Eid-ul-Adha commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s [pbuh] unconditional submission to the Allah. He [pbuh] was willing to sacrifice his son Ismail [pbuh] after God commanded him [pbuh] to do so in a dream. Moments before Ibrahim [pbuh] could sacrifice Ismail [pbuh], Allah sent down a lamb in his place. The act of Qurbani symbolizes one’s willingness to submit to Allah’s will, to make self-sacrifice, even if it doesn’t correspond to our personal rulebook.
But animal rights activists are unable to understand this. They’re campaigning for ritual sacrifices to be banned and point to animal rights abuses that occur under the disguise of religion. While Muslim scholars dismiss this as anti-Islamic propaganda some site it as a legitimate concern. At some point Australia stopped exporting cattle to Egypt ahead of the Eid-ul-Adha, citing video footage of animal cruelty. This included sheep being strapped to the roofs of cars, dumped into trunks for transporting and mass slaughtered on the streets in plain sight of other animals queuing to be killed. Such practices are violation of the Islamic laws of sacrificing—quickly, with minimum pain and out of sight of other animals.
In many Muslim countries, ritual animal sacrifices are permitted as a hands-on experience of Eid. But for Muslims who are vegetarian, the sacrifice is hardly acceptable. For some people it’s challenging having to reconcile religious duty with personal choice. Thus as an alternative they give money to a charitable organization which performs the sacrifice on their behalf. Similar concerns about the inhumane treatment of animals and belief in the sanctity of all life have prompted some Muslims to adopt a vegetarian diet. They don’t view slaughtering as obligatory and prefer to demonstrate their faith in other ways like distribute money or food packages to the poor on their behalf. Others who have become vegetarian for health and moral reasons voice that even though they do not practice this ritual there are lots of things they do practice in Islam.
Irrespective what rights activists or vegetarians say, Qurbani is obligatory for Muslims adults if they meet the conditions laid down by Allah.