Question # 109: What is the best time to offer sacrifice (udiyah/qurbani) on the occasion of Eid al-Adha?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: According to the soundest scholarly opinion, the time for offering the sacrifice (udiyah/qurbani) begins after the Eid al-Adha prayer and ends with the sunset on the thirteenth of Dhu’l-Hijjah. So, there are four days of sacrifice: the day of Eid al-Adha and the three days after it. However, it is better to hasten to offer the sacrifice after the Eid prayer, as each day is better than the following day. Also, it is preferred to offer it during daytime.
Long Answer: Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Zaad al-Ma’ad: “‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (رضي الله عنه) said: “The days of sacrifice are the Day of Sacrifice (yawm al-nahr) and the three days after it.” This is the view of the imam of the people of Basra, al-Hasan; the imam of the people of Makkah, ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabaah; the imam of the people of Syria, al-Awzaa’i; and the imam of the fuqaha’ of hadith, al-Shaafi’i. It was also the view favored by Ibn al-Mundhir. The three days are specified because they are the days of Mina, the days of stoning (the Jamaraat) and the day of al-Tashreeq. It is forbidden to fast on these days. It was narrated via two isnads, one of which supports the other that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “All of Mina is the place of sacrifice, and all the days of al-tashreeq are days of sacrifice.” (The hadith was classed as saheeh by al-Albani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said in Ahkaam al-Udhiyah, concerning the time for offering the sacrifice: “It is from after the Eid prayer on the Day of Sacrifice until the sun sets on the last of the days of al-tashreeq, which is the thirteenth of Dhu’l-Hijjah. So, there are four days of sacrifice: the day of Eid after the prayer, and three days after that. Whoever slaughters his sacrifice before the Eid prayer is over, or after the sun sets on the thirteenth, his sacrifice is not valid … but if he has an excuse for delaying it until after the days of al-tashreeq, such as if the animal ran away with no negligence on his part, and he did not find it until after the time was over, or if he delegated someone to do it on his behalf and his deputy forgot until the time was over, then there is nothing wrong with offering the sacrifice after the time has ended, because there is an excuse, by analogy with the fact that one who sleeps and misses a prayer or forgets it should offer the prayer as soon as he wakes up or remembers it… It is permissible to offer the sacrifice during that time by night or by day, but it is better during the day, and the day of Eid after the two khutbahs is the best time. Each day is better than the following day, because that is hastening to do good.” (Islam Q&A)
OPINIONS OF THE FOUR MADHAHIB
According to the Hanafis, the time for offering one’s udhiyah begins at the break of dawn on the Day of Sacrifice and it continues until immediately before sundown on the third day after this. If someone…slaughters… udhiyah before the [Eid al-Adha] prayer, it will not be valid and he must eat it as regular meat. If the [Eid al-Adha] prayer is not performed, he must wait with his udhiyah until the time for the prayer has passed (the time for the [Eid al-Adha] prayer extending from the time when the sun has risen in the sky until high noon), then slaughter it after this…As for someone who fails to slaughter his sacrificial animal until after the time for doing so has passed, he must donate it live as charity.
According to the Malikis, the time for slaughtering one’s udhiyah for people other than the imam begins on the Day of Sacrifice after the imam has slaughtered his. The time for doing so for the imam himself begins after he has completed his sermon following the [Eid al-Adha] prayer, or after sufficient time for the imam to have slaughtered his udhiyah has passed if he does not, in fact, slaughter an udhiyah. The time for slaughtering then continues until sundown on the third day after the Day of Sacrifice…
The Hanbalis hold that the time for slaughtering one’s udhiyah begins on the Day of Sacrifice after the [Eid al-Adha] prayer. It is permissible to slaughter after the [Eid al-Adha] prayer and before the sermon, although it is preferable to do so after both the prayer and the sermon… The end of the time period for slaughtering one’s udhiyah is the second of the three “days of [Tashreeq] meat drying” (since the days set aside for slaughtering according to the Hanbalis are three: the Day of Sacrifice and the two days thereafter). It is permissible to slaughter one’s sacrifice on the eve of either the second or the third day set aside for slaughtering; however, it is preferable to slaughter during the day.
As for the Shafi’is, they hold that the time for slaughtering one’s udhiyah begins when sufficient time has passed since sunrise on the Day of Sacrifice for one to have performed two rak’ahs and delivered two sermons, even if the sun has not risen a spear’s length in the sky; however, it is preferable to delay one’s slaughtering until the sun has risen this much. The time for slaughtering lasts until the end of the three “days of meat drying [Tashreeq]. Once the time period set aside for slaughtering has begun, it is permissible to slaughter both at night and during the day; nevertheless, it is undesirable to slaughter at night unless there is a need to do so, as in a case where the person concerned is occupied during the day with tasks which prevent him from slaughtering at this time, or due to an overriding interest, as in a case where the poor can come more easily at night.” (‘Islamic Jurisprudence According to the Four Sunni Schools’ by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jaziri)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.
 The strongest opinion on why these days are called Ayyam-ut-tashreeq or the days of Tashreeq is because prior to the invention of the refrigeration system, the hujjaj used to slice the meat they acquired from the udhiyah, season it with salt and then let it dry in the sun in an early and traditional style of food preservation. The dehydrating of the meat allowed the hujjaj to preserve it and carry it with them on their long journey back from wherever they came. This process in itself is called tashreeq, and it was derived from the the Arabic word شروق or إشراق which means sunrise or sunshine. The process entails the exposure of the meat to the sun for a long time. And although most of the hujjaj don’t practice this anymore, if you look carefully in the camps of Mina, perhaps you will see some people still practice the tradition, and you might see the meat “jerky” already hung on ropes and on different sides of their tents. (‘The Days of Hajj Series’ by Yaser Birjas)