Sacrifice, commonly known as Qurbani, means slaughter of an animal in the name of Allah on the 10th, 11th or 12th of the Islamic month of Zil Hijjah. Sacrifice, as practiced by Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is an essential religious ritual in memory of the sacrifice performed by Prophet Abraham (A.S.). God put Abraham (A.S.) to a most difficult assessment, the details of which are described in the Holy Quran to sacrifice his beloved son in the name of Allah.
This is the origin of the Islamic precept of sacrifice in completion of Allah’s order. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.A.W.) said, On the 10th of Zil-Hijjah, there is no better act in the view of Allah than shedding the blood (of slaughtered animals). And verily sacrifice earns the consent of Allah even before the drop of blood (of the slaughtered animal) falls on the ground. Hence you should offer it in good spirit. For every hair of the sacrificial animal, there is a blessing. Here are the teachings and practices pertaining to Qurbani.
Qurbani, like Zakat, is essential for one who has the financial means and savings that remain additional to his own needs over the year. It is essential for ones own self.
However, a slaughter of animal can also be offered for each member of ones family. It may be offered, though it is not essential, for one’s deceased relations, too, in the hope of blessing for the departed souls.
What to Sacrifice
All the allowable (Halal) domesticated or reared quadrupeds (four footed animals) can be offered for Qurbani. Generally, slaughter of goats, sheep, rams, cows, and camels is offered. It is permissible for seven persons to share the sacrifice of a cow or a camel on the condition that no one’s share is less than one seventh and their intention is to offer Qurbani.
Age of Sacrificial Animals
Sacrifice of goat or sheep less than one year old (unless the sheep is so strong and fat that it looks to be a full one year old) is not in order. Cow should be at least two years old. Camels should not be less than five years old.
Sacrifice of an animal will not be in order if it is one eyed, or blind, or has lost one third or more of its eyesight, or one third or more of its tail, or its ear has been cut off, or it is lame, or its bones have no marrow (soft red or yellow fatty tissue that fills the central cavities of bones), or it has no ears by birth or its horns have been broken from their roots, or it has no teeth at all. If the number of teeth intact exceeds the lost ones, it is permissible. If it has no horns by birth, or has less than one third broken horns, it is permissible.
Distribution of meat
One should eat the meat of the sacrifice, give it to relatives and friends, (to non-Muslims also) and also to the poor in charity. One third should be given in charity, but if it be less it will not be a sin. One third of meat is given in charity, one third to relatives and friends and the remaining one third can be used by the person who sacrifices.
Injunctions on the use of skin
It is not permissible to give a portion of meat or the skin of the slaughtered animal as wages. They should instead be given to the needy in charity. Even the rope and cover of the sacrificed animal should be given away as charity.
Note: It is commendable that one who intends to offer a sacrifice should refrain from having a hair cut, a shave, and pruning of nails, from the 1st of Zil-Hijjah (up to the time he has performed the sacrifice). Intention In the first instance, one who proposes to offer sacrifice must make an intention to that effect.
Method of Sacrifice
The animal for slaughter should be laid on its left side facing Kaabah and its throat cut open with a sharp knife, and its blood allowed draining. In the case of a camel, it should be allowed to remain standing after its left fore leg has been stringed. A sharp spear should then be thrust in its breast and on both sides of its neck, and the blood allowed draining.
Lay down the animal parallel with the direction of the Qibla and utter the following prayer first: “Behold I have turned my face earnestly towards Him Who originated the heavens and the earth and I am not of polytheists. Behold, my salat, mine offering, my living and mine dying are all for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partners hath He, concerning this I have been bidden and I am of the Muslims O Allah! (I offer this) to you and You gave it to me”.
After reciting this prayers, Say: “Bismillahi Allahu Akbar” (In the name of Allah Who is Great) and cut the throat of the animal with a sharp-edged knife. Having performed the slaughter, read this prayer: “Allah! Accept this sacrifice offered by me as Thou accepted the sacrifice offered by Thy friend Abraham and that offered by Thy love one Muhammad. May Peace and blessings descend upon both”.
Although it is permissible to let someone else perform the slaughter of your sacrificial animal, yet it is better if you perform this act with your own hands. While you perform the slaughter, try to think and feel in the same way as you express through the words you utter at the time of sacrificing the animal “all that we have got belongs to Allah and it is all to be spent in His way only. The act of sacrificing the animal in His name is in submission to His will and if ever required we shall readily sacrifice even our own life in the way of Allah and shall be grateful to Him that He conferred upon us the honor of martyrdom by affording us an opportunity to shed our blood in His name”.