The world is watching as Muslims around the world are preparing for the most important event of the year, Hajj 2019.
This August, roughly 3 million Muslims will descend upon Mecca to complete the Hajj obligation. One of the five compulsory pillars in Islam. Every Muslim aims to do at least one Hajj in their lifetime, as long as they are in good health and can afford it.
Muslims believe that the Hajj pilgrimage cleanses their soul and brings them closer to God.
But there is also another way, those who don’t make the journey, join in the celebration, by celebrating Eid ul Adha, the festival which follows Hajj, with their friends and families and that is the sacrificial act of Qurbani!
Sacrificing a living creature for the sake of God exists in many religions. Jews used to sacrifice their fields’ first harvest and the first offspring of an animal. In Islam, a Muslim with a certain income is required to sacrifice a sheep, goat, bull or camel.
The Story of Qurbani
In Arabic, ‘Eid al-Adha’ means the Festival of Sacrifice. Qurbani or Udhiyya literally means sacrifice. It is a ritual that transcends time, a ritual that millions of Muslims take part in. Every year during the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah, Muslims slaughter an animal – a goat, sheep, cow or camel.
The slaughtering of an animal is a symbolic act that dates back for centuries, but the Qurbani sacrifice is a very noble one. For a few weeks, Muslims around the world focus their attention to feeding the less fortunate. And for them, the act of Qurbani is honouring the story of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, for the sake of God.
Muslims believe Prophet Ibrahim dreamt that God ordered him to sacrifice his only son, Ismail. In his devotion to God, Ibrahim agreed to follow his dream and perform the sacrifice. But God intervened and sent a Ram to be sacrificed in Ismail’s place.
Ismail was spared because Ibrahim proved he would sacrifice his son as an act of piety, despite the personal loss it would have caused him. The continued practice of sacrifice or Qurbani acts as a reminder to Muslims of Ibrahim’s obedience to God.
In the modern world, Muslims cherish to make the sacrifice and take great pride in the sacrifice. The meat is cleaned and distributed amongst the poor and vulnerable. People cherish the act, often distributing the meat by hand themselves.
Many UK charities also provide a Qurbani service and act as a distributor to reach the neediest of people globally. Often this can be in wartorn countries or 3rd world countries, where orphaned children, refugees, the poor, elderly or disabled are gifted with meat to enjoy the festival.
Take this example of Muslim Charity, they provide a service where you can donate your Qurbani to 21 countries starting from £20 per share.
Most of these people eat meat annually and in many cases, it is not a part of their regular diet. In some cases, Qurbani meat can provide families with meat for an entire year and often is their only chance to eat meat.
Whilst Qurbani provides a source of food for those who need it most, the deeper impact of this ritual is that it creates a sense of hope. It brings Muslims together, from all walks of life to celebrate this important occasion.
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