Udhiyyah or Qurbani

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For the 1980 film, see Qurbani (1980 film).

Qurbāni (Arabic: قربان‎) (or أضحية Udhiyyah as referred to in Islamic Law) is the sacrifice of a livestock animal during Eid-ul-Adha. The word is related to the Hebrew qorbān "offering" and Syriac qurbānā "sacrifice", etymologised through the cognate Arabic triliteral as "a way or means of approaching someone" or "nearness".[1] In Shariah Udhiyya would refer to the sacrifice of a specific animal, offered by a specific person, on specific days to seek Allah's pleasure and reward. The word qurban appears thrice in the Quran and in once in Sura Al-Ma'ida in reference to animal sacrifice. In the other two places the Quran speaks of sacrifice in the general sense, referring to any act which may bring one closer to Allah. Other appropriate terms are Dhabihah, Udhiyah and Nahar. A fifth term Zabah refers to normal Islamic slaughter outside the days of Udhiyah.

The origin and sacrifice of Qurbani[edit]

Islam traces the history of Qurbani to Cain (Qaabeel) and Abel (Haabeel). Abel (Haabeel) was the first human being to offer sacrifice of an animal for Allah. The Quran says in Sura Al-Ma'ida: And narrate unto them (O Muhammad) the true story of the two sons of Adam; when both of them offered sacrifices (in the name of Allah, but the offering of the one was accepted and not the other (Sura Al-Ma'ida: Verse 27). Ibn Kathir narrates that Abel (Haabeel) had offered a sheep whilst his brother Cain (Qaabeel) offered part of the crops of his land. The ordained procedure of Allah was that a fire would descend from the heavens and consume the accepted sacrifice. Accordingly a fire came down and enveloped the animal slaughtered by Abel (Haabeel) thus accepting the sacrifice of Abel (Haabeel) while Cain's (Qaabeel's) sacrifice was rejected. This lead to jealousy on the part of Cain (Qaabeel) resulting in the first human death when he murdered his brother Abel (Haabeel). After much repentance and remorse, Cain (Qaabeel) was granted forgiveness by Allah.

Ibraheem's sacrifice[edit]

The practice of Qurbani can be traced back to Ibraheem who dreamt that God ordered him to sacrifice his son. Ibraheem agreed to follow God's command and perform the sacrifice, however, God intervened and sent a ram to be sacrificed in the boy's place. The continued practice of ritual sacrifice acts as a reminder of Ibraheem's obedience to God.[citation needed]

Wisdom of sacrifice[edit]

Allah says in the Qur'aan: 'It is not their flesh nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches him.' 22:37

The scholars have stated that the philosophy behind ‘Udhiya’ is that it is a demonstration of submission to Allah, complete obedience to Allah’s will or command and sacrificing everything for his pleasure. Ibraheem demonstrated this spirit of submission and sacrifice in the best possible manner. When confronted with the challenge of love and allegiance, he chose to submit unconditionally to Allah and suppressed personal desire and love for his family and child.

Qurbani calls for the slaughter of one's innate desires by placing the knife of courage and resistance on hatred, jealousy, pride, greed, animosity, love for the world and other such maladies of the heart.

Significance of Qurbani[edit]

Zaid bin Arkam reports that the Companions of the Messenger of Allah asked him: “O Messenger of Allah, what is this sacrifice?” He said: “It is the way of your forefather Ibraheem .” 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, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied: “There is one reward for every strand of wool.” [Ahmad; Ibn Majah]

Prophet Muhammad said: The son of Adam does not do any action on the day of sacrifice which is more pleasing to Allah than the sacrifice of animals; the animal will come on the Day of Resurrection with its hair, horns and hooves (for reward). The blood certainly reaches Allah before it falls to the ground. So make yourselves purified therewith.(Tirmizi and Sunan ibn Majah)

Ritual sacrifice[edit]

Qurbani Cow

In Islam, the sacrifice of an animal is legal from the morning of the 10th to sunset of the 12th Dhu l-Hijjah, the 12th lunar month of the Islamic calendar. On these days Muslims all over the world offer Qurbani which means a sacrifice/ slaughter of an animal on specific days for the pleasure of Allah. It is understood as a symbolic repetition of Ibraheem's sacrifice of a ram in place of his son, a crucial notion in Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike. Islamic preachers would use the occasion to comment on the fact that Islam is a religion of sacrifice and use this opportunity to remind Muslims of their duty of serving mankind with their time, effort and wealth.

Most schools of fiqh accept that the animal must be killed according to the prohibitions of halal sacrifice and that the animal in question must be a domesticated goat, sheep, cow or camel.

On whom is sacrifice compulsory[edit]

The statements below need sources. While in some forms of Hajj, the sacrifice becomes mandatory or compulsory, there is debate on whether it is Wajib or Nafl with Imam Abu Hanifah maintaining it is Wajib and other jurists opining it is Nafl.

  • Be a Muslim
  • Sane person
  • On free juristic persons
  • Adult Muslim male and females that have reached puberty. A person may perform the obligation on behalf of another sane adult person provided it is with their permission. A person is required to make a separate sacrifice on behalf of himself and for others that he may sacrifice for.
  • Is resident (muqeem) in his home town and not on journey. The traveler who has undertaken a journey of 48 miles or 78 kilometres from his home and intends to stay at that destination for more than 15 days will have to undertake the Qurbani
  • Ownership of any of the below after deduction of any debts that one may have:

- 612.35g silver (19.71 troy ounces silver) or;

- 87.48g of gold;

- the equivalent of 612.36 grams of silver in zakatable assets such as cash, stock in trade etc.

- the equivalent of 612.36 grams of silver in non zakatable assets which is in excess of one's basic personal needs e.g. a second vehicle, a second home etc.


Islamic scholars usually use the silver value as a benchmark of Nisab

Sacrifice of an animal is a compulsory obligation every year on the occasion of Eid al-Adha and not a once in a lifetime duty.

People residing on farms or in villages where Eid al-Adha salah is not performed must also perform ritual sacrifice if the conditions are found

A person may purchase a sacrificial animal on behalf of another person, provided they consent to the purchase of the animal

Qurbani is not incumbent on a child or an insane person nor is it incumbent upon their guardians to perform it on their behalf

If sacrifice is compulsory on a person, then the obligation of sacrifice must be executed. Cash or kind may not be given in lieu of sacrifice. If sacrifice was not offered due to ignorance, negligence, mishap or other valid reason, then it is compulsory to give the price of the animal or the unslaughtered animal to the eight avenues of Zakat

Those exempted from sacrifice[edit]

  • A child who has not reached the age of puberty. A child's sacrifice is counted as optional and rewarding (sawab)
  • The very poor
  • The traveler who has undertaken a journey of 48 miles or 78 kilometers from his home and intends to stay at that destination for less than 15 days
  • Insane people
  • Slaves

Should any in the above category wish to perform the sacrifice, then they may do so and this person will gain the reward of the sacrifice.

Compulsory Sacrifice and Optional Sacrifice[edit]

It is compulsory for a person to first make sacrifice in his own name. He may either purchase a sheep or a goat or one-seventh share in a domesticated camel/ cow/ ox/ buffalo or bull.

In the Quran it is clearly mentioned in Surah Al Baqara (chapter 2) ayah 173; "He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah....."

Again in Surah Al Maeda (chapter 5) ayah 3; "Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion and blood and swine-flesh, and that which hath been dedicated unto any other than Allah,..... "

And again in Surah Al Anaam (chapter 6) ayah 121; "And eat not of that whereon Allah's name hath not been mentioned, for lo! it is abomination. Lo! the devils do inspire their minions to dispute with you. But if ye obey them, ye will be in truth idolaters. (121)"


Based on these ayahs there is no question that a muslim is not supposed to eat from any animal that has been either sacrificed or killed otherwise for the sake of any creation. Since the meat of qurban is halal/permissible for the person doing the qurbani as well as other muslims, how can Islam support sacrificing animals in the name of any saint or prophet etc? These nafl qurbanis are nothing but a localized cultural influence of the regions that go influenced by Islam after the death of Muhammad.

Additionally there are no authentic hadith in any books stating that the Muhammad made sacrifices in the name of anyone other than Allah, or ate meat sacrificed in the name of anyone other than Allah.

Sharing of a sacrificial animal[edit]

  • A person MAY NOT sacrifice one sheep or goat on behalf of himself and LIVING friends/ living family members depending on their situation. With regard to sharing a sacrifice, then a camel or a cow may be shared by seven people.
  • One may share one sheep or goat on behalf of deceased people

The animals of sacrifice[edit]

  • Domesticated goat, either male or female, of at least one year of age. Goats count as one share.
  • Domesticated sheep, either male or female, if six months old and over, the animal must look like one year old. Sheep that are one year old and over are preferred for sacrifice. Sheep count as one share.
  • Domesticated cow, ox or buffalo, of at least two years old. These animals count as one to seven shares.
  • Domesticated camel, male or female, of at least five years of age. Camels count as one to seven shares.

It is imperative to choose animals from healthy stock without any visible defect

Animals not allowed for sacrifice[edit]

  • Sheep aged six months to a year, but do not resemble a year old sheep
  • Sheep a day under six months are not allowed
  • Goat that is a day under one year. Cow, ox or buffalo a day under two years. Camel a day under five years
  • Undomesticated, wild animals e.g. wild bull
  • Any other animal beside domesticated goat, sheep, cattle and camel is not allowed for sacrifice
  • A blind animal or a sunken eye or an animal with its eye sticking out
  • A cross eyed animal
  • A frail weak emaciated animal
  • An animal born without ears
  • An animal with more than one-third of its ear cut off
  • An animal that does not have any teeth and is unable to graze. However if it is able to graze it will suffice for sacrifice.
  • An animal with the horns broken at the root and the brain is visible
  • An animal that walks on three legs and does not take support from the lame leg. However if it takes support from the lame leg, it will suffice for sacrifice
  • An animal with skin disease such as scabies or mange
  • An animal that is deeply wounded
  • An animal with cut teats or dried teats
  • A cut-nosed animal
  • An animal that is hermaphrodite (both sexual organs exist)
  • An animal with damaged udders
  • More than one-third of the tail is cut off

Animals acceptable for sacrifice[edit]

  • An animal which has two-third vision
  • An animal with a slit ear
  • An animal born with no horns, or its horns are broken at any point above the skin/ wool
  • A barren animal
  • An animals that gets injured during the actual slaughter process is acceptable for sacrifice. It is important to ensure that an injured animal be slaughtered very quickly since the injury
  • An animal with two-third of the tail intact

Animals preferred for sacrifice[edit]

  • Castrated animals

Time of sacrifice[edit]

In cities and built up areas, sacrifice commences after the prayer of Eid-ul-Adha on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah.

In rural areas where Juma and Eid salah are not performed, sacrifice commences at the break of dawn (Fajr prayer/ Subhus Sadiq) on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah

Duration of sacrifice[edit]

  • Sacrifice commences from the morning of the 10th Dhul Hijja to sunset of the 12th Dhul Hijja.
  • The duration of sacrifice is three days (10th, 11th and 12th) and two nights (11th and 12th). * The 10th of Zul Hijja is the most preferred day of sacrifice, followed by 11th Zul Hijja and then 12th Zul Hijja.
  • Sacrifice at night is permitted if carried out in a place which is well lit and there is no fear of error and injury to the animal

Animals bought with the intention of sacrifice but were not slaughtered by sunset of the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah should be donated 'alive' to charity.

Considerations for sacrifice[edit]

A slaughterer checking his freshly slaughtered cow during Eid ul-Adha in Pekanbaru, Indonesia
  • Animals of sacrifice are given are high degree of veneration before the actual sacrifice
  • The hair and milk of a living sacrificial animal may not be used before sacrifice. Should the udders be very full, the milk could be removed and given to the poor
  • The animal be treated humanely
  • The animal may not be used for conveyance
  • A spacious and clean enclosure be provided for the animal
  • The animal must be given adequate feed
  • The water to the animal be changed three times daily
  • Live animals must be kept out of view of the slaughtering area
  • The slaughter area to be clean and free of blood
  • Dragging the animal to the slaughter area is not allowed
  • The knife for sacrifice has to be sharpened to the optimum, and the slaughter should be carried out quickly and effectively to minimise the suffering sustained by the animal. Sharpening is not allowed in front of the sacrificial animal. Muhammad saw a man who was sharpening his knife after laying down a sheep to be slaughtered. Muhammad rebuked him saying: Do you intend to make it die two deaths? Why did you not sharpen your knife before laying it down?
  • The correct size knife has to be used to slaughter the animal swiftly
  • It is preferable (Mustahabb) for those intending sacrifice not to cut the hair of the heads, beards, moustaches, underarm and pubic hair of their bodies and clip their nails from the 1st of Zul Hijjah to after the sacrifice of their animal.

Intention for sacrifice[edit]

  • Intention for sacrifice may be made at the of purchase of the animal. However it is recommended to renew the intention at the time of sacrifice
  • It is not necessary to make a loud verbal intention.
  • The following intention should be made: O Allah, I intend to sacrifice this animal for your sake

Actual sacrifice and method of slaughter[edit]

  • A person should slaughter his own animal if he is able to slaughter properly, otherwise he should entrust it to someone to slaughter on his behalf. However it is recommended that he at least be present at the time of slaughter should he be unable to do the actual slaughter.
  • Women are also allowed to slaughter should the laws of separation be observed.
  • The slaughter by a menstrual woman (haidh) or a women in nifaas (period after childbirth) is valid and permissible
  • The animal slaughter by a child for optional sacrifice or for the sacrifice on behalf of an adult (baligh) person is valid. However the child should possess sufficient strength to swiftly severe the veins of the sacrificial animal
  • A person should be assisted by his/her mahram at the time of slaughter
  • It is recommended to recite verses 6:79, 6:162 and 6:163 (Al-An'aam- The Cattle) with the addition Allahuma minka walaka (O Allah You gave it to me and I offer it to You. The complete Arabic formulation is: Innee wajjahtu wajhiya lillathee fataraassamawati wal-arda haneefawwama ana mina almushrikeen. Qul inna salatee wanusukee wamahyaya wamamatee lillahi rabbil AAlameen. La shareeka lahu wabithalika omirtu waana awwalul muslimeen. Allahuma minka walaka. Bismillah, Allahu Akbar
  • The animal has to be placed down very gently on its left side, with the throat facing Qiblah
  • The niyyah for Qurbani should be made. It is sufficient to make niyyah with the heart and to be aware of the fact that you are doing the worship of Allah

* It is essential to recite: Bismillah, Allahu Akbar (In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest)

  • If a person is being assisted by another person, and both are holding the knife, both slaughters should recite the tasmiya (Bismillah, Allahu Akbar)
  • The throat of the animal should be cut in a manner to ensure that the gullet, the wind pipe and the two external jugular/ arterial veins are swiftly and clearly severed
  • If only two of the passages and veins are cut, the slaughter would be deemed incorrect
  • If any three of the four are severed, the slaughter will be valid
  • The spinal cord of the animal must NOT be severed at the time of slaughter.
  • The blood of the animal should be allowed to drain until down to a trickle
  • One should recite the prayer: O Allah, accept this sacrifice offered by me as You accepted the sacrifice offered by Your friend Ibraheem and that offered by Your loved one Muhammad. May peace and blessings descend upon them both
  • Any animals that get injured in the actual slaughter process are permissible for sacrifice. Should the animal break its leg or the ear gets cut, the Qurbani will be valid (Ad Durrul Mukhtar)
  • Kindness to the animal is the essence of the slaughtering process and hence one should abstain from posing for pictures or recite lengthy incantations at the time of slaughter

After sacrifice[edit]

Skinning of the animal
  • Skinning of the animal as well as severing of the spinal cord is only permitted once the animal is motionless

Seven prohibited parts of the animal[edit]

  • Genitals of male and female
  • Testicles
  • Bladder
  • Gall Bladder (green thing attached to liver) (most important thing to remove)
  • Glands (further research required) (Ghuddah)
  • Spinal marrow/ spinal cord
  • Blood
  • Excreta

Seven permitted parts of the animal[edit]

  • Meat
  • Brain
  • Tripe
  • Liver
  • Heart
  • Stomach
  • Intestines are halal if cleaned properly

Carcass care[edit]

  • Meat and offal should be immediately separated, cleaned and refrigerated. The carcass should be hosed down with water

Meat and skin distribution[edit]

  • Muslims may consume the meat and utilize the skin of their sacrificial animals and/ or give it away as charity to Muslims or non-Muslims. As for giving the meat in charity, there is no condition as to what type of needy person one must give it to. Allah says, “So feed the one who asks out of need, and the one who needs but does not ask” [Qur’an 22:36]. Hence, one could give it to a friend who was unable to perform the sacrifice, or any other needy person, or multiple parties. [al-Babarti, al-Inaya Sharh al-Hidaya]
  • Consumption of this meat is considered a great favour of Allah as previous nations of the past were not able to consume their sacrificial animals.
  • It is recommended to keep one-third for oneself, gift one-third to friends/ family and give one-third as charity. Exact distribution is not necessary.
  • The meat, skin or fat may NOT be used for economic activity such as for re-sale and NOR for the payment of wages BUT may be given as a gift

Important note[edit]

The above laws are only applicable at the time of sacrifice for the period 10th Dhul Hijjah to 12th Dhul Hijjah and when sacrificing an animal for a new born child (aqeeqah). For purposes of meat consumption at any other time some of these laws will apply and not all.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ambros, Arne Amadeus. 2004. A Concise Dictionary of Koranic Arabic. Wiesbaden: Reichert. P. 2Gg22 [Q-R-B]

External links[edit]