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Muhammad and the Formation of Sacrifice

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Gerd Marie Adna

Islam has a festival of sacrifice, id al-adha, which is celebrated each year in the month of pilgrimage. Simultaneous to the celebration and the sacrificial ritual in Mecca, during hajj, sheep, camels and cows are slaughtered all over the Muslim world. The story about how Abraham nearly sacrificed his son, Ishaq or Isma’il (Q 37), is important. Also other parts of the Qur’an contribute to the understanding of the id al-adha. Further, texts from the first 500 years after hijra contribute to a new comprehension of the theology of sacrifice in Islam. In this monograph insights from the wider field of religious and anthropological studies (esp. R.A. Rappaport) are applied to the source texts about sacrifices and rituals in pre-Islam and Islam.
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Chapter 8: Prescriptive Views on Sacrifice

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Chapter 8

Prescriptive Views on Sacrifice

8.1 Introduction

In this chapter I will focus on Mālik ibn Anas (d. 179/795), and how he was preoccupied with the topic of Islamic sacrifice in a regulatory perspective. Through his disciples Mālik founded the first Islamic law school (madhhab), from which the three other main Islamic law schools originate. His works, and especially the collection Muwaṭṭaʾ include and narrate several important channels of transmission of ḥadīth.1

8.2 Slaughtering of animals

It can be asked whether Islam operates with a difference between the slaughter of animals during ḥājj and their slaughter at ordinary non-festival times. Mālik discusses the slaughter of animals in book 24 (kitāb al-dhabāʾiḥ) in his major work Muwaṭṭaʾ. The chapter in Mālik’s text is short, consisting of merely four sections (bawāb), divided into nine sub-sections each.

Mālik begins with a tale about a man who came to consult the prophet. The visitor asked whether it is permissible to eat the meat of an animal that has been killed by “some people from the desert”, when he did not know whether Allāh’s name had been uttered over it at its slaughter. The prophet answered, “Utter the name of Allāh over it and eat.” Then Mālik adds, “That was the beginning of Islam.”2 In his next story an animal has been slaughtered by...

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