Charity instead of Qurbani 

    Question: I have a query related to Qurbani. Instead of sacrificing sheep on Eid, can one donate the equivalent in money to the Edhi Trust or other bonafide Charity? Secondly, can one give money as Sadqah to charity instead of sheep slaughter? Can one adopt some other token form of Sadqah and give balance amount to charity?  
    Answer: Your answer needs a little elaboration:  
    For every human being who believes in Allah, there are two distinct spheres of interaction in which relationships come into existence. The first sphere covers a person's relationship with Allah, while the second one constitutes a person's relationship with his fellow human beings. Islam and all divinely revealed religions nothing but guide human intellect in these two spheres. A person's relationship with Allah manifests itself in worship, which in Islam has some distinct forms.  Similarly, a person's relationship with his brethren takes the form of social interaction, which again has many areas. Total or partial negation of any one of these spheres results in an unbalanced life. Extremism in the first sphere breeds monasticism and ascetism while extremism in the second one breeds materialism. Islam wants every person to create a balance in his life by giving each sphere its due. Similarly, it wants a person to undertake the various prescribed forms of interaction in both the spheres since each has a definite purpose.  
    In the first sphere, Islam has prescribed specific forms of worship of which one form cannot replace the other, since each has its own purpose and objective. Animal Sacrifice is one such form of worship. It has an underlying philosophy which must be well be appreciated in order to do it in letter and spirit. Just as salat cannot replace zakat and vice versa, animal sacrifice also cannot be replaced by zakat or charity. What animal sacrifce induces in a person, zakat or salat or hajj do not.  
    The raison d'etre for animal sacrifice on Eid is to commemorate a great event which depicts an extraordinary expression of submission to the command of Allah -- the essence of Islam. The Prophet Abraham (sws) while obeying the Almighty set a platinum example of this submission.  When we offer an animal in  sacrifice, we actually symbolize our intention that we are ready to submit ourselves to Allah in any way that may be required by Him, just as His great Prophet Abraham (sws) had once done so with spirit and splendour, glory and grandeur.