Up to now we have discussed the significance of the Islamic ritual of Aqeeqah. The ritual includes shaving the child’s head and offering sacrifice of an animal, ideally on the seventh day after the child’s birth. However, after exploring the various aspects related to Aqeeqah there is a question which still remains unanswered. Is it incumbent on every Muslim to perform Aqeeqah or not?
We know that a large part of the populace, mostly in under developed and developing countries, lives below the poverty line. So for the poor who have a tough time trying to make both ends meet and who live hand to mouth, will Aqeeqah be compulsory?
In order to find an answer to this question let us see some other examples of the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).
Marriage in Islam is also a Sunnah like Aqeeqah but Islam has shown a way out for those who cannot afford to marry.
Abdullah (B.Masood) ra reported that Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) said to us: ‘O young men! Those amongst you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford it should observe fast for it is a means of controlling the sexual desire’. (Sahih Muslim, Book of Marriage, no.3233)
So we find that if a man is unable to afford a wife then he exempted from the institution of marriage instead of being punished for his inability.
Let us move on to another example of Hajj, which is the fifth pillar of Islam. Whereas the institution of marriage is a Sunnah, Hajj is obligatory. However Allah (swt) says about Hajj in the Holy Quran, Chapter 3- verse: 97:
“In it are manifest sign (for example) the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim; whosoever enters it, he attains security. And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka’aba) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provisions and residence); and whosoever disbelieves (i.e. denies Hajj, then he is a disbeliever of Allah) then Allah stands not in need of any of the Alamin (mankind and jinnd).
So this Quranic verse makes it clear that even though Hajj is a compulsory in Islam yet those who cannot afford it have been exempted from it.
So from these examples we can draw a conclusion that Aqeeqah, despite being a highly recommended practice and a Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), is not compulsory for those who cannot afford it.
Islam is a moderate religion and this moderation pervades all the acts of worship.
Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said, ‘Take upon yourself only those actions for which you have the strength to carry out consistently. (Sahih Bukhari-1100)
This hadith speaks volumes about the fact that Islam does not burden any Muslim beyond his capacity, whether physical or financial, because Islam is a religion of moderation and not extremism, in any way.
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