What is Kurban or Kurbani?


What is Kurban or Kurbani?

Qurbanī, Qurban or uḍḥiyyah, as mentioned in Muslim tradition, is the ritual animal sacrifice of a livestock animal during Bayram/Eid al-Adha. In Islamic law, udhiyyah would refer to the sacrifice of a specific animal offered by a specific person on specific days to seek God’s benevolence and reward. “Qurban” comes from the Arabic “Qurba” which means “to approach.”

The word qurban appears three times in the Quran: once in reference to animal sacrifice and twice in reference to sacrifice in the general sense of any action that can bring one closer to God. In contrast, dhabīḥah refers to normal Islamic slaughter outside the day of udhiyyah.

A qurban is paid for each household. Islamic scholars differ on whether a qurban is an obligatory act or a desired act.

Ibrahim’s sacrifice

The practice of qurbani dates back to Ibrahim, who dreamed that God commanded him to sacrifice his son. Ibrahim agreed to obey God’s command and perform the sacrifice, but God intervened and informed him that his sacrifice had been accepted. Unlike the Bible, the Qur’an does not mention that an animal (ram) replaces the boy, but he is replaced by a “great sacrifice.” From this day every year, once a year, Muslims around the world slaughter an animal to commemorate Ibrahim’s sacrifice.

Wisdom of the Sacrifice

The philosophy behind udhiyyah is that it is a demonstration of submission to God, complete obedience to God’s will or command, and sacrificing everything for His good pleasure. Ibrahim demonstrated this spirit of submission and sacrifice in the best possible way. When confronted with the challenge of love and loyalty, he chose to submit unconditionally to God, suppressing personal desire and love for his family and child. Qurbani calls for the slaughter of one’s desires by putting the knife of courage and resistance on hatred, jealousy, pride, greed, hostility, love of the world and other such diseases of the heart.

Ritual Sacrifice

In Islam, the sacrifice of an animal is commanded from the morning of the 10th to sunset of the 13th of Dhu l-Hijjah, the 12th lunar month of the Islamic calendar. On these days, Muslims around the world offer qurbani. It is understood as a symbolic repetition of Ibrahim’s sacrifice in place of his son, a crucial concept in Judaism and Islam alike. Islamic preachers would use the occasion to comment on the fact that Islam is a religion of sacrifice, and use this occasion to remind Muslims of their duty to serve humanity with their time, effort and wealth.