All praise is due to Allah, and may His peace and blessings be upon His Messenger and his family, his Companions, and those that followed.
It brings great pleasure to the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) to congratulate the Muslim community on the arrival of the month of Dhul-Hijjah and the approach of the blessed Eid al-Adha. We ask Allah to accept from us our righteous actions. We also ask Him to protect the pilgrims journeying to His Sacred House, and to ease their journey for them.
The following are some rulings that we would like to bring to your attention and remind you of, which are relevant in the midst of the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. States and cities all over North America are dealing with the spread of this disease amongst their residents on different levels. Therefore, these factors must be taken into consideration in the application of the following rulings.
In those states and municipalities where residents have been ordered or advised to avoid crowds and/or not to leave home except in the case of necessity, the Eid prayer can be performed with the minimum requirements; this would include an imam as well as two or three adult males, all the while maintaining physical distancing and wearing face masks. This is because Eid is one of the manifest Islamic rituals, and scholars have varying opinions on whether or not its performance is a communal obligation, an individual obligation, or a confirmed Sunnah.
Furthermore, because of the principle which states, “What is doable (as far as obligatory actions) does not stop being an obligation due to the presence of what is not doable,” the Eid prayer should be performed to the best of our ability, even if it is within the narrow and limited scope that we have described. It would not be befitting for us to be negligent in this matter (i.e., not performing the Eid prayer at all).
And similar to how Jumuah prayer is to be established within the limits of the maximum permissible number of congregants in one building, even if that means limiting the congregation to the administrative members of the mosque, the same can be said about the Eid prayer.
When it comes to the performance of the Eid prayer in the home, for the one who was not able to pray it in congregation, the matter is not so restricted.
Whereas the khutbah (sermon) is a condition of validity for Jumuah prayer (even though the one who catches one rak’ah [unit] of the prayer is considered to have caught the prayer), the khutbah is voluntary in the two Eid prayers. This is proven by what has been narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn as-Sa’ib who said, “I attended the Eid prayer with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). When he finished the prayer, he said: ‘We shall deliver the sermon; he who likes to sit and listen may do so, and he who wishes to leave may do so’.” Therefore, the khutbah is not a condition of validity for the Eid prayer, nor is listening to it.
And though the Jumuah prayer, by default, is to be performed inside the mosque, the Eid prayer on the other hand should be performed outdoors rather than inside the mosque. It is for this reason that the majority of scholars from the Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali schools permit the performance of Eid prayer in the home for the one who was not able to attend it in congregation, though the Hanafi’ scholars disagree. The evidence on the side of the majority is what has been narrated to us about Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, who, whenever he missed Eid prayer with the imam, would gather his family members and servants. He would then have ‘Abdullah ibn Abi ‘Utbah lead them in two units of prayer while performing the customary takbeerat.
Based on this narration, there is no harm in performing the Eid prayer at home individually, or together with the members of one’s family, if someone is unable to perform it in congregation due to a hindrance. In addition, we have the choice in performing this prayer in congregation or individually. And whether we choose to pray it in its normal form (reciting out loud with the additional takbeerat), or as two units with a silent recitation and without the additional takbeerat (similar to the two units of duha’ prayer), or four units with a silent recitation (similar to dhuhr prayer), then that is all permissible and correct, with each of the aforementioned forms being traceable to a narration attributed to our righteous predecessors (salaf). (See also Fatwa 87758)
It is not permissible to pray in one’s home while being led by an imam who is elsewhere, for example via modern means of communication and broadcast such as internet, television, etc. However, there is no harm in listening to an Eid khutbah being broadcast live (even if it is prerecorded) from the mosque after having completed the Eid prayer at home, and the speech in this case would be considered a general admonishment. There is also no harm if it is followed up by a broadcasted supplication (du’a) afterwards. (See also Fatwa 87735)
And for the one who will be praying at home, it is a Sunnah to break the fast after the Eid prayer and not beforehand (in contrast to Eid al-Fitr). It is also recommended to perform the other Sunnahs of Eid, such as performing a ritual shower (ghusl), applying good scents, dressing nicely, etc.
As for the states and municipalities where the virus is under control and it is permissible to gather therein, then people may congregate while following the guidelines set by health officials and after having consulted the experts, so as to ensure the safety of those coming to pray as well as the community at large, all the while establishing the ritual of Eid and preserving this Sunnah. The congregants, and all those attending, are to avoid shaking hands with one another and/or hugging, in order to avoid the possible spread of the virus – as we are still dealing with this pandemic.
It would be permissible for congregants to perform the Eid prayer while standing next to their own vehicles in a parking lot while maintaining a safe distance from others, if this is the only way the community would be permitted to gather and perform the Eid prayer. We do not, however, deem it permissible to pray sitting inside one’s vehicle, because that would change the required form in which the prayer is to be performed and because doing so can be used as a pretext for permitting, by default, this form of prayer in the future even once the dire need caused by the pandemic is gone, and even with the availability of other options such as praying in small groups, praying at home, or to the side of one’s vehicle, as we have just mentioned. (See also Fatwa 87759)
Sacrificing an animal (udhiyah or qurban) is a Sunnah and is not considered an obligation. If a Muslim does not perform it due to a financial constraint, then there is no blame on them.
It is not sufficient to give money (in charity) instead of having an animal sacrificed out of fear of contagion that can be caused by mixing with others during the time the animal is slaughtered. It would be invalid to make a deductive analogy (qiyas) of replacing the udhiyah with giving money in charity as one might do with one’s Zakat al-Fitr. This is because the udhiyah is an act of worship that hinges on two components that make it incomparable with Zakat al-Fitr: (1) the act of slaughtering the animal, which, in and of itself, is considered an act of worship by which one gains nearness to Allah, and (2) the charity and goodness that reaches the poor and needy as a result of the act. The presence of the virus does not provide us with a valid concession in changing the act of offering the udhiyah to simply offering monetary charity as a replacement. Doing so would be an innovation in the religion of Islam, and we do not know of any support for such a view offered by any of our esteemed scholars from the past. If someone were to do this (donate money instead of offering an udhiyah), their act would be considered a general charity (sadaqah) and would not count for them as a valid alternative for the udhiyah.
By default, the sacrifice should be performed in the land one is residing in, and it is prescribed for one to witness the sacrificial act and eat from the meat of the udhiyah. However, it is permissible to appoint someone who will perform the sacrifice on your behalf, even if that is done outside the country where you reside. Given the circumstances of this pandemic, if it is not possible (to perform the sacrifice locally), or if doing so involves hardship or a risk of exposure to harm, there is no blame in forgoing these aspects of the ritual and having the sacrifice performed by someone you appoint.
In conclusion, we would like to remind the Muslim community of the importance of benefiting from the blessed seasons of worship, especially the most virtuous days of this worldly life, as it has been related to us in the hadith of Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him, in which he reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “The best days of this world are the ten days (i.e., the first 10 of Dhul-Hijjah)…” [reported by al-Bazzar and ibn Hibban and classified saheeh (authentic) by al-Albani]. And, as taught to us by the Prophet (PBUH): “The greatest day in the sight of Allah is the day of Sacrifice (al-Nahr), followed by the day of Remaining (al-Qar)” [reported by Abu Dawood and al-Nasa’i and classified as authentic by al-Albani].
Ibn Hajar said in Al-Fat-h “The apparent reason as to why the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah stand out in their virtue is the fact that they combine in them the performance of the most essential acts of worship, which are salah, fasting, charity, and Hajj (pilgrimage), and we do not find this trait present in any other set of days.”
And given these are the most virtuous days of the year, the recompense for good deeds performed in them is magnified and the rewards are multiplied. It is narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them both, that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “”There are no days during which righteous action is so pleasing to Allah than these days (i.e., the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah).” He was asked: “O Messenger of Allah, not even striving in the cause of Allah?” He (PBUH) replied, “Not even striving in the cause of Allah, except in case one goes forth with his life and his property and does not return with either of them.” [reported by al-Bukhari]
And ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said: “I was with the Prophet (PBUH), so I mentioned to him various good deeds. He replied, ‘There are no days during which the righteous action is so pleasing to Allah than these 10 days.’ So I asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, not even striving in the cause of Allah?’ So he extolled it (i.e., striving) and then said, ‘Not even striving, except in case one goes forth with his life and his property for the sake of Allah and dies as a result’.’’ [reported by Ahmad and classified as hasan (sound) by al-Albani].
So it is incumbent upon Muslims to strive hard in performing prayers as well as fasting during the day of ‘Arafah (the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah), given that the Prophet (PBUH) was extra keen on fasting the day of ‘Arafah out of the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. He (PBUH) mentioned the virtue of fasting it (‘Arafah) specifically when he said, “Fast the day of Arafah, for I anticipate that by doing so Allah will forgive the sins of the coming year as well as the previous year” [reported by Muslim].
In these blessed days, Muslims should also be keen on increasing their remembrance of Allah, as well as their Quran recitation, and chanting takbeer (saying “Allahu Akbar), tahleel (saying “La ilaha illa Allah”), tahmeed (saying “al-Hamdulillah”), and tasbeeh (saying “Subhan Allah”). It has been narrated by Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “There are no days greater in the sight of Allah, nor are righteous actions performed in any other days more pleasing to Allah, than these ten days. Thus, increase therein in your performance of tahleel, takbeer, and tahmeed” [reported by Ahmad]. Al-Bukhari states “Ibn ‘Umar and Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with them, used to go out to the marketplace during the ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah) and perform takbeer (saying “Allahu Akbar”) out loud, and the people in the marketplace would hear them and likewise raise their voices with takbeer.” Maymoon ibn Mihran (from amongst the Successors [Tabi’een]) said, “I remember a time when the people would perform their takbeerat so much during the ten days that I would compare it (the sound of their voices) to waves.”
And it is legislated to perform the takbeerat starting from the first of the ten days until the end of the days of Tashreeq (which, according to the more correct of the two scholarly views in this matter, are the three days following Eid al-Adha).
It is more emphasized to perform the takbeerat after completing each of the five daily prayers, even if the prayer is performed at home. The takbeerat following the daily prayers are what some scholars refer to as “confined takbeer” as opposed to the general unrestricted takbeer. These confined takbeerat are performed by those not performing Hajj, and they are done after each of the five daily prayers, starting from fajr on the day of ‘Arafah until ‘asr on the third day of Tashreeq.
As for how the takbeerat are performed, the matter is not so restricted. It is incumbent upon Muslims, especially in these times, to strive in teaching our children this Sunnah, which is among the honored rituals of our religion, in order to ensure it does not die out as a practice amongst them in the coming generations.
Ibn al-Qayyim said in Al-Hadyi: “it has been reported that the Prophet (PBUH) used to perform takbeerat from fajr prayer on the day of ‘Arafah until ‘asr on the final day of Tashreeq, and he would chant: ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illa Allah, wa-Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, wa-lillahil-hamd’. And though this chain of narration is not strong, the Ummah as a whole has applied it (this form of takbeer).
In this mentioned form, “Allahu Akbar” is repeated in pairs of two. As for it being repeated in sets of three (Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar), that is based on what has been narrated solely from the actions of Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah and ibn ‘Abbas. And both forms (whether saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ in pairs of two or sets of three) are fine.”
Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said in Al-Fat-ḥ : “As for the form of the takbeer, the most correct version has been reported by ‘Abd al-Razzaq in an authentic (saheeh) chain on the authority of Salman, in which he said, ‘Proclaim Allah’s Greatness: Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbaru Kabeera.’ This form has also been reported to be the choice of Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Mujahid, and ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Layla. It is also the choice of Imam al-Shafi’i, who would add to it ‘wa-lillahil-hamd’.”
It has also been mentioned in the form of saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ three times and adding ‘La ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu la shareeka lahu.’
It has also been mentioned in the form of saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ twice, followed by ‘La ilaha illa Allah, wa-Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, wa-lillahil-hamd,’ and this form is traced to ‘Umar and Ibn Mas’ood, and it is the choice of Ahmad and Is-haq.”
Al-Nawawi reported in his Al-Majmoo‘ that al-Shafi’i said in Al-Mukhtasar: “Whatever increase comes in the form of Allah’s mention is good.” Though it would be more suitable to confine the forms of takbeer to only that which has been reported to us, the matter is not so restricted. And to Allah all Praise is due.
And Allah is Exalted and All-Knowing, and He alone guides to that which is most correct, and may His peace and blessings be upon Muhammad and his family.
[July 23, 2020]