Al-Maidah · Juz 6 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 27

The Story of Habeel [Abel] and Qabeel [Cain]

In the previous ayaat we read about the transgression of Bani Israel during the time of Prophet Musa aalyhi salaam. We also read the rebellion of the Jews present at the time of Muhammad sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam.

Now in ayaat 27 – 31, the story of the two sons of Adam aalyhi salaam 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. It tells us that the consequences of transgression, injustice and rebellion are dangerous.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala describes the evil end and consequence of transgression, envy and injustice in the story of the two sons of Adam, Habeel and Qabeel. 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.

In ayah 27 Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَىْ ءْادَمَ بِالْحَقِّ

“And recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam in truth…”

The Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam was commanded to recite every ayah of the Qur’an to the people. However, when an ayah was particularly revealed with the command “recite” or “tell them”, it emphasized the significance of the matter. In this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands the Prophet to narrate the story of two of Adam. Why does it say “in truth”? It means clearly and without ambiguity, without making an additions or alterations from your own side.

By including the word Bil-Haqqa or the truth, the importance of observing truth in reports 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 bil-haqqa, a clear signal was given towards this important objective.

Several scholars among the Salaf and the later generations said that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala 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. Habeel’s sister was not beautiful while Qabeel’s sister was beautiful, resulting in Qabeel wanting her for himself, instead of his brother. Adam refused unless they both offer a sacrifice, and he whose sacrifice was accepted, would marry Qabeel’s sister. Habeel’s sacrifice was accepted, while Qabeel’s sacrifice was rejected.

إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَـناً فَتُقُبِّلَ مِن أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الاٌّخَرِ

“….when each offered a sacrifice, it was accepted from the one but not from the other….”

An open sign of a sacrifice being accepted was that a fire would come from the sky and eat up the sacrifice; and the sacrifice which was not eaten up by the fire was the sign of its remaining unacceptable. Hit by failure and disgrace, Qabeel was further enraged. Unable to restrain it, told his brother openly that he would kill him.

قَالَ لاّقْتُلَنَّكَ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ

“The latter said to the former: ‘I will surely, kill you.’ The former said: ‘Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have Taqwa.’”

Habeel did not respond to his angry remark with counter anger on the spot. He rather said something which was peaceful and principled. It even had an element of sympathetic concern for him that إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ “Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have Taqwa.” i.e. if you had been God-fearing, practicing taqwa and piety, your sacrifice too would have been accepted. Since you did not do so, the sacrifice was not accepted.

Acceptibility of Deeds Depends in Ikhlas [Sincerity] and Taqwa [Love and Fear of Allah]

The acceptability of one’s deeds and act of worship depends on taqwa. The deed of a person who has no taqwa in him is not accepted.

When the time of death of Amir ibn Abdullah approached, people around him asked, “As for you, you have been busy doing your ibadaah and good deeds throughout your life, why, then would you weep?” He said, “You are saying this and ringing in my ears is this saying of Allah says, إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ . I just do not know if any ibadaah of mine will be accepted or not.”

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Ad-Darda radhiAllahu anhu 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

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz radhiAllahu anhu gave the following advice to a person in a letter he wrote to him, “I tell you to hold on to taqwa without which no deed is accepted; and mercy is not shown to anyone except those who observe taqwa; and without it there is no Divine reward on anything. There are many who preach it but there are very few who practice it.”


– We should only speak to people that which is true and haq. Adding or altering things from our own side solely for capturing people’s attention or to gain praise is not appropriate. Similarly, we should only talk about that which is relevant and beneficial to others. Telling others we ate bagel and cream for breakfast is neither beneficial to them nor relevant. Following up on celebrity gossips, and lives of other people is of no benefit. We will be asked where did we spend our time and how did we use our skills therefore we should be careful.

– When we narrate an incident from Qur’an or ahadeeth we should take special precautions. We cannot add anything from our own side. Haq is what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has told us.

– Sometimes people become too stubborn and no matter what advice they are given they don’t accept. This is a sign of hard-heartedness. Take the wishes of others into account.

– Two people might be doing same action but in reality one’s may be accepted and other’s may be rejected. Only the person knows better with what intention he did it.

– Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala accepts some deeds and doesn’t accept other. This indicates there are certain conditions for our deeds to be accepted. The first condition is taqwa. When there is taqwa, ikhlas will come automatically. So if we are offering Salah we shouldn’t assume it will be accepted. If we are giving sadaqah we should ensure it’s from halal money and we fear Allah. A good deed performed for show off or with the wrong intention is not accepted.

– A person should never be proud of the good deeds that he has performed. One doesn’t know whether it will be accepted. We will only find out on the Day of Judgment whether our deed has been accepted or not. Therefore, before that we should remain fearful.


One thought on “Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 27

  1. Best tafaseer is ibn kaseer. I like ibn kaseer tafaseer most n gives me informative knowledge related ahadees.

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