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The Story of Habil (Abel) and Qabil (Cain) Print E-mail
Written by Ibn Kathir   
Friday, 10 November 2006

The Story of Habil (Abel) and Qabil (Cain)

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 murderer failed and earned a losing deal in both the lives. Allah said,

[وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَىْ ءْادَمَ بِالْحَقِّ]
(And recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam in truth;) meaning, tell these envious, unjust people, the brothers of swine and apes from the Jews and their likes among mankind, the story of the two sons of Adam, Habil and Qabil, as many scholars among the Salaf and later generations said. Allah's statement,

[بِالْحَقِّ]
(in truth;) means, clearly and without ambiguity, alteration, confusion, change, addition or deletion. Allah said in other Ayat,

[إِنَّ هَـذَا لَهُوَ الْقَصَصُ الْحَقُّ]
(Verily, this is the true narrative [about the story of `Isa],)

[نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ نبَأَهُم بِالْحَقِّ]
(We narrate unto you their story with truth, ) and,

[ذلِكَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ قَوْلَ الْحَقِّ]
(Such is `Isa, son of Maryam. (It is) a statement of truth.) Several scholars among the Salaf and the later generations said that Allah allowed Adam to marry his daughters to his sons because of the necessity of such action. They also said that in every pregnancy, Adam was given a twin, a male and a female, and he used to give the female of one twin, to the male of the other twin, in marriage. Habil's sister was not beautiful while Qabil's sister was beautiful, resulting in Qabil wanting her for himself, instead of his brother. Adam refused unless they both offer a sacrifice, and he whose sacrifice was accepted, would marry Qabil's sister. Habil's sacrifice was accepted, while Qabil's sacrifice was rejected, and thus what Allah told us about them occurred. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said -- that during the time of Adam -- "The woman was not allowed in marriage for her male twin, but Adam was commanded to marry her to any of her other brothers. In each pregnancy, Adam was given a twin, a male and a female. A beautiful daughter was once born for Adam and another one that was not beautiful. So the twin brother of the ugly daughter said, `Marry your sister to me and I will marry my sister to you.' He said, `No, for I have more right to my sister.' So they both offered a sacrifice. The sacrifice of the one who offered the sheep was accepted while the sacrifice of the other [the twin brother of the beautiful daughter], which consisted of some produce, was not accepted. So the latter killed his brother.'' This story has a better than good chain of narration. The statement,

[إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ]
("Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have Taqwa.) who fear Allah in their actions. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' 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 in it. This is because Allah says,

[إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ]
(Verily, Allah accepts only from the those who have Taqwa.) The statement,

[لَئِن بَسَطتَ إِلَىَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِى مَآ أَنَاْ بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِىَ إِلَيْكَ لاًّقْتُلَكَ إِنِّى أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَـلَمِينَ ]
("If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you, for I fear Allah; the Lord of all that exists.") Qabil's brother, the pious man whose sacrifice was accepted because of his piety, said to his brother, who threatened to kill him without justification,

[لَئِن بَسَطتَ إِلَىَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِى مَآ أَنَاْ بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِىَ إِلَيْكَ لاًّقْتُلَكَ]
(If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you,) I will not commit the same evil act that you threaten to commit, so that I will not earn the same sin as you,

[إِنِّى أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَـلَمِينَ]
(for I fear Allah; the Lord of the all that exists.) and, as a result, I will not commit the error that you threaten to commit. Rather, I will observe patience and endurance. `Abdullah bin `Amr said, "By Allah! Habil was the stronger of the two men. But, fear of Allah restricted his hand.'' The Prophet said in a Hadith recorded in the Two Sahihs,

The Story of Habil (Abel) and Qabil (Cain)

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 murderer failed and earned a losing deal in both the lives. Allah said,

[وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَىْ ءْادَمَ بِالْحَقِّ]
(And recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam in truth;) meaning, tell these envious, unjust people, the brothers of swine and apes from the Jews and their likes among mankind, the story of the two sons of Adam, Habil and Qabil, as many scholars among the Salaf and later generations said. Allah's statement,

[بِالْحَقِّ]
(in truth;) means, clearly and without ambiguity, alteration, confusion, change, addition or deletion. Allah said in other Ayat,

[إِنَّ هَـذَا لَهُوَ الْقَصَصُ الْحَقُّ]
(Verily, this is the true narrative [about the story of `Isa],)

[نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ نبَأَهُم بِالْحَقِّ]
(We narrate unto you their story with truth, ) and,

[ذلِكَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ قَوْلَ الْحَقِّ]
(Such is `Isa, son of Maryam. (It is) a statement of truth.) Several scholars among the Salaf and the later generations said that Allah allowed Adam to marry his daughters to his sons because of the necessity of such action. They also said that in every pregnancy, Adam was given a twin, a male and a female, and he used to give the female of one twin, to the male of the other twin, in marriage. Habil's sister was not beautiful while Qabil's sister was beautiful, resulting in Qabil wanting her for himself, instead of his brother. Adam refused unless they both offer a sacrifice, and he whose sacrifice was accepted, would marry Qabil's sister. Habil's sacrifice was accepted, while Qabil's sacrifice was rejected, and thus what Allah told us about them occurred. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said -- that during the time of Adam -- "The woman was not allowed in marriage for her male twin, but Adam was commanded to marry her to any of her other brothers. In each pregnancy, Adam was given a twin, a male and a female. A beautiful daughter was once born for Adam and another one that was not beautiful. So the twin brother of the ugly daughter said, `Marry your sister to me and I will marry my sister to you.' He said, `No, for I have more right to my sister.' So they both offered a sacrifice. The sacrifice of the one who offered the sheep was accepted while the sacrifice of the other [the twin brother of the beautiful daughter], which consisted of some produce, was not accepted. So the latter killed his brother.'' This story has a better than good chain of narration. The statement,

[إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ]
("Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have Taqwa.) who fear Allah in their actions. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' 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 in it. This is because Allah says,

[إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ]
(Verily, Allah accepts only from the those who have Taqwa.) The statement,

[لَئِن بَسَطتَ إِلَىَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِى مَآ أَنَاْ بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِىَ إِلَيْكَ لاًّقْتُلَكَ إِنِّى أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَـلَمِينَ ]
("If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you, for I fear Allah; the Lord of all that exists.") Qabil's brother, the pious man whose sacrifice was accepted because of his piety, said to his brother, who threatened to kill him without justification,

[لَئِن بَسَطتَ إِلَىَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِى مَآ أَنَاْ بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِىَ إِلَيْكَ لاًّقْتُلَكَ]
(If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you,) I will not commit the same evil act that you threaten to commit, so that I will not earn the same sin as you,

[إِنِّى أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَـلَمِينَ]
(for I fear Allah; the Lord of the all that exists.) and, as a result, I will not commit the error that you threaten to commit. Rather, I will observe patience and endurance. `Abdullah bin `Amr said, "By Allah! Habil was the stronger of the two men. But, fear of Allah restricted his hand.'' The Prophet said in a Hadith recorded in the Two Sahihs,

 
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