Imagine eating a mango that has no sweetness whatsoever… It may look like a mango, feel like a mango, the texture may even be the same, but it would just not seem right. This is because the essence of the mango is not found – its taste. In a very like manner, all the acts of worship that a believer carries out has an essence and spirit with which it ought to be carried out. Hence, if they are carried out without the true spirit and essence, it would become a mere ritual without achieving the desired effect.

This also applies to the action of qurbaani which is in actual fact an emulation of the sacrifice of Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam). The basis and essence of this act was total submission to the command of Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, when doing this act, we too should carry it out with this very same spirit of the one whom we are emulating.

A very effective way to remind ourselves of this spirit and essence, is to recite the du‘aa which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) recited at the time of slaughter.

Sayyiduna Jaabir (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) relates that on the day of ‘Eid, when Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) faced his animal towards the qiblah, he recited the following du‘aa and then slaughtered:

إِنِّيْ ‌وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِيْ فَطَرَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ عَلٰى مِلَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيْمَ حَنِيْفًا وَمَا أَنَا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِيْنَ ، إِنَّ صَلَاتِيْ ‌وَنُسُكِيْ وَمَـحْيَايَ وَمَـمَاتِيْ للهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ ، لَا شَرِيْكَ لَهُ وَبِذٰلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِيْنَ ، اَللّٰهُمَّ مِنْكَ وَلَكَ، عَنْ مُـحَمَّدٍ وَأُمَّتِهِ ، بِاسْمِ اللهِ وَاللهُ أَكْبَرُ

“Indeed, I have turned my face towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, on the creed of Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam), completely inclining towards the truth, and I am not of those who associate partners with Allah. Indeed, my salaah, my offering (of the sacrificial animal), my life and my death are for Allah, the Rabb of the worlds. He has no partner. And with this (i.e. the oneness of Allah Ta‘ala) I have been commanded and I am one of those who submit. O Allah (this sacrificial animal) is from you and for you, on behalf of Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his Ummah. In the name of Allah, and Allah is the Greatest.” (Sunan Abi Dawood #2795)

From the very beginning of this du‘aa till the end, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is expressing his submission to Allah Ta‘ala. In the opening portion, he says that he is turning completely towards Allah Ta‘ala, which means that he is intending to carry out this act of sacrifice solely for Allah Ta‘ala in the same manner that Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) had done.

The next part of this du‘aa is derived from a verse of the Quraan Majeed which further expresses submission, explaining that every facet of a person’s life – whether it is his salaah, this act of qurbaani which he intends to carry out or any other ‘ibaadah – is solely for Allah Ta‘ala. In fact, his entire life and his death is also solely for Him.

Life and death being solely for Allah Ta‘ala could mean that all a person’s acts which are linked to this life – like hajj, fasting, etc. – are solely for Allah Ta‘ala and all his acts which are linked to death – such as his wasiyyah (will) etc. – are also solely for Allah Ta‘ala. It could also mean that a person’s life and death are in the control of Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, he should think that when my very life and death are in His control, then whatever physical and spiritual actions I carry out ought to be for Him alone.

Under this verse, Mufti Muhammad Shafee’ (rahimahullah) explains that this verse is a simple yet great meditation. If one trains himself to keep this verse in mind at all times, he will become a human being in the real sense and he will not even go close to any type of sin and disobedience.

Finally, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) again expresses his submission to Allah Ta‘ala in explicit words saying that he is one of those who submit to Him.

In conclusion, he addresses Allah Ta‘ala saying that this animal that he is sacrificing is in actual fact from Allah Ta‘ala Himself since everything we possess in this world is from Him. He further says that this animal is sacrificed for Allah Ta‘ala and not for any other deity, nor is it slaughtered for any other reason.

(Adapted from Mirqaatul Mafaateeh vol. 3, pg. 567 and Ma‘aariful Quraan vol. 3, pg. 509)