Customs and Rituals

Do Muslims use ritual sacrifice?

Muslims mark the high point of the annual season of Hajj, which runs from the eighth to the thirteenth day of the ninth lunar month, with the Feast of the Sacrifice. Also called “The Great Feast,” the rituals on the tenth of the month include the slaughtering of an animal in memory of God providing a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in lieu of his son Ishmael. Sheep, goats, oxen or cows, and camels are traditional sacrificial animals. The person performing the sacrifice dedicates the animals to God and mentions the names of those partaking of the fruits of the sacrifice. Muslims all over the world observe the Feast of Sacrifice with prescribed activities. Food ritually sacrificed is usually prepared in large quantities, so that as those present for the festivities share in the feast, the abundance can be distributed to those in need. Animals ritually slaughtered during Hajj season are not sold for profit. In some parts of the world, Muslims still sacrifice a sheep in connection with an optional birth ritual. When a child is seven days old, some families shave the baby’s head, a practice dating to Muhammad’s time.


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