What is the importance of “aqiqa“ (sacrifice made at the occasion of birth of child) in Islam? I have read in Sahih Bukhari:
Narrated Salman bin ‘Amir Ad-Dabbi: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “Aqiqa is to be offered for a (newly born) boy, so slaughter (an animal) for him, and relieve him of his suffering.” (Note: It has been quoted in Fath Al-Bari that the majority of the Religious Scholars agrees to the Hadith narrated in Sahih Al-Tirmidhi that the Prophet was asked about Aqiqa and he ordered 2 sheep for a boy.
Millions of Muslims specially in Indo-Pak believe that “Aqiqa“ is important in a child’s life. If parents do not perform “Aqiqa“ for a child, the child always remain under calamities and always face problems in the life.
How true is that concept? I will appreciate if you can elaborate it in the light of Quran and Sunnah.
Thanks and regards
It is not correct to consider ‘Aqiqa’ as merely a sacrifice. On the contrary, ‘Aqiqa’ was a name of an ongoing tradition among the Arabs, in which an animal was sacrificed and its blood was poured upon the child’s head, after which, the child’s head was shaved. It was believed that till such an act was performed upon the child, the child remained subjected to calamities and sufferings.
When the Prophet (pbuh) was asked about this custom, he is reported to have replied that he did not approve of it (Aqiqa). However, at the birth of a child, if anyone wanted to sacrifice an animal as a sign of gratitude toward God for being blessed with a child, he may do so.
If we closely examine the spirit and the practice of Aqiqa, we can easily see that the custom is based upon a superstition about the child’s future, which is clearly against the teachings of Islam. It is obvious that at the particular stage, in the age of the child, ‘Aqiqa’ could not be an obligation upon the child. The most that can be said is that it is obligatory upon the parents of the child. However, if that is the case, then why should the child be punished for the rest of his life, if his/her parents have failed to fulfill something which was obligatory upon them? The whole concept apparently seems to be inconsistent with the basic teachings of Islam, according to which every individual is only accountable for his own deeds.
Thus, in my opinion, it seems that the Prophet (pbuh) is correctly reported to have dissuaded people from upholding the referred custom. Nevertheless, in the same narrative, the Prophet (pbuh) is also reported to have encouraged the father of a newly born child to offer sacrifice, as a show of gratitude and thankfulness toward their Lord, for blessing him with a child. Over the years, this custom of sacrificing came to be known as ‘Aqiqa’, while, ‘Aqiqa’, in fact, was a separate custom.
The number of animals sacrificed as a show of gratitude is not fixed. The person may sacrifice one or more (or no) animals, depending upon his financial position and the availability of animals.
December 2, 2000