'Aqiqah for a male newborn
It is known that 'Aqiqah for a male newborn must be offered by slaughtering two sheep.
Is it permissible for anyone who is unable to afford the price of two sheep at the time of 'Aqiqah to slaughter only one sheep and delay slaughtering the second till it is possible? Please answer providing evidence and opinions of the scholars if any.
The Shafi'is and Hanbalis hold the view that what is lawful and recommend is to slaughter two sheep for a male baby and one sheep for a female. This is because of the hadith narrated by 'Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Slaughter two comparable sheep for a male newborn and one sheep for a female." [Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi who declared it authentic]. If it is not affordable-to slaughter two sheep for a male newborn-it is permissible to slaughter one sheep.
The Hanifis and Malikis, on the other hand, hold the opinion that it is legally permissible to slaughter one sheep for both male and female newborns in accordance with what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did for al-Hassan and al-Hussein (peace be upon them). However, it was mentioned in some narrations that he (peace and blessings be upon him) offered 'Aqiqah for both of them by slaughtering two sheep for each one of them.
The narration where slaughtering one sheep is mentioned, states that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made it permissible to slaughter one sheep for a male newborn and this achieves and fulfils the Sunnah in order to make it easy for the community and remove hardship.
As for the hadith narrated by 'Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Slaughter two comparable sheep for a male newborn"; narrators and exegetes stated that it referrers to slaughtering the two sheep at the same time-one after the other. However, the preponderant opinion is that it means the two sheep must be similar in age, characteristics, and there is no objection about slaughtering only one sheep and delaying slaughtering the other till it is possible. For this reason, some scholars mentioned the different narrations concerning whether the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) offered 'Aqiqah for al-Hassan and al-Hussein by slaughtering one or two sheep for every one of them. Al-Mula 'Ali al-Qari stated in his explanation of the book Mishkat al-Masabeeh: "This hadith illustrates the permissibility of slaughtering one sheep; and that it is not obligatory to slaughter two sheep on the seventh day after birth. This means that one can slaughter a sheep on the day of birth and a second sheep on the seventh day. This will create compatibility between the different narrations.
It may also mean that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon) slaughtered a sheep from his own and ordered 'Ali or Fatimah to slaughter the other.
Allah Almighty knows best.