Posted by: Dawud Israel | August 4, 2021

A Critical Meta-Analysis of the Qurbani

A Critical Meta-Analysis of the Qurbani

This title is just for kicks – it is neither critical nor a meta-analysis. I just wanted to set the tone for taking the udhiya (qurbani) in a serious light and pondering it’s meanings. I recently did my qurbani – that is – not by payment but by hand. It is an interesting sight. It is easy to see it as cruel but for the facts of life in that these animals will be consumed by Muslim and non-Muslim alike anyways.

It is fascinating to see the various traditions of slaughtering. Some cultures prize the cow, others the goat and its brains, Africans like to torch the body of the animal, while others value the intestines. We are blessed to be able to eat different parts of the animal, as the Jews are forbidden to eat certain parts of the animal. Moreover, they cannot do qurbani as the Temple Mount is no more and can only sacrifice at most a chicken once a year and in the days of Bani Israil would sacrifice even herbs.

With but a few words does the animal become halal for a Muslim to eat and with a few words – the kalima – does a Muslim affirm his faith and uttering them before he/she dies. The butcher skins, pieces, minces, and weighs each part of the animal, just as the angels size us up in our grave and our deeds are weighed in the scale like beef by the gram. The taqwa of the sacrifice is what reaches our Lord we are told in the Qur’an. The reminder of death in the qurbani that makes us moderns shake a little and cringe at the blood squirting is all too clear a sign of how far we are from our fitra and the norms of Muslim life around the world.

In the Qur’an, we hear of how Ibrahim ran to slaughter a lamb and bring it to roast for his guests. When you are slaughtering an animal, skinning it, piecing it and getting it ready to eat, you understand Ibrahim must have took a long time with a lot of labour to ready this meal, and this shows the height of his generosity. We just rather have food prepped by a caterer or pick up takeout or if we prepare for our guests, it will be a chicken at most, never a roasted lamb.

In Jannah, death will come in the form of a lamb/goat (I can’t remember which?) that will be slaughtered and then death will end. There is a great poetry in this fact that all those animal sacrifices, those qurbanis, we felt may be a little tough to watch an animal die, will end with death’s death in the form of a qurbani. This is the difference between our qurbani for taqwa, and Allah’s ‘qurbani‘ to gift us eternal life or eternal damnation. Will we bask eternally like sheep in a heavenly ethical organic farm to never be slaughtered? Or will we roast in the hellfire for eternity to be slewn over and over again?

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la ilaha illa Ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


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