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|Lineage of six prominent prophets according to Islamic tradition|
|Dotted lines indicate multiple generations|
His father was Hāshim ibn `Abd Manāf and his mother was Salmah bint `Amr from the Banū Najjār tribe in Yathrib (later called, Madinah). On his father's side he belonged to the distinguished Banū Hāshim clan, a subgroup of the Quraish tribe of Makkah which traced their genealogy to Ismā'īl and Ibrāhīm. His father died while doing business in Gaza, before he was born.
He was given the name "Shaybah" meaning 'the ancient one' or 'white-haired' for the streak of white through his jet-black hair, and is sometimes also called Shaybat al-Ḥamd ("The white streak of praise"). After his father's death he was raised in Yathrib with his mother and her family until about the age of eight, when his uncle Muṭṭalib went to see him and asked his mother Salmah bint `Amr to entrust Shaybah to his care. Salmah was unwilling to let her son go and Shaybah refused to leave his mother without her consent. Muṭṭalib then pointed out that the possibilities Yathrib had to offer were incomparable to Makkah. Salmah was impressed with his arguments, so she agreed to let him go. Upon first arriving in Makkah, the people assumed the unknown child was Muṭṭalib's slave, giving him the name `Abdul-Muṭṭalib (slave of Muṭṭalib).
Chieftain of Banu Hashim clan
When Muṭṭalib died, Shaybah succeeded him as the chief of the Banū Hāshim clan. Following his uncle Al-Muṭṭalib, he took over the duties of watering and feeding the pilgrims and carried on the practices of his forefathers with his people. He attained such eminence as none of his forefathers enjoyed; his people loved him and his reputation was great among them. (Guillaume, p61)
'Umar's ‘Umar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb grandfather Nufail ibn ‘Abd al-‘Uzzā arbitrated in a dispute between ‘Abdul-Muṭṭalib and Ḥarb ibn Umayyah, Abu Sufyān’s father, over the custodianship of the Ka'bah. Nufail gave his verdict in favor of ‘Abdul-Muṭṭalib. Addressing Ḥarb ibn Umayyah he said:
"Why do you pick a quarrel with a person who is taller than you in stature; more imposing than you in appearance; more refined than you in intellect; whose progeny outnumbers yours and whose generosity outshines yours in luster? Do not, however, construe this into any disparagement of your good qualities which I highly appreciate. You are as gentle as a lamb, you are renowned throughout Arabia for the stentorian tones of your voice, and you are an asset to your tribe."
The digging of the well Zamzam
While ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib was sleeping in the sacred enclosure he had a vision in which he was ordered to dig Zamzam which was a depression between the two idols of Quraysh, Isāf and Nā’ila, at the slaughter-place of Quraysh. Banu Jurhum had filled it in at the time they left Mecca.
The Year of the Elephant
According to Muslim tradition, the Ethiopian governor of Yemen, Abrahah al-Ashram, envied the Ka'bah's reverence among the Arabs and, being a Christian, he built a cathedral in Sana'a and ordered pilgrimage be made there. The order was ignored and someone desecrated (some saying in the form of defecation) the cathedral. Abrahah decided to avenge this act by demolishing the Ka'bah and he advanced with an army towards Mecca.
There were many elephants in Abrahah's army and the year came to be known as 'Ām al-Fīl (the Year of the Elephant), beginning a trend for reckoning the years in Arabia which was used until 'Umar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb replaced it with the Islamic Calendar.
When news of the advance of Abrahah's army came, the Arab tribes of Quraysh, Banū Kinānah, Banū Khuzā'ah and Banū Hudhayl united in defense of the Ka'bah. A man from the Ḥimyar tribe was sent by Abrahah to advise them that Abrahah only wished to demolish the Ka'bah and if they resisted, they would be crushed. `Abdul-Muṭṭalib told the Meccans to seek refuge in the nearest high hills while he with some leading members of Quraysh, remained within the precincts of the Ka'bah. Abrahah sent a dispatch inviting `Abdu'l-Muṭṭalib to meet with him and discuss matters. When `Abdul-Muṭṭalib left the meeting he was heard saying, "The Owner of this House is its Defender, and I am sure He will save it from the attack of the adversaries and will not dishonor the servants of His House."
It is recorded that when Abrahah's forces neared the Ka'bah, Allah commanded small birds (abābīl) to destroy Abrahah's army, raining down pebbles on it from their beaks. Abrahah was seriously wounded and retreated towards Yemen but died on the way. This event is referred to in the following Qur'anic chapter:
"Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant? Did He not make their treacherous plan go astray? And He sent against them birds in flocks, striking them with stones of baked clay, so He rendered them like straw eaten up."—Qur'an sura 105 (Al-Fil)
This conflict occurred in 570, according to many sources the same year Muḥammad was born.
Sacrificing his son Abdullah
Abdul-Muttalib had only one Son (named al-Haarith) when he had a dream to dig a well near by the Zam Zam, He prayed to Allah to give more sons. He vowed that if he were to have ten sons, he would sacrifice one of them for Allah at the Kab'ah. His prayer was answered and has been blessed with 9 more sons. He chose his favorite Son Abdullah(Youngest of them) to sacrifice for Allah. After the elder brothers asked him to sacrifice something else besides Abdullah, Abdul-Muttalib asked advice from a wise women. She told him to cast lots between Abdullah and ten Camels. If Abdullah were chosen, he had to add ten more camels and keep on doing the same until his Lord accepts the camels besides Abdullah. When there was 100 camels reached, Camels were chosen, Abdul-Muttalib confirmed this by repeating the test three times. Then the camels were sacrificed and Abdullah was spared.
Wives of Shaybah ibn Hāshim
Shaybah ibn Hāshim married:
- Sumrah bint Jandab of Banū Ḥawazīn tribe.
- Lubnā bint Hājar:Lubna bint Hajar ibn ‘Abd Manaf ibn Shair ibn Habshah ibn Salul ibn Ka’b ibn ‘Amr of Banū Khuzā‘ah tribe.
- Fāṭimah bint 'Amr, belonging to the Banū Makhzūm clan of the tribe of Quraysh.
- Hālah bint Wuhayb, belonging to the Banū Zuhrah clan of the tribe of Quraysh.
- Natīlah bint Khubāb al-Khazrajī.
- Mummana'ah bint 'Amr, belonging to the tribe of Khuzā'ah.
Children of Shaybah ibn Hāshim
'Abdul Muttalib had ten sons and six daughters.
- Ḥārith ibn Abdul Muṭṭalib. He was the firstborn and he died before his father.
- Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib. He became the leader of the Hashim clan after his father. He was the father of 'Alī, the first Shī'ah Imām and fourth Caliph.
- al-Zubayr ibn Abdul Muṭṭalib. He was a poet and he died before Islam. He left no children behind.
- 'Abdullāh ibn Abdul Muṭṭalib, the father of Muḥammad by Āminah bint Wahab of Banū Zuhrah.
- Barrah bint Abdul Muttalib.
- Arwa bint Abdul Muttalib.
- Umama bint Abdul Muttalib.
- Atika bint Abdul Muttalib.
- Umm Hakim al-Bayda bint Abdul Muttalib.
By Lubnā bint Hājar:
By Hālah bint Wahb:
- Ḥamzah ibn Abdul Muṭṭalib.
- Quthum ibn Abdul Muṭṭalib: He died young.
- Ḥijl ibn Abdul Muṭṭalib: His real name was Mughirah, and he had no children. Al-Ghaidāq was his epithet as he was a wealthy man famed for his generosity. Some say that al-Ghaidaq's real name was Nawfal.
- Ṣaffiyah bint Abdul Muṭṭalib.
- ‘Abd al-Ka’bah: There are some scholars who omit ‘Abd al-Ka’ba's name, saying that al-Muqawwim was his agnomen.
- 'Abbās ibn Abdul Muṭṭalib.
- Ḍarrār ibn Abdul Muṭṭalib: He left no descendants. When he lost his way during a pilgrimage season, causing his mother to almost lose her mind fearing for his life, she made an oath to clothe the Ka’ba if Allah returned him to her, and a man of Jutham brought him back.
Abdul Muttalib's son ‘Abdullāh died four months before Muḥammad's birth, after which Abdul Muttalib took care of his daughter-in-law Āminah. Āminah also died six years later, and Abdul Muttalib looked after Muhammad until his own death in 578.
- The correct form of the name is with two T's (Ta's) and one l (Lam). Thus for instance in Ibn Mākūlā's work: Al-Ikmāl fī Raf' al-Irtiyāb 'an al-Mu'talif wa al-Mukhtalif fi al-Asmā' wa al-Kunā Wa al-Ansāb. vol. 7. pg. 200. Quote: And as for Muṭallib it is with Ḑammah (u) of the Mīm, and Tashdīd (doubling) of the Ṭā' ; and there is a group of them (i.e people called by this name)".
- Abdulmalak ibn Hisham, Notes to Ibn Ishaq's Biography of Allah's Messenger, note 97.