Fiqh Council of North America Statement on Eid al-Adha: After the Day of Hajj

Fiqh Council of North America Statement on Eid al-Adha: After the Day of Hajj

Muslims in America as well as in many other parts of the world hold two different opinions about the observance of Eid al-Adha. Some observe it on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah according to their local lunar date. Others follow the announcement of Hajj by authorities in Makkah and celebrate this Eid after the day of ‘Arafah. After careful study and consideration, the Fiqh Council reached a decision stating Eid al-Adha will follow the Day of Hajj as announced in Makkah. This is also the European Council of Fatwa and Research’s decision. Following, is a summary of an essay on this issue. Those who are interested to know more details may refer to the full text on our website. 
From the time of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH), the institution of Hajj began. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) performed Hajj before receiving Nubuwwah (Prophet Hood). The Prophet (PBUH) also to observed fasting during the month of Ramadan prior to receiving revelation of the Qur’an. It was during the month of Ramadan that he received the first Qur’anic revelation while at Hira. He initiated the two Eids after his migration to Madinah to denote the start and the end of Hajj season. 

The month of Hajj begins the first day of Shawwal and ends with the Wuquf of ‘Arafah, which is perhaps why the Prophet (PBUH) introduced two days of festivities to celebrate the beginning and the end of the Hajj season, as Imam Ibn Taymiyyah has clearly stated. Even the month of Dhul Hijjah is named after Hajj. The Qur’an and Sunnah both hold the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah as sacred because they are connected to Hajj. Therefore, the two Eids are not independent institutions; they are closely connected with some obligatory pillars of Islam, such as fasting and the pilgrimage to Makkah, which are two most significant acts of Islamic worship. 
The sequence of Qur’anic verses in Surah al-Baqarah (2:183-203) may be cited as supportive evidence for this position. The Qur’an first mentions the obligation of fasting and then gives the rulings about Hajj. The commandment of sacrifice is also primarily addressed to Hujjaj and then to Muslims at large. (Surah Hajj: 28; 36) Even the Takbeerat of Tashreeq was originally mandated for Hujjaj. Ordinary Muslims follow Hujjaj in these commandments. Many Classical jurists have particularly noted this connection between the rituals of Eid al-Adha and the rites of Hajj. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, for instance, makes a significant observation by stating the animal slaughter at Mina is the original rule and all other localities are to follow Makkah, which is why Eid al-Adha is the greater of the two Eids. It is called the Day of al-Nahr and the Day of Great Hajj because it is connected with the sacred timings and with the sacred places. The famous Hanbali jurist Hafiz Ibn Rajab explains that Eid al-Adha prayer should be performed within the timeframe of the movement of Hujjaj from Muzdalifah to Mina. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal maintained that Eid al-Adha prayer should be offered within the time period when the Hujjaj moved from Muzdalifah to Mina and threw pebbles. Imam Ahmad clearly stated that ordinary Muslim Eid prayer had to follow the Hujjaj movement and actions.

Imam al-Bhaghawi states that Ibn Abbas, Imam Malik and Imam Shafa’ee are of the opinion that Muslims all over the world are to follow the timings of Hujjaj vis-à-vis Takbeerat of Tashreeq. Imam al-Khazin attributes this opinion to Ibn Umar as well. Imam al-Sarkhasi reports Imams Shafa’i and Abu Yusuf were of the same opinion. This indicates that many established authorities within all four known schools of Islamic Fiqh agree all Muslims are to follow the Hujjaj in the Takbeerat al-Tashreeq timings. 

Although there are other opinions about exact timings of the Takbeerat of Tashreeq, the above sources are presented to show the many jurists who hold the opinion that the Eid al-Adha rituals, such as the Eid prayer, act of sacrificing animals, and even Takbeerat al-Tashreeq, are in subordination with the acts of Hujjaj. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that Eid al-Adha is an absolute independent Islamic institution, completely detached from Hajj and fully self-regulating according to each locality. Juristic and historical evidence indicate the contrary. It shows that Eid al-Adha has always been attached to the institution of Hajj. It is precisely celebrated to imitate and remind oneself of a few acts of Hajj. Eid al-Adha is as much connected with the sacred places as with the sacred timings.

During the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, rituals of Hajj and acts of Hujjaj in and around the city of Makkah become paramount for Muslims all over the globe. Many Muslim jurists have said that the Day of ‘Arafah and the Day of Eid al-Adha are to be determined by the actual stay of Hujjaj in ‘Arafah and their slaughtering of animals. Some jurists hold that this rule is specific to Hujjaj; but others have argued that this rule is generic and applies to all Muslims. Some jurists even say that this rule applies even if Hujjaj made a mistake and stood at ‘Arafah on a wrong day, say a day ahead or later than the real 9th of Dhul Hijjah. This is the position of all the known Muslim jurists. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah narrates that there is no difference of opinion among the jurists that the month of Eid al-Adha should be observed in unity. No jurist has ever allowed those who sighted the moon should go by their sighting and do the Wuquf in ‘Arafah or slaughter the animals according to their actual sighting. They must go with the Imam and with the majority of Muslims. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali goes further than that. He, like many other Hanbali, Maliki and Shafa’i jurists, conclude that the Day of ‘Arafah is not the exact day of the 9th of Dhul Hijjah. Instead, it was what was celebrated by Muslims as the Day of ‘Arafah by staying at the place of ‘Arafah. Likewise, the Day of Eid al-Adha is not the exact day of the 10th of Dhul Hijjah but the day after Hajj, to the best of their knowledge, even if it was proven to be on a wrong day. They derive this rule from the authentic Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) who said, “Eid al-Fitr is when you celebrate breaking your fast and Eid al-Adha is when you slaughter your animals…”

Therefore, Eid al-Adha is not disconnected from Wuquf of ‘Arafah and Hajj as some of the contemporary scholars contend. Hajj and Eid al- Adha are mutually well connected. The two Eids were prescribed by the Prophet (PBUH) for a purpose. They were intertwined with completion of the month of Ramadan and Hajj. The Prophet (PBUH) linked the start of the new month with the actual moon sighting because of its source of authentication at that time. He did not depend upon news of sighting from Makkah for the first eight years of Hijrah as the Ka’abah was occupied by the Polytheists, who were not very careful about Hajj dates. The Shari’ah did not require Muslims to find the exact date of Hajj and ‘Arafah in order to avoid causing hardship to the Ummah. However, it is clear that wherever Muslims could figure out the real Day of Wuquf, they had preferred to fast on that day and celebrate their Eid and sacrifice the animals on the following day. The increased reward has more to do with a global gathering of Muslims and performance of Hajj rather than the day of Eid or Eid prayer itself. 

It is pertinent to note that there has been no specific text which requires all Muslims of the world to celebrate Eid al-Adha after the day of Hajj. There are plenty of indirect references in the Qur’an and the Sunnah that connect this day of festivity with the acts of Hajj and Wuquf. Furthermore, there is no text whatsoever in the Qur’an, Sunnah or in any authentic classical book of Fiqh, that either the Prophet (PBUH), his Companions or any other Muslim scholar has ever required to go, knowingly, against the known day of Wuquf of ‘Arafah as announced by the Hajj authorities. Hajj is an expression of Muslim unity in addition to being a source of many spiritual reminders. It has political as well as social dimensions. This aspect can be fulfilled only if the Muslim Ummah is united in observing it, especially once when Hajj becomes known through rapid means of communication. In our present circumstance there is no justification, under any rules of fiqh, to go against the Day of Hajj. Currently, going with Hajj is more beneficial (Maslahah) than celebrating Eid al-Adha independent of Hajj.