The Quran states that Habil (Abel) said to his brother Qabil (Cain), "If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee..." Should we not defend ourselves?

The Details of the Question

The Quran states that Habil (Abel) said to his brother Qabil (Cain), "If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee..." Shall we utter this statement when somebody wants to kill us? Should we not defend ourselves?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

“Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! They each presented a sacrifice (to Allah): It was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter: ‘Be sure I will slay thee.’ ‘Surely,’ said the former, ‘Allah doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.

" 'If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear Allah, the cherisher of the worlds.' "

" 'For me, I intend to let thee draw on thyself my sin as well as thine, for thou wilt be among the companions of the fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong.’" (al-Maida, 5/27-29)

The story of Hz. Adam’s two sons may have aimed to condemn the assassination attempts of some Jews who lived in the era of Hz. Muhammad (pbuh). (For instance, al-Maida, 5/11). The strongest aspect in terms of similarity is jealousy. Qabil was jealous of Habil; similarly, Jews were jealous of Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) and his Companions.

Question: Why did Qabil not defend himself though it is necessary for man to defend himself? Suppose that it is not fard, but at least it is not haram. Then, why did Habil say, "For, I do fear Allah, the cherisher of the worlds"?

This question can be answered from a few aspects:

1) The following can be said: Habil, who was killed, understood from signs that Qabil would probably kill him; so, he uttered that sentence as advice. That is, he wanted to say, "I do not find it appropriate to kill you unjustly and cruelly. I will not kill you because I fear Allah." Habil uttered that statement before his brother killed him; he said so because he wanted to make Qabil feel that killing a person was an evil deed. Therefore, it is narrated that Qabil showed patience a bit and killed Habil by crushing his head with a big stone when he slept.  

2) The statement "It is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee" in the verse means, "I will not stretch my hand against you to kill you. I will raise my hand only to defend myself." Scholars state the following:

"When man defends himself, he needs to start with the least harmful one and move on gradually. A person does not have the right to intend to kill the person facing him in the first step. On the contrary, his right is to defend himself. Finally, if he thinks that he can save himself only by killing the person facing him, it becomes permissible for him to kill him."

3) Some scholars stated the following:

"It is permissible for the person who is meant to be killed to surrender to the wish of the murderer. As a matter of fact, Hz. Uthman did so. Hz. Prophet (pbuh) said to Muhammad Ibn Maslama, "Put your arm on your face. Be a slave of Allah that is killed but do not be one that kills." [A similar hadith: Musnad, 5/110, 292.]"

4) That it is fard for a person to defend himself may be a decree that changed when shari’ahs changed. Mujahid said, "Self-defense was not permissible at that time."

For detailed information, see Fakhruddin ar-Razi, Tafsir Kabir Mafatihul-Ghayb, Akçağ Publications: IX/34-36.

Questions on Islam

Was this answer helpful?
Author:
Questions on Islam
Subject Categories:
Read 150 times
In order to make a comment, please login or register