How Much Do You Donate for Qurbani?

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What am I required to offer for qurbani?

At the end of the Hajj Pilgrimage Muslims are strongly encouraged (some say obligated) to make an “offering of ritual sacrifice” for the sake of God – this is the meaning of ‘qurbani’ (offering) or ‘udhiyah’ (sacrifice).

The animals accepted for sacrifice are livestock, meaning cattle. This includes cows, buffaloes, bison (bovine); sheep (ovine), goats (caprine), and camels.

The qurbani sacrificial offerings can be male or female. A sheep or goat counts as a sacrifice for one person. Cows and camels equal a sacrifice for seven.

For it to count as an Eid qurbani or sacrifice, the sacrifice must be done after the congregational Salah-Prayer on the day of Eid Al-Adhah and, according to the scholars of three schools of Islamic Law (Malikis, Hanafis, and Hanbalis), before sunset of the third day of Eid. So Eid is the 10th day of the Islamic lunar month of Dhu’l-Hijjah and the following two days of the 11th and 12th are also for qurbani sacrifice.

The scholars of the fourth well-known school of Islamic Law, the Shafi‘is, along with other prominent Muslim jurists, include the 13th day of Dhu’l-Hijjah, before sunset, as a fourth legitimate day of qurbani sacrifice.

Be grateful that God has made it one of the great blessings of Islamic Law (fiqh) that it is open to multiple interpretations.

See What is the Qurbani Sacrifice? for a comprehensive explanation of the Udhiyah / Qurbani of Eid Al-Adhah

Do I have to do an individual qurbani offering or does one qurbani count for the whole family?

Most scholars rule that a single qurbani offering is due for each household. They define ‘household’ as people living together whose finances are connected and who share some, even distant, family relationship.

A much smaller group of scholars say the qurbani is due upon every individual Muslim. So a household of seven people, for example, would have to sacrifice seven sheep or goats, or one cow or camel.

Is a qurbani donation a must for Muslims, or a recommended act?

Most scholars say the qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice is something the Prophet, on him be peace, definitely did and urged us to do, so it is a very strongly recommended act. He said:

If the ten (first days of Dhu’l-Hijjah) come in and one of you wishes to slaughter, then let him take nothing from his hair or skin.” (Muslim)

This means, they say, the Prophet, on him be peace, was presenting it as a choice for Muslims, though he is emphatically recommending that we do it.

The Hanafi scholars (along with some prominent independent jurists) say the qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice is an obligation (on each household).

They say, two statements of the Prophet, on him be peace, show this obligation:

Let one who has offered sacrifice before the [Eid] Prayer offer another sacrifice in its place. And one who has not offered sacrifice, let him do so in the name of God.” (Muslim)

(This means you have to wait for the Eid Salah to finish for it to count as a qurbani sacrifice.)

One who has ample wealth to offer sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place or prayer.” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah)

Again, it is a great blessing that God has made multiple ways equally valid for diverse humanity within His Divine Law of Shari‘ah.

What do I do with the meat of the qurbani sacrifice?

Here’s the way of the Prophet, on him be peace, with his qurbani / udhiyah ritual sacrifice:

  1. He slaughtered: The Prophet, on him be peace, did his own slaughtering. This is preferred. If you do not do the slaughtering yourself, then it is recommended that you are present during the sacrifice, if possible.

  2. He ate of it: The Prophet, on him be peace, did not eat anything on the Day of Sacrifice until he slaughtered and then ate from his own slaughter. This is not an obligation. It is a preferred prophetic practice

  3. He distributed his qurbani: The Prophet, on him be peace, showed us to divide the meat of the sacrifice into thirds: one for your own household to eat, second portion for gifts to loved ones and neighbors, and a third portion you should give in charity.

Is it a good deed to give qurbani donation for those in need?

Absolutely. Indeed, it is prophetic to sacrifice one udhiyah / qurbani for yourself and another for the people of this Ummah of Muhammad, on him be peace.

According to his great Companion Anas, God be pleased with him:

The Messenger of God, God bless him and grant him peace, sacrificed two horned rams which were white with black markings. He slaughtered, saying: ‘God is the greatest,’ and saying God's name [bismillah], placing his foot on their sides. (Abu Dawud)

Not only this, Anas also reported that the Prophet, on him be peace, himself offered abundant sacrifices to feed the people on the occasion of Eid Al-Adhah and always made a qurbani offering for others of the Ummah:

The Messenger of God, God bless him and grant him peace, sacrificed seven standing camels with his own hand, and also sacrificed two rams with horns and white and black markings in Madinah. (Abu Dawud)

Another noble Companion Abu Talha, God be pleased with him, explains this prophetic practice.

The Messenger of God, God bless him and grant him peace, sacrificed for whoever from his Ummah testified that God is One and that he is God’s Messenger and who could not sacrifice [for themselves]. (Tabarani and Ahmad)

It is especially noteworthy for us in our times that the Companions of the Prophet, on him be peace, and may God be pleased with them, continued this practice of the Prophet, on him be peace, of offering additional qurbani / udhiyah sacrifices:

Hanash said: ‘I saw Ali sacrificing two rams, so I asked him: Why this [sacrifice of two]?’ He said: ‘The Messenger of God, God bless him and grant him peace, commanded me to sacrifice on his behalf. It is this that I do.’” (Abu Dawud)

And Anas ibn Malik, God be pleased with him, said:

Ever did the Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, offer two rams in sacrifice. So I offer two rams in sacrifice. (Bukhari)

How blessed we are in these days of ours that we can revive this sunnah, or way, of the Prophet Muhammad, on him be peace! We get the divine reward of feeding the direly in need all around us. On top of this, we gain the immeasurable divine grace of offering an additional qurbani / udhiyah sacrifice on their behalf, as our Prophet, on him be peace, did.

The Prophet, on him be peace, said:

One who revives a sunnah from my sunnah that has died out after me shall certainly have a like share of the divine reward of all the people who then act on it, not diminishing the reward of these people in the least. (Ibn Majah)

Some say it is cruel or a religious violation to offer animal sacrifice.

God knows, and they do not.

In fact, the qurbani / udhiyah ritual sacrifice is an act of open refutation against those who say it is unlawful for human beings to slaughter animals and eat meat – whether they claim this is due to the pain or loss of life it causes animals, or because they have invented the belief that the Creator has designated certain categories of animals sacred as part of religious worship.

In addition, the qurbani / udhiyah ritual sacrifice establishes for humanity that the most humane way of killing an animal is the stroke of slaughter that releases its blood flow.

Moreover, anyone who defies the command of God to offer qurbani / udhiyah ritual sacrifice has gone against the original way ordained by God and exemplified most excellently by Abraham, Father of Prophets and Friend of God. This sacrifice of Eid Al-Adhah is, after all, a commemoration of his and his son Isma‘il’s dutiful and arduous obedience to God.

Now, who but one who fools himself could be averse to the sacred way of Abraham? For very truly, We did choose him as a messenger in this world. Moreover, in the Hereafter, he shall, most surely, be among the righteous in Paradise. For when his Lord said to him: Submit yourself! He said at once: Willingly, I submit my face in worship  to the Lord of All the Worlds. (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:130-31)

We’ll give the last word on this to our mother, Aisha, beloved of the Prophet, on him be peace, God be pleased with her. She said:

There is nothing dearer to God during the days of ritual sacrifice [qurbani / udhiyah] than the sacrificing of animals. The sacrificed animal shall come on the Day of Judgement with its horns, hair, and hooves [to be weighed in the scales of good deeds of the one who sacrificed it]. And God accepts the sacrifice before the blood touches the ground. So sacrifice with an open and happy heart” (Tirmidhi)