Land of Israel and Jewish heritage – 5

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Land of Israel and Jewish heritage

A series from the book written by Naveed Anjum

Qur’anic stories and Israiliyat, cont’d

Hadiths and Source Documents, cont’d

Besides Joseph and Job, another example is given where Jewish sources help complete the story referenced in the Qur’an. Keep in mind that every Israelite story found in the Qur’an has its roots in Jewish sources that are either biblical or non-biblical. The story of Cain and Abel is in the Qur’an. However, the Qur’an does not mention the names of these “two sons of Adam,” although commentators call them Qabil and Habil. So, where did the commentators get these names? In Sura V., Al Maidah, 30-35, we find the following account:

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Recite unto them truly the narrative of Adam’s two sons, when they both offered sacrifice: then it was accepted from one of them, and from the other it was not accepted. [The latter] said, ‘Verily I shall assuredly slay thee.’ [The other] said, ‘Truly God accepteth from the pious. Verily if thou stretch forth thine hand upon me to slay me, I shall not stretch forth mine hand upon thee to slay thee: indeed I fear God, the Lord of the worlds. I indeed choose rather that thou~ shouldst bear my sin and thine own sin, then shalt thou be of the companions of the Fire, and that is the recompense of the unjust.’ Then his soul permitted to him [Cain] the murder of his brother: accordingly he slew him: thus he became one of the lost. Then God sent a raven, which scratcheth in the ground, that it might show him how to hide his brother’s corpse. He said, ‘Ah! woe unto me! cannot I be as this raven and hide my brother’s corpse?’ Then did he become one of the penitent. On that account have We written for the Children of Israel that whoso slayeth a soul, except for a life or for evildoing in the land, then truly shall it be as though he had slain all men; and whoso saveth it alive, then truly it shall be as though he had saved all men alive.

We can see the names of the two sons of Adam are not mentioned in the Qur’an. However, every Muslim knows that they were Qabil and Habil, which are Cain and Abel in Jewish resources. A conversation, or rather argument, between Cain and Abel is mentioned in Jewish legend both in the Targum of Jonathan and in the Targum of Jerusalem that existed long before the advent of Islam. It should be evident, now, that one must go to Jewish sources to understand facts that are missing in the Qur’an.

(To be continued…)

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