What is Qurbani/Udhiya?
The word “qurbani” means sacrifice in many languages, and the word “udhiya,” in Arabic, refers to the specific animal that is sacrificed on Eid ul-Adha. This sacrifice is made by the head of the household on behalf of the family. It can either be a sheep, goat, a portion of a camel or a portion of a cow. The animal must be healthy (young, not sick or disabled) and must be taken care of properly before Eid.
“Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only).” [al-Kawthar 108:2]
What’s the purpose?
As is the case with many acts of worship, this act of sacrifice serves a greater purpose. A communal purpose. This sacrifice is intended to be shared with those less fortunate as an act of charity. Just as Zakat ul-Fitr ensures that people have food to eat on Eid ul-Fitr, the sacrifice and distribution of meat on Eid ul-Adha ensures the same for this holiday and time of celebration. For most families facing food insecurity and malnutrition, meat is a luxury. The important proteins and nutrients that come from meat are something they’re deprived of until this one special occasion. This is especially important for children who may face multiple nutrient deficiencies. With your help we can provide these families with the vital nutrients needed for improved health and growing children.
Is there anything else I should do as part of the rites of Qurbani? (Can I cut my nails? My hair?)
This sacrifice is closely linked to Hajj. Those performing Hajj will also be making this sacrifice. So the person who intends to sacrifice an animal takes on some of the practices and prohibitions that come with performing Hajj. One such recommended act is to avoid cutting your hair and nails in Dhul’Hijjah, during the days leading up to Eid, until after the sacrifice is made. There’s no problem with washing or bathing, and if a nail breaks there’s no issue with removing it. If one does want to cut their hair or nails, they would not be sinful and there is no effect on their udhiya offering. They would, however, miss out on the rewards of drawing near to participating in the Hajj and honouring its rites. Keep in mind, these restrictions don’t apply to everyone, only the person offering the sacrifice (ie. the head of the household.
“When you see the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah, if any one of you wants to offer a sacrifice, let him not take anything from his hair or nails until he has offered the sacrifice.” – Sahih Muslim