The objective of this memory – Qurbani – in Islam is: a) to remind us of the spirit of self-sacrifice shown by Ibrahim alayhissalam, b) to commit and remind ourselves to the sacrifice of Hajar (May Peace be with her) and c) to submit ourselves to the Will of Allah as Isma’il alayhissalam did.

Almighty Allah explains the significance of sacrifice in Islam in the following ayah: “And for every nation, We have appointed religious ceremonies, that they may mention the Name of Allah over the sustenance He has given them from animals (fit for food). And your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (Allah), so you must submit to Him in Islam. And give glad tidings to those who humble themselves (Mukhbitin).” {Al Hajj 34}

This ayah implies two things: a) sacrifice has been an essential part of the worship of One God in all revealed religions. In order to inculcate Tawhid (Oneness), Almighty Allah prohibited sacrifice for anyone other than Himself. b) the other thing which has been common in all the revealed religions was the object of the sacrifice in the name of Allah through its details have been different in different religions, times and places.

This is thus the true end of a sacrifice – the act is only for Allah Who does not delight in flesh or blood, as He says in the Qur’an:

“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus have We made them subject to you that you may magnify Allah for His guidance to you. And give glad tidings (O Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to the Muhsinin (all who do right).” {Al Hajj 37}

This ayah points out on the essence, inwardness and real object and purpose of sacrifice in Islam. It teaches us the supreme lesson that it is not the outward act of sacrifice which pleases Allah but the spirit underlying it and the motive behind it. The flesh or blood of the sacrificed animal does not reach Allah; it is the righteousness of the heart which is acceptable to Him. Allah wants and demands from us the offering of our hearts.

It is, however, a mistake to think that because it is not the outward act of sacrifice but the motive behind it that really matters; that the outward act is of no importance. True, the outward act of sacrifice is the shell and the spirit underlying it is the kernel and essence, yet the shell or the body of a thing, like its spirit or kernel, is of very great importance because no soul can exist without a body and no kernel without a shell.

Sacrifice in Islam is an outward symbol of a Muslim’s readiness to lay down and surrender his/her interests and desires in the cause of Truth for His sake. Only shedding the blood of an animal does not fulfill the purpose of sacrifice, but it is really fulfilled when one submits himself/herself completely to the Command of Almighty Allah.

In this sense all the manifold rites, concentration and purification, offerings and sacred feasts, all devotion and morality are only the indirect expressions of the inner experience of one’s faith – the experience of trust, surrender, yearning and enthusiasm. Sacrifice, whether that of animals, wealth or desires is the practical proof of one’s devotion and submission to the Creator.

Thus, sacrifice in Islam is nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else than a natural, visible expression of homage and gratitude to the Creator.

It is essentially symbolic – an external symbol of an internal dedication and voluntary submission to the Will of Allah. Our Creator does not need anything from us. All acts of sacrifice and worship are for our own benefits.