[By Maulana Ilyas Ghuman]
If the qurbani animal is sheep or goat, then it must be not be shared and must be offered by only one individual. Here are the proofs:
Ibn Abbas (Radhiyallahu Anhu) narrates:
اَنَّ النَّبِیَ صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم اَتَاہُ رَجُلٌ فَقَالَ اِنَّ عَلَیَّ بَدَنَۃً وَاَنَا مُوْسِرٌ بِھَا وَلاَ اَجِدُھَا فَاَشْتَرِیْھَا فَاَمَرَہُ النَّبِیُّ صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم اَنْ یَّبْتَاعَ سَبْعَ شِیَاۃٍ فَیَذْبَحُھُنَّ. [سنن ابن ماجہ:ص 226،کتا ب الاضاحی باب کم یجزی من الغنم عن البدنۃ]
A man came to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and said, “The qurbani of a large animal (cow or camel) has become obligatory upon me and I have the wealth to buy it but I cannot find one for purchase. (So what should I do now?)” So the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) commanded him to buy seven goats and offer them for qurbani. [Ibn Majah]
In this hadith, the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) equated a large animal (cow or camel) to seven goats, and a large animal can only be shared by seven people and no more. Thus it proves that one sheep or one goat cannot be shared and can only be offered as qurbani by one person.
Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhu) has said:
اَلشَّاۃُ عَنْ وَاحِدٍ. [اعلاء السنن:ج 17،ص210،باب ان البدنۃ عن سبعۃ]
A goat can only be (offered as qurbani) on behalf of one person. [I’laa al-Sunan]
The Claim that one goat is sufficient for a Family for Qurbani
Some people claim that an entire family can share a goat in qurbani. They quote the narration of Sayyiduna Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari (Radhiyallahu Anhu) where he mentioned that a person used to offer one goat as qurbani on his behalf and his family’s behalf, and then the entire family used to consume it. [جامع الترمذی ج1ص272 باب ما جاء أن الشاة الواحدة تجزي عن أهل البيت]
The reply to this claim is that this narration of Sayyiduna Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Radhiyallahu Anhu) is implying on the rewards that was shared by the entire family. Otherwise, one goat can only be offered by one person and cannot be shared as has already been proven earlier.
Sharing the reward in a qurbani is explained by the following hadith where the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) slaughtered a sheep for qurbani and said:
اَللَّهُمَّ إِنَّ هَذَا عَنِّي وَعَمَّنْ لَمْ يُضَحِّ مِنْ أُمَّتِي. [مسند الإمام أحمد بن حنبل رقم الحدیث: 14893، سنن أبي داؤد: باب فِى الشَّاةِ يُضَحَّى بِهَا عَنْ جَمَاعَةٍ]
“O Allah! This is from me and from all those from my Ummah who could not offer qurbani.” [Musnad Ahmad]
This way the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) included his Ummah in the rewards of qurbani. Similarly, the narration of Sayyiduna Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Radhiyallahu Anhu) is also regarding the sharing of rewards in qurbani.