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Islam Of Abu Talib

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 Letter 15
: Islam of Abu Talib Re-Visited
 Letter 12
: Abu Talib - The Protecting Hand or Nasibi's Kaafir

Abu Talib (AS) holds the honor of bringing up two of the most revered personalities in Islam, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Imam Ali (AS). His contributions to the cause of Islam are very crucial and vital, yet he is declared a non-muslim by the majority of Sunni Brethren. The only issue that Abu Talib (AS) failed to recite the kalimah on record, weren't his actions proof enough?

(Verily, you guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided.) meaning: Allah knows best who deserves to be guided and who deserves to be misguided. It was recorded in the Two Sahihs that this Ayah was revealed concerning Abu Talib, the paternal uncle of the Messenger of Allah. He used to protect the Prophet, support him and stand by him. He loved the Prophet dearly, but this love was a natural love, i.e., born of kinship, not a love that was born of the fact that he was the Messenger of Allah ...... Az-Zuhri said: "Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib narrated to me that his father, Al-Musayyib bin Hazan Al-Makhzumi, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "When Abu Talib was dying, the Messenger of Allah came to him and found Abu Jahl bin Hisham and `Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah bin Al-Mughirah with him. The Messenger of Allah said: (O my uncle, say La ilaha illallah, a word which I may use as evidence in your favor before Allah ﴿in the Hereafter﴾.) Abu Jahl bin Hisham and `Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah said: `O Abu Talib, will you leave the religion of `Abdul-Muttalib' The Messenger of Allah kept urging him to say La ilaha illallah, and they kept saying, `Will you leave the religion of `Abdul-Muttalib' -- until, at the very end, he said that he was on the religion of `Abdul-Muttalib, and he refused to say La ilaha illallah. The Messenger of Allah said:(By Allah, I shall certainly seek forgiveness for you unless I am told not to.) Then Allah revealed: It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allah's forgiveness for the idolators, even though they be of kin) (9:113). And there was revealed concerning Abu Talib the Ayah,
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 28, Verse 56

From the above account narrated by Ibn Kathir, we get to know that:

  • Hz Abu Talib used to help, protect and Support Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
  • Abu Talib loved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) but that was natural love
  • Abu talib was approached by Prophet (SAW) on his deathbed and was told to recite the kalimah before he died
  • Abu Talib failed to recite the Kalimah
  • Abu Talib claimed that he was on the religion of Abdul Muttalib
  • The above narration also attributes verse 9:113 to the demise of Abu Talib

Analyzing the above text, Hz Abu Talib was definitely the supporter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Then his uncle, Abu Talib took responsibility for him and continued to protect him, assist him, elavate his status, honor him, and even restrain his people from harming him when he was forty years of age and Allah commissioned him with the prophethood. Even with this, Abu Talib continued to follow the religion of his people, worshipping idols. All of this took place by the divine decree of Allah and His decree is most excellent. Until Abu Talib died a short time before the Hijrah. After this (Abu Talib's death) the foolish and ignorant people of the Quraysh began to attack him, so Allah chose for him to migrate away from them to the city of Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj among those who helped him (in Al-Madinah).
Tafsir Ibn kathir, Tafsir of surah 93

As for the share of the Prophet's relatives, it is paid to Bani Hashim and Bani Al-Muttalib, because the children of Al-Muttalib supported Bani Hashim in Jahiliyyah after Islam. They also went to the mountain pass of Abu Talib in support of the Messenger of Allah and to protect him (when the Quraysh boycotted Muslims for three years). Those who were Muslims (from Bani Al-Muttalib) did all this in obedience to Allah and His Messenger , while the disbelievers among them did so in support of their tribe and in obedience to Abu Talib, the Messenger's uncle
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 8 Verse 41

From this text, we get the impression that all what Hz Abu Talib (AS) did in order to support and Protect Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was out of his natural love and tribal bond rather than belief.

I ask you. You are a muslim and you believe in Allah and Prophet Muhammad (SAW). You are a staunch follower of your religion. If your nephew, starts to propagate a new religion, which abuses your god Allah as well as his prophet (SAW), (god forbid), what will you do to your own nephew? Will you protect him from people who are after his life due to his spreading of blasphemous beliefs? Will you support him in his mission to falsify your very own religion, God and prophet? Will you allow your nephew to insult your Prophet and propagate his new religion and belief? Or will you stop your nephew from doing so, condemn him and make efforts to kill off his blasphemous beliefs? Furthermore, will you allow your son to assist and accompany your nephew on his blasphemous beliefs just because you love your nephew? Do remember that we don't even tolerate if some one says evil about the companions of Prophet (SAW), save the prophet himself.

If you support this mission of his, you are either a secret follower of his ways or you don't take your own religion seriously, or you are insane.

Abu Talib (AS) has been the supporter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) since his childhood and has been a staunch protector of the prophet since the start of his mission.

The readers of Islamic History know how the Quraish clans delivered to Abu Talib an ultimatum, to stop his nephew from defaming their fathers and belittling their gods and ridiculing their minds; otherwise, they would confront him and the Prophet (PBUH&HF) on a battlefield untill one of the two parties perished. Abu Talib had no doubt that his acceptance of the Quraishite challenge meant his death and total annihilation of his clan; yet he did not pressure his nephew to stop his campaign. He only informed him of the Qurashite ultimatum, and he told him kindly Save me and yourself, my nephew, and burden me not with what I cannot bear. When the messenger rejected the ultimatum, declaring to his uncle that he would not exchange his message with the possesion of the whole universe, Abu Talib immediately reversed his attitude and decided to go along with the Messenger to the end. This is evident from the statement he made to the prophet (PBUH&HF):

Come back, my nephew, go on, say what ever you like. I shall never let you down at any time.
Ibn Husham, Biography of the Prophet, v 1 p 266 
Tabaqat of Ibn Sa'ad, v 1 p 186 - History of Tabari, v 2 p 218

Abu Talib fulfilled this huge promise with distinction.

When a Meccan threw some dirt on the Messenger while he was prostrating, Abu Talib went on brandishing his sword and holding the hand of his nephew untill he came to the sacred mosque. A group of the enemies were sitting there, and when some of them tried to stand for Abu Talib, he said to them "By the One in whom Muhammad (PBUH&HF) believes, if any one from you stands up I will hit him with my sword." Then Abu Talib asked the Prophet (PBUH&HF) who was the person responsible for the shameful act, and upon his ( Prophet's ) answer, Hamza as instructed by Abu Talib smeared the dust on the individuals who showed animosity towards the Prophet (PBUH&HF). It was on this occasion that Abu Talib said : I believe that Mohammed's faith is the best of all the religions of the Universe.
Khazanatal Adaab by Khateeb Baghdadi, v 1 p 261
Tareekh of Ibn Katheer, v 3 p 42
Sharh of Ibn al Hadid, v 3 p 306

The Quraish decided to put an end to the Prophet and his family in a state of siege and excommunication till they were all done away with. With this end in view a pact was drawn, to which each tribe was a party and it was to the effect that none should have marital ties with Banu Hashim or do any buying or selling with them; and none was to associate with them or allow any provision to them. This was to continue till the Prophet's family handed him over for execution. This pact was then hung on the door of the Kaaba. Thus forced Abu Talib with the whole family moved to a mountain cave known as ' Shi'b Abi Talib '. Now the Hashmites were entirely alienated from the rest of the town dwellers. The fortress was also beleaguered at times by the Quraish to enforce the ban in all its rigor, and to prevent the possibility of supplies. They found themselves sometimes reduced to starvation for want of supplies. Under constant surveillance by the Quraish, Abu Talib even feared night attacks and for this reason he was on guard for the safety of Muhammad (PBUH&HF), and often changed room as a precaution against sudden violence.

If this is not proof of Abu Talib's Kalimah, then nothing else can be. The sunni's still claim that Abu Talib did it all due to his affiliation with Prophet (SAW). They however nullify their own distorterd interpretation of the verse which tells us to love the Prophet's near ones:

(Say: "No reward do I ask of you for this except to be kind to me for my kinship with you.'') means, `say, O Muhammad, to these idolaters among the disbeliever of Quraish: I do not ask you for anything in return for this message and sincere advice which I bring to you. All I ask of you is that you withhold your evil from me and let me convey the Messages of my Lord. If you will not help me, then do not disturb me, for the sake of the ties of kinship that exist between you and I....'
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 42, Verse 23

This corrupted interpretation however declares that people who had ties of kinship with Prophet Muhammad (SAW) were hostile to him due to his preaching of a new faith. Why was then Abu Talib uniquely non-hostile to Prophet (SAW)? Did he secretly believe in the faith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) or was he hostile to him?

Taking care of issues of assistance Hz Abu Talib (AS) provided to Prophet (SAW) and hinting that such assistance cannot be based on ties of kinship only, we come to the second point where Prophet (SAW) approached Hz Abu Talib's death bed and called for him to recite the Kalimah.

We all know that repentance/acceptance of islam when seeing death/on death bed is of no avai. The prophet of all being knows better, he will never say/do something which has no importance in the eyes of allah and is unfruitful.

Secondly, as Allama Qalb e Sadiq explained in one of his speeches:

Lets say pandit jawaharlal nehru, a hindu all his life is on his death bed and I am telling him to recite the kalimah! Would this sound right! Ill b mad if I tell a hindu to recite kalimah when he is about to breath his last. How can I ask a hindu to recite kalimah on his deathbed when he rejected the very religion throughout his life. What made me think that he will accept the same faith in the last moment which he rejected every moment of life he lived. If however a muslim is on his deathbed, i may tell him to recite kalimah for one final time! makes sense?
Speech in Muharam, Allama Qalb e Sadiq

Thus this very fact is hint enough of the secret Faith of Hz Abu Talib (AS).

Coming to the events now (recited by the very first text of this article) which narrate that Abu Talib (AS) failed to recite the Kalimah and confessed that he was on the Religion of Hz Abdul Mutallib (AS).

Problem Solved. I ask you, did you become a Muslim when you recited the Kalimah (if you ever did) or you were born in a Muslim family and thus the need to recite the Kalimah for conversion was never rasied? We too believe that none of the direct ancestors of the lineage of Prophet (SAW) ever worshipped idols which include Hz Abdul Mutallib as well.

Abu Talib's claim of his following the religion of Abdul Mutallib (AS) is proof enough of his belief.

Then Abrahah sent an emissary named Hanatah Al-Himyari to enter Makkah, commanding him to bring the head of the Quraysh to him. He also commanded him to inform him that the king will not fight the people of Makkah unless they try to prevent him from the destruction of the Ka`bah. Hanatah went to the city and he was directed to `Abdul-Muttalib bin Hashim, to whom he relayed Abrahah's message. `Abdul-Muttalib replied, "By Allah! We have no wish to fight him, nor are we in any position to do so. This is the Sacred House of Allah, and the house of His Khalil, Ibrahim, and if He wishes to prevent him (Abrahah) from (destroying) it, it is His House and His Sacred Place (to do so). And if He lets him approach it, by Allah, We have no means to defend it from him.'' So Hanatah told him, "Come with me to him (Abrahah).'' And so `Abdul-Muttalib went with him. When Abrahah saw him, he was impressed by him, because `Abdul-Muttalib was a large and handsome man. So Abrahah descended from his seat and sat with him on a carpet on the ground. Then he asked his translator to say to him, "What do you need'' `Abdul-Muttalib replied to the translator, "I want the king to return my camels which he has taken from me which are two hundred in number.'' Abrahah then told his translator to tell him, "I was impressed by you when I first saw you, but now I withdraw from you after you have spoken to me. You are asking me about two hundred camels which I have taken from you and you leave the matter of a house which is (the foundation of) religion and the religion of your fathers, which I have come to destroy and you do not speak to me about it'' `Abdul-Muttalib said to him, "Verily, I am the lord of the camels. As for the House, it has its Lord Who will defend it.'' Abrahah said, "I cannot be prevented (from destroying it).'' `Abdul-Muttalib answered, "Then do so.'' It is said that a number of the chiefs of the Arabs accompanied `Abdul-Muttalib and offered Abrahah a third of the wealth of the tribe of Tihamah if he would withdraw from the House, but he refused and returned `Abdul-Muttalib's camels to him. `Abdul-Muttalib then returned to his people and ordered them to leave Makkah and seek shelter at the top of the mountains, fearful of the excesses which might be committed by the army against them. Then he took hold of the metal ring of the door of the Ka`bah, and along with a number of Quraysh, he called upon Allah to give them victory over Abrahah and his army. `Abdul-Muttalib said, while hanging on to the ring of the Ka`bah's door, "There is no matter more important to any man right now than the defense of his livestock and property. So, O my Lord! Defend Your property. Their cross and their cunning will not be victorious over your cunning by the time morning comes.''
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 105

This event is proof enough of the staunch belief Hz Abdul Mutallib possessed, and according to Hz Abu Talib's word, he believed in the faith of Hz Abdul Mutallib, which was none other than the faith of Ibrahim khalil Allah himself.

Islam of Abu Talib (AS) should be clear enough. The Sunnis attribute the following verse to Hz Abu Talib (AS).

It is not ( fit ) for the Prophet and those who believe that they should ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even though they should be near relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are inmates of the flaiming fire.
Quran [ 9:113 ]

The above sura is totally a Medinite sura, except the verses 128-129. The above sura was revealed after the migration of prophet and logically, a lot later after the death of Hz Abu Talib.

Why do the sunnis over look the following verses then?

O you who believe ! do not take the unbelievers as protectors instead of than believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves ?
Quran [4:144]

The prophet (SAW) did take shelter and protection from Abu Talib (AS). Do you really think the Prophet would do so if Abu Talib (AS) was a disbeliever?

O you who believe ! do not take your fathers and your brothers for guardians if they love unbelief more than belief; and who ever of you takes them for a guardian, these it is that are the unjust
Quran [9:23]

I hope you do not declare Prophet (SAW) to be unjust in proving the unbelief of Hz Abu Talib. 

In spite of his concealing his faith, Abu Talib, on more than one occasion made his belief in Islam clearly known (as already mentioned above) long before his death.

The Holy Prophet says in a hadith (joining his two fingers): "I and the supporter of the orphan are together in Paradise like these two fingers." Ibn Abi'l-Hadid also has reported this hadith where he says that it is obvious that the Holy Prophets statement does not mean all supporters of orphans, since most of the supporters of orphans are sinners. So the Holy Prophet meant by it Abu Talib and his distinguished grandfather, Abdu'l-Muttalib, who looked after the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet was known in Mecca as the yatim (orphan) of Abu Talib because after the passing away of Abdu'l-Muttalib, the Prophet, from the age of eight, had been in the care of Abu Talib.
Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, vol.IV, p.312

Holy Prophet said: "Gabriel came to me and said 'Allah sends greetings to you and says verily He has exempted from the fire the loins which gave you shelter, the womb which sustained your weight, and the lap which supported you.'"
Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in his Mawaddatu'l-Qurba
Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda
Qazi Shukani in his Hadith-e-Qudsi

Once during the childhood of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) on the occasion of a scarcity of rains Abu Talib took him (PBUH&HF) to the Holy Kaaba and standing with his back touching the wall of the sanctuary lifted up the Prophet (PBUH&HF) in his lap and sought medium in his prayers to the Almighty for the rains. The Prophet (PBUH&HF) also joined him in his prayers with his face upturned. The prayers were not finished when the clouds began to appear and the rain fell in torrents. This incident is alluded in the following verses composed by Abu Talib: "Don't you see that we have found Mohammed a prophet like Moses; he is already predicted in the previous Scriptures. He is the illumined face which is the medium for the rains; he is the spring for the orphan and a protector for the widow."
Sharah of Bukhari by Qastalani, v 2 p 227
Al Seerah Al Halebeyah, v 1 p 125

Abu Talib addresses the men of Quraysh, who were present at the marriage ceremony of his nephew, Muhammad, as follows: Praise be to Allah Who made us from the seed of Abraham and progeny of Ishmael. He granted as a Sacred house and a place of pilgrimage. He made us to dwell in a secure sanctuary (haram), to which the fruits of everything are brought. He made us, moreover, arbiters in men's affairs, and blessed for us this land in which we dwell. Were Muhammad (PBUH&HF), the son of my brother 'Abdullah son of Abdul Muttalib ', to be weighed any man among the Arabs, he would excel him. Nor would any man be comparable to him. He is peerless among men, even though he is a man of little welath. Yet riches are only transient possesions, and an epheramel security. He has expressed a desire for Khadijah, and she likewise has shown interest in him. As for any bride gift (mahr) you demand, both the part to be presented now and the one presented at a later date - it will be of my own wealth.
Seerah al-Halabiyyah, vol 1 p 139

While on his death bed, Abu Talib said to the Hashimites : I command you to be good to Mohammed. He is the most trustworthy of the Quraish and the ever truthful of the Arabs. He brought a message which is accepted by the heart and denied by the tongue for fear of hostility. By God whoever walks in the way of Mohammed shall be on the right road and whoever follows his guidance shall have the happy future. And you Hashimites, respond to Muhammaed's invitation and believe him. You will succeed and be well guided; certainly he is the guide to the right path.
Al Muhabil Dunya, v 1 p 72

Why is it that we accuse Abu Talib of paganism, when he chose to believe in the Prophet's (PBUH&HF) message and declared it by political statements and sometimes by frank declarations? What benefit does it have for us to daclare him Kafir when there are strong proofs to the contrary? Do we get any other benefit except to make ourselves Kafir by pronouncing one of the early Muslim as Kafir?  Why do we accuse him of paganism when he defended the Prophet (PBUH&HF) by all of what he had of men and means? Why do we attribute paganism to such a personality who was so benevolent to all the Muslims by guarding the life of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) for 11 years ?  Why do we attribute paganism to the man who read the Nikah for the Prophet (PBUH&HF) ? How can your mind comprehend the notion of a pagan/disbeliever carrying out the ceremony of the marriage for a Prophet?

The answer is simple! Hatred towards Mawla Ali (AS). In Syria, the propaganda mawiya was doing against Mawla Ali (AS) was so huge that when the Imam was martyred in the mosque, Syrians were confused as to what a man like Ali was doing in a mosque as they believed Ali and mosque were two different things. Similarly the propaganda also included parts which claimed Ali to be a fasiq, son of a fasiq. It is still exploited by people today who hate Ali (AS).

Why did Abu Talib (AS) Conceal his Faith? If Abu Talib had revealed his faith, all of the Quraish and the entire Arab nation would have united against the Bani Hashim. Abu Talib understood the expedience of concealing his Islam. He pretended to be loyal to the Quraish in order to thwart the activities of the enemy.

Ibn Abbas narrates a tradition that when a person from the Quraish put dirt on his head, he went home. It was on this occasion that the Prophet remarked : ... The Quraish never met me with such treatment during the life time of Abu Talib, since they were cowards.
History of Ibn Asakeer, v 1 p 284
Mustadrak of Al Hakim, v 2 p 622

Abu Talib died a short time before the Hijrah. After this (Abu Talib's death) the foolish and ignorant people of the Quraysh began to attack him, so Allah chose for him to migrate away from them to the city of Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj among those who helped him (in Al-Madinah).
Tafsir Ibn kathir, Tafsir of surah 93

Just a passing thought. Isn't it weird how the man who protected the Prophet Muhammad with all his strength since he was a child and helped propagate the religion of Islam in its infancy (I talk about Abu Talib ) can be labeled as a kafir, while those who ran away from the Battle of Uhud and numerous ather confrontations are labeled as the champions of the faith and the caliphs of Islam. 

Its weird how Sunnis call Abu Talib a Kafir, simply on the basis that history does not provide any legal document of Abu Talib reciting the Kalimah. For 40 years the Prophet SAW ate at Abu Talibs house, so does that mean that the food our Prophet ate for the majority of his blessed life was haraam? Did he or did he not read the Prophets SAW Nikah? Does that also mean that his weddding was invalidated? I implore people to reflect upon the following.

Imam Jafer al-Sadiq (AS) said: While Imam Ali (AS) was sitting with Ruhbah in Kufa, surrounded by a group, a man stood up and said : ' Commander of the Believers, you are in this great position at which God has placed you while your father is suffering in hell. ' The Imam replied, saying : Be silent. May God disfigure your mouth. By the One Who sent Mohammed (PBUH&HF) with the truth, if my father intercedes for every sinner on the face of the earth, God would accept his intercession.
al-Ihtijaj, by al-Tabarsi, v1, p341

Even if people still call someone a kaafir, who defended Islam in it's infancy just because history fails to record their kalimah, then here is a reference, submitted to us by Brother Miqdad [];

The Prophet asked Abu Talib to recite the credo of Islam La illa ha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah, so that he might bear witness to his faith in the presence of Allah (SWT). Abu Jahil and Ibn Umayya expostulated with Abu Talib and asked if he was going to turn away from the religion of Abd al-Muttalib. In the end, Abu Talib said he was dying with his belief in the religion of Abd al Muttalib. Then he turned to the Prophet (S) and said that he would have recited that creed, but he feared lest the Quraysh should accuse him of the fear of death. The Prophet (S) said that he would be praying to Allah for him till He forbade. This is the version of Al Bukhari and Muslim. Ibn Ishaq says that while dying Abu Talib's lips were in motion. Abbas, (the Prophet's uncle)...put his ears to his lips and said to the Prophet (S) that he was reciting the KALIMA the Prophet (S) had wanted of him. It is on account of these conflicting reports that there is such a difference of opinion regarding the Islam of Abu Talib. But as the version of Al Bukhari is generally considered to be more trustworthy, the traditionalists hold him to have died an unbeliever.

But from a traditionalist point of view, this report of Al Bukhari is not worth taking as reliable because the last narrator is Musaiyyab who embraced Islam after the fall of Mecca and was not himself present at the time of Abu Talib's death. It is on this account that Al Aini, in his commentary has remarked that this tradition is mursal.
Sirat-An-Nabi, by Shibli Numani, Volume 1 -  "Death of Khadija and Abu Talib" Page 223-224

It is evident that even respectable Sunni Scholars cannot believe the lie attributed to one of the best supporters and helpers of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Shabir Ahmad Usmani in his tafsir says,

And rely on the Almighty, the Merciful, Who sees you when you rise up, and your descending (lit. "taking turns") among those who fall prostrate in worship (sajidin)."(26:217-219)
"Some of the earlier writers have said that in this verse sajidin represents the fathers of the Holy Prophet (s), that is, the translation [i.e. transmission] of the Light of the Last Messenger (s) from one prophet to the other prophet culminating in the external appearance of the Prophet (s) in this world of matter. The scholars said by this verse the Iman of both of the Prophet's parents is confirmed.”
Uthmani, Tafsir Uthmani, Vol.2, p. 1657

These scholars show clear signs of love between the Prophet (SAW) and Abu Talib (AS). Abu Talib (AS) spent his life helping the Prophet (SAW). He would sacrifice his life and his reputation for this man. Why would any man help someone who tries to destroy their pagan beliefs? It is evident that Abu Talib (AS) was religious, whether he was a pagan or a Muslim, therefore, if he was a pagan, then he would not help someone to destroy his Gods. No matter who they were.

These scholars have fought to preserve the truth and respect for this noble character of Islam. Without Abu Talib (AS), the Prophet (SAW) would not have been able to overcome such odds. It is indeed this man (amongst many others) which you need to thank as it is he who has helped Islam become alive. It is foolish to say that he helps to create a religion but he believes it to be false.

The Bengali Sunni Poet , writing the biography of the prophet "Bishanabi" made this observation of Abu Talib:

The light which would illuminate the darkened world burns in his house. With blood and guts, with weapons and wit, with all his might Abu Talib defends the light from the dark storms, the temptations, threats, abuses of the outside world that threatens to extinguish the light.
Gulam Mostafa in Bishanabi

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