Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- As for aqeeqah, it is a kind of gratitude to Allah Almighty and showing generosity.
2- It is erroneous to think that this particular cultural practice implies that the human and spiritual worth of male are greater than females, as this contradicts the well-established Qur’anic principles on the full spiritual and human equality between males and females.
Responding to your question, Dr. Jamal Badawi, professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and a cross-appointed faculty member in the Departments of Religious Studies and Management, states:
Aqeeqah is a Sunnah not obligatory. It was reported also that the Prophet (peace be upon him) made `Aqeeqah by slaughtering one sheep for each of his grandsons Al-Hasan and Al-Husain.
One purpose of Aqeeqah is to be generous and to provide food for the poor people. Since the Arabs thought that male children contribute more in defending the tribe and earn income to support their families, to encourage them to be more generous according to their own traditions is one way of feeding more needy people.
It is erroneous to think that this particular cultural practice implies that the human and spiritual worth of male are greater than females, as this contradicts the well-established Qur’anic principles on the full spiritual and human equality between males and females.
Furthermore, whenever distinctions were made in the Qur’an between males and females in terms of complementarity of their differentiated role, it does not connote either superiority or inferiority of either sex.
For example, in the case of inheritance, there is no general rule that the male inherits more than female in all cases. There are cases where they both inherit equally; others where the female inherits more than the male.
This proves that masculinity or femininity is not the criterion; rather it is a combination of considerations including the greater financial responsibilities of males and the degree of closeness to the deceased.
For more details on this issue, also the testimony of females in courts of law, please see Dr. Salah Sultan’s book on the privileges of women over men in Islamic inheritance law (available in Arabic). Also, you may check my book Gender Equity in Islam (in English).
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archiveV and was originally published at an earlier date.