As much as Qurbani is a time for families to come together and bond over good food, it is important to remind ourselves of the real lessons behind the special day.
The 10th day of the sacred month of Dhul Hijjah marks the end of the Holy Pilgrimage and brings with it the promise of new beginnings and the many blessings of Qurbani. It is our responsibility as Muslims to ensure that we learn from the example of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and to pass his example on to the younger generation.
Perhaps the most important lesson of Qurbani is placing our trust in Allah (SWT), in all circumstances. But if we dig deeper, there are many other, implicit lessons in the ritual of Qurbani. Let’s talk about some of them here.
Place your Trust in Allah (SWT) and His Wisdom
Upon receiving Allah’s (SWT) command to sacrifice his son, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) did not hesitate in accepting the will of his creator. He maintained his unwavering trust in Allah’s (SWT) plan. At the time of slaughtering though, Allah (SWT) replaced his son with a ram, saving the child’s life. We learn that the Almighty’s desire was not to take the child’s life but to test His Prophet.
Qurbani also symbolises our loyalty to Allah (SWT). If we put our faith in Him entirely, He will always lead us to the path that is best for us. Trusting in Allah’s (SWT) plan is known as ‘Tawakkul’.
‘… And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.’ (Quran, 65:3).
Love Your Creator More than Everyone
As human beings, it is in our nature to get absorbed in the material world. We begin to value our worldly possessions and relationships more than our relationship with Allah (SWT). But the story of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) puts things in perspective for Muslims – our responsibility towards Allah (SWT) should come before any relation or worldly attachment.
It is only when we prioritise we relationship with Allah (SWT) that we can truly begin to connect with Him. But this doesn’t mean that we stop caring about our responsibilities in this world. Quite the opposite!
Allah (SWT) loves His creation dearly and commands those of us who have the means to help those in need, whether these are people within your family or outside. So, this Qurbani as you work on strengthening your relationship with Allah (SWT), extend a hand of support to families in distress.
‘Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.’ (Tirmidhi)
Instilling Islamic Values in our Children
As much as the story of Qurbani is of Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) unwavering faith, it is also about the obedience of his son. His trust in his father’s judgement and faith in his God was strong enough that he was willing to give his life for it. There is a lesson here for all of us. As parents, we need to instil in our children’s hearts true love for Allah (SWT) and teach them the importance of obeying Him.
Similarly, we know how important it is to respect and honour our parents. Allah (SWT) has elevated the status of a mother so high that Jannah is at her feet. Our duties extend to our parents even after they have passed on. We are advised to make dua for our parents’ success and happiness in this life and in the Hereafter.
Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and be good to your parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of annoyance and do not repel them, but rather speak to them a noble word. Lower to them the wing of humility for them, out of mercy, and say: My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up when I was small. (Holy Quran, 17: 23-24)
Building Relationships of Care
In Islam, there are guidelines about how the meat from our Qurbani animal should be distributed. For our Qurbani to be complete, at least a third of the meat needs to go to people in need and another third to friends and loved ones. This shows how much emphasis our faith puts on caring for those who are living life in desperate conditions. It is our duty to assist where we can and for that, we are rewarded. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
‘None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.’ (Bukhari)
So perhaps one of the most important lessons of Qurbani is to care for our fellow brothers and sisters.
Purifying our Intentions
When performing Qurbani, Muslims follow the tradition of Ibrahim (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). But we should first make the intention of offering Qurbani to please Allah (SWT). The word, ‘Qurbani’ is derived from the Arabic word, ‘qurb’ which means ‘to approach’ or to ‘draw closer to’. Our Qurbani then is a way to draw closer to Him and attain piety (Taqwa). Much as our focus is on the physical act of Qurbani, our first intention should be to attain piety and closeness to our creator.
‘Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you.’ (Qur’an 22:37)