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Verses from Surah Al-Hajj (No. 22) (34 – 37)

64. “Budna” (sing.: “badanah”) is primarily for camels. But subsequently, as in a hadith, cows were also included in the definition because of their large size (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Razi).

Yusuf Ali looks deeper into the reason why camels alone were mentioned here. He writes, “What was expressed in general terms (above) is applied here more particularly to camels, the most precious and useful of animals of Arabia, whose mode of slaughter for sacrifice is different from that of smaller animals: the special word for such sacrifice is Nahr (cviii: 2).”

65. Accordingly, some of the Salaf would do some trading – however small – in camels during Hajj, citing this verse, which spoke of benefits therein (Zamakhshari).

66. Some scholars have read the word “swawaaf” in the sense of “saafinah” meaning, the state of being a foot (folded and) tied to itself, which forces the camel to stand on three of its legs. It is slaughtered in that position, so that with loss of blood it collapses on its side. But other scholars have understood “sawaaf” as meaning, “khaalis” i.e., purely, sincerely (for Allah) – Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Alusi and others.

We have a report from Jabir b. `Abdullah in Abu Da’ud and Tirmidhi. He said, “I did my `Eid Prayers with the Prophet. A ram was brought to him, which he slaughtered. He did it by saying, ‘In the name of Allah. Allah is Great. O Allah, this is from me and from those of my Ummah who did not sacrifice.’”

Note that the Prophet acted upon two verses (in the same order) when he said before slaughtering: “Bismillahi Allahu Akbar.”

Those two verses are number 36 and 37. In no. 36, Allah commanded, “Therefore, pronounce Allah’s Name over them ..” And in no. 37, He said, “That is how He has subjected them to you so that you might chant the greatness of Allah” (Qurtubi).

According to another report (also in Abu Da’ud), Jabir said, the Prophet slaughtered two rams on an `Eid day saying, “I have, indeed, turned my face towards Him who created the heavens and the earth – having surrendered myself to him alone – and I am not of the pagans. Surely, my living and my death is for the Lord of the worlds. He has no partners and that is what I have been ordered, and first of those who submit. In the name of Allah. Allah is great. O Allah, from You, for You, on behalf of Muhammad and his followers.” He also said, as in the Sahihayn, “The first thing we do on this our day is to Pray (the `Eid Prayers), then we shall return and sacrifice. Whoever did that, found our Sunnah. But, whoever slaughtered before the Prayers, then that is some meat that he offered to his family. It has nothing of the sacrifice (required of him).”

Finally, a report in Tirmidhi says that the Prophet lived in Madinah for ten years. Every year, he offered a sacrifice on the occasion of `Eid al Ad-ha. And Muslim has a report which says that the Prophet slaughtered 63 camels (perhaps, one corresponding to each year of his life: Au.) when he performed his Hajj (Ibn Kathir).

67. The translation at this point has the backing of the understanding of Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid. (Linguistically, wajaba is a synonym of saqata, meaning, to fall: Zamakhshari). This is because, adds Qurtubi, camels are slaughtered while they stand on three legs, and so fall on their sides with loss of blood. Another meaning however, that of Zayd b. Aslam is, “when it is dead.” Of course this reflects the meaning of Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid for, an animal is not lawful until it is completely lifeless (which happens after the collapse). A report in Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud and Ahmad states it clearly (in a Sahih report: Au.): “Whatever is sliced off an animal, while it is alive, is carrion” (Ibn Kathir).

68. The rendering of “qani`” and “mu`tar” is following the understanding of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Qurazi. But there have been other explanations also (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari). Ibn Jarir prefers the reverse meaning. However, since the words are of the “azdaad” type (those that afford opposite meanings), either way it would mean: ‘give those who ask and those who do not’ (Au.). This verse is the basis of the scholars’ suggestion that the sacrificial meat should be divided into three parts. One for oneself, another for friends, and a third for the poor since Allah said, “eat thereof and feed the contented as well as the expectant” (Ibn Kathir).

69. That is, that is how the beasts have been tamed and humbled for mankind, ready for ride, milk, or slaughter (Ibn Kathir), while, much smaller animals of the forest are impossible for humans to control (Alusi).

Majid adds, “Sacrifice in Islam is nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else than a natural, visible, expression of homage and gratitude to the Creator.” Yusuf Ali gives the rationale: “He (Allah) has given us power over the brute creation, and permitted us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life, for without this solemn invocation, we are apt to forget the sacredness of life.”

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