The second annual Muslim celebration of the year is called Eid al-Adha, the Celebration of Sacrifice. Muslims across the world mark this day of celebration by worshipping God and glorifying Him. One of the major acts of worship highly encouraged on this day is the act of ritual slaughter of specific animals. The Messenger Muhammad would offer this ritual slaughter and encouraged his followers to do so, if they were financially able. Muslims may ritually slaughter certain animals throughout the year for a variety of reasons, like the feast for a wedding, or upon the birth of a child, in gratitude to God. One also may slaughter an animal for food consumption. Most people will not slaughter a whole animal for meat consumption, but rather will go to their local Halal or Kosher butcher and purchase whatever meat they need.
However, the ritual slaughter on the days of Eid al-Adha, which takes place from the 10th – 13th of the final month of the Islamic calendar, is the time many will offer an animal in ritual slaughter. There are a number of things that need to be present in order for the act of ritual slaughter to be correct:
- This act of devotion is required for those who are financially able. It should be carried out by the head of the household or whoever in the family is financially able to do so. One animal suffices for the whole family. The poor and needy do not have to offer this sacrifice.
- For the ritual slaughter on Eid al-Adha, the animal offered can only be from specific livestock types, which are sheep, goats, cows or camels.
- The animal should have reached the minimum age to be eligible for the ritual, which is six months for a lamb, one year for a goat, two years for a cow, and five years for a camel.
- The animal should be healthy. It should not be lame, sick, emaciated, or have an obvious defect such as a missing limb.
- The ritual slaughter for Eid al-Adha begins from after the Eid congregational prayer service on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah (12th month of the Islamic calendar), and lasts until sunset on the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah.
- The one performing the ritual slaughter should be an adult Muslim who is familiar with the rulings of ritual slaughter.
- The person should invoke God’s name by saying “Bismillah,” With God’s Name, as he performs the ritual slaughter.
- If possible, the animal should be facing the direction of Mecca (Qiblah) before the ritual slaughter.
- The ritual slaughter should be carried out using a sharp tool such as a knife. This is so that the slaughter is completed quickly and with minimum distress to the animal.
- The animal should be treated gently and not scared beforehand, e.g. by sharpening a knife in front of it before slaughter.
- The ritual slaughter takes place by severing the windpipe and blood vessels, jugular veins, of the animal by cutting through the throat. The animal’s head is not severed completely, nor is the spinal cord cut.
- All of the blood should be drained from the animal’s body before proceeding with skinning and cutting the animal.
- The meat of the ritual slaughter offered at Eid al-Adha should be divided into three parts: one third to be eaten by the one offering and his household, one third gifted to friends and family, and one third to be distributed to the poor and needy.