Bismillah. Now that we’ve finished the story of our father Adam, we will tell the story of his two sons – Cain and Abel or Qabil and Habil.
I always have a hard time remembering what the name of the good and evil one are 🙂 It’s just so easy to mix them up. So my husband gave me a really easy way to remember. What is the Arabic word for murder? Qatl. So, Qatl – Qaabil 🙂 No more forgetting! (inshaAllah) 😉
Allah describes the evil end and consequence of transgression, envy and injustice in the story of the two sons of Adam, Habil and Qabil. One of them fought against the other and killed him out of envy and transgression, because of the bounty that Allah gave his brother and because the sacrifice that he sincerely offered to Allah was accepted. The murdered brother earned forgiveness for his sins and was admitted into Paradise, while the murdered failed and earned a losing deal in both lives.
Allah says in Surah al-Ma’idah:
And recite to them the story of Adam’s two sons, in truth, when they both offered a sacrifice [to Allah ], and it was accepted from one of them but was not accepted from the other. Said [the latter], “I will surely kill you.” Said [the former], “Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him]. If you should raise your hand against me to kill me – I shall not raise my hand against you to kill you. Indeed, I fear Allah , Lord of the worlds. Indeed I want you to obtain [thereby] my sin and your sin so you will be among the companions of the Fire. And that is the recompense of wrongdoers.” And his soul permitted to him the murder of his brother, so he killed him and became among the losers. Then Allah sent a crow searching in the ground to show him how to hide the disgrace of his brother. He said, “O woe to me! Have I failed to be like this crow and hide the body of my brother?” And he became of the regretful.” (27-31)
The scholars of the Salaf and later generations have said that in every one of Adam and Eve’s pregnancies, they were given twins – one boy and one girl. Adam was commanded to marry the female twin of one set to the male of another. That is, they were not to marry their own twin. Habil’s sister was not beautiful, whereas Qabil’s sister was beautiful. Qabil wanted his twin to himself, but Adam refused. He ordered both brothers to make a sacrifice and then left for Hajj.
Allah Accepts from Those With Taqwa
After Adam ‘alayhis salaam left, they offered their sacrifices. Abel (Habil) offered a fat lamb, and he was a shepherd. While Cain offered a bundle of the worse crops he had grown. A fire came down and devoured the sacrifice of Abel. Allah accepted Abel’s sacrifice. Qabil became angry and said, “I will kill you so that you may not marry my sister.” Abel said,
“Allah accepts only from those who fear Him.”
Taqwa Restricted His Hand
Abu Dardaa` (a companion of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “If I become certain that Allah has accepted even one prayer from me, it will be better for me than this life and all that is in it. This is because Allah says: ‘Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have taqwa.'”
Habil’s sacrifice was accepted because he was the more pious brother. And look at his reaction when Qabil threatened him – he said that if Qabil chose violence, he would remain patient. One might think this is because Habil was weaker, but ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (a sahabi) says: “By Allah! Habil was the stronger of the two men. But fear of Allah restricted his hand.”
The Prophet (S) told us: “When two Muslims fight (meet) each other with their swords, both the murdered as well as the murdered will go the Hellfire.” They said, “O Allah’s Messenger! It is all right for the murdered, but what about the victim?” He (S) replied, “He surely had the intention to kill his comrade.” (Muslim)
Imam Ahmad recorded thatat the beginning of the calamity/fitna during the time of ‘Uthmaan, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas said, “I bear witness that the Messenger of Allah (S) said, “There will be a fitnah, and he who sits idle during it is better than he who stands up, and he who stands up is better than he who walks, and he who walks is better than he who is walking at a faster pace.’ When he was asked, ‘What if someone enters my home and stretched his hand to kill me?’ He said,
‘Be just like (the pious) son of Adam.'”
One night, Abel did not return from tending his flock. So Adam sent Cain to see what happened to him. When Cain went looking for him, he found him and complained to him: “Your offering was accepted, but mine was not.” Abel said, “Allah accepts only from those who fear Him.” Cain became angry and hit his brother with an iron in his hand and killed him. It is also said that he strangled him with his hands. Another version of the story says that he struck him on the head with a rock. wAllahu ‘Alam.
The response that Habil showed after he was threatened by his brother is a sign of his noble character and piety. He restrained himself from responding in the same threat which his brother made towards him.
Allah says: “So the soul of the other encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers.” Qabil’s conscience encouraged him to kill his brother by making it seem like a sensible thing to do, so he killed him, even after his brother admonished him.
What does ‘kill’ mean?
There is a story in Ibn Kathir which says:
Qabil held Habil by the head to kill him, so Habil laid down for him and Qabil started twisting Habil’s head, not knowing how to kill him. Shaytaan came to Qabil and said, “Do you want to kill him?” He said, “Yes.” Shaytaan said, “Take that stone and throw it on his head.” So Qabil took the stone and threw it at his brother’s head and smashed his head.
Shaytan then went to Hawwaa` in a hurry and said to her, “O Hawwaa`! Qabil killed Habil.” She asked him, “Woe to you! What does ‘kill’ mean?” He said, “He will no longer eat, drink or move.” She said, “And that is death?” He said, “Yes, it is.” So she started to weep [….]
That part struck me – the innocent reply of Hawwaa` – “What does ‘kill’ mean?” Imagine a world so innocent that people did not know what ‘kill’ meant when they heard it!
Look at the evil of what Qabil has done – he committed the first murder in human history! 😦
‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood said that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“Any soul that is unjustly killed, then the first son of Adam will carry a burden of its shedding, for he was the first to practice the crime of murder.” [Ahmad]
Imagine that! All of the wars, all of the murders committed since humanity first began will all be on his shoulders. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said in a hadith in Muslim (34/6466):
He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who introduced some evil practice in Islam which had been followed subsequently (by others), he would be required to bear the burden like that of one who followed this (evil practice) without their’s being diminished in any respect.
“Woe to me!”
When his brother died, Qabil left him on the bear ground and didn’t know what to do. Allah send two crows who fought each other until one killed the other. The crow dug a hole and threw sand over the dead corpse. When Qabil saw that, he said, “Woe to me! Am I not even able to be as this crow and to hide the dead body of my brother?”
This ends the story of Cain and Abel. InshaAllah we will briefly mention Sheeth and Idris next.