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Egypt, of dipping the hand in the blood of a sacrifice and leaving its mark upon doors, foundations of buildings, animals, etc., in order to consecrate them or protect them from evil influences. In the next chapter on the 'Aqiqa sacrifice we will refer to the prevalence of blood sacrifice in early Islam, and its significance. The practice of dipping the hand in blood and putting marks on the door-post may go back to the story of Israel in Egypt, but the present use of the hand in this way is mixed with all manner of superstition. Who can unravel the threads in the tangled skein of Moslem beliefs and practices? There is much Judaism, as Rabbi Geiger has shown; more perhaps even of Christian ideas prevalent in Arabia at the time of the Prophet; but most of all Islam in its popular forms is full of animism and of practices which can only be described as pagan in origin and in tendency.
AMONG the many points of contact between Christianity and Islam (and the points of departure, from which the faithful missionary can launch out into the very heart of the Gospel message), there is one which has not received the emphasis it deserves. We refer to the 'Aqiqa ceremony, observed by every Moslem household throughout most Moslem lands after the birth of a child, and concerning which the Traditions are so full. According to Moslem religious law, the expiatory sacrifice is made on the seventh day; it is commendable on that occasion to give the child its name, shave off the hair on its head, make an offering to the poor, and kill a victim. According to some authorities, if the offering of the 'Aqiqa has been neglected on the seventh day by the parents, it can be done afterwards by the child himself when he has become of age.
The root of the word 'aqiqa is 'aqqa, he clave, split, rent. It is used especially in regard to the cutting off of an amulet when the boy becomes of age. It is also used in the expression “’Aqqa bi sahmi " (He shot the arrow towards the sky), or of the sacrifice of 'Aqiqa (He sacrificed for his new-born child). It is interesting to note that the use of this word in every connection seems to have reference to expiation or redemption. According to Lane the arrow as well as the sacrifice was called 'aqiqa: “ and it was the arrow of selfexcuse: they used to do thus in the Time of Ignorance (on the occasion of a demand for blood-revenge); and if the arrow returned smeared with blood, they were not content save with the retaliation of slaughter; but if it returned clean, they stroked their beards, and made reconciliation on the condition of the blood-wit; the stroking of the beards being a sign of reconciliation; the arrow, however, as Ibn-ul-'Arabi says, did not return otherwise than clean. The origin was this: a man of the tribe was slain, and the slayer was prosecuted for his blood; whereupon a company of the chief men collected themselves together to the heirs of the slain, and offered the bloodwit, asking forgiveness for the blood; and if the heir was a strong man, impatient of injury, he refused to take the bloodwit; but if weak, he consulted the people of his tribe, and then said to the petitioners, “We have, between us and our Creator, a sign denoting command and prohibition: we take an arrow, and set it on a bow, and shoot it towards the sky; and if it return to us smeared with blood, we are forbidden to take the blood-wit, and are not content save with the retaliation of slaughter; but if it return clean, as it went up, we are commanded to take the blood-wit’: so they made reconciliation.” The word 'aqiqa in Moslem literature, however, no longer refers to the ceremony of the arrow, which belongs to the Time of Ignorance. 'Aqiqa in Tradition signifies: either the hair of the young one recently born, “that comes forth upon his head in his mother's womb,” some say of human beings only and others of beasts likewise; or the sheep or goat that is slaughtered as a sacrifice for the recently born infant “on the occasion of the shaving of the infant’s hair on the seventh day after his birth, and of which the limbs are divided and cooked with water and salt and given as food to the poor.” Al Zamakhshari “holds it to be thus called from the same word as applied to the hair; but it is said to be so-called because it is slaughtered by cutting the windpipe and gullet and the two external jugular veins.” The 'Aqiqa sacrifice is referred to in nearly all the standard collections of Traditions, generally under Bab-al-Nikah. In books of Fikh, it is mentioned under the head of “sacrifice ’’ and “offerings.” The most detailed account of Al-'Aqiqa I have found in the celebrated book on Fikh, by Ibn Rushd el Kartabi. He treats this subject under six heads: (1) On whom it is incumbent; (2) Where; (3) Eor whom it should be offered and how many offerings should be made; (4) The time of the ceremony; (5) Its manner; (6) What is done with the flesh. “Now in regard on whom it is incumbent one of the sects, namely the literalists, say that it is necessary in every case, but most of them say it is only following the custom of the Prophet (summa), and Abu Hanifa says it is not incumbent and not sunna. But most of them are agreed that he means by this that it is optional. And the reason for their disagreement is the apparent contradiction of two traditions, namely, that a tradition of Samra concerning the Prophet reads, “Every male child shall be redeemed by his 'aqiqa, which is to be sacrificed for him on his seventh day, and so evil shall be removed from him.’ This tradition would indicate that the sacrifice was incumbent: but there is the evident meaning of another tradition which reads as follows: “When Mohammed was asked concerning Al 'Aqiqa he said, “I do not love Al Aquq (ungrateful treatment), but to whomsoever a child is born let him make the ceremony for his child.”” This tradition infers that the custom is praiseworthy or allowable, and those who understand from it that it is praiseworthy say that the 'Aqiqa is summa, and those who understand from it that it is allowed say it is neither sunna nor incumbent. But those who follow the tradition of Samra say it is incumbent. In regard to the character of the sacrifice, all the learned are agreed that everything that is permitted in this respect for the annual sacrifice is permitted in the case of the 'Aqiqa from the eight classes of animals, male and female. Malik, however, prefers the ewe as a sacrifice in his sect, and he disagrees whether the camel or the cow is sufficient. The rest of the authorities on Fikh say that the camel is better than the cow and that the goat is better than the sheep. And the reason for their disagreement is again due to the discrepancy of Tradition. For the Traditions of Ibn Abbas say that the Prophet of God performed the 'Aqiqa ceremony for Hassan and Hussain by a ram for each. Another saying of his is, ‘For a girl a ewe and for a boy two ewes, according to Abu Dawud.’ “In regard to the one for whom the ceremony is performed, the majority of them are agreed that the 'Aqiqa should be performed for the male and the female in infancy only. The exception to this is Al Hassan, who says no 'Aqiqa shall be given for the girl, and some of them allow the 'Aqiqa to be performed for adults. And the proof with the majority of the authorities that it is limited to infants is the saying of Mohammed “on his seventh day,” and the proof of those who disagree is the tradition related by Anas, that the Prophet performed the ceremony of 'Aqiqa for himself when he was called to be a prophet. ('Aqqa'an nafsihi ba'adma bu'atha b'n nabuwa.) Proof that it is allowed for girls is his saying, “for a maiden one ewe and for a boy two.' On the other hand, the proof that it should be limited to the male infants is his saying, “Every boy child is under obligation to have his 'Aqiqa. But as regards the number of victims the learned are also disagreed. Es Shafi, however, says, and with him agree Abu Thaur and Dawud and Ahmad, ‘The 'Aqiqa of the girl to be one ewe and of the boy two.’ And the cause of their disagreement is the disagreement of Tradition. For we have a tradition of Um Karz related by Abu Dawud, that the Prophet said in the 'Aqiqa the boy shall have two similar ewes and the girl one. And this undoubtedly means that there shall be a difference in the number of victims in the
1 Lane’s “Arabic-English Lexicon,” Vol. V.