History Of Hazrat Abu Talib, the first Muslim!
Distortion of history is a common tactic of agents of darkness, intolerance and deception in Pakistan and entire Islamic world. Villains such as Ahmad Shah Durrani Abdali, Muhammad ibn Qasim, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, Muawiya, Aurangzeb Alamgir, Hakeemullah Mehsud, General Zia-ul-Haq etc are presented as heroes while true heroes such as Raja Dahir, Bhagat Singh, Salmaan Taseer, Malala Yusufzai, Dara Shikoh, Akbar, Benazir Bhutto etc are presented as villains.
Early Islamic history too is not free from such distortions. Dubious and autocratic characters eg Yazid, Muawiya, Abu Sufyan etc are presented as heroes of Islam while doubts are cast over the superior character of members of the holy progeny (aal) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuhp) including the twelve Imams of the Ahlul Bayt.
It is the usual propaganda by the Nasibi Khariji enemies of the Ahlul Bayt (holy family and progeny of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his progeny PBUHP) that the Prophet’s parents Hazrat Abdullah and Hazrat Aaminah, his grandfather Hazrat Abdul Muttalib and his uncle Hazrat Abu Talib were infidels (Kafir). This view is against the Sunni Sufi and Shia Muslim interpretations of the Hadith and Islamic history.
In particualr, the Takfiri Khariji group of Deobandi and Salafi Wahhabi Muslims considers Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUHP) parents, uncle and grandparents infidels. Because of Takfiri Khawarij’s animosity towards Hazrat Ali (a.s.), under the influence of negative propaganda by Umayyads (led by Muawiya, Yazid and other Umayyad Caliphs), the great role of Hazrat Abu Talib (alaihis Salaam) is obfuscated, and he is presented as a Kafir or infidel. It is a fact that Hazrat Abu Talib, just like Momin-e-Aal-e-Firaun was amongst the first persons to have accepted Islam, along with Hazrat Khadija, Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique. Due to his political position as the chief of Quraish tribe, he did not openly proclaim his faith until later, however, from Prophet Muhammad’s declaration of Islamic faith to his death in the aftermath of the Shaib-e-Abi Talib, Hazrat Abu Talib was the sole protector, benefactor and promoter of Islamic faith and the Prophet of Islam. Through his words and actions, he proved that he was more Muslim than any other Muslim.
This post seeks to debunk the Takfiri Khariji Deobandi and Salafi Wahhabi arguments against Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.).
Firstly Abu Talib was the father of Imam Ali (as) and the uncle of Prophet Mohammad (pbuhp). He took care of the Prophet after Abd Al Muttalib died, and treated the Prophet like a son. He was the head of the Quraish tribe and always stood with the Prophet. At the end he died the same year as Khadija (s.a.), after the sanctions on the Prophet and other Hashemite Muslims ended.
Hazrat Abu Talib looked after the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progency) since the age of eight after the death of his father Abdul Muttalib (Holy Prophet’s grandfather). For the next 42 years, he was like the Holy Prophet’s father. When the Holy Prophet announced his prophethood, Hazrat Abu Talib stood by him like a rock. He supported the Holy Prophet (pbuhp) during his most trying times and when he died, the Holy Prophet mourned for him and Hazrat Khadija for one year in the Aam-ul-Huzn!
As a matter of fact, Abu Talib, before the advent of Islam, never worshiped idols, and was a follower of Deen-e-Hanif, the religion of Ibrahim, like a lot of Bani Hashim (excluding some such as Abu Lahab), as can be seen when he recited the Nikkah and the Sermon for the Nikkah (marital contract) of the Prophet and Khadija. In his sermon, he starts off saying “All praise is due to Allah”, as recorded in Al Sirah Al Halabiyya, Volume 1 Page 139. It may be noted that highest God and Idol to the Kuffar and Mushrikeen of Makkah was Hubal, and they would constantly praise him, and bring him to battles, instead of Allah.
Now read this Hadith which tells us that Abu Talib followed the laws of Islam, before they were to be laid out, and the Prophet’s mission began: “Abu Talib, even in the days of ignorance, considered intoxicants Haraam for himself.” (Referenced in Al Sirah Nabawiyya page 80)
Now that we’ve established Abu Talib’s belief in Allah before the advent of Islam, let’s focus on Deobandis and Salafi Wahhabis’ negative propaganda about Hazrat Abu Talib.
First argument offered by enemies of Ahlul Bayt is the following weak Hadith:
Narrated Al Musaiyab : When Abu Talib’s death approached, the Prophet ( saw ) went to him while Abu Jahl and Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya were present with him. The Prophet ( saw ) said : ‘ O Uncle, say : None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, so that I may argue for your case with it before Allah. ‘ On that Abu Jahl and Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya said : ‘ O Abu Talib ! Do you want to renounce Abdul Muttalib’s religion ? ‘ Then the Prophet ( saw ) said, ‘ I will keep on asking ( Allah for ) forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden to do so. ‘ Then there was revealed: ” It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe that they should pray for forgiveness for pagans even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the companions of the fire.” [ 9 : 113 ] Sahih Bukhari Kitabul Tafseer Arabic English Volume 6 Page 158 Tradition no. 197
So according to Deobandi and Salafi enemies of the Ahlul Bayt, this Hadith is evidence for Abu Talib’s death in Kufr, and the Prophet was ordered not to pray for him. Let’s refute it, and show it’s faultiness.
Firstly, examine the Surah 9, ie Surah Tawba. It is a Madinite Surah, except the last two Ayaat (128 & 129). It was revealed when a clan from Bani Quraish broke the treaty of Hudaybiya, and it came as an ultimatum. It was revealed in year 9 of Hijra. Here is some back ground about the Surah, The Prophet (pbuh) had ordered Hazrat Abu Bakr (r.a.) to announce first part of it during the days of the pilgrimage of that year when he sent him as an ‘Amir Al Hajj ‘. Then he sent Imam Ali to take that part from him and announce it, because God commanded him that no one should deliver the revelation other than himself or a man from the members of his House (Ahlul Bayt). This was narrated in the following Hadith: “The Messenger of Allah sent Abu Bakr to the people of Mecca with the Chapter of al-Bara’ah and when he proceeded, (the Prophet) sent for him and asked him to return the chapter and said: “No one takes it to them except one of my Ahlul-Bayt.” and thus he sent Ali for this mission.” With the following Sunni sources:
– Sahih al-Tirmidhi, v2, p183, v5, pp 275,283
– Musnad of Ahmed Hanbal, v1 pp 3,151, v3, pp 212,283
– Fadha’l al-Sahabah, by Ahmad Hanbal, v2, p562, Tradition #946
– Hakim in his Mustadrak, v 3 p 51
– Al Nisai in his Khasais al Awliyah, p 20
– Fadhail al Khamsah, v 2 p 343
– Siratun Nabi by Shibli Numani, v 2 p 239
This Surah was revealed all together, like Surah Yusuf.
Now that we have some background on the Surah, let’s have some background on the death of Abu Talib.
Abu Talib died after the sanctions on the Hashemite Muslims from the Bani Quraish. He died in the year of grief (Aam-ul-huzn) in the Shaib-e-Abi-Talib.
The year of grief is in 619 AD, which was 12 years before the revelation of Surah 9.
Logically speaking, how was the 113 verse of the chapter revealed about a person and an event which took place 12 years earlier. If this Ayah was about Abu Talib, it would have had been revealed then and there. So that Hadith fails because it contravenes the logical revelation of the Quran.
Now that we’ve refuted the Hadith through the Quran, let’s see what’s also wrong with the narrator in the next part.
Now a similar Hadith, again by the Narrator Abu Musaiyab, as quoted in the book of Shibli Numani, Siratun Nabi, Volume 1, page 219, and 220, he writes the following:
“On return from the mountain, the Prophet had hardly passed a few days in peace when Abu Talib and Khadija both died. He paid his last visit to Abu Talib when he was dying. Abu Jahl and Abd Allah ibn Ummaya were already there. The Prophet asked Abu Talib to recite the credo of Islam, so that he might bear witness to his faith in the presence of Allah. Abu Jahl and Ibn Umayya expostulated with Abu Taleb and asked if he was going to turn away from the religion of Abd Al Muttalib. In the end Abu Talib said that he was dying with is belief in the religion of Abd Al Muttalib. Then he turned to the Prophet and said that he would have recited the creed but he feared lest the Quraish should accuse him of fear of death. The Prophet said that he would be praying to Allah for him till He forbade (Bukhari on the Chapter of Funeral. The last sentence has been taken from Muslim and not Bukhari). This is the version of Bukhari and Muslim. Ibn Ishaq says that while dying Abu Talib’s lips were in motion. al-Abbas who was till then a nonbeliever, put his ear to his lips and then said to the Prophet that he was reciting the Shahada the Prophet had wanted of him.”
The above tradition and the other “Abu Talib burns in Hell” hadith is generally cited in Deobandi and Salafi Wahhabi books. The tradition is narrated by Abu Musaiyab there, he then writes in his book Al Aini, Chapter Janaiz or Funeral,Volume 4, p age 200: “But from a traditionist’s point of view this report of Al Bukhari is not worthy 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.” And he writes on page 221: “Abu Talib made great sacrifices for the Prophet none can deny that. He would even sacrifice his own children for his sake. For his sake he had exposed himself to the odium of the whole country, and for his sake he had passed years in state of siege, suffering starvation as an exile, unprovided with food or drink. Will all this love, sacrifice and devotion go unrewarded ?”
And Ibn Abil Hadid tells us in Shahr Nahjul Balagha Volume 1, page 370 that Ibn Musaiyab: “He didn’t like Ali Ibn Abi Talib. He refused to read the funeral prayers of Imam Zainul Abideen.”
Someone who doesn’t like Imam Ali and his family, do you think he willl narrate truthful and good things about his father?
And the following Sunni Tafseers tell us Surah 9 has nothing to do with Abu Talib:
– Tafsir Kashshaf, volume 2 page 49
– Tafsir Qurtubi, volume 8 page 273
– Tafsir Itqan, volume 1 page 18
– Tafsir Showkani, volume 3 page 316
Thus the Hadith about the Quranic verse about Abu Talib’s kufr is nothing but a pack of lies.
Next argument you’ll get from Deobandi and Wahhabi haters of the Ahle Bayt is as follows:
“And they prohibit (others) from it and go far away from it, and they only bring destruction upon their own souls while they do not perceive it.” Qur’an 6:26
Tabari relates from Sufiyan Sori who relates it from Habib ibn Abu Thabit who narrated it from somebody saying that Ibn Abbas said ‘that this verse came down for Abu Talib, because he used to protect Mohammad from the Kafirs but he never recited the Shahada.
– Tabaqat of Ibne Sa’ad, volume 2 page 105
– History of Tabari, volume 7 page 100
– Tafsir Ibn Katheer, volume 2 page 127
– Tafsir Kashaf, volume 1 page 448
– Tafsir Qurtubi, volume 6 page 406
Let’s analyse this Hadith.
Firstly reading the Hadith, we see it’s in past tense, saying that “It came down about Abu Talib, because he used to protect Mohammad from the Kafirs, but never recited Shahada”. Clear past tense, the verse then says “And they prohibit (others) from it and go far away from it, and they only bring destruction upon their own souls while they do not perceive it.” This verse is in clear present tense, if a verse is in present tense, it’s discussing something happening then, why on earth would it be referring to something that happened in the past.
Next point, the chain of Hadith says that the last person in the line of transmitters (Habib Ibn Abu Thabit) says he heard from someone who heard it from the main narrator (Ibn Abbas). According to the criteria of Hadith, this is unacceptable, especially for such an important situation. But for argument’s sake, let’s overlook this, and see what else is wrong with the chain. Okay, look at the following information told to us now: “In the eyes if Ibn Habban, Habib is a ‘deceiver’, and Aqili Ibn Aun has ‘avoided’ Habeeb since Habib has copied Ahadith from Ata’a which are ‘ absolutely unacceptable ‘. Qita’an says that Habib’s hadeeths other than Ata’a are also unacceptable and are not safe from being fake. Abu Dawud quotes from Ajri that the hadeeths narrated by Habib from Ibn Zamraa are not correct. Ibn Khazima comments that Habib is a ‘deceiver’
Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, volume 2 page 179″
Here’s some further information about the narrators as Dhahabi writes: Sufyan narrations are lies.
Mizan al-Itidal, by al-Dhahabi, volume 1 page 396
Plain and simple, he’s a liar.
Okay the Hadith falls, now let’s see what the Ayat is actually about.
Tabari states that the above verse came down for all the mushrikeen who used to stay away from the Prophet and used to advise others to stay away from him (the Prophet)
-Tafsir Tabari, volume 7 page 109.
-Tafsir Durre Manthoor, volume 3 page 8
Again this accusation falls.
Let’s now examine the definition of a (in the terminology of the Qur’an) Kafir? According to Al Mizan Fi Tafsir Al Qur’an, by Allamah Tabataba’ei, he states that a Kafir is: Someone who knowingly, willingly, and arrogantly rejects Islam, even though it is made clear to them, as confirmed in 2:6: “Surely those who disbelieve, it being alike to them whether you warn them, or do not warn them, will not believe.”
The reason we want to establish this is because in several places in the Qur’an, we’re told about such disbelievers, and how we should associate with them, and they were revealed before Qur’an 9:113, the alleged verse against Abu Talib, so for argument’s sake, let’s keep the verses in this time frame, so we see that Abu Talib was not a Kafir, and could not have had been one, otherwise the Prophet went against the Qur’an:
Qur’an 4:144: “O you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for guardians rather than the believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves?”
Tafsir Qurtubi volume 5 page 1, tells us this verse is revealed in Makkah. If Abu Talib was a disbeliever, why on earth would the Prophet (pbuh) violate the Qur’an and take him as a friend and as a protector. Or why on earth would he pray for him, how on earth does it make sense he’s a Kafir. Next verse:
Qur’an 58:22: “You shall not find a people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kinsfolk; these are they into whose hearts He has impressed faith, and whom He has strengthened with an inspiration from Him: and He will cause them to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein; Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him these are Allah’s party: now surely the party of Allah are the successful ones.”
Tafsir Ibn Kathir volume 4 page 329, Tafsir Shoo Kafi volume 5 page 189, Tafsir Aloosi volume 28 page 37. All of them tell us this verse is revealed in or around the time of the Battle of Badr, which would be about 7 years before Surah 9 came down. Would the Prophet (pbuh) be mourning over a Kafir, when this instructed him not to? Last verse:
Qur’an 3:28: “Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.”
Sirah Ibn Hisham volume 2 page 207 tells us the first 80 Ayaat of Surah 3 were revealed at the first year of Hijra, would the Prophet be mourning over a Kafir?
These are going to be the best and most intellectual arguments you’ll get, we’ve refuted them, now let us look at some evidences for Abu Talib’s belief in Islam.
Firstly, you have the fact that he read the Nikkah of the Prophet to Khadija, you’ll get counter arguments from a Sunni saying “That was before Islam though!” Well, the Prophet was always a Prophet, (Biggest proof is when Jesus speaks from his cradle and announces he’s a messenger, even though his message at that moment had not come) look at his life, he practiced the future teachings of Islam his whole life:
Never worshiped idols
Never took intoxicants
Never ate from Haraam
Never took interest
Never abused anyone
He practiced his teachings to build a reputation before the advent of Islam, you think he’ll let a Kafir read his Nikkah?
If the readers have seen the film The Message (1976) or have read a biography of the Prophet, in it they will note that the Kafirs came to Abu Talib and asked him to ask the Prophet to stop his religion. And he went to do it, to which he gets a reply from his uncle says “My Uncle, tell them whether they put the sun in my right hand, or the moon in my left, I will not renounce my message, which is from God.” Then Abu Talib gives this response: “Come back my nephew, go on, say whatever you like, I’ll never let you down.” This has been recorded in Tarikh Tabari volume 2 page 281, Shahr Nahjul Balagha volume 3 page 306, Sirah Al Halabiyya volume 1 page 306, Tarikh Ibn Kathir volume 2 page 258, and many others.
Now let’s see some more sayings of Abu Talib about the Prophet and about Islam:
>>I believe that Mohammed’s faith is the best of all the religions of the Universe.
-Sharah Nahjul Balagha, Ibn Abil Hadid, Volume 3 page 306
-Al Isabah, Volume 4 page 116
-Sirah Halabiyya, Volume 1 page 305
-Talha At Al Talib, page 5
-And others too
>>To exalt him He derived his name from His own; the One on High is called Mahmood while He named him Mohammed. There is no doubt, that Allah has made him a Prophet. So Ahmad is the most praised figure in the universe.
-Tarikh Ibn Kathir, volume 1 page 266
-Tarikh Ibn Asakir, volume 1 page 275
Abu Talib at his death:
>>By Allah, He has uttered the words which you have requested, Oh messenger of Allah!
-Ibn Hisham page 146, Cairo edition
-Dailal Al Nabuwiyya, Bayhaqqi, volume 2 page 101
And the Prophet says to him on his death:
>>You verily have been kind to your next of kin, may you be rewarded well.
-Ibid volume 2 page 103
-Tarikh Ibn Kathir volume 3 page 125
-Al Isabah volume 4 page 116
-And many more
There are many other sayings and such traditions, we have just selected a special and strong looking few from the Sunni books, and out of the sake of time and space, we’ll use these.
Now, in those days of Arabia, we know people there were master poets, thus the reason the Qur’an came in poetry as a miracle for those people, so Abu Talib wrote poetry about his nephew the Prophet, he has written over 3000, let’s look at 3 stanzas:
Let all of the people know that Muhammad
Is the wazir of Musa and Isa
he came to us with guidance
which Allah had guided him
everyone is guided through
their love of Muhammad
Does a Kafir say this? He accepts Musa and he accepts Isa? A Kafir says Mohammad’s mission is from Allah? Next stanza:
Allah has honored the Prophet Muhammad
And the most honorable of Human beings is Muhammad
Allah ripped apart from his name Mehmood
and gave it to Muhammad
A Kafir says this?
By God they will never reach you, their whole gang
Untill I have dust completely covering my face
So go ahead with your mission
You are under my eyes
You invited me and knew that I was a guide to you
And you invited me and knew that I was trustworthy with you
And you invited me because you knew that I knew
that Islam was the greatest religion in the eyes of Allah
These are not the words of a Kafir..
The Sunni references being:
Al Muhabil Dunya, volume 1 page 72
Balughul Adaab, volume 1 page 327
Sunni al Mutalib, page 5
Tabaqat of Ibn Sa’ad, volume 1 page 123
Finally, can someone be a Mo’min without formally announcing it, as in can they be a Muslim in Taqiyya. Look no further than the Qur’an:
First we’ll see it’s permission in the Qur’an on a Muslim:
16:106: He who disbelieves in Allah after his having believed, not he who is compelled while his heart is at rest on account of faith, but he who opens (his) breast to disbelief– on these is the wrath of Allah, and they shall have a grievous chastisement.
Clear permission to use it. Now is there in an example in the Qur’an of what Abu Talib did? Let’s see down below:
Qur’an 40:28: And a believing man of Firon’s people who hid his faith said: What! will you slay a man because he says: My Lord is Allah, and indeed he has brought to you clear arguments from your Lord? And if he be a liar, on him will be his lie, and if he be truthful, there will befall you some of that which he threatens you (with); surely Allah does not guide him who is extravagant, a liar.
Like that man was to Musa, Abu Talib was to the Prophet.
Therefor we conclude, after having have brought counter arguments and refutations, and then Hadith with good standings (from Sunni books), and then final evidence from the Qur’an. Without a doubt, Abu Talib lived and died a Muslim.
We send peace and blessings on the Prophet and all members of his family including his uncle Abu Talib, the benefactor of Islam.