Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I The Sunday Guardian I April 20, 2014
Cain and Abel were two brothers. They belonged to the first generation of Adam and Eve. There arose some differences between the two, and Cain finally said to Abel in anger: "I shall kill you!" (5:27). Abel did not react and calmly replied: "If you raise your hand to kill me, I will not raise mine to kill you. I fear God, the Lord of the Universe" (5:28). This incident is not simply an incident that once happened between two brothers. It is a universal principle of sublime character.
Every verse of the Quran has two aspects: first, its primary connotation and second, its extended application. So is the case of this Quranic verse. In its primary sense, it tells the story of being killed without any attempt to kill the killer. But there is also an extended application of this Quranic verse. Although in the literal sense, it may have happened only once in history. But, in terms of spirit, it refers to a high moral value, which is relevant for every individual as well as for every group.
What is the eternal spirit of this behaviour? It is positive attitude in spite of negative behaviour. In essence, the response of Abel was the same, that is, he opted for positive behaviour in spite of the negative behaviour from the other party. In this sense, this Quranic verse gives us a principle that is applicable everywhere for all times.
Life is full of problems and differences. In such a situation, every time you have to make an option between two kinds of behaviour: negative behaviour in response to negative behaviour or positive behaviour in response to negative behaviour. Abel's culture is to opt for the second kind of behaviour, that is, positivity in response to negativity. This Abel culture is the super-formula of life. It is the only formula that can ensure success.