“Parah Adumah”, or translated as “Red Heifer” in English from Hebrew,

“Parah Adumah”, or translated as “Red Heifer” in English from Hebrew, has been a viral topic for last few days. A lot of posts have been circulating around social media, and causing a panic amongst Muslims. Some of you had asked me regarding the topic, so following is a detailed account on the subject matter:

So what is a heifer?

A female calf that hasn’t borne any offspring.

From where does the concept of heifer originate?

From the times of Musa (A.S) (Moses).

What colour was this heifer?

It is said to have a ruddy light-brown color. The ancient Jews described this colour as Red in Hebrew, while the ancient Arabs described this colour as Yellow in Arabic.

Is the Heifer mentioned in the Quran?

Yes; infact, the longest Surah of Holy Quran, Surah Baqarah, is named after the very same Heifer (Baqarah in Arabic means The Cow or The Heifer). Quran says that Allah (S.W.T) only wanted the Children of Israel to sacrifice a cow; however, they kept asking for specific signs and made it difficult for themselves to find such a sacrificial animal.

What are some of signs for the Heifer?

As specified in the Talmud (Jewish religious text):

  1. It must be absolutely perfect in its redness. Even two hairs of any other color will disqualify it. Even its hooves must be red.
  2. It must be three or four years old. Although older animals could be used, younger could not.
  3. It must be free of any kind of internal or external defect or blemish.
  4. It must not have been used for any type of physical labor.

How is the sacrifice offered?

The heifer is processed and burnt and its ashes are mixed into pure water.

What is the purpose of offering this sacrifice?

As per Jewish religious texts, certain impurities can only be purified with the ashes of Red Heifer mixed with pure water.
These impurities are caused with an exposure to the death; such as: anyone who had come into contact with a human corpse, human bone, or grave.

In ancient times, the Israelites used this mixed water to purify and clean The Temple; clean the instruments and artifacts within The Temple; and most importantly, to purify the Priests that worked inside the Temple.
Anyone who would want to pray inside The Temple would also require purification.

Who are the “Temple Institute”?

The “Temple Institute” is an organization of extremists Jews, that works with the aim of reconstruction of The Third Temple, which today is restricted due to existence of Dome of Rock and The Al-Aqsa Mosque standing on its place.
The Temple Institute has blueprints for The Third Temple ready; instruments required to be placed within The Temple ready, 500 specific Priests trained to work inside The Temple ready.
However as specified earlier, all of these (the place, the items, the people) must be purified before they could enter The Temple; therefore, for the reconstruction of The Temple, it is extremely necessary that the place and people constructing it are purified.

Does the “Temple Institute” has a Red Heifer (with all the specified signs) ready with them?

For over decades, the Temple Institute has been trying to identify perfect candidates as the red heifer.

  1. They found 2 candidates in 1997 and 2002, which were later deemed as unsuitable.
  2. The institute has been raising funds in order to use modern technology to genetically produce a red heifer.
  3. In September 2018, the institute announced a red heifer candidate was born saying “the heifer is currently a viable candidate and will be examined (to see) whether it possess(es) the necessary qualifications for the red heifer.”
  4. In September 2022, 5 red heifers were imported from the Texas – United States, and transferred to a breeding farm in Israel. All of these were under an year old (which means that they have turned 3, and are ready for sacrifice from 2024 onwards).

Once a red heifer is ready, it will be sacrificed on the huge altar that has already been constructed by Temple Institute on the Mount Olive, as that had been the sacrificial place historically.

Why has the Red Heifer become a hot-topic all of a sudden?

(i) The war on Gaza began on 7th October 2023. On the 100th day of war, on 14th January 2024, a Hamas spokesmen person Abu Obeidah made a television appearance where he explained why they fought Israel; one of those reasons being how the Israelites are trying to harm Al-Aqsa compound by planning to reconstruct The Temple, and how the Jews have been “bringing red cows” into the occupied Palestinian territories.
(ii) Moreover, some reports suggest that Temple Institute has announced the red heifers are ready, and they’ll either be sacrificed before “Passover” or between “Passover” & “Shavout”.
Passover and Shavout are 2 of the important holidays for Jews.
Passover will continue from 22nd April to 30th April 2024.
Shavout will continue from 11th June to 13th June 2024.

Why will the Temple Institute want to sacrifice them this year?

(i) If the red heifers are ready, Temple Institute might want to sacrifice them before they become unsuitable; however, it isn’t necessary that this sacrifice will be announced publicly to the entire world.
(ii) A Jewish tradition from Middle-Ages prophesizes that 9 red heifers have been sacrificed historically, and the 10th one will allow the world to enter the Messianic Age.
(iii) Once the sacrifice is complete and purifications have occurred, they could move onto reconstruction of The Temple, which they believe could hasten the coming of their final Messiah (who would be Al-Maseeh-Ad-Dajjal as per Islamic traditions).

Do we (Muslims) need to worry about anything?

Theologically speaking, we shouldn’t be worried as there is no such mention of red heifer sacrifice near the end of times, in our books.
However, practically speaking, and keeping the last 6 months situation of Palestine in mind, Israelites could use their successful sacrifice as an excuse to attack the Jerusalem & West Bank to take over the Al-Aqsa compound, just as they have done with Gaza.

What should we (Muslims) do?

(i) Use the blessed month of Ramadan to pray for the ease in lives of our brothers and sisters in Palestine.
(ii) Use the blessed month of Ramadan to prepare ourselves spiritually and physically, for the coming of Mahdi (A.S); because, if these indeed are the End of Times, we could soon be witnessing his arrival; and when it happens, we must be mindful and ready to support him, just as Jews are prepared to support messiah

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