The Concept of Qurban as per Qur’an

This article was originally published and graciously granted syndication by Worldwide Quran Thinkers.

Eid-Al-Adha in the Light of Quran

We are fast approaching the time when millions of animals would be slaughtered by Muslims during Eid Al Adha. Eid al-Adha is one of the most important Muslim festivals celebrated worldwide, wherein Muslims slaughter animals such as sheep, goats, buffalo, cattle, and camels on the culmination day of Hajj in Mecca. Muslims, in general, do not even know the Quranic guidance or what Allah has really ordained for us — they all are simply following whatever has been practised generations after generations in the name of Islam. By being under the impression that Eid al-Adha honours Nabiy Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, every year Muslims celebrate this Eid by slaughtering animals at mass scale in the belief that this is what Allah has ordained.

Common Understanding and Practise

Most of the Muslims relate the ritual animal slaughtering during Eid-al-Adha (commonly known as Qurbani) with the act of Nabiy Ibrahim. As per the general understanding of Muslims ‘Nabiy Ibrahim was ordered by Allah to sacrifice his most precious thing, which he realized was his son’s life. He told his son about the dream. His son agreed to follow God’s command, however, God intervened and replaced his son with an animal (sheep) and informed him that his sacrifice had been accepted’. This replacement of the son with an animal is used as the basis for the religious institutionalization of sacrificing animals. This is the basis why at the time of Eid al-Adha once a year, Muslims around the world slaughter millions of animals to commemorate Ibrahim’s sacrifice.

The Story of Nabiy Ibrahim — What does the Qur’an tell us?

Unlike the general malpractice, this fabricated story is NOT backed by Quran. In fact, this is a biblical concept of the story of Abraham. There is no replacement of son to sheep mentioned in the Quran. In the Quran Nabiy Ibrahim’s act of sacrifice does not go that far. The Quran tells us that he had a dream, from which he thought he has been asked by God to sacrifice his son, he spoke to his son, and his son obediently agreed and laid down by his forehead. THAT’S IT. Then God advised Ibrahim that he saw a dream, but since he was willing to sacrifice his most precious thing in the way of God Almighty in order to prove his obedience to GOD, therefore GOD almighty replaced his great willingness to sacrifice his most precious thing; with rewards. Let’s take a look at Quranic Ayahs As-Saffat 37:102-112

(102) And when he reached with him Balagha (Age of maturity), he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I azbahu (deprive from) you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the Saabireen (steadfast).” (103) And when they aslama (submitted) and he put down upon his forehead, (104) We called to him, “O Ibrahim, (105) Indeed, You are Sadaqta (sincere/honest) of the dream. “Indeed, We thus reward the Mohsineen (doers of good). (106) Indeed, this was a Bala (situation to bring out your real character) Mubeen (clearly and distinctly). (107) And We fadya (returned) him with his great Zabih (deprivation)

The last phrase of Ayah 107 is mistranslated and misinterpreted by saying as if Allah is talking about animal slaughter, whereas nowhere the word animal, sacrifice, or slaughter is mentioned. The word Zabiha is used in Quran with the meaning of killing, destroying, parting with or depriving oneself from, which is referred by Ayah 107 to the great deprivation by Nabiy Ibrahim that he was willing to part with his most cherished person. The next Ayahs are as follows, which depict the reward by Allah, based on the Nabiy’s willingness to part with his most cherished person

(108) And We left him in later generations. (109) “Salamun (submit like) the Ibrahim.” (110) Indeed, We thus reward the Mohsineen (doers of good). (111) Indeed, he was of Our Aebad (Follower of our laws) the Momineen (those seeking knowledge, using brain to be at utter conviction & upholders of their covenant). (112) And We gave him Bashar (good tidings) of Isaac, a Nabiyyin of the Swaliheen (those who do acts of Is’lah, reform & righteousness).

The three Rewards were mentioned for the ‘great sacrifice’, none of them was a divine requirement to slaughter animals. As per above ayahs in Quran, there is no Link between Animal slaughtering, and the acts of Nabiy Ibrahim and we could not find even a single Quranic ayah which supports Muslims to slaughter animals for Eid-al Adha.

Our Duties as Caretakers & Do not Qatal a Nafs as per Quran

Quran tells us that the basic duty of us as humanity is to be caretakers of earth Ayahs 2:30-34. Therefore, if we suppress, kill either metaphorically or allegorically any soul, it’s like going against the whole of humanity- refer Ayah 5:32,

….the person who Qatal (suppress, abuse, literally or allegorically kill) a soul Baghair (without, contradicting, going against) a soul or to cause destruction, corruption on the earth—then, it is as the person has Qatal (metaphorically or literally kill) the humanity all together, as a whole; and whoever gives life, saves, rescues a soul—then, it is as if the person has saved the humanity all together, as a whole….

This is a very crystal clear message applicable for all souls, be it animals or humans, giving us direct divine instructions while communicating the divine wisdom of the fact that if we go against, suppress, abuse, or kill either literally or allegorically any soul, be it of an animal or a human, which is against the due right of it, in terms of Qatal of it without any reason or that leads to causing destruction or corruption on the earth, then that is equivalent to the destruction of the whole of humanity, as it directly contradicts our basic duty of caretaker of the planet earth and all its inhabitants.

Logical Learning from Animals

We all know God has created all the life forms on earth and other then humans, God has embedded basic survival instinct in all animals, because of which an animal would only kill another either as a defense mechanism or in order to survive. God want us to learn through animals’ nature as well since we humans have been given the ability to learn and adopt various aspects and features through animals. This is a well-known fact in animals that they do not kill if they do not need to eat for survival, then how is it possible that the God Almighty will ask Humans to kill animals without any requirement of food for survival. It is not possible at all, logically, ethically and definitely not for the sake of God’s pleasure.

Qurbani is Ritual Animal Slaughtering — No Rituals in Deen

Allah does not need any rituals from humans and the Quran does not mention nor encourage rituals, unless promoted through mistranslation and misinterpretations of the divine Guidance by religious scholars. Allah needs practical and physical effort from humans in their lives in order to look after others, to be caretakers of the planet earth, to use our intellect, to seek knowledge of Malaik and use this knowledge as well as and to spend Allah’s Fadhl– wealth, money, title, resources, knowledge, etc. for the benefit of everyone.

The divine Quranic guidance for what Allah wants from us is very clear and crisp which is explained time and time again in Quran, for instance in ayah 2:177, it has been so beautifully summarized in few phrases. This ayah gave us the definition of the word Barre/Birra which is aligned with the concept of being a Muttaqqi – the highest level – the peak of being a Muslim as per Quran. This ayah gives us the gist of Quranic guidance as per the 6 basic foundations of Deen, in the order of importance that they appear in this ayah as well as elsewhere in Quran – These 6 Basic foundations of Deen are mentioned right after this very important phrase “The Birra is Not to turn your Wajuuha towards the East and the West…”

What Allah is telling us in this ayah in no unclear terms is that Islam (Birra/Barra) is not about rituals at all, it is not about turning your Wajha (one’s face, attention or focus) towards east or west or any direction, since all east and west and everything belongs to Allah, and since Islam is devoid of any rituals, utterance of words from our mouths and/or any physical movement at all. This phrase is telling us that the basic foundation of Deen is not on rituals, since Islam is a Deen based on logic and reasoning and not on rituals at all.

On the other hand, rituals are invented by humans to make other humans mentally slaves, without any benefit or impact to better the lives of peoples or communities we live in. Allah does not need for us as humans to worship Allah through rituals which are useless to benefit anyone. Refer Ayah 112:1-4 “Say Allah is One, Allah is Samad, Allah neither begets nor is born, nor to Allah is any equivalent” The same message we get from Ayah 22:37 “Neither their flesh, nor their blood, ever reaches Allah. And what reaches Allah is the Taqwa from you…”.

Some Thought-Provoking Questions!

Perhaps we, as Muslims, should ask ourselves, the following questions:

  • How can Allah, on one hand appoint us as caretakers of planet earth and then ask us to slaughter animals for no reason?
  • How is it that children feel traumatized to witness such animal slaughter, whereas we, as grown-ups fail to see the barbaric elements of this tradition and culture?
  • Is it because we are so engrained in our ritualistic practices of our forefathers, that we fail to understand or follow the divine message of the Quran?
  • Does the All-wise and all-knowing not know about the impacts of animal slaughtering at such vast scale on global warming?
  • How can Allah, who asks us not to kill a soul without its due right, can ordain killing of animals for whatever reason? – is this not a clear contradiction of Quran and current Muslims practice?
  • How is it even possible that one hand, Allah says that ‘Allah does not need our flesh or blood’ but then the same creator would ask us to slaughter these animals?
  • Is it possible that what has been handed down to us through our forefathers, in the name of Qurbani and Eid Al Adha, are in fact laws of other than Allah and from outside of the Quran?


There is no such thing as Eid-al Adha, or the need to sacrifice animals or Qurbani in light of Quran. In Quran, as per the description, Nabiy Ibrahim had a dream – it was NOT a divine order from Allah and there is absolutely no link between Nabiy Ibrahim’s dream and the need to sacrifice animals during Hajj. If one follows any laws related to animal slaughter, then, the person needs to keep in mind that these laws are not from Quran and hence, following any law from outside the Quran is an act of shirk since the only Hikm, the lawmaker and judge in matters of Deen is Allah and Allah has mentioned all the laws in the Quran. Allah’s commandments are practical by asking us to carry out our duties as caretakers of the planet earth and all its inhabitants- These are practical orders which are aimed at benefiting others and the society. There are no rituals as per Quran since rituals are of no benefit to anyone and Allah does not need us, as Muslims to be involved in useless rituals neither does Allah need ‘flesh or blood’ from us.


  1. Surah Al Hajj (33-34) describes a new sacrifice for pilgrims. The scholars say it can be performed all over the world however if you read it carefully nowhere does it say that the sacrifice can be performed anywhere else than the Ancient House. It is only authorised for the pilgrims.

  2. Hi there just wanted to give you a brief heads up and
    let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

  3. May I suggest that a written explanation on the act of slaughtering of an animal thus making them ‘halal’ for food or is it just an act of preparing food thats all muslim are following rather than a divine act. Thank you

    • There is nothing in the Qur’an prescribing such a ritual slaughtering, so it’s a cultural practice rather than a divine injunction.

      The divine injunction (in 5:3) is against consuming any animal that has been strangled
      or beaten to death or killed by a fall or gored to death or mauled by a wild animal.

      There is a lengthy article on the Lamp of Islam blog about the “Halal” food misconception, should you be interested in exploring this subject further

  4. You wrote: ““Indeed, We thus reward the Mohsineen (doers of good). (106) Indeed, this was a Bala (situation to bring out your real character) Mubeen (clearly and distinctly). (107) And We fadya (returned) him with his great Zabih (deprivation)..”

    Sorry, some of us may have difficulty understanding what does the great Zabih (deprivation) means? Can you please explain? Thanks.

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