Qurbani means sacrifice. Every year, Muslims around the world slaughter an animal – a goat, sheep, cow or camel – to reflect the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail, for the sake of Allah.
The significance of Qurbani
The practice of Qurbani can be traced back to the Prophet Ibrahim who dreamt that Allah ordered him to sacrifice his only son, Ismail. In his devotion to Allah, Ibrahim agreed to follow his dream and perform the sacrifice. But, Allah intervened and sent a ram to be sacrificed in Ismail’s place. Ismail was spared because Ibrahim proved he would sacrifice his son as an act of piety, despite the loss it would have caused him. The continued practice of sacrifice acts as a reminder of Ibrahim’s obedience to God.
The Islamic method of slaughtering animals has been the object of much criticism from a large number of people. It is true that quite often, the animals in question end up suffering needlessly, which is completely against the rules of Islam. Here are a few ways to ensure that your Qurbani is done the right way.
Animal should be slaughtered with sharp object (knife)
The animal has to be slaughtered with a sharp object (knife) and in a fast way so that the pain of slaughter is minimised.
Cut wind pipe, throat and vessels of neck
The slaughtering is to be done by cutting the throat, windpipe and the blood vessels in the neck causing the animal’s death without cutting the spinal cord.
Blood should be drained
The blood has to be drained completely before the head is removed. The purpose is to drain out most of the blood which would serve as a good culture medium for micro organisms. The spinal cord must not be cut because the nerve fibres to the heart could be damaged during the process causing cardiac arrest, stagnating the blood in the blood vessels.
The Islamic method of slaughter can be described as follows:
The animal has to be lawful to eat, alive, healthy, to be slaughtered only for the reason of food, in the name of Allah, and not for any other reasons.
The slaughter-man must be in possession of a clear mind and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, trained in the job, with an awareness of what he is doing.
The act of slaughter starts by pronouncing the name of Allah, to take His permission and in order to make the slaughter-man accountable and responsible and to give compassion and mercy to the animal during this act. Then, by a very sharp knife, a deep swift cut should be made instantaneously and quickly to the blood vessels of the neck, the trachea and the gullet, but the central nervous system (the spinal cord) should be kept safe and intact (not cut).
Kindness to animals is the way of Islam
When we mention the religion of Islam, often the first word that comes to mind is peace. It is forbidden in Islam to treat an animal cruelly, or to kill it except for food. The religion of Islam has always viewed animals as a special part of God's creation.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) not only preached to the people to show kindness to each other but also to all living souls. Animals are to be respected and treated humanely.
The Prophet forbade blood sport (like cock fighting, animal fighting) which is cruelty to animals. He also forbade his Muslim followers not to hunt for game sports, like shooting birds and animals with bows and arrows. The killing of animals for sporting purposes like hunting is strictly forbidden. He forbade the practice of cutting tails and manes of horses and of keeping horses saddled unnecessarily.
It was forbidden to kick horses with one's feet unnecessarily while riding them. The Prophet also wrote to those who had been given the responsibility to look after the rights of animals to highlight that it was forbidden to tighten the rein of a horse. It is also forbidden to stay long on the back of an animal (horse, donkey, and camel) when it is not in motion.