Who is making the sacrifice?

December 25, 2007 at 8:07 am 6 comments

the animalsEid ul Azha comes and goes and each year I question the slaughter of so many animals – goats, cows, sheep, camels? I am trying to understand the real meaning of ‘Qurbani’ which in literal terms means sacrifice. So the question arises: who is making the sacrifice? The humans or the animals? It couldn’t possibly be the human – who has just bought the animal a few days earlier with the specific purpose of slaughtering him on Eid day. What kind of sacrifice is the human being making? The money he spent on the purchase of the animal? Was this the concept behind the original sacrifice or was it something deeper?

My understanding is that the sacrifice of animals during the Hajj is meant to be a symbolic act that is meant to commemmorate Hazrat Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son to show his unquestioning obedience to God. However, where does it say in the Quran that the rest of us, who are not performing Hajj, should slaughter millions of animals in a 3-day period? How does it signify the sacrificing of anything that is near and dear to us?

I am not trying to undermine the fact that most people offer the sacrifice genuinely feeling that it is something that is expected of them as Muslims. They also feel it will help the poor as one-third of the meat is given to the needy. Many of the things we do, nonetheless, have become rituals and no-one actually delves into the whys and whereofs of some of these rituals. This probably comes from the inner belief that religion should not be questioned, just accepted.

However, I was listening to Abbas Hussain, an Islamic scholar, on Breakfast at Dawn on Dawn News and what he said made great sense. If we really believe that this is the time for the rest of us to be part of the Qurbani (sacrifice) process, then why don’t we offer something that will actually be a sacrifice? For example, a doctor could give 5 days of treatment to poor patients free; we could go work with orphans – teach them, feed them, play with them; things like that. Something that involves more than just giving money or slaughtering an animal. That’s an easy thing to do for those with money. Food for thought you think?

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. asif  |  December 25, 2007 at 11:54 pm


    Do read this article. It may not answer all of the questions you have raised, still should be good reading.


  • 2. Talha  |  December 26, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    I have been reading your blog for quite a while now, But this post and your views have compelled me to comment on this one.

    I disagree with your idea that sacrificing these many animals should not be done or it not stated anywhere?? Sacrificing animals is not only for the muslims performing hajj but also for all of Us to go through that state when Hazrat Ibrahim on Allah’s command slaughtered his Son.The animal that we sacrifice, should be brought before eid and fed and taken care of by Us, so that a bond is developed between the animal and US and when we are sacrificing it we can feel we have lost something valuable.

    What you have proposed like doctor working free and other things, these are called huqooq-ul-ibad and these we have to fulfil along with Qurbani. There is no alternate for things that are mandatory for those who fulfill the criteria.

  • 3. Jehan  |  December 26, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    @Asif and Talha – can you please tell me where it says in the Quran that Qurbani is mandatory for all muslims including those who are not performing Hajj? That will help make it clearer.

    @Talha, as for what you say regarding buying of animals long before Eid, feeding them yourself, taking care of them and developing a bond with them so that we will feel a loss – how many people actually do that? If you live on the route to the Bakra Mandi, you will have seen people buying animals the day before Eid, and even on the second and third day of Eid. Very few have actually spent any time developing this so-called bond. That is why I pose the question – has it become just a ritual?

  • 4. farzal  |  December 29, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    the other day, yusuf jan and I were calculating the cost of this ritual qurbani.

    At 4.3 million animals slaughtered, and each ‘sacrifice’ costing around $250 (cost of animal, transport, qasaai), the total cost comes to US$ 1 Billion+

    I personally calculated the efficiency of about 25% (the real value of meat produced, qasaai’s fee in normal, non-Eid days, etc) so the real output is $250 Million.

    this results in wastage of $750 Million. Enough to build 1 AKU/Shaukat Khanam and Karachi University each year?

  • 5. Tayyab  |  January 12, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Great post Jehan! I was thinking of writing something on these lines on my own blog during the days of Eid. As you very rightly mentioned, it has merely become a ritual, behind which people don’t really know the reasoning or logic… similar to a lot of other customs that we follow, religious and areligious.

    However, I have a higher-level disagreement at the direction of the discussion on this post. I feel that more important than looking for whether (and where) it is mentioned in the Quran, we should try to find out what is the logic behind it, because if the outcome of this discussion is that it is proven that it is infact mentioned in the Quran, then there is no space for more discussion, which again leads us to the “religion should not be questioned” point, which is one of the worst forms of closed-mindedness.

    The question should be, “Why am I doing this?” or “Why would God order humans to make this ‘sacrifice’? “.

  • 6. Shahzad Mohsin  |  April 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Mr. Jehan
    Read your Article, Today it has become very easy to point a finger’s on Islamic acts and sunnah’s and that exactly is the same you are doing, being social and doing social work is a seoerate issue if any one wanted to do it any one can do it, you are raising a point again and again of asking “where it is written in Quran” have you actually read the Quran completely and understand it personally, moreover ther is also something along with Quran which is called Hadees and Sunnah, r u denying it, is it not clearley written in Hadees.

    @ Farzal
    Calculation in only Islamic acts, have you ever calculated that how much money you have yourselve wasted through out ur life in different kind of useless shopping, electricty etc. why you not calculate it first. Pesonally how much money you have ever given in these kinds of social acts. Think for yourself.


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