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Ibn-ʿAllan’s Commentary Dalilul-Falihin: The Book of Fasting. Hadiths 1-2

وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه، قال: قال رسول الله ﷺ: “قال الله عز وجل: كل عمل ابن آدم له إلا الصيام، فإنهُ لي وأنا أجزي به والصيام جُنَّةٌ()؛ فإذا كان يومُ صوم أحدكم فلا يرفث() ولا يصخب، فإن سابَّهُ أحدٌ أو قاتله، فليقل: إني صائمٌ. والذي نفس محمد بيده لخلوف() فم الصائم أطيبُ عند الله من ريح المسك. للصائم فرحتان يفرحهما: إذا أفطر فرح بفطره، وإذا لقيَ ربهُ فرح بصومه” متفقٌ عليه().

Abū-Hurayra (May Allāh be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said,

“Allāh the Exalted and Majestic said: ‘Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting which is (exclusively) for Me, and I reward for it.’ Fasting is a shield. If any one of you happens to fast, then he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice; and if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, then let him say: ‘I am fasting.’ By Him in Whose Hand the soul of Muḥammad is, the breath of one fasting is finer to Allāh than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts experiences two joys: he feels pleasure when breaking his fast and when he meets his Lord, his Lord will be please with him because of his fast.” [Al-Bukhārī and Muslim]

This hadith covers 3 themes: the special position of fasting in acts of worship, what demeanor one should adopt in their dealings with others while fasting, and the special virtues of fasting. The commentator will dissect the hadith to develop on the meanings contained in the hadith.

“Abū-Hurayra (May Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, Allāh the Exalted and Majestic said: ‘Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting which is (exclusively) for Me”

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This ḥadīth is part of the aḥādīth qudsiyya i.e where the Nabī ﷺ relates from Allāh.  Al-Khaṭṭābī explains:

It means that for every action of the son of Adam, he has a share in it and interferes with it. That is because others become aware of it, and that becomes an incentive to seek a premature reward from people through their eulogy and recognition-among other things.

As for fasting, no one is made aware of it with certainty except Allāh and the ego has no share in it. In fact, the ego is broken by it. The body is likewise subject to loss as it is compelled to patiently bear a burning thirst and the agony of hunger.

Al-Khaṭṭābī also explains: this means that fasting is a pure act of worship which cannot be taken over by show and display, because it is an act of virtue which no one but Allāh is cognizant of. This is in line with what has been narrated in ḥadīth, ‘The intention of the believer is more valuable than his action’. Because intention resides in the heart and as such no one other than Allāh is cognizant of it, i.e an intention devoid of action is more valuable than an action devoid of an intention. This is similar to the meaning in the verse

﴾ لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ ﴿

“The Night of Qadr is much better than one thousand months” i.e it is better than a thousand months which are devoid of laylatul-qadr.

Another meaning put forward is: refraining from food and drink is among the attributes of Allāh Taʿālā, He feeds but is not fed. It is as though He is saying: the person fasting is seeking my proximity through an action linked to one of my attributes-needlessness. There is no equivalent to Allāh’s attributes, rather it is a mere comparison.

It is also said that this is meant to convey honor for a thing, just as one would say: the Prophet of Allāh, the house of Allāh or the Camel of Allāh. Fasting is for Allāh. A thing is honored because we know it belongs to Allāh, the lord of All majesty and Honor.

Other explanations are also given, which will be presented further.

“and I reward for it”

This means that the reward for it will be multiplied to an unspecified and countless number. That is because when the generous one (Al-Karīm) undertakes to distribute something, it undoubtedly entails abundance.

“Fasting is a shield”

It is an armor. It acts as a protection from the fire of hell or from disobedience, just as an armor protects from arrows. That is because it breaks base desires and weakens one’s strength towards sin.

Translator’s note: One may say that it also weakens one’s strength towards good. Though that would be inaccurate due to the fact that every second that passes by while a muslim is fasting, they are rewarded for their obedience and were they to die while fasting, they would die in a state of obedience and were they to die in a state of obedience, then it is a sign of Allāhs pleasure and mercy, for which there is only Janna and great reward.

[Imām] Aḥmad adds in his narration: ‘And an efficient protection from the fire’. Al-Nasāʾī also adds: ‘As one of you would protect himself in fighting’. Aḥmad adds in yet another narration: ‘As long as one does not break it’.

[Qāḍī Abū-Bakr] Ibn Al-ʿArabī explains: it is a shield from the fire because it is a restraint from base desires, which the fire of hell is surrounded by.

“If any of you happens to fast, then he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice; and if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, then let him say: ‘I am fasting.’ ”

One should neither speak indecently nor should they speak overly loud.

As for when one someone disputes or argues with him, ‘let him say’ means that one should think in their heart ‘I am fasting’ so they may abstain from engaging in such a dispute. It is also said that one should in fact speak the words ‘I am fasting’ so the person in question may retract. This last mention is however only when the person speaking those words feels safe from pretension [riyāʾ] or the like thereof. It is also said that one should in fact do both, so his speech may cause the other person to refrain from argument and so his heart may cause himself to do the same. It is important to note that this guidance is not specific to a fasting person, but it is nevertheless reinforced for them.

“By Him in Whose Hand the soul of Muḥammad is, the breath of one fasting is purer/finer to Allāh than the fragrance of musk”

The hand of Allāh here means His power. The Nabī ﷺ swore to emphasize his statement, and the ʿulamāʾ consider this evidence for the desirability of swearing to draw the attention of the listener to a matter of importance.

The breath means the undesirable odor caused by fasting. This is understood from the ḥadīth ‘My Umma has been given five things in Ramaḍān….and the second thing is that their breath in the afternoon is finer than the smell of musk’. This same ḥadīth is also used as evidence that it is the breath in this world which is meant, as explained by Ibn-Ṣalāḥ and the majority of the ʿulamāʾ.

The mention of musk is the subject of different interpretations from the ʿulamāʾ:

  • Al-Māzirī explains: it is a metaphor to signify how close fasting brings one to Allāh-Taʿālā, as it is common for us to have pleasant smells close to us. Fasting is therefore likened to musk for the same reason, due to how it brings one to Allāh’s proximity. In other words it is purer in the eyes of Allāh than musk is to your eyes, it brings one closer to Allāh than you would bring musk close to you. Ibn ʿAbdul-Barr has preferred this interpretation.
  • It is also said: it means that what you think of the smell and what it is like of musk to Allāh is in opposition with your view as human beings. This interpretation is very similar to the previous one.
    It is also said: the meaning is that Allāh will reward the one fasting in the hereafter and the smell of their breath will be finer than that of musk, as will be mentioned further ‘And the smell of his wound will diffuse musk’.
  • It is also said: the meaning is that the person will attain a reward which is superior to the smell of musk, especially in comparison to the smell of one’s breath. Both of these last two interpretations were related by Al-Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ.
  • Al-Dāwūdī and a group of ʿulamāʾ have said the following: it means that the smell of the breadth has more reward than musk which is considered praiseworthy in jumuʿa and in gatherings of the remembrance of Allāh. Imām Al-Nawawī favored this interpretation.

The gist of the matter is that the meaning of perfume is to be taken as a metaphor signifying acceptance and contentment from Allāh, since the feeling of scent is inconceivable in association with the being of Allāh.

Al-Qāḍī Ḥusayn has narrated that acts of obedience will diffuse a smell on the Day of Judgment, and the smell of fasting among those acts will be that of musk.

“The one who fasts experiences two joys: he feels pleasure by breaking his fast and when he meets his Lord he is joyful on account of his fast”

The first pleasure is on account of completing his fast without blemishing it. It may also refer to the pleasure experienced on account of partaking food at ifṭār.

The second pleasure is on account of meeting his Lord or on account of seeing his reward for fasting. In both cases, his pleasure is on account of the acceptance of his fasting.

This ḥadīth was narrated by both Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, in the chapter of fasting. It was also narrated by Al-Nasāʾī in his Sunan, with the same chapter heading.

وهذا لفظ رواية البخاري. وفي رواية له: “يتركُ طعامهُ، وشرابهُ، وشهوتهُ، من أجلي، الصيامُ لي وأنا أجزي به، والحسنةُ بعشر أمثالها.

وفي روايةٍ لمسلم: “كل عمل ابن آدم يُضاعفُ: الحسنة بعشر أمثالها إلى سبعمائة ضعف. قال الله تعالى: “إلا الصوم فإنه لي وأنا أجزي به: يَدَعُ شهوتهُ وطعامهُ من أجلي. للصائم فرحتان: فرحةٌ عند فطره، وفرحةٌ عند لقاء ربه. ولخلوفُ فيه أطيبُ عند الله من ريح المسك”.

Imam Nawawi included these additional narrations because of the merit contained in their different wording. Although there is some overlap with the previous narration, there is a valuable addition regarding the quantification of reward for fasting.

In another narration by Al-Bukhārī, the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said,

“Allāh says: ‘(The person fasting) has abstained from food and drink, and lust for My sake; fasting is for Me, and I will bestow its reward. Every good deed has ten times its reward’ ”.

In a narration by Muslim, the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said,

“Every good deed of the son of Ādam is multiplied from ten to seven hundred times. Allāh (SWT) says: ‘Except for fasting, as it certainly is for Me and I alone will give its reward. The person fasting abstains from his lust and from food for My sake.’ The fasting person has two joys, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time of meeting his Lord. Surely, the breath of the person fasting is finer to Allāh than the fragrance of musk’ ”.

“In another narration by Al-Bukhārī, the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said,”

This narration originates from Abū-Hurayra, and it is also a ḥadīth qudsī.

“Allāh says: ‘(The person fasting) has abstained from food and drink, and lust for My sake; fasting is for Me, and I will bestow its reward.”

By lust what is meant is intercourse and anything before it that breaks the fast.

“Every good deed has ten times its reward”

This is the lowest level of multiplication of reward.

“In a narration by Muslim, the Messenger of Allāh ؐ said”

This narration is narrated by Abū-Hurayra, but unlike the previous ḥadīth its wording is marfuʿ to the Nabī ﷺ as opposed to being a ḥadīth qudsī.

“Every good deed of the son of Ādam is multiplied from ten to seven hundred times. ”

The outward meaning of the ḥadīth is that the action itself is multiplied [i.e the action will be recorded as having been performed several times] and it is also said that it is the reward for the action which is multiplied.

Allāh-Taʿālā says, ﴾ مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنْبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنْبُلَةٍ مِائَةُ حَبَّةٍ ﴿ “The example of those who spend in the way of Allāh is just like a grain that produced seven ears, each ear having a hundred grains, and Allāh multiplies (the reward) for whom He wills. Allāh is All-Embracing, All-Knowing” (Al-Baqarah, v. 261).

“‘Allāh (SWT) says: Except for fasting, as it certainly is for Me and I alone will give its reward.”

Fasting is not described as having a reward which is multiplied by a specific number. It is similar in that regard to patience, about which Allāh-Taʿālā says ﴾ إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّابِرُونَ أَجْرَهُمْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ ﴿ “Certainly those who observe patience will be given their reward in full without measure” (Al-Zumar, v. 10).

“The person fasting abstains from his lust and from food for My sake.”

Lust means anything that the ego leans towards. Food here means anything nutritious, so drinking is included.

For My sake means because of Me.

”The fasting person has two joyous occasions, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time of meeting his Lord. Surely, the breath of the person fasting is purer/finer to Allāh than the fragrance of musk’ ”

The first joy is due to having completed his act of worship. The second joy is on account of meeting his Lord and seeing the abundance of his reward.

Surely is used here for emphasis because of how far-fetched it is for the smell of the breath to be pleasant, given how repulsive people consider it to be. The change in breath resulting from fasting, which occurs in the afternoon, is what is meant here. This is because the change in breath which occurs in the first part of the day is lessened by what one may have eaten at suḥūr [the meal prior to dawn].

The rest of this portion of the ḥadīth has already been explained earlier.

Ibn-ʿAllan’s Commentary Dalilul-Falihin: The Book of Fasting With A Short Biography of Imam Al-Nawawi

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Mukhtar Ba is a Muslim man in his early forties, who hopes one day to become among the Ṣāliḥīn. He has a strong interest in continuously acquiring and perusing Islamic knowledge. An Industrial engineer by profession, he has strived to assiduously seek sacred knowledge along with his professional activities since the early 2000s. This interest has led him to study with contemporary senior scholars in Mauritania and Senegal, his home countries. He has studied mainly the following subjects: Māliki Fiqh, Arabic grammar, Seerah Nabawiyya, Hadith, Aqeeda and Tasawwuf. He takes a particular interest in Tafsir of Quran, and has translated one volume (out of 6) of a classical Tafsir by a Senegalese scholar of the 20th century, organized in a similar fashion to the Jalalayn. One of his areas of interest is analyzing the intersection between modern issues and traditional sources of Islamic knowledge. He currently resides in Canada.

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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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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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