Qurbani Donors to Uphold Traditions, Feed the Vulnerable, and Fuel Local Economies

July 21, 2020

Syed M. Hassan, Islamic Relief USA

Throughout much of the world, people don’t have the luxury of being selective about how they want their food. They usually don’t have the options of having it be natural, organic, hormone-free, nitrate-free, farm-raised, grass-fed, etc.

You get the picture.

In much of the world, meat is particularly scarce. Many families go for long periods without subsisting on it, due to unavailability or prohibitively high costs. For a brief period, people in the United States were reminded of — if not directly experienced — a disruption in the meat supply because of the novel coronavirus.

The problem didn’t rise to crisis levels. The rest of the developing world is not so lucky.

Fortunately, this is the time when Muslims around the world pay particular attention to addressing this inequity.

During the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah, Muslims partake in the act of Qurbani, an Urdu word meaning “sacrifice.” In particular, donors purchase animals for the less fortunate living in mostly poor or developing nations. The hope is the meat will arrive at or around time of Eid-al-Adha, a celebratory occasion that is tentatively scheduled to take place on July 30 or 31, depending on the sighting of the moon.

Qurbani is a tradition that honors Prophet Ibrahim’s commitment to God,which was particularly symbolized and actualized by sacrificing his son, Ismael. It enables people to provide fresh halal meat to some of the most vulnerable populations. While there are no specifications on who receives Qurbani meat, as one doesn’t even have to be Muslim, many of the recipients are poor, elderly, or underprivileged.

Each donation of meat goes a long way in curbing hunger for affected families. Between 10 and 20 families can be fed with each Qurbani donation. One Qurbani can provide between 50 and 70 pounds of meat, depending on the animals. The animals Islamic Relief commonly uses are sheep, cows, goats and buffalo.

Qurbani has been an effective anti-hunger program. Between 2017 and 2019, more than 2.25 million people in at least 44 countries were served Qurbani meat through the organization’s 85 projects. That is a profound impact.

In addition to addressing food insecurity, Qurbani also helps build communities. That is because the animals/meat that are purchased are sourced locally in the areas where the meat recipients inhabit/live. This can serve as a way to stimulate long-term economic growth. Good nutrition could result in more productivity, and more productivity can translate to more opportunities.

Donors and recipients need not be worried about the health of the animals, an understandable concern given that the world remains in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Islamic principles dictate all Qurbani animals be healthy before slaughter.

Food insecurity has skyrocketed the past several months due to Covid-19. Islamic Relief USA feels fortunate despite so many other programs and being brought to a standstill, one of its most crucial nutrition assistance programs will continue to move forward.

The need is too great for it not to.