Making qurban belongs to Islamic Sharia which has existed
since the existence of human being. After the sons of Adam were commanded to
offer a sacrifice (qurban), Allah then accepted the best qurban presented with
righteousness and denied the bad one. Allah said in the Quran:
“Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! they each presented a sacrifice (to Allah.: It was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter: "Be sure I will slay thee." "Surely," said the former, "(Allah) doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.” (Al-Maaidah/5: 27) Another sacrifice story narrated in the Quran is a sacrifice offered by Abraham, when he was commanded to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismail (pbuh). It is recounted in the Quran, “Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practicing Patience and Constancy!” (As-Shaaffaat/37: 102) Qurban was then prescribed upon Rasulullah (pbuh) as part of Islamic Sharia, symbols of Islam and an act of devotion to Allah for all blessings of life we must thank Him.
How Qurban was Prescribed
Qurban was prescribed as a symbol of sacrifice made by a servant to Allah. It is an act of obedience as well as an expression of gratitude for all the blessings Allah has provided for us. There are two ways with which we can see how gratitude and qurban (slaughtering animals) are related.
First, qurban is a means to extend the good relationship with relatives, neighbors, guests and fellow Muslims. The slaughter then becomes a phenomenon of happiness and gratitude for every blessing Allah has given to human being, and so it is a highly recommended expression of thanking God for His bounty:
“But the bounty of the Lord - rehearse and proclaim (by thanking Him)” (Ad-Dhuhaa/93: 11)
Secondly, qurban is an affirmation for everything we have received from Allah. The animal created by Allah is indeed a blessing for human, and that He has allowed them to slaughter it for them to eat. In fact, the slaughter is a way to approach Him.
Making qurban is devotion most beloved by Allah in Nahr day, as narrated in a hadith by At-Tirmidzi from ‘Aisyah (pbuh) that the Prophet once said:
“The son of Adam does not perform any action on the day of sacrifice that is more endearing to Allah than the sacrifice of animals; the animal will come on the Day of Resurrection with its hair, horns and hooves (for reward). Verily the blood has reached Allah before it drops to the ground. So make yourselves purified therewith.
The Definition of Qurban
The word qurban is derived from Arabic, meaning to approach, that is to slaughter cattle as a medium to approach Allah. This is known in Islam as udhiyah. Udhiyah linguistically have two meanings, i.e. a goat slaughtered by Dhuha and after and a goat slaughtered during Eid al Adha. Terminologically, it is cattle slaughtered during Nahr days with the intention of approaching (taqarruban) God under particular conditions (Syarh Minhaj).
The Law of Qurban
According to the majority of Islamic scholars, making qurban is considered Sunnah Muaqqadah (confirmed Sunnah) whereas the Hanafi School considers it obligatory. Allah SWT said in the Quran:
“Therefore to thy Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice.” (Al-Kautsaar/108: 2).
Rasulullah (pbuh) said:
“He who has the capacity to make qurban but opts to deny it, let him not approach our place of prayer.” (Ahmad, Ibnu Majah and Al-Hakim)
In another hadith it is reported that, “If you see the beginning of Zulhijjah, and any of you wishes to make qurban, then keep the animal’s hair and hooves (instead of cutting them).” (Muslim)
Any Muslim who has the ability and opportunity to make qurban, it is strongly recommended that he performs it. If he chooses not to, in accordance with Abu Hanifah, he has sinned. On the other hand, the majority of scholars argue that he is deprived of the primacy of Sunnah virtue.
The animals to be slaughtered for qurban are cattle (Al-An’aam), including camels, cows, and goats, male or female. Other animals like bird, chicken, etc. cannot be sacrificed. Allah SWT said in the Quran:
“To every people did We appoint rites (of sacrifice), that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food).” (Al-Hajj/22: 34)
A goat can be sacrificed for one person and can also be made for a whole family. Rasulullah (pbuh) once sacrificed two goats, one for himself and his family and the other for his people. As for camel and cow, each can be for seven persons, either belonging to a family or not, as mentioned in a hadith:
Jabir ibn Abdullah said, “We made qurban with Rasulullah (pbuh) in the year of Hudaibiyah, a camel for seven persons and a cow for seven persons.” (Muslim)
The sacrificial animal should be the best one, old enough, and without any defect. Rasulullah (pbuh) said:
“Four types of animals are unlawful to be sacrificed: 1. Having defective eyes; 2. Having illness; 3. Lame; and 4. Skinny with no fat.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Another hadith reported:
“Do not slaughter but a musinnah. If it is too hard for you (to get it), then slaughter a jadza’ah (one year of age or more) from among the sheep.” (HR Muslim).
Musinnah refers to a camel when it is 5 years old, a cow when it is 2 years old, a goat when it is one year old, and a sheep when it is 6 months up to one year old. It is lawful to make qurban with a barren animal, and in fact Rasulullah (pbuh) had once had a qurban of two barren sheep. Barren animals are normally fat and tastier.
The Distribution of Qurban Meat
One who makes qurban is allowed to eat a portion of the meat of the sacrificial animal, as declared by Allah in the Quran:
“The sacrificial camels we have made for you as among the symbols from Allah. in them is (much) good for you: then pronounce the name of Allah over them as they line up (for sacrifice): when they are down on their sides (after slaughter), eat ye thereof, and feed such as (beg not but) live in contentment, and such as beg with due humility: thus have We made animals subject to you, that ye may be grateful” (Al-Hajj/22: 36).
Rasulullah (pbuh) said in a hadith:
“If any of you makes a qurban, he is allowed to eat a portion
of the sacrificial animal.” (Ahmad)
In the distribution, it is recommended to be divided into three portions: one third for the qurban maker and his family, a third for his neighbors and friends, and a third for the needy or those who ask. It is narrated in a hadith from Ibn Abbas that Rasulullah (pbuh) had said:
“A third to feed his family, a third for his needy neighbors and a third given for charity to those who ask.” (Abu Musa Al-Asfahani)
However, when it is a qurban for nadzar, according to the Hanafi and Syafi’i School, the qurban maker is not permitted to eat the meat of the sacrificial animal even a bite nor to profit from the slaughtered animal.
The Slaughter Time
The most prominent period for slaughtering sacrificial animals is on the Nahr day, i.e. on Eid al Adha on the 10th day of Zulhijjah right after performing the prayer of Eid al Adha. For those who do not participate in the prayer, e.g. those making pilgrimage in Mecca, the slaughter can be carried out after the sunrise in the Nahr day. According to the majority of scholars including the Hanafis, Malikis and Hanbalis, the slaughter time is in three days, that is on the Nahr day and two Tasyrik days, that ends as the sun sets. The later opinion argues that Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), Ibn Abbas and Ibnu Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) had told that slaughter time is in three days. There is no way that the determination of the time is based on their own ijtihad; instead, they had heard it from Rasulullah (pbuh) (Mughni Ibnu Qudamah 11/114).
On the other hand, the Syafi’is and some of the Hanbalis, including Ibn Taymiyyah, maintained that the slaughter time is 4 days, on the Eid al Adha and three Tasyrik days. The end of Tasyrik days is indicated by sunset. This opinion refers to Rasulullah’s saying in a hadith:
“All Tasyrik days are slaughter days.” (Ahmad dan Ibnu Hibban) Al-Haitsami said: “This hadith has strong narrators”. With this authentic hadith, the Syafi’is then holds a firm opinion.
Methods of Slaughtering the Qurban Animals
Making qurban by definition is slaughtering a sacrificial
animal. The majority of scholars suggest that it is not lawful to simply give
the money to the needy and poor as much as the animal values, without any
activity of slaughtering. Making qurban is to slaughter a sacrificial animal
and then distribute its meat to the needy. The majority of scholars, of the Malikis,
the Hanbalis and others, point out that making qurban by slaughtering a goat is
more prominent than giving alms by the value of the animal. Suppose it is
legal to make qurban simply by paying the price of the animal, then the essence
of why the qurban is prescribed will be lost. As for a person who makes qurban
by allowing the animal to be slaughtered in another place, it is simply a
technical matter that is perfectly legitimate. If unable to slaughter the
sacrificial animal, the qurban maker is strongly recommended to witness the
slaughter. This is in line with a hadith by Ibn Abbas:
“Be present at the time of slaughter, since Allah will forgive you from the moment the blood is shed”.
When a Muslim is about to slaughter a sacrificial animal, he is to read, “Bismillahi Wallahu Akbar, O Allah this is the qurban of so-and-so (mention the name of the qurban maker), as performed by Rasulullah (pbuh):
“Bismillahi Wallahu Akbar, O Allah this qurban is from me and those who have not made qurban among my people.” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidzi)
More words can be added as Rasulullah (pbuh) told Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her):
“O Fatimah, rise and witness the slaughter of your sacrificial animal, since every drop of its blood will cause you to be forgiven for every sin you have committed, and say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds, No partner hath He: this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His will.” (HR Al-Hakim dan Al-Baihaqi)
Making a Joint Qurban
Making a joint qurban refers to a hadith from Abu Ayyub Al-Anshari:
“Someone during the times of Rasulullah (pbuh) made qurban with a goat for himself and his whole family. They all ate it so that people boasted him and did what he had done.” (Ibn Majah and At-Tirmidzi)
Ibn al Qoyyim said in Zaadul Ma’ad:
“Among the Sunnah of Rasulullah (pbuh) is that qurban of a goat can be for a person and his family even though they are in great numbers as mentioned by a hadith by Atha ibn Yasar from Abu Ayyub Al-Anshari. It was recounted in one of Rasulullah’s hadiths.
From Abul Aswad As-Sulami from his father, from his grandfather, said: There were seven of us including Rasulullah (pbuh), being on a travel, and we found ourselves in the Great Day of Eid al Adha. Then Rasulullah (pbuh) ordered us to collect money one dirham each. We then bought a goat of 7 dirham. We said: “O Rasulullah, this costs too much for us.” Rasulullah (pbuh) said: “Verily the most prominent of qurban is the costliest and the fattest.” Then Rasulullah (pbuh) commanded us. Each of us held four legs of the goat and its horn whereas the seventh person slaughtered it, and we all said takbir.” (HR Ahmad dan Al-Hakim)
Ibn al Qoyyim in his book ‘Ilamul Muaqi’in after presenting that hadith said that: “They were considered a whole family in how slaughtering a goat is permitted for them. They were all close friends. Therefore it can be inferred that some individuals can buy a goat to be slaughtered afterwards. Coordinated by the school, students usually buy a goat or a cow jointly to be sacrificed. In another hadith narrated by Ahmad from Ibn Abbas, a man came to Rasulullah (pbuh) and said:
“I am obliged to make qurban of a camel, but I am hard up myself and can afford it”. Rasulullah (pbuh) then commanded him to buy seven goats and to slaughter them.”
The Law of Selling Parts of Qurban Animal
Those making qurban are forbidden to sell anything of the sacrificial animal, such as hide, meat, milk, etc. in exchange for money that causes the loss of the benefits of the stuff. The majority of scholars stated that it is considered objectionable and even nearly haram, conforming to the following hadith:
“He who sells the hide of qurban animal, then there is no qurban for him.” (HR Hakim dan Baihaqi)
However, it is permitted to present that stuff as a gift to the needy, or to make use of them. The Hanafis argued that the hide of qurban animals can be sold and the money be given to those in need. The money can be used to buy something valuable for household needs.
The Law of Paying the Butcher of Qurban Animal
It is considered objectionable and even almost haram to pay the butcher of qurban animals. A hadith by Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) asserted:
“Rasulullah (pbuh) commanded me to organize a qurban (camel) and to share its hide and meat. He told me to not to share with a butcher even in the slightest”. Ali said, “We gave out from our own money.” (Bukhari)
The Law of Making Qurban for the Deceased
Making qurban on behalf of the deceased, when the departed
has made a will or wakaf, then it is allowable according to the majority of
scholars. If it is qurban for nadzar, the heir must carry it out. However,
if it is without will and the family of the deceased would like to make qurban
using their own money, the majority of scholars including the Hanafis, the Malikis
and the Hanbalis permit it. This is corresponding to what Rasulullah (pbuh) had
done. He slaughtered two goats one of which is for himself and the other for
those who have not made qurban yet among his people. Those who have not made
qurban can be alive or dead. The Syafi’is, on the other hand, do not authorize
this. Strangely enough, most Muslims in Indonesia have adopted what the
majority of scholars said whereas they overtly claimed to be followers of the Syafi’i
The Category of Slaughter
There are four types of deeds related to slaughter: hadyu, udhiyah (as elaborated earlier), aqiqah, and ordinary slaughter. Hadyu is any cattle slaughtered in Haram Land during Nahr days when performing Tamattu and Qiran hajj, or as a result of leaving an obligation or committing forbidden things either during hajj or umrah, or purely a way to approach Allah SWT as an act of Sunnah. Aqiqah is a goat slaughtered following the birth of a baby on the seventh day as an expression of gratitude to Allah. It is highly recommended to slaughter two goats for a baby boy and a goat for a baby girl.
The other type of slaughter is slaughtering animals of general purpose for daily consumption, for charity or for sale. An example is when someone is getting married. The marriage solemnization is then celebrated where goats are slaughtered for the party. A successful person in his study or career may also slaughter an animal to express his gratitude to Allah SWT. If there is any slaughter of cattle bound to specific time, particular ceremony and certain belief, the activity may be classified as heresy like those prevalent in several areas in the country. When the slaughter is offered to Satan or gods other than Allah SWT, it is obviously valid to be regarded shirk.
Every Muslim must bear in mind that making qurban (udhiyah), doing qurban (taqarrub) and making sacrifices (tadhiyah) have similarity and dissimilarity. Doing qurban (taqarrub) is an effort that a Muslim makes to approach Allah by using any deeds either prescribed as being mandatory or discretionary. Rasulullah (pbuh) said:
“Verily Allah said (in Qudsi hadith): “Whoever declares war against a friend (wali) of Mine, then I have declared war against him. My servant does not draw closer to Me (taqarrub) with anything more beloved to Me than the obligations I have stipulated on him. And my servant will keep drawing closer to Me by performing Nawafil deeds until I Love him. And when I love him, I will be his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hands with which he strikes and his legs with which he walks. And if he asks Me, I will certainly give him and if he seeks refuge, I will certainly grant him refuge.” (Bukhari).
Making qurban (udhiyah) is an act of approaching Allah by means of sacrificing a small portion of our possession, in the form of cattle. Slaughtering the animal under predefined conditions is vital. Making sacrifices (tadhiyah), on the other hand, has a broader meaning that is to sacrifice all that we have for the sake of Islam. In Indonesia today most Muslims are being stricken by flood. This natural disaster should teach us a good lesson. Has it occurred because the victims have been far away from Allah SWT instead of observing His rules? One thing is sure; they must take this opportunity to get even closer to Allah (taqqarub ilallah) by observing what He commands and what he prohibits. Those fortunate enough to be non-victims are expected to show caring action by sacrificing and offering help to the victims. One of the ways to approach Allah and to make sacrifices is by slaughtering a sacrificial cow or goat on the Eid al Adha day and Tasyrik days. May Allah accept our qurban and alleviate this calamity, and more importantly, save us from the fire of hell.