THE SIGNIFICANCE OF UDHIYAH – QURBANI – THE SACRIFICE
Udhiya, commonly known and referred to as Qurbani, is a very great act of Ibadah (worship), and is very beloved to Allah. Originating from the great sacrifice which Ibraheem (A.S.), the friend of Allah offered at his time, Allah instituted this practice to be part of the rituals done in the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah by pilgrims and non-pilgrims.
When one does ‘Qurbani’ he re-enacts the blessed act of Prophet Ibraheem (A.S.), and recalls (to mind) the great sacrifice which this beloved Prophet was asked to offer to Allah. In this sacrifice, Ibraheem (A.S.) was fully prepared, and had done everything to sacrifice his only beloved son by physically putting the knife on his throat for the sake of Allah.
This was indeed a most difficult test for Ibraheem (A.S.). However, even though it was a great trial, he was able to show that Allah was more beloved to him than every single thing on the face of the earth, including the life of his only beloved son. Allah saw the strength of faith and obedience in His beloved Prophet (Ibraheem (A.S.)), and accepted his willingness to sacrifice Isma’il (A.S).
In exchange, Allah sent a ram from paradise and ordered Ibraheem (A.S) to sacrifice it instead of his beloved son. Thus, this great practice became a part of the religion of Islam, and was established with emphasis by the noble Messenger of Allah (S.A.S). Throughout his entire life in Madinah which lasted for ten years, the Prophet (S.A.S) did Qurbani every year for this entire period. Even when he was a traveller, he still did the Qurbani.
On the occasion of the farewell Hajj, he offered one hundred camels in Qurbani to Allah. He exhorted his followers to do the Qurbani, and reprimanded them for not doing it when he said,
مَنْ كَانَ لَهُ سَعَةٌ، وَلَمْ يُضَحِّ، فَلَا يَقْرَبَنَّ مُصَلَّانَا
‘Whoever has the means (ability) to do a Qurbani and does not do it, let him not come close to our place of Salaah for Eid Salaah.’
It must be understood that Qurbani is an act of Ibadah (worship). It is done only for the sake of Allah, and must be carried out in the way prescribed by the Holy Prophet (S.A.S).
Qurbani is not a charity, nor is it done to feed the poor and needy. It is an independent act of worship which involves the sacrifice of animals and nothing else.
It should be done with the understanding that it will bring about the true spirit of sacrifice in one’s life. While physically doing the Qurbani, one should recall the great sacrifice that Ibraheem (A.S.) did, and try to develop the willingness to sacrifice for Allah’s sake. If this is done, then Insha Allah, it is hoped that the true spirit of Qurbani will come into the lives of Muslims.
This however, can only be achieved when one does his own Qurbani (Sacrifice) or witnesses his Qurbani being doing. When one takes part in the slaughtering, sacrificing, distributing and partaking of his Qurbani, he is able to achieve all the blessings, rewards and benefits which the Prophet (S.A.S) spoke about.
However, when one sends his money in a foreign country to do his Qurbani, he becomes deprived of the true significance and benefits of doing a Qurbani for the sake of Allah.
Qurbani must not be treated as a ‘charity’ that is done to help the poor and needy in poor countries. To do Qurbani for this reason is totally wrong, and it is sinful to bring about such understanding. Muslims must be careful that they do not change the meaning, spirit and significance of Qurbani in Islam. Qurbani has nothing to do with feeding the poor and the needy. It has nothing to with where the meat is distributed and who gets the meat. It is an act of worship where one willingly offers his sacrifice to Allah and be present to witness this offering that he is dedicating and giving to Allah.
When one looks at the Qurbani of the Prophet (S.A.S), one will clearly see that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.S) was very keen to sacrifice his animals and to also witness the Qurbani that was done.
It is narrated that on the occasion of the farewell pilgrimage, the Prophet (S.A.S) did Qurbani of 100 camels. From this amount, he alone slaughtered and sacrificed 63 with his blessed hands. This obviously was not an easy task for him, seeing that there were many difficulties involved in slaughtering the camels. The fact that these camels had to be brought from Yemen to Makkah, and then taken one after the other, to the place of slaughter at Mina. Along with this, the difficulties involved in the actual sacrifice by cutting the throat of each camel and putting them to lie on the ground, are to be considered.
One can well imagine the amount of difficulties and the length of time taken in slaughtering these camels. Despite all these difficulties, and regardless of the fact that the companions (Sahabahs) were prepared and ready to do the slaughter of these camels, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.S) himself chose to do his Qurbani, and in this way, went on to slaughter 63 of these with his blessed hands.
Through this, the Prophet (S.A.S) wanted to teach his Ummah that the great virtues and full benefits of Qurbani are achieved when one does his Qurbani himself, and he witnesses the slaughter that takes place.
 Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 1507, Pg. 644, Vol.1, Published by Altaf and Sons / A similar narration is reported in Ahmad, Hadith No. 4955, Vol. 2, Pg. 282, Published by Maktaba Tijariya
 Ibn Majah, Pg. 226, Published by Qademi Kutub Khana / Similar narrations are reported in Ahmad, Hadith No. 8280, Pg. 207, Vol. 3, Published by Maktaba Tijariya / Dar Qutni, Hadith 4743, Pg.500, Published by Reesalah Publishers / Hakim, Hadith No. 7727, Vol.5, Pg. 156, Published by Qademi Kutub Khana