Sura Al-Maidah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-41



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The Story of Habil (Abel)and Qkbil (Cain) In these verses, Allah Ta'ala has instructed the Holy Prophet (SM) عليه السلام that he should relate the story of the two sons of Adam truthfully to the people of the Book, or to the whole Ummah.

People who are blessed with insight into the Holy Qur'an know that it is no book of folklore, fiction or history where the purpose is to relate an event from the beginning to the end. But, events of the past and accounts of earlier peoples carry many lessons and wise counsels within their fold. That is the real essence of history. Then, in them, there are such conditions and circumstances as form the basis of different religious injunctions. In view of these very beneficial considerations, the Qur'an employs a methodology of its own throughout the text. It would, when the occasion warrants, narrate an event. Most often, it would not narrate the whole event in one sequence and at one place. In fact, preference is given to narrating a particular segment from it which bears some element of purpose and is relevant at the given place.

This story of the two sons of Adam عليه السلام is being narrated here in the same style. It has many lessons and good counsels for the present and future generations; and under them, mention has been made of many religious injunctions.

We shall proceed by explaining the words used in the text of the Qur'an following which you will have an idea of the main story, and after that we shall be talking about injunctions and rulings contained therein.

In the previous verses, mentioned there was the command of Jihad given to the Bani Isra'il and how cowardly and evasive they turned out to be in response. Set in contrast, the present story condemns unjust killing and the destruction it brings in its wake. The purpose is to bring the people to adhere to moderation and balance in this matter, for the way it is an error to cringe and back out from fighting and killing to uphold the truth and put an end to falsehood, similarly, starting tokill and fight unjustly amounts to a stock destruction of one's material and spiritual life both in the present world and in the Hereafter.

As for the expression: ابْنَيْ آدَمَ (ibn.ziy Adama : the two sons of Adam) appearing in the first verse (27), it can be said that, for that matter, every human being, man and woman, is from the progeny of Adam and everyone can be identified as being from among the children of Adam. But, according to the judgement of the majority of authentic scholars of Tafsir, the expression: ابْنَيْ آدَمَ at this place means the two real sons of sayyidna Adam عليه السلام, that is, Habil and Qabil. It was to relate their story that it was said:  وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَيْ آدَمَ بِالْحَقِّ (and recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam tuthfully):

While Reporting Historical Accounts, Caution and Truth are Mandatory

Here, by adding the word: بِالْحَقِّ (bil-haqq : truthfully), stress has been placed on an important principle to be observed while reporting historical narratives. Great caution is mandatory in this matter. These narratives should have nothing false in them, nothing contrary to the truth, nothing dubious or deceptive, nor should there be any change, increase or decrease, of any kind, in the narration of the original event. (Ibn Kathir).

This is not the only place where the Holy Qur'an has identified this principle. There are other places too where similar instructions appear that it be observed. In Surah 'Al 'Imran, it was said: إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَهُوَ الْقَصَصُ الْحَقُّ (This is indeed the true narration - 3:62). In Surah Al-Kahf, it was said: نَّحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ نَبَأَهُم بِالْحَقِّ (We narrate to you their story with truth - 18:13).And in Surah Maryam, it was said: ذَ‌ٰلِكَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ (That was 'fsa son of Maryam a Word of Truth ... -9:34). At all these places, by including the key word of Al-Haqq or The Truth with historical narrations, the importance of observing truth in reporting events has been made mandatory. The large number of disorders in this world generated through reporting of events usually issue forth from lack of caution in handling it as it should be handled. A little change of word or mode could distort the reality of the event. The religious codes and laws of past communities were lost through this trap door of negligence and lack of caution leaving their religious books to become collections of stories devoid of reliable authority. So, by adding a single word: بِالْحَقِّ,(truthfully) at this place in the verse, a clear signal was given towards this important objective.

In addition to what has been said above, through this very word, the addressees of the Holy Qur'an are also being chastened and guided to the fact that their noble prophet, on him be the peace and blessing of Allah, who is a total Ummiyy (untaught by any human being), yet he is describing the events which took place thousands of years ago, absolutely true and correct. When so, how else could it be explained but that it was Divinely revealed to a Divinely ordained prophet?

After this introduction, the event relating to these two sons of Adam عليه السلام was put in the following words by the Holy Qur'an: إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الْآخَرِ that is, both of them offered their sacrifices for Allah Ta'ala, but it was accepted from one of them and was not accepted from the other.

The word: قربان (Qurban), in terms of Arabic lexical usage, refers to whatever is made the medium of nearness to someone; and in Islamic legal terminology, it means the Dhabihah or sacrifice which is offered to seek nearness to Allah Ta'ala.

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