In a world where money and riches are valued more than any kind of life, we need to ask ourselves why we are asked to sacrifice a life. What does this sacrifice mean to us? How will it change us? What is our connection to our Qurbani?
Eid-ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, is almost upon us. Celebrated on the 10th of Dhu al Hijjah, the last month of the lunar Islamic calendar, the festival will fall on approximately the 1st September this year (2017). Muslims across the globe will begin the eid festival by performing a special, communal congregational prayer early in the morning. This is followed by the Qurbani, the ritual sacrifice of certain livestock animals, which can be done over the following three days of 10th, 11th and 12th of Dhu-al-Hijjah. Of all the physical and spiritual worships concerning wealth, this sacrifice of a living animal in the days of Qurbani holds a distinguished position. The Qurbani is a demonstration of total submission to our creator Allah and of complete obedience to Allah’s will and command. It is proof that we would not hesitate to willingly obey on receiving an absolute command from our Creator, even if this is at the price of our life and possessions.
With the rise in modernisation and urbanisation in recent years, especially in South Africa, there is an increasing disconnect between people and the Qurbani they make. For many it has become a mechanical slaughter during factory-like-procedures at “the farm”. Animal rights transgressions are common. The Qurbani is often nothing more than electronic money paid out of bank accounts. It is only a little note made in diaries to contact overseas organisations. The killing of the sacrificial animal has turned from being a true spiritual, sacrifice into a mere ritual.
“It is not their meat or their blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him.” (Quraan, 22:37)
A sacrifice is only as worthy as what it means to us – spiritually, emotionally and financially. The essence of the sacrifice lies in the connection that we make with our sacrifice. It is only through embracing these connections that we can begin to realise what it actually means to make a sacrifice. As part of this willingness to submit and to sacrifice, we need to connect to our Qurbani and accept the responsibility, consciousness and conscientiousness attached to it.
The connection to our Qurbani must be made in different ways. Below are a few ways that need to be looked at to achieve the connection:
1) Connect historically. Consult with your Islamic historians and scholars. Ask about the story of the first animal sacrifice made by Habeel (Abel) the son of Adam AS that was accepted over the crop harvest of another son of Adam AS, Qabeel (Cain). Ask about how our slaughtering of animals on Eid-ul-Adha was practiced since the time of the Prophet Muhammad SAW and his noble companions. Ask why did the Prophet Muhammad SAW say the Qurbani is in accordance with the Sunnah (practice) of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) AS. Ask about the connection between the sacrifice that we would like to make and commemorating Prophet Ibrahim AS’s willingness to submit to our Creator by being ready to sacrifice his son Ismail AS.
2) Connect with the fiqh. Qurbani is compulsory on every sane and baligh (matured, adult) Muslim who possesses the means (i.e. more than the minimum zakaatable wealth) during this time period. What is a sacrifice? Which animals can be slaughtered? What is a suitable animal for Qurbaani? Species? Age? Health status? Physical deformations? How many, how, when and by who must they be slaughtered? What should one do with the meat, hides and unusable pieces of the animals?
N.B. According to the Hanafi fiqh school of thought, Qurbani is Waajib upon every sane, baligh Muslim who possesses the minimum zakaatable wealth at the time of Qurbani, while the majority of other schools of fiqh hold Qurbani as Sunnah Muakkadah upon them.
3) Connect intellectually. Be a scientist. Do research. Read up on the biology of the animals that can be sacrificed. Consult Wikipedia. Watch a documentary. What are sheep, goats, cattle and camels? Since when have they been farmed? What do they eat? Where do they live? How long do they live for? How long are their gestation (pregnancy) periods? How many babies do they have? What are the males, females and children of each species called? What do we use them for? etc.
4) Connect with your local circumstances. Speak to your neighbour, a friendly farmer or the local vet. Find out who sells what animals. Who does Qurbani? Where do the animals come from and where do they go to? Find out about the legal requirements for housing, slaughtering, preparing and distributing the sacrifice (your local SPCA is usually the best place to ask).
5) Connect intentionally. Actively make the intention for the sacrifice, carefully. Internalise what you will be undertaking. Even if you are unable to make the Qurbani, understand what the sacrifice signifies and its emphasis on total submission to our Creator.
6) Connect financially. Feel the sacrifice of the wealth. Understandably, the cost of a sacrificial animal will be felt more by those who are less wealthy in financial terms. However, each and every one of us needs to ponder on the wealth we are sacrificing, even if we are just making and an electronic funds transfer.
7) Connect aesthetically. Be fussy or at least be aware of the physical looks of your sacrificial animal. Not in a crazy, obsessive way, but rather in the same way you would care for when you choose to buy something for yourself. Taking time to consider the health and beauty of your sacrificial animal adds value to your sacrifice.
8) Connect emotionally. Your animal is a living, breathing creature. The sacrifice of a living creature that has been entrusted to you needs to mean more to you than the giving of normal monetary charity. Love your animal. Feel the life in the animal that you will slaughter. Prepare yourself to feel the pain when you slaughter it.
9) Connect morally. Treat your animal like royalty. Treat your animal well before, during and after the slaughter. NO animal rights transgressions should take place. Ultimately, the more you uphold the rights of the animal, the more worthy this sacrifice is in the eyes of Allah SWT.
10) Connect communally. You are taking a life as you sacrifice this animal. How does this influence your understanding of life and community? Yes, as Muslims we are permitted to kill some animals to fulfil our needs. At the same time, this comes with responsibility – towards the animal being slaughtered, towards animals that we are not allowed to slaughter, towards our communities, families and friends.
11) Connect spiritually. Essentially, it is the consciousness of God in fulfilling the acts of Qurbani that will determine the worth of our Qurbani. Fully grasping the value of the sacrifice is important, and this value needs to be owned by you and needs to be understood in light of the submission you are making to our Creator.
- The Qurbani Connection (main article, this article)
- Qurbani Recommendations: Humane Treatment of Animals
- The Terminology and History of the Sacrifice
- The Qurbani Connection toolbox for teachers, parents, students and dynamic individuals
- The Qurbani Connection Anecdotes
Think. Talk. Engage….and get back to us! #TheQurbaniConnection
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