Question # 127: What are the types of animals not appropriate for sacrifice (udhiyah) in terms of physical and biological features?

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).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: The following are the dos and don’ts of sacrificial animal:

  • Best type of animals (in order of recommendation) are camels, cows, sheep, goats, one-seventh of a camel and one-seventh of a cow;
  • Animal should preferably be fat, have more meat, and healthy looking;
  • Gender – it makes no difference whether the animal is male or female;
  • Age – the prescribed age for being slaughtered is six months for a sheep, five years for a camel, two years for a cow, and one year for a goat;
  • The following defects render the animal inappropriate for sacrifice and its considered makrooh:
    • Completely blind or obviously one-eyed.
    • Emaciated animal that has no bone marrow or fat.
    • Obviously lame.
    • Obviously sick.
    • Have had one half or more of their ears cut off, slit crosswise from front or back, slit lengthwise, cut until the ear channel is visible or pierced.
    • Have had horns cut off.
    • Have had half or more of their tails cut off.
    • Have had lost some of its teeth, whether incisors or molars.
    • Have had male genital organ has been cut off.
    • Have had udder have been cut off.
    • Which do not follow the flock and join it unless they are herded and driven to do so.
    • That has eaten more than it can stand, until the danger has passed.
    • That has encountered difficulty in giving birth, until all danger has passed.
    • That has suffered something that could kill it, such as strangulation or a fall from a high place, until the danger has passed.
  • The following are not considered defects:
    • Naturally hornless animal.
    • Castrated.
    • Ear was slit, pierced or had less than half of it cut off.

Long Answer: Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthyameen in Risaalat Ahkaam al-Audhiyah wa’l-Dhakaah stated the following: “The best type of animals for udhiyah are: camels, then cows – if sacrificed on behalf of one person; then sheep; then goats; then one-seventh of a camel; then one-seventh of a cow. The best type of animals are those which are fat and have more meat, and are physically complete and good looking.

In Sahih al-Bukhari, it is narrated from Anas ibn Maalik (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to sacrifice two horned rams that were white speckled with black.

It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (رضي الله عنه) said: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) sacrificed a whole (i.e., not castrated), horned male sheep, with a black face and black (circles) round the eyes, and black legs. (This was narrated by the four. Al-Tirmidhi said, it is hasan sahih; it was also classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Sahih Abi Dawood)

It was narrated that Abu Raafi’ the freed slave of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) offered a sacrifice, he would buy two fat rams. According to one version, castrated rams. (Narrated by Ahmad, classed as sahih by al-Albaani in  Sahih Ibn Maajah)

Fat means an animal that has a lot of fat and meat. Castrated means one that has had its testicles removed – this is usually better than an uncastrated animal with regard to the taste of the meat, but the uncastrated animal is more complete in a physical sense.

These are the best kinds of sacrifice with regard to type and characteristics…”

As for the physical and biological features, the following is worth noting:

CLASS & GENDER

It should be one of the an’aam class of animals, which are: camels, cattle, sheep and goats, because Allah says in the Qur’an: “And for every nation We have appointed religious ceremonies, that they may mention the Name of Allah over the beast of cattle that He has given them for food” (Soorah al-Hajj 22:34)

Baheemat al-an’aam (translated here as “beast of cattle”) includes camels, cattle and sheep. This is what is well known among the Arabs, and this was the view of al-Hasan, Qataadah and others.

An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Majmoo‘: “The condition of the udhiyah being valid is that it should be one of the an‘aam animals, which are camels, cattle and sheep (and goats). All types of camels, all types of cattle and all type of sheep and goats are acceptable. It is not acceptable to offer anything other than an‘aam (livestock) animals, such as wild cows, wild donkeys, and so on, and there is no difference of scholarly opinion concerning this point. It makes no difference whether the animal is male or female, of any of these types. There is no difference of opinion among us concerning any of these matters.”

AGE

The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas answered a question: “With regard to the udhiyah, it is not acceptable to offer a lamb unless it is over six months old, regardless of whether it is male or female. It is called jadh‘an because of the report narrated by Abu Dawood and an-Nasa’i from the hadith of Mujaashi‘, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) say: “A jadha‘ (six-month-old sheep) is acceptable (as a sacrifice) for what a two-year-old goat is acceptable for.” A goat, cow or camel is not acceptable unless it is of the appropriate age, regardless of whether it is male or female. In the case of goats, it is that which has passed the age of one year. In the case of cattle, it is that which has passed the age of two years. In the case of camels, it is that which has passed the age of five years, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Do not slaughter anything but a two-year-old animal, unless it is too difficult for you, in which case slaughter a jadh’ah sheep.” (Narrated by Muslim) (Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah)

[Therefore,] nothing less than a (jadha’) six-month-old sheep or a (thaney)[1] of others will suffice. The thaney of goats is one year of age; and of camels it is five years of age; and of cows and buffalos it is two years of age. (Commentary on ‘Umdat al-Fiqh, Muwaffaq-ud-Deen, Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi)

FREE FROM PHYSICAL DEFECTS

Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthyameen in Risaalat Ahkaam al-Audhiyah wa’l-Dhakaah stated the following: “…With regard to those that are makrooh, they are as follows:

  • Those who have had one half or more of their ears or horns cut off.
  • Those whose ears have been slit crosswise from the front.
  • Those whose ears have been slit crosswise from the back.
  • Those whose ears have been slit lengthwise.
  • Those whose ears have had a hole made in them.
  • Those whose ears have been cut until the ear channel is visible; or it was said that the same word (in Arabic) means those that are so emaciated that there is no marrow in their bones.
  • Those whose horns have been removed entirely.
  • Those that are completely blind even though the eyes are still present.
  • Those which do not follow the flock and join it unless they are herded and driven to do so.

These are the animals that it is makrooh to sacrifice, as narrated in the ahaadith which forbid sacrificing those that have these faults or enjoin avoiding such animals. This is understood as meaning that it is makrooh, when these reports are taken in conjunction with the hadith of al-Bara’ ibn ‘Aazib (رضي الله عنه) who said: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was asked, “What should be avoided in the sacrificial animals?” He gestured with his hand and said, “Four: a lame animal which is obviously lame, a one-eyed animal whose defect is obvious, a sick animal whose sickness is obvious, and an emaciated animal that no one would choose.” (Narrated by Maalik in al-Muwatta’)…”

[To further elaborate from above hadith,] it should be free of any faults that would render it unsuitable for sacrifice, of which there are four:

  • An obvious defect in one eye, such as when the eye is sunken in its socket, or when it sticks out like a button, or is white and obviously defective.
  • Obvious sickness, whose symptoms are clearly apparent in the animal, such as fever that prevents it from grazing and causes loss of appetite; mange that obviously affects its flesh or its health; deep wounds that affect its health, and so on.
  • Obvious lameness, which prevents the animal from walking normally.
  • Emaciation that leaves no marrow in the bones.

[Consequently,] …the following animals are also unsuitable for sacrifice:

  • One that is blind in both eyes.
  • One that has eaten more than it can stand, until the danger has passed.
  • One that has encountered difficulty in giving birth, until all danger has passed.
  • One that has suffered something that could kill it, such as strangulation or a fall from a high place, until the danger has passed.
  • One that is unable to walk because of a defect.
  • One that has had one of its forelegs or hind legs cut off.

If these are added to the four defects mentioned in the text, the number of those that cannot be offered as sacrifices reaches ten – these six and the four mentioned above.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthyameen in Risaalat Ahkaam al-Audhiyah wa’l-Dhakaah stated the following: “…Animals with similar faults are also added to this list, so it is makrooh to sacrifice the following kinds of animals:

  • Camels, cattle and goats that have had half or more of their tails cut off.
  • Those which have had less than half of their fat tails cut off. If half or more has been cut off, then according to the majority of scholars it is unsuitable for sacrifice. If it was born that way, however, there is nothing wrong with it.
  • An animal whose penis has been cut off.
  • An animal that has lost some of its teeth, whether incisors or molars. But if it was born like that it is not makrooh to sacrifice it.
  • An animal whose teats have been cut off. But if it was born like that it is not makrooh to sacrifice it. If its milk has stopped flowing but its teats are intact, there is nothing wrong with it.

If these five are added to the nine mentioned above, the number of makrooh animals reaches fourteen.”

(Most of the above reply is based on various answers by Islamqa.info on the topic)

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.

Wassalaam

[1] Thaneyah is the front tooth (incisors). The animal is called after this tooth when it reaches the age at which it loses it.