The Sabbath Breakers | Those Who Fished on the Day of the Sabbath The Forbidden Day to Fish
Allah, the Glorious shares a story with us in the Holy Quran about a group of people that lived before us from the Children of Israel, who lived in a village by the sea and made their livelihood from fishing. They were disobeying God, so God sent them a test where He instructed them not to fish or work on the day of Sabbath (i.e., Saturday), but they were allowed to fish on the other days of the week. God the Almighty tested them by not having any fish in the sea all week, and on the day of the Sabbath, a lot of fish would be out. There would be so many fish that they would see them jump out of the water.
One of them thought of a trick. He thought he would not fish or set his net on the day of Sabbath as instructed, but he would set his net the night before on Friday and come back the day after the Sabbath to collect all the fish in the net. When he returned, the day after the Sabbath, he found a lot of fish in his net and took them home. He thought he was clever and tricking Allah, but he was only tricking himself. The people in the town smelled the fish cooking from his home and asked him where he got all those fish from, so he told them his trick and deception. Some of the people in the village copied what he did, and some did not.
At that moment, those who did not fish broke into two different groups. One of the groups was the best of them — those who did not fish and would speak up against those who did fish and would warn them to fear Allah and stop what they are doing. The second group amongst those who did not fish, did not speak up and forbid those that did fish, and they allowed the disobedience to continue. Even though they themselves did not fish on the forbidden day — they did not try to speak up and stop those who did fish. They would tell those that did speak up and preach to mind their own business and would ask them, why do you preach to those whom Allah is about to destroy with a severe punishment? The preachers would respond so that we can be free from guilt and so that perhaps they may fear Allah, stop what they are doing, and regret what they have done and be saved from the punishment of Allah. Allah has commanded us to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil.
One day, Allah brought down his punishment and turned those that fished on the day of Sabbath into monkeys and apes for three days, and then they vanished. He also turned and vanished those who did not fish but did not speak up against those who did fish because they did not forbid, and they let the sinners’ sin. The only group that was saved were those who did not fish and spoke up forbidding those who fished. The ones that were saved saw them as monkeys and asked them, did we not forbid you from doing this?
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