What is aqeeqah?
Aqeeqah is an Arabic word originally derived from the key word ‘aq’ which means to cut and shred.
On the birth of the child, the animal is offered in aqeeqah to obtain nearness to Allah and to offer ransom for the child. This sacrifice which is done for the newborn is called aqeeqah. The scholars differed concerning the ruling on ‘aqeeqah; some of them said that it is obligatory and others said that it is Sunnah mu’akkadah (a confirmed Sunnah).
It is evident from numerous ahadith that aqeeqah should be performed after a child is born.
The wife of the Prophet, Aishah , is reported to have said: "The Prophet (saw) did the aqeeqah for al-Hasan and al-Hussain on the seventh day, and gave them names." - Ibn Hibban, 12/127; Al-Hakim, 4/264.
“Abdullah Ibn Abbas has reported, “The Prophet (saw) sacrificed two camels at the aqeeqah occasion of Hasan and Hussain.” ( Nasai)
According to the ahadith, Muslims must perform aqeeqah on the birth of a child. Pay a ransom on his behalf and remove filth from him. (Bukhari) According to a hadith, every child is pledged to his aqeeqah that may be sacrificed for him on the seventh day; the same day he must be named and his head shaved. (A hab-us-Sunan)
It was narrated from Salmaan ibn ‘Aamir al-Dabbi that the Prophet (saw) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (saw) say: “ ‘Aqeeqah is to be offered for a (newly born) boy, so slaughter (an animal) for him, and remove all dirt from him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5154)
The purpose of aqeeqah is to draw closer to Allah by means of the shedding of this blood, in thanksgiving for the blessing of the newborn child, and to loosen the bonds of the Satan over the child and to remove him from him, as is indicated in the hadith, “Every child is ransomed by his aqeeqah.
Aqeeqah can only be an offering of an appropriate animal. An animal that does not fall under the conditions below can not be sacrificed.
The sacrificial animal should have reached the required age, which is one year for a goat or sheep.
It should be free of any faults, because the Prophet said: “There are four that will not be suitable for sacrifice: a one-eyed animal whose defect is obvious, a sick animal whose sickness is noticeable, a lame animal whose limp is evident and an emaciated animal that has no marrow in its bones.” (Saheeh al-Jaami) There are milder defects that do not disqualify an animal, but it is disliked to sacrifice such animals, such as one with a horn or ear missing or one with slits in its ears etc.
With regard to rams, which are male sheep, the ram should have reached the age of one year in order for it to be permissible as a sacrifice. The conditions are stipulated for ‘aqeeqah’: the animal should be free of faults and of the proper age. “We must not break the bones of the sacrificial animal” (Abu Dawood)
In the Old Testament sacrificial system an animal without blemish or spot was required in order to make a sacrifice to the Lord for the forgiveness of sin or for a worship or devotion offering.
In the New Testament, Christ’s death puts an end to the Old Testament sacrificial system for He is the perfect Lamb without spot and without blemish.
1Pe 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Joh 19:36 “… A bone of him shall not be broken.”
In Muhammed time the Catholic Church had destroyed the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ with indulgence and other doctrines; God brought back the sacrifices illustrations with Islam to point back to the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The simple teachings had been clouded by false doctrines so illustrations were again needed to give the true understanding of the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Not that God meant that we should start the sacrificial system again, but it was necessary for many to understand the truth that had been corrupted by church doctrines.