Many people see Eid al-Adha as a barbaric festival in which Muslims are just thirsty for the blood of animals. But is that true?
Let’s first discover what does “Qurban” or slaughtering an animal mean?
After the days of Muslims’ Pilgrimage, which are full of total obedience and worship to God (the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth), comes the day in which a Muslim proves his ultimate love and submission to Allah the Almighty, the day of Eid. Eid al-Adha is not about killing. It is not about hunting. It is not killing animals for entertainment or sport.
The word “Qurban” is an Arabic word which carries the meaning of coming closer. Coming closer to God and to the community. But how does slaughtering a cow, a sheep, a goat or a camel bring people together? How can the death of a living creature bring another living creature closer to God?
The Qurban is merely a symbol that the believer has given up something for the sake of God. On the most prosaic level, the believer has given up money to purchase the animal. They then give up a large share of the meat to feed those less fortunate than themselves. Moreover, the believer gives up time to select an animal to be slaughtered with care. The animal can’t be too young or too old. It must be in good health, and if female, it can’t be pregnant.
Sacrifice, whether that of wealth or desires, is the practical proof of man’s devotion to his Creator. It is in fact religion in action.
As a symbol of sacrifice, as a means of bringing people closer, the Qurban must be slaughtered with great care.
1-No animal should be slaughtered in a place where it can smell the blood of another animal, or hear any sounds that might frighten it.
2-When being brought to the place where it is to be slaughtered it should not be frightened nor should excessive force be used to bring it to that place.
The Prophet offered as sacrifices, two horned rams, black and white in color. He slaughtered them with his own hands and mentioned Allah’s Name over them and said Takbir and put his foot on their sides.” [Anas Narrated]
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) demonstrated with this action how he calmed down the animals before slaughtering them.
3-It should be slaughtered by someone who knows what they are doing, to ensure that the animal does not suffer. That is, not only must the animal be physically healthy, it should be in a positive mental state, not afraid, and not angry, and it should die as quickly as possible. Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (perfection) in all things. Thus if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” [Muslim]
4-Its throat should be cut to allow all the blood flow to come out. The Prophet said,
Eat what is slaughtered (with any instrument) that makes blood flow out, except what is slaughtered with a tooth or a nail.’ [Narrated Rafi bin Khadij]
5-Complete care should be taken of the animal while it’s alive. Ibn ‘Umar narrated,
The Prophet cursed the one who did Muthla to an animal (i e., cut its limbs or some other part of its body while it is still alive)”.
Ibn ‘Umar also disliked the branding of animals on the face. Ibn ‘Umar said,
“The Prophet forbade beating (animals) on the face.”
Islam encourages sacrifice for the sake of God as it brings benefit to the person himself and to the community around him.
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:
He who eats to satisfaction while his neighbour is hungry is not a mumin.”
► [Narrated by Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Sunan Al-Kubra, Vol. 10, Pg.3, Hadith #19452]
Allah says: ‘I asked you for food and you did not feed Me.”
– He (His slave) will say, ‘Lord,how could I feed You when You did not ask me for food and You are the Lord of the universe?’
He will say, ‘Do you not know that My slave so-and-so asked you for food and you did not feed him? Do you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found that action with Me?……”
► [Reported by Imam Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Hadith #517]
Eid al-Adha isn’t only a festival in which animals are treated and slaughtered in the noblest manner. But it’s also a season which the poor wait for from year to year to have the most delicious food that they can’t afford to buy.