Choices: Udhiyah or Charity to Disaster-Stricken Muslims?

13 July, 2021
Q As-salam `alaykum. Is it better to offer the sacrifice of Udhiyah or to donate money to disaster-stricken areas in the Muslims lands?


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:

If a Muslim is affluent, it is better to offer the sacrifice of udhiyah and to give donations to his fellow Muslims suffering from disasters like the Muslims in Syria, Burma, Yemen, Somalia and other Muslim lands.

Responding to your question, Dr. Mas`ud Sabri, PhD in Shari`ah and researcher at the Ministry of Awqaf in Kuwait, stated,

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If a Muslim is affluent, it is better to offer the sacrifice of udhiyah and to give donations to his fellow Muslims suffering from disasters like the Muslims in Syria, Burma, Yemen, Somalia and other Muslim lands. Yet, if a Muslim can afford only one of these two options, the issue then needs to be detailed as follows:

First, one is entitled to offer sacrifice in the disaster-stricken regions, in case such regions suffer food shortage, and in this way, one will be combining both purposes of offering the ritual and that of meeting the needs of disaster-stricken fellows.

Second, if the disaster-stricken regions are in no need for sacrificial meat and are in need for more important items, then the ruling depends, on the one hand, on the ruling of the Udhiyah sacrifice and, on the other hand, on the ruling of giving charity and the type of needs in such regions.

As for offering udhiyah sacrifice, it is a strongly recommended Sunnah, according to the majority of jurists, including the Shafi`ites and the Hanbalites.

It is also the more preponderant of two opinions reported from Imam Malik and one of two opinions reported from Abu Yusuf. This is also the opinion of Abu Bakr, Umar, Bilal, Abu Masud Al-Badri, Suwaid ibn Ghaflah, Said ibn Al-Musayyib, Ata, Alqamah, Al-Aswad, Ishaq, Abu Thawr and Ibn Al-Mundhir.

Their supportive evidence includes the Prophetic statement, “When the ten days [of Dhul-Hijjah] start and one of you intends to offer a sacrifice, then let him not remove any of his hair or his nails” (Muslim). Here, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made offering of the Udhiyah sacrifice dependent on the will to do so.

Another evidence is that Abu Bakr and `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) abstained from offering the Udhiyah sacrifice for one or two  years lest people might deem it an obligatory practice.

The second opinion, however, is that offering the Udhiyah sacrifice is obligatory. This opinion is maintained by Abu Hanifah and his companions. It is also reported from Malik, Rabi`ah Al-Ra’i, Al-Layth ibn Sad, Al-Awzai and Ath-Thawri. In support of their view, they quote the Quranic verse that reads, “So, pray to your Lord and sacrifice [to Him alone]” (Al-Kawthar 108:2); since the command in this verse denotes obligation.

They also quote the prophetic statement, “Whoever is able to offer the Udhiyah sacrifice but has not offered it should not come near our place of prayer.” (Ibn Majah). This warning denotes the obligation to offer the Udhiyah sacrifice. Moreover, they invoked as evidence the Prophet’s saying, “Whoever has slaughtered [the Udhiyah sacrifice] before [Eid] Prayer should slaughter a goat in its place and whoever has not slaughtered [it yet] let him slaughter it in the Name of Allah.” (Muslim(

Here, the command to slaughter another sacrificial animal instead of the one slaughtered at an undue time indicates nothing less than obligation.

Thus, the preponderant opinion is that sacrifice is a strongly recommended Sunnah. Hence, whoever can afford it and does not do so would have acted against the prophetic guidance, even though it is not obligatory. For Abu Bakr and Umar’ abstaining from offering the Udhiyah sacrifice constitutes a conclusive proof that it is not obligatory, knowing that their practice is unanimously agreed upon and their opinion is a referential proof for the majority of scholars.

As for giving out charity to the disaster-stricken areas, it can be obligatory when one is affluent and when the disaster-stricken areas are in dire need for charity.

This is based on the Hadith reported by Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Indeed, there is a right due on property other than Zakah,” and then he recited the following verse, {Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives Zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the pious.} (Al-Baqarah 2:177) (At-Tirmidhi)

Such charity may be only recommended when one is not affluent enough or when the disaster-stricken areas do not suffer dire or harmful need or when there be others who provide for them.

What I deem preponderant is that offering sacrifice as a charity is more proper than offering money in case the disaster-stricken areas are in need for food, since this would involve combining both purposes of fulfilling the prophetic injunction of offering udhiyah sacrifice as a ritual and fulfilling the needs of the disaster-stricken areas.

However, if the disaster-stricken areas are in need for things other than food, then there is no harm in giving them the price of the sacrificial animal cash, acting upon the opinion that sacrifice is not obligatory and is rather a strongly recommended Sunnah, according to the preponderant opinion, and upon the ruling that fulfilling the needs of the disaster-stricken areas can at times be obligatory.

After all, a Muslim should give out money in charity for the sake of Allah Almighty, since this would support the concept of brotherhood, preserve and increase the giver’s property. This would also indicate the giver’s belonging to the nation of Islam and secure reward for the giver on the Day of Judgment.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.