Would My Sacrifices Be Accepted
Alhamdulillah, the month of Syawal has passed. Now, we are in the month of Zulkaedah and soon it will be the month of Zulhijjah. These 3 months of Syawal, Zulkaedah and Zulhijjah are mentioned in Surah al-Baqarah verse 197 as "the well known months" or the months of Hajj. The Hajj month of Zulhijjah, in particular, will remind us of "al-Udhhiyyah" or religious sacrifices.
Al-Udhhiyyah or Qurban literally means ‘close’. When we offer something valuable in order for us to be closer to Allah SWT, this act is considered a divine or religious sacrifice. Therefore, Qurban is more recognised among the Malays in Malaysia compared to ‘Al-Udhiyyah’. Qurban means to be close to Allah SWT by slaughtering camels, buffaloes, cows or goats on the 10th of Zulhijjah and on the days of tasyrik, and then distributing portions of the meat among the poor.
The rites and ritual of Qurban was prescribed in the third year of Hijrah, together with the giving of zakat and Eid prayers. Indeed, the act of Qurban in Islam is an act of religious observance that reveals obedience, servitude, sacrifice and gratitude of a servant to his Lord.
Allah SWT stated in Surah al-Haj, verse 34: Which means: “To every people, We appoint rites (of sacrifice), that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food). But your god is One God: submit then your wills to Him (in Islam): and give them the good news to those who humble themselves.”
The ritual and rites of Qurban, according to the Hanafi School of Thought, is mandatory. However, according to the majority of scholars including the Shafi'i School of Thought, Qurban is a much encouraged voluntary act for those who are capable.
Among the arguments that reinforces the encouragement of Qurban is a hadith narrated by Zaid bin Arqam RA and recorded by Ibn Majah: Which means: “The Companions of Rasulullah SAW asked him: "O, Rasulullah, what is this sacrifice?" Rasulullah SAW said: "It is the way of your forefather Ibrahim AS." They asked: what (reward) is for us therein?" He replied: "There is a reward for every fine hair. And they asked further: “What about the fur, O, Rasulullah?” Rasululllah SAW answered: “Even the fur from every fine hair shall attract a reward.”
The ritual of Qurban in particular, will remind us of the story of Prophet Ibraham AS who was commanded by Allah SWT to sacrifice his son, Ismail AS, as well as the preceding story of Prophet Ibraham AS having been commanded by Allah SWT to leave his wife Hajar and her son, Ismail AS, in Makkah. Qurban also reminds us of the story of Qabil’s and Habil’s sacrificial offerings to Allah SWT. All these and similar stories are about the sacrifices of a servant to his Lord. It is about willingness and what would be sacrificed to God. Indeed, the Believers are required to sacrifice their lives, their souls and wealth in the way of Allah SWT.
Allah SWT stated in Surah atTawbah, verse 20: Which means: “Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main, in Allah's cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: they are the people who will achieve (salvation).”
The rituals of Qurban is part of the category known as wealth sacrifice, but indirectly it also refers to self sacrifice, or sacrifice of the soul. Without one’s own willingness, it would be impossible to give up, or to sacrifice, the things we love and what is important to us. In fact, the performance of Qurban is an act of physical and spiritual worship.
The act of Qurban can eradicate feelings of greed and selfishness. Next, the ritual of Qurban can also lead to the development of feelings of sharing our blessings with others.
However, there are still those among us who are able, but are actually unwilling to sacrifice, or would sacrifice superficially only. When the philosophy of Qurban is not understood and appreciated, then the requirements of Sunnah would be abandoned, or if implemented, the goals would not be achieved and the benefits would not be comprehensive. Indeed, every sacrifice, even the smallest value, would be considered great in the eyes of Allah SWT when it is carried out with utmost sincerity and conviction towards Him.
We should reflect on the story of the sacrifices offered by Qabil and Habil. Why did Allah SWT accept the sacrifice of Habil, but rejected Qabil’s?
According to the Quran, as narrated in Surah al-Maidah from verse 27, Allah SWT accepted the sacrifice of Habil because it was done with full sincerity and devotion. Qabil’s sacrifice was rejected because it was carried out with utmost hostility and malice. The lesson learnt here is that the key for any form of sacrifice to be accepted by Allah SWT, be it in relation to the soul, self or wealth, is for us to uphold all commands and prohibitions of Allah SWT wholeheartedly.
The rituals of Qurban begins after the 'Eid al-Adha prayers on the 10th of Zulhijjah until sunset of the fourth day, which is at the end of the tasyrik days, which falls on 13th Zulhijjah. We are to slaughter adult animals ranging from camels, buffaloes, cows or goats, which are free of flaws or deformity. For the Qurban to be more gratifying, the selection of the animals to be slaughtered should be based on the best of breeds and price, as well as those which possess ample meat, pleasant-looking and so on.
For those who intend to perform the Qurban, it is advisable not to remove, cut or shave the hairs on their body, and trim their nails, beginning from early in the month of Zulhijjah until the Qurban is performed. Slaughtering is carried out by people who intend to perform the Qurban, but may also be delegated to other persons in the event of ill health. Slaughtering is carried out with the best methods by facing the Kiblat, using sharp instruments, reciting Bismillah as well as the Takbir and others.
The meat of the slaughtered animal is then divided into three parts: one third (1/3) for consumption, one third (1/3) given as gift, and one third (1/3) given to the poor. In the case of a gift or charity, our closest relatives and the needy are the most important or most preferred to receive it. It is forbidden to sell other parts of the animal not used, such as the meat, skin, stomach, legs and so on, because it was sacrificed in the name of Allah SWT.
The person performing the Qurban is encouraged to be conscious in his heart and soul that the practice was meant as a sign of indivisible oneness, obedience, servitude, sacrifice and gratitude that can bring himself closer to Allah SWT.
The conclusions of the sermon delivered today include:
First: "Al-Udhhiyyah" or ritual of Qurban, should be performed by every Muslim who is capable, as a way of displaying one’s obedience, servitude, sacrifice and gratitude towards Allah SWT.
Second: The greatest sacrifice is to present the best of what we have and can afford, as it is a form of worship offered to Allah SWT.
Third: The key to Allah SWT’s acceptance of the Qurban is our total conviction, faith and sincerity in upholding all the commands and prohibitions of Allah SWT.
Allah SWT stated in Surah al-Haj, verse 37: Which means: “It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that you may glorify Allah for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right.”