Sacrifice – The Religious Aspect

Sacrifice is an age-old ritual having its traces in almost every religion since the known history of humans on earth. The term sacrifice has its origin in the Latin sacrificium. It is a combination of saucer, meaning something set apart from the secular or profane, and facere, meaning “to make.” The term is used for offering something valuable, out of selfless emotions, or against obtaining something of more value.

The examples are that parents sacrificing for their children and the soldiers offer martyrdom for the safety of their homeland. But here our focus is to restrain the religious sacrifice alone. The sacrifice (Called Qurbani in Islam) is a religious ritual. It has a siginficant place in almost all the known religions of the world. It is an offering of an object to the divinity for establishing, maintaining, and even restoring relations with the creator. ALLAH the Almighty as case of Abrahamic religions i.e. Judaism, Christianity & Islam).

It is an age-old tradition existed as a form of selfless worship in all religions everywhere in the world. The motive and objective are always to keep the creator happy. And to show sincerity and attachment or offer compensation for the forgiveness of sin.

An Example

River Nile at Cairo
River Nile at Cairo

The sacrifice is normally offered on days of trouble like excessive rains, drought, or another calamity. It is also offered as a safeguard against the possible calamities that society can expect to suffer. A prominent example is of river Nile in Egypt. Before Islam, a tradition of sacrifice was observed annually during the harvest season. A ritual killing of a young unmarried girl was offered to honor the river Nile. The ritual was performed to expect its fine flow ensuring good crops. It however banned by the 2nd Khalifa of Islam, Hazrat Omar Farooq after Egypt was conquered. Similar traditions are still observed in other religions in every part of the World.


The most common and prime form of sacrifice is the offering of life. It is an act of offering back the most precious possession to whom it belongs. It is offered for the betterment and rewards in life’s after life. The object offered as the sacrifice is destructed by burning, slaughtering, or putting for the consumption of others. The concept behind is not to kill an animal but to offer the dearest possession to show sincerity and belonging. It is a symbolic way of offering a sort of gift to get the happiness, attention, and favors of the creator.

Animal Sacrifice

The Qurbani in Islamic way
Dhabia – The Islamic way of Slaughtering

The tradition of animal sacrifice can be traced to all the known religions and civilizations. The people since the prehistory era are known to offer the killing of animals as a sacrifice to the divinity they believe. It may vary like their ancestors, gods, goddesses, THE GOD, and the spiritual powers they believed in. Islam follows the traditions from ABRAHAM for his offering of alone son Ismael. However its originis in the sacrifice of Habeel & Qabeel the brothers and sons of the First humane the Prophet Adam.

Human Sacrifice

Kaaba in the City of Makkah (Mecca)

Like the animal sacrifice, the concept prevails all over the world in all known religions since the times unknown. The most authentic source however starts from the dreams of the Honorable Prophet Abraham (Ibraheem) indicating to sacrifice his son Ismail to the will of ALLAH the Almighty. The great humble prophet told his son about the revelation and found him equally willing to bow before the command of the creator ALLAH the Almighty. The act was performed in the holy valley of Mina near Makkah (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).

The Muslim Way

The ALLAH Almighty gracefully accepted this GREAT sacrifice in the history of humanity by replacing Ismail with a Ram (the male sheep) under the slaughtering knife by saving the life of HIS next prophet. Hazrat Abraham (Ibraheem) is known as the forefather of prophets in Islamic tradition. He is followed by all the three present-day divine religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The sacrifice is performed once in the year (on 10th of Zulhajj, the last month of the Islamic Hijri Calendar), by all Muslims.

The sacrifice (Qurbani) is performed by slaughtering Hilal animals like Goats, Rams, Cows, Calves, Ox, Buffalo, etc. within the terms set by the Muslim Shariah. It is not binding as a duty on all Muslims but is termed Sunnah, only to be observed by the affording lot. It is an annual ritual linked with the Muslim ritual of Hajj (the pilgrimage to Makka). The Muslims visit Makka to perform Hajj from all over the world and offer sacrifice as part of the Hajj rituals. The Hajj is a duty of every Muslim to perform once in a lifetime subject to affordability.

The Lesson Behind

It is clearly stated in the Holy Quran that ALLAH the almighty needs none of your animals, flesh & blood but the TAQWAH (the purity of intention & deed). It is therefore a practice to inculcate the habit among believers. Performing the act of sacrifice is training to lead a life of purity by avoiding sins. Thinking for others and helping the needy by becoming a selfless soul. Leading a life within divine command means forming an ideal society where everyone is taken care of. The aim is to ensure the distribution of resources equally and justifiably. It surely paves the way for harmony in society, if observed in true letter and spirit.

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