The Philosophy of Qurbani
The Urdu and Persian word "Qurbaani" is derived from the Arabic
word 'Qurban'. It means an act performed to seek nearness to Almighty
Allah and to seek His good pleasure. Originally, the word 'Qurban'
included all acts of charity because the purpose of charity is
nothing but to seek Allah's pleasure. But, in precise religious
terminology, the word was later confined to the sacrifice of an
animal slaughtered for the sake of Allah.
The sacrifice of an animal has always been treated as a recognised
form of worship in all religious orders originating from a divine
book. Even in pagan societies, the sacrifice of an animal is
recognised as a form of worship, but it is done in the name of some
idols and not in the name of Allah, a practice totally rejected by
In the Shariáh of our beloved Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam)
the sacrifice of an animal has been recognised as a form of worship
only during three days of the month of Dhul Hijjah, namely the 10th,
11th and 12th of the month. This is to commemorate the unparalleled
sacrifice offered by Prophet Sayyidina Ibrahim (Álayhis salaam) when
he, in pursuance to a command of Allah conveyed to him in a dream,
prepared himself to slaughter his beloved son Sayyidinah Ismail
(Álayhis salaam) and actually did so, but Allah Almighty, after
testing the ultimate limits of his submission, sent down a sheep and
saved his son from the logical fate of slaughter. It is from that
time onwards that sacrifice of an animal became an obligatory duty to
be performed by every well-to-do Muslim.
Qurbani is a demonstration to Allah and proof of complete obedience
to Allah's will or command. When a Muslim offers Qurbani, this
exactly what he intends to prove. Thus, the Qurbani offered by a
Muslim signifies that he is slave of Allah at his best and that he
would not hesitate even for a moment, once he receives an absolute
command from his Creator, to surrender before it, to obey it
willingly, even it be at the price of his life and possessions. When
a true and perfect Muslim receives such a command from Allah, his
natural instincts stop him from indulging in the futile search for
the reasoning behind the command; nor does he make his obedience
dependent upon the command's 'reasonableness' as perceived through
his limited understanding. He knows that Allah is All-Knowing, All-
Wise and that his own ability to reason cannot encompass the
knowledge and wisdom underlying the divine command, even if he cannot
find any reason or wisdom behind it.
This is exactly what the Prophet Ibrahim (Álayhis salaam) did.
Apparently, there was no reason why a father should slaughter his
innocent son. But, when came the command of Allah, he never asked
about the reason for that command, nor did he hesitate to obey it.
Even his minor son, when asked by his father about the dream he had
seen, never questioned the legitimacy of the command, nor did he pine
or whine about it, nor did he ask for one good reason why he was
being slaughtered. The one only response he made was:
"Father, do what you have been ordered to do. You shall find me, God
willing, among the patient".
The present-day Qurbani is offered in memory of this great model of
submission set before us by the great father and the great son.
Qurbani must be offered in our time emulating the same ideal and
attitude of submission.
This then is the true philosophy of Qurbani. With this in mind, one
can easily unveil the fallacy of those who raise objections against
Qurbani on the basis of economic calculations and lounge statistics
and make it out to be a wastage of money, resource and livestock.
Unable to see beyond mundane benefits, they cannot understand the
spirit Islam wants to implant and nourish among its followers, the
spirit of total submission to Allah's will equips man with the most
superior qualities so necessary to keep humanity in a state of
lasting peace and welfare.
Qurbani is nothing but a powerful symbol of the required human
conduct vis-ŕ-vis the divine commands, however, "irrational"
or "uneconomic" they may seem to be in their appearance. Thus, the
distrustful quest for mundane economic benefits behind Qurbani is, in
fact the negation of its real philosophy, and the very spirit
No doubt, there are, in every form of worship ordained by Allah,
certain worldly benefits too, but they are not the main purpose of
these prescribed duties, nor should they be treated as preconditions
to submission and obedience. All acts of worship, including Qurbani,
must be carried out with the spirit of total submission to Allah,
irrespective of their economic, social or political benefits. This is
what Ibrahim (Álayhis salaam) did, and this is what every true Muslim
is required to do.
WARNING FOR THOSE WHO IGNORE QURBANI
There is a Hadith from Hadhrat Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) that
Rasulullah (Sallallahu- alayhi-wasallam) said, 'That person who has
the means of performing Qurbani but does not do so should not even
come near the Eidgah (Place of Eid Salaat).
Source: Taken (with Thanks) from Jamiat KZN