What Are You Slaughtering?

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Qurbaani time is a very exciting time. As the big day draws closer, the entire community is abuzz with Qurbaani talk and activity. One of the common questions posed during this time is: “What are you slaughtering?”

Regardless of whether one is slaughtering a humble sheep or a raging bull, the important aspect is that if qurbaani is waajib upon any person, he is fulfilling his obligation. Together with fulfilling this duty he will also be performing an action that is unmatched in its reward and significance during the days of qurbaani. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) clearly declared: “There is no action performed on the Day of Sacrifice which is more beloved to Allah Ta‘ala than shedding the blood of the sacrificial animals” (Tirmizi #1493). The qurbaani performed becomes a means of the forgiveness of one’s sins and one is rewarded equivalent to the number of hair or strands of wool on the body of the animal.

Not a Mere Ritual

Subhanallah! Such a great action! But … is it just a ritual to be over and done with? Is it just a time for enjoyment and merry-making (within the limits of deen)? Or does qurbaani teach us any lessons which we should remember and uphold even after the animals have been slaughtered and the meat digested? Indeed qurbaani has many deep lessons. Unfortunately we generally fail to reflect upon and act upon the lessons we are taught by the shedding of the blood of the animals.

Again, we should ask ourselves the same question posed above: “What are you slaughtering?” If the answer is “a sheep”, very well. When slaughtering the sheep for Allah Ta‘ala, did one also take the lesson of always “slaughtering one’s sleep” for Allah Ta‘ala at the time of fajr, “slaughtering” one’s occupations, business, etc. at the time of zuhr and asr and “slaughtering” all the obstacles that prevent one from any salaah? Qurbani is a waajib sacrifice. It teaches us the lesson of making the daily sacrifice of whatever comes in the way of fulfilling any fardh (compulsory) action of deen.

Slaughter a Bull

Likewise, it is excellent and very rewarding to slaughter a bull, but the question to ask oneself is: “Have I also slaughtered the bully in me (the bully within one which makes one oppress the spouse, deal with employees in a harsh and ruthless manner, trample those who cannot defend themselves, etc.)?” When subduing the massive animal, has one also subdued one’s raging anger – the anger which is vented even on parents and other near and dear ones? When toppling the mighty cow, has one also toppled one’s pride? When the throat of the ox is slit, has one also slit one’s ego?

Consideration

One of the emphasised aspects with regard to qurbaani is to treat the animals kindly. The animal must not be dragged to the place of slaughter by its hind legs, it must not be kept hungry or thirsty even though it will be slaughtered shortly, the knife must be very sharp and one animal must not be slaughtered in front of another. These guidelines highlight the lesson of CONSIDERATION for an animal. After having taken pains to adhere to all these directives and giving the best consideration to the animals, which is a part of our deen, have we also taken the lesson of consideration for HUMANS in general? And what about the humans who are our parents, spouse, children, other family members, neighbours, etc.? What about consideration for the poor and needy?

Break Hearts

Among the lessons of consideration for the animal is that one should not even sharpen the knife in front of it, since this will distress the animal and “break its heart”. Subhanallah! Our beautiful deen teaches us not to even distress ANIMALS and break their hearts. Has this taught us to totally refrain from distressing HUMANS and breaking their hearts - by calling them names, or by mocking, ridiculing, degrading, demeaning and humiliating them???

Un-Slaughter

Qurbaani is the most beloved action to Allah Ta‘ala on the day of ‘Eidul Adha, as discussed above. However, it is amazing that on the day of slaughter, something even more beloved to Allah Ta‘ala is, in a sense, to un-slaughter! Hazrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) reported that once, on the day of ‘Eidul Adha Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “There is no action more virtuous than the spilling of blood (qurbaani) on this day - except the joining of family ties (that have been “slaughtered”)” (at-Targheeb). Alhamdulillah, qurbaani is carried out with great enthusiasm and zeal and with a happy heart since it is a great ‘ibaadah. It is then only logical that the even greater ‘ibaadah of joining family ties be carried out with even greater zeal and enthusiasm. 

Total Submission

Qurbaani is not a mere ritual. It is the reminder of the total submission of Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) and his son Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam). It teaches us to also submit ourselves totally to our Creator and Master, Allah Ta‘ala, in every aspect of life. May Allah Ta‘ala enable us to “slaughter” every sin and totally submit ourselves to Him.

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