I was sitting there with my folks the other day – actually the day before Dhu’l-Hijjah started – and a conversation ensued on the matter of offering our uḍḥiyah i.e. the sacrificial animal which is offered on the day of ‘Eed’l-Aḍḥā.
My mother then said to me, “I was watching TV yesterday. What’s this about a hadith which says you can’t cut your nails or hair during Dhu’l-Hijjah if you are offering a qurbani, until it has been sacrificed?”
So I said, “Yeah that’s right Mum. It’s actually in Sahih Muslim. Umm Salamah (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhā) narrated that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,
“When the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah appears and one of you wants to do the sacrifice, let him not take anything from his hair and nails.”
My father who was on his iPad suddenly looks up and says, “Eh? What’s that? Never heard of that hadith in my life! We always cut our hair and nails!”
“Yep, me neither! That’s why I asked. We’ve never followed this way before!” pipes up my mother God bless her.
I had a little laugh. “Wait, there’s a difference between hearing the hadith and knowing about the issue and having a different opinion on it all,” I said.
“I’m a simple man son, don’t give me all that. I don’t know about all that business, but what I do know is that in decades, we never saw our father do that or our mother do that or my grandfather do that or the elders do that. Our people don’t do this.” replied my father.
“Aha Dad, that’s because they follow the Hanafi position on this which seems to be the opposite to this hadith but don’t worry Dad, it’s all cool man. I like that position a lot personally…”
“I’m cool. But our people don’t do this,” he concluded.
And what a conclusion it was.
So I thought let me write this little episode up, because the last time I heard that statement – or I should say more accurately read that statement – was from the great Imam al-Layth b. Sa‘d (raḥimahullāh) who when he was asked his opinion about the above hadith of Umm Salamah, replied:
“The hadith has indeed been narrated, but our people are not upon this.”
See, what we had inadvertently entered upon is one of the most famous differences of opinion in fiqh: is it completely prohibited to cut any of our hair or nails if we are offering a sacrifice “back home” as non-Hujjāj?
Ok so here’s the long technical discussion, but don’t get scared off as it’s actually quite interesting. Seriously. But if you really can’t handle it then let’s meet down the bottom in about 4500 words time which is roughly 8 pages down. Laters.
So, to look initially at what would seem the obvious opinion – that it is indeed prohibited to remove any hair or nails because of the clear ḥadīth of Umm Salamah above – then this first opinion was held by some greats Imams such as Rabī‘ah, Sa‘īd b. al-Musayyib, Ibn Sīrīn, Isḥāq b. Rāhway, ‘Aṭā’ b. Abi Rabāḥ, Ibrāhīm al-Nakha‘ī, Dāwūd al-Ẓāhiri, and famously this was the position of the Ḥanbali madh-hab.
This was inferred to be the opinion of Ibn Taymiyyah but was certainly the position of his student Ibn al-Qayyim. It was also the position of ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Abbās as narrated by al-Bukhāri, and also ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Umar and Qays b. Sa‘d b. ‘Ubādah (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhum) as narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah.
From the contemporary scholars, Ibn Bāz, al-‘Uthaymīn and Muḥammad Amīn al-Shanqīti held this same opinion, as did the Muḥaddith al-Albāni.
The ḥadīth in question is namely that collected by Imām Muslim in his Ṣaḥīḥ (1997) which is narrated by Sa‘īd b. al-Musayyib who said on the authority of Umm Salamah (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhā) who said that the Messenger of Allah (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“When the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah appears and one of you wants to do the sacrifice, let him not take anything from his hair and nails.”
It has no ambiguity in its text. There are also a few narrations, notably on the authority of the Imāms of al-Tābi‘īn such as Qatādah and Sa‘īd b. al-Musayyib himself which indicate that this was the practice of many of the Ṣaḥābah too, who when they would purchase their sacrificial animals, would then refrain from taking anything from their hair and nails until the Day of al-Naḥr i.e. the 10th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah or the Day of Sacrifice itself.
They also said this ḥadīth encourages those who will be doing an uḍḥiyah to be like those at Ḥajj, that the reason we are not to cut our nails and hair etc is to almost emulate our Ḥujjāj who are in iḥrām during this time and upon whom it is prohibited to cut their nails and hair as well, and who will remain like that until they also complete their sacrifices on the 10th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah.
Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned something interesting in Tahdhīb’l-Sunnan (94/4) where he opined that there is an intrinsic connection between the “excess extra” of our bodies such as our nails and hair especially, and between a sacrificial animal, and that it was this reason why when an ‘aqīqah is offered for the new born, the head is shaved as well. Thus for the uḍḥiyah he said, it should not be surprising that we are allowed to do what the normal Muḥrim (person in Iḥrām performing Ḥajj/‘Umrah) is prohibited from such as marital relations, normal clothes and perfuming etc, but we refrain from cutting our nails and hair because this is linked to the animal when it is slaughtered as an extension of the sacrifice and “purification” process.
However, the majority of scholars did not consider it ḥarām to cut one’s hair or nails.
This second opinion is split into two groups: the first group considered it completely permissible to cut one’s hair as required, whereas the second group considered it recommended not to cut one’s hair – or to put it in other words, they considered it makrūh i.e. disliked to cut the hair and nails. Thus, if one was to refrain from doing so, they would be rewarded for their good deed.
From the scholars who considered it permissible to cut one’s hair in Dhu’l-Ḥijjah even if they intend to sacrifice an animal, include ‘Aṭā’ b. Yāsir, Abu Bakr b. ‘Abd’l-Raḥmān, Abu Bakr b. Sulaymān, Sufyān al-Thawri, al-Layth b. Sa‘d, Abu Ya‘lā and some of the earlier Ḥanbalis, Imām al-Shāfi‘ī and Imām Mālik in one narration from them both, Imām Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Shaybāni, Abu Yūsuf al-Qāḍī and most famously, Imām Abu Ḥanīfah, which then became the position of the Ḥanafi madh-hab. This was also the well-known position of ‘Ā’ishah, and also Ibn Mas‘ūd, Anas b. Mālik and Ibn Zubayr amongst others (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhum).
It is also narrated from al-Shāfi‘ī and Mālik that they considered it makrūh to cut one’s hair and nails. This became the official positions of their later madh-habs. This was also adopted by some of the later Ḥanafi scholars.
The reasoning behind this second opinion is based primarily on the ḥadīth of ‘Ā’ishah (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhā) as narrated by Imām al-Bukhāri (1613) that Zayd b. Abi Sufyān wrote to ‘Ā’ishah that ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Abbās had said,
“Whoever sends his Hadi, all that which is impermissible for the one doing Ḥajj is also impermissible for him, until the Hadi has been slaughtered.”
‘Amrah said that ‘Ā’ishah (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhā) responded:
“It’s not like what Ibn ‘Abbās has said. I personally prepared the garlands of the Hadi of the Messenger of Allah (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and then he himself garlanded them with his own two hands and then sent them with my father. And nothing was prohibited for the Messenger of Allah (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) from that what Allah had permitted for him until the Hadi had been slaughtered.”
Let me explain a little background to this very authentic ḥadīth, the principle story of which Imām al-Bukhāri has narrated a number of times in his Ṣaḥīḥ, as well as other Muḥaddithīn.
A “Hadi” is a name given to a sacrificial animal – usually a sheep, goat, cow or camel – which the one performing Ḥajj takes along with themselves and slaughters as part of the Ḥajj rites. It is essentially the same kind of animal that would be slaughtered at home if one didn’t go to Ḥajj but it would be known by its more narrated name of the “uḍḥiyah” or as we call it today a “Qurbāni”.
The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) only performed Ḥajj once, in the tenth year after the Hijrah, and when he did so, he prepared his Hadi at home in Madīnah, which included a meticulous examination for an appropriately healthy specimen, and then it was marked and indicated as a sacrificial animal (usually with a garland etc), and then it was led along the journey all the way to Mina where it was sacrificed as per the rites of Ḥajj. An important note here which will become relevant at the end when we see Imām Aḥmed’s opinion on the matter, is that these preparations and sending offs of the Hadi would of course be happening in the month of Dhu’l-Qi‘dah (one month before Dhu’l-Ḥijjah) because of the long journey time to Makkah needed in order to get there in time for the days of Ḥajj.
When someone has their animal with them along the way and then they enter the state of Iḥrām once they go past the Mīqāt station approaching Makkah, they are subject to certain prohibitions such as marital relations, perfuming, plucking or cutting hair, nails and any other skin etc. One has to observe these prohibitions until the Hadi has been sacrificed on the Day of Sacrifice which we know back home as ‘Eed’l-Aḍḥā or the 10th of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah. They can now leave the state of Iḥrām completely other than for marital relations, which are still prohibited until one has completed all the rites of Ḥajj such as the main Ṭawāf and Sa‘ī of Ḥajj.
However in the ḥadīth above narrated by al-Bukhāri, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was not going to Ḥajj. He was staying home with his family in Madīnah and celebrating ‘Eed there whilst the rest of his Companions left for Ḥajj as led by Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddīq (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu). So on this occasion as ‘Ā’ishah says, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) instead sent his sacrificial animal with Abu Bakr to go with him to Mina and to be sacrificed there, which is then not actually to be considered a sacrificial animal for the Ḥajj rites, but rather the more general sacrifice one does that we call the uḍḥiyah.
However it still has been called a “Hadi” in the ḥadīth above even though the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) didn’t go to Ḥajj and didn’t sacrifice it himself (which also incidentally shows the permissibility of having a sacrifice done for you by someone else you appoint, and not eating from the meat yourself, if there is a reason – this is something which is a need today in many afflicted places around the world). This is possibly to differentiate that animal from the other animals that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) sacrificed himself on ‘Eed day in Madīnah which would have been considered his Uḍḥiyah. We know that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would still have offered more animals for sacrifice other than the Hadi that he sent because of the narration in Aḥmad (4935) where Ibn ‘Umar (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhumā) confirmed that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stayed in Madīnah for ten years offering sacrifices every year at ‘Eed’l-Aḍḥā.
But what is more interesting about the above ḥadīth is ‘A’ishah very clearly correcting those Companions who thought that if someone didn’t go to Ḥājj but were still offering a sacrifice – whether home or away at Ḥajj – then they were prohibited all the things that the usual Muḥrim (the one in Iḥrām about to do ‘Umrah and Ḥajj) were also prohibited from.
‘A’ishah said no, not at all. Not a single thing was prohibited upon the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) even though he sent a sacrifice to Hajj, and even though we know later he did more at home.
Now, as you can imagine, this leaves us with a conundrum. We have one ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim which says that it is impermissible to cut one’s hair and nails if you are going to offer a sacrifice, and then you have another ḥadīth in Bukhāri which shows that there were no such prohibitions upon the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when he wanted to offer the exact same.
It is for this reason why the scholars differed on the matter, and it is not an easy one to resolve but it certainly is a fascinating one to try and study.
For the more advanced students of knowledge, at this juncture it should be stated that there were a number of classical ḥadīth specialists – at the head of them the Imām of the Science of Naqd and the uncovering of hidden faults in the chains and texts of ḥadīth, Imām al-Dāraqutni – who considered the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah to be problematic in not only its chain (for example over the identity of one its narrators whether it was ‘Amr b. Muslim or ‘Umar b. Muslim and so on) but also actually considered this to be a mawqūf narration i.e. not a ḥadīth or statement of the Prophet but rather a statement of Umm Salamah herself.
A reminder again: we are talking about this narration here collected in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (1977) as narrated by Sa‘īd b. al-Musayyib who said on the authority of Umm Salamah who said that the Messenger of Allah (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“When the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah appears and one of you wants to do the sacrifice, let him not take anything from his hair and nails.”
A number of early scholars backed this decision of this ḥadīth of Umm Salamah being mawqūf, which is a controversial one considering that great Imāms such as Muslim, al-Tirmidhi and al-Bayhaqi all considered the ḥadīth to be mawṣūl i.e. connected all the way back to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and therefore a bona fide authentic ḥadīth.
However it does seem that the argument that the ḥadīth is actually a statement of Umm Salamah has some merit, and Ibn Ḥajr al-‘Asqalānī himself suggested that it was because of these small doubts over the ḥadīth that Imām al-Bukhāri himself did not include this ḥadīth in his own Ṣaḥīḥ collection, which as we know, would only have complete and 100% perfect supremely authentic ḥadīth included to avoid exactly this kind of controversy as we are studying now.
It should be said that Ibn Ḥajr considered these criticisms of this ḥadīth of Umm Salamah to not be significant ones: “they are not fatal flaws” he says frankly in his al-Amālī al-Mutlaqah (p. 12).
However that did not stop later Imāms from being wary about the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah. And so armed with the ḥadīth of Bukhāri as their base position, they put forward their criticism.
The Faqīh and great Muḥaddith Imām Abu ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abd’l-Barr discusses this all in his superb work al-Tamhīd (233-238/17) where he opines the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah to be weak. In fact he even claimed that the majority of the people of knowledge considered the two main ḥadīth of those who held the first opinion of prohibition i.e. the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah and the ḥadīth of Qatādah which suggests that this was the action of the Ṣaḥābah as well, to both be weak ḥadīth! He also quoted Imām al-Layth b. Sa‘d as I did earlier when al-Layth said that yes the ḥadīth might be narrated, but the people do not act according to it (because of the ḥadīth of ‘Aishah). And most fascinatingly is the position of Imām Mālik who was a narrator of this very ḥadīth of Umm Salamah himself (!) who when asked about his opinion on the ruling therein and quoted this ḥadīth of “his”, then said, “This is not my ḥadīth.”
Ibn ‘Abd’l-Barr explains this statement further by saying that in the madh-hab of Imām Mālik, even if Mālik narrates a ḥadīth himself but he finds the scholars and people and the city of Madīnah – basically the evidences according to him – to be upon a different more stronger opinion, then he will not claim or state that ḥadīth as “his” even though he may have narrated it, be in the chain of it, and have collected it in his own Muwaṭṭa’ himself!
Thus Imām Mālik and Imām al-Shāfi‘ī considered the ḥadīth of ‘Ā’ishah to be stronger and more dominant in the matter, and either put forward that the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah was not as strong, or they simply said that the warning therein (“let him not take anything from his hair and nails.”) is not indicating prohibition but rather one of dislike, because of the presence of the ḥadīth of ‘Ā’ishah.
It should be said that both of these ḥadīth are quite strong, and to open the door to “yes, it was narrated by Muslim but it’s weak” is a big statement which only few experts will reluctantly make. That is why we see some of the great scholars of our history refraining from passing a judgement on the issue. Even Imām Aḥmed himself who ruled by the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah and thus considered it ḥarām to cut the hair and nails, was not comfortable with this difficult issue. He asked two of the greatest ever ḥadīth scholars to have lived – ‘Abd’l-Raḥman b. Mahdī and Yaḥyā b. Sa‘īd al-Qaṭṭān – about their opinion on this issue and the two “contradicting” ḥadīth. Yaḥyā said, “Both opinions are possible.” ‘Abd’l-Raḥmān b. Mahdī refused to answer.
Think about that for a second: one of the greatest ḥadīth scholars ever, chose to stay silent on the conundrum on how to combine between these two ḥadīth, or whether to declare the narration of Umm Salamah to be weak. Silence was genuinely the easier option!
Imām Abu Ḥanīfah’s opinion on the matter is that it is permissible for one to cut his hair or nails if intending to offer an uḍḥiyah. He said that the idea of prohibiting the cutting of nails and hair didn’t make sense if one was emulating the Hujjāj as they prepared their sacrificial animals. He said that if this was really the case, then it would have been more important to prohibit marital relations and perfuming etc for those people back home performing an uḍḥiyah, just like it is prohibited for those who are Muḥrims performing Ḥajj and ‘Umrah.
It is interesting to note though that the Ḥanafi school generally adopted a more cautious approach later on and decided to combine between all the evidences in a way which would not exclude anything: thus, in agreement with the Māliki and Shāfi‘ī schools, they opined that it was recommended for a person to not cut his hair or nails if they are offering a sacrifice. Thus if someone did cut them, they would not be sinful. It is useful to note here that even those scholars who held the opinion that it is prohibited to cut the hair and nails, said that if someone did cut their hair or nails then they would be deemed as sinners and as having done something ḥarām but that there would be no expiation required and that the uḍḥiyah offered would still be valid and unaffected.
The reason that this fiqhi debate is so fascinating is because of just how many disciplines and principles need to be understood to try and solve it. Many of the sciences get a showing. Well known partnerships are split up (Aḥmed and al-Shāfi‘ī); controversial areas are entered upon (the status of some ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim); we see an attempt to let Qiyās (anaology) supercede a text (a clear ḥadīth); the importance of the action of the People of Madīnah makes an appearance, something which led Mālik to go against the ḥadīth that he himself narrated; we see a fascinating reversal of methodologies almost with the “Ahl’l-Ra’ī” i.e. Imām Abu Ḥanīfah and Imām Mālik showing their willingness to combine between various ḥadīth and incidents to try and come to a middle path between all positions etc etc etc.
I wish to conclude this discussion by stating that it is the way of Ahl’l-Ḥadīth to try and combine between all evidences as best as possible without rushing to try and negate or weaken one of them especially if there is no reason to.
That is why so many scholars – the majority – decided that there is an indication of a clear prohibition in the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah, but that the prohibition (“let him not take anything”) could be reduced to a dislike (makrūh) with the presence of an evidence which indicated the opposite, a ṣārif which takes the ruling away from its original apparent understanding. And they agreed that this evidence was the ḥadīth of ‘A’ishah and thus the final ruling on the matter after combining all the evidences is that we are requested or it is mustaḥabb to avoid cutting our hair and nails, and we shouldn’t do so, but if we do, it won’t be sinful. This is the position of the majority.
However Imām Aḥmed wanted to stick to his position of prohibition and thus offered his own attempt at combining between both ḥadīth which led him to say:
“The ḥadīth of ‘Ā’ishah is about a person who stays at home and sends his Hadī and does not wish to offer any further uḍḥiyah after that Hadi which he just sent. If he then does wish afterwards (in Dhu’l-Ḥijjah) to offer an uḍḥiyah then he is not to take anything from his hair or his nails, and that is because the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah according to me applies to all those people who stay behind and offer an uḍḥiyah in their cities.”
This is an interesting statement and one that Ibn al-Qayyim alluded to as well, however it doesn’t tick every single box. It still leaves a few questions unanswered such as how can ‘Ā’ishah have said that nothing was prohibited upon the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and we know that he would later do more uḍḥiyah as per the ḥadīth of Ibn ‘Umar that Aḥmed himself narrated? The Ḥanbalis could argue that ‘Ā’ishah in her ḥadīth is not even referring to a later act of uḍḥiyah but was rather refuting a different matter i.e. the belief of Ibn ‘Abbās and Ibn ‘Umar that when the Hadi was being sent at the earlier time, one was prohibited from everything like a Muḥrim was prohibited.
Another question could be posed: why would the one staying at home but sending a Hadi to Makkah – to be sacrificed by a butcher or agent on his behalf and used during Dhu’l-Ḥijjah – be free from any restrictions as per the ḥadīth of ‘Ā’ishah, whereas someone who also stays at home and wants to offer the uḍḥiyah and could very well have that done for him in a different city and location via an agent or butcher on his behalf etc, and indeed even have it done in Makkah as well but just for charity purposes and not for any Ḥajj rites, have to be subject to restrictions similar to the Ḥajji or Muḥrim?
There isn’t any technical difference between the two actions. The Hadi being sent by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was clearly not some kind of replacement for him not going on Ḥajj, so it didn’t have a ritual aspect to it but must have been more of a charitable act for the poor and the Ḥujjāj to eat from. If that is indeed the case then there is little difference between this act and the offering of an uḍḥiyah by sending it abroad or to Makkah as well, for charity purposes.
These questions show exactly why so many contemporary scholars do not want to dismiss either of the two narrations, regardless of the classical positions of their madh-habs and instead wish to pursue a position of combining between all the evidences. This would suggest that the final ruling should be that it doesn’t matter whether one cuts their hair or nails or not, there is no issue either way.
But this was not the chosen position and that is because giving a ruling to the people is not just about fiqh and the evidences, but also to try and take into account the ethos and attempt a holistic explanation.
It actually makes sense as alluded to earlier that there is a connection between offering the sacrificial animal and the purification of our bodies, as seen in the ‘aqīqah of the newborn, or as seen in the cutting of one’s hair in Ḥajj once you have sacrificed your obligatory Hadi.
Likewise, it is almost as if the Deen is trying to involve all of us at home who missed out going to the Ḥajj to try and spiritually connect with those who are there.
What are their main rites?
Well, the early days of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah are days full of good deeds for the Ḥujjāj as they perform copious Ṭawāf and acts of ‘ibādah in the holiest of holy places. But we were also given a taste of that reward by being told that these first ten days of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah can work for us as well, especially if we fast therein, and recite, and give charity etc. We can actually attain some of that same good deed flavor as the Ḥujjāj!
Likewise ‘Arafah is massive for them. It is their Ḥajj, simple as that. They make it and break it on that day, but likewise so do we back home because we’ve been given a mini-version of what they have: they can get all their sins forgiven for what they get done on that day, and we at home can get two years of minor sins forgiven just for fasting it. They will make a du‘ā that will be the most emotional of their lives, and the most powerful, and the most responded to. But we also get a shot at that, and should spend our ‘Arafah day at home making du‘ā and it will also be accepted as the best du‘ā possible as stated by many of the Salaf.
And finally, the Ḥujjāj during these ten days are not spick and span and squeaky clean but instead rough and dirty and disheveled and tired. And when it comes to the sacrifice, it’s loud and raw and bloody and real. So how do we emulate that back home in some little way? Well by our loud takbīrāt throughout the ten days as was the Sunnah, and through our own appearances also being a bit rough and unkempt in as far as our nails and hair need a good trim. And then we should offer our uḍḥiyah and it is of course the instruction of Allah in the Qur’ān to do it ourselves and to eat from it, as was the Sunnah, and that will also therefore be a raw and bloody and real act. You will really feel this lost act of ‘ibādah and appreciate ‘Eed that little bit more, and then follow the Sunnah in eating from the meat and then distributing the rest of it to friends, family and the poor. It is a real shame that we now send all our uḍḥiyah abroad to needy places (when we should really be offering two of them, one for ourselves and then if necessary an extra one for the needy abroad) and likewise in Ḥajj as well where the Ḥujjāj don’t get to feel this great nusuk or rite of Ḥajj but instead simply purchase a government voucher who then do it in a slaughterhouse somewhere where we don’t see or feel the Qur’ānic flavor of this great Ḥajj rite.
In any case, it can be well argued that to maintain a state where we avoid purifying our outer through the cutting of our hair and nails and we instead focus on purifying the inner through fasting and dhikr and Qur’ān and ṣadaqah, makes a lot of sense and also fits with the evidences suggested.
And so let me welcome back anyone who couldn’t bear reading through the discussion above and just want a ruling, which is a crying shame to be honest but hey, I get it. I’m not a hater. And so:
It became the dominant position both traditionally and in our times, and it is the position that I follow and advocate, that it is recommended to avoid cutting your hair and nails in Dhu’l-Ḥijjah until you or your agent has actually slaughtered the uḍḥiyah animal. If one was to cut their hair or nails early, they would not be sinful and there is no affect on their uḍḥiyah.
And Allah jalla wa ‘alā knows best.
Let me briefly add:
- it is rigorously recommended (Sunnah mu’akkadah) for you to offer an uḍḥiyah
- if your wife cannot afford her own, then you can offer one for yourself and your whole family i.e. those who are dependent upon you. One animal will cover all of you.
- The animal should either be a sheep or goat, or seven of you should share a cow or a camel
- The rest of the family such as your wife et al, are not restricted by the ḥadīths above. So it is permissible for your wife and children to cut their hair and nails
- It is a Sunnah to do your own uḍḥiyah with your own hands. Of course there is a greater need for food and meat abroad but that should be met by you purchasing another animal and not you neglecting the rites of uḍḥiyah for you and your home that makes ‘Eed’l-Aḍḥā i.e. the Celebration of The Sacrifice, an actual “celebration of the sacrifice” of your animal and your eating from it!
- If it is difficult or illegal to offer your own uḍḥiyah then it can be done locally by a butcher. If not, then it is ok to have it all done abroad.
- If a man is performing the Ḥajj and he will be offering an uḍḥiyah for his family back home, even the scholars who considered it ḥarām to remove one’s hair as per the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah ruled that as soon as he has finished his ‘Umrah, he is still to cut his hair because that is a specific obligation and rite of ‘Umrah – and by extension the Ḥajj – itself.