Qurbani

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Thousands of animals will once again be slaughtered worldwide on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha to commemorate the astounding spirit of sacrifice of Sayyidina Ebrahim (alaihis salaam). Indeed the entire life of Sayyidina Ebrahim (alaihis salaam) is filled with incidents of self sacrifice. He embodied sacrifice by totally surrendering himself to the command of Allah Ta'ala to fulfil whatever was demanded of him on every occasion.
He sacrificed the company of his father and his community to pursue the road to the recognition of his Creator. His wife and infant child were left in a barren land with no apparent means of survival and he eventually placed the sharpened knife on the throat of his beloved son in an attempt to slaughter him to fulfil the command of Allah Ta'ala, His Sustainer and Nourisher. These incidents speak volumes of the extent to which Ebrahim (alaihis salaam) had surrendered himself to the divine law.

Hence to kindle within ourselves this spirit of self-sacrifice, we have been ordered to follow this "Sunnah" of Ebrahim (alaihis salaam) by sacrificing an animal on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha. The Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) once inquired as to what the significance of sacrificing an animal was. "It is the Sunnah of your father Ebrahim (alaihis salaam)" answered Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) [Ibn Majah, Haakim].

Great rewards are promised to that person who performs Qurbani. It is reported in a Hadith that the one who performs Qurbani will be rewarded for every hair on the body of the animal [Ibn Majah].

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has greatly stressed the performance of Qurbani. In an authentic narration he is reported to have said: "He who has the means to sacrifice an animal but does not do so should not come near our Musallah (Eid-Gah)" [At-Targheeb].

There are various aspects pertaining to Qurbani which should be borne in mind. Some of these aspects are as follows:

* When purchasing the Qurbani animal one should spend with an open heart. The best animal should be acquired (within one's means). It is reported in a narration that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: ... "and verily it (the sacrificed animal) will come on the day of Qiyamah with its horns, hair and hooves (to be weighed on the scale of good deeds); and indeed it is accepted by Allah Ta'ala before its blood reaches the ground, therefore sacrifice with an happy heart" [At-Targheeb].
 
It is also mentioned in another narration that "the best animal of sacrifice is the one that is most costly and the healthiest" [At-Targheeb]. Hence, within one's means one should spend freely to acquire the best animal. l On the occasion of Qurbani, the most beloved act in the sight of Allah Ta'ala is the slaughtering of animals. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: "There is no action more beloved to Allah Ta'ala on the day of Eid-ul-Adha than causing the blood to flow (by sacrificing the animal)" [At-Targheeb].
 
Hence the one who has the means must perform Qurbani. It is not sufficient to give the value of the animal in cash to the needy. Just as the injunction of fasting cannot be fulfilled by performing salaah and vice versa, similarly the order of Qurbani cannot be fulfilled by giving charity. Besides this, there were many people who were in dire need even in the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). However, despite this, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did not give the money to these people. Instead he ordered that the animals be sacrificed and the meat be distributed to the poor.

* It is preferable that the Qurbani animal be divided into three portions; one third should be given to the poor, a third to relatives and friends and the rest could be kept for oneself. One may also give away the entire animal whilst it is also permissible to keep everything. Nevertheless it is Sunnah to partake of the Qurbani animal. It is reported that on the day of Eid-ul-Adha, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) would not eat anything until he returned (after the Eid Salaah). He would thereafter first eat from the animal that was sacrificed [Zaila'ee].
 
In another narration it is mentioned that he would partake of the liver of his Qurbani animal [Talkhees].

Similarly it is reported from Hazrath Abu Hurairah (radhiallahu anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "When one of you has sacrificed an animal he should eat therefrom" [Ahmad - refer Ie'laa-us-Sunan, vol.17, pg.267].

Hence from the above it is understood that one should partake of the Qurbani animal. Many people, despite sacrificing many animals, do not eat a single morsel due to some unfounded reasons. This is indeed a great deprivation.

* Many people are accustomed to sending money overseas to have the Qurbani performed on their behalf. If this is done to alleviate food shortages as well as to feed the starving people in that place then it is a noble action. Nevertheless, actions are judged according to the intentions. If this is done merely to save oneself the "work" and "trouble," it is indeed reprehensible. Whilst the Qurbani is absolutely valid even if it is performed elsewhere, the most preferable method is that one should choose the animal personally. Thereafter (if possible) the animal should be brought to one's place some time before the Qurbani and one should tend to it.

It is also Mustahab (preferable) to slaughter the animal personally. If this is not possible, one should be present when the animal is being slaughtered. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said to Hazrath Fathima (radhiallahu anha) "O Fathima, stand by your animal when it is being slaughtered for verily Allah Ta'ala will forgive your sins in lieu of the first drop of the animals blood." Hence to be present at such a noble time is indeed meritorious.

It is also Sunnah to partake from the animal. If possible, the first thing eaten on the day of Eid-ul-Adha should be the Qurbani animal. By performing Qurbani elsewhere, all these virtues cannot be obtained.

However, what could be done is that the (one) waajib Qurbani should be performed personally. Besides this any number of nafil (optional) Qurbanis could be performed elsewhere where the need exists to alleviate food shortages [Refer Fataawa Raheemia - vol.2, pg. 85].

Another aspect to consider is that if the Qurbani is always performed elsewhere, the next generation will become totally unaccustomed to the sacrificing of animals on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha. Hence it is feared that they may completely abandon this great Ibaadat.
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