Selling the skin of the sacrificed animal (udhiya)
Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
I have seen many times that when Qurbani is done and the animal is slaughtered at the slaughterhouse, the skin of the lamb or sheep is kept by the slaughterhouse owners who sell it on. The money is kept by them. Is this practice okay and if not, would any form of charity become necessary?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whosoever sells the skin of his ritually slaughtered animal (udhiya or qurbani), he has no (reward for his) sacrifice.” (Mustadrak of al-Hakim, p: 685 & Sunan al-Bayhaqi)
Sayyiduna Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) ordered me to supervise the (slaughtering) of his camels (badana) and to distribute its meats, skins and covering sheets in charity and not to give anything to the butcher as wages for slaughtering.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no: 1630)
Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) narrates: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) offered one hundred camels (badana) and ordered me to distribute their meat (in charity) and I did so. Then he ordered me to distribute their covering sheets in charity and I did so. Then he ordered me to distribute their skins in charity and I did so.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no: 1631)
Based on these narrations, the jurists of the Hanafi School have laid down a principle with regards to the annual ritual slaughter (udhiya), that no part of the sacrificed animal can be sold or given to the butcher as part of his wages.
It is stated in al-Hidaya:
“One must give the skin of the sacrificed animal away in charity because the skin is part of the animal, or one may make out of it an item that is for personal use in the house such as a prayer-mat, water bag, etc, as keeping the skin for personal use is not unlawful.” (Hidaya, 4/450)
The summary of what the Fuqaha state is that the meat, skin and all other parts of the slaughtered animal may be kept for personal use or given away to others as a gift or charity. However, it would not be permitted to sell any part of the animal or use it to pay an employee for his labour. The only dispensation is to exchange the skin of the animal in return for an item that is lasting and not consumable. It will not be permitted to exchange the skin in return for foodstuff, money and the like.
Thus, as long as one avoids selling the skin, meat or any other part of the animal, there is nothing wrong. One must also avoid giving any part of the animal to the butcher or the slaughterhouse as compensation, for that in essence is also selling. Other than that, one may keep the skin for personal use, give it as a gift to a friend or give it in charity. Just like the meat of the animal, the skin can be given to a poor individual or even a rich person. The person to whom the skin is gifted will be allowed to sell it and use the money for his personal benefit. (Culled from: Radd al-Muhtar, 6/328, al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 5/302, Hidaya, 4/450 & Imdad al-Fatawa, 3/533)
Despite this, if one was to sell the meat of the slaughtered animal or its skin, then the transaction would be complete and one would be obliged to give the accrued price in charity.
Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:
“If the meat or skin of the animal was sold in return for consumables or money, the accrued price must be given in charity. This indicates that the transaction is considered valid but with detestability (karaha). (See: Radd al-Muhtar, 6/328)
One should always keep in mind that the meat and skin of the animal can be given to any individual, whether poor, rich, a relative, friend, Muslim or non-Muslim. One may also keep the skin for personal use and eat of the slaughtered meat. However, once the skin or meat is sold, it becomes necessary to give the accrued price in charity. This giving in charity will be different to the giving of the actual meat and skin, in that it will no longer remain an optional charity. As such, like Zakat and other obligatory charities, it will only be permitted to give this money to poor Muslim individuals who are eligible to receive Zakat.
Hence, this money cannot be given to a Mosque, Madrasa, Islamic institutions or any other organization where the money fails to come into the ownership of a poor individual. One must make a poor individual owner of this money (tamlik), similar to the ruling of Zakat. The actual meat or skin of the animal, however, may be given to a Mosque, Madrasa or anyone else.
If the skin or meat is given as a gift to an individual and then he/she sells it off and gives the money away to a Mosque or Madrasa, then that would be technically allowed, but one should be careful of not using this as a way out. One should not expect the individual to whom the skin or meat is given to sell it and give the accrued price to a Mosque or Madrasa. Some people sell the skin and send the accrued money to a Mosque or Madrasa. This should be avoided, as selling the skin is Makruh. Thereafter, the money cannot be given as donation to a Mosque, although it may be given to poor students of Islamic knowledge studying at the religious institution who are eligible for Zakat. (See: Imdad al-Fatawa, 3/533-534)
In light of the above explanation, the answer to your specific question is as follows:
It is permitted to leave the skin of the sacrificed animal of Udhiya (qurbani) with the slaughterhouse owner or the butcher, provided it is not considered to be part of the payment. It must be purely a voluntary and charitable gift and must not affect the price of the animal in any way. If that is the case, then there is nothing wrong in the slaughterhouse owner or the butcher selling the skin and benefiting from its price. However, if the skin of the animal is left at the slaughterhouse with the intention of compensating them, then that would not be allowed, hence one will need to pay the price of the skin in charity.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK