The Meaning, Significance and Rulings of Korban

Delve deep into the essence of Korban and how we may apply it to our lives by having complete faith in Allah s.w.t.
by Ustaz Muhammad Imran Othman 2024-05-08 • 22 min read
Ustaz Imran holds a Bachelor's Degree in Syariah from the Islamic University of Madinah. He has also obtained a Master of Philosophy from RZS-CASIS (University Teknologi Malaysia). Ustaz Imran is currently the head of the Office of Imam at Al-Ansar Mosque.
2024-05-08 • 22 min read

With the arrival of Zulhijjah, it reminds us of Hajj, an Ibadah (worship) made obligatory once in a lifetime upon Muslims who fulfil its conditions. Although the majority of Muslims around the world will not be observing Hajj in the same year, many of them are capable of performing the korban (also written as Qurban) i.e. sacrificing livestock as an act of worship.

Read: Virtues of the first 10 days of Zulhijjah

Qurban, Korban, Zulhijjah, Hajj, Sheep, lamb, goat, Qurbani

The Brief Story of Korban

The history of korban goes back to the story of Prophet Ibrahim a.s. when he dreamt of sacrificing his then-young son, Prophet Ismail a.s.

Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:

فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ قَالَ يٰبُنَيَّ اِنِّيْٓ اَرٰى فِى الْمَنَامِ اَنِّيْٓ اَذْبَحُكَ فَانْظُرْ مَاذَا تَرٰىۗ قَالَ يٰٓاَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُۖ سَتَجِدُنِيْٓ اِنْ شَاءَ اللّٰهُ مِنَ الصّٰبِرِيْنَ

Then when he (Prophet Ismail a.s.) reached the age to work with him, he (Prophet Ibraham a.s.) said, “O my dear son! I have seen in a dream that I am sacrificing you. So tell me what you think.” He replied, “O my dear father! Do as you are commanded. Allah willing, you will find me steadfast.”

(As-Saffaat, 37:102)

In Islam, we believe that the dreams of the Prophets a.s. are regarded as wahyu (divine revelation) that must be obeyed. In this context, when Prophet Ibrahim a.s. sought the views of his son, it does not suggest he was doubtful about God’s command. At the same time, he did not coerce his son into accepting it without any amicable communication.

Qurban, Korban, Zulhijjah, Hajj, Father, Ibrahim, Ismail

The conversation between them both, as narrated in the verse demonstrates Prophet Ibrahim’s ethical approach out of deep love for his dear son, and ultimately, their obedience to God.

Read: Powerful Conversations Between A Father and A Son: Lessons from Prophet Ibrahim a.s and Prophet Ismail a.s.

The following verses after that explain that Allah s.w.t. eventually instructed to sacrifice an animal instead of Prophet Ismail a.s:

فَلَمَّآ أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُۥ لِلْجَبِينِ. وَنَـٰدَيْنَـٰهُ أَن يَـٰٓإِبْرَٰهِيمُ. قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ ٱلرُّءْيَآ ۚ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِى ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ. إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَهُوَ ٱلْبَلَـٰٓؤُا ٱلْمُبِينُ. وَفَدَيْنَـٰهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ. وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرِينَ. سَلَـٰمٌ عَلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ. كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِى ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ. إِنَّهُۥ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ.

“Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering). And We called out to him: “O Ibraham! You have fulfilled the dream!” Verily! Thus do We reward the Muhsinūn (good-doers). Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (a ram). And We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among the later generations. Peace be upon Ibrahim!” Thus indeed do We reward the Muhsinūn (good-doers). Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves.”

(As-Saffaat, 37:103-111)

Definition of Korban and Its Significance

Korban derives from the Arabic word qaruba which means to be near. It denotes nearness to Allah s.w.t. through any sort of act of worship or good deeds1

Read: The Value of Sacrifice in Islam

The term korban—as commonly used by members of our Muslim community—refers to the sacrificial ritual done after the sunrise of Aidiladha (10th Zulhijjah). The period to perform korban ends by sunset on the last day of Tashriq (13th Zulhijjah). 

Qurban, Korban, Zulhijjah, Hajj, Sunrise, Singapore

The ritual act of korban is also called Udhiyyah as commonly used in the Islamic scholarly tradition2. In fact, the word Aidiladha or Eid Al-Adha (عِيدُ الأَضْحَى), which means the festivity of sacrifice, refers to the act of Udhiyyah (أُضْحِيَّة). In a manner, Udhiyyah is the more accurate term to refer to this ritual act of sacrifice.

Although korban (or qurban) connotes a more general sense of sacrifice, it has been used as an equivalent term with Udhiyyah, particularly by Muslims in South East Asia. The word korban has also been included as part of the Malay language3. Hence, in this region, we tend to be more familiar with the term korban when we refer to the act of sacrificing selected animals from Aidiladha to the last day of Tashriq.

For the sake of familiarity, this article will address the topic by using the term korban instead of udhiyyah.

Among the 5 benefits of korban are as follows:

1. A sign of obedience and sincerity

Performing korban commemorates the act of worship by Prophet Ibrahim a.s. and Prophet Ismail a.s. where they sincerely put Allah s.w.t. first before themselves. When Muslims perform the Korban, they demonstrate their obedience to the religion that encourages this act of worship which not only brings abundant benefits to themselves but also to the community. Thus, this fosters a sense of unity and shared responsibility.

2. A highly regarded Ibadah (worship)

The Prophet s.a.w. said: 

مَا عَمِلَ آدَمِيٌّ مِنْ عَمَلٍ يَوْمَ النَّحْرِ أَحَبَّ إِلَى اللَّهِ مِنْ إِهْرَاقِ الدَّمِ إِنَّهَا لَتَأْتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِقُرُونِهَا وَأَشْعَارِهَا وَأَظْلاَفِهَا وَإِنَّ الدَّمَ لَيَقَعُ مِنَ اللَّهِ بِمَكَانٍ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَقَعَ مِنَ الأَرْضِ فَطِيبُوا بِهَا نَفْسًا

“On the day of Nahr (sacrifice), no one does a deed more pleasing to God than the shedding of blood (Islamic Ritual Slaughter of korban Animals). The sacrifice will come on the day of resurrection with its horns, its hairs and its hoofs, and the blood finds acceptance with God before it falls on the ground, so be glad about it.

(Sunan At-Tirmizi)

3. Helping the less fortunate

During this Hajj (Pilgrimage) season, many Muslims around the world participate in sacrificing livestock and distributing the meat among the needy. This helps alleviate their issues of food shortage. The less fortunate receiving the meat would also feel there are Muslim brothers and sisters—whom they may or may not know—are willing to give a helping hand.

Qurban, Korban, Zulhijjah, Hajj, needy, poor, meat Qurbani

4. A sign of gratitude

A Muslim who performs korban is someone who chooses to put aside some of the blessings of wealth bestowed upon him for the purpose of seeking God’s pleasure. Being grateful is not only by praising Allah s.w.t. like the common verbal expression ‘Alḥamdulillah’, but also by making good use of His blessings.

5. Fostering relationships

Korban meat is often cooked and served to family members of the Sahib al-Qurban (the one who performs the Korban). The fresh meat may also be shared without cooking so that the recipients can cook however they want. 

Such good deeds will forge a closer relationship between them while benefiting and helping one another in many other ways.

The Rulings of Korban

Korban is sunnah muakkadah (highly recommended) for those who are capable of performing it. From the hadith mentioned above, there is no deed more beloved to Allah during the day of Nahr than to fulfil the act of korban. In fact, Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:

فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَٱنْحَرْ

“Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only).”

(Surah Al-Kawthar, 108:2)

In the Quran, Allah s.w.t. said:

لَن يَنَالَ ٱللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَآؤُهَا وَلَـٰكِن يَنَالُهُ ٱلتَّقْوَىٰ مِنكُمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرَهَا لَكُمْ لِتُكَبِّرُوا ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَىٰكُمْ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ 

“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 s.a.w.) to the Muḥsinūn (doers of good).” 

(Surah Al-Hajj, 22:37)

Unlike the majority of the scholars, the Hanafi mazhab opined that korban is wajib (obligatory) upon Muslims. But all mazahib (schools of legal thought) agree that if one has made a nazar (vow) i.e. he vowed to perform korban when specific conditions are met, it is then deemed wajib (obligatory).

Read: The 4 Mazhabs in Islam

Those who are performing the korban are encouraged to not cut or trim their hair and nails from the beginning of Zulhijjah until the animal is sacrificed. The Prophet s.a.w. said:

إِذَا رَأَيْتُمْ هِلاَلَ ذِي الْحِجَّةِ وَأَرَادَ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يُضَحِّيَ فَلْيُمْسِكْ عَنْ شَعْرِهِ وَأَظْفَارِهِ

If anyone of you has seen the new moon of Zulhijjah (entered the month), and you intend to sacrifice an animal, (the person intending so) should not cut his hair and trim his nail

(Sahih Muslim)

Qurban, Korban, Zulhijjah, Hajj, Tahliq, shave hair

Division and Distribution of Korban Meat

If the korban is obligatory i.e. for nazar, the meat must be entirely distributed to the needy and cannot be consumed by the one who performs the korban. As most of the korban rituals performed are not on the basis of nazar, the meat of the korban can be distributed in any of the following ways:

- The meat is divided into three portions. One-third is for the one who performs the korban (the Sahib al-Korban, not the one entrusted to slaughter) and the other two-thirds for the needy.

- The meat is divided into three portions. One-third is for the one who performs the korban, the other one-third for the needy and the last one-third for others such as relatives and neighbours.

- The meat is given entirely to the needy except a very small portion to the one who performs the korban.

In a hadith, the Prophet s.a.w. took only some of the cooked meat:

فَنَحَرَ ثَلاَثًا وَسِتِّينَ بِيَدِهِ ثُمَّ أَعْطَى عَلِيًّا فَنَحَرَ مَا غَبَرَ وَأَشْرَكَهُ فِي هَدْيِهِ ثُمَّ أَمَرَ مِنْ كُلِّ بَدَنَةٍ بِبَضْعَةٍ فَجُعِلَتْ فِي قِدْرٍ فَطُبِخَتْ فَأَكَلاَ مِنْ لَحْمِهَا وَشَرِبَا مِنْ مَرَقِهَا

“He then went to the place of sacrifice and sacrificed sixty-three (camels) with his own hand. Then he gave the remaining number to Ali r.a. who sacrificed them, and he shared him in his sacrifice. He then commanded that a piece of flesh from each animal sacrificed should be put in a pot, and when it was cooked, both of them (the Prophet s.a.w. and Ali r.a.) took some meat out of it and drank its soup.”

(Sahih Muslim)

The Differences between Korban, Hadyu and ‘Aqiqah

Besides korban, hadyu and ‘aqiqah are other terms that also entail sacrificial rituals. They can be distinguished in terms of aḥkam (rulings) and definitions.


As defined, korban is the sacrificial ritual on the specific days of Zulhijjah (from the 10th to 13th). It is sunnah muakkadah (highly recommended), and it will only be obligatory if intended as nazar (vow).


Whereas Hadyu is the one performed on Yawm An-Naḥr (literally, day of sacrifice i.e. Aidiladha) by the pilgrims in particular. Hadyu is generally wajib (obligatory) upon pilgrims who may have met certain conditions during Hajj or Umrah, or did not perform any of the manasik (integral rituals of Hajj) such as not making the intention at miqat (a boundary where each pilgrim makes their intention to perform the Hajj or Umrah).


Aqiqah is the sacrifice made to celebrate the birth of a child. It is not specific to the mentioned days of Zulhijjah as per the act of korban. In fact, it can be performed in any other days of the year. The best day to perform Aqiqah, however, is on the seventh day after birth. The Prophet s.a.w. said: 

الْغُلاَمُ مُرْتَهَنٌ بِعَقِيقَتِهِ يُذْبَحُ عَنْهُ يَوْمَ السَّابِعِ وَيُسَمَّى وَيُحْلَقُ رَأْسُهُ

“Every boy is mortgaged by his ‘Aqiqah, so sacrifice for him on the seventh day, and shave his head, and name him.”

(Sunan Abi Daud) 

Qurban, Korban, Zulhijjah, Hajj, Aqiqah, Tahniq, Tahliq

But if it is not possible for parents to do it on the seventh day, it can still be done in any other time before the child reaches the age of puberty. It is sunnah to sacrifice two goats for a baby boy and one goat for a baby girl.

Types of Animals Allowed for Korban

Not all permissible (Halal) animal meat is allowed for the korban ritual. The types of animals allowed for korban are termed as Bahimat al-An‘am (literally, the beast of cattle) as guided by the Quran:

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنسَكًا لِّيَذْكُرُوا ٱسْمَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ ٱلْأَنْعَـٰمِ فَإِلَـٰهُكُمْ إِلَـٰهٌ وَٰحِدٌ فَلَهُۥٓ أَسْلِمُوا وَبَشِّرِ ٱلْمُخْبِتِينَ

“For every community, We appointed a rite of sacrifice so that they may pronounce the Name of Allah over the sacrificial animals He has provided for them. For your God is only One God, so submit yourselves to Him alone. And give good news (O Prophet) to the humble.” 

(Surah Al-Hajj, 22:34)

The term Bahimat al-An‘am (sacrificial animals) in the verse refers to the following:

- Camels
- Cows (buffalos/bulls)
- Sheep
- Goats
- Lambs

Qurban, Korban, Zulhijjah, Hajj

Therefore, korban animals exclude other animals such as fish and chicken. It is also important to note that the korban animals must meet certain criteria to ensure they are in a good condition. For instance, the Prophet s.a.w. said:

لَا تَذْبَحُوا إِلَّا مُسِنَّةً إِلَّا أَنْ يَعْسُرَ عَلَيْكُمْ فَتَذْبَحُوا جَذَعَةً مِنَ الضَّأْن

“Sacrifice only a full-grown animal unless it is difficult for you, in which case sacrifice a she-lamb.”

(Sahih Muslim)

Etiquettes of Korban

Islam is a religion that advocates and protects animal rights and is against any form of animal cruelty and violence. This is because animals are part of living beings on earth just like humans. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَا طَـٰٓئِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ إِلَّآ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَالُكُم ۚ مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِى ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ مِن شَىْءٍۚ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يُحْشَرُونَ

“All living beings roaming the earth and winged birds soaring in the sky are communities like yourselves. We have left nothing out of the Record. Then to their Lord they will be gathered all together.”

(Surah Al-An‘am, 6:38)

Besides animal rights, humans also have the right to ensure they consume good meat in accordance with the Islamic guidance. As such, Islam sets certain etiquettes of the korban ritual so that it can be performed in the best way possible. Below are some of these etiquettes:

1. Recite the name of Allah s.w.t.

Korban is not accepted if performed in the name of other than Allah s.w.t. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran: 

وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ ٱسْمُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُۥ لَفِسْقٌ

“Do not eat of what is not sacrificed in Allah’s name. For that would certainly be an act of disobedience.” 

(Surah Al-An’am, 6:121)

2. The animals must be treated and handled well before and during the sacrifice

This includes the process of transporting the animals from one place to another. Before the sacrifice, they must be given sufficient food and drinks, and a proper shelter, and must not be mistreated. 

When they are about to be sacrificed, they should not be shown anything that might trigger them such as carcasses or knives. The Prophet s.a.w. said: 

إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَتَبَ الْإِحْسَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَإِذَا قَتَلْتُمْ فَأَحْسِنُوا الْقِتْلَةَ وَإِذَا ذَبَحْتُمْ فَأَحْسِنُوا الذَّبْحَ وَلْيُحِدَّ أَحَدُكُمْ شَفْرَتَهُ فَلْيُرِحْ ذَبِيحَتَهُ

“Verily Allah has prescribed Iḥsān (kindness) for everything. So when you kill, you must make the killing in the best manner; when you sacrifice, make your sacrifice in the best manner. Let one of you sharpen his knife and give ease to his animal (in order to reduce its pain).” 

(Sahih Muslim)

Unfortunately, some performing korban lack any of these etiquettes and thus it results in making the ritual less ethical, and ultimately gives a bad reputation to the religion. 

With that, we should strictly comply with the korban etiquettes as we would strive to attain not only the good fresh meat of korban but also the moral and spiritual progress in ourselves. And these are the tangible and intangible benefits of the ritual.

Qurban, Korban, Zulhijjah, Hajj, ourmasjid, Singapore

If you have not done your korban or are planning to, you may perform your korban with SalamSG Korban.

SalamSG Korban


1 The Quran mentions the word qurban in Surah Al-Ma’idah implying the meaning of sacrifice or offering:

 وَٱتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ٱبْنَىْ ءَادَمَ بِٱلْحَقِّ إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ ٱلْـَٔاخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقْتُلَنَّكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلْمُتَّقِينَ

Relate to them in truth (O Prophet) the story of Adam’s two sons—how each offered a sacrifice: one’s offering was accepted while the other’s was not, so he threatened (his brother), ‘I will kill you!’ His brother replied, ‘Allah only accepts (the offering) of the sincerely devout.’” (5:27)

2 In a hadith narrated by Anas Ibn Malik r.a, he described how the Prophet s.a.w. performed the ritual act of sacrifice, using the term ‘dhahha which is the verb form of Udhiyyah:
ضَحَّى النبيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّمَ بكَبْشينِ أمْلَحَيْنِ أقْرَنَيْنِ، ذَبَحَهُما بيَدِهِ، وسَمَّى وكَبَّرَ، ووَضَعَ رِجْلَهُ علَى صِفَاحِهِمَا

Rasulullah s.a.w. sacrficed, with his own hands (himself), two horned rams with white and black markings, reciting (the name of Allah s.w.t.) and glorified (Him). He (did so while) placing his legs by the sides (of the rams).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)



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