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The Spiritual Benefits of Qurbani

by Musa Bukhari

The word ‘Qurbani’ shares the same roots with the word ‘qurban’ which means ‘closeness.’ Qurbani (also called Udhiya) refers to the act of slaughtering an animal for the sake of Allah (SWT). Qurbani has been stipulated upon Muslims who can afford it. The Prophet (SAW) would also perform Qurbani on behalf of those who could not afford it, after he had offered his own. Qurbani is not just about fulfilling an obligation (for the ones upon whom it is obligated), but also serves the purpose of feeding the poor who might not otherwise get to eat meat because of its lack of affordability. Qurbani for the sake of Allah has many, many worldly and spiritual benefits and in this article, we will look at some of these incredible benefits, inshaAllah.

Attaining Righteousness

“You will never attain righteousness until you spend [in the way of Allāh] from that which you love. And whatever you spend - indeed, Allāh is Knowing of it.” (3:92)

Attaining righteousness in the eyes of Allah is our biggest goal as believers. Which one of us does not want Allah to look down upon us with His Gaze full of pleasure? In this ayah, Allah provides us with a roadmap to attaining His pleasure. He says that we must spend from what we love, i.e. our money, our clothes, the items we hold dear, our food, etc. Qurbani can be included in this list. Allah told us to sacrifice an animal for His sake, to “spend” for His sake, and so if we offer an animal in Qurbani, then we are acting upon this ayah inshaAllah, as well as many other ayat in the Qur’an, including those that specifically talk about Qurbani.

It is also interesting to note that in the Arabic of this ayah, the word “Lan” is used instead of “lam.” So the translation is not “You will not attain righteousness until…,” but rather, “You will NEVER attain righteousness until…”

Allah is emphasizing that we must give from what we love.

A Stronger Motivation to be Better

“Allah only accepts from those who have Taqwa (are sincerely devout).”

Habil (Abel) and Qabil (Cain) were the sons of Adam (A) who were instructed to marry the twin sister born with the other. The sister born with Qabil was more beautiful and so instead of marrying the sister born with Habil, he insisted on marrying his own twin sister.

Qabil became enraged. Adam (A) suggested that they both offer a sacrifice, and whoever’s sacrifice was accepted by Allah would get to marry the beautiful sister. Both sons offered a sacrifice. Back in the day, when people would offer a sacrifice to Allah, Allah would cause a fire to come and consume the accepted sacrifice. When the object of sacrifice disappeared into the fire, it was known that Allah had accepted the sacrifice. Habil was a shepherd and he offered a healthy she-goat. Qabil was a farmer and he offered a bundle of bad crops. Habil’s sacrifice was consumed by the fire, signifying acceptance by Allah.

“Relate to them in truth ˹O Prophet˺ the story of Adam’s two sons—how each offered a sacrifice: Abel’s offering was accepted while Cain’s was not. So Cain threatened, “I will kill you!” His brother replied, “Allah only accepts (the offering) of those who have taqwa (are sincerely devout).” (5:27)

Qabil then became even more enraged and jealous and killed Habil as a result.

From this story, we learn that Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa, those who are conscious of Him. We should aim to be people who are increasing our consciousness of Allah and turning back to Him in repentance everyday.

A Stronger Physical-Spiritual Connection

One of the biggest tragedies of the modern world is that we are disconnected from the unseen world. We don’t think often enough about how Allah has appointed angels to carry out different tasks, from bringing water in the form of rain, to being in charge of the wind and the mountains. Furthermore, our hearts are impacted by the things we watch and listen to. It is imperative for us to protect our hearts.

The time and act of Qurbani can be an apt reminder to us about the reality of the connection between the physical and the spiritual world. When we do physical acts, they have spiritual repercussions. Allah says in the Qur’an:

“Their meat will not reach Allāh, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is taqwa (piety) from you. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may glorify Allāh for that [to] which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good.” (22:37)

This is a profound ayah, because many who disbelieve and mock Islam says that it is illogical that we sacrifice animals “for Allah,” i.e. what need does Allah have from us to sacrifice animals “for” Him? The answer is, He has no need. He does not benefit from the sacrifice. Rather, it is there for us to be able to show our commitment to Allah that we will do what He asks us to do. And through our increased faith in and obedience to Allah, we continue to purify our hearts.

A Stronger Connection to Ibrahim (A)

When Ibrahim (A) had the dream of slaughtering his son (some scholars say it was Isma’il (A), whereas others say it was actually Ishaaq (A), he thought that this was a dream from Shaytan. The dream kept repeating, however, until it was clear to Ibrahim (A) that this was, in fact, from Allah (SWT). With a heavy heart, he set out with his son to reach the place where he was to slaughter his son.

He told his (willing) son to lay down and he put on a blindfold. He proceeded to carry out the command of Allah. But when he removed the blindfold, instead of his son, he found a slaughtered ram. He was shocked at the sight, but soon learned that it was all part of Allah’s test and that he had passed. His son was standing next to him, healthy and safe.

Through our Qurbani/udhiya, we embody the values of submission and sacrifice of Ibrahim (A). We obey Allah through this act and through our obedience to Allah, we purify ourselves spiritually, the same way that Ibrahim (A) was continually purified spiritually through his tests and trials and his ever-ready obedience to Allah (SWT).

In sum, among the spiritual benefits of Qurbani are: attaining righteousness (taqwa), gaining a stronger motivation to be better, becoming aware of the spiritual world even as we live in the physical world, and strengthening our connection to our father, Ibrahim (A) by mindfully recalling his sacrifices.

There are so many known and unknown spiritual benefits of Qurbani. Indeed, Allah’s wisdom is beyond our comprehension and yet He gives us a level of understanding of His commandments so we can be grateful.

May Allah allow us to benefit fully from all the spiritual benefits of Qurbani. May Allah increase us in wisdom and understanding and in our willingness to submit. May Allah allow us to submit with joy and may He ease all of our affairs. May Allah be pleased with us. Ameen.

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