THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM
THE AQIQA SACRIFICE
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 newborn 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 self excuse: they used to do thus in the Time of Ignorance (on the occasion of a demand for blood-revenge); and if the arrow
1 Lane s "Arabic-English Lexicon," Vol. V.
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 catted 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-NiJcah.
In books of FikJi, 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 Filch, by Ibn Rushd el Kartabi. He treats this subject under six heads: (1) On whom it is incumbent; (2) Where; (3) For 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 (sunna), 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 praise
worthy or allowable, and those who understand from it that it is praiseworthy say that the Aqiqa is sunna, 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 Filch 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. An
other 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 case of the boy or the girl. The other tradition, however, that Mohammed himself performed the ceremony for Hassan and Hussain with one ram each, compels a different interpretation.
"As regards the time of this ceremony, the majority are agreed that it shall be on the seventh day after birth. Malik
does not count in this number the day on which the child is born, if he is born in the daytime. Abd ul Malik, however,
counts it in. Ibn al Kasim says if the Aqiqa is performed at night-time the hair of the sacrifice shall not be cut off.
The companions of Malik disagree regarding the time of the cutting of the hair. It is said to be the usual time of the
sacrifice, namely forenoon. Others say immediately after dawn, basing their statement upon what is related by Malik
in his Hadaya. And there is no doubt that those who permit the annual sacrifice at night permit this sacrifice also. It is also stated that the Aqiqa is permitted on the 14th day or the 21st.
"As regards the sunna of this ceremony and its character, it is like the sunna of the annual sacrifice, namely, that the
victim must be free from blemishes as in that case, and I know no disagreement among the four schools in this respect
"As regards the flesh of the victim and its skin and the other parts, the law is the same as in regard to the flesh of the annual sacrifice, both as regards eating, alms to the poor, and prohibition of sale. All authorities are agreed that generally the head of the infant was smeared with blood in pre-Islamic times, and that this custom was abrogated in
Islam, basing it upon a tradition of Baridah, viz., In the Days of Ignorance when a child was born to any one of us, we sacrificed a sheep for him and smeared his head with its blood. When Islam came, we were accustomed at the time of the sacrifice to shave the infant s head and to smear it with saffron. Hassan and Katadah, however, make exception to this statement, and they say that the head of the young child shall be wiped with a piece of cotton which has been dipped in the blood, and in the Days of Ignorance it was thought commendable to break the bones of the sacrifice and to cut them from the joints. And they disagree regarding the shaving of the head of the new-born child on the seventh and the alms equal in weight to the hair in silver.
Some say that it is commendable, others say it is optional.
Both of these opinions are based upon Malik, and I find the custom that it is commendable better. For it is based upon
a saying of Ibn Habib, according to what is contained in Al Muwatta, viz. : That Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet of God, shaved the hair of Hassan and Hussain and Zainab and Um Kuthum, and then she gave in alms the value of the
weight in silver. So far the summary of the ceremony according to orthodox Tradition.
We turn from this account of the ceremony as given in Moslem books of jurisprudence to the present practice in
Moslem lands. Herklots tells us that in India " the Aqiqa sacrifice takes place on the seventh day, called Ch'huttee, or on the fortieth day, called Chilla, in some cases on any other day that is convenient. It consists in a sacrifice to God, in the name of the child, of two he-goats, if the new-born be a boy; and of one, if a girl. The he-goat requires to be above a year old, and suheeh-col-zaz (or perfect and without a blemish) ; he must not be blind in one or both eyes, or lame, and is to be skinned so nicely that no flesh adhere to his skin, and his flesh so cut up that not a bone be broken. It being difficult to separate the flesh from the smaller bones, they are boiled and dressed with the flesh remaining; while in eating, the people are enjoined to masticate and swallow the softer bones, and the meat is carefully taken off the larger ones without injuring the bone. The meat is well boiled, in order that it may be more easily separated from the bones.
This is served up with manda, chupatee, or rotee. While they are offering it, an Arabic sentence is repeated; the signification of which runs thus: O Almighty God. I offer in the stead of my own offspring, life for life, blood for blood, head for head, bone for bone, hair for hair, and skin for skin. In the name of God do I sacrifice this he-goat.
It is meritorious to distribute the food to all classes of people, save to the seven following individuals, viz.: the person on whose account the offering is made, his parents, and his paternal and maternal grandfathers and grandmothers; to
whom it is unlawful to partake of it. The bones, boiled or unboiled, skin, feet and head, are buried in the earth, and
no one is allowed to eat them."
The custom he describes in such detail was taken by him verbatim from the lips of Jaffur Shurruf, a native of the
Deccan, who belonged to the Sunni or orthodox sect. He goes on to tell us that the shaving of the head, which is called
Moondun, takes place on the same day, or, in the case of the rich, the ceremony is performed some days later. Those who can afford it have the child s head shaved with a silver mounted razor and use a silver cup to contain the water, both of which after the operation are given as a present to the barber. The hair is weighed, and its weight in silver is distributed among the religious mendicants. The hair itself is tied up in a piece of cloth and either buried in the earth or
thrown in the water.
Another curious custom is thus described: "Those who can afford it have the hair taken to the water-side, and there,
after they have assembled, musicians and the women, and offered fateeha in the name of Khoaja Khizur over the hair,
on which they put flour, sugar, ghee, and milk, the whole is placed on a raft or juhaz (a ship), illuminated by lamps, the
musicians singing and playing the whole time, they launch it on the water. Some people at the time of moondun, leave
choontees (or tufts of hair unshaved) in the riame of particular saints, and take great care that nothing unclean contaminates them. A few, vowing in the name of any saint, do not perform moondun at all, but allow the hair to grow
for one or even four or five years; and either at the expiration of the appointed season, or a little before or after, proceed to the durgah (or shrine) of that saint, and there have the hair shaved. Should it happen that they are in a distant country at that time and have not the means of repairing to his shrine, they perform fateeha in his name, and have the hair shaved at the place where they may happen to be. Such hair is termed jumal chontee, or jumal bal. This ceremony is, by some men and women, performed with great faith in its efficacy."
According to Lane, the ceremony of Aqiqa was not universal in Egypt in his day. It has become less common since.
Where it is observed, a goat is sacrificed at the tomb of some saint in or near their village. The victim is called Aqiqa,,
and is offered as a ransom for the child from hell. The gift to the poor and the shaving of the head in all its detail as in
Indian practice, however, still prevails among the villagers.
The shaving of the head has been taken over by the Copts, and is practiced by them as well as by the Moslems. In the case of wealthy Copts a sum of money, equal in value to the weight of the hair of the infant in gold, is given to the poor. In Arabia the custom is common everywhere.
According to Doughty, there is no question in the minds of the Arabs to-day as to the significance of the rite of sacrifice:
"When a man child is born, the father will slay an ewe, but the female birth is welcomed in by no sacrifice. Something
has been already said of their blood-sprinkling upon breakland, and upon the foundation of new buildings; this they
use also at the opening or enlarging of new wells and waters.
Again, when their ghrazzu riders return with a booty (feyd or chessab), the women dance out with singing to meet them; and the (live) chessab, 2 which they say 'is sweet,' is the same evening smeared with the blood of a victim. Metaad, a neighbor of mine, sent me a present of the meat of a fat goat, which he had sacrificed for the health of a sick camel;
and now, said the Arab, it would certainly begin to amend.
Rubba, the poor herdsman, made a supper to his friends, dividing to them the flesh of a she-goat, the thank-offering
which he had vowed in his pain and sickness. Swoysh, sacrificing the year s mind, [sic] for his grandsire, distributed
the portions at his tent, but we sat not down to a dish. They are persuaded that backwardness to sacrifice should be to
their hurt. All religious sacrifices they call kurban. I have seen townsmen of Medina burn a little bakliur, before the
sacrifice, for a pompous odor, acceptable to God, and disposing our minds to religion Where all men are their own butchers, perhaps they are (as the Arabs) more rash-handed to shed human blood. When they sacrifice to the jan they
sacrifice to demons. If one sacrifice for health, the death of the ewe or the goat they think to be accepted for his camel's or for his own life, life for life."
In Morocco the ceremony is also well-known. "On the morning of the name-day," says Budgett Meakin, "the father or nearest male relative slaughters the sheep, exclaiming as he cuts the throat, In the Name of the Mighty God: for the naming of so-and-so, son (or daughter) of so-and-so.
Referring to the mother, who is asked to give the child a name. In the evening a feast is made of the sheep, the nurse receiving as her perquisite the fleece and a fore-leg, with perhaps a present of cash besides, in return for her presence for seven days. The mother sits in state on a special chair brought by the nurse."
2 Doughty refers to animals such as sheep or horses taken as booty.
In Sumatra, we are told " The Mohammedan law recommends an offering of two sheep or goats for a male, and one for a female child, by preference on the seventh day after birth, but if this be impossible then at some later date, even when the child is quite grown up." This sacrifice is called aqiqa and is not only known but is actually practiced in Acheh under the name of hakikah. In Acheh, no less than in other parts of the E. Indian archipelago, the people of
Mekka have done their best to foster the doctrine that it is an extremely meritorious act to offer this sacrifice for the child in the holy city. The Mekka folk thus of course reap the profits on the sale of the goats and at the same time enjoy their share of the meat. Many Achenese are, however, aware that the hakikah is more properly offered at home. The choice of some later occasion for this sacrifice, and not the seventh day after birth is also common in Acheh.
The ceremony is performed among the Malays as follows: "A few days later the child s head is shaved, and his nails
cut for the first time. For the former process a red lather is manufactured from fine rice-flour mixed with gambier, lime, and betel-leaf. Some people have the child s head shaved clean, others leave the central lock (jambul). In either case the remains of the red lather, together with the clippings of hair (and nails?) are received in a rolled-up yam-leaf (daun k' ladi diponjut) or cocoa-nut (?) and carried away and deposited at the foot of a shady tree, such as a banana (or a pomegranate?).
"Some times (as had been done in the case of a Malay bride at whose tonsure I assisted), the parents make a vow at a child s birth that they will give a feast at the tonsure of its hair, just before its marriage, provided the child grows up in safety."
Occasionally the ceremony of shaving the child s head takes place on the 44th day after birth, the ceremony being called balik juru. A small sum, such as $2.00 or $3.00, is also sometimes presented to a pilgrim to carry clippings of
the child's locks to Mecca and cast them into the well Zemzem, such payment being called kekah ( aqiqa) in the case of a boy and kurban in the case of a girl." 8
The custom prevails also in China, although so much else of the Moslem ritual has there been modified or suppressed.
A Koranic name, called King-ming, is given to the child within seven days of its birth, and a feast is celebrated.
"The rich are expected to kill a sheep, two if the child is a male, and the poor are to be fed with the meat. In selecting the name the father has to hold the child with its face turned towards Mecca and repeat a prayer in each ear of the child.
Then taking the Koran he turns over any seven pages, and from the seventh word of the seventh line of the seventh page gives the name." (Marshall Broomhall, "Islam in China.")
Here as elsewhere the naming of the child and the Aqiqa are closely related.
In Mecca, on the seventh day after the birth of a child, a wether is usually killed. According to Snouck Hurgronje, the people there do not connect this with the Aqiqa ceremony which may take place later. For the rest the ceremonies are observed by the calling of God s name in the right ear of the infant and giving the call to prayer in its left ear.
A short Kliuibdh is given at the naming of the child and a present of silver given to the poor. On the fortieth day the
infant is dressed in beautiful clothes, generally of silk, and handed at sunset by the mother to one of the eunuch guardians of the Kadba who lays it down near the door of the Kaaba.
For ten minutes the child remains under the protection of the shadow of the Kaaba. Then the mother performs the
evening prayer and carries the infant home.
In the Punjab, according to Major W. Fitz G. Bourne, the
3 Skeat's "Malay Magic," pp. 341-342.
ceremony is universal. He writes: "On the sixth day after birth, the mother is bathed, all the women of the family
assemble, and a feast takes place, called Chliati. On the seventh day both male and female relations are invited, and a
great feast takes place. The child s head is shaved, and the hair weighed against silver, which is given to the poor. The
barber places a small brass cup before the assembly, into which all present put silver. 4 A sacrifice of one or two he goats in the case of a male child, and of a she-goat in the case of a female child, is made. This ceremony is called Aqiqa and is solemnized by repeating a given prayer in Arabic."
In regard to Malaysia and especially Celebes, we have interesting information about the practice prevalent among
Bare e-speaking Toradja's, by Dr. N. Adriani and the Rev. A. D. Kruijt. They say, "The Mohammedans on the south
coast believe that when a child dies before its third year it has no sins, and therefore, its soul is taken directly to Allah.
After the third year, however, a sacrifice is required, for a boy two goats, for a girl one. This sacrifice is called the
Mosambale, or Aqiqa. The time differs, and is chiefly dependent on the prosperity of the family. If there is, however, a death in the family or the child is ill, no effort is spared to secure the necessary sacrifice. The father himself must slay the goat. If the father has died before the Aqiqa ceremony, then a portion of the father s personal possessions must be used to purchase the Aqiqa sacrifice; for example, a piece of his clothing or outfit. When the sacrifice takes place the father says 'bis millah,' etc. (I sacrifice the Aqiqa of so-and-so, who is the child of so-and-so. . . .) The popular opinion is that when the child dies afterwards it rides the goat which has been sacrified for it in order to welcome its father in the other world. On the presentation of
4 This is also the custom in Egypt.
this sacrifice, they assert, that the future character of the child is dependent for good or for ill. The child whose morals are corrupt is described as one for whom no proper aqiqa offering has been made. Possibly this representation rests on a curious misunderstanding of the Arabic word aqiqa and the other Arabic word haqiqa, which means reality, so that the people imagine that the two words are closely related."
In Afghanistan the practice is well-known; and in addition to that of the Aqiqa we learn of other vicarious sacrifices
that are prevalent. Dr. Pennell says, "All Muhammadan nations must, from the origin of their religion, have many
customs and observances which appear Jewish, because they were adopted by Muhammed himself from the Jews around him; but there are two, at least, met with among Afghans which are not found among neighboring Muhammadan
peoples, and which strongly suggest a Jewish origin. The first, which is very common, is that of sacrificing an animal,
usually a sheep or a goat, in case of illness, after which the blood of the animal is sprinkled over the doorposts of the
house of the sick person, by means of which the angel of death is warded off. The other, which is much less common, and appears to be dying out, is that of taking a heifer and placing upon it the sins of the people, whereby it becomes qurban, or sacrifice, and then it is driven out into the wilderness."
All this testimony from many Moslem lands concerning the prevalence of a practice which is based upon the highest
authority, namely, Sunna, is of course deeply interesting to the student of comparative religion; and for the theories on
the subject, some of which are fanciful in the extreme, the reader is referred to such authorities as Frazer in his "Golden Bough" or the special treatise of Prof. G. A. Wilkens, " Ueber das Haaropfer." Perhaps the best explanation of the origin of this sacrifice from the standpoint of comparative religion is that given by W. Robertson Smith in his book, "Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia." He says, "Shaving or polling the hair was an act of worship commonly
performed when a man visited a holy place or on discharging a vow (as in the ritual of the Hebrew Nazarites). At Taif,
when a man returned from a journey, his first duty was to visit the Rabba and poll his hair. The hair in these cases was an offering to the deity, and as such was sometimes mingled with a meal offering. So it must have been also with the hair of the babe, for Mohammed s daughter Fatima gave the example of bestowing in alms the weight of the hair in silver. The alms must in older times have been a payment to the sanctuary, as in the similar ceremony observed in
Egypt on behalf of children recovered from sickness; and the sacrifice is meant, as the Prophet himself says, to avert evil from the child by shedding blood on his behalf. This is more exactly brought out in the old usage discontinued in
Moslem times of daubing the child s head with blood, which is the same thing with the sprinkling of the living blood of a victim on the tents of an army going out to battle, or the sprinkling of the blood on the doorposts at the Hebrew passover.
The blood which ensures protection by the god is, as in ritual of blood-brotherhood, blood that unites protector and
protected, and in this, as in all other ancient Arabian sacrifices, was doubtless applied also to the sacred stone that represented the deity. The prophet offered a sheep indifferently for the birth of a boy or a girl, but in earlier times the
sacrifice seems to have been only for boys. 5
Some authorities say that the ceremony fell on the seventh day after birth, but this is hardly correct; for when there was no aqiqa offered the child was named and its gums rubbed with masticated dates on the morning after birth. The Arabs were accustomed to hide a new-born child under a cauldron till the morning
5 Compare the Tradition already cited.
light; apparently it was not thought safe till it had been put under the protection of the deity. I presume that in general
the sacrifice, the naming, and the symbolical application of the most important article of food to the child s mouth, all
fell together and marked his reception into partnership in the sacra and means-of-life of his father s group. At Medina
Mohammed was often called in to give the name and rub the child s gums probably because in heathenism this was done by the priest. Such a ceremony as this would greatly facilitate the change of the child s kin; it was only necessary to dedicate it to the father s instead of the mother's god. But indeed the name aqiqa, which is applied both to the hair cut off and to the victim, seems to imply a renunciation of the original mother-kinship; for the verb aqqa, "to sever," is not the one that would naturally be used either of shaving hair or cutting the throat of a victim, while it is the verb that is
used of dissolving the bond of kindred, either with or without the addition of al-rahim. If this is the meaning of the ceremony, it is noteworthy that it was not performed on girls, and of this the words of the traditions hardly admit a doubt. 6
The exclusion of women from inheritance would be easily understood if we could think that at one times daughters were
not made of their father s kin. That certainly has been the case in some parts of the world." In his later work, "The Religion of the Semites," however, Professor Smith says that a fuller consideration of the whole subject of the hair offering convinces him that the name aqiqa is not connected with the idea of change of kin, but is derived from the cutting away of the first hair. "I apprehend that among the Arabs . . . the aqiqa was originally a ceremony of initiation into manhood, and that the transference of the ceremony to infancy was a later innovation,
6 On the contrary, the Traditions leave the matter uncertain except
as regards the practice of the Jews.
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, 7 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
7 Orotal = Allah Ta ala, God Supreme, Z.
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 Tinnidhi 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 ee 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 first born. 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 Encyclopaedia, it was also customary in Talmudic times to weigh the child (sic) 8 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 9
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;
8 This must be a misprint, even in so careful and accurate a work, for "hair of the child."
9 Akedah the binding or knotting of a rope.
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 Encyclopaedia.) 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.
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 testimony to the doctrine of a vicarious atonement and the remission of sin through the shedding of blood. Were St.
Paul present at an Aqiqa ceremony or at Arafah on the great day of the feast, would he not preach to the assembled
multitudes on the " remission of sins through His blood"?
(Eph. 1:7 Col. 1:14 Rom. V:11 Rom. Ill:25.)
Surely there is pathos as well as interest in the fact that the great Moslem world of childhood from its infancy has
been consecrated to the religion of Islam by the Aqiqa sacrifice.
BOOKS REFERRED TO IN THIS CHAPTER
"Al Bukhari" (Bulak, 1314). Vol. VII, p. 83.
"Commentary on al Bukhari," Fath-ul-Bari, by El Ainy. Vol. IX, p. 710.
"Commentary on al Bukhari," by al Askalany. Vol. IX, p. 464.
"Commentary on al Muwatta," by al Zarkani. Vol. Ill, p. 23.
"Badayat ul Majtahid," by El Kurtubi bin Rushd el Hafidh. Vol. I, p. 375.
"Minhaj ut Talibin," by al Nawawi, p. 127.
"Mishkat ul Masabih (Delhi). P. 363.
"Ihya ulum id Din," by al Ghazali. Vol. II, p. 35.
Commentary on the same, by al Murtadhi. Vol. V, p. 390.
"The Encyclopaedia of Islam" (Leyden).
"The Jewish Encyclopaedia" (Arts. Hair; First-born; Child; Sacrifice).
W. Robertson Smith, "Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia"
(Cambridge, 1885). "The Religion of the Semites" (New York, 1889).
C. Snouck Hurgronje, "Mekka" (The Hague, 1888).
C. M. Doughty, "Arabia Deserta" (Cambridge, 1888).
G. A. Herklots, "Customs of the Moosulmans of India" (London, 1832).
Major W. Fitz G. Bourne, "Hindustani Mussulmans and Mussulmans of the Eastern Punjab" (Calcutta, 1914).
N. Adrian! and Alb. C. Kruijt,
"De Barre s-sprekende Toradja a" (Batavia, 1912).
Budgett Meakin, "The Moors" (London, 1902).
Dr. Pennell, "Among the Wild Tribes of the Afghan Frontier" (London, 1909).
Marshall Broomhall, "Islam in China" (London, 1910).