Question # 28: What is the ruling for offering Udiyah (Sacrifice) for deceased relatives?
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: The udiyah sacrifice, although legislated on behalf of both, the living and the deceased, it is stressed more for the living by Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Hence, it is better to offer the sacrifice on behalf of himself and his family that includes all the family members, both living and deceased without singling out for deceased.
Long Answer: Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said: [Although,] the Addha sacrifice is legislated on behalf of the living and the deceased…, it is stressed more for the living… Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to perform the Adhha sacrifice with one sheep for himself and his family members in Al-Madinah, and some of them were deceased like Khadijah (رضي الله عنه) and his two daughters, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum (رضي الله عنه). (Fatawa Islamiyah, Ash-Shaykh ibn Baz)
Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The basic principle concerning the udhiyah is that it is prescribed for the living, as the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and his companions used to offer the sacrifice on behalf of themselves and their families…[However,] udhiyah on behalf of the dead may be of three types:
- When it is offered on their behalf as well as on behalf of the living, such as when a man offers a sacrifice on behalf of himself and the members of his family, and intends thereby both those who are alive and those who are dead. This is permissible, and the basis of that is the fact that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) offered the sacrifice on behalf of himself and the members of his family, some of whom had previously died.
- Offering the sacrifice on behalf of the dead in fulfillment of their last wishes (wasaaya). This is obligatory except in the case of one who is unable to do it. The basis for this is the verse in which Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says: “Then whoever changes the bequest after hearing it, the sin shall be on those who make the change. Truly, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower” (Soorah al-Baqarah, 2:181)
- Offering the sacrifice on behalf of the dead voluntarily and independently of the living – such as offering a separate sacrifice on behalf of one’s father or mother. This is permissible. The Hanbali fuqaha’ have stated that the reward for that will reach the deceased and benefit him/her, by analogy with giving charity on behalf of the dead.
But we do not think that singling out the dead for offering a sacrifice on their behalf is part of the Sunnah, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not offer a sacrifice specifically on behalf of any of his deceased loved ones. He did not offer a sacrifice on behalf of his paternal uncle Hamzah even though he was one of his dearest relatives, or on behalf of his children who died during his lifetime, who were three married daughters and three sons who died in infancy, or on behalf of his wife Khadeejah who was one of his most beloved wives. And it is not narrated that any of his companions offered a sacrifice on behalf of any of their deceased loved ones.
We also think that what some people do, offering a sacrifice on behalf of a deceased loved one in the first year after his or her death, which they call Udhiyat al-Hufrah (the sacrifice of the grave), and they think that no one else can share the reward of it, is wrong – as is offering a voluntary sacrifice on behalf of their deceased loved ones or in accordance with their will, and not offering a sacrifice on behalf of oneself and one’s family, which some people do. If they knew that when a man offers a sacrifice paid for with his own money on behalf of himself and his family, that includes all the members of his family, both living and dead, then they would not do this. (Risaalat Ahkaam al-Udhiyah wa’l-Dhakaah)
The Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas states that “The Muslims are agreed that it is prescribed to offer a sacrifice (udhiyah), and it is permissible to offer a sacrifice on behalf of one who has died, because of the general meaning of the hadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), “When the son of Adam dies, all his good deeds come to an end except three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous son who will pray for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasa’i, and by al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad from Abu Hurayrah) Slaughtering a sacrifice on his behalf is a kind of ongoing charity, because it benefits the person offering the sacrifice, the deceased person, and others. (Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)
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.