The best of stories: The story of Habil and Qabil

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Iman illustrated is the brain-child of Sis Sumayah Hassan also known as @recitereflect. She wanted to introduce the study of the Quran in a fun way for adults. Who says only children need to have fun?

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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 digging 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.

Surah Al-Maidah [vs 27-31]

In the Quran, the names of the Children of Adam were never mentioned. As with everything Allah has omitted, it is because their names do not affect the lessons that we can derive from the story.

The brothers were to marry twin sisters of each other. However, Qabil objected to the rule because he wanted to feed his own nafs (his selfish reasons). He felt he deserved the more beautiful sister. So they went to their father (Adam) to settle the issue and he referred them to Allah.

They were to make sacrifices from what they had and Allah accepted from one but not the other. Qabil, whose own was not accepted let the rejection fire up his anger and promised to kill his brother. Habil, on hearing this said he would not retaliate because of the fear of His Lord (Scholars says Habil was physically the stronger one. However, the fear of Allah restricted him).

Qabil driven by his nafs killed his brother. And he became from the losers; in this life, he lost his brother and the pleasure of Allah and in the hereafter, he lost the pleasure of Allah and paradise. A crow was sent to teach him how to bury his brother. He regretted not the act of killing his brother but being unable to bury him without the help of the crow.

Lessons and Reflections

  • Their father did not just rule in favour of anyone, he referred them to Allah – Allah is the ultimate guide.
  • They gave offering from what they had – When we need to give charity, we should give from what we have. We should not want to give the same thing Mr B gave especially if we don’t have it. Qabil and Habil gave different things based on the fact that Qabil was a farmer and Habil was a Shepard.

 إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ

  • Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous – One ingredient that would guarantee the success of anything and everything we do is sincerity. We must be sincere in our dealings with people, in the things we give, in the life we live.
  • Habil’s life was threatened but he held tight to his faith – The fear of Allah is something that is clear in every believer even in the face of death. Sometimes we are tried and tested and we lose ourselves and our faith…we start with the “if only” and “had this not happened”.
  • At the point where Qabil’s nafs drove him to kill his brother, Shaytan was not mentioned – This is because Shaytan whispers then leaves the nafs to struggle and decide. Shaytan is not responsible for our wrongs but our nafs is.
  • Emotions like envy and anger will drive you to a loss – These negative emotions are incapable of helping you achieve goodness.
  • Allah sent a crow to show him how to bury his brother – There are signs of Allah everywhere, we need to open our eyes and heart to see and our heart and brains to reflect on His signs and in His signs, we would find solutions to our problems.
  • There is a right and wrong way to regret – We should regret our sins for the right reasons, because we fear our Creator and not because of others. Sometimes, when we commit sins like stealing, telling lies, adultery and fornication, we are more afraid of being caught than of it being written in our book of deeds.

Action points

  • Sincerity should be my watchword… Everything I do should be with one major goal, for the sake of Allah.
  • I need to feed my nafs adequately so it can either win the fight against the whispers of Shaytan or it can make the right choice.
  • I need to not only see the signs of Allah all around me but also reflect on them.
  • When I commit a sin, I should regret it for the right reasons and hasten to repentance.




9 thoughts on “The best of stories: The story of Habil and Qabil

  1. Nasra Sharif says:

    Masha’Allah, wow, this post is amazing. I learnt of the story of Habil and Qabil, but the lessons from your post are amazing. It had little extra parts that I did not know such as the jobs of each brother and the fact that Habil was stronger.
    I love your action points and will add them into my life as well. Thank you.



  2. Farah Abdullah says:

    Thanks sis for the wonderful post. I’ve heard of the Qur’an version whilst listening to audio lectures by Mufti Ismail Menk. I’ve also referred to this in one of my writings. Indeed, we should always pattern our lives to Allah’s teachings, in the way of Islam. Thus, be one of the righteous like Habil.


  3. Christal Joan says:

    I love this sister’s work masha Allah. The point about Shaytaan whispering and then leaving is so true. That’s why on the day of judgement he will say to us, I only whispered to you, you did the act yourself. may Allah swt protect us from his whispers, Ameen.


  4. Rimsha says:

    Have heard this story multiple times as a child but it’s always so good to refresh memories and learn more, especially the reflections and lessons part 🙂


  5. Aminat says:

    Although I’ve heard this story before, it’s always good to hear it again and with different insight provided. JazakAllah Khair for sharing it.


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