The sacrifice of an animal has always been a recognised form of worship in many religions, but in the ‘Shariah’ (Islamic sacred law) of our beloved Prophet the sacrifice of an animal has been recognised as a form of worship only during the three days of the month Zul-hijjah, namely the 10th, 11th, and 12th .
Allah Ta’ala says in the Noble Quran:
"Verily, We have granted you (O Muhammad ) Al-Kauthar (a river in paradise),
So pray unto thy lord and sacrifice. For he who makes you angry will be cut off."
"And the camels! We have appointed them among the ceremonies of Allah, therein ye have good!"
Of all of the physical and spiritual worships the greatest is ‘Salaah’, and among the worships concerning wealth, sacrifice holds a distinguished position, because the original spirit of sacrifice was to sacrifice the soul. The replacement of an animal was made due to some reasons, as it is clear from the story of Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S) and Hazrat Ismail(A.S.) . That is why in other places in the Quran the mention of ‘salaah’ is made together with ‘Qurbani’. (Tafseer-E-Usmaani)
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF ‘QURBANI’?
This act of ‘Udhiya’ is to commemorate the unparalleled sacrifice offered by the Prophet Ibrahim . When he, in pursuance to a command of Allah Ta’ala conveyed to him in a dream, prepared himself to slaughter his beloved son Ismail(A.S) and actually did so, but Allah Almighty after testing him of his submission, sent down a ram and saved his son from the logical fate of slaughter. It is from that time onwards that the sacrifice of an animal became an obligatory duty to be performed by every well to do Muslim.
Concerning this incident the Glorious Quran says:
"And when he attained the age of running with him (Ibrahim), he said: "O my son verily I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering thee, so look, considerest thou?" He said: "O my father! Do that which thou art commanded, thou shalt find me, Allah willing, of the patient ones."
"Then when the two submitted themselves and had prostrated him on his temple."
"We cried unto him: "O Ibrahim! Of a surety thou hast fulfilled the vision. Verily We! That was a trial manifest. And We ransomed him with a mighty victim. And We left for him among the posterity. Peace be unto Ibrahim. Verily We! Thus we compense the well doers. Verily he was one of Our believing bondsmen." (37:102-111)
Thus this very incident is also the origin of ‘Takbeer-e-Tashreeq’.
Eminent jurists have stated that the origin of the ‘Takbeer-e-Tasreeq’ is when the Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) made Hazrat Ismail (A.S) lie down, Allah ordered Hazrat Jibraeel (A.S) to take along a ‘fidyah’(ransom) and when Hazrat Jibraeel (A.S) arrived there, he feared that Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S) would slaughter Ismail (A.S) and so he began shouting "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar."
Hearing his voice, Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) took it as a glad tiding and exclaimed, "Laa ilaaha illallaahu wallaahu akbar."
Hazrat Ismail (A.S) also came to know that the ‘fidyah’ arrived and he got up saying, "Allahu akbar wa lillaahil hamd," and began to eulogise and thank Allah.
WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF ‘QURBANI’?
Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmaani states that the philosophy behind ‘Udhiya’ is that it is a demonstration of total submission to Allah and a proof of complete obedience to Allah’s will or command. When a Muslim offers a ‘Udhiya’ this is exactly what he intends to prove. Thus, the ‘Udhiya’ offered signifies that he is a 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 if it be at the price of his life and possessions.
This is exactly what the Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) did.
Apparently, there was no reason why a father should slaughter his innocent son. But, when the command came from Allah (S.W.T.), he never asked the reason to that command, nor did he hesitate to obey it.
This is the true philosophy of ‘Qurbani’.
VIRTUES OF ‘QURBANI’ (UDHIYAH)
The virtues of ‘Udhiya’ are established from the following ‘Ahadith’ (Traditions).
Hazrat Anas (R.A.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) sacrificed with his own hands, two white rams with black markings. He took the name of Allah and recited ‘Takbir’. Hazrat Anas(R.A.) states that he saw him putting his foot upon their buttocks and saying: "In the name of Allah. And Allah is the greatest". (Sahih Bukhari ,Sahih Muslim)
Note: We learn from this Hadith that one should try to make sacrifice with his own hands. If the Prophet (S.A.W) can sacrifice by his own blessed hands at the age of sixty, why can’t our young generation follow in his footsteps? If one cannot do so, he should at least be present at the time of slaughter.
Hazrat Jabir (R.A.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) slaughtered on the day of sacrifice two horned, white and black castrated rams. When he faced them towards the Qibla, he said: "Verily I turn my face towards the One who created the heavens and the earth, upon the religion of Abraham, being upright, and I am not one of the polytheists. Verily my prayer, my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. There is no partner with him and I have been ordered that, and I am one of the Muslims. O Allah, it is Thine and for Thee, from Muhammad and his Ummah: In the name of Allah. Allah is the greatest". He then slaughtered the rams. (Ahmed, Abu Daud, Ibne Majah)
Hazrat Ayesha radiyallahu anha reports that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W) said, "The son of Adam does not perform any actions on the day of sacrifice which is more pleasing to Allah than the shedding of blood. He will come on the day of resurrection with its hair, horns and hooves, and the blood certainly will fall in a place near Allah before it falls on the ground. So, make yourselves purified there with. (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)
Hazrat Zaid bin Arqam (R.A.) reports that the Companions of Rasulullah (S.A.W.) asked him: " Ya Rasulullah, what is this sacrifice?" He said: "It is the way of your forefather Ibrahim ." They asked:"What (reward) is for us therein?" He replied: "There is a reward for every hair (i.e. the reward for meat and useful parts of the animal’s body will be very lofty in merit, but there will also be a great reward for the parts which are useless and thrown away such as the hair)."
They asked: "For the wool, Ya Rasulullah?" He replied: "There is one reward for every strand of wool." (Ahmed, Ibn Majah)
WHO IS OBLIGED TO OFFER THE SACRIFICE?
‘Qurbani’ is ‘wajib’ (compulsory) according to Imam Abu Hanifah (and Sunnat-e-muakkadah according to other Imams) upon every ‘muqeem’ (domiciled) and who possesses 613.35 grams of silver or its equivalent in money, personal ornaments, stock in trade or any other form of wealth which is surplus to his/her basic needs. Each adult member of a family who possesses that much wealth must perform his/her own ‘Qurbani’ separately.
Hazrat Ibn Umar reports that the Messenger of Allah lived in Madinah Munawarah for ten years and performed ‘Qurbani’ every year. (Tirmizi)
Note: Despite the fact that the Prophet was not obliged to sacrifice as he never possessed the required amount of wealth, he still did so as can be conceived from the above Hadith.
Finally I end by quoting the following ‘Hadith’:
Hazrat Abu Hurairah (R.A.) reports that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has said : "Whoever has the capacity to sacrifice and does not do so, should not come to the place where the Eid prayer is offered." (Ibn Majah). Hence we can understand the importance of ‘Udhiya’ from the above ‘Hadith’, therefore each and every Muslim who is obliged should offer it, and if possible within their domicile. This will not only create an atmosphere of ‘Eid’ and ‘Qurbani’ in the community but will also serve as a lesson for generations to come.