By Tayeba Hussain

Why is Qurbani Important?

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‘O Messenger of Allah! What is Udhiyah?’
He replied, ‘It is the Sunnah of your father Ibrahim (‘alayhis salam).’
They asked again, ‘What benefit do we get from it?’
He answered, ‘A reward for every hair (of the sacrificed animal).’
‘And [what reward is there for animals with] wool, O Messenger of Allah?’ they asked.
‘A reward’, he said, ‘for every fiber of the wool.’

Every year, Muslims all over the world give their Qurbani (also called Udhiyah or Udhiya) during Eid al-Adha. Qurban in Arabic means means to surrender or draw near. The term Qurbani in Persian is derived from this root.

Qurbani is typically meat that may come from a sheep, cow, or a camel. The meat from the animal will then go to help the poor.

The purpose of Qurbani is to give thanks to God for all of our blessings and to be able to share those blessings with our loved ones, and our fellow brothers and sisters who are in need. That is why many Muslims call this Eid the greater Eid — because the blessings you gain while performing or giving Qurbani are endless.

The story of Qurbani reflects back to the time when the Prophet Abraham showed his willingness to God by agreeing to sacrifice his son Ishmael in order to show his devotion to God. Muslims commemorate  that sacrifice — that devotion — by sacrificing an animal in the name of God and then using its meat to feed the poor.

Qurbani is more than just a spiritual sacrifice. For those who are receiving the Qurbani, it is common that it’s the only time in the year they’d eat such meat. Meat is one of the six major food groups. Meat such as poultry and fish provide essential vitamins to the body. Meat also has a high mineral content. Minerals like magnesium, zinc and iron are considered essentials for a healthy body. Magnesium is great for bone strength. Zinc is an essential for the body’s immune system. Iron helps the body maintain its energy as well as transport oxygen throughout the body. That is why meat is deemed to be a source of protein and important for a healthy and balanced diet.

Although vegetarianism and veganism are becoming increasingly popular, it’s critical to remember that one’s personal dietary restrictions do not have to be a limiting factor when it comes to giving Qurbani. A truly halal sacrifice is humane, and the meat that comes from it is also tayyib, or nutritious, healthy, clean and ethically sourced. Those in underdeveloped areas may not have the choice to adhere to vegetarianism or veganism the same way those of us in industrialized areas are. They also may not have access to the types of foods and supplements that allow vegetarians and vegans to remain adequately nourished.

That being said, we should also consider giving Qurbani overseas because so many countries across the globe don’t have access to nourishing meat. Zakat Foundation of America is committed to delivering Qurbani in hard-to-reach places such as Yemen, Gaza and other parts of Palestine, and Syria, that is always fresh and never frozen.

We have an obligation as Muslims to help those who are in need. We recognize that humanity is above all else. Give Qurbani today to not only gain blessings but to help feed those who are hungry.