The history of qurbani

“And when they had both submitted and he (Ibrahim) had laid him on his forehead, We called to him, ‘O Ibrahim, you have fulfilled the vision.’ Indeed in this way, We reward the doers of good. Indeed this was certainly the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, and We left for him (favourable mention) among the later generations. Peace upon Ibrahim.” [37: 103-109]




What is Qurbani?

Qurbani or Udhiya is known in the Arabic language to mean ‘sacrifice.’ In Islamic practise, it is the ritual of sacrificing an animal on the days of Eid for the sake of Allah (swt). Every year, during Eid ul Adha on the 10th – 13th Dhul Hijjah, Muslims will sacrifice an animal on completion of Hajj and to reflect Ibrahim AS’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail AS for the sake of Allah (swt). (See story below).

Qurbani is not just a ritual or a symbolism, there is much more to it. The original meaning of the word Qurbani, comes from the root word ‘qurb’ which means ‘to be near.’ The purpose of Qurbani is to draw near / closer to Allah (swt). During this period, everything is left for the sake of Allah SWT and we completely submit to Him and do whatever He has commanded in order to draw closer to Him and built a stronger foundation, gaining His pleasure. For this reason, an important part of Qurbani is to draw near to our Creator, to gain His pleasure and remind us to strive to have sincere intentions.

Who is Qurbani Obligatory on?

It is obligatory on every free, sane Muslim who is financially well off on the day of Adha. He should slaughter an animal on his own behalf and on the behalf of his children.

A single goat or sheep will be sacrifices for each of them or if they are a family of 7, then a single cow or camel will be sacrificed.

When is Qurbani Done?

Qurbani is done on the 10th, 11th and the 12th of Dhul Hijjah upon completion of Hajj. It is done on the dawn of Fajr and for those living in the city will do their sacrifice after the Eid prayer.

What Animal Can Be Sacrificed?

  • Camel

  • Sheep

  • Goat

  • Bovine animals (cow, bison, buffalo)

  • Horned or hornless animals

What Animal Cannot Be Sacrificed?

  • The blind animal

  • One eyed

  • The lame who are unable to walk to their place of sacrifice

  • An animal who has their ear or tail cut or majority of it is missing, they are also not allowed to be sacrificed.

The History

The First Sacrifice: The Taleof Habil and Qabil.

{And (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him» recite to them (the Jews) the story of the two sons of Adam (Habil and Qabil) 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: “I will surely kill you.” The former said: “Verily, Allah accepts only from those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious).” [5:27]

Allah tells us the story of the two sons of the Prophet Adam (as). Adam (s) used to get the male brought one birth married to the female brought forth by another birth. Habil was set to marry the sister of Qabil, but Qabil wanted to keep her for himself. A dispute arose between the two, to which Adam AS told them to offer up a sacrifice to Allah (swt), and whichever sacrifice was accepted by Allah (swt) would be the winner.

It is understood that Habil was a farmer and he took the best of his animals to be sacrificed in the path of Allah. Habil offered a fat she-goat for his sacrifice whereas Qabil did not want to offer up his best produce and offered bad produce for his sacrifice. Allah accepted Habil’s sacrifice and rejected Qabils.

Habil explained to his brother that Allah only accepts from those who are pious and are sincere. Allah was aware of how each of them made the sacrifice, Qabil did not have clear intentions thus, his sacrifice was rejected. This enraged Qabil believing Habil had been favoured and he ended up killing Habil, also marking this as the first killing in history.

The key lesson we learn and that is illustrated from the story of Habil and Qabil is, the sincerity and purity of intentions. Therefore, when one offers up Qurbani, it is important to have pure and sincere intentions and the willingness to do it for the sake of gaining pleasure of Allah, and Inshaa Allah, the Qurbani is accepted.

{Verily, Allah accepts only from those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious)}. [5:27]

The Story of Ibrahim and His Son Ismail AS

We called to him, “O Ibrahim, you have fulfilled the vision. Indeed, we thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was a clear trial.” – [37:104]

Ibrahim (as) was childless for many years, before Hajar AS was blessed with their first son Ismail (as). This was a fulfilment of the promise Allah (swt) had made onto him. However, Allah willed to test Ibrahim (as).

When Ismail (as) was old enough to walk, Allah revealed to Ibrahim (as) in a dream in which he sacrificed Ismail (as). This dream occurred for three consecutive nights before he understood that it was a divine commandment. When Ibrahim (as) told his son about this, Ismail (as) replied with:

Oh my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast. -[37:102]

Both father and son submitted to the will of Allah (swt) and set out to Mina to carry it out. Whilst on their way, Ibrahim (as) encountered Shaytan who tried to dissuade Ibrahim (as) to not carrying out the will of Allah. It is narrated:

Abdullah (ra) narrated, “He came to the largest Jamrah and put the House on his left and Mina on his right and stoned it with seven (pebbles), and he said: This is how the one to whom Soorat al-Baqarah was revealed (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) stoned it.” (Al-Bukhari: 1748 and Muslim: 1296)

When he [Ibrahim] left Mina and was brought down to al-Aqaba, Shaytan appeared to him at Stone-Heap of the Defile. Gabriel (Jibril) said to him: “Pelt him!” so Ibrahim threw seven stones at him so that he disappeared from him. Then he appeared to him at the Middle Stone-Heap. Gabriel said to him: “Pelt him!” so he pelted him with seven stones so that he disappeared from him. Then he appeared to him at the Little Stone-Heap. Gabriel said to him: “Pelt him!” so he pelted him with seven stones like the little stones for throwing with a sling. So Shaytan withdrew from him. It is this act of stoning that we remember during Hajj.

The obstacles that were placed there, not once but thrice, and Ibrahim (as) still pushed through to carry out the will of Allah (swt) shows the great zeal he had to gain the pleasure of Allah (swt).

As Ibrahim (as) was about to carry out the sacrifice and placed the knife upon the neck of Ismail (as), he turned his face away, and he heard a voice from the Heavens call to him saying:

“And we ransomed him with a great sacrifice. And we left for him [favourable mention] among later generations. Peace be upon Ibrahim”. – [37:107]

Allah (swt) replaced Ismail’s (as) with an animal and willed that Ibrahim (as) complete the intention of the sacrifice upon the animal.

This is what we remember every year during the time of Hajj. The stoning of Shaytan and the sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) are great symbolisms in the history of Islam and Muslims practise this all over the world during the time of Hajj. We learn that with sincere, pure intentions and to seek the pleasure of Allah (swt), we gain His reward and acceptance of our efforts. Remembering this journey helps us gain closeness to Allah (swt) and build a better relationship with Him.

The Last Part - The Prophetic Qurbani

The last part to the history of Qurbani is the Qurbani of the Prophet (saw). The Prophet (saw) after completing the Eid prayer, delivered a sermon and proceeded to make his sacrifice. It is narrated:

On the day of Nahr the Prophet (ﷺ) offered the prayer and delivered the Khutba and then slaughtered the sacrifice and said, “Anybody who slaughtered (his sacrifice) before the prayer should slaughter another animal in lieu of it, and the one who has not yet slaughtered should slaughter the sacrifice mentioning Allah’s name on it.” [Sahih Bukhari, 985]

The Prophet (saw) performed the ritual his forefather Ibrahim (as) had done years before him, keeping the Prophetic tradition alive and showing us the importance of it.

One important aspect which is the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) which is narrated is that he sacrificed a second animal for those who were not able to sacrifice it. Such a beautiful Sunnah it is of the Prophet (saw) and even more beautiful it would be if we could keep that alive, not only feeding those who are unable to do their Qurbani but also gaining the pleasure of Allah (swt).

Together, we can help those in need to celebrate this joyous occasion all over the world and create an impact and revive a great Sunnah of the Prophet (saw).

Featured blogs

Sadaqah tul Fitr

Sadaqah tul Fitr explained “The charity of those who expend their wealth in the Way…


Zakah explained What is Zakah? Zakah is the second pillar of Islam. It is an…