What is Aqiqah?
‘Aqiqah is a means of expressing gratitude to God. The birth of a child, male or female, is a cause for great celebration. In Islam, certain etiquettes and rituals from the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad (saw) are recommended as a family welcomes a newborn child to the world. These include: choosing a pleasant name for the newborn. Reciting the Adhan (call to prayer) in the baby’s right ear and iqamah in the left ear. Tahnik (inserting something sweet such as dates or honey into the baby’s mouth), shaving the newborn’s head and doing ‘aqiqah.
Narrated Salman bin ‘Amir Ad-Dabbi: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “‘Aqiqa is to be offered for a (newly born) boy, so slaughter (an animal) for him, and relieve him of his suffering.”. It has been quoted in Fateh-AL-Bari that the majority of the religious scholars agrees to the Hadith narrated in Sahih At-Tirmidi that the Prophet was asked about aqiqah and he ordered 2 sheep for a boy and one sheep for a girl and that is his Sunnah.
When should the Aqeeqah be performed?
Traditionally, the aqiqah is held on the seventh day after the child’s birth, but it may also be postponed until later (often the 7th, 14th, or 21st day after birth). If one cannot afford the expense at the time of the child’s birth, it may even be postponed longer, as long as it is done prior to the child reaching puberty.
What is the purpose of the Aqeeqah?
The performance of Aqiqah is highly encouraged. It is to be performed by the parents or the guardians of the child. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions used to perform Aqiqah when they were bestowed with a newborn. There are many benefits in the performance of Aqiqah. One is the announcing the birth of the baby. Being bestowed a child is a great blessing from the Creator. Another purpose is inviting family members, neighbours, and friends to celebrate the blessed occasion. The poor should be included in the celebration by offering them food and meat served on this occasion.
The Aqiqah Meal
Muslim parents often host the aqiqah at their home or a community center. The aqiqah is an optional dinner event designed to celebrate the child’s birth and welcome him or her to the community. There is no religious consequence for not holding an aqiqah; it is a “sunnah” tradition but is not required.The aqiqah is always hosted by the parents or extended family of the newborn child. In order to provide a community meal, the family slaughters one or two sheep or goats. This sacrifice is considered the defining part of the aqiqah. While sheep or goats are the most common sacrificial animals, in some regions, cows or camels may also be sacrificed. There are precise conditions attached to the sacrificial slaughter: the animal must be healthy and free of defects, and the slaughter must be done humanely. One-third of the meat is given away to the poor as charity, and the rest is served in a large community meal with relatives, friends, and neighbours. Many guests bring gifts for the new baby and the parents, such as clothing, toys or baby furniture. (Learning Religions)
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