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THE AQIQA SACRIFICE. : ::::::::10::::::
light; apparently it was not thought safe till it had been put
6 On the contrary, the Traditions leave the matter uncertain except as regards the practice of the Jews.
tion, for among the Arabs, as among the Syrians, young lads let their hair grow long, and the sign of immaturity was the retention of the side locks, which adult warriors did not wear. The cutting of the side locks was, therefore, a formal mark of admission into manhood, and in the time of Herodotus it must also have been a formal initiation into the worship of Orotal," for otherwise the religious significance which the Greek historian attaches to the shorn forehead of the Arabs is unintelligible. At that time, therefore, we must conclude that a hair-offering, precisely equivalent to the 'aqiqa, took place upon entry into manhood, and thereafter the front hair was habitually worn short as a permanent memorial of this dedicatory sacrifice. It is by no means clear that even in later times the initiatory ceremony was invariably performed in infancy, for the name 'aqiqa which in Arabic denotes the first hair as well as the religious ceremony of cutting it off, is sometimes applied to the ruddy locks of a lad approaching manhood, and figuratively to the plumage of a swift young ostrich or the tufts of an ass’s hair, neither of which has much resemblance to the scanty down on the head of a new-born babe. It would seem, therefore, that the oldest Semitic usage both in Arabia and in Syria, was to sacrifice the hair of childhood upon admission to the religious and social status of manhood.” It does not seem very clear, however, that either of these theories is altogether satisfactory. Is it not more probable that we have in this Moslem custom another Jewish element in Islam connected with the Old Testament doctrine of sacrifice, especially the redemption of the first-born ? (Compare Exodus XIII: 11–22 XXXIV: 19.) If in addition to all the resemblances to the Jewish practice already noted further testimony were necessary, it would be sufficient to refer to the statement made in the commentary of Al Buchari as the key to this true Sunna of the Prophet: “For the female child one ewe — and this abrogates the saying of those who disapprove a sacrifice for a girl — as did the Jews, who only made 'aqiqa for boys.” (On the authority of 'Araki in Tirmidhi — Fath-ul-Bari V. 390.) An additional proof would be the injunction of ’Ayesha, “That not a bone of this sacrifice should be broken.” Surely the observation of the 'Aqiqa ceremony may well lead us to use Exodus XII and John XIX with our Moslem brethren, pointing them to the “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” and who is the true Redeemer also of childhood; who Himself took little children into His arms and blessed them. I have recently prepared a leaflet on this subject for Moslems, entitled “Haqiqat ul 'Aqiqa “ (The True Explanation of the 'Aqiqa) calling attention to some of these traditions and pointing out the teaching of the Old Testament regarding the redemption by the sacrificial Lamb, and showing that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. That the Moslem himself once recognized the vicarious character of this sacrifice and its deeper significance of atonement is perfectly evident from the prayer used on this occasion. In one of the books of devotion published in Hindustani and printed at Calcutta, this prayer reads as follows: “O God, this is the 'Aqiqa sacrifice of my son so-and-so; its blood for his blood, its flesh for his flesh, its bone for his bone, its skin for his skin, its hair for his hair. O God! make it a redemption for my son from the Fire, for truly I have turned my face to Him who created the heavens and the earth, a true believer. And I am not of those who associate partners with God. Truly my prayer and my offering my life and my death is to God, the Lord of the worlds, who has no partner, and thus I am commanded, and I belong to the Moslems.” After using this prayer the manual of devotion states that the sacrifice shall be slain by the father of the child while he crys “ Allahu akbar.” We may well imagine that under the Old Testament law a similar intercessory prayer was offered by the pious Israelite when presenting his sacrifice on behalf of the firstborn. According to Jewish Talmudic law, every Israelite was obliged to redeem his first-born son thirty days after the latter's birth. At the redemption the father of the child pronounces these words, “Blessed art thou in the name of Him who commandeth us concerning the redemption of the son.” In the case of the first-born they also observe the custom of Ahlakah, that is cutting the boy’s hair for the first time. This took place after his fourth birthday. According to the Jewish Encyclopædia, it was also customary in Talmudic times to weigh the child (sic) * and to present the weight in coin to the poor. According to Rabbi Joseph Jacobs among the Beni Israel there is a custom that if a child is born as the result of a vow its hair is not cut until the sixth or seventh year. It is usual in all these cases to weigh the hair cut off and give its weight in coin to charitable purposes. Who can fail to see that the Moslem custom is borrowed from Judaism, however much there may be mingled in the latter of early Semitic practice, the origin of which is obscure? Is there perhaps some connection also with the 'Akedah. ” prayer and ceremony observed among the Jews? The term refers to the binding of Isaac as a sacrifice, and this Biblical incident plays an important part in the Jewish liturgy. The earliest allusion occurs in the Mishnah, and the following prayer is found in the New Year's Day ritual: “Remember in our favor, O Lord our God, the oath which Thou hast sworn to our father Abraham on Mount Moriah; consider the binding of his son Isaac upon the altar when he suppressed his love in order to do Thy will with a whole heart! Thus may Thy love suppress Thy wrath against us, and through Thy great goodness may the heat of Thine anger be turned away from Thy people, Thy city and Thy heritage. . . . Remember to-day in mercy in favor of his seed the binding of Isaac.” (Jewish Encyclopædia.) Dr. Max Landsberg says: “In the course of time ever greater importance was attributed to the ’Akedah. The haggadistic literature is full of allusions to it; the claim to forgiveness on its account was inserted in the daily morning prayer; and a piece called 'Akedah was added to the liturgy of each of the penitential days among the German Jews.” In any case we notice that among the Jews as among Moslems attempts are made to explain away the significance of this prayer and sacrifice as relating to the idea of the atonement. Accordingly, many American reform rituals have abolished the ’Akedah prayers.
* Orotal = Allah Ta'ala, God Supreme, Z.
8 This must be a misprint, even in so careful and accurate a work, for “ hair of the child.” • 'Akedah — the binding or knotting of a rope.
It is the fashion of the day in liberal Theology, Moslem and Jewish as well as Christian, to explain away the idea of expiation and atonement in the Old Testament as well as in the New. The altar with its blood sacrifice is as great a stumbling-block to such thinkers as the Cross of Christ; but the place of the altar and of the Cross are central, pivotal, and dominant in the soteriology of the Bible. We cannot escape the clear teaching of God's Word, that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin”; that “the lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world’’: that the Son of God came “to give His life a ransom for many.” The missionary, therefore, as well as the reverent student of the Old Testament, is not satisfied with any explanation of the doctrine of sacrifice which leaves out substitution and atonement. One thing seems clear from our investigation, that we have in the 'Aqiqa sacrifice as well as in the great annual feast of Islam with its day of sacrifice at Mecca, a clear