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Evanna Rahman

June 4, 2024


Qurbani: Origin, Rituals, and Significance

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Qurbani, also known as ‘Udhiyah’, is the ritual of slaughtering an animal on Eid Al-Adha. This sacrifice is done in honor of the trial of Ibrahim AS, in which he was commanded by Allah to slaughter his son, but Allah replaced him with a ram instead.
The Qurbani ritual is done annually and emulates the spirit of sacrifice among the entire community, not only physically but from within.

The Origins of Qurbani

The tradition and origin of Qurbani trace back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim AS. One day, Ibrahim AS was shown a dream that he was sacrificing his own son, Ismail AS. Ibrahim AS confronted Ismail AS about the dream as soon as he woke up. Ismail AS did not cower away or show fear, he knew this was a sign from Allah and urged his father to carry out Allah’s command.
Ibrahim AS had taken Ismail AS out to a deserted area to carry out the sacrifice. He held the knife to Ismail’s AS throat and was ready to draw it. Suddenly, Allah switched the place of Ismail AS with a ram and Ibrahim AS slaughtered it instead. This was a mercy from Allah as Ibrahim AS had already passed the test when he showed a willingness to slaughter his own son for the sake of Allah.

The Significance of Qurbani

In regards to its significance, the Qurbani ritual carries immense spiritual meaning and symbolic depth. First and foremost, it represents complete obedience and submission to Allah, just as Ibrahim AS and Ismail AS had submitted themselves to Allah’s Will. The ritual reminds us of the importance of obeying Allah and trusting in His plan sincerely.
The ritual is “sacrificial” because the act of slaughtering an animal that we have raised or bought on our own and sharing it with our family and the Muslim community shows our willingness to give up something worldly for the sake of Allah. It also signifies our generosity, as we keep a portion of the meat for ourselves and distribute the rest of it among family, friends, neighbours, the community, and the poor.
The aftermath of the Qurbani should bring a sense of togetherness and compassion within the community. Distributing the meat, festivities, eating and feeding others good meals all bring about harmony among Muslims of all classes.

The Ritual of Qurbani

Qurbani is performed during the three days of Eid al-Adha, starting on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, the final month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The process involves several key steps:
Selection of the Animal: The animal chosen for sacrifice must meet specific criteria—it should be healthy, free from defects, and of a certain age. Common animals for Qurbani include sheep, goats, cows, and camels.
For the Qurbani to be performed correctly, a few key steps cannot be missed —

  • Selecting the Animal

    Any random animal won’t be accepted for the ritual. Allah and His Messenger    has set us specific criteria for the sacrificial animal that must be met. These include:

    • The animal must be free from any diseases, defects, viruses, etc.
    • It must be mature and of a certain age.
    • It must have four legs.
    • It cannot have broken horns.
    • It cannot be missing more than half of its teeth.
    • It must have its ears and tail, no less than a third of each.
    • It cannot be more than a third blind.
    • It cannot be malnourished or weak and must be healthy.
    • It has to be able to walk without assistance or signs of weakness (e.g. limping)
  • Act of Sacrificing

    The animal must be slaughtered with a sharp knife. Dull knives cannot be used as they may require multiple passes, which will cause the animal more pain. However, these dull knives cannot be sharpened in front of the animal, as it may startle it and cause it to panic.
    Out of consideration for the animal’s sentiments, other animals cannot be slaughtered in front of it. The sacrificial animals must be kept separate from each other at the time of sacrifice.
    At the time of sacrifice, the slaughter must be performed by a person who is eligible under Shari’ah to do it and must be mature and sane. The words, “Bismillahi Allahu Akbar” must be uttered right before the knife is passed through the animal’s throat. It must be done in one pass, with the carotid artery, jugular vein, and windpipe being cut at once.

  • Distributing the Meat

    Finally, the meat is collected and divided into three equal parts: one for the family of the slaughterer, one for his friends and other relatives, and the rest for the poor and needy. Most of the meat is given away to others as the sacrifice is not only through physical means but by spiritual, and giving away meat removes greed, envy, and hatred from the heart.
    Qurbani has a significant social impact. It strengthens community bonds as families and friends come together to celebrate and share. It also promotes social welfare by ensuring that even the most vulnerable members of society can enjoy the blessings of Eid al-Adha.

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