To be jealous or disrespectful of another person’s religious worship is a great sin that leads to even worse sins.
Religions are human responses to our awareness of the Divine presence; but our particular forms of worship are not as important as our responses to other human beings. The Qur’an teaches us humans that the only way religions should compete is through seeing which religion produces the highest percentage of people who in their everyday life are kind, responsible, loving, and charitable to all human beings.
“To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race (compete) to (do) good. To Allah you return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.” (Qur’an 5:48)
All religions can help people secure God’s favor as long as people live up to the best teachings of their own religion. No religion guarantees success to those who use God as a weapon. To read a holy text in such a way as to support evil acts on others is to follow the religion of Cain instead of Able.
God does not ask Cain or Able to worship or to bring an offering. Able does it on his own and seems to prosper, so Cain decides to do it too.
We are not told why God favored Able and not Cain. It isn’t important because throughout life we will have to deal with failure and rejection. Often we succeed in love, in business, in sports, etc. and sometimes we fail or are rejected, and we often never truly know why.
Cain deals with rejection by scapegoating and killing his rival. Cain takes his rejection as a personal insult. Cain should try another offering, or another time, or another way. He doesn’t.
He blames Able because God didn’t favor Cain’s offering. He can’t stand losing. This is a tragic sin because all humans are going to win some and lose some.
The essay above appears on my blog in the October 6, issue of the Times of Israel. It is not the first time I have quoted Qur’an in the Times of Israel. Hopefully, if all religious leaders start quoting positively from each others Sacred Scriptures, the world will move closer to peace on earth.