The word ‘korban’ (sacrifice) has been borrowed from the Arabic ‘qurban’. Other similarly borrowed words are ‘karib’ from ‘qarib’, and ‘kerabat’ from ‘qarabat’ or ‘qarabah’ ; as is evident from the expressions ‘sahabat karib’ and ‘karib kerabat’ which both imply the idea of ‘nearness’. Terminology or semantically, ‘korban’ or ‘qurban’ refers to a person’s actions that bring him near to the good-pleasure of Allah, and this forms a part of the teachings that says Muslims should always strive towards Allah (taqarrub).
As such, indeed, in ‘sacrifice’, what is important is a Muslim’s inner attitude. Outward behavior is certainly important, yet only if it is an expression of our sincere intentions. Thus, during Idul Adha, Muslims have been commanded to offer sacrifice in emulation of Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) by donating animals to other people particularly the underpriveledged poor. However, Muslims have been reminded in the Quran that what is acceptable to Allah which truly becomes ‘sacrifice’ is not the physical sacrificial animal other than the devotional fervor in our souls. Just ruminate over this verse :
“What reaches Allah is not the meat (of the sacrifice animal) or its blood. But what will reach Him is your devotion.” [Al-Hajj : 37]
Therefore too, did the Messenger of God also remind :”Verily, Allah does not look at your outwardly selves and your possessions, but He looks at your heart and your deeds.” [Muslim, Mukthasar no. 17776].
The reason why Allah does not look at nor reckon with our outward forms, is none other than because the outward form is delusory, not real, for it does not mirror our hearts. As the saying goes, we are like foxes under chicken feathers – which is hyprocrisy, a form of evil which in the Quran is threatened with the hellfire (Al-Nisa : 145).