The annual festival of Qurbani – the Muslim Thanks-Giving – is one of the most important times of the year for Muslim families and takes place during the Islamic month of Dhul Hijah – the twelfth and final month of the Islamic calendar.
During this month, Muslim families around the world follow in the footsteps of Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and have an animal sacrificed as thanks to God during the festival of Eid-ul-Adha.
The act of sacrifice during Qurbani is symbolic of Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son to God, and it is believed that there are blessings for every fibre of wool or every strand of hair of the sacrificed animal.
It is traditional for a third of the meat from the animal to be donated to those in need such as the vulnerable or poor. A further third is kept by the family with the final third shared amongst family and friends.
Qurbani is ‘Sacrifice’ in Urdu (the national language of Pakistan) and is known as ‘Udhiya’ in Arabic.
PROPHET ABRAHAM & THE MEANING OF QURBANI
Prophet Abraham dreamt that God ordered him to sacrifice his only son at the time, Ishmail. Initially, Abraham was sceptical and believed that Satan was playing tricks on him, but after enduring the same horrid dream the following night, Abraham knew that this was a message from God.
Despite his unbreakable love for his son, in his devotion to God Abraham agreed to perform the sacrifice. He led Ishmail to Mount Arafat (near Makkah) and confessed the true purpose of their journey, which Ishmail bravely accepted. Abraham bound Ishmail’s arms and legs with rope at his request so that he could not struggle before blindfolding himself so that he would not have to observe Ishmail’s fate.
Abraham took the knife and did as God had asked of him, but upon removing his blindfold, Ibrahim found that he was now standing over the body of a dead ram with his son standing beside him completely unharmed.
Immediately Abraham was anxious that he may have disobeyed the order of his Creator, but then he heard a voice telling him that God All-Mighty looks after his followers and that he need not worry.
Qurbani for Muslims is therefore a lesson in obedience and a reminder that we must trust in God and submit to God’s will just as Abraham and Ishmail did.