Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
Can an Eid Sacrifice be done on behalf of someone else? Can a child do this for his parents without telling them? Can I do it for a deceased person?
Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. Jazakum Allah khayr for your question. I hope you’re well insha’Allah.
According to the Shafi’i school, it is not permitted to sacrifice on the behalf of living person without their permission, and without the written permission in the case of a deceased person.
It is stated, ‘It is not permitted for anyone to make the [Eid] sacrifice on behalf of another living person without his permission, and without the permission in a bequest from a deceased person. If one did so, even someone who was unaware [of the ruling], the slaughter does not count for him [the deceased] or the one slaughtering … This is because it is an act of worship, and the default is that one is not permitted [to perform an act of worship] except in the presence of evidence [that it is permitted].’ [Bushra al Karim]
Sacrificing for the Parents and Family
Given the above, a person, including a child, cannot sacrifice ‘on behalf of his parents’ or others. However, the person may slaughter ‘for’ the whole family. This includes the child if the child has a) reached puberty, b) is sane, and c) has been observed to be competent and upright in his religious and worldly dealings (rashid).
There is some difference of opinion as to the definition of who is included in ‘family’. There are three main opinions:
1. Imam Ibn Hajr states that it is any male or female relative and that it is not a condition that the child lives in the same house and/or is dependent on the parents.
2. Imam Ramli holds that it is not a condition that the family all live in one house, but the person sacrificing for the family must be the one obliged to financially support those family members for whom the slaughter is done for.
3. A further opinion is that ‘family’ includes anyone that is financially dependent on the person who is sacrificing, irrespective if the financial support is obligatory or voluntary, and whether they live in the same house or not.
All of these opinions are valid, so one may choose which one they wish, though Imam Ramli’s opinion is the most precautious.
If one sacrifices for the whole ‘family’ then the person who is sacrificing gets the reward. The rest of the family does not get the reward, but the communal sunna is lifted from the family, meaning they are no longer recommended to sacrifice and not performing it is not makrouh.
If, however, the person sacrificing makes the intention that they are sharing the reward with persons x, y, and z, then according to both Imam Ibn Hajr and Imam Ramli, the reward is shared. However, as Ibn Hajr states, ‘This seems to apply to a deceased person’ but not a living person, for who the reward is not shared, even if intended.
[Tuhfat al Muhtaj, Nihayat al Muhtaj, Bushra al Karim, al Yaqout al Nafis]
For details in the Hanafi and Maliki school, please refer to the following answers:
I pray that clarifies things for you insha’Allah.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.