The meaning of sacrifice | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 29, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:49 PM, August 29, 2017

Qurbani special

The meaning of sacrifice

The people offering sacrifice must be of sound mind and judgment.The animal used should be healthy and mature and without any permanent disfigurements 

During the time of the festival, charity does not substitute Qurbani donations, nor does it fulfill the obligation.

Animals should be purchased some days ahead of the festival, and properly fed, nurtured and cared for. No animal should be made to see/observe or kept in the vicinity when another animal is sacrificed. No elements of slaughter shall be sharpened or kept in front of the animal ahead of time. All knives should be sharp, and the slaughter done with care to avoid needless suffering of the animal. Skinning must not begin until the animal is completely cold. 

The meat should be divided according to weight and not approximation. The butcher cannot be paid in meat, and the proceeds from the sale of the skin of the animal must be given in charity. The skin itself can also be used for personal use, but the money from it must not be.

It is not their meat nor the blood that reaches Allah, it is the piety of the believer—  the holy Qur'an (Chapter 22; Verse 37)

Every year Muslims all over the world observe the two Eid festivals as the largest community based celebrations for the entire Muslim nation. And yet, many of us may not realise that the second one, known as the Eid-ul-Azha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is not a celebration, rather it is supposed to be marked or observed as a day of piety instead, remembering that life is sacred, and that a Muslim shall put the commandments and love for Allah over everything else. 

The act of animal slaughter is symbolic of this oath that a Muslim makes, to submit to the will of Allah. 

The festival which often seems barbaric to many for the massive scale slaughter sacrifice of cattle, which is often times brutal due to the ignorance of  those who perform it, is supposed to be a solemn affair, without reveling in any glee or blood-thirst. 

Every adult Muslim with capacity to afford an animal is supposed to offer Qurbani, literally sacrifice, to remember the exceptional piety of the Prophet Ibrahim (AS), who prepared himself to even give up his beloved son when asked by Allah, regardless of the pain it would cause him personally. 

This willingness to give up his 'most beloved' possession for the love of Allah is what forms the base of the festival of sacrifice. 

As Muslims, and as human beings, we must remember that all life is sacred, and that includes the cattle we offer for sacrifice. These are sentient beings, and of course each of the animals' life is to be taken with just solemnity. 

This festival is not about offering the most expensive animal, it is not about showing off the most number of animals that a person can buy, it is also not about indulgence in gluttony. 

What is this about then? 

The sacrifice should remind us of the nature of life, how vulnerable it is, how transient. Most of us eat meat all through the year, and it is off course procured through killing animals, just not before our very eyes. But the guidelines for the sacrifice itself, and more so for the sharing of the meat is a good indicator of how Allah wants us to live our lives at all other times of the year—one third for those in need, one third for family and friends, and only the remaining third for ourselves. 

It serves as a good reminder of what is expected of a Muslim as a part of a society. Share your wealth and all of Allah's bounty with the people around you; some for those who might not be as privileged as you are — to foster bonds of brotherhood and community, some for those who are near and dear to you — to strengthen the bonds of love and affection, and only the rest for your own self. 

So are we not supposed to enjoy the delicious things that our mothers make for us from the plentiful supply of meat during the festival? 

Of course we can! 

It is much love and a lot of hard work that goes into preparation of the food. It also often meal times such as those during festivals that help us make the very best of our memories for later years. Yet we also must remember why we do what we do, and let us pray that our Qurbanis are accepted.

By Sania Aiman

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