The First Known Sacrifice
Allah tells us in the Qur’an the story of two sons of Prophet Adam (as), Habil and Qabil. To resolve a difference between them, Adam (as) asked them both to make a sacrifice; whoever’s sacrifice was accepted would be the clear winner.
Since Habil was a shepherd, he offered a ram to be sacrificed. Qabil tilled the land, so he offered some produce grown from the land. It is understood that Habil took care to select the best animal, one which was healthy and well-fed, whereas Qabil wasn’t willing to offer the best of his produce. Allah accepted Habil’s sacrifice, ascending it to heaven, and He rejected Qabil’s sacrifice.
Habil explained to his brother that Allah only accepts from those who have taqwa. Qabil had clearly not made his sacrifice with sincerity, and Allah was aware of that. However, Qabil was jealous of the way Habil had been favoured over him and he killed his brother.
The story of Habil and Qabil illustrates that sincerity and purity of intention are the most important part of the Qurbani. Part of this is selecting a worthy sacrifice as Habil did and to ensure it is well-treated and sacrificed in an Islamic way. It is also about understanding that, like Zakat, Qurbani is not an annual task or tax that we should tick off a to-do list; it is a deeply spiritual activity and a chance to draw closer to Allah.