The Arabic word for sacrifice is Qurbani which is derived from Qurb meaning “closeness”. Qurbani (sacrifice) is exaggerated form of Qurb.
What is sacrifice?
Al-Raghib-al-Isfahani explained the meaning of religious sacrifice as:
“Sacrifice is the deed which we do for the consent of Allah.”
In Sharia we use the word Qurbani for slaughtering the animals for consent of Allah. In fact religion and sacrifice are interrelated.
We sacrifice for:
- Consent of Allah.
For the people
The sacrifices we make for the people are although not for God but there is no intention of gaining personal benefit behind it. Instead there is a pure intention to maintain the relations. For instance, the parents sacrifice their happiness to make their children happy. They do this because they love their children. Besides this families and friends also sacrifice and compromise with each other to keep their bonds strong and relations intact. Similar events happen in our lives where we have to sacrifice. But if this sacrifice also includes the intention to please God then this act will be more appreciable.
For the consent of Allah
The reality and purpose of sacrifice is to sacrifice the desires and love for Allah. Alas! Man strives day and night to fulfil his own desires. He never thinks what God wants from him. Man’s only concern is how to fulfil his desires, how to earn more money, how to achieve high status. What he does not think is how to gain Divine closeness, how to refrain from sins, how to purify his innerself. He sacrifices everything for his desires but never sacrifices the desires of his innerself (Nafs). This is because he does every act just to comfort his innerself. However man can never acquire goodness unless he sacrifices the desires of his innerself. As Allah says:
لَنۡ تَنَالُوا الۡبِرَّ حَتّٰی تُنۡفِقُوۡا مِمَّا تُحِبُّوۡنَ ۬ؕ
Meaning: You can never attain piety unless you sacrifice (for Allah) the thing which you love the most. (3:92)
That loved thing can be a living relation or a non-living object. God asks this because He wants man to walk on His path so that his inward gets enlightened with Divine light. In addition to this no veil should remain in between man and God. In fact, no veil is bigger than the love of other than Allah. Allah tests man through things which he loves the most.
وَ لَنَبۡلُوَنَّکُمۡ بِشَیۡءٍ مِّنَ الۡخَوۡفِ وَ الۡجُوۡعِ وَ نَقۡصٍ مِّنَ الۡاَمۡوَالِ وَ الۡاَنۡفُسِ وَ الثَّمَرٰتِ ؕ وَ بَشِّرِ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۵۵﴾ۙ
Meaning: And We will most certainly test you somewhat by means of fear and hunger and certain loss of wealth and lives and fruits. O Beloved, give glad tidings to those who observe patience. (2:155)
The reward of sacrifice to God
The seeker who walks on the path of Divine closeness with perseverance and sacrifices his desired thing for Allah, eventually He returns him that thing. Difficult time passes and then God gives us the same thing or relation which we sacrificed for Him as a reward. He says:
اِنَّ مَعَ الۡعُسۡرِ یُسۡرًا ؕ﴿۶﴾
Meaning: Verily, with (every) hardship there is ease. (94:6)
The sacrifice made in Dhul al-Hajja
Muslims consider the sacrifice made in the month of Dhul al-Hajja the greatest one. Every Muslim knows about it and offers sacrifice with love and passion. Allah says in Quran:
لَکُمۡ فِیۡہَا مَنَافِعُ اِلٰۤی اَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّی ثُمَّ مَحِلُّہَاۤ اِلَی الۡبَیۡتِ الۡعَتِیۡقِ ﴿٪۳۳﴾ وَ لِکُلِّ اُمَّۃٍ جَعَلۡنَا مَنۡسَکًا لِّیَذۡکُرُوا اسۡمَ اللّٰہِ عَلٰی مَا رَزَقَہُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَہِیۡمَۃِ الۡاَنۡعَامِ ؕ فَاِلٰـہُکُمۡ اِلٰہٌ وَّاحِدٌ فَلَہٗۤ اَسۡلِمُوۡا ؕ وَ بَشِّرِ الۡمُخۡبِتِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۳۴﴾
Meaning: And We have appointed a sacrifice for every people so that (at the time of sacrifice) they may invoke the Name of Allah over the cattle (i.e. quadrupeds) that Allah has provided for them. And your God is (only) One God, so submit to Him alone, and, (O Beloved,) give good news to those who remain submissive. (22:33, 34)
However the reality behind the sacrifice we make in the month of Dhul al Hajja is actually related to the sacrifice of innerself.
The sacrifice of Abraham and Hajirah
Besides, there are a lot of incidents behind the sacrifices we give during Hajj. For instance, God ordered Prophet Abraham to leave his wife Hajirah in the desolate valleys of al-Safa and al-Marwa. When Prophet Ishmael was born, Prophet Abraham was around the age of hundred.
When a man reaches this age, he needs a helping hand and his family becomes his support. But God asked Abraham to sacrifice his progeny. When Prophet Abraham was leaving his wife Hajirah and his child Ishmael, Hajirah asked “Why are you doing this?” Prophet Abraham replied, “For the consent of Allah”. Listening this Hajirah said: “If this is what God wants then I am ready to sacrifice.”
In the desolation, when Ishmael was crying with thirst, Hajirah ran in search of water from one mountain to another and made seven rounds. But when she failed to find water and came back, she saw that the place where Prophet Ishmael was rubbing his feet, a spring of water was flowing. Hajirah thanked God. Allah loved this deed so much that he made it compulsory for every pilgrim to make seven rounds of al-Safa and al-Marwa. That time was difficult for Abraham and Hajirah but after the sacrifice of their innerself and beloved relations, God allayed their difficulty and also enlivened their deed forever. The spring of water known as Zam Zam is still flowing today as it was at that time.
The sacrifice of Prophet Ishmael
When Prophet Ishmael grew up, his father Prophet Abraham said to him, “I dreamt that I am slaughtering you.” Prophet Ishmael replied, “If that is the will of God then I am ready for the sacrifice.” When they were going to slaughter, Satan tried to mislead them. Prophet Abraham threw stones on him and Allah made this deed a compulsory ritual on Hajj as well.
When Prophet Abraham started to slaughter Prophet Ishmael, he saw that he slaughtered a sheep instead of his son. Prophet Ishmael was standing near him. This depicted that God loved their sacrifice so much that He sent a sheep from heaven. Subsequently, God made this sacrifice compulsory on every pilgrim while offering sacrifices to God and before opening the Ihram. Hence, He made this sacrifice alive forever.
Sacrifice of Abraham against Nimrod
We can also understand the reality of sacrifice from the incident of Abraham and Nimrod
When Nimrod wanted to put Prophet Abraham in the blazing fire, angel Gabriel came to help him but Prophet Abraham did not accept it. Instead he preferred to sacrifice his life in the Divine path. He considered that if consent of Allah is to put me in fire then who am I to object! I am ready to sacrifice myself. Thinking this he jumped bravely into the blazing fire for the Divine love and in the desire to meet his Beloved. God ordered the fire:
“O blazing fire, cool down and become peaceful for Abraham.”
That fire became soothing for Abraham despite the fact that fire always burns. However the purpose of God was to test His slave whether he could sacrifice himself for Him or not. Thus, when Abraham jumped into fire to sacrifice himself, that fire turned cool by the order of God.
بے خطر کود پڑا آتش ِ نمرود میں عشق
عقل ہے محو تماشائے لب ِ بام ابھی
Explanation: The ardent love of Prophet Abraham made him jump into the blazing fire of Nimrud without any fear. The intellect is still astonished on watching this miracle.
Sacrifice of Mary for God
Angel Gabriel came in the form of a man and said to Mary that I am here to give you the glad tiding of a baby boy. Whereas Mary was a maiden. She sacrificed herself for the consent of Allah. People criticized her character but she tolerated everything with patience and silence.
When Jesus talked to people in the cradle that He was the Prophet of Allah then people apologized to her. Consequently God blessed her with respect and honour.
Similarly, Jacob also sacrificed his son Joseph and forbore his separation for a long period. Joseph also endured separation from his father and brothers. He also had to bear the difficulties of prison. Then God rewarded him. He gave him the status of the king of Egypt and also ended the separation between them.
Queen of Sheba
When Prophet Solomon invited queen of Sheba to accept Islam with his whole army. The queen accepted Islam with her army and left her kingdom just for the consent of Allah.
Allah ordered Prophet Noah to build an ark for all the faithful, men and women, include a pair of every animal and other important things. As Allah intended to destroy everything. The wife and children of Noah had not accepted Islam. Therefore they did not board the ark and drowned in the storm. Prophet Noah tried his best to invite them towards Islam. When he failed many times, he didn’t care anymore. Hence, he sacrificed them for the consent of Allah.
Before the birth of Prophet Moses astrologers had already informed Pharaoh that a child is about to born who will be a danger to his kingdom. So he ordered to kill every new born. Allah inspired Moses’ mother which is explained in Quran as:
وَ اَوۡحَیۡنَاۤ اِلٰۤی اُمِّ مُوۡسٰۤی اَنۡ اَرۡضِعِیۡہِ ۚ فَاِذَا خِفۡتِ عَلَیۡہِ فَاَلۡقِیۡہِ فِی الۡیَمِّ وَ لَا تَخَافِیۡ وَ لَا تَحۡزَنِیۡ ۚ اِنَّا رَآدُّوۡہُ اِلَیۡکِ وَ جَاعِلُوۡہُ مِنَ الۡمُرۡسَلِیۡنَ ﴿۷﴾
Meaning: And We revealed to the heart of mother of Moses: ‘Suckle him on, but when you fear (for his life), put him afloat into the river, and be not afraid or grieve. Surely, We shall bring him back to you, and shall make him one of Our Messengers.’
The mother of Prophet Moses laid that child in a box considering that inspiration true and left it into the river. She believed in Allah that her baby will get back to her one day. On the other side the soldiers of Pharaoh took out that box from the river. They could have killed the child. But , the wife of Pharaoh who was faithful said to him that he should not kill the child. Instead they should take it with them. Maybe this baby would bring peace for them. She didn’t know that one day this baby would kill Pharaoh.
Condition of Moses’ mother
The mother of Prophet Moses was overwhelmed with impatience. She had opened the secret if Allah had not blessed her with patience and comfort. So that she would keep faith in Him. The mother of Prophet Moses said to her sister to follow the box and see where the box goes. Everyone was unaware of what Moses’ mother and her sister were doing. She saw that the box had stopped near the castle and Pharaoh’s soldier had taken and handed over the box to Pharaoh. Hence, she also went inside the castle.
When the king ordered to call the midwives, the sister told him that she knew a house which would be best for the baby and they would be baby’s well-wishers. Hence, Allah gave Moses back to his mother so that she would be in peace. Moreover, she comes to know that the promise of Allah is true. But people often do not know this.
The patience of Prophet Job is much recognized. He not only had large family but was also rich. He possessed extensive property and many slaves. Allah had also bestowed him with beauty. Satan objected that Job is grateful to Allah because Allah had blessed him so much. If he would be tested then he will surely be ungrateful. Therefore to prove the claim of Satan wrong, Allah asked for sacrifice from Job. Job was ready to sacrifice immediately. During the time of test all the wives of Job left him. His children also died. He became sick. His relatives abandoned him so that they may not get sick. In that condition too he kept on glorifying the name of Allah. At last, after his extreme patience, Allah not only blessed him with health but also gave his beauty, family and wealth back.
Sacrifice of the Holy Prophet for consent of Allah
If we look at the sacred life of the Holy Prophet then we will understand the importance of sacrifice. As his life was also full of tests and sacrifices. The Holy Prophet faced every problem and pain with patience. He sacrificed all he had for the consent of Allah and kept on praying for righteousness of his Umma. His relatives boycotted him, criticized him and persecuted his family. To the extent that they had to leave their homeland, Makkah and migrate to Madina. Still the Holy Prophet and his Companions continued to invite people towards Allah with devotion. At last Allah gave them victory and success.
Sacrifice of Abu Bakr Siddiq
Abu Bakr Siddiq was a rich man but for the consent of Allah and His Prophet he spent all his wealth for the cause of Allah. As a result of his sacrifices the Holy Prophet said, “I have recompensed everyone for their favours except Abu Bakr Siddiq.
Sacrifice of Bilal ibn-Rabah
When Bilal ibn-Rabah accepted Islam, his owner used to lay him down in scorching sun and put stones on him. Still, he recited the name of Allah ‘Ahad’ in the love of his Prophet. On this the owner used to hit him with a thorny stick. His blood boiled out with pain. He sacrificed his body in the love of Allah and the Holy Prophet.
Abu Bakr Siddiq used to see Bilal while passing from there and became restless. At last he freed this lover of Allah and the Holy Prophet from the evil owner.
چمک اُٹھا جو ستارہ ترے مقدر کا
حبش سے تجھ کو اٹھا کر حجاز میں لایا
When the stars of Bilal’s destiny shone brightly , destiny took him from Ethiopia to Hejaz.
The sacrifice of Husayn
Similarly Husayn ibn Ali sacrificed his family but did not take oath of allegiance on the hand of Yazid . If he had ordered the wind, it would have blown hard to destroy the whole army of Yazid. Instead of using his powers, Husayn preferred to sacrifice his life and family only for the consent of Allah. Sultan Bahoo says:
جے کر دین علم وچ ہوندا، تا ں سر نیزے کیوں چڑھدے ھُو
اٹھارہ ہزار جو عاَلم آہا، اگے حسینؓ دے مردے ھُو
جے کُجھ ملا خطہ سرور ؐدا کردے، تا ں تمبو خیمے کیوں سڑدے ھُو
جے کر مندے بیعت رسولیؐ، پانی کیوں بند کردے ھُو
پر صادق دین تنہاں دا باھُوؒ ، جو سر قربانی کر دے ھُو
Explanation: If the reality of Islam could be understood through exoteric knowledge then the sacred heads of Progeny of Messenger of Allah had never been cut and put on spears. Rather, eighteen thousand scholars in the army of Yazid (or eighteen thousand realms or their creations) had sacrificed themselves for Husayn. If the religious scholars of that time possessed a little bit respect for the Holy Prophet then tents of his Progeny had not been burnt. If the so called Muslims in the army of Yazid had even a speck of honour for their oath of allegiance to the Holy Prophet then they had not banned the water supply of his Progeny. In fact the true religion is only followed by the Divine lovers who always keep the honour of their love even if they are beheaded.
The sacrifice of Husayn ibn Ali and his family gave a new life to Islam. If Islam is alive today, it is only because of the sacrifice of Husayn and his family.
Sacrifices of the Saints
Abraham ibn Adham sacrificed his kingdom for the consent of Allah. Rumi sacrificed his knowledge and respect. Al-Ghawth al-Azam went through hard mystic struggle for twenty six years and remained occupied in austerities for the purity of his innerself. Sultan Bahoo sacrificed his everything for the consent of Allah. History is full of the incidents of various Saints who sacrificed everything for the closeness and consent of Allah. After testing them through trials, Allah gave everything back to them.
Why is sacrifice important in Islam?
It is a rule in the way of Allah that He tests his loved ones through inward and outward trials. Then Allah gives them His closeness, as the incidents of the Prophets, Companions and Saints prove. The history of Islam is full of sacrifices. The first month of Islam is the month of sacrifice while the last is also the month of sacrifice. Hence the seekers and lovers should always be ready for sacrifice. Because without sacrifice it is impossible to attain the Divine closeness.
Company of Perfect Spiritual Guide is essential
The company of the perfect spiritual guide is very essential to walk on the path of Allah. Unless we acquire the company of perfect spiritual guide we cannot attain the Divine closeness. We can get rewards from various prayers and devotions but to gain the closeness and vision of Allah we need only one passion i.e. the passion for sacrifice.
Just as the Prophets sacrificed their relations, life and wealth for the consent of Allah, the seekers have to sacrifice them too in order to reach Allah. Only the perfect spiritual guide can take us to the level where we become capable to sacrifice fearlessly for the Divine closeness. The sacrifices Allah wants from us, we should happily give them.
Faqr and Sacrifice
Faqr is Divine love. For success in Divine love sacrifice is compulsory. No matter whatever the condition is, the seeker’s loyalty should not lessen. When time comes to give sacrifice he should not retreat. When the seeker would walk towards Allah with perseverance, Allah would not only bless him with His closeness but also give him the things back which he had sacrificed during the trials.
Invitation to the perfect spiritual guide
We invite the seekers of Allah towards the perfect spiritual guide of Sarwari Qadri Order Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman. After pledging allegiance on his sacred hand one should walk on the path towards the closeness and consent of Allah. May Allah bless us with faith, determination and courage to sacrifice in every way during trials.
This article was published in Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore (monthly Urdu magazine of Tehreek Dawat-e-Faqr) titled as
قربانی کی حقیقت | Qurbani ki Haqeeqat in the issue of July 2020. It was originally written by Rubina Farooq Sarwari Qadri and translated in English by Zainab Moghees Sarwari Qadri. If you wish to read it in Urdu then please visit the link: