Why should I perform the Qurban?
“Their meat will not reach Allah , nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good.”
Surah Al Haj, Verse 37
As we approach the month of Zulhijjah, millions of our Muslim brethren are converging on Makkah to make haj, the annual pilgrimage to the Kaabah. Yet those of us not yet privileged with the honour of visiting the house of Allah for the sacred pilgrimage can also benefit from this blessed month of Zulhijjah. Among the recommended deeds to be performed are fasting for all or some of the first nine days of the month and engaging in abundant dhikr of Allah. Unique to Eid ul Adha however is the annual ritual sacrifice of livestock, known as the qurban.
Performed any time after the Eid prayer between the 10th and 13th of Zulhijjah, the qurban refers to the sacrifice of livestock (in this case a goat, sheep, cow or camel) for the sake of Allah, with at least part of the meat to be given away in charity to the poor.
The rewards of the qurban are tremendous. In one hadith, Zaid bin Arqam (R) reports that the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked him: “Ya Rasulallah, what is this sacrifice?” He said: “It is the way of your forefather Ibrahim.”They asked: “What is for us therein?” He replied: “There is a reward for every hair.”They asked: “For the wool, Ya Rasulullah?” He replied: “There is one reward for every strand of wool.” (Ahmad; Ibn Majah)
While in another hadith, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said “The son of Adam does not do any action on the day of sacrifice (Eid ul Adha) which is more pleasing to Allah than the sacrifice of animals; the animal will come on the Day of Resurrection with its hair, horns and hooves (for reward). The blood certainly reaches Allah before it falls to the ground. So make yourselves purified therewith.” (Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah)
Practice of the Prophets
The practice of the Qurban harkens back to the time of the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son the Prophet Ismail (AS). Not only was the Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was willing to sacrifice even his beloved son for the sake of Allah, but Ismail (AS) himself was willing to be sacrificed for his Lord. Allah rewarded their patience and obedience by sparing the life of Ismail (AS) and allowing a ram to be sacrificed in his place. Thus in performing the sacrifice during Eid-ul-Adha, we remember the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, peace be upon them, and their patience, obedience and willingness to sacrifice even the things most beloved to them for the sake of Allah. Their story can be found in the the following verses of the Qur’an:
“So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy.And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead,
We called to him, “O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, and We left for him [favorable mention] among later generations: “Peace upon Abraham.”
Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, he was of Our believing servants.
Surah As-Saffat, Verses 101-111
Reconnecting with our food
While it is preferred that one performs the slaughter of the livestock himself, it is also permissible to have someone else perform the sacrifice on his behalf, especially if one is unsure how to slaughter the animal properly. Performing the slaughter or at least viewing it if possible, also allows those of us living in urban environments to reconnect with the sources of our food in a time when meat often arrives in the supermarket prepackaged and bloodless, such that we cannot imagine that it ever belonged to a living, breathing animal that gave its life for our sustenance.
As if following the sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, wasn’t enough, in taking part in the qurban we also remember the practice of his forefathers, the Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, peace be upon them, and their willingness to sacrifice everything for Allah. The qurban also allows us to contribute food to the needy, and inshaAllah reconnect in a meaning, spiritual way with the food that we eat. Not to mention the countless rewards on the day of judgement awaiting those who perform the qurban. All of this should be more than reason enough to perform the qurban this Eid ul Adha if we can, inshaAllah.
Ahmad Zhaki Abdullah
Ahmad Zhaki holds a degree in English Literature from the University of London. He is a full-time executive at a local research institute and a part-time writer.