Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib
Abu Talib ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib
أَبُو طَالِب ابْن عَبْد ٱلْمُطَّلِب
Abu Talib ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib
c. 535 CE
|Died||c. 619 CE (aged 83–84)|
|Resting place||Jannatul-Mu‘alla, Mecca|
|Known for||being the uncle of Muhammad, father of ‘Ali, and Custodian of the Kaaba|
|Opponent(s)||Pagans of Makkah|
|Spouse(s)||Fatimah bint Asad|
Fatimah bint Amr
|Relatives||Az-Zubayr (brother) |
Umm Hakim (sister)
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Abū Ṭālib ibn ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib (Arabic: أَبُو طَالِب ابْن عَبْد ٱلْمُطَّلِب;[a] c. 539 – c. 619), was the leader of Banu Hashim, a clan of the Qurayshi tribe of Mecca in the Hejazi region of the Arabian Peninsula. He was an uncle of the Islamic Nabī (Prophet) Muhammad, and father of the Rashid Caliph Ali, who is also regarded as the first Shi'ite Imam. After the death of his father Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, he inherited this position, and the offices of Siqaya and Rifada. He was well-respected in Mecca despite a declining fortune. There is a debate among Muslim scholars on whether he died a Muslim or a non-Muslim.
Abu Talib was born at Mecca in 539 CE. He was the son of the Hashimite chief, Abdul Muttalib, a brother of Muhammad's father, 'Abdullāh, 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. 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. Abu Talib is remembered as a gifted poet, and many poetic verses in support of Muhammad are attributed to him. 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."
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.[excessive citations]
In tribal society, a tribal affiliation is important, otherwise a man can be killed with impunity. 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, Abu Talib 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. 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.
The Quraysh even tried to bribe Abu Talib. They told Abu Talib that if he let them get hold of Muhammad, then he could adopt 'Umarah ibn al Walid ibn al Mughirah, the most handsome youth in Quraysh. 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. The goal was to put pressure on the Hashimites and even starve them into submission. 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. This didn't cause undue hardship because many had family members in other tribes that would smuggle goods to them. 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. He thought Muhammad was either mad or an impostor.
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." 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."
Abū Ṭālib died circa 619, at more than 80 years of age, about 10 years after the start of Muhammad's mission. 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. In another tradition Abu Talib was dissuaded from saying the Shahadah by the Quraysh, false statement. 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.
In yet another variation of Abu Talib's death, Al-'Abbās, who was sitting next to Abu Talib as he died, saw Abu Talib moving his lips. Al-'Abbās claimed that Abu Talib had said the shahada but Muhammad replied that he had not heard it. 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." The early Muslims relocated to Medina in order to escape persecution by the Quraysh.
The Abbasids, who originally claimed to be Shi'ites, worked with Ajamis to overthrow the Umayyad dynasty, and both tried to legitimize their claim to power through ancestral relationship to Muhammad. The Abbasids traced their ancestry to Al-Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib, while the Alids 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.
Shi'ites believe that the father of the first Imam, Ali, must be nearly as great as the Imam himself. Shia Muslims 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.[unreliable source?]
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.
Shias also believe that the ancestors of Abu Talib were Muslims. Abu Talib was a descendant of Isma'il ibn Ibrahim, and Shi'ites believe that the "divine transmigration of the spirit" is applied to ancestors as well as descendants. However, according to the 6th, 9th, and 19th Surahs of the Quran, Ibrahim's ab (Arabic: أَب, usually 'father'), that is Azar, was a polytheist and disbeliever. Since term ab was also used among Arabs for uncles, certain Shi'ites[b] assert that Azar was not Abraham's biological father, but his uncle, thus implying that his biological father was the Biblical figure Terah, who himself was described as a polytheist.
In addition, when Muhammad married Khadija, Abu Talib recited the sermon of the marriage. This fact has also been used to prove Abu Talib's monotheism.
Shi'ites quote several Sunni sources[which?], such as Arjah-ul-Matalib by Maulana Ubaydullah Bismil[non-primary source needed] which reportedly contains 300 Sunni references on Abu Talib being a Muslim.
It is reported in Sunni Islam (Most Notably the Wahhabi Sect) 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.
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."
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."
Abu Talib was married to Fatimah bint Asad. They had four sons:
- Ṭālib ibn Abī Ṭālib
- 'Aqīl ibn Abī Ṭālib (Abu Muslim), married Fatima bint Al-Walid and had many children: Abu Sa'id, Muslim, Musa, Abdullah, Ramla, Ja'far, Muhammad and Abd al-Rahman
- Ja'far ibn Abī Ṭālib (Abu Awn), married Asma bint Umays and had 3 sons: Abdullah, Muhammad and Awn also had a daughter: Na'mi.
- 'Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (Abu Hasan), married a number of women, including Fatimah bint Muhammad
and three daughters:
- Fākhitah bint Abī Ṭālib (Umm Hani), married Hubayra ibn Abi Wahb and had four sons: Umar, Fulan,Yusuf, Amr and two daughters: Hani and Ja'dah
- Jumānah bint Abī Ṭālib (Umm Sufyan), married Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith and had two sons, Sufyan and Ja'far.
- Rayṭah bint Abī Ṭālib (Umm Talib), married Awn ibn Umays and had a son, Talib.
By another wife, Illa, he had a fifth son:
Education to his children
- Muhammad and his wife, Khadija bint Khuwaylid, educated Ali
- Al-'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib and his wife, Lubaba bint al-Harith, educated Talib
- Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib and his wife, Salma bint Umays, educated Ja'far
- Az-Zubayr ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and his wife, Atika bint Abi Wahb, educated Aqil
- Abu Talib ibn Abdul Muttalib and his wife, Fatimah bint Asad, educated Fakhitah, Jumanah and Raytah
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- (150 Rubin)
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Zubayr ibn 'Abd al-Muṭṭalib
| Head of Banū Hāshim