English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 5: Al-Maidah — Food (Revealed at Madinah: 16 sections, 120 verses)

Section 5 (Verses 5:27–5:34): Cain and Abel


وَ اتۡلُ عَلَیۡہِمۡ نَبَاَ ابۡنَیۡ اٰدَمَ بِالۡحَقِّ ۘ اِذۡ قَرَّبَا قُرۡبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنۡ اَحَدِہِمَا وَ لَمۡ یُتَقَبَّلۡ مِنَ الۡاٰخَرِ ؕ قَالَ لَاَقۡتُلَنَّکَ ؕ قَالَ اِنَّمَا یَتَقَبَّلُ اللّٰہُ مِنَ الۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۲۷﴾

5:27 And relate to them with truth the story of the two sons of Adam, when they offered an offering, but it was accepted from one of them and was not accepted from the other.1 He said: I will certainly kill you. (The other) said: Allah accepts only from the dutiful.

لَئِنۡۢ بَسَطۡتَّ اِلَیَّ یَدَکَ لِتَقۡتُلَنِیۡ مَاۤ اَنَا بِبَاسِطٍ یَّدِیَ اِلَیۡکَ لِاَقۡتُلَکَ ۚ اِنِّیۡۤ اَخَافُ اللّٰہَ رَبَّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۲۸﴾

5:28 If you stretch out your hand against me to kill me I shall not stretch out my hand against you to kill you. Surely I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds:

اِنِّیۡۤ اُرِیۡدُ اَنۡ تَبُوۡٓاَ بِاِثۡمِیۡ وَ اِثۡمِکَ فَتَکُوۡنَ مِنۡ اَصۡحٰبِ النَّارِ ۚ وَ ذٰلِکَ جَزٰٓؤُا الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۚ۲۹﴾

5:29 I would rather that you should bear the sin against me and your own sin,2 thus you would be one of the companions of the Fire; and that is the recompense of the unjust.

فَطَوَّعَتۡ لَہٗ نَفۡسُہٗ قَتۡلَ اَخِیۡہِ فَقَتَلَہٗ فَاَصۡبَحَ مِنَ الۡخٰسِرِیۡنَ ﴿۳۰﴾

5:30 At length his mind made it easy for him to kill his brother, so he killed him; then he became one of the losers.

فَبَعَثَ اللّٰہُ غُرَابًا یَّبۡحَثُ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ لِیُرِیَہٗ کَیۡفَ یُوَارِیۡ سَوۡءَۃَ اَخِیۡہِ ؕ قَالَ یٰوَیۡلَتٰۤی اَعَجَزۡتُ اَنۡ اَکُوۡنَ مِثۡلَ ہٰذَا الۡغُرَابِ فَاُوَارِیَ سَوۡءَۃَ اَخِیۡ ۚ فَاَصۡبَحَ مِنَ النّٰدِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۚۛۙ۳۱﴾

5:31 Then Allah sent a crow scratching the ground to show him how to cover the dead body of his brother. He said: Woe is me! Am I not able to be as this crow and cover the dead body of my brother? So he became regretful.

مِنۡ اَجۡلِ ذٰلِکَ ۚۛؔ کَتَبۡنَا عَلٰی بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ اَنَّہٗ مَنۡ قَتَلَ نَفۡسًۢا بِغَیۡرِ نَفۡسٍ اَوۡ فَسَادٍ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ فَکَاَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِیۡعًا ؕ وَ مَنۡ اَحۡیَاہَا فَکَاَنَّمَاۤ اَحۡیَا النَّاسَ جَمِیۡعًا ؕ وَ لَقَدۡ جَآءَتۡہُمۡ رُسُلُنَا بِالۡبَیِّنٰتِ ۫ ثُمَّ اِنَّ کَثِیۡرًا مِّنۡہُمۡ بَعۡدَ ذٰلِکَ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ لَمُسۡرِفُوۡنَ ﴿۳۲﴾

5:32 For this reason We prescribed for the Children of Israel that whoever kills a person, unless it is for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he had killed all mankind.3 And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind. And certainly Our messengers came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them commit excesses in the land.

اِنَّمَا جَزٰٓؤُا الَّذِیۡنَ یُحَارِبُوۡنَ اللّٰہَ وَ رَسُوۡلَہٗ وَ یَسۡعَوۡنَ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ فَسَادًا اَنۡ یُّقَتَّلُوۡۤا اَوۡ یُصَلَّبُوۡۤا اَوۡ تُقَطَّعَ اَیۡدِیۡہِمۡ وَ اَرۡجُلُہُمۡ مِّنۡ خِلَافٍ اَوۡ یُنۡفَوۡا مِنَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ ذٰلِکَ لَہُمۡ خِزۡیٌ فِی الدُّنۡیَا وَ لَہُمۡ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ عَذَابٌ عَظِیۡمٌ ﴿ۙ۳۳﴾

5:33 The only punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive to make mischief in the land4 is that they should be murdered, or crucified, or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides, or they should be imprisoned.5 This shall be a disgrace for them in this world, and in the Hereafter they shall have a grievous punishment,

اِلَّا الَّذِیۡنَ تَابُوۡا مِنۡ قَبۡلِ اَنۡ تَقۡدِرُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ ۚ فَاعۡلَمُوۡۤا اَنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿٪۳۴﴾

5:34 except those who repent before you overpower them; so know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.


  1. The reference is apparently to the story of Cain and Abel. Compare Genesis 4:3–12. But the story may be taken allegorically, where the Israelites may be taken for the aggressive and sinful brother and the Ishmaelites, as represented by the Holy Prophet, for the righteous one.
  2. The words “the sin against me” are literally “my sin” but here mean the sin committed against me, i.e. the sin of murder. By “your sin” is meant his previous sin on account of which his offering was not accepted. The righteous brother tells the wicked one that even after knowing that he intended to kill him he would not be the first to raise his hand against him and kill him, but he would rather that the guilty one should go on adding to his sins.
  3. The reference is generally understood to be to the gravity of the crime of murder.
  4. This has generally been accepted as referring to armed robbers and murderers who cause disorder and loss of life and property in a settled state of society, and not to those who actually wage war. The punishment to be inflicted in any particular case would depend upon the circumstances of the case, as well as the time and place where the crime was committed. (Editor’s Note: Some recent commentators suggest that these words do not convey commands to apply these punishments as legal penalties, but describe the natural consequences that occur in society as a result of the actions of the perpetrators of such crimes.)
  5. These words literally mean they should be banished from the earth, but are mostly accepted as meaning imprisonment. Deportation is also included if we take “earth” as meaning a particular country.