Is It Permissible to Sacrifice Lambs Younger Than 6 Months?

22 July, 2020
Q As you know, Eid Al-Adha will be soon, and now we have a problem this year in the Netherlands because almost all sheep are younger than 6 months across the Netherlands. My question is: whether in such emergencies you can also sacrifice lambs under 6 months of age? Would like to hear from you.

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 the weight and quality of the meat is the primary consideration in the udhiyah, then the animals bred today fulfill those conditions better. Therefore, it is permissible to sacrifice lambs under 6 months.


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

You have raised a pertinent question. It is time for us to address such situations. We ought to do so by looking at the Divine Law’s rationale and intent rather than being stuck on the letter.

It is in this spirit that I shall try to address this issue as I believe that if we don’t do so, then we end up making most of the fiqh rules simply archaic and next to impossible to practice today.

The changed conditions call for updating the rules based on the methods already present in the sources.

With these introductory words, let me try to address your question.

Udhiyah: Recommended Age of the Animal

Under normal circumstances, we are not allowed to sacrifice a sheep under six months and goat under one year.

Some scholars have interpreted this as a recommendation and not a strict order. Having said this, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also allowed for bypassing the rule -if one does not find any animal fitting the ideal conditions.
When we look at the rationale of these ordinances, we can presume that the Prophet’s orders take into account the breeding practices of the time. Such practices have undergone drastic changes due to breeding methods.

The cattle breeding in the pre-industrial societies differed significantly from modern practices as the cattle then were allowed to graze on pastures and grew naturally. Today, the entire process has been revolutionized to produce the meat in mass volumes to feed millions. The animals bred in these conditions grow fatter and gain weight faster. So a lamb grown in this way weighs more than a lamb even if it were less than six months.

Spirit of the Prophet’s Orders

The question arises: Do we still have to stick to the letter of the Prophetic orders at a time when it is impossible to implement them?

The answer is: the Prophet has taught us that we need to carry out the orders given to us as best as we can in the given circumstances we are facing.

He already set a precedent for this when he told one of his companions, allowing him to sacrifice an animal that did not fit the strict conditions.

As we can infer from Imam An-Nawawi’s comment:

“If the weight and quality of the meat is the primary consideration, then by all standards, the animals bred today fulfill those conditions better. They also undergo frequent medical inspections by veterinarian doctors – the like of which never existed in pre-industrial times.”

In conclusion, we are allowed to sacrifice lambs under six months. Allah says, {Fear Allah as best as you can.}  (At-Taghabun 64:16)

The Prophet said, “If I order you something, do it as best as you can.” (Ibn Hibban)

Allah also says: {Allah does not impose a burden on anyone that surpasses their ability.} (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

I pray to Allah to grant us sound knowledge and sincerity in our faith and practice of religion.

Almighty Allah knows best.