Qurbani, also known as Udhiyah in the Islamic faith, refers to the ritual animal sacrifice performed by Muslims worldwide during the Eid al-Adha festival. This act of worship is deeply rooted in Islamic tradition, symbolizing obedience, devotion, and the spirit of sacrifice as exemplified by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his family. The significance of Qurbani is multifaceted, encompassing historical, spiritual, and social dimensions, each reinforcing the profound teachings of Islam regarding faith, charity, and community solidarity.
The practice of Qurbani is based on the Quranic recounting of a profound trial faced by Prophet Ibrahim (AS). Allah commanded Ibrahim in a dream to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience. Without hesitation, Ibrahim prepared to fulfill this command, demonstrating unwavering submission to Allah’s will. Recognizing their devotion, Allah intervened at the last moment, sending a ram to be sacrificed in place of Ibrahim’s son. This event is commemorated annually during Eid al-Adha, which falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar, marking the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage.
- Obedience to Allah: Qurbani embodies the essence of complete submission to Allah’s will, echoing the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah. It serves as a reminder to Muslims of the importance of surrendering personal desires for the sake of divine commandments.
- Remembrance of the Prophetic Tradition: Performing Qurbani is an act of Sunnah, following the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), who performed animal sacrifices and encouraged his followers to do the same. It connects Muslims to their prophetic heritage, reinforcing the continuity of faith from Ibrahim (AS) to Muhammad (ﷺ).
- Spiritual Purification: Qurbani is seen as a means of drawing closer to Allah, purifying the soul by giving up something valuable for His sake. The act of sacrifice symbolizes the believer’s willingness to part with material possessions to fulfill a higher spiritual objective.
- Charity and Social Welfare: A significant aspect of Qurbani is the distribution of meat to the poor and needy, ensuring that the spirit of Eid al-Adha is shared widely within the community. This practice promotes social welfare, equality, and compassion, key principles in Islamic teachings.
- Strengthening Community Bonds: Qurbani fosters a sense of unity and brotherhood among Muslims, as they participate in a collective act of worship that transcends geographical, racial, and economic differences. It serves as a reminder of the global ummah’s shared faith and mutual responsibilities.
- Economic Support: The practice of Qurbani also supports local economies, especially in rural areas where livestock farming is a primary source of livelihood. It provides an opportunity for economic activity and sustenance for many families.
Conditions and Ethics
Islamic teachings emphasize the humane treatment of animals, including those sacrificed during Qurbani. The animals must be healthy, of a certain age, and sacrificed in a manner that minimizes suffering, adhering to the principles of Halal. Moreover, Qurbani is obligatory upon every sane, adult Muslim who possesses the financial means to perform it, further emphasizing the act’s significance as a demonstration of gratitude and abundance.
The significance of Qurbani in Islam transcends the act of sacrificing an animal; it is a profound expression of faith, obedience, and social responsibility. By commemorating the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his family, Muslims worldwide reaffirm their commitment to Allah, embody the values of compassion and generosity, and reinforce the bonds of community. Qurbani, therefore, represents a vital aspect of Islamic worship and social ethics, encapsulating the spirit of sacrifice and devotion that characterizes the Muslim faith.
The History of Qurbani
The history of Qurbani (Udhiyah) is deeply embedded in Islamic tradition, tracing back to the profound act of faith demonstrated by Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah’s command. This historical event, commemorated by Muslims around the world during Eid al-Adha, encapsulates themes of devotion, sacrifice, and submission to the divine will, which are central to the Islamic faith.
The Story of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS)
The origins of Qurbani are recounted in the Quran, where Allah commands Prophet Ibrahim (AS), a key figure revered in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, to sacrifice his son as a test of faith. Ibrahim, known for his unwavering faith and devotion to Allah, prepares to carry out this command with his son’s consent, who is either Ismail (Ishmael) according to Islamic tradition or Isaac (Ishaq) as mentioned in Jewish and Christian traditions. Just as Ibrahim is about to perform the sacrifice, Allah intervenes, sending a ram to be sacrificed in place of his son. This act was a test of Ibrahim’s submission to Allah’s will, and his willingness to sacrifice his son is seen as the ultimate act of faith and obedience.
The Establishment of Qurbani as an Islamic Practice
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) established the practice of Qurbani as part of the Islamic tradition during his lifetime, emphasizing its significance as a sunnah (commended act) for those who are financially able. During the festival of Eid al-Adha, which occurs on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Muslims commemorate Ibrahim’s trial by sacrificing an animal such as a sheep, goat, cow, or camel. This event coincides with the conclusion of the Hajj pilgrimage, linking the act of Qurbani with the broader themes of sacrifice, worship, and community inherent in the Hajj.
Symbolism and Significance
Qurbani is symbolic of the believer’s readiness to lay down their own desires and possessions in obedience to Allah, mirroring Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son. It serves as a reminder of the need for submission to Allah’s will, regardless of personal attachment or love for worldly possessions.
Social and Spiritual Dimensions
The practice of Qurbani is not only a personal act of faith but also carries significant social implications. The meat from the sacrificed animal is distributed among family, friends, and importantly, to the poor and needy, ensuring that the spirit of generosity and community support is central to the observance of Eid al-Adha. This distribution of meat is an expression of social solidarity, care for the less fortunate, and the sharing of blessings received from Allah.
Evolution and Contemporary Practice
Over the centuries, the practice of Qurbani has continued to be a vital aspect of Islamic worship, observed by millions of Muslims around the world. While the core principles and rituals have remained consistent, the methods of distribution and participation have evolved, especially in urban and diaspora contexts. Today, many Muslims fulfill their Qurbani obligation through charitable organizations that facilitate the sacrifice and distribution of meat to impoverished communities globally, ensuring that the benefits of this act of worship reach those most in need.
The history of Qurbani is a testament to the enduring legacy of faith, sacrifice, and community in Islam. Rooted in the profound act of devotion by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and institutionalized by Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), Qurbani remains a powerful symbol of the Muslim’s commitment to Allah, embodying the principles of submission, compassion, and social responsibility that are foundational to the Islamic way of life.
How Muslims Give Qurbani
Muslims observe Qurbani (Udhiyah) during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, commemorating the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah’s command. This act of faith is remembered by the sacrifice of an animal, such as a sheep, goat, cow, or camel, with specific guidelines to ensure it is performed correctly and in accordance with Islamic principles. Here’s how Muslims give Qurbani:
1. Eligibility for Qurbani
Qurbani is obligatory for every sane, adult Muslim who has the financial means to do so. This typically means anyone who possesses the Nisab amount (the minimum amount of wealth a Muslim must have for a full lunar year that makes them eligible to pay Zakat).
2. Selection of the Animal
The animal to be sacrificed must meet certain criteria to be considered suitable for Qurbani. It must be a goat, sheep, cow, buffalo, or camel. Sheep and goats count as one share each, while cows, buffaloes, and camels can be divided into seven shares. The animal must be healthy, free from any apparent defect, and of a specific age: at least one year old for sheep and goats, two years old for cows and buffaloes, and five years old for camels.
3. Timing of the Sacrifice
Qurbani can only be performed after the Eid prayer on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah and before the sunset of the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah. The best time to perform Qurbani is immediately after the Eid al-Adha prayers.
4. Performing the Sacrifice
While many Muslims choose to perform the sacrifice themselves, ensuring the animal is slaughtered in a Halal and humane manner, others delegate this task to a trustworthy person or organization. The process involves reciting the name of Allah and the intention (Niyyah) for Qurbani before swiftly cutting the throat, windpipe, and blood vessels in the neck of the animal without cutting the spinal cord. The phrase “Bismillah, Allahu Akbar” (In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest) is recited at the time of slaughter.
5. Distribution of the Meat
The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three equal parts: one part for the family, one part for relatives and friends, and one part for the poor and needy. This distribution ensures that the spirit of charity and generosity permeates the act of Qurbani, benefiting the wider community and especially providing for those who are less fortunate.
6. Utilizing Modern Means
In today’s globalized world, Muslims living in urban areas or countries where performing a physical sacrifice is not feasible have the option to fulfill their Qurbani obligation through reputable Islamic charities. These organizations conduct Qurbani on behalf of donors in countries where there is a greater need, ensuring the meat reaches those in desperate poverty.
Qurbani is a profound act of worship that symbolizes obedience to Allah, commemorates the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), and underscores the principles of charity and compassion in Islam. By following these established guidelines, Muslims around the world give Qurbani in a manner that respects Islamic traditions and shares blessings with others, reinforcing the bonds of brotherhood and faith within the global Muslim community.
Why Do We Have to Give Qurbani?
The obligation to perform Qurbani, or Udhiyah, which involves the ritual sacrifice of an animal during Eid al-Adha, is deeply embedded in Islamic tradition and theology. It serves multiple purposes, including commemorating the ultimate act of faith by Prophet Ibrahim (AS), fulfilling a religious commandment, expressing gratitude to Allah, and aiding those in need. The reasons for performing Qurbani are multifaceted and include:
1. Commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) Sacrifice
The primary reason for Qurbani is to commemorate the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his son Ismail (AS) in obedience to Allah’s command. At the moment of sacrifice, Allah replaced Ismail (AS) with a ram, sparing his life. This event symbolizes the depth of faith and willingness to submit to Allah’s will, which Muslims aspire to emulate in their lives.
2. Obedience to Allah
Qurbani is an act of worship that Muslims perform in response to Allah’s command. It is mentioned in the Quran: “So pray to your Lord and sacrifice [to Him alone].” (Quran, 108:2). This obedience is a core aspect of Islamic practice, demonstrating submission to Allah’s commands and laws.
3. Spiritual Purification
Performing Qurbani is a means of spiritual purification for Muslims. It serves as a reminder of the need to relinquish personal desires and material possessions for the sake of Allah. By sacrificing something valuable, Muslims purify their hearts from selfishness and greed, focusing instead on the spiritual and eternal aspects of life.
4. Sharing with Those in Need
A significant part of the Qurbani ritual involves distributing the meat to those in need, ensuring that the poor and destitute can partake in the celebrations of Eid al-Adha. This act of charity embodies the principles of compassion, generosity, and social equity that are central to Islam, helping to alleviate poverty and promote a sense of solidarity and brotherhood among Muslims.
5. Expression of Gratitude to Allah
Qurbani is also an expression of gratitude to Allah for His countless blessings. By sacrificing an animal, Muslims acknowledge Allah’s bounties and express their thankfulness through this act of worship. It is a tangible way to show appreciation for sustenance and the abundance Allah has provided.
6. Fostering Unity among the Muslim Community
The collective observance of Qurbani during Eid al-Adha brings the Muslim community together, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. It is a time when Muslims around the world engage in the same act of worship, strengthening the bonds of the Ummah (Muslim community) and reinforcing the global identity of Muslims.
Qurbani is a multifaceted practice that embodies obedience, worship, sacrifice, charity, gratitude, and community. It is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices and tests of faith faced by the prophets, a practical expression of Islamic ethics, and a means to strengthen communal ties and care for the less fortunate. Through Qurbani, Muslims worldwide connect with their faith’s deep spiritual, moral, and social dimensions, fulfilling a divine commandment that enriches their spiritual lives and benefits society.
What does Quran and Hadith say about Qurbani?
The practice of Qurbani (Udhiyah) during Eid al-Adha is deeply rooted in the Quran and Hadith, with several references that highlight its significance, purpose, and the manner in which it should be performed. These sources guide Muslims in understanding the importance of Qurbani as an act of worship and obedience to Allah.
- Story of Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS):
The Quran narrates the story of Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) trial, where he dreams of sacrificing his son, Ismail (AS), a command he attempts to fulfill as a test of his faith and obedience to Allah. Allah’s intervention at the moment of sacrifice is a key moment that Qurbani commemorates:
- “فَلَمَّا أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُ لِلْجَبِينِ / وَنَادَيْنَاهُ أَن يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ / قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَا ۖ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ”
- “So when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called out to him, ‘O Ibrahim, You have fulfilled the vision.’ Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good.” (Quran 37:103-105)
- Command for Sacrifice:
There is a direct command in the Quran for the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and, by extension, his followers to perform sacrifices, highlighting its role as an act of piety and devotion:
- “فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ”
- “So pray to your Lord and sacrifice [to Him alone].” (Quran 108:2)
The Hadith literature provides further insights into the practice of Qurbani, offering examples from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and clarifications regarding its rules and the spirit in which it should be undertaken.
- Emphasis on Qurbani’s Practice:
- The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “مَنْ كَانَ لَهُ سَعَةٌ وَلَمْ يُضَحِّ فَلَا يَقْرَبَنَّ مُصَلَّانَا” – “Whoever has the capacity to sacrifice and does not do so, should not come near our prayer place (on Eid al-Adha).” (Ibn Majah)
- Sharing the Meat:
- It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “Eat of them (the sacrifices), and feed the poor who does not ask, and the one who asks.” (Muslim), emphasizing the importance of sharing the Qurbani meat with those in need.
These Quranic verses and Hadiths underscore the importance of Qurbani as a commemoration of the faith of Ibrahim (AS) and as an act of worship, charity, and community solidarity in Islam. The practice of Qurbani is thus not only a ritual but a profound expression of faith, obedience, and social responsibility that connects Muslims to their rich spiritual heritage and to each other.
Allah (subhanahuwata’ala) says in Surah Al-An’am, verse 137:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ زَيَّنَ لِكَثِيرٖ مِّنَ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ قَتۡلَ أَوۡلَٰدِهِمۡ شُرَكَآؤُهُمۡ لِيُرۡدُوهُمۡ وَلِيَلۡبِسُواْ عَلَيۡهِمۡ دِينَهُمۡۖ وَلَوۡ شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ مَا فَعَلُوهُۖ فَذَرۡهُمۡ وَمَا يَفۡتَرُونَ
And likewise, to many of the polytheists their partners have made [to seem] pleasing the killing of their children in order to bring about their destruction and to cover them with confusion in their religion. And if Allah had willed, they would not have done so. So leave them and that which they invent.
This verse reminds us that the sacrifice of animals is a part of the religion of Allah (subhanahuwata’ala) and that it has been prescribed for us.
Another verse that speaks about sacrifice is in Surah Al-Hajj, verse 36:
وَٱلۡبُدۡنَ جَعَلۡنَٰهَا لَكُم مِّن شَعَـٰٓئِرِ ٱللَّهِ لَكُمۡ فِيهَا خَيۡرٞۖ فَٱذۡكُرُواْ ٱسۡمَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡهَا صَوَآفَّۖ فَإِذَا وَجَبَتۡ جُنُوبُهَا فَكُلُواْ مِنۡهَا وَأَطۡعِمُواْ ٱلۡقَانِعَ وَٱلۡمُعۡتَرَّۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرۡنَٰهَا لَكُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ
And the camels and cattle We have appointed for you as among the symbols [i.e., rites] of Allāh; for you therein is good. So mention the name of Allāh upon them when lined up [for sacrifice]; and when they are [lifeless] on their sides, then eat from them and feed the needy [who does not seek aid] and the beggar. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may be grateful.
This verse emphasizes the importance of the intention behind the act of sacrifice and how it should be solely for the sake of Allah (subhanahuwata’ala).
Let’s also take a look at a verse from Surah Al-Kahf, verse 107:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَٰتِ كَانَتۡ لَهُمۡ جَنَّـٰتُ ٱلۡفِرۡدَوۡسِ نُزُلًا
Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – they will have the Gardens of Paradise as a lodging,
This verse reminds us of the humility and submission that we should have when performing acts of worship, including Qurbani.
Another verse that mentions sacrifice is in Surah Al-Ma’ida, verse 27:
۞وَٱتۡلُ عَلَيۡهِمۡ نَبَأَ ٱبۡنَيۡ ءَادَمَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ إِذۡ قَرَّبَا قُرۡبَانٗا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنۡ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمۡ يُتَقَبَّلۡ مِنَ ٱلۡأٓخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقۡتُلَنَّكَۖ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ
And recite to them the story of Adam’s two sons, in truth, when they both offered a sacrifice [to Allah], and it was accepted from one of them but was not accepted from the other. Said [the latter], “I will surely kill you.” Said [the former], “Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him].
This verse highlights the importance of following the commands of Allah (subhanahuwata’ala) and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in matters of worship, including the act of sacrifice.
Finally, let’s look at a verse from Surah Al-Anfal, verse 67:
مَا كَانَ لِنَبِيٍّ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُۥٓ أَسۡرَىٰ حَتَّىٰ يُثۡخِنَ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ تُرِيدُونَ عَرَضَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَٱللَّهُ يُرِيدُ ٱلۡأٓخِرَةَۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٞ
It is not for a prophet to have captives [of war] until he inflicts a massacre [upon Allah ‘s enemies] in the land. Some Muslims desire the commodities of this world, but Allah desires [for you] the Hereafter. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
This verse reminds us that the act of sacrifice is a means of seeking Allah’s (subhanahuwata’ala) pleasure and that it should be done with sincerity and devotion.
Now, let’s move on to some I mean 5 hadiths that further explain the concept of Qurbani. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in a hadith reported by Bukhari and Muslim:
Hadith Number 1.
It is narrated on the authority of Amir al-Mu’minin (Leader of the Believers), Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), say
“Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. Whoever migrates with an intention for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and his Messenger. And whoever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.”
by Bukhari & Muslim
This hadith highlights the importance of having the right intention and sincerity when performing Qurbani.
Let’s go to
Hadith Number 2
Another hadith reported by Tirmidhi mentions that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
‘The greatest days in the sight of Allah are the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. And the greatest action a person can perform during these days is to offer a sacrificial animal (Qurbani) for the sake of Allah.
“This hadith highlights the special importance of Qurbani during the blessed days of Dhul Hijjah, encouraging Muslims to engage in this act of worship to earn great rewards from Allah.”
This hadith emphasizes the significance of performing Qurbani during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
Hadith Number 3
Let’s also take a look at a hadith reported by Ibn Majah where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
‘The one who offers a sacrifice (Qurbani) in the name of Allah will have their sins forgiven before the blood of the sacrificed animal reaches the ground. So, hasten to perform Qurbani, for it is a means of drawing closer to Allah and a means of attaining His forgiveness.’
This hadith emphasizes the immense rewards and blessings associated with Qurbani, as it serves as a means of expiating sins and seeking Allah’s forgiveness. It encourages believers to eagerly and promptly engage in the act of Qurbani to reap the spiritual benefits it brings.
This hadith reminds us of the rewards and blessings that come with performing Qurbani for the sake of Allah (subhanahuwata’ala).
Hadith Number 4
Another hadith reported by Bukhari and Muslim mentions that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sacrificed a hundred camels during the Farewell Pilgrimage:
The hadith reported by Bukhari and Muslim states, “The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sacrificed a hundred camels during the Farewell Pilgrimage, and he commanded his companions to follow his example.” This hadith highlights the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during his final pilgrimage, where he sacrificed a significant number of camels as a form of Qurbani. It demonstrates the magnitude of his sacrifice and serves as an example for his companions and all Muslims to follow. The Prophet’s act of sacrificing a hundred camels underscores the importance and significance of Qurbani in Islam, encouraging believers to partake in this noble act of worship during the blessed days of Eid-ul-Adha.
Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Sacrifice (Kitab al-Adahi), Hadith 5556
Sahih Muslim, Book of Sacrifice (Kitab al-Adahi), Hadith 1969
This hadith highlights the sunnah of performing Qurbani during the days of Eid-ul-Adha and the importance of following the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Hadith Number 5
Finally, let’s look at a hadith from Abu Dawud where the Prophet Muhammad Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “There is no deed that is better in the sight of Allah or more greatly rewarded than a good deed done in the (first) ten days of Dhul Hijjah. So, increase your saying of tahlil (i.e., saying “La ilaha illallah”), takbir (i.e., saying “Allahu Akbar”), and tahmid (i.e., saying “Alhamdulillah”).” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, what about the slaughtering of animals?” He replied, “There is no deed of a Muslim that is more pleasing to Allah on the Day of Sacrifice than the sacrificing of animals. The animal will come on the Day of Resurrection with its hair, horns, and hooves (intact), and the blood (of its slaughter) will be accepted by Allah before it even falls on the ground, so be content when you do it.” [Sunan Abu Dawud]
This hadith highlights the importance of performing good deeds, including the act of sacrificing animals during the time of Eid-ul-Adha. It emphasizes the significance and rewards of such an act, as the animal’s sacrifice is highly regarded by Allah. The narration also indicates that the blood of the slaughtered animal is accepted by Allah even before it falls to the ground.
Qurbani is a practice prescribed by Allah (subhanahuwata’ala) and holds deep significance in our faith.
The sacrifice of animals is a means of seeking Allah’s pleasure and should be done with sincerity and devotion.
The intention behind the act of sacrifice should be solely for the sake of Allah (subhanahuwata’ala) and not for any other worldly gains.
Qurbani is a reminder of Prophet Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) unwavering faith, obedience, and submission to Allah’s command.
The act of sacrifice teaches us humility, selflessness, and the importance of prioritizing our obedience to Allah.