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"Am I my brother's keeper?"


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Author Topic: "Am I my brother's keeper?"  (Read 1533 times)
Zeynab
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« on: December 19, 2011, 11:24:17 pm »

This query was put up on my Fb page by our member, Brother 100%RealMuslim.  He wanted an opinion on the importance of caring for our loved ones with no "religious context" as he later stated.

It's an interesting and useful topic, so let us analyse it in detail and compare it with the information given on this event in the Noble Quran.

This quote as given in the title is taken from a biblical story.  According to this biblical narration, the names of Adam's two sons were Cain and Abel. Cain murdered Abel. Then God asked Cain where was Abel. Cain lied replying he didn't know and added "Am i my brother's keeper?"   However, let's never forget, the Bible has been completely altered, and similar to the Hadith institution, it has an authenticity problem from start to finish. Therefore, I will only take this as a myth with no confirmation.   Allah Almighty has confirmed in the Glorious Quran that He only speaks to mankind through revelations.  Revelations too are sent not just to anyone but only to those He has chosen as His messengers.  The only messenger with whom Allah spoke directly which He has confirmed in the Quran was Prophet Moses.  Cain and Abel were common people and the Quran gives us no reason to presume that Allah communicated with them directly as claimed in this biblical tale.

However, the incident of one of the sons of Adam killing the other is true which is elucidated in the Noble Quran, verses 5:27-32 Surah Al-Maidah, I quote below.

"But recite unto them with truth the tale of the two sons of Adam, how they offered each a sacrifice, and it was accepted from the one of them and it was not accepted from the other. (The one) said: I will surely kill thee. (The other) answered: Allah accepteth only from those who ward off (evil).

Even if thou stretch out thy hand against me to kill me, I shall not stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee, lo! I fear Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Lo! I would rather thou shouldst bear the punishment of the sin against me and thine own sin and become one of the owners of the fire. That is the reward of evil-doers.

But (the other's) mind imposed on him the killing of his brother, so he slew him and became one of the losers.

Then Allah sent a raven scratching up the ground, to show him how to hide his brother's naked corpse. He said: Woe unto me! Am I not able to be as this raven and so hide my brother's naked corpse ? And he became repentant.

For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind .."


These are the only confirmed interactions that took place in this incident concerning the two sons of Adam as contained in the Noble Quran.  The two sons of Adam communicated between themselves, NOT with Allah Almighty.  Moreover, the Quran does not mention the names of the two sons of Adam.  Their names are only mentioned in the unreliable narrations of Hadith as Habil (Arabic for Abel) and Qabil (for Cain).  The Hadith has taken this directly from the altered Bibles, as it has taken the bulk of its information.

If you read the Quranic verses from Surah Al-Maidah quoted above carefully, you will observe that these verses convey two important messages, which are:

(1)  The awfulness of murder.
(2)  The practice of disposing of the human remains by burial.

Looking at the query again, "Am I my brother's keeper?" .. let us contemplate on the correctness of it in a different context from the meaning reflected in the biblical quote.  Let's reflect upon it on the basis of family love and the desire to feel responsible for our loved ones.

We know that the Noble Quran emphasizes greatly upon family values and family unity.  Our common sense based on Quranic principles tells us, just as parents are responsible for guiding their children, older siblings need to be role models for their younger siblings who are often deeply influenced by their older brothers and sisters. That's the early foundation which greatly contributes to proper guidance and establishing feelings of love and affection between them later in life. It teaches them to care and feel responsible for one another. Such feelings last throughout one's lifetime and it's one of the factors that's supposed to make humans the superior most of all species .. although many humans fail to come up to the standard.

Also, as per the values of the Noble Quran, there's another aspect very important that must be remembered.  Being one brother's keeper or for that matter, being a keeper over anyone would be incorrect if it implies being responsible for the deeds of others. From that perspective, everyone is responsible for themselves .. each one will have to answer to Allah only for themselves, not for others. In this regard Allah Almighty tells the Prophet (s) concerning the people of his community: "We have not set thee as a keeper over them, nor art thou responsible for them" (6:107).   Thus, the Prophet (s) was responsible only for delivering the Message and the guidance it contained.  Yet if someone failed to follow the guidance, that was not the responsibility of the Prophet (s).  Similarly, it is our responsibility to inform our brethren of the path of Allah but we cannot compel them to follow it.  If they fail to follow it, they will be answerable to Allah on the Day of the Tryst.

Furthermore, since Islam is much more than just a religion .. it's a complete code of life, every message concerning life must carry a religious context for a submitter.   It is not possible nor true to separate life from Faith.

Lastly, and unfortunately always ..

Similar to the Christian clerics, many Muslim clerics have also found it impossible to refrain from interpolations and bringing in the interference of the Hadith with its bundle of gossips.  Just as we have learned the discrepancies of the biblical story concerning the two sons of Adam by comparing them with the sole Criterion, the Noble Quran, let us also inspect the Hadith concoctions.  In order to beware of falsehood, it's necessary to know of the extent of its deviations from the Noble Quran.

Ibn Kathir, a notorious tall-tale writer, comes up with a completely unwarranted story, I quote:

"The pinnacle of earthly bliss was reached when Adam and Hawwa (Eve) witnessed the birth of their first children, a set of twins. Adam was a devouted father and Hawwa was a contented mother. The twins were Qabil (Cain) and his sister. Later, Hawwa (Eve) gave birth to a second set of twins, Habil (Abel) and his sister. The family enjoyed the bounties and fruits of the earth provided by their Lord. The children grew up to be strong and healthy young adults. Qabil (Cain) tilled the land while Habil (Abel) raised cattle."


Bukhari, through the bizarre narrations of Abu Huraira, comes up with yet another highly unwarranted myth:

'The Prophet (saaws) said, "The first man to be called on the Day of Resurrection will be Adam who will be shown his offspring, and it will be said to them, 'This is your father, Adam.' Adam will say (responding to the call), 'Labbaik and Sa'daik.'  Then Allah will say (to Adam), 'Take out of your offspring, the people of Hell.' Adam will say, 'O Lord, how many should I take out?' Allah will say, 'Take out ninety-nine out of every hundred.' "
They (the Prophet's companions) said, "O Allah's Apostle! If ninety-nine out of every one hundred of us are taken away, what will remain out of us?" He said, "My followers in comparison to the other nations are like a white hair on a black ox." '


Needless to say, similar to the contents of the altered bibles, the above Ahadith (and more like them) too have absolutely no confirmation for authenticity and must therefore be trashed as hearsay stories.
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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2011, 03:34:52 am »

Wonderfully elucidated, sister Zeynab.   

One can be a keeper of his brother or sister as far as taking care of their well-being is concerned.  But one cannot be a keeper to protect them against Allah, if they are guilty of some wrong doing.

The Quranic contents on this incident are realistic, to the point and brief.  That's all what we're required to keep.  The sin of murder & aggression and the idea of burial are indeed two very important messages the Quranic verses on this topic convey to the world.

Everything else comprising of a handful of theatrics from the altered bibles and hadiths needs to be dumped in the garbage urgently before they misguide people by mixing Truth with falsehood.
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2014, 12:52:42 am »

Asalaam alaykum broathas and sistas, I'm still around (:

I had a discussion with a friend about the story of Cain and Abel. They are not Muslim, so I told them, although the names are not mentioned, this story is alluded to in the Qur'an. While discussing this, I came upon a realization that was interesting- That Cain, even when warned by his brother about the intentions he harbored, he did not feel, contemplate, or even consider the errors he would eventually put into action. What was interesting, is that God sent a raven, to show Cain how to hide the body of his slain brother. Only then, did the feelings of guilt begin to weigh in. This means, that when Cain carried the act of murder out on his brother Abel, he did not resent it. Looking at his brothers body laying there, with no breathe, was not enough for him to be shameful.

See, in the bible, the depiction of the raven coming to Cain is not mentioned. So as I was informing my friend about this, I also stopped when I came to this realization... That the act of murder itself was not shameful to the brother. Only when the raven shows the brother, does he begin to repent. This is interesting... Just bringing this up, and if anybody would like to share or give there thoughts, it would be appreciated (:
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“Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority.”

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2014, 01:27:35 am »

Walaykum Salam and hi brother Aram.  Glad to see you here after ages !  Cheesy   Hope you're doing fine, InshAllah.  Yep, your observation is right on.  The one who killed his brother was struck with remorse and guilt only after watching the raven cover his brother's lifeless body with earth.   It carries two messages.  First, burial for disposing of human remains.  Second, though humans as a creation of Allah have a higher status than animals and birds, yet human conscience can be a lot more stunted than those other living beings.  In fact, many humans can learn much from them on correctness and innocence.
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