I’m Scared of COVID-19, Can I Skip Udhiyah?

22 July, 2020
Q I am concerned about buying the udhiyah this year because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). I am not sure about the health conditions of the one who will sell it to me or ever the one who will slaughter it for me. They might transfer the virus to me or my family when we get into contact with them. Is it permissible for me skip the udhiyah this year?

Answer

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:

If there are genuine reasons for you to fear the spread of COVID-19 while offering udhiyah, then you may prefer to give the amount in charity, and you will be rewarded for your charity.


In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

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Udhiyah is a ritual/symbol of Islam. It is intended to commemorate the faith and sacrifice of the great Prophet Ibrahim and his son, Ismaeel (peace be upon them).

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came to restore the pristine monotheistic tradition of the Prophet Ibrahim. Many of the rituals of Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, are also intended to commemorate the same.

While ordaining the ritual of sacrifice, Allah says, {Neither the meat nor the blood of the sacrificial animals reaches Allah; instead, it is the piety embedded in your hearts.} (Al-Hajj 22:28)

We are also ordered in the Quran to ‘eat from it and feed the poor and the destitute.”

Consequently, Udhiyah has the dual purpose of instilling in us the spirit of sacrifice for the cause of Allah; while offering an opportunity through the sacrifice to help provide nourishing food to the poor and needy.

We know that meat provides essential protein, and many people cannot afford it. Although not an issue for most developed countries, it is true of the millions in the world.

So, sacrifice is a symbol of Islam, and so under normal circumstances, we cannot replace it with charity. Instead, we should practice this ritual as best as we can.

Having said this, it is also possible to make exceptions to this rule. For instance, if as you allege, sacrificing an animal poses a risk because of the COVID-19 crisis, it can be skipped. Preserving health and taking preventive measures against contagion is a genuine necessity, which can be a sufficient reason for skipping the same.

In this context, we ought to remember that sacrifice, albeit an important ritual, is not obligatory. It is only a recommended practice; this is why we learn that the pious caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar would skip sacrifice one year or two to ensure that the people don’t take it as obligatory.

If they had been wrong, other companions would have corrected them; since no one objected, it can be taken as a tacit consensus.

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In light of these, if there are genuine reasons for you to fear the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) while offering udhiyah, then you may prefer to give the amount in charity, and you will be rewarded for your charity.

It is also why some scholars in some parts of India (where there is a genuine reason to fear the spread of COVID-19) have ruled that instead of sacrificing, people should give the money in charity. They based it on their understanding of the priorities in the present situation.

I pray to Allah to protect us all against all deadly diseases.

Almighty Allah knows best.