To choose or not to choose to offer Qurbani

Qurbani shouldn’t become a status symbol
A sacrificial goat being weighed ahead of Eid-al-Adha at Srinagar's Eidgah ground.
A sacrificial goat being weighed ahead of Eid-al-Adha at Srinagar's Eidgah ground.Haseeb Ibn Hameed for Greater Kashmir

Every year some questions arise in the minds of many Muslims regarding animal sacrifice. We may choose more informed opinion for ourselves in light of much of traditional material that is little known.

Although the basic principle is that “offering the sacrifice is better than giving its price in charity” and as Ibn al-Qayyim said in Tuhfat al-Mawdood:

“Sacrifice at the appropriate time, such as during Hajj and on Eid al-Adha, is better than giving its price in charity even if one gives more, because offering a sacrifice and shedding blood is what is required, and it is an act of worship that is mentioned alongside prayer” the option of charity or helping a relative in debt does call for consideration in many cases.

Contrary to more popular opinion here that insists on qurbani as wajib or non-negotiable ordinarily and required from every sahib-i-nisab and thus many sheep/goat from one family are to be sacrificed if more than one family member has requisite savings, the following points, reproduced from various sources, may be noted:

According to the view of the majority of the scholars the ‘Eid sacrifice is a Sunnah and not an obligation. The tone of the Prophet in “If the 10 (first days of Dhu’l-Ḥijjah) come in and one of you wishes to slaughter [in sacrifice], then let him take nothing from his hair or skin” (Muslim) indicates his instruction as a choice for Muslims to offer or not offer sacrifice.

» The Prophet (S.A.W) has already offered sacrifice on behalf of every Muslim (regardless of his resources for the same) who will not offer it (Abu Dawood).

» A great number of scholars have maintained one sheep or goat suffices from whole family. The Prophet sacrificed one ram on behalf of family and Ummah. Abu Ayub r.a. has reported that in the Prophet’s time one for one family was the practice. The scholars of the majority opinion — the ones who don’t categorize qurbani (uḍ?iyah)ḥiyah) as obligatory (wajib) — rule that this act of sacrifice is to be performed on behalf of every household that meets its stipulations of fulfillment, not by each individual that fulfills its conditions. They define “household” in this sense loosely, as people living together whose finances are intertwined and who are related in one way or another.

» Bilal (r.a) said: I wouldn’t care if I slaughter a rooster, as because spending that cost to an orphan or a poor, is more dearer to me than to offer udhiyah (sacrifice).

» Amongst contemporary Ulemas, Shaykh Saleh al Uthaymeen said “If it is a matter of choice between udhiyah and paying off debt on behalf of a poor person, then paying off the debt is better, especially if the debtor is a relative.”

» Allama Ibn al Arabi al Maliki said: “There is no hadith authentically established in the virtue of udhiyah while people have narrated oddities about it – such as it is a vehicle towards paradise – and none of them is authentic” (absence of even a single authentic tradition for virtues of sacrifice doesn’t, however, indicate it isn’t important or meritorious in its own right.

» Hudaifha bin Usaid said: “I saw Abu Bakr and Umar would not perform Udhiyah (sacrifice) disliking that they’d be followed (by people in this tradition).” They did not want people imitating them thinking it is obligatory. Abu Masud al Ansari said : “I abstain from offering udhiyah even though I am able to offer it, fearing that my neighbor would think that it is incumbent upon me.” It is reported in Sunan al-Bayhaqī that Ikrima narrated that if Ibn Abbas were to observe udhīyah, he would give two Dirhams to his slave and say: buy meat out of it, and inform the people that this is the sacrifice of Ibn Abbas. Ibn Hazm has authenticated and narrated from the Tabi’ī Imam, Faqih Sa’īd bin al-Musayab and Imam Shā’bi that they both have said: “As spending by three Dirhams in charity, is more dearer to us than to sacrifice (udhīyah).

It clearly appears that God will not take us to task for not offering qurbani. Qurbani shouldn’t become a status symbol. Failing to cater to the huge number of the desperate people is a criminal negligence for which we are and will be put to task.

While some individuals may choose other forms of charity including infrastructure for associated industries and helping farmers, Muslim Ummah must keep performing sacrifice as it is one of the symbols of Islam.

It may be performed by all those who can. It retains its efficacy as a symbol for sacrifice of the self/what is dear and has numerous spiritual benefits. Economic benefits are a bonus.

Post Script

Nothing is condemned to be wasted if we organise qurbani professionally and collectively and store meat for the needy.

Properly organised qurbani will allow the poor to have mutton supply for months for free and sponsor wiliama of thousands of needy couples and other community functions if organised after Eid ad-Adha.

Ultimately the choice between sacrifice and charity isn’t too strict as qurbani is a form of charity if organised properly. How badly organized is our system can be seen from lack of hygiene, disposal of wastes, failure to utilise blood etc., of sacrificed animals for industry, failure to use/add value to pelts at large scale, failure to organise mandis at regional levels and if organised lack of proper facilities for guiding stakeholders, feeding livestock etc.

Hundreds of crores of business could be managed to boost many other associated industries. And a huge chunk of economy could revolve around this great voluntary act of sacrifice. Nothing leads to God faster than feeding the community. Let Eid be a celebration.

God grounds all joys or sweetness as He is the Rasa of existence. Let Mohalla Committees and relatives have a meeting before Eid and organise all aspects from species of animals to distribution to storage to community events.

Why can’t Muslims or organisations who sponsor community events such as marriages make it a point to sponsor it only post-Eid al-Adha? There is also a need to facilitate marketing by considering community farming/qurbani banking idea that allows one to own a share in animal farm and accordingly one gets qurbani animal on reduced rate or free as one’s own money is invested by the farmer in the farm and part of progeny returned as one’s share.

Some farmers have already adopted this mode of supplying low cost qurbani animals (almost 50% of market rate).

This gives a farmer assured market besides easy capital to expand farm, so no need to involve middleman or depend upon exigencies of market.

Lastly it is an ethical obligation of all vets and breeders and those who buy qurbani animals that they shouldn’t purchase animals that are best for breeding as losing them is losing animal industry.

Farmers and traders must have a community sense and avoid selling animals for breeding at qurbani market.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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