Recently, Muslims all over the world celebrated ‘Eidul Adha’ – Day of Sacrifice, normally called as ‘Hari Raya Haji’ in Malaysia.
That is the celebration to symbolise ‘sacrifice’; and, we have seen thousands & thousands of Muslims all over the world, offering ‘sacrifice’, in the form of slaughtering goats, cows & camels, to fulfill their duty of ‘offering sacrifice’.
But, do mere slaughtering of such animals signify ‘sacrifice’?
Allah SWT in Al-Quran clearly says:
“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus We have made them subject to you that you may magnify Allah for His Guidance to you. And, give glad tidings (O Muhammad) to the doers of good.” (Surah Al-Haj 22:37)
This clearly says that just slaughtering of these animals in the name of ‘sacrifice’ would bring no good, unless it is done with piety. What is that piety? It is one’s total readiness to sacrifice everything that one has, in the cause of Allah SWT.
Take the example of Nabi Ibrahim (a.s.). He got his first child – the son, Ismail (a.s.) – when he and his wife, Hajarah (a.s.) were quite old. So, anyone can imagine how precious that child would have been to them; and how most lovingly they would have brought up the child. When the child, Ismail (a.s.) was 13 years old, Allah SWT tested the strength of piety of Nabi Ibrahim (a.s.) by asking him to sacrifice his son – his only son, the most precious of all his belongings! Here again, we have to think about one aspect. Allah SWT tested Nabi Ibrahim (a.s.) of his devotion only when that precious child was 13 years old; not when the child was baby! If baby, the duration of love showered on that child would have been only a couple of years; or, a little more. But, when the child grew up to be a boy of 13, the intense love of the parents for the son would also have multiplied manifold. It is at this juncture that Nabi Ibrahim (a.s.) was instructed by Allah SWT to sacrifice his beloved son.
We simply cannot even imagine the intense sorrow that Hajarah (a.s.) – the mother of Ismail (a.s.) – would have experienced in giving away her only beloved son for sacrifice! However, when she was told that it was Allah’s command, she pulled up courage and made herself accept Allah’s command. Nabi Ibrahim (a.s.) was never perturbed; neither was the son, Nabi Ismail a.s. Knowing that it was Allah’s Will, most readily they accepted to fulfill Allah’s command. This is the fundamental concept of ‘qurban’ – sacrifice – to sacrifice that we love most, or treasure most, for the sake of Allah SWT. Unless this readiness to sacrifice – or give away – that which one treasures most, is not within one’s self, whatever one may give in the form of sacrifice (slaughtering cows, goats, camels) is of no benefit at all, in the ‘eyes’ of Allah SWT, as is said in Al-Quran (5:27):-
“And (O Muhammad) recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam, in truth, when each offered a sacrifice (to Allah), it was accepted from the one but not from the other. The latter said to the former (whose sacrifice was accepted): ‘I will surely kill you’. The former said: ‘Verily, Allah accepts only
from those who are Al-Muttaqun (pious)’”.
It is clear from the above verse, that not every sacrifice is accepted by Allah swt. Only the sacrifice, offered by those who are ever willing to give away that which they love most, for the sake of Allah swt, is accepted.
It is said that, when an animal is slaughtered as sacrifice, before the first drop of blood falls to the ground, all the sins of that person offering the sacrifice are pardoned; and, he is ‘rewarded’ (pahala) amounting to the number hairs on the body of the animal. Yes! That is true – only for those who are pious; and ready to sacrifice that which they treasure most.
For example, a person has saved enough money to go for Haj. He has made all preparations to undertake the pilgrimage. At that time, a friend of his sees him and tells him that he needs about RM5000 very badly to settle his debt; otherwise, his house would be sealed, and his things confiscated. After verifying his story, and finding it to be true, if that person who had saved money to perform Haj, gives away that money to save his friend from his peril, that is true sacrifice – qurban.
Let’s say a man has saved enough money to buy a goat for qurban, which may cost about RM700. Just 3 or 4 days before he intends to buy the goat, a poor man approaches him and says that he has no sight in both of his eyes, because of cataract. And therefore, he could not do any job to earn a living. He had been asked by the hospital authorities to pay up RM700 – the cost of lens – for the operation. This poor man could not pay that amount. So, he pleads with this man to give him that amount so that he could undergo operation, and gain vision at least in one eye – by which he could start earning. If this man could give away that amount which he had saved to buy a goat, then that is true ‘qurban’.
Let’s say a rich man intends to offer one or a few cows as qurban. But, he never pays any heed to the suffering of the poor in his own country; or, in countries like Somalia, Gaza; and turns his back from doing some other good deeds. However many cows or goats he may offer as qurban (sacrifice) it is NOT going to bring him any benefit of qurban – except eating the flesh by himself & others. Only if he sacrifices (qurban) part of his wealth in the cause of Allah SWT by helping the needy, then only his offerings of qurban would be accepted by Allah SWT; and will be rewarded with all the benefits of qurban; such as:
the ablution of one’s sins, even before the first drop of blood of the animal sacrifice, touches the ground;
the benefits (pahala) equivalent to the number of hairs on the body of the animal sacrificed would be fully bestowed on him by Allah SWT.
So, ‘qurban’ (sacrifice) is NOT mere slaughtering of animals (goat, cow, camel) but it is truly the sincere sacrifice of one’s treasured belongings to the needy, to allay their sufferings, of which Allah SWT is always most pleased, as He says in Al-Quran (3:92):-
“By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (Allah’s Reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well.”
There are a few instances in which a person, who had saved money in a hard way to perform his obligation of Haj, gave away that amount that he had saved for Haj, for some other very important urgent cause – forfeiting his chance to fulfill his obligation of Haj. However, he was informed – sometimes in his dream, or by some ‘vision’ – that his haj had been accepted, although he had not even set out to perform haj! The benefit of Haj has been showered upon him by Allah SWT because of his sacrifice – true to the Quranic verse:
“…………… And, give glad tidings (O Muhammad) to the doers of good.” (22:37).
THIS IS QURBAN (SACRIFICE).
Dr.Mohamed Amir bin Meera Hussain
Perak Islamic Information Centre