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Letter Exchange 12: Abu Talib - The Protecting Hand or Nasibi's Kaafir

The following Queries were mailed to us by a fellow visitor, student and seeker of truth. Below is an article-version of the email exchange.

  1. Why do the Shias want Abu Talib to be a Muslim when he clearly did not recite the Kalimah?
  2. Banu Hashim had strong blood ties. Abu Talib supported Prophet Muhammad (SAW) not because he believed in his prophethood, but only out of family ties and the bond of love. Abu Talib was a defender of Prophet (SAW) and Friend of Islam, so were other Polytheists, like Negus, the King.
  3. The Seerah Rasool, Sealed Nectar, clearly states that Abu Talib did not recite Kalimah on his death bed.


It is unfortunate and sad, that after fourteen hundred years, we still cannot decide whether men like Ali (AS) and Muhammad (SAW) were raised and protected by a kaafirs like Abu Talib (AS) or a Muslim like Abu Talib (AS).

You are a Muslim. Did u become a Muslim after reciting the Kalimah? I know, I did not become a Muslim after I recited the Kalimah. I was a Muslim as far as I could remember. Recitation of the Kalimah is neither a sign of becoming a Muslim, neither is it sufficient.

Technically speaking, I can recite the Kalimah and become a Muslim, but I can say that Jesus is son of god, Muhammad is prophet of god, there is no god but Allah. All statements do not contradict each other, yet will you call me a Muslim because I recited the Kalimah?

Islam had only seen two supporters of Muhammad (SAW), who had slept in his bed, and who had done everything to save his life and his message. After the migration to medina, is Ali ibn Abu Talib, who slept on prophetís bed on the night of migration, whose heroics were on display in every battle, when other people ran or backed away. The other person was his father, Abu Talib. When the Quraysh boycott the Banu Hashim, Abu Talib used to stay up all night, and used to switch beds and sleeping places with Muhammad (SAW) for the fear of night attacks. The best output of faith is actions, and if Abu Talib's actions are that of a kaafirs, then those who ran away in battles leaving Rasool (SAW) behind, including Umer and usman etc are bigger kaafirs!

As our eyes can only see as far as the tongue, we believe that he who recites the Kalimah is a Muslim. Allah sees the heart. Kalimah by tongue means nothing!

And He (Allah) it is Who held back their (Meccans) hands from you and your hands from them (preventing bloodshed) in the valley of Mecca after He had given you victory (the treaty) over them; and Allah is Seeing what you do. It is they who disbelieved and turned you away from the Sacred Mosque and (turned off) the offering withheld from arriving at its destined place; and were it not for the believing men and the believing women (in Mecca), whom, not having known, you might have trodden down, and thus something hateful might have afflicted you on their account without knowledge-- so that Allah may cause to enter into His mercy whomsoever He pleases; had they been widely separated one from another, We would surely have punished those who disbelieved from among them with a painful punishment.
Quran [48:24-25]

(Had there not been believing men and believing women) `living among the Makkans hiding their faith for fearing for their safety from the pagans. Otherwise, We would have given you authority over the Makkans and you would have killed them to the brink of extermination. However, there were some faithful believers, men and women, living among them, about whom you had no knowledge of being believers and you might try to kill them.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 48, verse 25

Quran says that some people in Mecca had converted to Islam but they hid their faith. Now, you can call all these people kaafirs, because you did not read in history that they recited the Kalimah!

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

Does this prove anything? Or do u still wait for the recitation of a Kalimah?

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 be 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

The attack on kaaba, by Abraha has been recorded by many. I will quote a very small excerpt from the incident, when Abu talib's father, Hazrat Abdul Muttalib faced abraha.

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

We have narrations of shias, that the seed of prophet Muhammad (SAW), had never been in a person who was a mushrik, from Hazrat Abdullah to Adam (AS). The ancestors of prophet (SAW) were followers of Deen e Ibrahim, the religion of unity, not polytheism. You claim that Abu Talib was a kaafir, then that also makes his brother, Abdullah (AS), father of prophet (SAW) a kaafir as well because I donít see when he recited his Kalimah. He died before Rasool (SAW) was born.

It is strange, how your parents are Muslims and you are born in a Muslim family but he who brought Islam to you, his parents were kaafirs.

In Syria, the propaganda Mawiya (the cursed) 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).

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

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, volume 1, page 341

This is our faith about Abu Talib (AS). Logic tells us that if you are abusing Mawla Ali (AS), and I am telling the people to come and listen to you, then that means that I support your mission and I do not believe or love Mawla Ali. The 13 year protection of Abu Talib is proof, that he had the strongest belief in Muhammad (SAW).

You and I may run away from battles leaving the prophet behind which Is a display of our staunch faith, but Abu Talib who put him and his son in danger to confront the enemies of Rasool (SAW) is a kaafir, because we were all waiting so that he can come on national television and recite the Kalimah, so he can tell the world that how good a Muslim he is, when it is a matter which is between man and Allah.

I suppose the Banu Hashim were faithless people, who only valued family ties and not religion. Abu Lahab is from the Banu Hashim as well, and he was one of the biggest opposers of the mission of Rasool (SAW). Why so?

Certainly We sent Our messengers with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the balance that men may conduct themselves with equity; and We have made the iron, wherein is great violence and advantages to men, and that Allah may know who helps Him and His messengers in the secret; surely Allah is Strong, Mighty.
Quran [57:25]

Allah knows who helped Muhammad (SAW) in the secret. I do not see how you calling Abu Talib a muslim, or a kaafir matters et all. As said in the letter about shia sunni discussions, Haqq does not change. If your opinion coincides with the truth, you are safe, if not, you become a liar.

The whole point is, that profession of faith in secret is as good as in the open. Banu Hashim did not profess to their faith in Muhammad (SAW) openly, because that was the only way the Quraysh would not openly retaliate Muhammad (SAW), but come to negotiate with Banu Hashim.

If I agree to your theory, then Hazrat Hamza accepted Islam only because of his love to prophet (SAW) as a nephew, and not because he believed in Muhammad (SAW), and also not because he loved Muhammad (SAW) as a prophet, then Hamza was not a Muslim, but also a kaafir, and his confession of faith is not because he believed Muhammad (SAW) to be a prophet, but only an act to offend the enemies of his nephew. History says something else.

A party of Muhajirs met martyrdom. They were killed in the cause of Islam and Allah. everyone of them was blessed by Allah with a status and rank. Out of them those who belonged to my family and tribe, Bani Hashim, were granted an excellent status by Allah. Hamza (the uncle of the Holy Prophet (s) and Imam Ali (a)) received the title of Chief of Martyrs (Sayyid al-Shuhada). The Holy Prophet (s) himself called him by this name after his martyrdom and at his funeral ceremony. The Holy Prophet (s) recited Takbir ('Allahu Akbar') seventy times as a mark of distinction for him, which is not for any other Muslim.
Nahjul Balaga, Letter 28, A reply by Imam Ali to the letter sent by Mawiya

Verify the above with your Sunni or wahabi sources, which ever you follow. If Hazrat Hamza did what you are telling me, that he accepted Islam only because he could not tolerate his relative being tortured, then he was not a true Muslim according to any definition of a Muslim by any sect, by Quran. He was then not martyred at uhud, defending Islam, neither defending Muhammad Rasool Allah, but was killed in uhud, defending his relative, nephew, Muhammad (SAW).

You said that the ties of kinship in Arab were very strong, which is very Muhammadís (SAW) relatives supported him even if he was speaking against their religion and abusing their Gods. The Quraysh had ties with Muhammad (SAW). And the Quraysh were the biggest opponents to prophet Muhammad (SAW).

According to your approach, the Quraysh and Abu Lahab should have supported Muhammad since day one.

The religion of the father of prophet Muhammad (SAW), was the religion of Ibrahim (AS), the hanif. The ancestors of Prophet belonged to the monotheistic religion, the faith of Ibrahim. Even if you accept your own words, that Abu Talib died on the faith of his father, then that faith was the faith of Ibrahim (AS).

As I said earlier, reciting the Kalimah openly for history books to record does not prove you have been converted. Once you compare the actions and the application of the Kalimah, you will only find the family of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) the truthful.

After the grandfather's demise, his real uncle, Abu Talib, become his guardian, whit whom he started living. When he was two months and twelve years old, Abu Talib made up his mind for a trade trip to Syria, and then let the Prophet also accompany in the trip. On their way to Syria they stayed at Teema. During his stay at Teema a renowned Jew scholar, Baheera Rahib, passed by the Prophet just by chance, but when he looked at him he asked Abu Talib "Who is this boy with you?" Abu Talib repaid " He is my nephew." Baheera said. " Have you soon any compassion with him and do you want to protect him?" Abu Talib replied, " Surely!" "On hearing it, Baheera swore by God and said, "If you take him to Syria along with you, the Jews will kill him, because he is the Prophet of God, who shall abrogate the religion of the Jews. I find his attributes in my Divine Scripture without any ambiguity. "Since Baheera an Ascetic was the scholar of Torah contained and the Torah on exhaustive expression of Prophet Muhammad's personality in Torah, he recognized him as that very last prophet, who would abrogate Torah; Abu Talib felt some danger after heating Baheera and sent the Prophet back to Mecca.

If Abu Talib can believe a Jewish scholar, who testified that Muhammad (SAW) is a prophet, even at age 12, thus he sent him back to Mecca, why will not Abu Talib (AS) believe in his own nephew, the very prophet he loves alot, when he (SAW) tells him to believe in his Prophethood?

I will take you into an example, because you will understand it better. You have a brother, i am sure you do. God forbid, you elope with someone and get involved in prostitution (God forbid), ruining the name of your family. Your father and your brothers will probably dissociate from you and disown you. They will not want anyone to take your name infront of them. If I go to your brother, who just became the president of Pakistan, and I go and congratulate him that he is now the CEO of Pakistan, and in the same time, I tell him that his sister ran away with some boy, your brother will slap me. Because an impurity in you, your brother would not want to associate himself with it, and thus would not appreciate if I mention you infront of him. Shirk is an impurity. Men like Rasool (SAW) and Ali (AS) were pure beings. However, irrespective of the views, in every battle of Islam, in battles which Mawla Ali won single handedly, before every battle, Ali went on the field and told everyone that he was Ali Ibn Abu Talib. Ali associated Abu Talib with his name In every battle for the sake of Islam. Does that make sense to you if Abu Talib was an impurity? Ali told everyone proudly, that his father was Abu Talib. Will your brother or father tell the world proudly you are their daughter/sister, given the impurity in you?

After all, all the people who accepted Islam, against the ties of their families, were true, while Muhammad's family supported him only for the ties of their family. Odd isnít it?

Which polytheist was the defender of Rasool (SAW) and friend of Islam? You call Negus a polytheist? You should recheck your history lessons as well as the Quran.

Negus, or Nijashi, the Christian king of modern day Ethiopia, protected the party of Muslims under the leadership of Jaffar ibn Abu Talib. First thing, Negus was not a mushrik, but a Christian.

Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabians and the Christians whoever believes in Allah and the last day and does good-- they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.
Quran [5:69]

A Christian who believes in Allah, the last day and does Good, is saved. You cannot compare them to polytheism. They are one of the Ahlul Kitab. I still know christians today who believe in unity, and not trinity.

An interesting piece of literature, from a very old book;

So when they went into royal presence and the question was put to them, Jafar answered, "We say about him which our prophet brought, saying he is the slave of God, and his apostle, and his spirit, and his word, which he cast into Mary the blessed Virgin." Negus took a stick from the Ground and said, "By God, Jesus, son of Mary does not exceed what you have said by the length of the stick".
The life of Muhammad, Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, by A Guillaume, page 152

Note how Negus agrees with what jafar (AS) says, and how he calls Jesus, the Son of Mary, and not Son of God. Another tradition which speaks about the rebellion the Abyssinians did against Negus, which Negus later on successfully crushed;

Jafar bin Muhammad told me on the authority of his father that the Abyssinians assembled and said to Negus, "You have left our religion" and they revolted against him. So he sent Jafar and his companions and prepared for them ships, saying, "Embark in these and be ready. If i am defeated, go where you please, if i am victorious, then stay where you are". Then he took a paper and wrote, "He testifies that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his slave and apostle, and testifies that Jesus, son of Mary is his slave and his apostle, his spirit and his word which he cast into Mary".
The life of Muhammad, Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, by A Guillaume, page 155

Negus accepted Islam, even though as a believing Christian, he was safe. If you call the parents, the uncle, the grandfather of Prophet (SAW) a mushrik or a Kaafir, then Negus is nothing for you.

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 will still wait to see how can a mushrik can be a friend of Islam and protector of Rasool (SAW), as you have claimed, where as Islam has forbidden both.

I will not go into the discussion whether one should accept everything written in any book by any author. That has been discussed so many times, in letters like the character assasination of Rasool (SAW) and articles like the Logical approach to Hadith.

Fabrication of Hadith and Rawayats is in fashion i suppose. If u stop your thinking process and believe every hadith you read, every thing a mullah says, I guarantee, misguidance will pounce on you, because guidance is only for those who really want to be guided, and those who really want to be guided, think like humans and use their intellectual prowess.

You talk about Sunni ahadith which tell Abu Talib didnít recite the Kalimah; That can be due to many number of reasons, including the condition of  person at the time of death.

Sealed Nectar is a Salafi publication, the same people who demolished the graves of the Ahlulbayt at Janatul Baqi under Saudi leader ship in 1920s. They were about to demolish the grave of Rasool (SAW) also, if the protest in Muslim worlds did not occur. What do we expect from them? Sealed nectar is no authority on Islam. Neither am I astonished with your views, once I knew you are reading sealed nectar. It is a salafi publication and salafis are known for their wahabis views and anti-Ali, anti-Muhammad stand.

And warn your nearest relations (Feast of Banu Hashim), And be kind to him who follows you of the believers. But if they disobey you (Muhammad), then say: Surely I am clear of what you do.
Quran [26:214-216]

Tell me in one word, yes or no. Was Muhammad (SAW) kind to Abu Talib or not? Did Muhammad (SAW) part his ways with Abu Talib as Quran tells him to do if they disobey him, or not? You should have your answer. Quran and prophet's character are above what a salafi novel writes.

The story narrated from sealed nectar is bogus, because it is obvious. I will not deny it because I want to, I only deny it because it is illogical. If you deny what Allah gave you, Aql, and accept what people give you, misinterpretations of the Quran, fabricated Hadith etc, then here is a concrete reference for you.

With respect to the document hung in kaaba by the Quraysh, during the ex-communication, Abu Talib (AS) wrote the following letter to the Quraysh.

Tell Lu'ayy, specially Lu'ayy of the Banu Ka'b, News of our condition. Did you not know that we have found Muhammad, a Prophet like Moses described in the oldest books, And that Love is bestowed on him (alone) of mankind, and that none is batter than he whom God has singled out in love, and that the writing you have fixed, will be a calamity like the cry of the hamstrung camel!
The life of Muhammad, Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, by A Guillaume, page 160

Did Abu Talib (AS) not accept that he found Muhammad, like Prophet Moses? Not only did Abu Talib show his faith in the last prophet (SAW), but also on previous prophets. Similarly, Ibn Ishaq, who wrote the first Sirah of Rasool (SAW), adds to his book, the episode of the death of Abu Talib.

You must say there is no God but Allah and you must repudiate what you worship beside him. They clapped their hands and said, "Do you want to make all the gods into One God, Muhammad? That would be an extraordinary thing". Then they said to one another, "This fellow is not going to give you anything you want, so go and continue with the religion of your fathers until God judge between us". So saying they departed.

Abu Talib said, "Nephew, I do not think that you asked them anything extraordinary." On hearing this, the apostle had hopes that he would accept Islam and said at once, "You say it uncle, and then I shall be able to intercede for you on the day of resurrection". Seeing the apostle's  eagerness he replied, "were it not that i fear that you and your father's sons would be abused after my death and that the Quraysh would think that I had only said it in fear of death, I would say it. I should only say it to give you pleasure. As his death was near, al-Abbas looked at him as he was moving his lips and put his ear close to him and said, "Nephew, by God, my brother has spoken thte word you gave him to say". The apostle replied, I did not hear it.
The life of Muhammad, Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, by A Guillaume, page 192

Why will a kaafir like Abu Talib (AS) think that making many Gods into One God is not extraordinary, as every other kaafir believed it was? Did not Abu Talib (AS) justify his decision of not reciting the Kalimah openly, that safety of Rasool (SAW) was the basic reason for it. And did not Abbas, the uncle of Rasool (SAW) verify that Abu Talib (AS) has recited the kalimah?

And repentance is not for those who go on doing evil deeds, until when death comes to one of them, he says: Surely now I repent; nor (for) those who die while they are unbelievers. These are they for whom We have prepared a painful chastisement.
Quran [4:18]

Islam teaches in Quran that once you see death, your repentance or your acceptance of Islam will not help you. Did not the Prophet (SAW) know that? Why would Prophet (SAW) tell a kafir to accept Islam on his deathbed if it was of no use? Or was the Prophet unaware of these Quranic verses? Or was the prophet doing something useless himself?

You know better, the actions of Abu Talib (AS) in history, which speak louder than words. Above are the words too which you have been looking for. If he is still a kaafir to you, you are answerable for your own conjecture.

You, should be thankful to God, because you managed to do things what your prophet failed to. You are born to a Muslim family, raised by Muslims and ate Muslim food throughout your life. You will wed a Muslim partner, and the Nikah will be recited by a Muslim scholar. How unfortunate your prophet was, who lived a polytheistic life for 40 years!

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