Science has moved on. So should you.

  10. Avatar

    shaks

    December 3, 2016 at 2:25 PM

    As-Salaam-Alaikum wrwb,
    Can hijama be performed on a new born baby and specially on a baby with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

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#Islam

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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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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