Al-Maidah · Juz 6 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 28

Habeel’s reply

Qabeel’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 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.”

He stated that he will not commit the same evil act that his brother threatens to commit, so that he will not earn the same sin as him. He said he fears Allah. He didn’t utter these words to show-off or to imply he is better than his brother. Rather he uttered these words to indirectly teach his brother that what he intended to do was not right.

Having an intention to kill someone even if the person doesn’t actually attempt killing is as serious as murdering someone. The Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said in a hadeeth recorded in the two saheehs,

إِذَا تَوَاجَهَ الْمُسْلِمَانِ بِسَيْفَيهِمَا فَالْقَاتِلُ وَالْمَقْتُولُ فِي النَّار

“When two Muslims fight (meet) each other with their swords, both the murderer as well as the murdered will go to the Hellfire. They said, “O Allah’s Messenger! It is all right for the murderer, but what about the victim?” Allah’s Messenger replied,

إِنَّه كَانَ حَرِيصًا عَلى قَتْلِ صَاحِبِه

“He surely had the intention to kill his comrade.”

Imam Ahmad recorded that, at the beginning of the calamity that Uthman suffered from, Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas said, “I bear witness that the Messenger of Allah said,

إِنَّهَا سَتَكُونُ فِتْنَةٌ القَاعِدُ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ مِنَ الْقَائِمِ، وَالْقَائِمُ خَيْرٌ مِنَ الْمَاشِي، وَالْمَاشِي خَيْرٌ مِنَ السَّاعِي

“There will be a Fitnah, and he who sits idle during it is better than he who stands up, and he who stands up in it is better than he who walks, and he who walks is better than he who is walking at a fast pace.” When he was asked, “What if someone enters my home and stretched his hand to kill me?” He said,

كُنْ كَابْنِ آدَم

“Be just like (the pious) son of Adam.” At-Tirmidhi also recorded it this way, and said, “This hadeeth is Hasan, and similar is reported on this subject from Abu Hurayrah, Khabbab bin Al-Aratt, Abu Bakr, Ibn Mas`ud, Abu Waqid and Abu Musa radhiAllahu anhum.”


– This ayah teaches us the importance of niyah in our deen. If a person is being attacked, he is permitted to defend himself but if the defense mechanism means murdering the other person then such a person will be from the people of fire. Running away or some other means of defense must be adopted instead of killing the other Muslim.

– If a person dies in defending himself without an intention to kill the other person then he is a shaheed. But when he has the intention to kill the other person yet he dies he will end up in naar [hellfire].

– Killing someone is a major sin. We learned in Surah an-Nisa ayah 93 that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “But whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.” 

– In our hatred or aggression we utter words without realizing what we are saying. When someone hurts us blinded by anger we say, “I will kill him” or “I wish they die”.  This mindless statement can take us to naar. There are very few who actually act on their words, but even having the intention is dangerous.

– A person who fears Allah will not even utter such statements or commit such an act.

– Not willing to kill another person doesn’t indicate one is weak or is incapable, rather it displays his taqwa. It is the kauf [fear] of Allah that stops a person from doing haram.

– For acceptance of deed and to save ourselves from that which is haram, taqwa is required.


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