Shaykh Sulayman Al-Ruhayli حفظه الله said:
Whoever wishes to buy a sacrificial animal, O servants of Allah, then let him do his best to choose one that is fat and has more meat and one that is considered complete by the people. So let him do his utmost to choose sacrificial animal which has attributes that the people believe make it one that is complete and perfect. For indeed when the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم wanted to offer a sacrifice, he would buy two horned, white mixed with some blackness, large, fat, castrated rams. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم wanted to offer a sacrifice, so he ordered for a ram with black on its legs, black on its underside and black around its eyes. And the first to embrace Islam for the first generation of the Muslims used to fatten the sacrificial animals, O servants of Allah. Sacrificing animal that is complete and perfect is not a condition for its acceptance but it is to attain an increase in goodness, blessings and reward. So, if a person cannot afford to buy a sacrificial animal that is complete and perfect, he should not leave the sacrifice rather he should offer in sacrifice that which he is able to as long as it’s an animal that is accepted for Udhiyah.
A person who wishes to offer a sacrifice must make sure that the animal has reached the correct age as has been stipulated by the Legislation. So, if he wishes to sacrifice a sheep, he must make sure that it has completed six months and has entered the seventh. If he wishes to sacrifice a goat, he must make sure that it has completed a whole year and has entered the second. If he wishes to sacrifice a cow, he must make sure that it has completed two years and has entered the third. And if he wishes to sacrifice a camel, he must make sure that it has completed five years and has entered the sixth.
[In regards to Age], one does not need to know the age of the animal with certainty, rather, if he believes that most probably the animal has reached the required age, then that will suffice, O servants of Allah. However, its not permissible to become complacent with regards to the age of the animal because if the animal has not reached the age stipulated by the Legislation, then it will not be accepted as Udhiyah, instead it will be just be a regular sheep for meat.
Likewise, a person must make sure that the animal is free of any defects that prevent it from being accepted as Udhiyah. For indeed the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said:
“Four kinds of animals are not allowed for sacrifice” and in another narration, “Four will not suffice us for Udhiyah: a sick animal whose sickness is obvious, a one-eyed animal that is obviously blind in one eye, a lame animal whose limp is obvious, and an emaciated animal which has no marrow in its bones”.
So a sick animal whose sickness is obvious and whose sickness spoils its meat or affects its meat, then it is not permissible for a Muslim to offer such an animal as sacrifice.
Also one-eyed animal which cannot see through one of its eyes (i.e. blind in one eye) or has completely lost one of its eyes, is not accepted for Udhiyah, and more so an animal which is completely blind, O servants of Allah.
Likewise, a lame animal with an obvious limp and as such it cannot keep up with the other animals when walking, is not accepted for Udhiyah.
Also a very old animal that has no marrow in its bones is not accepted for Udhiyah, O servants of Allah.
As for any other defect, then – as has preceded – it is better to avoid it and its absence is considered to be completeness and perfection of the sacrificial animal.
Al-Bara bin Azib (Allah be pleased with him) said:
“O Messenger of Allah, I dislike an animal which has a defective horn or a defective ear”. So the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Leave that which you detest, but don’t make it unlawful for others”.
Translator: Yasar A. Rahman