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Monday 4th of December 2023
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ABŪ-TALIB IBN `ABD AL-MUTTALIB

 

Abū-Talib’s real name was the same as that of his ancestor, `Abd-Manaf. Some narrators say that his name was `Imran. All the earlier historians accept his name as Abū-Talib and his kunyah as the same. He was thirty-five years older than the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) was born during `am al-fil (The Year of the Elephant) and Abū-Talib was born thirty-five years prior to that year in Makkah. For forty-three years, he remained under the tutelage of his father, `Abd al-Muttalib, and acquired from him his learning in literature, poetry and other disciplines. In his time, he was a well-known poet and littérateur. Besides this, he possessed an impressive and handsome personality. He combined in his person the Hashemite dignity and Qurayshi opulence. When he talked, pearls of knowledge flowed from his tongue. He was the inheritor of the high morals and character of his forbears and in the progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib he was the closest to the traits of his illustrious father.

After `Abd al-Muttalib, he inherited the offices of Rifadah and Siqayah. He was remembered with the titles of Shaykh al-Batha’, Sayyid al-Batha’ and Ra’is Makkah. Diyarbakri writes:

After Hashim, the duty of feeding the Hajjis was entrusted to `Abd al-Muttalib. After his demise, until the advent of Islam, every year this duty was performed by Abū-Talib.[1]

In this world, wealth is a very powerful tool to achieve positions of strength. But Abū-Talib’s leadership, management and planning needed no support of wealth. It was his sense of duty, strength of character and individuality that took him to the pinnacle of greatness. `Ali (a.s) says,

Despite being impecunious, my father was accepted as the chief. Prior to him, there was none who was impecunious and a chief as well.[2]

[1] Tārīkh al-Khamīs , Vol 1, Page 157.

[2] Tārīkh Al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 14.

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Although the monetary status of Abū-Talib was weak, he provided succor to the weak and the poor. For the Hajjis he used to get the food prepared with great care and interest He used to arrange big containers of water and to render it sweet, he used to mix dates and raisins in the water. One year he was very hard pressed for money and was unable to make the arrangements for the feeding of the Hajjis. He borrowed ten thousand dirhams from his brother `Abbas and spent all that money for the entertainment of the Hajjis. The next year too he faced the same situation. Again he took a loan of fourteen thousand dirhams from `Abbas. `Abbas agreed to this arrangement on the condition that if Abū-Talib was unable to clear all the previous loans, he would have to transfer the office of Siqayah and Rifadah to `Abbas. Since he was not able to meet his commitment even the next year, he handed over the mantle to `Abbas. This kept on transferring to his offspring later on. Abū-Talib conceded the authority to his brother, but continued to serve the Hajjis in his personal capacity.

Abū-Talib had a very kind heart and was always affected with the hardship and troubles of others. Because of this trait in his nature, there always used to be a number of needy persons calling at his place almost every day. He was always keen to help them. He would also rescue the oppressed and troubled persons from the clutches of the unkind. Therefore, when Abū-Salamah Makhzūmi returned from Abyssinia, Banū-Makhzūm started troubling him on account of his having embraced Islam. Abū-Salamah sought refuge from him. Abū-Talib gave refuge to him and publicly declared that the person was under his protection. He also declared that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (a.s) too enjoyed his protection. When people from his tribe demanded Abū-Salamah to be handed over to them, Abū-Talib said that he was his nephew (he was al-Barra’ bint `Abd al-Muttalib’s son and thus his nephew). He told them that he was duty bound to give refuge to the person when he had sought it on account of his relationship with him. If he cannot give protection to his sister’s son, how would he be able to give protection to his brother’s son? Banū-Makhzūm could not pursue their demand any further.

 

In the Arab social structure when the norms of social veracity were dying, and moral turpitude was at its zenith, he saved himself from such aberrations. Gambling was rampant those days and people in most homes used to consume intoxicants. He neither turned towards gambling nor did he ever drink. Ahmad ibn Zayni Dahlan writes:

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Abū-Talib, like his father, even in the Days of Ignorance considered intoxicants Haram (taboo) for himself.[1]

Abū-Talib not only abstained from taboo things himself, he preached with others to the best of his capability to prevent them from the bad habits. He always strived for the reform of the society and the betterment of the country. He encouraged trading and search for fair livelihood. During the renovation of the Ka`bah, it was he who reminded the Quraysh not to involve the ill-gotten wealth for the noble purpose. Prior to the coming of Islam, when floods weakened the walls of the Ka`bah, and the Quraysh contemplated rebuilding the structure, a huge python was noticed near the foundation of the building. People were scared seeing the reptile and the work came to a standstill. Quraysh were thinking of a way out and Abū-Talib said:

This construction has to be done only with pure and legitimately earned funds. Therefore, do not put such money for the work that has been acquired under duress.[2]

The people followed his advice and put only legitimately earned money for the project. When they came near the Ka`bah they saw that a huge bird appeared and flew away with the python in its talons. The way was now clear for them to renovate and reconstruct the Ka`bah.

Abū-Talib tried to introduce such practices in the society that were based on the norms of equity and justice. He wanted that none should be deprived of his rights. Therefore, with this spirit, he introduced the practice of al-Qassamah in the matter of blood money for the murder of `Amr ibn `Alqamah. Al-Qassamah means that when a person is murdered, and his successors claim that a particular person is the murderer, and are unable to produce two witnesses, although the circumstantial evidence is there to prove the crime, then the aggrieved party has to produce fifty persons to take an oath in the support of the prosecution. If they are short of persons to make up the fifty, then some of the witnesses might take the oath twice. This procedure was put into force to ensure that the blood of the murdered person had not gone in vain. Later on Islam too continued with this practice. Ibn Abil-Hadid writes:

During the period of ignorance Abū-Talib introduced the practice of al-Qassamah to give justice in the case of the

[1] Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, Page 80.

[2] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 19.

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murder of `Amr ibn `Alqamah. Islam too continued with this practice.[1]

Be it friendship or enmity, Abū-Talib never abandoned justice and fair play in his dealings. He was not only against tyranny during peaceful days, but also during the times of battles and strife, he did not approve unnecessary shedding of human blood. Therefore, during the period of Ignorance a battle was fought between the Quraysh and the tribe of Qays, which is known as The Battle of al-Fajar. In this battle, Banū-Hashim too were on the side of the Quraysh. The Prophet of Islam (a.s) was still a child. He too went to the battlefield along with his uncle, but only a silent observer. The days when Abū-Talib participated in the skirmishes, the Quraysh used to have an upper hand. The Quraysh, considering his presence as a sign of victory, said that whether he actively participated in the battle or not, his presence only would be a source of encouragement for them. Abū-Talib said:

If you abstain from tyranny, injustice and blaming persons unjustly,

I shall not move away from your view![2]

This was the noble thinking of Abū-Talib that he recognized the difference between the fierceness of the spirit of revenge during the battle and the requirements of defense. He viewed tyranny and torture with displeasure. He tolerated battle only to the extent that it was fought within the established norms of chivalry and fair play.

Abū-Talib was moderate in his views, wanted to be just, affable and thoughtful. The wise men of Arabia used to draw benefit from his company. And took lessons from him in norms of morality. Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays, who was a well-known thinker in Arabia, was asked about the person from whom he acquired his affability and good manners. He said that he learned these skills from Qays ibn `Asim al-Minqari. Qays was asked as to where he got his instruction. He said it was Aktham ibn Sayfi who was his mentor. In the end when Aktham was asked the same question, he said:

“The chief of the Arabs and the non-Arabs, the paragon of knowledge and learning Abū-Talib ibn `Abd al-Muttalib”[3]

[1] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 3, Page 461.

[2] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 16.

[3] Hadiyyat al-Ahbāb, Page 252.

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In his time, he was a statesman, a thinker, a mentor and a man of wisdom. He was a poet of very high caliber. There is a compendium of poetry, Diwan Shaykh al-Abtah, composed by him and his couplets are spread over many well-known books of history. Although Arabia of those days was a cradle of poetry, most of it was self-praising Qasidah or odes. But his style was different from that of the run of the mill poets then. In his couplets, there was neither the element of self-praise nor the touch of the commonplace. There was a subtle flow and simplicity in his poetry and a lesson for the reader on morals, righteousness and truth. Therefore, `Ali (a.s), terming his poetry as an educational and moral treasure says:

“Read his couplet and make your children read them. Because he was on Allah’s Faith and there is a big treasury of knowledge in his poetry.”[1]

Besides these merits, his ancestral connections and the unique privilege of being the mentor and the guardian of the Prophet of Islam (a.s) singles him out from all his contemporaries. The Prophet (a.s), posthumous born that he was, grew under his tutelage and spent most of his years with him. When the Prophet (a.s) was six years old, he lost his mother and after another two years, his doting grandfather too expired. The grandfather put the child in the trust of his uncle, Abū-Talib. When Abū-Talib heard his father make his will about the little ward, he said:

Father! You need not make a will to me about the care of Muhammad (a.s). He is my son and nephew![2]

`Abd al-Muttalib had many children. At the time of his death, all his sons and relations were around him. Every one of them was capable of taking charge of the child. But in his wisdom and farsightedness he entrusted the upbringing and care of Muhammad (a.s) to Abū-Talib. He knew it pretty well that the love and affection that Abū-Talib had for the Orphan of `Abdullah was not manifested by his other uncles. The expectations the patriarch had from Abū-Talib were not unfounded. He must have also had the fact in his mind that Abū-Talib not only had ancestral relationship with Muhammad (a.s) but he was the closest to him through his maternal relationship `Abdullah and Abū-Talib born to the same mother! Perhaps `Abd al-Muttalib had gauged from his reading of the revealed books that Abū-Talib would be the best guardian and mentor for the upbringing of the Prophet (a.s). Some historians have also

[1] Bihār al-Anwār, Vol 9, Page 24.

[2] Manāqib, Vol 1, Page 3.

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written that a lot was drawn between Abū-Talib and al-Zubayr ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and it went in the favor of the former. There is another mention that when the lot was to be drawn, the little Muhammad (a.s) caught the lapel of Abū-Talib’s cloak and thus expressed his preference. Whatever the basis of this decision, it cannot be denied that Allah wished that His select creature must get the care and support of Abū-Talib during his formative and impressionable childhood! Allah has thus expressed in the Holy Book, “Has he not given you succor finding you orphaned?” All the commentators agree that in this Verse Abū-Talib’s affection and care for the little orphan is mentioned.

Thus Abū-Talib honored the will of his departed father and discharged his duty as the guardian of his beloved nephew. Every historian has acknowledged this fact. Ibn Sa`d writes:

Abū-Talib loved the Prophet (a.s) very much, even more than his own children. He made him sleep near himself. Whenever he went out, he always took him along. He valued him more than anything else in the world![1]

Abū-Talib had made a deep study of the ways of Muhammad (a.s) from his very childhood. He found him quiet, shy and lonely. He never played or cavorted like any other children would. He had no taste for sight seeing. Neither he was harsh to anyone nor did he ever play any childish pranks. All these observations impressed Abū-Talib so much that he realized that the child was far above the ordinary children of his age. Therefore, besides his familial love for the child, he developed an inexplicable respect for him! This affection and respect was behind his willingness to make any sacrifices for Muhammad (a.s) as years went by.

The manifestations that Abū-Talib observed in the child made him wonder. Whenever Muhammad (a.s) partook food with the family, however sparse the quantity, everyone seemed to have eaten his fill! Therefore, it was a practice in the household that the child had to be around before anyone started eating. Abū-Talib made it a rule that Muhammad (a.s) should take the first morsel before anyone else partook of the food. If someone lifted the bowl of milk to drink, Abū-Talib asked him to wait until Muhammad (a.s) had it. They noticed that when they drank the milk after the child, the quantity in the bowl would suffice for the entire family. Seeing this, Abū-Talib would say to Muhammad (a.s), “You are blessed!

[1] Tabaqāt, Vol 1, Page 119.

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Once he was going somewhere with Muhammad (a.s). When they were at a distance of three miles from Mount `Arafah at Dhu’l-Majaz, they felt very thirsty. He asked Muhammad (a.s) if water could be found anywhere near that place. Muhammad (a.s) dismounted from the camel, kicked a boulder and uttered something. Water started flowing near the boulder. He said, “Come uncle! Drink the water!” When they drank the water, he kicked the boulder once again and the flow of the water stopped. Seeing these manifestations, Abū-Talib used to make Muhammad (a.s) the intercessor for his prayers, particularly in times of drought. Therefore, once there was utter panic in Makkah because of no receipt of rains for a very long spell. Some said that they must beg al-Lat and al-`Uzza for help. Others were bowing to Manat. One elderly person said:

“Where are you loitering (in the dark) when there is the offspring of Ibrahim (a.s) and the son of Isma`il (a.s) in your midst.”[1]

People asked him if he was referring to Abū-Talib? He said “Yes!” Hearing this Abū-Talib was approached by the people complaining of the failure of all cultivation and drought prevailing in the region. He wanted him to pray for rains. Abū-Talib caught hold of the hand of the Orphan of `Abdullah and proceeded to the precincts of the Ka`bah. He made the child squat near the wall of the Ka`bah, raised his finger towards the sky. There were no signs of rain falling. But within moments cool winds started blowing, dense clouds gathered and it started pouring. The parched land became wet and greenery reappeared in the wilderness.

Abū-Talib was a reputed trader of wheat and perfumes in his day. According to the custom of the Quraysh, he used to travel on business to Syria once every year. When the time for one of his journeys approached, he mentioned to Muhammad (a.s) about his plans but did not ask him to join the caravan. At that time, his age was only twelve years and he did not want to expose the youth to the hardships of the travel through the desert. When he knew that his uncle was not taking him along, he embraced him and started insisting on accompanying him. Abū-Talib too had no desire of leaving him behind in Makkah. He agreed to take him along saying:

By God, I shall take him along!

We shall never be separated from each other![2]

[1] Tārīkh al-Islām, Page 36.

[2] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 1, Page 257.

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Abū-Talib took him along and commenced his journey to Syria. When their caravan arrived at al-Basrah in the southern region of Syria, the hermit Jirjis (Georges) ibn Abi-Rabi`ah, who was known with the sobriquet of Bahira, saw Muhammad (a.s) in the caravan and noticed signs in him that he knew were of the Last of the Prophets (a.s). To look at him from close quarters, he invited the entire caravan to his hermitage for a meal. The Quraysh left behind Muhammad (a.s) near the baggage and went along to the hermitage to share Bahira’s repast. When he did not find the youth in the group, he asked, “Is anyone left outside that has not entered the hermitage with you?” They informed him that only a child has been left out to take care of their merchandise. Bahira asked them to call him in too. When he came, Bahira looked at Muhammad (a.s) with keen interest from head to toe, removed his cloak from the back and saw the Seal of Prophethood between his shoulders. He also asked him about several things experienced by him during the waking and sleeping hours. Then he asked Abū-Talib about his relationship with the child. Abū-Talib said that it was his son. Bahira said that he could not possibly be his son. He told that he could say with certainty that the child’s father was no more. Then Abū-Talib told him that the child was his nephew and was his charge. That he was posthumously born. Bahira said that the child must be taken back home from there only, lest the Jews learn about him and cause him harm. The child is the Messenger of Allah and will be Ordained as Prophet. He added that when the caravan was descending from the hill, he noticed that the trees were bowing down and wherever the child went a cloud was hovering over his head. Besides these manifestations, he had read about the child in the revealed books of yore wherein his face, the personality and other features have been described. On the strength of these evidences, he stressed that the child was the Prophet whose coming has been forecast!

When the Prophet (a.s) attained the age of twenty, he told Abū-Talib that he had seen three radiant bodies in his dream and one of them, pointing towards him, was saying to the other two that this is the one to whose succor you must rise when the time comes. He did not talk anymore than that. Abū-Talib mentioned about this dream to a scholar of Makkah. He looked at Muhammad (a.s) intently and said, “By God! He is the possessor of a pure spirit and is a true prophet!” Abū-Talib asked the person to keep his counsel and not reveal about his finding to anyone. He feared that people of his own tribe become jealous of Muhammad (a.s) and cause harm to him. He told the man that what he surmised was true and he himself had visions about the phenomenon:

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My father `Abd al-Muttalib had told me that he (Muhammad) has been sent as a Prophet by Allah and had instructed me to keep the matter a secret lest the enemies harm him.[1]

These events had paved the way for Abū-Talib to accept the evidence of Muhammad’s Prophethood. He had the conviction that the Orphan of `Abdullah was the prophet of the near future. Therefore, for his upbringing and education, he felt spiritual elation more than material happiness. He used to hover around him like a worm around the radiance of the light. He took full care of him, day and night. Muhammad (a.s) had entered the state of youth from childhood. Now Abū-Talib started thinking of putting him on the road to earning his livelihood. The economic medium of earning a living in the Qurayshi society was trading. But this definitely needed monetary investment that Muhammad (a.s) lacked. At that time in Makkah there was a wealthy lady, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, who used to depute her representatives to different cities to trade on her behalf. Abū-Talib suggested to Muhammad (a.s) to offer to manage her business. He himself went to her and requested her to depute Muhammad (a.s) to tour on her behalf for business as is done by others. Khadijah approved of this offer, explained her business terms and issued merchandise to Muhammad (a.s) to proceed on a tour of business. He kept trading on her behalf for some time and achieved much success. Khadijah was much impressed with his business skills, honesty and straightforwardness. Through some source, she sent a proposal of matrimony to Muhammad (a.s). After consulting his uncle, Abū-Talib, he accepted the proposal. After finalizing the initial procedures Abū-Talib, Hamzah, `Abbas and other persons from Banū-Hashim and important personages from the tribe of Quraysh went to the house of Khadijah. The marriage agreement was finalized and Abū-Talib recited the Sermon of matrimony:

All praise to Allah who created us in the offspring of Ibrahim (a.s) and the progeny of Isma`il (a.s) the children of Ma`d and Mudar; and made us the keepers of His House (the Ka`bah) and made it the Place of Hajj and Peace for us. He made us rulers over men this is my nephew, Muhammad ibn `Abdullah. To whomsoever he is compared, he will emerge superior in nobility And felicity; wisdom and superiority Although he has less of wealth, wealth is like the declining shadow that goes away and is like something that comes to one temporarily and

[1] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 14.

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is withdrawn! By Allah! His future is great and a great Message will emanate from him![1]

Although this sermon is very short, it reflects Abū-Talib’s beliefs and thoughts about the Prophet (a.s) He starts the sermon with the praise of Allah that proves his faith in the Unity of Allah. Then he proudly claims his descent from Ibrahim (a.s) and Isma`il (a.s). Then he expresses pride over the privilege his family had of being the keepers of the Holy Ka`bah. This indicates that they were the rulers because of their august descent but also because they were the true practitioners of the Faith of Ibrahim (a.s). Then he praises the wisdom and sagacity of Muhammad (a.s) and describes the transitory nature of wealth in this world. He compares wealth to the declining shadow that vanishes with time. Then with the words of “al-Naba’ al-`Azim” he concludes that the Prophet (a.s) had a radiant future in store and predicts that soon he will guide the humankind on the Straight Path.

When the Prophet (a.s) completed forty years of his life, Allah wanted him to fulfill the purpose for which he had been created. The heavy burden of guiding humankind was placed on his shoulders. He became known the beacons of guidance and removing the darkness of ignorance and polytheism from the society. He stood up to take the Message to every home in every nook and corner of the world. In the early years of al-Bi`thah (the Annunciation) he propagated his creed discreetly and in secret. Only select few persons had embraced Islam and great care was exercised in declaring their faith to others. For offering congregational prayer (salat al-jama`ah) they carefully sought opportunities and venues. Sometimes they used to pray inside the four walls of their homes. At other times he would go with `Ali (a.s) to the crevices of hills around Makkah to offer their prayers. Once Abū-Talib chanced upon the two cousins prostrating in one of these hidden crevices. He called up `Ali (a.s), his son, and asked him about the faith that he was practicing along with his cousin. He replied, “I have adopted the Faith of Allah and His Prophet, Muhammad (a.s)!”

Hearing this, Abū-Talib said:

You remain attached to him; he will guide you to the Path of Virtue![2]

[1] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 139.

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 58.

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If Abū-Talib was an infidel and an enemy of Islam, he would definitely have told the Prophet (a.s) that he had entrusted to him his impressionable young son, `Ali (a.s), with full trust that he would not lead him away from his father’s faith and create rift between father and son doing otherwise. To the contrary, when Abū-Talib noticed `Ali (a.s) offering prayers according to the tenets of Muhammad’s Faith, he encouraged him and told him that by following his cousin he would remain on the right path! This proves that Abū-Talib was not in favor of the ways of the infidels and idolaters.

Three years went by when the Prophet (a.s) propagated his Faith quietly without making any public announcement. Then came Allah’s Command that he should go public in spreading his mission. For this purpose the Prophet (a.s) got together a feast at the home of Abū-Talib where all the relatives and friends were invited to convey the Message of the New Faith to them and ask them to give up idolatry forthwith. Abū-Talib realized from the very looks of the Quraysh that they would not budge from their deeply ingrained beliefs. He knew that they will be forced to rise against the Prophet (a.s). He therefore sounded Muhammad (a.s) to be discreet in propagating his mission. However, he told Muhammad (a.s) that he should not consider himself hapless and alone. He assured him that, as his uncle, his fullest protection was there for him. Impressed by Muhammad’s spirit of choosing the Right Path despite all the difficulties, Abū-Talib told him:

 

“By God! Until we have lives in our bodies, we shall protect him from his enemies!”[1]

When the Prophet’s voice went outside the four walls of the home and reverberated in the idolatrous environments of Makkah, then, as a reaction, waves of resistance and opposition rose. Those who were his friends and admirers turned sworn enemies now. Quraysh created hurdles at every step in the way of the missionary activities of the small group. They created every imaginable impediment in the way of propagation of the Faith. But the Prophet (a.s) took all these difficulties in his stride. When the Quraysh saw that he was pursuing his mission with determination, they came to Abū-Talib as a strong and influential delegation to ask him to dissuade Muhammad (a.s) to forthwith terminate his activities. They said that he had flattered some unimportant persons to adopt his Faith. They also said that they wanted to talk with Muhammad (a.s) to refrain from what he was doing. Abū-Talib went inside the house to meet Muhammad (a.s) and apprise him of what the

[1] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 1, Page 41.

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delegates were saying. He asked him to meet them, if he felt it worth doing so. The Prophet (a.s) came out and asked the Quraysh what they wanted to tell him. They said that they wished to bring to his notice that they wanted him not to have anything to do with their idols. They wanted him not to talk ill of the idols and stop attacking their age-old religious practices. They said that if he agreed to abide by this demand, they would not interfere with his activities. The Prophet (a.s) rejoined saying that his belief was that Allah is one and that they should worship only Him. Other than Him, they should stop worshipping their own fabricated gods. He affirmed that it was his duty to condemn idolatry and promote worship of one and only Allah. The Quraysh said that it was strange that he wanted them to give up the practices of their fathers, grandfathers and the forbears! How, they said, he expected them to abandon their pantheon of gods and accepted to worship only one god, Allah! Saying this, they went away in a huff.

. At this juncture, Abū-Talib used his discretion and cool thinking to ensure that the disturbed feelings of the Quraysh did not go beyond control. If he had taken a tough stand with them, they might have turned aggressive instantly. Besides considering discretion as the better part of valor, Abū-Talib wanted to give some time to the Quraysh to give a serious thought to Muhammad’s mission. He wanted them to think over the matter with cool minds to distinguish between the right and the wrong. He told them that they had all along recognized Muhammad’s truthfulness and straightforwardness; they should weigh him in this matter with the same yardstick. He wanted them to consider that until the age of forty years they never found him telling a falsehood, then how could they imagine that in the very important matter of Faith he would suddenly tell falsehoods against his very grain! But the Quraysh were very adamant. They would not budge an iota from their stand. They thought that the only solution to the problem lay in silencing the Propagator of the Truth! But Abū-Talib being around, the Quraysh did not have courage to take the extreme step against Muhammad (a.s) They played a trick on Abū-Talib that they brought a handsome lad from the clan of Quraysh to him and suggested that he could adopt him, `Imarah ibn al-Walid, and hand over Muhammad (a.s) to them. When he heard this strange request, Abū-Talib said:

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How strange is this justice that you want me to bring up your son and hand over my own son to you for killing. By God! I shall never do this!”[1]

This demand of the Quraysh was contrary to all norms of natural love and affinity, made in utter ignorance or deliberate purpose that they wanted Abū-Talib to hand-over his nephew to their tyranny. Even a person of very ordinary intelligence would not tolerate such a suggestion. Abū-Talib, on the contrary, was a person of great courage and filial affection.

This demand of the Quraysh demonstrates their mean mentalities. They stooped so low in the enmity of Muhammad (a.s) that all thought of virtue had left them. It can well be imagined how difficult it would have been to prevent them from implementing their nefarious plans. Did anyone other than Abū-Talib ever think of removing these hurdles in the way of Muhammad (a.s). History is helpless in indicating any other name than this uncle and protector of the Prophet (a.s). Because of Abū-Talib this stratagem of the Quraysh too was neutralized. Despite all their tyrannies and oppression, the voice of Islam, instead of being suppressed, increased in volume day by day. Now they feared that if the numbers of his followers swelled, then this group might grow in strength to disturb the political balance in Makkah. When they felt that this revolutionary idea might disturb their apple cart, some of the sheiks and elites came once again to Abū-Talib. They said that during their previous visit they had quietly departed after making their case with him. But they stressed that they had now run out of patience and no more willing to consider his seniority and old age. They had thought that the voice advocating for change might die of its own. But, contrary to their expectations, that did not happen. They wanted him to warn his nephew sternly to stop talking about the heavenly things. Otherwise, they wanted him to stay aloof and let them decide the things for themselves! Seeing their changed and stern attitude Abū-Talib went to Muhammad (a.s) and apprised him of the unreasonable attitude of the Shaykhs of Quraysh and advised him to adopt an attitude that they did not kill him with stealth. Abū-Talib also told him that how long he could contend with their crowd all alone. Hearing these words from Abū-Talib, Muhammad’s eyes watered. And he said in a shaking voice, “Uncle! I invite them to be virtuous and to worship Allah! This is according to Allah’s Commandment to me. Even if the Quraysh put the moon in one hand and the sun in the other, I cannot refrain from doing my duty!” Saying this he walked

[1] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 42.

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away from the presence of his uncle. When Abū-Talib saw Muhammad (a.s) going, he felt a shivering in his old body. He called Muhammad (a.s) to come back and impressed with his courage said with full confidence:

O Son of my brother! Go and tell them what you wish to! By Allah! I shall never abandon your side![1]

Getting this courageous response from Abū-Talib the tears from Muhammad’s eyes vanished. The courage of the determined heart increased many fold. The feeling of loneliness and helplessness had gone. After renewing his determination, Abū-Talib headed towards the Quraysh. He asked them not to linger there any more and added:

By Allah! My nephew’s tongue is never accustomed to falsehoods![2]

Although these delegations from the Quraysh were making Abū-Talib a medium of communication, he was never seen as siding with them. If he had endorsed their views, he would have asked Muhammad (a.s) to avoid interfering with their religious practices instead of just communicating their messages. He would have asked him not to condemn their idol. He could have also told Muhammad (a.s) that he himself was a follower of their creed. But history fails to make any reference that Abū-Talib ever took that sort of attitude. He was just communicating the message without adding anything to endorse their stand. The Quraysh too had understood that Abū-Talib was in total support of his nephew and that it was not possible to endorse their stand. They now formed a group to oppose Muhammad (a.s) tooth and nail on their own. They sometimes threw stones on him, sometimes the garbage. They called him a magician, a sorcerer and a madcap. Whenever he stood up for offering prayer, they would try to ridicule him.

One day the Prophet (a.s) was busy offering prayer near the Ka`bah. Abū-Jahl spotted some persons sitting nearby and asked them if one of them who could disturb Muhammad’s prayer. `Abdullah ibn al-Zuba`ra stood up and brought some dung and gore. He rubbed it on the face of Muhammad (a.s). After completing his prayer the Prophet (a.s) went straight to Abū-Talib who was very upset seeing him in that predicament. He asked the name of the person who did such a mean thing. When he was told that the mischief was done by `Abdullah al-Zuba`ra, he took his sword and proceeded towards the Ka`bah.

 

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 67.

[2] Al-Isābah, Vol 4, Page 116.

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As soon as the culprit and his companions saw him coming in a rage, they tried to sneak away from there. Abū-Talib told in a thundering voice that if any one of them moved from his place, he will no more be a living man. They shrank into a huddle at the place they were. Abū-Talib smeared gore and dung on each of their faces and chided them.

Once it happened that the Prophet (a.s) did not return home until late in the evening. Abū-Talib was worried that the Quraysh might abduct or even kill him. He searched him in all the possible places but without any success. He called some Hashemite youths and asked them to sit near the Quraysh chiefs hiding poniards inside their sleeves. One of them should go and take a place near Abū-Jahl. If they got wind that Muhammad (a.s) was killed, they should pounce on their individual targets and kill them instantly. The youths took their poniards and sat close to the chiefs as instructed. Abū-Talib redoubled his search now. Near the hill of Safa he found Zayd ibn Harithah coming towards him. He asked him if he had seen Muhammad (a.s). He informed that a few moments ago he was with him at the base of the hill of Safa. Abū-Talib asked him to go and call him immediately. He added that until he found him safe and sound, he would not return home. Zayd informed Muhammad (a.s) the worry of his uncle. He immediately rushed to where his uncle was. Abū-Talib was much relieved to see his nephew. The next day he took Muhammad (a.s) and the Hashemite youths to the chiefs of Quraysh and recounted the previous evening’s episode to them. The youths showed the poniards that they were hiding under their sleeves. Abū-Talib told the chiefs that if Muhammad (a.s) had come to any harm at their instance, they would all have been slain. He asked them to view those sharp poniards carefully:

By God! If you had killed Muhammad (a.s), not one of you would have lived thereafter. We would have died and would have killed you all![1]

Rivalry already existed between Quraysh and Banū-Hashim. And now it turned into open enmity. The ire of the Quraysh reached such heights that they decided to boycott Banū-Hashim. They forced them, thus, to move away from the town to a ravine of the hill on the outskirts. This place too was not out of the reach of the Quraysh. A danger always lurked that they might attack from any direction any time. In the nights, the danger used to be more. In view of this danger Abū-Talib used to remain awake the whole nights. In the bed of the Prophet (a.s), he used to make one of his sons sleep every

 

[1] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 203.

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night. It was the time when the Prophet (a.s) had supporters in the entire Arabia who could be counted on the fingers! It was Abū-Talib in these dire circumstances who was like a mountain of support and protection for him. He neither left his side any time, nor did he remove his hand from giving help and protection to his nephew. It was his courage and support that Quraysh could not put into operation their nefarious plans and the Prophet (a.s) remained safe from them. Abū-Talib continued to defend him the way the circumstances demanded every time and rendered the satanic plans of the Quraysh ineffective. If Abū-Talib had not protected his nephew wholeheartedly, the course of history would have been different and the early Muslims, and their Prophet (a.s), would have had to bear untold atrocities at the hands of the cruel Quraysh.

Abū-Talib’s spirit of sacrifice and dedication and determination in providing help and support to the Prophet (a.s) is a universally acknowledged fact of Islamic History. None could dare to deny this fact. But some people have tried to give another color to this act of support to mar the spirit of the entire act. Therefore, they have been stressing that the help rendered by Abū-Talib was not with any spirit of religious fervor but was sheer filial and tribal consideration that prompted him to do what he did! They say that Arabs come to the help of a person who is related to them by the distance of many generations. In the case of Muhammad (a.s), he was caring for his own brother’s son! There is no denying the fact that he was most closely related to Abū-Talib. But one has to consider that the dispute was not over any material things. Muhammad (a.s) had challenged the very fabric of their religion, their idolatry and Abū-Talib was a practitioner of that creed. In the matters of religion persons do not tolerate the deviation of their own sons, here we find him defending a nephew knowing fully well that he had plans to destroy the very creed! Abū-Talib was helping him to strengthen his mission of change. This attitude cannot just be termed as support because of filial attachment only! If the support extended was only because of familial attachment, one has to consider whether the support will be more for one’s own sons or a nephew. Abū-Talib, with his unstinted support to Muhammad (a.s) exposing his own sons to the danger of retaliation by the Quraysh and this danger was potent and constant! He went to the extent of asking his sons to sleep in the bed of Muhammad (a.s) to preclude any chance of surprise attack by the enemy in the nights. At what cost? Was it not at the risk to the lives of his own sons? What was the spirit behind these acts? Any father rates the protection of his own son more than that of a nephew. Then why is this phenomenon contrary to human nature? There must have been a stronger and

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more potent inspiration for Abū-Talib to do what he did! This certainly makes one ponder that the help and support to Muhammad (a.s) had a very strong religious overtone and not only filial attachment of his uncle. Abū-Lahab too was an uncle of the Prophet (a.s). Why did not he come to the rescue of Muhammad (a.s) because of filial attachment! To the contrary, he has gone down into the history as the worst and sworn enemy of the Prophet (a.s) only because he cared only for his ancestral creed and was intolerant to any change even at the hands of his own blood relation! Even Ibrahim (a.s) and Azar were related to each other. Azar too was an uncle of Ibrahim (a.s). Why did he come to harm his own nephew? Similarly, Noah’s own son went in support of the infidels against his father. Why there were dissensions between Noah (a.s), Lot (a.s) and their wives? The differences were because they wished to practice different creeds! On the one hand attributing Abū-Talib’s unstinted support only to filial love and on the other hand doubting his Faith does not appeal to reason!

The way Abū-Talib dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the protection and care of Muhammad (a.s), a rational mind will think that if he was not convinced of the veracity of the Prophet’s Mission, he would not have gone to the lengths in his support that he did. He was doing this at the cost of his comfortable life and the eminence that he had in that nomadic society. This is clear evidence that his heart was radiant with the light of Faith and there were the imprints of belief in Allah and His Prophet (a.s) in his psyche. Therefore, Asaduddin, the judge, has written:

In our view, Faith is witnessing (upholding) the things upheld by the Prophet (a.s) and their inclusion in the Shari`ah is proven. This too is the belief of the majority of master scholars, such as al-Buqlani and Ishaq al-Safara’ini.[1]

When the scholars and researchers endorse the witness of the hearts and the batini (intrinsic) belief of a person as Faith, then why one should refute Abū-Talib’s Faith. His contributions to the propagation of Islam and support to the Prophet (a.s) are proof of his Faith. In fact, this spirit is not evidenced by many of the persons who publicly accepted Islam. Public acceptance of the creed can also be done by hypocrites! There has not been dearth of such persons in the annals of Islamic History! They made tall claims of support to Islam with their tongues, but when the time came for making sacrifices, they fled from the scene of battle! There are also instances of persons intriguing

[1] Sharh al-Muwaffaq, Page 718.

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with the enemies against the interest of the Prophet (a.s) and Islam. True belief in Islam is from the depths of the heart and not mere lip service. Faith is the name of firm belief and conviction and belief not mere utterance of some words from the tongue for the benefit of the hearer! If oral utterance alone were the expression of Faith, then Allah would not have refuted the Faith of such persons:

Some persons say with their tongues that they have Faith in Allah and the Day of Reckoning although they are those who have not adopted the Faith.

The Faith that comes from the heart will have no place for hypocrisy and duplicity. Every act of such persons will be a mirror of his Faith and in accord with the requirements of the belief. On the basis of the person’s actions, his Faith is identified. Faith means firm belief and conviction. Conviction has its effect on the actions of the person. Viewing the life and actions of Abū-Talib one cannot deny the fact that all his assertions were in the service of strengthening Islam. His contribution can be termed as the foundation stone of the super-structure that arose later on. He bore all sorts of hardships to strengthen and pave the way for the propagation and growth of the Creed. He supported the Prophet (a.s) with absolute dedication and sincerity. He kept himself away from the polytheist practices of the day practiced the Islamic ways. From his life is evident the friendship for Islam and obedience of the Prophet’s teachings. Then who has the right to remove him from the sphere of Islam when the Holy Qur’an says that if a person’s ways are in accord with Islam and his actions are the same as those of Muslims, then people should not term him an infidel:

 

A person who wishes you peace and presents himself as a Muslim, you must not tell him that he is not a person of the Faith.

If it is accepted that Abū-Talib did not profess Islam publicly, the majority of the jurists believe that public profession of Faith is not compulsory when there is a strong reason to keep it in wraps. Therefore, in the initial years after the Annunciation, the invitation to the Creed was done on the quiet and in secret conclaves. The Prophet (a.s) himself used to advise the new entrants to keep their creed secret. This was a wise way of protecting Islam and its proponents. In accordance with this, many prominent Muslims kept their identity secret for many years. They followed the Islamic norms only to the extent it was possible it those difficult days. Even when Islam assumed the status of a group, however small, some Muslims discretely kept away from it

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for their own reasons. They did this to avoid tensions in the families or the society. History indicates that `Umar’s sister, Fatimah, who was the wife of Sa`id ibn Zayd, had already adopted Islam along with her husband. She used to keep her Islam secret. Similarly, Na`im ibn `Abdullah, who belonged to the tribe of Banū-`Adi, was already a Muslim but kept his creed a secret because of the pressures from his tribesmen. After the Migration of the Prophet (a.s), when the Islamic Commonwealth was established in al-Madinah, there was still a group of Muslims in Makkah who continued to keep their Faith a closely guarded secret. The Prophet’s own uncle, `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, was one of such personages. Therefore, Abū-Rafi` writes:

I was the slave of `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and had already adopted Islam at the homes of the Prophet’s relatives. Therefore, Ummul-Fadl—the wife of `Abbas—and I were Muslims. `Abbas was scared of his tribesmen and did not want to invite their ire. Hence, he kept his Islam a secret.[1]

These persons were serving the cause of Islam in their own way by keeping their Faith a secret. Therefore, these were the persons who kept the Prophet (a.s) informed of the movements of the Quraysh who were planning preemptive attacks on the meager forces of early Islam. Ibn Abd al Bar writes about `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib:

He sent all the reports about the polytheists to the Prophet (a.s) in writing that gave strength (of information) to Muslims. `Abbas desired to join the Prophet (a.s) in al-Madinah. But the Prophet (a.s) wrote to him that his presence at Makkah was better and beneficial.[2]

This proves that their keeping the faith as a secret was with the approval of the Prophet (a.s). If keeping one’s Faith secret were against the norms of Islam, then the Prophet (a.s) would never have allowed it. It proves conclusively that keeping one’s Faith secret is not considered non-Islamic in any way!

If affirmation of Faith by a person required oral expression, the condition definitely will be unnecessary that it should be only in prescribed form. When this condition is not necessary, then Abū-Talib’s affirmation of the Prophethood of Muhammad (a.s) cannot be denied. The Prophet (a.s) once

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 159.

[2] Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 485.

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visited Abū-Talib to inquire about his health when the patriarch said:

“O my nephew! Pray to your Sustainer who has made you ordained Prophet that He gives me recovery from illness![1]

The Prophet (a.s) raised his hands in prayer and said, “O Allah! Give recovery to my Uncle.” As a result of this prayer Abū-Talib immediately recovered from the illness and left his bed. If he had not accepted Muhammad (a.s) as Allah’s “Ordained” Prophet, he would not have referred to the Prophethood when he asked him to pray. Is not accepting the Annunciation (al-Bi`thah) acceptance of the Prophethood? And is not instant recovery after the prayer a confirmation that Abū-Talib did have Faith in Muhammad’s Prophethood! Besides this event, many a couplet composed by Abū-Talib is proof that affirms his belief in Muhammad’s Prophethood. These couplets affirm his Faith in the veracity of Islam, the truthfulness of the Faith and the Prophethood of Muhammad (a.s). Such couplets are so many that ShahrAshūb Al-Mazindarani has written in ‘Mutashabihat al-Qur’an’ commenting on the Verse of Sūrah of al-Hajj that the couplets that evidence Abū-Talib’s Faith number more than three thousand. Ibn Abil-Hadid, after quoting several of his couplets writes:

These couplets have been quoted in continuity. Even if the continuity was not there, they are all on the same subject that is common in all the couplets. And that common factor is affirmation of the truthfulness of Muhammad (a.s).[2]

Some of the couplets composed by Abū-Talib are quoted here for the interest of the readers. These couplets fully represent his Faith and Belief and the historians have quoted them with full proof of authenticity:

When the Quraysh infidels accused the Prophet (a.s) of falsehoods, he pointed towards the Prophet (a.s) and recited the following couplets:

You are custodian (amin) and Allah’s custodian in which there is no falsehood! You are free of cheap talk and are straightforward! You are that Prophet of Allah about whom we know! And on you has been Revealed the Qur’an by Allah! [3]

When the Quraysh asked him to stop the Prophet (a.s) or else they would be forced to become aggressive, Abū-Talib recited the following couplets:

[1] Al-Isābah, Vol 4, Page 114.

[2] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 3, Page 315.

[3] Manāqib Ibn Shahrāshūb, Vol 1, Page 39.

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By Allah! Until I am interred in the soil, 

The Quraysh hordes dare not come near you! 

Recount Allah’s Commands without fear, 

Happily cool your eyes in this manner! 

You have invited me to Islam—I know you as my well wisher, 

And then you are amin as well! 

I am sure Muhammad’s Faith is 

Better than all the faiths in the world![1]

When they took shelter in the Shi`b Abū-Talib to protect the Prophet (a.s) from the Quraysh, Abū-Talib composed an encomium (qasidah) of one hundred and twenty couplets. A few of those couplets will be of interest here:

By Allah’s House! Your thought is wrong that we could be

suppressed In the matter of Muhammad (a.s); 

And that for his protection we will not use arrows and spears! 

We shall not surrender him to the enemy 

Until we die in front of them and forget our wife and children! 

I have protected him with my heart and my life, 

And defended him with my shoulders and the chest! 

O Sustainer! Help him with Your Succor! 

And help the Faith that is the Truth, Pure and free of admixture!

Ibn Husham says that one year the people were suffering from acute drought due to scanty rainfall. They went to the Prophet (a.s) and requested him to pray to Allah for rains. He lifted his hands towards the Heaven and offered a prayer. Before he completed the prayer, dark clouds gathered over the horizon and it rained copiously. When he saw the rain falling, the Prophet (a.s) remembered Abū-Talib and said, “If Abū-Talib was alive today, he would be very happy!” One of the companions said, “Perhaps you have remembered a couplet that he had recited about you!” The person then recited it:

Intercession is sought of the radiant faced persons while

praying for rains, 

Intercession of those who are the support for the orphans and widows!”

The Prophet (a.s) said, yes! I do remember.”

[1] Tārīkh Ibn Kathīr, Vol 3, Page 2.

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The imprint of Abū-Talib’s affection was so deep on the heart of the Prophet (a.s) that he did not forget him for a moment. Al-Buladhari has written that when the Prophet (a.s) was seriously ill, Fatimah said, “By Allah! You are just the way that a poet has said about you:

He is so white that waters of clouds are sought by the

intercession of his face 

He was the shelter of the orphans and the haven for the widows 

Hearing this, the Prophet (a.s) opened his eyes and said: 

This is the saying of my uncle, Abū-Talib.[1]

Abū-Talib’s couplets were indicative of his deep Faith, acceptance of the truth and unfathomable love for Islam and its founder. Every couplet of his is the proof of his profound Faith. If people shun their bias, there is no reason they should harbor any doubts about his true Faith. Please do consider with justice if a few of his couplets, even one of them, was traced to any other person, they would have produced it as an evidence of the deep Faith of the person! For what sin people are maligning the Faith of the Prophet’s beloved uncle who was ready to sacrifice everything for the nephew and his Faith. Was it for the sin of giving upbringing to the Orphan of `Abdullah who was destined to be the Last and the Most Perfect of the Prophets (a.s)? Was it for the sin of protecting and preserving him in the face of the enmity and the onslaught of the Quraysh? Was it for his fighting against the machinations of the polytheists to harm the Prophet (a.s)? Was it for propagating the creed of Muhammad (a.s) to every nook and corner of Arabia through his impeccable poetry eulogizing Muhammad (a.s) and his creed? The truth is that the only crime of Abū-Talib in the eyes of those biased critics is that he was the beloved father of `Ali (a.s)! These persons are those who are in total darkness and have no mind to catch a ray of the radiance! Abū-Talib’s Faith and belief is a radiant Truth that will be denied by only those who refuse to accept the whiteness of the dawn and the radiance of the stars. Ibn Abil-Hadid has said so wonderfully:

The futile talk of an ignorant person and the deliberate silence of the learned would not diminish Abū-Talib’s greatness and status! It will be like pretending that the daylight is stark darkness, though this thought will not affect the brightness of the day!

[1] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 553.

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The proof of Abū-Talib’s Faith does not lie only in his poetry. More than these are thoughts and utterances that the Prophet (a.s) and the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt have made about him from time to time. These sayings are important from two points. One is that the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt are all from his progeny and every person’s life will be like an open book in front of the members of his family. He cannot keep his Faith, acts and habits hidden from them. There the witness of the members of a family will be the most reliable. The second point is that, from the juridical point of view his sayings are a proof positive of his Faith. After seeing these proofs, one can term it neither the familial bias nor as any type of partiality. Therefore, commenting on the Prophet’s saying, “…If you adhere to him, you shall never be misled”, al-Muhaddith al-Dahlawi writes:

‘Akhaz’ means that one should remain attached to the love of the Ahl al-Bayt; one should hold them in respect, act on their sayings (and exhortations) and have complete faith on their utterances. [1]

From the Ahl al-Bayt none have ever expressed any doubt whatsoever about the Faith of Abū-Talib. To the contrary, all of them have, at some time or other, expressed their high opinions about his staunch Faith in the Prophet (a.s) and Islam. This unanimity of opinion of the Ahl al-Bayt about Abū-Talib is accepted by all the erudite scholars of Islam. Therefore, Abul-Kiram `Abd al-Salam ibn Muhammad says:

The Imams of Ahl al-Bayt are unanimous on the fact that Abū-Talib died a Muslim. Whatever is contrary to the belief of the Ahl al-Bayt is never dependable.[2]

`Allamah al-tabarsi, of the Shi`ah School of Thought writes:

Unanimity of the Ahl al-Bayt on the Faith of Abū-Talib is proven, and their unanimity is final and binding.[3]

Below are some of the sayings of the Prophet (a.s) and the Infallible Imams (a.s) which are the clear proof that they were all unanimous about the Faith of Abū-Talib and his Deliverance on the Day of Reckoning.

[1] The footnote on Mishkāt, Page 569.

[2] Arjah al-Matālib, Page 268.

[3] Majma` al-Bayān, Vol 2, Page 287.

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`Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib asked the Prophet (a.s) if he expected the Deliverance of Abū-Talib? He said, ‘For him (Abū-Talib) I expect every good from Allah!’[1]

`Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) said:

Abū-Talib did not die until he was sure that the Prophet (a.s) was completely happy and satisfied with him.[2]

Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (a.s) was asked about the faith of Abū-Talib, and he said:

It is surprising that Allah had ordered the Prophet (a.s) that no Muslim woman be allowed to remain married to an infidel, and Fatimah bint Asad who was one of the first ladies to embrace Islam was Abū-Talib’s spouse until her death.[3]

At this stage, this fact must be borne in minds that Fatimah bint Asad embraced Islam during the early days of al-Bi`thah (Annunciation) of the Prophet (a.s), remained alive and the spouse of Abū-Talib for ten years thereafter until her death. If they both belonged to different creeds, the natural consequence would have been religious dispute and separation. But no book of history makes even a passing reference about this.

 

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s) has said:

“Abū-Talib ibn `Abd al-Muttalib left this world as believers (mu’min).”[4]

Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq (a.s) was told by a person that some persons were of the opinion that Abū-Talib died an infidel. The Imam (a.s) said:

They are liars. Witnessing the prophethood of Muhammad (a.s), Abū-Talib has said, “Do not you know that we found Muhammad (a.s) a Prophet the same way as Mūsa (a.s) whose references are there in the Earlier Books. [5]

Imam Mūsa al-Kazim (a.s) was asked by Durust ibn Mansūr about the Faith of Abū-Talib. The Imam (a.s) replied:

[1] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 124.

[2] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 2, Page 312.

[3] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 2, Page 312.

[4] Al-Hujjah, ibn Sa`d, Page 27

[5] Usūl al-Kāfī, Page 244.

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He witnessed about the Prophet (a.s) and everything that he (a.s) brought![1]

Imam al-Rida (a.s) wrote in a reply to a letter from Aban ibn Mahmūd:

If you do not accept the Faith of Abū-Talib, your Journey will be in the direction of the Hell.[2]

Imam al-Hasan al-`Askari (a.s) has said:

Abū-Talib was like the mu’min of the Family of Pharaoh who kept their Faith a closely guarded secret.[3]

In the early days after the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s), Abū-Talib keeping his Faith secret and not openly expounding his beliefs before the infidels of the Quraysh was an act of extreme discretion. If, immediately after the announcement of Muhammad’s Prophethood, he had declared his conversion to Islam, the infidels would have opened their skirmishes on two fronts. He would not have been able to help the Prophet (a.s) by inviting the enmity of the Quraysh against himself as well. Although it was not a secret to the infidels of the Quraysh that at every occasion Abū-Talib came to the rescue of the Prophet (a.s). Thus, the voice of Islam was spreading and its circle was spreading. But they had no direct cause to find fault with Abū-Talib and antagonize him. The statesmanlike attitude of Abū-Talib provided him the opportunity to keep a sort of touch with the infidels and convey to them, in a subtle manner, the merits of Islam as a Faith. If Abū-Talib had not adopted this attitude, the superior numbers of the Quraysh at the time would have proved a more formidable foe for the fledgling group of Muhammad (a.s) and his companions. Whatever opportunities the Prophet (a.s) has to propagate his Faith was, to a great extent, due also to the covert and overt support of Abū-Talib. If he were not there, the prevailing environment at Makkah would have rendered Muhammad’s missionary work very slow. The well-known scholar, Ibn Abil-Hadid who belonged to the Mu`tazilah Sect, acknowledged the contribution of Abū-Talib to the spread of Islam thus:

If Abū-Talib and his son, `Ali (a.s) were not there, Islam would never have stood on its feet, one of them gave his support and help in Makkah, and the other put his own life in jeopardy in al-Madinah.

[1] Usūl al-Kāfī, Page 242.

[2] Mir’āt al-`Uqūl, Vol 2, Page 264.

[3] Al-Hujjah, Ibn Sa`d, Page 115.

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This is a matter of great surprise that on the one hand it is acknowledged that Abū-Talib’s sacrifices and practical support helped the spread of Islam, and on the other they blatantly accuse him of infidelity. This opposition is from those who were willing to accept the weakest indications as evidence of Faith and ardently supported certain persons who had a flip-flop attitude of many a time thinking whether Muhammad (a.s) was really a prophet or not! As opposed to this, they unreasonably count those persons out of Islam who valiantly supported the cause of Islam in its formative days. Abū-Talib’s discreet silence at times and valiant support to his nephew at others was a great asset for the propagation of Islam. His practical life was molded in the way of Islam. Every act of his was mirror of the Prophet’s teachings and living proof of the veracity of Islam. He supported Islam, in word and in deed, with such zeal that was not possible for any person who was opposed to the creed that Muhammad (a.s) was propagating.

Even if all these proofs and evidences are kept aside, no one can deny the profound love that Abū-Talib had for the Prophet (a.s). This great love for the Prophet (a.s) itself is a strong proof of his acceptance of the creed. In the wildest imagination, one cannot think that the love for the Prophet (a.s) and the hate for his Creed could exist together in one person! If there is love for the Prophet (a.s) in one’s heart, then naturally it cannot be devoid of love for Islam!

There does exist a group people who are mentally not prepared to endorse the infidelity of Abū-Talib, but baseless, and false, traditions that have been surreptitiously introduced into the books of history cause them confusion. These traditions however do not qualify for veracity on the established yardstick for judging their correctness. They are the fabrications of the minions of the Umayyad Court! Their attempt is to cover the services of Abū-Talib to Muhammad (a.s) and Islam because of their enmity with `Ali (a.s).It is necessary to make an overview of the traditions concocted by them and people with vision can themselves read between the lines.

The first tradition says that when Abū-Talib was on his deathbed, the Prophet (a.s) came near him. At that time Abū-Jahl and `Abdullah ibn Umayyah were there. The Prophet (a.s) said, “Uncle! Say, ‘There is no god save Allah’ so that I be witness of your Faith in Islam!” Abū-Jahl and `Abdullah chided Abū-Talib saying that if he did this, he would become an outcast from the tribe of `Abd al-Muttalib. Abū-Talib now said,

“I am from the Tribe of `Abd al-Muttalib!”

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He thus refused to say it. The Prophet (a.s) then said,

“If I am not ordered (by Allah) to do otherwise, I shall continue to pray for your Deliverance!”

At this juncture, the following Verse was revealed:

The Prophet and the Believers must ensure that they do not pray for the Deliverance of polytheists, even if they are their near ones, when it is evident to them that their destiny is the Hell

Now, the tradition quoted above is our subject of discussion on various counts:

Firstly, the narrator of this tradition is Musayyab. Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani writes in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib that Musayyab is among the narrators who quote mainly from Abū-Sufyan ibn Harb and his own father Harb, and he is quoted only by his son, Sa`id. It is evident therefore that neither his narrations were given any importance those days nor was he trusted by any one. There is another reason that he converted to Islam only at the time of the fall of Makkah At the time of the demise of Abū-Talib neither was he present at his bedside nor had he access to any person of importance at the time. If he had heard of the incident from someone, the identity of the person was not established. Therefore, the tradition is very weak and unacceptable. Besides this, there was an element of bias in his reporting. The person’s son, Sa`id, sub-narrator, was a sworn enemy of `Ali (a.s). Therefore, Ibn Abil-Hadid has written:

Sa`id ibn Musayyab was against `Ali (a.s) and opposed him.[1]

His enmity for the Ahl al-Bayt is evident from the event of the demise of Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (a.s) when his bier was brought to the Prophet’s Mosque in al-Madinah and all the concourse of the town joined the Funeral Prayers, Sa`id continued to sit alone in the mosque and did not join the congregation. When asked why he did not join the prayer for that noble soul, he said:

At this place of sanctity, I prefer to offer two genuflections of prayer instead of joining the congregation for the Funeral Prayer for that noble soul![2]

[1] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol. 1, Page 270.

[2] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 5, Page 222.

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He surpassed all limits of enmity that he blatantly refused to participate in the last prayers for the revered personage, remaining in the same surroundings all the while! Can the narration of such an inimical person be trusted to decide whether Abū-Talib was an infidel or not? His hatred for the progeny of Abū-Talib has been proved without any element of doubt.

Secondly, this tradition is a contradiction of the tradition that Abū-Talib, in the throes of death, moved his lips and was reciting the kalmia of the Unity of Allah! This tradition has been quoted by many reputed historians in their books. Therefore, Abul-Fida’ writes:

When Abū-Talib’s time of death approached, he moved his lips. Al-`Abbas moved toward him, and then said to the Prophet, ‘O Son of my brother! Abū-Talib has recited the kalimah (i.e. shahadah) that you wanted him to recite.’ The prophet said: Thanks to Allah for He guided you.’[1]

This tradition has been quoted here just to illustrate the futility of Musayyab’s narrative. What is the meaning of asking one to say the kalimah who had all along been the ardent supporter of the Prophet (a.s) and the Mission of Islam? Even if we accept that the Prophet wanted Abū-Talib to say the kalimah in his last moments, it does not mean that by this insistence he was being converted to Islam bearing witness to the Faith! The established practice is that every Muslim, when he dies, is helped to say the kalimah in his last moments!

Thirdly, it appears from the tradition that the subject Verse was revealed immediately after the demise of Abū-Talib. But in fact it is from the Sūrah of Bara’ah which was revealed at the time of capture of Makkah, much later than the demise of Abū-Talib, that happened three years prior to the Migration (The Hegira). The Verse, therefore, was revealed almost ten years after the demise of Abū-Talib! Every intelligent person can deduce from this that how remote is the possibility of connecting the revelation of the Verse to the demise of Abū-Talib. It clearly shows that the unscrupulous narrator had concocted the story to discredit Abū-Talib. Even if we agree that the Verse was revealed concerning Abū-Talib, then how is it that the Prophet (a.s) continued to pray for the Deliverance of (the infidel) Abū-Talib for ten years and Allah did not feel the necessity to warn him against this act for such a long while! Can a belief be based on such a preposterous and concocted tradition and make a decision about the faithfulness or otherwise of a person of the caliber of Abū-Talib?

[1] Tārīkh Abul-Fidā, Vol 1, Page 120.

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Fourthly, prior to the revelation of the subject Verse, several verses were revealed that prohibited Muslims praying for the deliverance of hypocrites and infidels. For example, the Verse quoted below, and several others of the same nature:

Whether you pray for their deliverance or not, it is all the same for them! Allah will never pardon them!

This is a verse from Sūrah of al-munafiqūn which was revealed before the Sūrah of Bara’ah. Therefore, when The Prophet (a.s) was forewarned of not praying for an infidel, how did he, according to the tradition, decide to pray for Abū-Talib with the ostensible knowledge that he was an infidel? Can we imagine the Prophet (a.s) defying the injunction of the Holy Book? If the Prophet did pray for the Deliverance of Abū-Talib, he was confident of his fidelity, and there cannot be firmer proof of his Faith in Allah than this!

Fifthly, Al-Tirmidhi, in his Sahih, writes in the Bab al-Tafsir that `Ali (a.s) heard a person praying for the deliverance of his infidel parents and asked him why he was praying for the parents who, he knew, were infidel? He said, ‘Did Ibrahim (a.s) not pray for his uncle Azar who was an idolater?’ `Ali (a.s) mentioned this matter to the Prophet (a.s). At that moment, the subject Verse was revealed and the Muslims were ordered not to pray for the deliverance of the infidels.

 

There are several other points that need consideration about this tradition:

The first point is that if `Ali (a.s) was sure that it was permissible to pray for infidel relatives, he would not have raised objection with the person. His surprise at the person praying is sufficient proof that a Muslim should not pray for a dead-infidel-relative!

The second point is that in support of his act, the person quoted about the prayer of Ibrahim (a.s) for the deliverance of his uncle, Azar. He need not have gone so far back in history. He could have referred to the prayer of the Prophet (a.s) for his uncle Abū-Talib. This is a proof that the person never thought that Abū-Talib could be an infidel knowing fully well his contribution to the cause of Islam and the Prophet (a.s)! In that period, none in the populace ever thought that he was an infidel.

The third point is that the person brought forward the example of Ibrahim (a.s) praying for Azar in support of his own prayer for his infidel parents. The truth is that Ibrahim (a.s) did not pray for Azar as is evidenced from the following Verse of the Qur’an:

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Ibrahim praying for his father (Azar)’s deliverance was on the basis of his promise to him. But when it dawned on him that he was an enemy of God, he expressed his abhorrence.

Ibrahim’s prayer was just to seek guidance and he wanted that he (Azar) received guidance to become eligible for pardon in the Hereafter. Therefore, however much a person is involved in infidelity and vice; we should not think that he could not be reformed. An expectation can always be there that he will emerge from his ways of infidelity and vice and tread the way of Faith and Virtue. After death, certainly, a person will not have any opportunity to get guidance for reform. Therefore, this prayer of Ibrahim (a.s) does not provide any justification of persons praying for the Deliverance of infidels and polytheists. The fact emerges from these evidences that the command for not praying for deliverance of infidels came before the revelation of this Verse. Therefore, there is neither justification nor permission to pray for deliverance of an infidel. Then how could one imagine that the Prophet (a.s), despite Abū-Talib being an infidel, told him near his death that, “If asked not to pray, I shall continue to pray for your deliverance.” The prayer for Deliverance depends on the hope for forgiveness. How could one hope for forgiveness for the sin of infidelity. It is established that Allah has decided that those who die in infidelity will certainly go to Hell. Therefore, there is a certainty that the Prophet (a.s) was praying for the deliverance of Abū-Talib with the knowledge that he was a mu’min and believer. And after this, there is no reason why anyone should nurse a suspicion that he was an infidel; while there cannot be a stronger evidence of his Fidelity than the Prophet (a.s) himself praying for his deliverance!

The sixth point about the purpose for the revelation of this Verse is that it is referred with regard to many and varying traditions. The variance of the traditions renders them doubtful. And they do not remain fit to be accepted or rejected. In this regard, one tradition can be quoted. When the Prophet (a.s) passed near his mother’s grave, he sought permission from Allah to visit the grave and to pray for her deliverance. Allah permitted him to visit the grave and stopped him from praying for her deliverance in view of this Verse of the Qur’an. There is another tradition that says that the Prophet (a.s) wanted to pray for the deliverance of his father. This Verse was revealed to stop him from doing so. There is one more tradition. Some Muslims approached the Prophet (a.s) to seek his permission to pray for the deliverance of their infidel forbears. This verse was revealed at that time prohibiting them from doing so. Some say that the Verse was revealed at the time of offering prayer for

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deliverance of Abū-Talib, the other traditions say that it was revealed concerning the other events mentioned above.

Another tradition records that when the time for the death of Abū-Talib drew nigh, the Prophet (a.s) said, “Uncle! Recite the kalimah that I might give evidence before Allah about your Faith.” Abū-Talib refused to say the kalimah saying, “If I had not the fear of the taunts of the Quraysh, I would have done it!” At that time, the following Verse was revealed:

Those who you befriend, you do not guide. But Allah guides those He wishes to guide.

 

This tradition too does not deserve to be accepted for several reasons.

Firstly, the tradition is reported by Abū-Hurayrah al-Dūsi, `Abd al-Quddūs al-Shami, Abū-Sahl al-Sayri through Muhammad ibn `Abbad, ibn Abi-`Umar, etc… originating from Ibn `Umar and Ibn `Abbas. The tradition is not dependable that the narrator, Abū-Hurayrah, was in his home town of Yemen at the time of Abū-Talib’s demise and almost ten years had passed since this event when Abū-Hurayrah embraced Islam in 7 A.H. Therefore, the question of his being present at the time of the death of Abū-Talib does not arise. Hence he was not an eyewitness to the event who could certify having seen the Prophet (a.s) advising Abū-Talib to say the kalimah and he refusing to comply. If someone did hear this exchange, why has not he revealed the names when the event happened during his days of ignorance and he was personally not present in Makkah? There is another reason for the unreliability of his narrations about Abū-Talib is that he was among the close courtiers and retainers of Mu`awiyah which is a strong evidence of his enmity for `Ali (a.s), because that was one very important qualification for admittance to the Dardar al-Sham! Ibn Abil-Hadid writes about this enmity and hate that when Mu`awiyah visited al-Kūfah, Abū-Hurayrah was in the team. He used to sit near Bab-Kindah in the nights and people used to surround him out of curiosity. One night al-Asbagh ibn Nubatah too went and joined the group He asked Abū-Hurayrah if he had heard the saying of the Prophet (a.s) about `Ali (a.s):

O Allah! Befriend him, who befriends `Ali (a.s), and, hold him an enemy who is `Ali’s foe!

Abū-Hurayrah affirmed that he was aware of the saying! Al-Asbagh rejoined at this juncture:

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Then with Allah’s witness, I say that you have established friendship with his enemies and you are inimical with his friends.[1]

It was the fruit of this enmity that Mu`awiyah gave to Abū-Hurayrah the governorate of al-Madinah and showered many favors on him. He gave special privileges to his children after his death. When he received the news of his death, Mu`awiyah wrote to his representative al-Walid ibn `Uqbah:

Search for his successors, give them ten thousand dirhams, and treat them with kindness. He was among those who helped `Uthman during his incarceration and remained at his House.[2]

Connection with Mu`awiyah and attachment to the clan of Banū-Umayyah was there and, in addition, Abū-Hurayrah was known for narrating more tradition than any other person of his time narrates, although he had privilege of being with the Prophet (a.s) for a very short while. He narrated more traditions than the persons who had spent the maximum time of their lives with the Prophet (a.s). This excess of narration by him rendered his narratives rather doubtful. `Umar, feeling the effect of excessive narration by Abū-Hurayrah, has chided him and said:

Stop narrating traditions. If you do not comply with my instruction, I shall pack you away to the region of the Tribe of Dūs.[3]

It was the time when Abū-Hurayrah was of the opinion that his mind was a storehouse of traditions and it was withheld as “unworthy” of narration:

Whatever I know of, if I start telling to people, they will start throwing crocks on me and say that Abū-Hurayrah is mad![4]

`Ali (a.s) too was not convinced of his honesty and straightforwardness in narrating the traditions. He therefore said:

Abū-Hurayrah said lot of falsehoods about the Prophet (a.s).[5]

Similarly the presence of Ibn `Umar at the time of Abū-Talib’s demise does not sound probable because he was born three years after the al-Bi`thah (the

[1] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 1, Page 360.

[2] Tabaqāt ibn Sa`d, Vol 2, Page 340.

[3] Siyar A`lām al-Nubalā', Page 424.

[4] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 4, Page 321.

[5] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 1, Page 360.

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Annunciation). This means that at the time of Abū-Talib’s death his age was around seven years, and the presence of so young a child at such a somber occasion is not possible in the midst of the chiefs of Banū-Hashim and the elite of Quraysh! Even if he were present there by any chance, how would it be possible for a small child to hear the whispers of the Prophet (a.s) and Abū-Talib and recount the exchange. Ibn `Umar, therefore, cannot be accepted as a witness to the event. And as long as it cannot be established as to the person, from whom he heard of the event, his narration would have no weight. Added to this fact, Ibn `Umar was among the persons who, after the third Caliph, had refused to owe allegiance to `Ali (a.s). He always remained angry with `Ali (a.s) as far as Ibn `Abbas was concerned, he was born three years prior to the Hegira (The Migration) at Shi`b Abū-Talib and the same year Abū-Talib had expired. Hence, there is no question of his presence during the event and capability to report anything about what happened at the time of Abū-Talib’s death. Who could imagine that a baby in arms could hear and recount anything! If he had heard about the episode from some eyewitness, he never mentioned any name to establish the veracity of the narration. It appears that some interested parties had concocted the story and attributed it to Ibn `Abbas thinking that the hearers might get impressed with his family background and give some credence to the narration.

Further, the other persons in Abū-Hurayrah’s narration, Muhammad ibn `Abbad, Ibn Abū-`Umar or Ibn Kaysan are all insignificant and not dependable as witness to the event. In the narration of Ibn `Umar or Ibn `Abbas, the two persons named, `Abd al-Quddūs al-Shami and Abū-Sahl al-Sayri, are liars and undependable according to the experts in `Ilm al-Rijal.

Secondly, when the Prophet of Islam (a.s) was warned through the verse of the Qur’an,

وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الأَقْرَبِينَ

“Warn your near ones”,

and particularly asked him to invite his kin to Islam. After the revelation of this Verse, The Prophet (a.s) started his missionary activities from the very abode of Abū-Talib. Then, it does not stand to reason that he was inviting other kinsmen to join the fold and left Abū-Talib alone and had no idea until his end to ask hi m to recite the kalmia! Did the Prophet (a.s) not feel the necessity of inviting Abū-Talib to embrace Islam for ten long years sharing the same roof with him. Was he under the impression that if he insisted on Abū-Talib changing his beliefs, he might turn hostile and stop giving support

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that was very vital for the Mission at that critical time! It the first case, it means that the Prophet (a.s) did not care to convert Abū-Talib to his Faith. In the second case, there will be an element of self-interest that cannot be expected from as august a personage as him. The only other alternative is that, from the very beginning, and which is very likely, that the Prophet (a.s) was convinced of the Faith of Abū-Talib and, therefore, he concentrated with his mission in other places! Then what is the question of his insisting on Abū-Talib to say the kalimah when he was in the throes of death!

Thirdly, there are several versions about the purpose of the revelation of this verse. One tradition concerning it is that during the Battle of Uhud the Prophet’s tooth was broken. At that moment, he raised his hands and prayed, “O Allah! Guide these ignorant people!” At that time the Verse was revealed. There is another tradition that this Verse was revealed when the Prophet wanted Harith ibn al-Nu`man to embrace Islam and he remained hesitant to accept the new creed. `A’ishah says:

The Verse:

إِنَّكَ لا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ…

(Surely, you cannot guide whom you love… 28/56)’ was revealed when I was with the Prophet (a.s) under the comforter.[1]

There are many such traditions that are contradictory to one another. Considering the contradictions, the correctness of the tradition under review is questionable. Another valid reason is that the narrators too are not dependable. From the first tradition it appears that the Verse was revealed six years after the demise of Abū-Talib, because the Battle of Uhud was fought in the year 3 H. And he had expired three years prior to the Hegira. `A’ishah’s version suggests that the Verse was revealed around three to four years after the death of Abū-Talib because she was married in 1H which was the period about three or four years after the demise of Abū-Talib. In this event the Verse cannot concern Abū-Talib since, at the time of its revelation, he was no more in the world. And, after a person’s death, neither there is need of guidance for him nor any reason for his refusing to take advice! And, if it is presumed that the Verse was revealed on many occasions, it cannot be accepted until there is a positive proof of the events.

[1] Al-Tirmidhī, footnote, Vol 2, Page 96.

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Fourthly, even if the Verse is accepted to have been revealed concerning Abū-Talib, no doubt can be cast as to his Faith because the manner is the same as the Verse “O Prophet! When you threw the arrow, it was not you, but Allah has thrown it…” In this verse, there is contradiction of ramy with the words ma ramayta and with idh ramayta, there is affirmation. Affirmation because the event was performed at the hands of the Prophet (a.s) and contradiction because in fact the act emanated from Allah. Therefore, in the Verse there is affirmation of the guidance and contradiction as well. It means that apparently, the guidance was through the Prophet’s preaching and instructions, but in reality, it was the result of Allah’s help and support. The reason is that Allah is the fountainhead of Guidance. If His consent is not available, none can achieve the state of guidance! The Prophet, in this process of guidance is only the medium. Now, the Verse does not mean that the Prophet (a.s) cannot guide those whom he considers his friends, or he cannot influence them with his guidance. The meaning is that those whom the Prophet holds friends too are guided by Allah to the path of Faith. This view is supported by other verses of the Holy Qur’an, like:

لَيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ.

O Prophet! Responsibility of guiding these people is not on you; Allah gives guidance to those He wants to. (2:272)

This illustrates that the guidance of Abū-Talib to the path of Virtue was not only because of The Prophet’s guidance, but Allah’s Wish was there. This Verse adds confirmation to Abū-Talib’s Faith rather than contradicting it. The services that he rendered to Islam are a positive proof of his Faith, and Allah’s Wish has been his motivating factor in all these efforts!

The fifth point is that if the Verse is accepted to have been revealed concerning Abū-Talib, then it is confirmed that The Prophet (a.s) held him in great regard as a friend, which fact is a part of history. The Prophet (a.s) expressed affection for `Aqil ibn Abi-Talib because of the love for his father:

I consider you a friend on two counts: firstly, because of my relationship with you, and secondly because of the love for Abū-Talib who had affection for you.[1]

This love for Abū-Talib is a positive proof of his Faith because the Prophet (a.s) could not possibly have befriended or loved any infidel or hypocrite.

[1] Tārīkh al-Islam by al-Dhahbi, Vol 2, Page 233.

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Therefore, Allah says:

لا تَجِدُ قَوْمًا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ يُوَادُّونَ مَنْ حَادَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَوْ كَانُوا آبَاءَهُمْ أَوْ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ أَوْ إِخْوَانَهُمْ أَوْ عَشِيرَتَهُمْ.

Those who believe in Allah and the Day of Judgment, you will not find them befriending the enemies of Allah and His Prophet, even if they are their fathers, sons, brothers or men of their tribe. (22:58)

When Muslims are asked not to befriend the infidels and polytheists, even when they are their own kin, how is it possible that the Prophet (a.s) kept extremely friendly and affectionate relations with Abū-Talib! An infidel and polytheist is an enemy of Allah. How could an enemy of Allah be a friend of the Prophet (a.s), whom Allah Himself has called a Habib or Dear Friend! When the love and affection between the Prophet (a.s) and Abū-Talib is irrefutable, there remains no doubt about the Faith of the latter.

Sixthly, it does not stand to reason, according to the discipline of higher knowledge, how could a person be an infidel who, all his life, stood like a wall in the support of the Prophet (a.s), openly supported the cause of Islam, announced in crowds of the Quraysh that Muhammad’s Faith was the best, acknowledged Muhammad (a.s) like the prophets of yore and was never intimidated by any force while taking sides with the Prophet (a.s)

The third tradition in this series is that a person heard Ibn `Abbas say that the Verse, “And they prohibit (others) from it and go far away from it, (6:26)” is revealed about Abū-Talib, and to ascribe it to him the meaning of the Verse is taken that “although he prevented the Prophet (a.s) from the infidels harming him, he himself maintained a distance from the prophet (a.s)” In his view the condition of Abū-Talib with regard to the Prophet (a.s) was the same that he did protect Muhammad(a.s) from his enemies, did not profess the Faith himself! This tradition too is weak and not worth acceptance.

First of all, there is no continuity of the narrators of this tradition. The name of the person who was the medium between Ibn `Abbas and the narrator Habib ibn Abi-Thabit has not been mentioned. When the narrator himself had not heard it directly from Ibn `Abbas, nor has he mentioned the name of the first person who had heard and communicated to him, how could the narrative be accepted as concerning Abū-Talib. The narrative is doubtful because the narrator, Habib ibn Thabit, is a cheat and exaggerator according to scholars of `Ilm al-Rijal. Secondly, the place and time of revelation of the Verse is

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indicative that it is about a group of infidels and polytheists that attributed the Qur’an to “Stories of people of Old Times” Therefore the author of “al-Kashshaf” and `Allamah al-Baydawi have written that Abū-Sufyan, al-Walid, `Utbah, Shaybah, Abū-Jahl, al-Nadr Ibn Harith and some other persons heard the Prophet (a.s) recite the verses of the Qur’an, they asked al-Nadr ibn Harith as to what Muhammad was reciting? He replied that it was stories of old times. This is mentioned in the first part of the Verse,

…يَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ هَذَا إِلاَّ أَسَاطِيرُ الأَوَّلِينَ

The infidels say that these are stories of people gone by and nothing else. (6:25)

In the last part of the verse, it is mentioned that they will be destroyed because of their waywardness and misdeeds: “they expose themselves to destruction and have no sense.” Between these two parts of the verse there is “And they prohibit (others) from it and go far away from it.” If the meaning of the first part of this verse is taken as ‘they prevent the Prophet (a.s) from harms way,’ the entire verse becomes disconnected and its continuity becomes disturbed. The verse talks about shameful things and deserving of condemnation and because of them their destruction is definite. But protecting the Prophet (a.s) from harm is a virtuous act and has no connection with the first and last parts of the Verse, Therefore, the meaning of “they prevent people from following the Prophet (a.s) and listening to the recitation of the Qur’an” will be correct and meaningfully coordinated with the first and last part of the verse.

Therefore Ibn Kathir and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi have preferred the same meaning of the Verse and have written that this Verse is revealed about the polytheists who used to stop people following the Prophet (a.s) and obstruct them from hearing the recitation of the Qur’an. Therefore, as long as it is not confirmed that Abū-Talib came in the way of people following the teachings of the Prophet (a.s) and hearing the readings of the Qur’an, his being the subject of the Verse cannot be established. The fact has been accepted by all, friend and foe, that Abū-Talib had never asked anyone not to listen to the recitation of the Book nor even suggested to the people not to follow the Prophet‘s teachings. In fact, he never differed with the ideas and teachings of Muhammad (a.s) He spent his entire life in the protection and promotion of the Prophet’s Creed. In view of this, they will be dishonest, who do Misinterpret the Meaning of the verse to discredit Abū-Talib. They try to break the earlier and latter part of the Verse and make a futile effort to try to

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prove that Abū-Talib was an infidel and that he strived to maintain a distance from the Prophet. When did Abū-Talib ever turn away from the Prophet (a.s) and abstain from helping and defending him?

The fourth tradition is the one that is narrated by `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib. He told the Prophet (a.s) that Abū-Talib was busy in supporting and helping him. Will he get any reward for these efforts or all his troubles would go in vain? The Prophet (a.s) said that Abū-Talib is up to his knees in the Hell and that if he (the Prophet (a.s) had not interceded; he would be in the lower echelons of the Hell!

This tradition too is concocted and false.

Firstly this tradition is attributed to `Abbas, who is also credited with the tradition that Abū-Talib, at the instance of The Prophet (a.s) recited the kalimah of Unity of Allah and departed from this world. Will there be any weight in the traditions of contradictory nature narrated by one person and concerning only one individual!

Further, there is a marked difference in the meaning of this and other traditions of this general. In one tradition it is said that intercession has been made by the Prophet (a.s) on behalf of Abū-Talib and he is in the upper echelon of the Hell and in another tradition it is said that intercession will be made on the Day of Reckoning and in yet another tradition it is recorded that there is diminution of retribution but there is no mention of the Prophet’s intercession. With this handling of the traditions, they become doubtful and unacceptable.

Thirdly, the narrators of these traditions were liars, unreliable and scheming. Therefore, al-Dhahbi writes in Mizan al-I`tidal about the narrators, and says about Sufyan that he copies traditions from liars. He writes about `Abdul-Malik ibn `Umayr that his memory is not good. Similarly, he makes such negative remarks on some other narrators who are unknown and not dependable according to experts. Depending on such narrators, neither can one draw any conclusion about the Faith or infidelity of any person, nor can a surmise be made whether the person will be Hell-bound or deserve the Reward of the Heaven!

Fourthly, this tradition mentions that in view of Abū-Talib’s unstinted support to the cause of Islam the Prophet (a.s) made intercession on his behalf and his retribution was reduced, while in regard to the infidels and polytheists there is no question of either any intercession or reduction of retribution! Therefore,

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Allah says:

وَنَسُوقُ الْمُجْرِمِينَ إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ وِرْدًا. لا يَمْلِكُونَ الشَّفَاعَةَ إِلَّا مَنْ اتَّخَذَ عِنْدَ الرَّحْمَانِ عَهْدًا.

“We shall chase the sinners to the Hell like the thirsty animals And seeking intercession at that time will not be in their Choice but of those who have borne witness to Allah’s Unity (Tawhid). (19:86)

At another place, Allah says:

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَهُمْ نَارُ جَهَنَّمَ لَا يُقْضَى عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُوا وَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ مِنْ عَذَابِهَا.

“Those who became infidels, for them there is Hellfire. They will neither end nor will they die. There will not be any diminution in their Retribution. (35:36)

Ibn al-Athir writes:

“Fayyad, the judge, says that there is ijma` (Unanimity of Opinion) that the infidels will not benefit from their good deeds. Neither will they get bounties as Reward nor there diminution of their Retribution.”

When this tradition does not weigh on the yardstick of the Qur’anic texts and consensus, even if its narrators were truthful and just (decent), it is not acceptable in any condition. In this instance, the narrator is neither nor decent.

The fifth point is that the Prophet (a.s) who was a paragon of kindness could only bring Abū-Talib out of the depths of the Hell, but could not help him to get total relief from the Hellfire in the top layer of the Hell! For his selfless and unstinted services to Islam, if not getting him assigned to the Heaven, at least he could have been settled in its suburbs! When these type of concessions have been given to Anūshirwan despite his infidelity for his sense of justice! Hatam enjoys this concession for his generosity! Even for the sworn enemy of Islam, Abū-Lahab, concessions have been recommended. Therefore, the well-known ahl al-hadith, Wahid al-Zaman, in his book Lughat al-Hadith, Bab al-Zad, page 12, narrates a tradition that one person dreamt of Abū-Lahab saying that he got some water on Mondays. This, he said, was the reward for freeing tūbya, his slave girl, to celebrate the birth of the Prophet (a.s).[1] There is another tradition of similar type. The Prophet (a.s) saw Abū-

[1] Lughat al-Hadith, Bāb al-Dād, Page 12.

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Lahab in his dream that he was restless with thirst, and he did have something to quench his thirst. The Prophet (a.s) asked, “What is it that you have to quench your thirst?” Abū-Lahab replied, “tūbya fed you the milk and I had released her from slavery. I have been rewarded for that.”[1]

How strange it is the Abū-Lahab is rewarded for his small gesture of releasing a slave girl. Abū-Lahab, no doubt, was a sworn enemy of the Prophet (a.s) and in the forefront of the persons ridiculing and insulting him. He remained stubbornly infidel until his last breath. And Abū-Talib, who dedicated his entire life to the care and service of the Prophet (a.s) there is no acknowledgement of his effort in bringing up the Prophet (a.s) and providing support and protection all along to his mission. In some other traditions it is also said that although Abū-Talib will be in the upper echelon of the Hell; his brain would melt and fall near his feet because of the excessive heat of the Hellfire. Can it be imagined that this Retribution will be despite the intercession of the Prophet (a.s). In return for his sterling services, there is reduction in his Retribution as described above. But please think over what the Prophet (a.s) has to pray for Abū-Hurayrah’s mother:

Shah Waliyyullah writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) prayed for the conversion of Abū-Hurayrah’s mother, and she became a Muslim the same day!”[2]

How could it be imagined that his prayer for the deliverance of Abū-Hurayrah’s mother was accepted and his prayer was not answered when he prayed for Abū-Talib, although he was a staunch supporter of the Prophet’s Cause. Can Umm Abū-Hurayrah’s being a mother of Abū-Hurayrah be a cause of her deliverance Even if we overlook the services of Abū-Talib to the cause of the Prophet’s Creed, should not his efforts in the bringing up of Muhammad (a.s) and protecting him against all odds be sufficient for his deliverance! Who was Umm Abū-Hurayrah? Just the mother of Abū-Hurayrah who died an infidel!

The fifth justification they advance is through the tradition, which says,

Two different creeds cannot share inheritance.

Therefore, they say that a Muslim cannot inherit the assets of an infidel and an infidel likewise cannot be an inheritor of a Muslim. They say that if Abū-

[1] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 9.

[2] Hujjat Allāh al-Bālighah, Vol 2, Page 578

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Talib was a Muslim, `Ali (a.s) and Ja`far, who were Muslim, would not have refused to accept Abū-Talib’s inheritance. They also say that `Aqil and Talib, who had not embraced Islam until the time of Abū-Talib’s death, inherited his assets.

This justification they proffer is a mere exaggeration. First of all they refer to an inconclusive and undependable tradition that `Ali (a.s) and Ja`far had refused to accept the inheritance of their father. Then they refer to another tradition to support their contention that the refusal was because their father died an infidel. The truth is that neither the meaning of the tradition is what they try to give it, nor the two sons ever refused to accept the inheritance. The meaning of this tradition is taken that if the inheritor and the forbear were not of the same Faith, then the inheritance becomes void. The contention is that if the father was a Muslim and the son an infidel, the son would not get the inheritance. Similarly, if the son is a Muslim and his father was an infidel, he would not accept the inheritance. The inheritance would go void wherever the inheritor and the forbear professed different creeds. In the view of Shi`ah Jurists a Muslim can inherit the assets of his infidel parent, while an infidel is entitled only to the assets of his infidel parent. He does not get anything from the effects of his father if he was a Muslim. This is with a view to maintain the ascendance of Islam. This is also supported by the tradition

 

Islam has ascendance over every thing and nothing has ascendance over Islam.

Therefore, even if Abū-Talib is presumed not a follower of Islam, his Muslim sons cannot be disinherited. If the Islamic law required the Muslim sons of infidel parents to be disinherited, most of the early companions of the Prophet (a.s) qualify for this treatment. The history, however, has not been able to throw one example of a companion being disinherited on the demise of his infidel father! Does this not indicate that, perhaps this law was only for the nearest kin of the Prophet (a.s)? Besides, if `Ali (a.s) had not accepted anything from the estate of his father, is it not possible that he might have done it for some other reason than that draconian law of inheritance! Perhaps he avoided taking any part of the inheritance because of his frugal nature and left everything for his brother `Aqil. Or it was also possible that `Aqil had usurped the entire estate of his father. History too supports this possibility. The historians have written that when the Prophet (a.s) migrated from Makkah to al-Madinah, `Aqil took advantage of the absence of the Prophet (a.s) and he sold the house of Khadijah and two houses of `Abd al-Muttalib, inherited by Abū-Talib, to Abū-Sufyan when neither the Prophet (a.s), `Ali or

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Ja`far were present in Makkah to prevent him from striking that deal without their consent. When, after the fall of Makkah, the time for asking `Aqil about his unfair transaction, they forgave him. This forgiveness cannot be termed as `Aqil’s right of inheritance, because all the three had their right according to the Islamic Law of Inheritance! Therefore, Ibn Shihab says:

“The truth is that `Aqil occupied the Houses of `Abd al-Muttalib after the Migration of the Prophet (a.s) the same way as the infidels of Quraysh occupied the houses of the other migrants. After the conquest of Makkah, neither the Prophet (a.s) nor the migrants demanded the return of their properties. If `Aqil had a right over the property according to the Law of Inheritance, then under what law he sold the house of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid.”[1]

The sixth argument they proffer is that through the weakest tradition it does not emerge that Abū-Talib ever prayed alone or in the company of the Prophet (a.s) although he lived for ten long years after the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s). If he was a Muslim, he would certainly have been seen praying sometime or other, because offering of prayer is an important pillar of Islam.

This argument too does not hold water. In a situation where traditions are concocted to prove his infidelity, it is not a matter of surprise if there is no tradition to support the claim that Abū-Talib did, if ever, offer prayers. But none can deny the fact that, in early days after the al-Bi`thah, Abū-Talib once found his son, `Ali (a.s) offering prayer with the Prophet (a.s), and expressed his appreciation and support for his act. He termed this way of offering the prayer as an act of virtue and exhorted `Ali (a.s) to remain attached to the Prophet (a.s). Once he chanced to see `Ali (a.s) standing behind the Prophet (a.s) on the right side. He told his other son Ja`far:

 

“You too should stand on the left side behind your uncle and offer prayer.”

Even if he had not participated in the prayers, it must have been to protect the Prophet (a.s) from the mischief and machinations of the Quraysh. Then, during his lifetime, prayer was still not declared mandatory nor was it given a prescribed form. The prayers offered those days were only optional. Therefore, Abū-Talib not praying was not a proof of his not having embraced Islam!

[1] From the footnote of Al-Fā’iq, Vol 1, Page 188

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The seventh argument proffered against Abū-Talib is that if he were a Muslim, then how is it that the Prophet (a.s) did not offer the Funeral Prayer for him. This was done, despite the instructions to offer the prayer before any dead Muslim is interred.

This argument is baseless because the command for the Funeral Prayer came much after Abū-Talib’s death. This prayer was not offered for any Muslim who died in that period. After a short time of the death of Abū-Talib, Umm al-Mu’minin (The Mother of the Believers) Khadijah died and the prayer was not offered for her too. This was despite the fact that she was the first lady to ever have embraced the Creed of Islam. Al-Buladhari writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) entered the grave prior to interment of Khadijah. Until that time, there was no order for offering the Funeral Prayer.”[1]

This is the list of baseless doubts that people have concocted to prove the infidelity of Abū-Talib. The faith of Abū-Talib is supported with the sayings of the Prophet (a.s) and the consensus of the Infallible Imams (a.s). Every right thinking person can read the bias of the critics of Abū-Talib and see through the thin veneer of doubts they try to create in the minds of people.

Abū-Talib was the protector of the Creed and the supporter of the Faith of Islam. He was like a protective rampart for the Prophet (a.s) and an invincible fort. He confronted severe difficulties with courage and at no moment, he raised the slightest objection for coming to the help of Muhammad (a.s) and his Divine Mission. He acted with the same zeal, during his long association with the Prophet, when he was young and when he was a grand old man! Even on his deathbed, his mind was occupied with the thoughts of protecting Islam and its founder! Therefore, facing the difficulties at Shi`b Abū-Talib, his health deteriorated beyond repair. He called up the Shaykhs and elite of Quraysh and advised them to be trustworthy, truthful, generous, and charitable to the poor, to respect the Ka`bah and to protect and help the Prophet (a.s).He said:

“I make a will that you do good to Muhammad (a.s). He is a custodian (amin) in the Tribe of Quraysh and a siddiq (truthful person) for the Arabs. He has all the qualities, which I have willed you to cultivate. He has brought a Thing about which the hearts are convinced and the tongues are silent because of fear

[1] Ansāb al Sharaf, Vol 1, Page 406

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of enmity. By Allah! I am visualizing the scene when the poor of Arabia and the Bedouin of the neighborhood and the weak saying “labbayka (Here I am)” to his call! Muhammad (a.s) has entered the whirlpool with them and the elite of Quraysh have been belittled, the chiefs ridiculed and their homes rendered desolate. The poor and the weak have come to the positions of power and the elite are subjugated to them. Those who are far away are drawing benefits. The Arabs have turned his sincere friends and with purity of hearts have become his well-wishers. They have entrusted to him their leadership. O group of Quraysh: You should also become the friends and supporters of Muhammad (a.s). By Allah! Whoever treads the path shown by him, he will get the Guidance and whoever follows his ways, will be felicitous. If I had some more life in me and there was some delay in my inevitable death, I would shield him from the attacks of his enemies and protect him against difficulties!”[1]

 

After this general advice, he turned to the Progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib and said:

“As long as you keep paying heed To Muhammad’s words, and follow his precepts, Felicity and benefit will come to you. Follow him and give him a helping hand, you will remain on the path of guidance!

Eulogizing about the truthfulness and the trustworthiness of the Prophet (a.s), during his last moments, Abū-Talib advised his family to seek knowledge and guidance following him. If a person does not acknowledge and bear witness to the Prophethood of Muhammad (a.s), then there is no use of his existence. Are these words of wisdom and enlightenment not the proof of his Faith in Islam?

When he was through with his will to all concerned, the signs of impending death emerged on his face. The color of his face changed and his forehead developed the pearls of sweat. The biggest supporter and protector of the Prophet (a.s) breathed his last. His passing away cascaded an avalanche of sorrow on the Prophet (a.s). Tears welled in his eyes and in a hoarse voice, he told `Ali (a.s):

[1] Thamarat al-Awrāq, Vol 2, Page 13

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“Go, wash his body, wrap him in the shroud and make arrangements for his interment. May Allah give him forgiveness (and absolution) and keep him in His Blessing.”[1]

The Prophet (a.s) nominated `Ali (a.s) to the task of preparing his father for the last rites, although he was the youngest of his brothers. The only reason for this change from the normal social custom of assigning such duties to the eldest brother was that `Aqil and Talib had not embraced Islam until their father had passed away and Ja`far, although in the fold of Islam, was away in Abyssinia. This act too throws light on the Faith of Abū-Talib. If he were an infidel, there would be justification for entrusting this duty to one of his sons who was still living in infidelity. Thus, after all the preparations, the Prophet (a.s) looked at his beloved uncle in his shroud, cried and said:

“O uncle! You have brought me up in my childhood; you gave an orphan, your profound love, and me and maintained me. On my growing up you gave me support. May Allah give you Good Reward on my behalf!”[2]

When people started carrying the bier, the Prophet (a.s) supported it with his shoulder from start of the journey until it reached the graveside. He participated in the interment of the mountain of patience and courage at the foot of the Mount Hajūn.

For the Prophet (a.s) the passing away of Abū-Talib was a big calamity. He was his biggest supporter and promoter. The Prophet (a.s) was now left in the midst of sworn enemies to contend with them. Although statistically Muslims were a sizeable group now, there was none of the caliber and position of Abū-Talib who could confront the tyranny of the Quraysh with some degree of success. It was logical that the nefarious activities of the Quraysh increased with the death of Abū-Talib. Ibn Husham writes:

“When Abū-Talib died, the Quraysh gave so much trouble to the Prophet (a.s) that during the living days of his uncle, they could not have had desire of putting him through such hardship.”[3]

The sadness of Abū-Talib’s death was still fresh when, after a month and five days of his demise, Khadijah passed away. This tragedy too had a profound

[1] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 105

[2] Tārīkh Al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 26

[3] Sīrat Ibn Hushām, Vol 2, Page 58

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saddening effect on the Prophet. He was so much affected with these two deaths that he named that year as the Year of Sorrow! He said:

“Those days, two calamities struck the Ummah. I cannot say which one is the greater cause of Sorrow for me![1]

The Prophet (a.s) termed the passing away of Abū-Talib and Khadijah as great calamities for the Ummah. The reason was that in the early days of his ordainment as the Prophet (a.s) the two stood with him as strong pillars of support. Khadijah sacrificed her entire wealth for the Mission of the Prophet (a.s) and Abū-Talib stood like a rock between him and the forces of tyranny. These two deaths, which were a calamity for the person of the Prophet (a.s), were certainly calamitous for the Ummah as well!

The people of Makkah mourned the passing away of the chief of the Quraysh, the scion of `Abd al-Muttalib, the Ra’is Batha’, Abū-Talib. `Ali (a.s) penned elegies on the death of his beloved father. A few couplets of one of the elegies are given here:

“O Abū-Talib! You are the Place of Peace for those seeking refuge Rain bearing cloud in drought and a light in the darkness! On your death, the people with modesty are saddened. May Allah shower His Bounties on you. May Allah’s Beneficence be on you. You were the best (beloved) Uncle of the Prophet (a.s)”[2]

Fatimah bint Asad

Fatimah bint Asad was the mother of `Ali (a.s). Asad was the son of Hashim born to al-Qayla’ bint `Amir. Because of this relationship, she was a grand daughter of Hashim and an aunt of The Prophet (a.s). When the Prophet (a.s) came under the guardianship of Abū-Talib it was Fatimah bint Asad who was providing to him the maternal care and love that is very essential for the upbringing of any child. If Abū-Talib gave to Muhammad (a.s) the paternal affection, she was deputizing as the foster mother. She used to care for him more than she did for her own children and at times, she would not bother about her own children if Muhammad (a.s) required attention. She loved him so much that during the season of the ripening of the dates, she would get up early in the morning, pick the choicest fruits and reserve them for Muhammad

[1] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 26

[2] Tadkirah, Sibt ibn al-Jawzī, Page 6.

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(a.s). Before serving the food, she would reserve small quantities for him just in case he felt hungry before the next meal.

The Prophet (a.s) loved her as he would his own mother. Acknowledging her love and affection, he once said:

“After Abū-Talib, there was none more affectionate and kind to me than her.”[1]

The Prophet (a.s) was so much influenced by her love and affection that he invariably took out time from his busy schedule to call on her and pay his respects. Ibn Sa`d writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) used to visit her and generally had his siesta at her place.”[2]

Fatimah Bint Asad mothered seven children of Abū-Talib. She had three daughters (Ritah, Jumanah and Fakhitah who was known as Ummu-Hani’) and four sons (Talib, `Aqil, Ja`far and `Ali). Talib was ten years older than `Aqil, `Aqil was ten years older than Ja`far, Ja`far was ten years senior to `Ali (a.s). These children had the unique privilege that both their parents were of Hashemite Descent. They were the first to have such a distinction. Ibn Qutaybah writes:

“Fatimah bint Asad was the first Hashemite lady who gave birth to Hashemite offspring!”[3]

Fatimah bint Asad was from the Hashemite clan that was known for its high character, life style, culture and was different from the other rustic tribes of Arabia. She was perfect in the manners and etiquette for which her family was well-known. She was a follower of the Faith of Ibrahim (a.s) like her ancestors did and was free from the aberration of idolatry and polytheism. Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) has talked about his relation of descent and ancestry with `Ali (a.s):

“Allah has created us from the seed of Adam (a.s), transferred through pure loins and pure wombs. `Ali had his descent from the same loins as did I, until Allah gave me birth through Aminah’s womb and `Ali through Fatimah bint Asad.”[4]

[1] Al-Istī`āb Vol 2, Page 774

[2] Tabaqāt, Vol 8, Page 222

[3] Al-Ma`ārif, Page 88

[4] Kifāyat al-Matālib, Page 26

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Fatimah bint Asad not only was privileged in her descent, but she was among the first ladies to embrace Islam and to migrate to al-Madinah when the Prophet (a.s) decided to migrate. Ibn al-Sabbagh al-Maliki writes:

“Fatimah bint Asad embraced Islam and migrated with the Prophet (a.s); and she was one of the earliest converts to Islam.”[1]

Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani writes:

“al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam says that when the verse ‘O Prophet! when believing women come to you (60:12)’ was revealed, I heard the Prophet (a.s) inviting the women to join the Fold and Fatimah bint Asad was the first lady who responded to the call and swore allegiance to the Prophet (a.s)”[2]

She was one of the ladies in the Battle of Badr who were serving water to the troops and taking care of the injured. She was an organized housekeeper as should be a lady with Islamic spirit and took care of all the household affairs efficiently. But when Fatimah al-Zahra’ came to her home as a bride, the duties of the household were divided. All the tasks indoors were assigned to Fatimah al-Zahra’ and the outdoor tasks connected with the home were done by Fatimah bint Asad. Therefore, `Ali (a.s) said to her:

“Fatimah, daughter of the Messenger, will relieve you of grinding and kneading and going Out to fetch water and other outdoor Tasks will remain with you.”[3]

They also had a slave girl to assist in the indoor and outdoor tasks of the home. But Fatimah bint Asad wished to relieve her of the chains of slavery. Therefore, she told the Prophet (a.s) one day that she wanted to free the girl. The Prophet (a.s) said,

“If you free her, Allah will protect every part of your body from the Hellfire!”

When she was about to declare the girl free, she fell seriously ill. She wanted to make a will to the Prophet (a.s) about freeing of the girl, but was unable to modulate the words on account of the effect of the illness. She made gestures to the Prophet (a.s) about it and he affirmed that he would comply with her wish.

[1] Al-Fusūl al-Muhimmah, Page 13.

[2] Maqātil al-Tālibiyyīn, Page 4

[3] Al-Isābah, Vol 4, Page 399

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She was a person of high piety. Whenever she heard of the Pressure in the Grave and the Day of Reckoning, she used to shake wit fear of Allah. Once she heard from the Prophet (a.s) that people will be raised on the Day of Judgment in naked state. She expressed that it would be a matter to be ashamed of. The Prophet (a.s) said that he would pray to Allah that she was not raised naked. Once when she heard about the Pressure in the Grave, she expressed how she would be able to bear that pressure when her body was so weak. The Prophet (a.s) said,

“I shall plead with Allah that He relieved you of the Pressure in the Grave!”

When Fatimah bint Asad expired, `Ali (a.s) went crying to the Prophet (a.s) and gave him the sad tiding. Te Prophet (a.s), seeing tears in the eyes of `Ali (a.s), asked, “Why are you crying?” He replied, “Just now my mother passed away!” The Prophet’s eyes watered and he said,

“By Allah! She was my mother too!”

He got up immediately and all the companions too rose to follow him. When he reached her house, the Prophet (a.s) removed his cloak and said,

“It should be used as the shroud for her interment!”

When the bier emerged out after the last bath and shrouding of the body, he gave his shoulder for carrying it to the graveside. Sometimes he was carrying the bier from the front and at others, he would move to the back. He thus walked barefoot to, Jannat al-Baqi`, the graveyard. He had briefed some men for the digging of the grave. When digging was done, he entered the pit. He widened its sides with his own hands and removed the excess soil that fell into it from the sides. He lay down in the grave for a while and glanced to the right and the left. Then he came out of the pit, and saicrying:

“O revered mother! May Allah bless you. You were the best of mothers!”[1]

Noticing this preferential treatment, some of the companions asked the Prophet (a.s) that they had never seen him give such importance to any other person. He replied that, after his uncle, Abū-Talib, she was the kindest person to him. She used to remain hungry and feed him properly. She used old clothes and always provided him good raiment. She took more care of him than of her own children. He had given his cloak as a shroud so that she was

[1] Tārīkh al-Khamīs , Vol 2, Page 526

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raised clad in it on the Day of Reckoning. He said that he lay down in her grave for a while that she did not experience the Pressure in the Grave. A scholar of Ahl al-Sunnah, Shaykh `Ali al-Marzūqi writes:

The Prophet (a.s) himself interred Fatimah bint Asad and gave his own dress as a shroud. At the moment He was heard saying, ‘Your son!’ When she was asked about her God, she said: ‘Allah!’ When asked about her Prophet she replied correctly. When asked about her Imam, words failed her. At this moment the Prophet prompted her: ‘Your son!’”[1]

She died in 4 A.H. And has been buried at Jannat al-Baqi`. But the compound wall of Jannat al-Baqi` has been raised and the grave is now in a neglected passage out side the wall. When the Hajjis pass that way, they recite Sūrah of al-Fatihah for her soul.

 


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