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Mystic Mantra: The true meaning of qurbani

The writer is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and doctoral scholar with Centre for Media, Culture & Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia. Contact him at
Published : Aug 22, 2018, 1:49 am IST
Updated : Aug 22, 2018, 1:49 am IST

Acts that strengthen fraternity, brotherhood and charity are greatly valued on the day of Id-ul-Adha.

Goats on sale ahead of Eid-ul-Azha at a market in Patna on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)
 Goats on sale ahead of Eid-ul-Azha at a market in Patna on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)

Id-ul-Adha (feast of sacrifice) is not just an occasion for slaughtering animals. It is rather a three-day-long spiritual reminder of the true meaning of qurbani — sacrifice, submission and supplication to God, evoking deep emotions for the needy and hungry people. It offers Muslims an opportune time for serious reflection on the condition of the poor and the destitute, inculcating the spirit of caring for, and sharing with them.

Prophet Abraham’s deeper devotion and complete submission to the will of God are the core values that Muslims celebrate during this festival. Thus, they remind themselves of the Prophet’s willingness to sacrifice anything for the sake of God. Muslims sacrifice the halal (permissible) animals in remembrance of Ibrahim’s devotional sacrifice to God and distribute them to the poor who cannot afford their meals. However, animal sacrifice is not the core essence of this festival. God does not actually take pleasure in flesh and blood, as he says: “Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches him is piety from you.”

Therefore, this solemn occasion should not be confined to animal sacrifice; Muslims must opt for many other ways to express devotion to the will of Allah. Many virtuous and harmonious acts based on kindness and sharing tradition should be performed to achieve the noble objectives of Id-ul-Adha.

Among the various prophetic traditions (sunnats) relating to Id-ul-Adha are greeting and embracing the neighbours, hugging them when meeting or parting, visiting and comforting the sick, offering condolences to the bereaved, exchanging gifts and thus sharing joy and happiness with all means possible. Such acts that strengthen fraternity, brotherhood and charity are greatly valued on the day of Id-ul-Adha.

Id-ul-Adha appears to be a festival for a particular community. But in a broader sense, it is part of the universal celebration of social harmony. The spirit of sharing runs high in this feast and, therefore, Muslims become more generous and eager to share with the brethren of other communities.

Notably, festivals in India look diametrically different in their exterior forms, but, in essence, they remain same in terms of the varied and enriching cultural expressions that promote social harmony. Every fest in this country helps people get together with a mutual feeling of cultural amity and universal brotherhood.

In fact, festivals are often born out of different historical traditions. Since the traditions of different communities pertain to a context, they are bound to differ naturally when they take shape. However, the underlying essence remains the same. It is not possible to bring uniformity in the style of the festivals because of their variance in the external appearance.

If there are 10 members in a family, it is natural that the shape of all members will differ from each other but as part of the family unit, they are all the same. Similarly, each religion has different festivals but they thrive like beads in a rosary.

Tags: muslims, prophet abraham, eid-ul-adha