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Step-by-step guide to performing the sacrifice (Layyah) in Islam

Central to this celebration is the ritual sacrifice, known as Layyah, which commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah...

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Step-by-step guide to performing the sacrifice (Layyah) in Islam

Eid al-Adha, known as the “Festival of Sacrifice,” is one of the most significant events in the Islamic calendar. Central to this celebration is the ritual sacrifice, known as Layyah, which commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah.

This guide outlines the essential steps and considerations for performing the Layyah in accordance with Islamic teachings.

Choosing the Sacrificial Animal

1. Type of Animal: The animals eligible for sacrifice include sheep, goats, cows, and camels. Each type of animal corresponds to specific guidelines regarding age and health.

– Sheep and goats: Must be at least one year old.

– Cows: Should be at least two years old.

– Camels: Must be at least five years old.

2. Health and Condition: The animal should be free from any defects or diseases. It should not be lame, blind, or excessively thin. The selection of a healthy and robust animal reflects the sacrifice’s importance and the individual’s devotion.

Preparing for the Sacrifice

1. Intention (Niyyah): Before performing the sacrifice, the individual must make the intention (niyyah) that the act is being done for the sake of Allah. This intention should be sincere and reflect a genuine desire to fulfill a religious duty.

2. Timing: The sacrifice should be performed after the Eid al-Adha prayer on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah and can continue until the sunset of the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah. It is preferable to conduct the sacrifice as soon as possible after the prayer.

Performing the Sacrifice

1. Method: The sacrifice should be carried out in a humane and respectful manner, adhering to Islamic guidelines.

The following steps outline the proper procedure:

– Position the animal: The animal should be laid on its left side, facing the Qiblah (direction of Mecca).

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– Sharpen the knife: The knife used should be extremely sharp to ensure a quick and humane cut. This minimizes the animal’s suffering.

– Recite the prayer: As the individual prepares to make the cut, they should recite “Bismillah wallahu akbar. Allahumma minka wa ilaika, fataqabbal min” … (pronounce the name of the owner of the sacrificial animal). It means: “In the name of Allah and Allah Almighty, O Allah, this sacrifice is from You and for You, accept the sacrifice (pronounce the name of the owner of the sacrificial animal)

– Make the cut: The cut should sever the windpipe, esophagus, and the two blood vessels in the neck, ensuring a swift and effective slaughter.

2. Distribution of Meat: Once the animal is sacrificed, the meat should be divided into three equal parts:

– For the family: One-third of the meat is kept for the individual’s household.

– For relatives and friends: Another third is distributed among relatives, friends, and neighbors.

– For the needy: The final third is given to those in need, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their financial status, can partake in the Eid celebrations.

Ethical Considerations

1. Respect for the Animal: Islam emphasizes the humane treatment of animals. The animal should not witness the sharpening of the knife or the slaughter of other animals. It should be treated with kindness and respect throughout the process.

2. Cleanliness: The site of the sacrifice should be clean and sanitary. Proper disposal of the remains and thorough cleaning of the area after the sacrifice are crucial to maintain hygiene and respect for the act.

The ritual sacrifice of Layyah during Eid al-Adha is a profound act of worship and devotion in Islam. This sacred act not only honours the tradition of Prophet Ibrahim but also reinforces the values of faith, charity, and community within the Muslim ummah (community).

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