Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib

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Abu Talib (A.S) ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib
Born ‘Imran or ‘Abd Manaf[1]
c. 539 CE
Mecca, Hijaz, Arabian Peninsula
Died c. 619 CE
Resting place Jannatul-Mu‘alla
Known for being the uncle of Muhammad and father of ‘Ali
Spouse(s) Fatimah bint Asad
Children Talib
‘Aqeel
Ja‘far
Ali
Fakhitah
Parent(s) Abdul-Muttalib
Fatimah bint ‘Amr
Relatives Az-Zubayr (brother)
‘Abdullah (brother)

Abū Ṭālib ibn ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib (Arabic: ابو طالب بن عبد المطلب‎‎; c. 539 – c. 619), ‘Imrān Arabic: عِـمـران‎‎ or ‘Abd Manāf (Arabic: عَـبـد مَـنـاف‎‎),[1] was the leader of Banu Hashim, a clan of the Qurayshi tribe of Mecca in the Hijaz, Arabian Peninsula. After the death of his father ‘Abd al-Muttalib, he inherited this position and the offices of Siqaya and Rifada.[2] He was well respected in Mecca despite a declining fortune.[3]

Abu Talib was an uncle of the Islamic Nabi (Arabic: نَـبِي‎‎, Prophet) Muhammad, and father of the Rashid CaliphAli, who is also regarded as the first Shi'ite Imam. There is a great debate among Muslim scholars on whether he died a Muslim or a non-Muslim..

Relationship with Muhammad[edit]

Abū Ṭālib was a brother of Muhammad's father, 'Abdullāh ibn Abdul-Muttalib, who had died before Muhammad's birth. After the death of Muhammad's mother Āminah bint Wahb, Muhammad as a child was taken into the care of his grandfather, ‘Abdul-Muttalib. When Muhammad reached eight years of age, 'Abdul-Muttalib died. One of Muhammad's uncles was to take him in. The oldest, Al-Harith was not wealthy enough to take him in. Abu Talib, despite his poverty, took in Muhammad because of his generosity.[4] Although Abu Talib was responsible for Siqaya and Rifada (Food and Beverages) of Hajj pilgrims, he was poor.

Muhammad loved his uncle very much, and Abu Talib loved him in return.[5] Abu Talib is remembered as a gifted poet, and many poetic verses in support of Muhammad are attributed to him.[2][6]

Once, as Abu Talib was about to leave for a trading expedition, Muhammad wept and could not bear to be separated from him. To this Abu Talib responded, "By God I will take him with me, and we shall never part from each other." [7]

Later in life, as an adult, Muhammad saw that Abu Talib was struggling financially after a severe drought. Muhammad decided to take charge of one of Abu Talib's children and he convinced al-'Abbas to do the same. They discussed this matter with Abū Ṭālib, who asked that his favorite child 'Aqīl be left with him. Al-'Abbās chose Ja'far, and Muhammad chose 'Alī.[8][9][10][11][12]

Protecting Muhammad[edit]

In tribal society, a tribal affiliation is important, otherwise a man can be killed with impunity.[13] As leader of the Banu Hashim, Abu Talib acted as a protector to Muhammad. After Muhammad began preaching the message of Islam, members of the other Qurayshite clans increasingly came to feel threatened by Muḥammad. In attempts to quiet him, they pressured Abū Ṭālib to silence his nephew or control him. Despite these pressures, Abū Ṭālib maintained his support of Muḥammad, defending him from the other leaders of the Quraysh. Leaders of the Quraysh directly confronted Abu Talib several times. Abu Talib brushed them off and continued to support Muhammad even when it put a rift between him and the Quraysh. In one account, the Quraysh even threatened to fight the Banu Hashim over this conflict.[14] In a particular narration of one such confrontation, Abu Talib summoned Muhammad to speak with the Quraysh. Muhammad asked the Quraysh leaders to say the shahada and they were astounded.[15]

The Quraysh even tried to bribe Abu Talib. The Quraysh told Abu Talib that if he let them handle Muhammad he could adopt 'Umarah ibn al Walid ibn al Mughirah, the handsomest youth in Quraysh.[14][16][17]

When this also failed, the Quraysh elicited the support of other tribes to boycott trading with or marrying members of the Banu Hashim lineage. This boycott started seven years after Muhammad first received revelation and lasted for three years.[2] The goal was to put pressure on the Hashimites and even starve them into submission.[18] For the sake of security many members of the Banu Hashim moved near to Abu Talib (Encyclopedia of Islam) and the place became like a ghetto.[18] This didn't cause undue hardship [19] because many had family members in other tribes that would smuggle goods to them.[18] Abu Talib's brother, Abu Lahab, sided with the Quraysh on this issue; he moved to a house in the district of Abd Shams to demonstrate support for the Quraysh.[18][20] He thought Muhammad was either mad or an impostor.[21]

Protecting Muhammad put considerable pressure on Abu Talib and the Banu Hashim. In one instance Abu Talib exclaimed to Muhammad, "Save me and yourself, and do not put a greater burden on me than I cannot bear". Muhammad responded, "Oh uncle! By God Almighty I swear, even if they should put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left that I abjure this cause, I shall not do so until God has vindicated it or caused me to perish in the process."[22] Seeing his nephew's emotion, Abu Talib responded, "Go, nephew, and say what you like. By God, I will never hand you over for any reason."[23]

Death[edit]

Abū Ṭālib's died circa 619, at more than 80 years of age, about 10 years after the start of Muhammad's mission.[2] This year is known as the Year of Sorrow for Muhammad, because not only did his uncle Abu Talib die, but also his wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, within a month of Abu Talib.

Before Abu Talib died, Muhammad asked him to pronounce the Shahadah.[15] In another tradition Abu Talib was dissuaded from saying the Shahadah by the Quraysh, false statement.[24] According to the historiographer Fred McGraw Donner, both of these traditions have very old isnads but the first variation has two different isnads which might suggest that the second variation is a modification of the older, first variation.[24]

In yet another variation of Abu Talib's death, al-'Abbas, who was sitting next to Abu Talib as he died, saw Abu Talib moving his lips. Al-'Abbas claimed that Abu Talib had said the shahada but Muhammad replied that he had not heard it.[2][25][26] Some Muslims see this as proof that Abu Talib died a Muslim. However, the majority of sources state that Abu Talib died a pagan.

After Abu Talib's death, Muhammad was left unprotected. Abu Talib's brother and successor as the Chief of the family, that is Abu Lahab, did not protect him, as he was an enemy of Muhammad, so Muhammad and his followers faced incredible persecution. Muhammad is quoted as exclaiming, "By God, Quraysh never harmed me so much as after the death of Abu Talib."[27][28] The early Muslims relocated to Medina in order to escape persecution by the Quraysh.

Sunni and Shi‘ite views[edit]

The memory of Abu Talib is influenced by political aims of the Sunnis and Shias.[29] The character of Abu Talib was elemental in the Abbasid/Shia power struggle.

Originally, the Abbasids, being Shi‘ites, worked with Ajamis to overthrow the Umayyad dynasty, and both tried to legitimize their claim to power through ancestral relationship to Muhammad.[30] The Abbasids traced their ancestry to al-Abbas, while the Shias traced their ancestry to 'Ali, son of Abu Talib. Therefore, in order to assert their credibility, the Abbasids (who embraced Sunni Islam) tried to discredit Abu Talib by emphasizing that he died a pagan.[24] All historical error can say history is always having different angles.

Historical Sunni view[edit]

It is reporeted in the Sunni hadith collections of Sahih Muslim and Bukhari that the Quranic verse 28:56 ("O Prophet! Verily, you guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He will") was revealed concerning Abu Talib's rejection of Islam at the hands of his nephew.[31][32]

In one account by the historian al-Mada'ini, and widely circulated by the Abbasids, one of two men states, "I wish that Abu Talib had embraced Islam, for the Apostle of God would have been delighted at that. But he was an unbeliever."[33]

Along the same lines, there is a similar account where 'Ali informs Muhammad of Abu Talib's death by saying, "Your uncle, the erring old man, has died."[34]

Historical Shi‘ite view[edit]

Shi‘ites believe that the father of the first imam, 'Ali, must be nearly as great as the imam himself. Shias elevate Abu Talib and see him as a heroic defender of Muhammad. Many sources from this perspective claim that Abu Talib was indeed Muslim, he just kept his faith a secret so that he could better protect Muhammad (150 Rubin).

In one account, when Abu Talib was ill, Muhammad fed grapes to him that God forbade unbelievers to eat. This implies that Abu Talib had accepted Islam despite his outward actions.[34]

Some Shi‘ites go so far as to insist that even the ancestors of Abu Talib were Muslim. Abu Talib was a descendant of Isma‘il ibn Ibrahim,[35] and Shi‘ites believe that the "divine transmigration of the spirit" is applied to ancestors as well as descendants.[36] However, according to the Qur’an, Ibrahim's father Azar was an Idolator and Disbeliever.[37][38][39][40]

Others claimed that even if Abu Talib did not accept Islam, he did a great service to Islam by protecting Muhammad from the Quraysh, sentence itself is confirm that only Muslim can do what Abu Talib manage. They put the blame of Abu Talib's failure to convert on the Quarysh, no need to blame as this is a close chapter Abu Talib was not to blame.[35]

Family[edit]

Abu Talib was married to Fatimah bint Asad. They had four sons:

and three daughters:

By another wife, Illa, he had a fifth son:

His ancestors and some of the important descendants[edit]


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Quraysh tribe
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Abd Manaf ibn Qusai
 
 
 
 
 
Ātikah bint Murrah
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
‘Abd Shams
 
Barra
 
Muṭṭalib
 
Hala
 
Hashim
 
Salma bint Amr
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Umayya ibn Abd Shams
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
‘Abd al-Muttalib
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Harb
 
 
 
Abu al-'As
 
 
 
 
ʿĀminah
 
ʿAbd Allāh
 
Abî Ṭâlib
 
Hamza
 
Al-‘Abbas
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ʾAbī Sufyān ibn Harb
 
Al-Hakam
 
 
Affan ibn Abi al-'As
 
 
MUHAMMAD
(Family tree)
 
Khadija bint Khuwaylid
 
`Alî al-Mûrtdhā
 
Khawlah bint Ja'far
 
ʿAbd Allâh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Muʿāwiyah
 
Marwan I
 
 
Uthman ibn Affan
 
 
Ruqayyah
 
Fatima Zahra
 
 
 
 
 
 
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah
 
ʿAli bin ʿAbd Allâh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Umayyad Caliphate
 
 
 
Uthman ibn Abu-al-Aas
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hasan al-Mûjtabâ
 
Husayn bin Ali
(Family tree)
 
al-Mukhtār ibn Abī ‘Ubayd Allah al-Thaqafī
(Abû‘Amra`Kaysan’îyyah)
 
Muhammad "al-Imâm" (Abbasids)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Abu-Talib (a.s.) The Greatest Guardian of Islam". duas.org. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Rubin, Uri (2013). Gudrun Kramer; Denis Matringe; John Nawas; Everett Rowson, eds. Encyclopaedia of Islam, Three. Brill Online. 
  3. ^ Armstrong, Karen (1992). Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. San Francisco: Harper Collins. p. 77. 
  4. ^ Haykal, Muhammad Husayn (1976). The Life of Muhammad. North American Trust Publications. p. 54. 
  5. ^ Rubin, Uri (1995). The Eye of the Beholder. Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, Inc. p. 93. 
  6. ^ Lings, Martin (2006). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions. p. 33. 
  7. ^ The History of al-Tabari. Albany: State University of New York Press. 1988. p. 44. 
  8. ^ Ibn Hisham, al-Sirah, Vol. I, p.162.
  9. ^ Tārīkh Al-Tabarī (vol 2 p.63), Tārīkh ibn Al-Athīr (vol 2 p.24), Musnad of Aḥmed ibn Ḥanbal (vol 1 p.159), Al-Sīrat al-Nabawīyah by ibn Kathīr (vol 1 p.457-459).
  10. ^ Sunan al-Tirmidhī (vol 2 p.301), Al-Ṭabaqāt Al-Kubrā - ibn Sa'd (vol 3 kklkp.12), Usd Al-Ghābah (vol 4 p.17), Kanz al-'Ummāl (vol 6 p.400), Tārīkh Al-Ṭabarī (vol 2 p.55), Tārīkh Baghdād (vol 2 p.18)
  11. ^ Armstrong, Karen (1993). Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. San Francisco: Harper Collins. p. 81. 
  12. ^ The History of al-Tabari. Albany: State University Press. 1985. p. 83. 
  13. ^ Armstrong, Karen (2000). Islam: A Short History. New York: Modern Library. p. 13. 
  14. ^ a b Rubin, Uri (1995). The Eye of the Beholder. Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, Inc. p. 150. 
  15. ^ a b The History of al-Tabari. New York: State University Press. 1985. p. 95. 
  16. ^ The History of al-Tabari. New York: State University Press. 1985. p. 97. 
  17. ^ Haykal, Muhammad Husayn (1976). The Life of Muhammad. North American Trust Publications. p. 88. 
  18. ^ a b c d Armstrong, Karen (1993). Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. San Francisco: Harper Collins. p. 129. 
  19. ^ The History of al-Tabari. New York: State University Press. 1985. p. xliv. 
  20. ^ Lings, Martin (2006). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions. p. 90. 
  21. ^ Lings, Martin (2006). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions. p. 52. 
  22. ^ Haykal, Muhammad Husayn (1976). The Life of Muhammad. North American Trust Publications. p. 89. 
  23. ^ The History of al-Tabari. New York: State University Press. 1985. p. 96. 
  24. ^ a b c Donner, Fred McGraw (1987). "The Death of Abu Talib". In John H. Marks; Robert M. Good. Love and Death in the Ancient Near East. Guilford, CT: Four Quarters. p. 245. 
  25. ^ Lings, Martin (2006). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions. p. 99. 
  26. ^ Rubin, Uri (1995). The Eye of the Beholder. Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, Inc. p. 152. 
  27. ^ Haykal, Muhammad Husayn (1976). The Life of Muhammad. North American Trust Publications. p. 136. 
  28. ^ Armstrong, Karen (1993). Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. San Francisco: Harper Collins. p. 135. 
  29. ^ Rubin, Uri (1995). The Eye of the Beholder. Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, Inc. p. 149. 
  30. ^ Donner, Fred McGraw (1987). "The Death of Abu Talib". In John H. Marks; Robert M. Good. Love and Death in the Ancient Near East. Guilford, CT: Four Quarters. p. 237. 
  31. ^ Diane Morgan (2010). Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice. ABC-CLIO. p. 114. ISBN 9780313360251. 
  32. ^ Muhammad Saed Abdul-Rahman (2009). The Meaning and Explanation of the Glorious Qur'an (Vol 7). MSA Publication Limited. p. 202. ISBN 9781861796615. 
  33. ^ Donner, Fred McGraw (1987). "The Death of Abu Talib". In John H. Marks; Robert M. Good. Love and Death in the Ancient Near East. Guilford, CT: Four Quarters. p. 238. 
  34. ^ a b Donner, Fred McGraw (1987). "The Death of Abu Talib". In John H. Marks; Robert M. Good. Love and Death in the Ancient Near East. Guilford, CT: Four Quarters. p. 239. 
  35. ^ a b Donner, Fred McGraw (1987). "The Death of Abu Talib". In John H. Marks; Robert M. Good. Love and Death in the Ancient Near East. Guilford, CT: Four Quarters. p. 240. 
  36. ^ Armstrong, Karen (1992). Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. San Francisco: Harper Collins. p. 108. 
  37. ^ Quran 6:74–90
  38. ^ Quran 9:113–114
  39. ^ Quran 19:41–50
  40. ^ Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, Abraham and his father
  41. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Tabir. Translated by Haq, S. M. (1967). Ibn Sa'd's Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. I Parts I & II, pp. 135-136. Delhi: Kitab Bhavan.
  42. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Tabir, vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina, p. 35. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
Preceded by
Zubayr ibn 'Abd al-Muṭallib
Head of Banū Hāshim
?–619
Succeeded by
Abū Lahab