There are six words used In the Muslim religion to express the idea of sacrifice.
(1) ذبح zabh, Hebrew zebach. Like the Hebrew word (Gen. xxxi. 54), the Arabic is used generally for slaughtering animals, whether on the Great Festival of Sacrifice ['IDU 'L-AZHA], or ordinary times, for foods in the Qamus the word zabh is defined “to split or pierce, to cut the throat of any creature”. In the Qur’an, the word a used for the slaughtering of the heifer by Moses (Surah ii. 63). For the slaying of the sons of Israel by Pharaoh (Surah ii 46), for sacrificing to idols (Surah v. 4); and for the intention of Abraham to sacrifice his son (Surah xxxvii. 101).
(2) قربان qurban, Hebrew korban, (Lev. Ii. 14) Lit. “Approaching near.” ‘It occurs twice in the Qur’an, for the sacrifice to be devoured by fire from heaven, which the Jews demanded of Muhammad (Surah iii. 179), and for the offering of the sons of Adam (Surah v. 30). It is a word frequently employed in Islam to express the ordinary sacrifice, and the great festival is called in Persia the ‘Id-i- Qurban, or “Feast of Sacrifice.”
(3) نحر nahr. Lit. “To injure the jugular vein.” Used for stabbing the breast of a camel, as in sacrifice, hence the sacrifice itself. It occurs once in the Qur’an, Surah cviii. 1, 2 “Verily we have given thee al-Kausar so pray to thy Lord and sacrifice which ,al-Baizawi says means to sacrifice a camel, the most costly victim of the Arabians. The ‘Idu ‘i-Azha is called the Yaumu n-Nahr. [IDU L-AZHA.]
(4) اضيية uzhiyah. A. word which does not occur in the Qur’an, but in the Traditions it is the subject of a Chapter in Mishkatu ‘l-Masabih (book iv. ch. xlix.). According to the Qamis, it is derived from zahw, zuha, a word which expresses that time of the day when the sun has risen to a considerable height, about 10 A.M. (Salatu ‘z-Zuha, being a voluntary prayer am that hour). Uzhiyah is therefore the sacrifice offered about 10′ o’clock on the day of the Great Festival.
(5) هدي Hady. or, according to another reading, Hadi occurs four times in the Qur’an, Surahs ii. 198, v. 2. 90, 98, for offering of an animal for sacrifice sent to the temple at Makkah, when the pilgrim is not able to reach in time. The Qamus defines it as that “which is presented.” At-Baizawi (Tafsir, p. 100) gives Hady as the plural form of Hadyah and Hadi as that of Hadiyah. The latter occurs in the Qur’an, Surah xxvii. 85, for an offering or gift, and seems to have the same meaning as the Hebrew minchah, which is used in the Old Testament for a gift or tribute (Gen. iv. 3), and also for the unbloody sacrifice or “meat oftering” (Lev. ii. 1).
(6) منسك mansak. Occurs in the Qur’an, Surah xxii. 35 :” We have appointed to every nation a rite (mansak).” Surah ii. 122: “Show us our rites (manasik): also verse 196. Al-Baizawi (Tafsir, p. .91), to the first passage, says the word means a. place of devotion, or a sacrifice which draws a man near to God, and mentions another reading, mansik, a place of worship of which manasik is like-wise the plural form, is translated by the late Professor Palmer “rite.” [RITES.]
II. There are only two occasions upon which Muslims sacrifice, namely, on the Great Festival held on the 10th day of Zu l-Hijjah ['IDU 'L-AZHA] and on the birth of a child [AQIQAH.]
(1) The great sacrifice recognised by the Muslim faith is that on the Great Festival, called the ‘Idu ‘l-Azha, or “Feast of Sacrifice.” This sacrifice is not only offered by the pilgrims at Makkah, but in all parts of Islam, upon the day of sacrifice. In the first place, this sacrifice is said to have been established in commemoration of Abraham having consented to sacrifice his son (most Muslims say it was Ishmael), as recorded in the Qur’an, when it is said God “ransomed his (Abraham’s) son with a costly victim” (Surah xxxvii. 107); but Shaikh ‘Abdu ‘l-Haqq, in his commentary on the Mishkat. also says that al-Uziyjah, “the sacrifice,” is that which at the special time (i.e. on the festival) is slaughtered with the object of obtaining nearness to God.
(2) The teaching of the Qur’an on the subject of sacrifice is conveyed in the following verses (Surah xiii. 37) :—
“The bulky (camels) we made for you one of the symbols of God (Sha’a’iri ‘llahi), therein have ye good. So mention the name of God over them as they stand in a row (for sacrifice), and when they fall down (dead), eat of them and feed the easily contented and him who begs. Thus have we subjected them to you; haply ye may give thanks. Their flesh will never reach to God, nor yet their blood, but the ‘piety from you will reach Him.”
Al-Baizawi on this verse says, “It, the flesh of the sacrifice, does not reach unto God, nor its blood, but the piety (taqwa) that is the sincerity and intention of your heart.” (Tafsiru ‘l-Baizawi, vol. ii. p. 52.)
(3) In the Traditions (Mishkat, book iv. ch. xlix.) we have the following:-
Anas says : “The prophet sacrificed two rams, one was black, and the other was white, and he put his foot on their sides as he killed them, and cried out, ‘Bi’-smi ‘llahi, Allahu akbar! In the name of God! God is most great!’” <> ‘Ayishah says: “The Prophet ordered a ram with horns to be brought to him, and one that should walk in blankness, sleep in blackness, and look in blackness (by which he meant with black legs, black breast, and belly, and black eyes), “and he said, ‘O ‘Ayishah, give me a knife and sharpen it!’ And I did so. Then the Prophet took hold of the ram and threw him on his side and slew it. And when he was killing it be said, ‘In the name of God’! O God accept this from Muhammad, and from his children, and from his tribe!’ Afterwards he gave to the people their morning meal from, the slaughtered ram.”
Jabir says: ” The Prophet sacrificed two rams on the day of the Festival of Sacrifice, which were black or white, and had horns, and were castrated; and when he turned their heads towards the Qiblah, he said, ‘Verily I have turned my face to Him who brought the heavens and the earth Into existence from nothing, according to the religion of Abraham, and I am not of the polytheists. Verily my prayers my worshipping my life, and my death, are for God, the Lord of the universe, who hath no partner; and I have been ordered to believe in one God, and to abandon associating any other god with Him; and I am one of the Muslims, O God! This sacrifice is of Thee, and for Thee; accept it then from Muhammad and his people!” And he added, ‘In the name of God! the Great God!’ and then killed them.”
‘Ali said: “The Prophet. has ordered me to see that there be no blemish in the animal to be sacrificed; and not to sacrifice one with the ears cut, either at. the top or the bottom, or split lengthways, or with holes made in them. The Prophet prohibited sacrificing a ram with broken horns, or slit ears.”
Ayishah relates that the Prophet said: “Man hath not done anything, on the day of sacrifice, more pleasing to God then spilling blood; for verily the animal sacrificed will come on the Day of Resurrection, with its horns, its hair; its hoofs, and will make the scales of his actions heavy and verily its blood reacheth the acceptance of God before it falleth upon the ground; therefore be joyful in it.”
Zaid lbn Arqam relates: “The Companions said, ‘O messenger of God! what are these sacrifices, and whence is their origin?’ He said, ‘These sacrifices are conformable to the laws of your father Abrabam.’ They said, O Prophet! what are our rewards therefrom?’ He said, ‘There is a reward annexed to every hair.’ The Companions then said, ‘O Prophet! what are the rewards from the sacrifices of camels and sheep that have wool?’ He said, ‘There is a good reward also for every hair of their wool.’”
(4) The following is the teaching of the Hidayah regarding the nature and conditions of the sacrifice:-
It is the duty of every free Muslim arrived at the age of maturity to offer a sacrifice, on the ‘Idu ‘l-Azha, or “Festival of the Sacrifice,” provided he be then possessed of a Nisab (i.e. sufficient property), and be not a traveller. This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah, Muhammad, Zufar, and Hasan, and likewise of Abu Yusuf, according to one tradition. According to another tradition, and also according to ash-Shafi’i, sacrifice Is not an indispensable duty, but only laudable. At-Tahawi reports that, in the opinion of Abu Hanifah, it is indispensable, whilst the disciples hold It to be in a strong degree laudable. The offering of a sacrifice is Incumbent on a man on account of himself, and on account of his infant child. This is the opinion of Abu Hanifah in one tradition. In another he has said that it is not incumbent on a man to offer a sacrifice for his child. In fact, according to Abu Hanifah and Abu Yusuf, a father or guardian is to offer a sacrifice at the expense of the child (when he is possessed of property), eating what parts of it are eatable, and selling the remaining, parts that are valuable in their substance, such as the skin, &c. Muhammad, Zufar, and ash-Shafl’i have said that a father is to sacrifice on account of his child at his own expense, and not at that of the child. The sacrifice established for one person is a goat; and that for seven, a cow or a camel. If a cow be sacrificed for any number of people fewer than seven, it is lawful; but it is otherwise if sacrificed on account of eight. If for a party of seven people the contribution of any one of them should be less than a seventh share, the sacrifice is not, valid on the part of any one of them. If a camel that is jointly and in an equal degree the property of two men should be sacrificed by them on their own account, it is lawful; and in this case they must divide the flesh by weight, as. flesh is an article of weight. If, on the contrary, they distribute it from conjectural estimation, it is not lawful, unless they add to each share of the flesh part of the head, neck, and joints. If a person purchase a cow, with an intent to sacrifice it on his own account, and he afterwards admit six others to join with him in the sacrifice, it is lawful. It is, however most advisable that he associate with the others at the time of purchase, in order that the sacrifice may be valid in the opinion of all our doctors, as otherwise there is a difference of opinion. it is related from Abu Hanifah that it is abominable to admit others to share in a sacrifice after purchasing the animal, for, as the purchase was made with a view, to devotion the sale of it is therefore an abomination.
The time of offering the sacrifice is on the morning of the day of the festival, but It is not lawful for the inhabitants of a city to begin the sacrifice until their Imam shall have finished the stated prayers for the day. Villagers, however, may begin after break of day. The place, in fact, must regulate the time. Thus, where the place of celebration is in the country, and the performers of it reside in the city, it is lawful to begin in the morning; but if otherwise, it must be deferred until the stated prayers be ended if the victim be slain after the prayers of the Mosque, and prior to those offered at the place of sacrifice [IDGAH), it is lawful, as is likewise the reverse of this. Sacrifice is lawful during three days — that is, on the day of the festival, and on the two ensuing days. Ash-Shafi’i is of opinion that it is lawful on the three ensuing days. The sacrifice of the day of the festival is far superior to any of the others. It Is also lawful to sacrifice on the nights of those days, although it be considered as undesirable. Moreover, the offering of sacrifices on these days is more laudable than the custom of emitting them, and afterwards bestowing an adequate sum of money upon the poor. If a person neglect the performance of a sacrifice during the stated days, and have previously determined upon the offering of any particular goat, for instance; or, being poor, have purchased a goat for that purpose, – in either of these cases, it is incumbent on him to bestow it alive in charity. But if he be rich, it is in that case incumbent on him to bestow in charity a sum adequate to the price, whether he have purchased a goat with an intent to sacrifice it, or not. It is not lawful to sacrifice animals that are blemished, such as those that are blind, or lame, or so lean as to have no marrow in their bones, or having a great part of their ears or tail cut off. Such, however, as have a great part of their ears or tail remaining may lawfully be sacrificed. Concerning the determination of a great part of any member, there are, indeed, various opinions reported from Abu Hanifah. In some animals he has determined it to be the third; in others more than the third; and in others, again, only the fourth. In the opinion of the two disciples, if more than the half should remain, the sacrifice is valid, and this opinion has been adopted by the learned Abu ‘l-Lais. If an Animal have lost the third of its tail, or the third of its ears or eye-sight, it may he lawfully sacrificed: but if in either of these cases, it should have lost more than a third, the offering of it is not lawful. The rule which our doctors have laid down to discover in what degree the eye-sight is impaired is as follows. The animal must first be deprived of its food for a day or two that it may be rendered hungry, and having then covered the eye that is impaired, food must be gradually brought towards it from a distance, until it indicate by some emotion hat it has discovered it. Having marked the particular spot at which it observed the food, and uncovered the weak eye, the perfect eye must then be bound, and the same process carried on until it indicate that it has observed it with the defective eye. If, then, the particular distance from those parts to where the animal stood be measured, it may be known, from the proportion they bear to each other, in what degree the sight is impaired.
It is not lawful to offer a sacrifice of any animal except a camel, a cow, or a goat for it is not recorded that the Prophet, or any of his companions, ever sacrificed others. Buffaloes, however, are lawful as being of the species of a cow. Every animal of a mixed breed, moreover, is considered as of the same species with the mother.
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam