How to Attend an Indonesian Aqiqah (Baby Shower)

The title might be not fully right in terms of meaning, it’s just to simplify so reader who are not familiar with this concept can relate more. Since we are going to have a baby and planning on inviting people over, this might be something good to read.

First, definition and history time.

Aqiqah, in Islamic terminology, is defined as sacrifice of an animal on the occasion of a child’s birth.
The performance of Aqiqah is highly encouraged. It is to be performed by the parents or the guardians of the child. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions used to perform Aqiqah when they were bestowed with a newborn.

When Should Aqiqah be Performed?
The best time to perform Aqiqah is on the seventh day after the birth of the baby.

What is the Purpose of Aqiqah?
There are many benefits in the performance of Aqiqah. One is the announcing the birth of the baby.  Being bestowed a child is a great blessing from the Creator. Another purpose is inviting family members, neighbors, and friends to celebrate the blessed occasion. The poor should be included in the celebration by offering them food and meat served on this occasion.

Types of animals to be sacrificed
The following is a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) where he advised Aqiqah of a goat/sheep.
Narrated Umm Kurz: The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Two sheep which resemble each other are to be sacrificed for a boy and one for a girl. (Sunan Abu Dawood Book 15, No.  2830)

The condition of the animal for aqiqah

The condition of the animals in Aqiqah is the same as the conditions for the animals in Qurbani. The animals to be slaughtered must be a goats, cows or camels. For camels, it must be older than 6 years, for cows the age must be older than 3 years and for goats, it must be older than 2 years. They must be free from any form of handicap such as being blind, sick, limp or undernourished. The animals must be slaughtered in the appropriate humane ways.

(source: http://www.hidaya.org/social-welfare/aqiqah/what-is-aqiqah)

Why the word “Indonesian”?

The majority of Indonesians are muslim (85%), so it is a safer bet to assume that if you are attending an invitation regarding a newborn baby that it is an aqiqah, except if it says otherwise. In Indonesia, the word aqiqah shifts to the meaning of an event (baby shower) rather than the fulfilling of religion’s obligation only. Saying “Let’s go to his/ her aqiqah” is a widely acceptable phrase. It means that there is a hosted event somewhere.

What to expect?

Food. Lamb. Sate. Gulai. The agenda is mostly eat. You can’t go home if you haven’t eaten anything, unless you are allergic to spicy food and other reasons. Since there will be many people around, it won’t be a fancy candle light dinner on the table. You come, grab yourself a plate, put on the meat, eat. Bear in mind, there won’t be any alcohol. There never was.

Time?

Mostly it is a daylong event especially when it is on weekends or holidays, or until the food is all gone. However, it depends on the situation and condition of the host. Indonesian people are (sadly) famous of their tardiness. We have even a saying for it, “jam karet”, literally means rubber clock, flexible hours. Unless you are a special guest and are invited on an exact time, you just show up anytime after dhuhur time (around 14.00 in summer).

Is it mandatory to bring gifts?

It is encouraged but not mandatory. Indonesian people are easily made happy. Your attendance and blessing to the newborn are the gifts themselves. 🙂

On the scale of 1-10, bringing a gift is at 7 and higher. 1 is being single, unemployed, and from out of town. 10 is married, having a stable job, neighbors.

 

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