Does Islam require a married couple to offer uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice?
Islam “emphatically recommends” that every Muslim with the wealth to do so offer an uḍḥiyah or qurbani (meaning “sacrifice”) of one animal from the cattle family, per household, yearly, on the days of Eid al-Aḍḥa, which celebrates the completion of the Hajj-Pilgrimage.
This is the ruling of the majority of scholars from the Shafi‘i, Maliki and Hanbali schools of Islamic Law (fiqh) on uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice; namely, that it is a recommended (mandûb) not obligatory (wâjib) act of worship.
So, according to this predominant opinion, a believing husband and wife ought to do an uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice at this time.
What does the Hanafi school say about uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice?
The scholars of the Hanafi school of Law (fiqh) say the uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice on Eid al-Aḍḥa, and the included days after, is an obligation (wâjib) on each Muslim household of means.
This is a minority position, but one followed by a great many Muslims who tend to adhere to the Hanafi school of law in their Islamic practice.
An even smaller minority of scholars, again, mostly from the Hanafi school, hold that it is an obligation on every single Muslim individual — rather than each household — who meets the standard of wealth to offer the uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice on the days of Eid al-Aḍḥa.
According to this last ruling, a Muslim husband and wife are both individually required to offer the uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice at this time.
What is the definition of a household?
A “household” for the purposes of the uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice of al-Aḍḥa is all the people living together whose finances are intertwined and who are related in one way or another, no matter how distantly. In this sense, household best applies to the members actually residing, or who have residence, together, even if one is traveling or temporarily removed for a reason.
How much wealth makes one accountable to do uḍḥiyah (qurbani)?
Most scholars hold that the “threshold” of wealth that makes one liable for the uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice is the same as what obligates one to pay Zakat. This is called niṣâb, which, for currency and financial instruments that can be denominated as currency (gold, silver, cryptocurrency, etc.) equals the current price of 85 grams of gold ($4,931.70 at the time of this writing).
What animals are best for uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice?
The uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice must be animals normally considered livestock. This commonly includes cattle, such as cows, buffaloes, bison (bovine); sheep (ovine); and goats (caprine). Camels are also appropriate for uḍḥiyah (qurbani). Other cattle animals not mentioned here that are common to particular regions may also be offered. (For example, there are 10 genera of bovine.)
The Companions of the Prophet, on him be peace, and God be pleased with them, were never reported to have slaughtered anything other than the above-mentioned animals for Eid al-Aḍḥa. Thus, slaughtering of fowl, for example — even whole flocks of chickens, turkeys or ducks — does not count for uḍḥiyah.
Are there conditions animals for uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice should meet?
Yes. In general, Allah is the All-Good and accepts only that which is good. So an uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice can be male or female, at the age of maturity for that type of animal, free of defect, cannot be sold (except to acquire a better uḍḥiyah (qurbani) animal of sacrifice), and has to be done after the Eid Prayer, on the designated days. (For details, see What Is the Uḍḥiyah (Qurbani) Sacrifice?)
Do husband and wife have to meet special conditions for the sacrifice?
Yes. In general, both must make their intention to offer uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice and not trim their hair or nails from the 1st of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah (or as soon as they know they will offer sacrifice), even if someone else is slaughtering on their behalf.
Should a husband and wife themselves slaughter their uḍḥiyah (qurbani)?
This is preferable because the Prophet, on him be peace, did this. But they may assign another to do it on their behalf, though it is also preferred in this case for them to be present at the sacrifice. One who slaughters or butchers should not be paid out of the sacrifice itself, but from other funds or wealth, though he or she can receive a gift from it.
One may gift an uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice to the needful here.
When should a husband and wife offer uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice?
It should be done after the Eid al-Aḍḥa Prayer, which is the 10th day of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah, even if one does not attend the prayer. (This is important. A sacrifice does not count as uḍḥiyah (qurbani) if it is done before the prayer of Eid al-Aḍḥa.)
It may be done any time after Eid Ṣalâh (Prayer) on that day or on Ayyâm Al-Nahr, the Days of Slaughter, which, according to the Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali schools of Law, ends at sunset of the third day of Eid. In other words, the couple may sacrifice on the 11th and 12th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah.
According to the Shafi‘i school, include all the Days of Tashrîq (preserving slaughtered meat by drying it out, commonly called jerking), meaning including the 13th day of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah, which means four days of slaughter all together, counting Eid Day. Any slaughter after this is not uḍḥiyah (qurbani).
NOTE: If an Eid Prayer will not be held in one’s area or vicinity, one can slaughter after the sun crosses its high point in the sky.
What should a husband and wife do with the uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice?
The couple and their household should eat of the uḍḥiyah (qurbani) sacrifice, preferably keeping a third of it for themselves, giving a third to the needful, and gifting a third of it to neighbors, loved ones and friends.
No part of the animal — meat, hide or any other part — may be sold. If one sells any of the uḍḥiyah (qurbani) animal, it invalidates the sacrifice.