In Islamic tradition, the idea of Qurbani emerged when the Prophet Ibrahim trusted in God when asked to sacrifice his son. Hence, to Muslims, the idea of Qurbani was about sacrificing something in the name of God and helping the underprivileged by giving them good. Since those times, however, while the spirit of Qurbani remains intact to an extent, it has also devolved into a means of flaunting wealth.
Families often purposefully buy a large number of exorbitantly-priced animals, and then proudly, with a deceptive air of casualness, mention the price figures to relatives and friends with a small smile. It’s a subtle way of saying, “Yes this is how much I can afford to sacrifice. Look at me. What about you?”
While one of the main points of Qurbani is to serve the community, many families spend their nights holding lavish dinners, another, less subtle way of showing-off one’s privilege and wealth. The worst part of this is while the elite sit at the tables, the ones who should be benefiting the most from Qurbani – economically marginalized domestic staff – are the ones who are doing most of the work, and many times don’t get the food and reward they deserve.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked unprecedented havoc. Many families lost their livelihood and are more in need of help than ever before. Now, more than ever, the Muslims of Pakistan need to return to prioritizing giving the poor as much as possible rather than flaunting their wealth.