In the religion of Islam, the 12th and final month of the Islamic (lunar) year is Dhul Hijjah, which is an incredibly holy and sacred time. It is the month in which two significant events are observed: Qurbani and Eid al-Adha (sometimes called ‘big Eid’ or ‘greater Eid’). The two events are closely linked due to their consecutive timing.
Eid al-Adha is a three-day celebration that is not too dissimilar to Eid al-Fitr. It is a time for families and friends to come together, exchange gifts, eat food and pray together. Like Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha is a celebration for completing a religious duty. In the case of Eid al-Fitr, the religious duty is Ramadan, and with Eid al-Adha, it is Qurbani.
The History of Qurbani
Qurbani is, as mentioned, a highly religious time. The story of Qurbani begins with the Prophet Ibrahim (AS).
The Qurbani Eid story recounts that Prophet Ibrahim (AS) had a dream, not once, but repeatedly where he was being asked by Allah (SWT) to sacrifice his son Ismail (AS). This was a test of love and submission towards Allah. He surrendered to Allah’s (SWT) command without hesitating and prepared himself and his son for sacrifice.
It is said that Prophet Ibrahim (AS) took his son to Mount Arafat to perform the sacrifice. He described his dream to his son upon reaching the mountain, to which his son obliged and echoed the same beliefs that this was an act of obedience towards Allah (SWT).
However, as he tied his son with a rope and was about to slaughter him, Allah (SWT) replaced Ismail (AS) with a ram, and Prophet Ibrahim (AS) slaughtered the animal instead. His son Ismail (AS) was standing perfectly fine right next to him, much to his disbelief.
How Muslims Give Qurbani
On the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, Muslims all over the world perform the act of Qurbani where they slaughter an animal and celebrate the wonderful occasion of Eid al-Adha. They celebrate this devotion and belief of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and Ismail (AS).
Every Muslim who is of age and who has the means to do so must give Qurbani, and when they sacrifice the animal, they must do so in adherence to the following rules:
- Sheep and goats must be at least one year old
- Cows and buffalos must be at least two years old
- Camels must be at least five years old
In addition, all Qurbani animals must be in good health and must not:
- Be blind (missing a third of their sight or more), or missing an eye
- Be missing half or more of their teeth
- Be underweight/thin/lean
- Be lame/limping (they need to be able to walk to the place of sacrifice themselves)
- Have horns that are broken at the root
As well as the above rules, there are rules about how a Muslim should sacrifice an animal in order to give Qurbani. They must ensure:
- The slaughter knife is sharp so that unnecessary pain and suffering is avoided (it cannot be sharpened in front of the animal)
- No animal is slaughtered in front of another Qurbani animal
- They are at least present for the sacrifice if they do not have the knowhow to do it themselves
- They say the words “Bismillah, wa Allahu Akbar” at the time of the slaughter
- The animal is not skinned until it is entirely cold
As time has gone on and Muslims have spread far and wide across the globe, it is not always possible for them to sacrifice an animal in the name of Qurbani, nor might it be possible for them to be present at the time of slaughter. In such instances, it is common for Muslims to give Qurbani through a charity like Muslim Aid. We use your Qurbani donation to purchase an animal and sacrifice it in your name to please Allah (SWT). The meat is then given to those most in need so that they may enjoy the Eid al-Adha celebrations with their brothers and sisters around the world.
Why Do We Have to Give Qurbani?
The Qurbani story is a remarkable illustration of unconditional love and commitment. It speaks volumes of faith and devotion towards the Almighty, in every sense. It represents Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) and Ismail’s unmatched loyalty and fervour towards their religion and their Creator.
The significance of Qurbani in Islam holds great value and is an act of devotion towards Allah (SWT), but it is also an act of giving to others in their time of need. Traditionally, an animal that is slaughtered for Qurbani is divided into three shares: one share for the donor and their family, one share for the donor’s friends, and one share for someone in need.
What does Quran and Hadith say about Qurbani?
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.