What Does the Quran Say About Udhiyah?

blog 6 27 22 giving udhiyah

The Divine Command to Offer Sacrifice?

In at least nine places in the Quran, with multiple mention in more than a dozen verses, Allah commands or exhorts Muslims to offer designated animals (s. hady) in ritual sacrifice (udhiyah). Allah has enjoined this observance on people as a worshipful connection to our remembrance:

  1. Of the blessing of His revealed guidance as a mercy that He alone has sent to us and to all people

  2. As a way for us to draw spiritually near Him (qurb, from which qurbani comes)

  3. To establish our religious identity by keeping us mindful of Abraham and his family, and his sacred way of submission to the One and only God, for it is the Household of Abraham whom we memorialize in the rites of the Hajj-Pilgrimage.

  4. To feed the world – and especially its poor – with the high-protein sacrificial meat

  5. To defy those who invest animals of sacrifice with sacrosanct religious value and those who – in an arrogant claim of moral superiority – would make unlawful for people what the Creator has made lawful for them of eating the meats of divinely unprohibited animals.

In what context does the Quran speak of udhiyah?

Most often, Allah’s injunctions of udhiyah, ritual sacrifice, come in connection with the fulfillment of the yearly Hajj-Pilgrimage, or ‘Umrah, the Lesser Pilgrimage of ritual visitation to the Ka‘bah in Makkah.

This includes, of course, the epic origin story of the rites of Hajj:

  1. The Father of Prophets, Abraham, settling his wife Hajar and first-born infant son, Prophet Ismail, in the desolate holy Valley of Tears, Bakkah, and Allah saving them and causing a great nation to descend from them (Surat Ibrahim 14:35-41).

  2. The building of the Ka‘bah and establishing its Sacred Sanctuary by Abraham and Ismail (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:124-132).

  3. The divine ransom of Ismail, whom Allah commanded Abraham to ritually sacrifice (Surat Al-Saffat, 37:83-113)

Does the Quran directly command offering sacrifice?

Yes. In one of the most trying times of the call of the Prophet, on him be peace – when his last son had died as a child and his enemies publicly celebrated this child’s death as severing the lineage and posterity of the Prophet, on him be peace – Allah famously commanded him: So perform the ritual Salah Prayer for your Lord and slaughter an animal in sacrifice (Surat Al-Kawthar, 108:2). 

This makes it an injunction upon all believers, since it comes in a category of acts not exclusive to him and in which humanity must follow him.

Does the Quran tell us why we offer sacrifice?

Yes. Allah gives us both the spiritual and worldly reasons for udhiyah.

Its devotional purpose includes the six religious values of remembrance it evokes in us, which we’ve already stated.

Its worldly objectives include the other two values mentioned above, but most importantly to feed fresh, nutritional meat to people in dire need of it – especially the famine-stricken and hungry – along with our own loved ones, to have mindful gratitude to the One God who guided us and made us Muslims.

Allah says:

As for the charitable-offerings of camels and cattle at the Hajj-Pilgrimage, We have made the benefit of sacrificing them among the prescribed rituals and waymarks of Allah for you.

In them, there is much good for you.

So mention the name of Allah over them as they stand in ranks for sacrifice. Then when they collapse upon their flanks, you may butcher their meat to eat of them yourselves – and to feed both the self-restrained needy and the suppliant poor.

Thus have We subjugated the sacrificial animals to feed you all, so that you may all give thanks to Allah.

Never shall any part of their flesh nor their blood reach Allah. But rather, it is your devotion—inspired by the fear of Allah in you—that reaches Him. Therefore has He subjugated them to you, that you shall extol Allah, the Creator, for the blessing of faith to which He has guided you. So give glad tidings to those who excel in doing good. (Surat Hajj, 22:36-37)

You can read more about qurbani / udhiyah here: