Abuṭālib, The Believer of the Quraysh

Abuṭālib, The Believer of the Quraysh

Abuṭālib was born eight decades before Hijrah and 35 years before the ʻĀm al-FīlHis father was ʻAbdulmuṭṭalib and his mother was Fatimah, the daughter of ʻAmr ibn ʻĀ’idh al-Makhzūmī. Abuṭālib and the Prophet’s father, Abdullah, were both born to the same father and mother.‌

Abuṭālib, The Believer of the Quraysh


Abuṭālib’s Demise, Rajab 26th

The uprising of the Prophet of Islam (s) against polytheistic beliefs and superstitions which had taken over the pre-Islamic Arab community was a comprehensive movement in nature.

Nevertheless, those baseless beliefs and superstitions were what guaranteed the interests of many of the Arab notables and powerful figures of that backward community. Naturally, the Prophet’s uprising against those baseless and superstitious beliefs would endanger the interests of many powerful individuals in that community.

This was why the wealthy and the powerful began fighting the Prophet of God (s) by any means that they could afford. On the contrary, there were some people who sacrificed all of their wealth and their great reputation in that community to support the Holy Prophet (s) and his lofty purposes and objectives. One of the greatest of such noble individuals was Abuṭālib, the Prophet’s uncle.


Who was Abuṭālib?

Abuṭālib was born eight decades before Hijrah and 35 years before the ʻĀm al-Fīl[1].[2] His father was ʻAbdulmuṭṭalib and his mother was Fatimah, the daughter of ʻAmr ibn ʻĀ’idh al-Makhzūmī.[3] Abuṭālib and the Prophet’s father, Abdullah, were both born to the same father and mother.[4]

The name “Abuṭālib” was, in fact, his epithet and his real name was ʻAbdimanāf; however, he was most commonly known as Abuṭālib.[5] There are some historical accounts which indicate that his real name was ʿImran, but these accounts are considered to be without sound historical basis by the historians.[6]

Abuṭālib was a merchant whose business was in perfume and wheat,[7] and he was one of the most famous figures and nobles of the Quraysh tribe and of the city of Mecca.

Ibn Abilḥadīd writes the following about Abuṭālib: “Abuṭālib and his father ʻAbdulmuṭallib were the chiefs of the Quraysh and the heads of the city of Mecca. They would direct the affairs of the Meccans, the travelers visiting this historical city and those making pilgrimage to the Kaʻbah.”[8]

Imam Ali (‘a) has been quoted as saying the following regarding his father, Abuṭālib: “Although my father did not have much wealth, he would direct the affairs of people with dignity and no poor person before him had ever risen to such a position.[9]

As regards Abuṭālib’s generosity, historical accounts indicate that on the days that he would feed the poor and the needy, no one else in Mecca would j o i n him [as he gave out so much food that there remained no hungry person for anyone else to feed].[10]

The history references indicate that Abuṭālib had the dignity and wisdom of the wise and the grandeur of kings. The Arab noble figure, Aktham ibn Ṣayfī once said of him: “Abuṭālib enjoyed all the great virtues of wisdom, headship, and modesty.”[11] Due to his exceptional tact and influence on the Quraysh, he was frequently chosen as arbiter and judge by conflicting factions and clans. There is also historical evidence indicating that Abuṭālib was the first person who put forward the Qasāmah initiative which was a sort of finding the murderer of a murdered person guilty through the oaths taken by the heirs of the murdered person.[12] This tradition was later also endorsed by Islam and was adopted as a part of Islamic jurisprudence.[13]


Abuṭālib’s Full Support for the Prophet of Islam all throughout His Life

Abuṭālib’s support for the Prophet (s) did not begin after his prophethood; Abuṭālib was the Prophet’s guardian and protector since he was a small boy and he remained his greatest support until the end of his life, despite all the pressures that were brought to bear on him by the polytheists of Mecca.

Abdullah, Prophet Muhammad (s)’s father, had passed away before he was born; the Prophet later lost his mother when he was only six or seven years old. The, when he was only eight years old his guardian and caretaker, ʻAbdulmuṭṭalib also passed away. On his deathbed, ʻAbdulmuṭṭalib charged his son Abuṭālib with taking care of and protecting Prophet Muhammad (ṣ  ).[14] 

Abuṭālib loved his nephew, Prophet Muhammad (s) much more than his own children and he was extremely kind to him. According to an Islamic tradition, the Prophet (s) has been quoted as saying the following when he was given the news of the death of Fatimah bint Asad, Abuṭālib’s wife: “Today, my mother passed away!” He then went to her funeral, gave his own shirt for her to be shrouded in, and then went down in her grave and lied down for a moment in her final resting place. When the Prophet (s) was asked why he did that for her, he replied: “She was truly like a mother to me! She would first feed me even if no food remained afterwards for her own children. She would also keep me clean and neat all the time even though her own children wore shabby clothes. She was truly like a mother to me.[15]

Abuṭālib knew perfectly well that his nephew would be raised to the status of Prophethood long before he did. This is because, based on historical accounts, once when Abuṭālib was going on a business trip to the Levant, he took his then 12-year-old nephew, Muhammad (s), with him.

During that trip, he saw his nephew perform various miraculous actions. Moreover, on that trip, he and his caravan met with a Christian priest named Buḥayrā who had been busy praying to God in his church for long years. Buḥayrā was a famous priest who had a complete knowledge of the Old and the New Testaments and was visited by many of the trade caravans that passed by his church.

It is narrated that as Buḥayrā was welcoming the caravan, he suddenly noticed Muhammad (s) who was a boy of 12 at the time. After a long careful glance at him, Buḥayrā asked the caravan whose son he was and the people pointed to Abuṭālib.

When he turned to Abuṭālib, he explained that Muhammad was his nephew. Buḥayrā then explained to him that the boy was destined to a bright future and that he was to become the divinely-sent Prophet whose advent had been prophesied by the previous divine s c r i p tures. He also told Abuṭālib that he had read all of his physical and other characteristics in the past s c r i p tures![16]

But this encounter was not the only reason why Abuṭālib was sure that his nephew was to become an extremely influential person in the future; he had witnessed many strange and miraculous things done by his nephew and all of that evidence had convinced Abuṭālib of his immense spirituality and possible prophethood in the future.

For instance, history suggests that, one year a severe drought struck Mecca and the people had a hard time even feeding themselves. So Abuṭālib ordered that his nephew who was a small child at the time be brought forward. When he was given the baby boy, he hugged him and then stood before the Kaʻbah; then he threw the baby up in to the air and caught him three times and beseeched Allah imploring: “O’ Lord! Send down on us a bountiful and blessed rain for the sake of this child!”

Before long, thick clouds began to appear in the sky and a heavy rainfall began; it rained so much that the people were afraid that it could cause a flood that could damage the Kaʻbah and the Masjid al-Ḥarām. This clearly shows that Abuṭālib was sure that his dear nephew was to become a Prophet and this also explains his unshakable faith in Islam and Prophet Muhammad’s words later on.

Later, Abuṭālib composed a poem regarding these incidents, the contents of which were as follows:

His face is shining, and it rains because of him,

He is the protector of the orphans and the widows,

Those of the Bani-Hāshim who are in danger seek refuge with him,

And by his means they are blessed with all sorts of bounties.

He is the most astute of judges who never swerves from the path of justice,

And he is a fair distributor who never makes a mistake and wrong anyone when distributing things amongst the people.[17]

When the Prophet of Islam (s) first began calling people to Islam, Abuṭālib was among his first supporters and followers. Historical accounts indicate that, when Abuṭālib first learned that his son Ali (‘a), embraced Islam, he not only did not forbid him from following his new religion, but he told his son: “Follow your cousin’s religion, for he intends nothing but good for you.”[18]

It has also been narrated that once, when Abuṭālib saw his son Ali (‘a) performing Ṣalāt on the right side of the holy Prophet (s), he told his other son, Jaʻfart,: “Go and stand by the left side of your cousin [meaning the Prophet (s)] and perform Ṣalāt.”[19]

Not only did Abuṭālib do his utmost to protect and support the Prophet (s), he also encouraged others to do the same. For instance, when Abuṭālib learned that his brother Ḥamzah had also embraced Islam, he told him: “O’ Abu-Yaʻlā! Be steadfast regarding your faith in Muhammad’s religion and declare your faith openly and publicly. May God endue you with patience and with the opportunity to protect the one who has brought the truth from his Lord with determination. O’ Ḥamzah! Do not be a disbeliever! Indeed you made me happy telling me that you have embraced the faith [in Islam], so now help and aid the Prophet of Allah for the sake of Allah. Declare your true faith to the Quraysh and tell them that Muhammad is not a magician [but a Prophet of Allah].”[20]

An unbiased survey in to the history references clearly indicates that Abuṭālib fully supported the Prophet of Islam (s) in every possible way, despite the pressure and threats of the notables of the Quraysh. Although he was 75 when his nephew became a Prophet of Allah, he aided him in his mission and always voiced his support for the Prophet (s) in every meeting that he had with the chiefs of the Quraysh.[21]

Since the Prophet of Islam (s) was a member of the Bani-Hāshim which was a major clan of the Quraysh tribe, the notables and the powerful of the Quraysh, with the help of other influential figures who opposed the new religion, first tried to undermine the Prophet’s greatest support, Abuṭālib, .

This was why on the Yawm al-Indhār, which was the day the Prophet (s) made his call public to his fellow Bani-Hāshim members, some of the notables of the Bani-Hāshim including his other uncle, Abulahab, reproved Abuṭālib for supporting the Prophet (s). Then, when in that meeting the Prophet (s) announced that Ali (‘a) was his brother and successor, some of those arrogant people told Abuṭālib in derision: “It seems that Muhammad is ordering you to obey your own son!”[22]

Such behavior, however, did not make Abuṭālib hesitate to support the Holly Prophet; At the same meeting, when Abulahab interrupted the Prophet (s), objecting to his new religion, it was Abuṭālib who got up and defended the Prophet (s) and his faith.

As the Prophet (s) began to promote his religion more and more the pressure on Abuṭālib began to increase. According to the historical accounts, the chiefs of the Quraysh visited him three times and asked him to stop his nephew from spreading his religion.[23]

In the first meeting, Abuṭālib tried to decrease the tensions by not taking side with his nephew openly and he also tried to convince the chiefs of the veracity of his nephew’s statements. In the second meeting, the chiefs of the Quraysh demanded that Prophet Muhammad (s) be surrendered to them [to kill or banish him] and so even more pressure was brought to bear on Abuṭālib. This time, Abuṭālib informed the Prophet (s) about the dangers that threatened him.

In the third meeting, however, the polytheist chiefs of the Quraysh began objecting to Abuṭālib and threatening him and the Prophet (s). This time, Abuṭālib expressed his full support for Prophet Muhammad (s) and told him: “Go, my dear nephew, and be steadfast in carrying out your mission. Go and declare what you have to declare, for I swear to God that I shall not cease supporting you or surrender you [to these people] for anything.”[24]

At this point, the chiefs of the Quraysh could do nothing to harm the Prophet (s) because of Abuṭālib’s solid support of him. Therefore, they decided to make a pact with each other as well as the other tribes to completely boycott the Muslims and break their unity and resistance this way. Following this boycott, the Muslims were forced to settle in a region, which later came to be known as Shiʻb Abiṭālib, where the polytheists lay a siege to for three years from the year 7 after Biʻthah.[25]

During those three years of social and economic boycott, Abuṭālib was one of the people who gave out all they had to feed the people there.[26] Abuṭālib did not merely sacrificed his money and wealth, rather, during siege years, Abuṭālib stopped all of his other activities and made it his business to protect Prophet Muhammad (s). He helped build some lookout posts in the Shiʻb so that they might be given warning if the Quraysh decided to attack them. Moreover, he would change the place where the Prophet (s) slept every night, leaving his beloved son Ali (‘a) to sleep in his previous bed, in order to protect the Prophet (s) if the Quraysh decided to assassinate him in the middle of the night.[27] 

When, at the end of the three years, the Prophet (s) learned, through Divine Revelation, that the parchment holding the boycott declaration was eaten by termites, it was Abuṭālib who first went to the chiefs of Quraysh and gave them the news. He told them that if this news was not correct, he would hand Muhammad over to them.

The chiefs of the Quraysh accepted the deal and when they checked the parchment, they saw that what Prophet Muhammad (s) had prophesied was true and the parchment had been destroyed. So upon seeing this miracle, the boycott was lifted and the Bani-Hāshim and the rest of the Muslims left the siege in the year 10 after Biʻthah.[28] The fact that Abuṭālib told the chiefs of Quraysh with such confidence that this news was indeed true shows his unshakable faith in what the Prophet (s) said.

Abuṭālib’s presence in Mecca was a great protection for the Prophet (s) as he always prevented the polytheists of Mecca from harming him. One of the things that he did, when he was eighty years old, to further protect the Prophet (s) was that he gathered all the Bani-Hāshim and the descendants of ʻAbdulmuṭṭalib and asked them all to support the Prophet of Allah (s). Everyone present agreed to that and voiced their support for the Prophet (s) except his other uncle Abulahab.

When Abuṭālib saw that the Bani-Hāshim were so united in supporting the Prophet (s), he spoke to them about the merits and virtues of the Prophet (s) and his significance as the Prophet of Allah (s) in order to make them more determined in their decision.[29] 

Finally, when he was on his deathbed, Abuṭālib gathered the descendants of ʻAbdulmuṭṭalib and told them as his last will and testament: “You shall never find anything better than what Muhammad tells you and enj o i ns upon you; so follow and help him so that you may find the path to rectitude.[30]

Historical accounts indicate that he also said the following to Bani-Hāshim as he lays on his deathbed: “I ask you to be good to Muhammad … all of you the members of the Quraysh tribe … be his helpers and his supporting faction. I swear to Allah that no one follows him but that they will find true guidance, and anyone who accepts the guidance that he offers will be prosperous. If my time had not come to an end and my death could be postponed, I would still rather happily put myself in to hardship for him and protect him against dangers.[31]

According to Ibn Shahrāshūb, Abuṭālib wrote the following in a part of his last will:

I ask, as my last will, four people to support and protect the Prophet of all goodness: my son Ali, the chief of our people, Abbas, Ḥamzah, and Jaʻfar.[32]

But only after Abuṭālib’s demise did it become completely clear what a valuable support he was to the Prophet (s). After Abuṭālib passed away, the polytheists of Quraysh became audacious and insolent enough as to throw dust and the entrails of dead animals on the Prophet’s head as he passed through the alleys. They would also harass the Prophet (s) and his followers when they stood up to prayer. It is narrated that the Prophet (s) said the following in this regard: “The polytheists of Quraysh could not do anything to hurt or offend me as long as my uncle Abuṭālib was alive. But once he passed away, they offended and harassed me in all sorts of ways.[33] 


The Prophet’s Great Respect and Gratitude for Abuṭālib

The Prophet (s) had great affection for Abuṭālib due to his long years of support for him, and he would always speak of him with respect. A short while after the siege was lifted and the Muslims left Shiʻb Abiṭālib, both Abuṭālib and the Prophet’s great wife, the lady Khadijah, both passed away, in the same year.

Following the demise of these two great supporters, the conditions became so unbearable in Mecca for the Prophet (s) that he named that year “ʻĀmm al-Ḥuzn”,(the year of sorrow).[34] It was during those hard times that Gabriel came to the Prophet (s), announcing Allah’s order: “Now it is time that you left Mecca, because your protector and supporter has passed away.[35]

But perhaps the best picture of the unique position that Abuṭālib held in the heart of the Prophet (s) is depicted by what the Prophet (s) said when he first saw the body of his uncle after his death: “Dear uncle! I was a small child and you brought me up. I was an orphan and you took me under your care, and then you supported me when I grew up. May Allah recompense you, on my behalf, with the best of rewards![36]

Historical references indicate that, on the day that Abuṭālib passed away, the Prophet (s) was deeply grieved and, as he was crying, he ordered Imam Ali (‘a) to give him the funeral Ghusl and shroud his body; then he prayed to Allah to have mercy on him.[37] Then, when the time came to bury him, the Prophet (s) said: “I shall pray to Allah for His forgiveness for you in such a way that would astonish man and jinn alike![38]

There are lots of historical narrations regarding what the Prophet (s) said about the great standing of Abuṭālib and the great affection and respect that he had for him. For instance, based on an Islamic tradition, once the Prophet (s) said the following to Jābir ibn Abdullah al-Anṣārī: “On my nightly journey to the heavens (Miʿrāj), I saw four rays of light. Then I heard Allah addressing me, saying: “These [lights] are [your grandfather]ʻAbdulmuṭṭalib, your uncle Abuṭālib, your father Abdullah, and your mother Āminah.”[39]

As regards the Prophet’s affection and respect for his uncle Abuṭālib, Muhammad ibn Saʻd and other great Sunni scholars have written the following: “It has been narrated that once the Prophet (s) said the following to ʻAqīl ibn Abiṭālib: “I like you for two reasons: first because you are my blood relative and second because I know that my uncle [and your father] Abuṭālib loved you a lot.””[40]


Abuṭālib’s Faith

Unfortunately, some Muslim scholars have completely disregarded the abundant amount of evidence regarding Abuṭālib’s great sacrifices in the cause of Islam and his support for the Prophet (s) as well as his religion all throughout his life, and have accused that great man of being a disbeliever and a polytheist!

Of course, an abundant number of rebuttals have been provided all throughout history by the Shiʿa and Sunni scholars to these ridiculous accusations, some of which have even been compiled and published in the form of whole books. The following are some of these works:

  1. “Asnā al-Maṭālib fi Najāt Abiṭālib” written by Ahmad Zayni Daḥlān, the Shafiʻī Mufti of the holy city of Mecca.
  2. “Īmān Abiṭālib” written by al-Shaykh al-Mufid.
  3. “Al-Ḥujjah ʻalā al-Dhāhib ilā Takfir Abiṭālib” written by Sayyid Fakhkhār ibn Maʻd.
  4. “Munyah al-Ṭālib fi Īmān Abiṭālib” written by Sayyid Hossein Tabā’tabāī Yazdi Hā’eri.
  5. “Bughyah al-Ṭālib fi Īmān Abiṭālib” written by Sayyid Mohammad Abbas Tustari Hindi.
  6. “Maqṣad al-Ṭālib fi Īmān Ābā’ al-Nabi wa ʻAmmah Abiṭālib”, written by Mirza Hossein Gorgāni.
  7. “Muny al-Ṭālib fi Īmān Abiṭālib” written by Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Ḥussain Khazāʻī Neyshābūrī.
  8. “Al-Qawl al-Wājib fi Īmān Abiṭālib”, written by Shaykh Muhammad Ali Faṣīḥ Hindi.
  9. “Munyah al-Rāghib fi Īmān Abiṭālib”, written by Mohammadreza Tabasi Najafi.
  10. “Mawāhib al-Wāhib fi Faḍā’il Abiṭālib”, written by Shaykh Ja’far Naqdi.
  11. “Abuṭālib, Mu’min Quraysh” by Abdullah ibn Ali al-Khunayzi.


The Evidence of Abuṭālib’s Fiath in Islam

With regard to this issue, Ibn Abilḥadīd al-Muʻtazili writes: “There are lots of historical accounts, related through various different chains of narrators, indicating that Abbas ibn ʻAbdulmuṭṭalib and Abubakr ibn Abi-Quḥāfah said that Abuṭālib had pronounced the statement of faith and converted to Islam before he died. There is a well-known narrative indicating that, when Abuṭālib was on his deathbed, he asked his brother Abbas to come close to him and then he whispered something to him and he listened carefully.”[41]

Another piece of evidence regarding the fact that Abuṭālib was indeed a believer and a Muslim comes from the various poems that he composed; An example is a poem of his composition in which he described Prophet Muhammad (s) as follows:

We found Muhammad a prophet like Moses,

A Prophet who has been explicitly named in all of the past s c r i p tures.[42]

In another similar poem, Abuṭālib described Prophet Muhammad for the king of Ḥabashah, who had granted a number of Muslim people asylum to save them from the harassment of the polytheists of Quraysh. The contents of this poem are as follows:

He must know that Muhammad is the best of people,

And that he is the vizier of prophets Moses and Jesus.

He brought us guidance, like the guidance brought by those two prophets,

So they all guide by Allah’s command and they all are preserved [by Allah],

The servants of Allah are fond of him,

And this affection toward him is to be expected for he who Allah has blessed with his special favor and mercy.[43]

Another proof as to Abuṭālib’s faith in Islam is the fact that he so firmly and unwaveringly supported and protected the Prophet (s), and that he made all kinds of sacrifices in the cause of his faith, some of the instances of which were discussed above. Abuṭālib would normally announce what he did for the Prophet (s) by composing poems; the contents of some of those poems are as follows:

O’ the All-seeing Lord! You be my witness that I am a follower of the religion of my Prophet Ahmad (s)![44]

Indeed Allah favored His prophet Muhammad, so the most honorable of Allah’s servants among all people and the best one among the Bani-Hāshim is Ahmad. He is the one who has been sent by Allah within a span void of prophets.[45]

I have aided the Messenger of the Lord, and I shall go on supporting the Prophet of Allah, like a caring supporter, with my sword that will come down like lightening.[46]

There is also a very famous Arabic ode known as “Qaṣīdah Lāmiyyah”, composed by Abuṭālib, in which he has described himself as follows:

Never have I listened to the reproachers, nor have I ever inclined toward unfaith and transgression.[47]

In yet another composition of his, he has addressed the Prophet (s), saying:

Dear nephew! So long as Abuṭālib lives and has not rested in his grave, your enemies shall not get their hands on you.

So fear nothing and carry out your Mission, proclaim what you have to proclaim, and awaken the people and open their eyes.

You also called me to your creed and I know well that your purpose in so doing has been only to admonish and awaken me.

You are true and honest in your call and I have come to know that Muhammad’s creed and religion is the best of creeds and religions.[48]

Ibn Abilḥadīd has related, yet, another famous poem, composed by Abuṭālib, in which he addressed the Prophet (s) as follows:

You are the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad,

And you are the honorable, shining, and master over all chiefs, masters, and the munificent who are the descendants of the righteous and the pure.

How noble is your ancestry, seeing as you are a descendant of ʻAmr [i.e. Hāshim], who was extremely generous and uniquely magnanimous.[49]

After relating the above-mentioned poems as well as some other poems of Abuṭālib’s composition, Ibn Abilḥadīd writes: “Although not every single of these poems have been related frequently (mutawātir), yet they all are in common in conveying one message which is Abuṭālib acknowledged Prophet Muhammad’s (s) religion and so this content counts as mutawātir.[50]

Another piece of evidence which proves that Abuṭālib was indeed a Muslim believer can be found in the Marriage Sermon delivered in the wedding ceremony of the lady Khadijah and Prophet Muhammad (s). The Marriage Sermon of the wedding the lady Khadijah and Prophet Muhammad (s) was given by Abuṭālib.

In the beginning of this sermon, Abuṭālib praised Allah using phrases only monotheists use in regard to Allah; he also called himself a descendant and follower of prophets Ibrahim (‘a) and Ismail (‘a).[51] In addition, how can those who believe that Abuṭālib was a polytheist accept that the Marriage Sermon of the lady Khadijah and the Prophet’s wedding was delivered by a polytheist?!!

Another piece of evidence in this regard is the Prophet’s relations and his remarks about Abuṭālib in which he expressed his affection for his uncle. Years before the demise of Abuṭālib, the Prophet of Islam (s) was encharged by Allah to cut his ties and relations with the polytheists. However, the fact that even after this Divine command the Prophet (s) expressed his affection to his uncle Abuṭālib indicates that he believed that his uncle was a monotheist. If Abuṭālib had not been a monotheist, then how could the Prophet (s) prohibit his followers from having any ties or relations with the polytheists while he himself expressed so much affection and kindness to Abuṭālib?![52]

In any case, the fact that Abuṭālib was a monotheist and a believer is not something which can be refuted by the denial or the baseless arguments of some people. It should also be noted that there are a lot of traditions from the Infallible Imams (‘a) confirming the fact that Abuṭālib was indeed a monotheist.

An example of such traditions is the following remarks, related from Imam Ali (‘a): “I swear to Allah that my father [Abuṭālib], my grandfather ʻAbdulmuṭṭalib, and my great-grandfather Hāshim, and my noble ancestor ʻAbdimanāf never worshiped any idols.

The Imam (‘a) was then asked that if they had not been idol-worshippers, then what religion they had had. The Imam (‘a) replied: “They performed Ṣalāt in the direction of the Kaʻbah, as they were followers of prophet Ibrahim’s creed.[53]

Similarly, Imam al-Sajjād (‘a) has been quoted as saying: “I am amazed [at the accusations that some level at Abuṭālib seeing as] Allah the Almighty prohibited His prophet from allowing any Muslim woman to remain the wife of a polytheist, but Fatimah bint Asad, who was among the first Muslim women, remained Abuṭālib’s wife until the end of his life.[54]

Imam al-Bāqir (‘a) has also been quoted as saying: “If Abuṭālib’s faith were to be compared to those of the people of our time, his faith would be much greater than all of their faiths combined![55]

Imam al-Ṣādiq (‘a) has likewise been narrated to have said: “Indeed the Companions of the Cave concealed their faith and pretended to be disbelievers [as they lived in a disbelieving community and were threatened by them], so Allah gave them two rewards [for their hardship]. Indeed Abuṭālib likewise concealed his faith and pretended to be a polytheist, so Allah granted him two rewards [one for his true faith, and the other for his troubles in dissimulating his true faith.][56]

According to yet, another tradition from the Imam (‘a), he said the following to the people who did not consider Abuṭālib to have been a believer: “The enemies of Allah lie [about Abuṭālib]; indeed, Abuṭālib is a companion of the Prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the righteous, and these are indeed the best of companions.[57]

The Imam (‘a) has also been quoted as saying: “I swear to Allah that Imam Ali (‘a) had some people perform the Hajj pilgrimage on behalf of the Prophet’s parents and also on behalf of Abuṭālib and he also instructed his legal guardians in his last will to continue doing that even after his death.[58]  

There is another Islamic tradition, narrated from Imam al-Kāẓim (‘a), which indicates that Abuṭālib had had a close standing with the Prophet (s), much like his legal guardian. The tradition indicates that Durust ibn Abu-Manṣūr asked Imam al-Kāẓim (‘a) the following: “Did Abuṭālib have Wilāyah[59] over the Prophet of Allah (s)?” The Imam (‘a) replied: “No, but he had some last wills and testaments entrusted with him which he gave to the Prophet (s)”.

The man then went on and asked the Imam (‘a): “Did Abuṭālib give the Prophet (s) those wills and testaments because he had Wilāyah over the Prophet?”

The Imam (‘a) answered: “If Abuṭālib had Wilāyah over the Prophet (s) he would not need to give him those last wills and testaments.

The man further asked: “So was Abuṭālib a believer or a disbeliever?”

The Imam (‘a) replied: “He believed in the Prophet (s) and all that he had brought [i.e. the Divine Revelations], and he gave those wills and testaments to the Prophet (s) right before he passed away.[60]



The different pieces of evidence presented above, as well as an abundant number of others which could not all be included in this short paper, leave no doubt that Abuṭālib was indeed a monotheist and a believer.

Given this compelling body of evidence, it comes as a great surprise that some still stubbornly persist in trying to level accusations of polytheism and disbelief at him! How could a person who wholeheartedly supported the Prophet of Islam (s) and his cause, constantly putting himself and his son in danger to protect the Prophet (s), still be accused of such things?!

Some astute researchers have guessed that this rather suspicious amount of accusations against Abuṭālib has been a political trail left by the vicious Umayyads in order to defame Imam Ali (‘a), whom they spitefully hated, because Abuṭālib was Imam Ali’s father. Interestingly, a survey through the history of Islam reveals that it has not been only Abuṭālib who has been targeted by such accusations, but in fact anyone who was close to Imam Ali (‘a) has been somehow targeted by similar cowardly accusations and slanders.

In other words, it was not Abuṭālib whom the spiteful Umayyads sought to defame; it was Imam Ali (‘a) that they sought to vilify and Abuṭālib only happened to be Imam Ali’s father![61] 

This is while any fair and unbiased person who studies the history without prejudice[62] will come to the same conclusion as the one expressed by Ibn Abilḥadīd, the renowned Muslim scholar and the commentator of the book Nahj al-Balāghah; he writes in his book: “Had it not been for Abuṭālib and his great son [meaning Imam Ali (‘a)], no trace of Islam would have been left and the religion would never have taken root. Abuṭālib supported the Prophet (s) and his cause in Mecca and Imam Ali (‘a) constantly put himself in mortal danger to protect Islam in Yathrib [i.e. Medina].”[63]






[2] Ibn Saʻd al-Baghdadi, Abu-Abdullah. Al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā. Researched by: Iḥsān Abbas. Pub: Dār al-Ṣādir, Beirut. 1st ed., 1968, vol. 1, p. 125.

[3] Al-Ṭabari, Muhammad ibn Jarīr. Tārīkh al-Rusul wa al-Mulūk. Pub: Dār al-Turāth al-ʻArabi, Beirut. 2nd ed., 1387 Ah., vol. 2, p. 239.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, vol. 1, p. 121.

[6] Ibn ʻAnbah, Jamāliddin Ahmad ibn Ali al-Ḥusayni. ʻUmdah al-Ṭālib fi Ansāb Āl Abiṭālib. Pub: Ansarian publication, Qom. 3rd ed., 1427 Ah., p. 22.

[7] Ibn Qutaybah Dinwari, Abdullah ibn Muslem. Al-Maʻārif. Research: Thirwat ʻAkāshah. Pub: Al-Hay’ah al-Miṣriyyah al-ʻĀmmah lil Kitāb, Cairo. 2nd ed., 1992, p. 575.

[8] Yaʻq1ūbī, Ahmad ibn Isḥāq. Tārīkh Yaʻqūbī. Pub: Dār Ṣādir, Beirut. Vol. 2, p. 13.

[9] Ibid, p. 14.

[10] Al-Bilādhari, Ahmad ibn Yaḥya ibn Jābir. Jumal min Ansāb al-Ashrāf. Researched by: Suheyl Zakār al-Zarkali. Pub: Dār al-Fikr, Beirut. 1st ed., 1417, vol. 2, p. 23.

[11] Qomi, Shaykh Abbas. Al-Kuny wa al-Alqāb. The electronic version of Madrisah Fiqāhat. Vol. 1, pp. 108-109.

[12] Ibn Abilḥadīd, ʻAbdulḥamid ibn Hibatullah. Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah Ibn Abilḥadīd. Researched/revised by: Ibrahim, Muhammad Abulfaḍl. pub: Maktabah Ayatollah Al-Marʻashi al-Najafi, Qom. 1st ed., 1404 Ah., vol. 15, p. 219.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Al-Masʻūdī, Ali ibn Ḥussayn. Murūj al-Dhahab wa Maʻādin al-Jawhar. Researched by: ʻAbdulḥamid, Muhammad Muḥy al-Dinn. Pub: Dār al-Maʻrifah, Beirut. Vol. 2, p. 281. 

[15] Tārīkh al-Yaʻqūbī, ibid, vol. 2, p. 14.

[16] For more information, refer to: Ibn Hishām al-Ḥimyarī, Abu-Muhammad Abdulmalik. Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah. Researched by: Muhammad Muḥy al-Dinn ʻAbduḥamid. Pub: Maktabah Muhammad Ali Ṣabīḥ wa Awlādah, Cairo. Vol. 1, p. 116.

[17] Amīnī, Abdulhossein. Al-Ghadir fi al-Kitāb wa al-Sunnah wa al-Adab. The electronic version of Madrisah Fiqāhat. Vol. 7, p. 346.

[18] Jumal min Ansāb al-Ashrāf. Ibid, vol. 1, p. 133.

[19] Ibn Athīr, ʻIzziddin. Usd al-Ghābah. Pub: Dār al-Fikr, Beirut. 1409 Ah., vol. 1, p. 341.

[20] Ibn Shahrāshūb Mazandarani, Rashididdin Muhammad ibn Ali. Manāqib Āl Abiṭālib. Pub: Al-Maṭbaʻah al-Ḥaydariyyah, Najaf. Vol. 1, p. 56.

[21] Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah. Ibid, vol. 1, pp. 172-173.

[22] Tārīkh al-Rusul wa al-Mulūk, ibid, vol. 2, p. 321.

[23] For more information refer to: Al-Mursi, Abu al-Ḥassan Ali bin Ismail ibn Sayyidah al-Mursi. Al-Muḥkam wa Al-Muḥiṭ al-Aʻẓam. Researched by: al-Hanāwī, ʻAbdulḥamid. Pub: Dār al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyyah, Beirut. 1st ed., 1421 Ah., vol. 2, p. 343.

[24] Ibn Athīr, ʻIzziddin. Al-Kāmil fi al-Tārīkh. Researched by: Umar ʻAbdussalām al-Tadmuri. Pub: Dār al-Kitāb al-ʻArabi, Beirut. 1997, vol. 1, p. 622.

[25] Al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā. Ibid, vol. 1m p. 188.

[26] Tārīkh Yaʻqūbī. Ibid, vol. 2, p. 31.

[27] Makarem Shirazi, Naser. Tafsir Nemūneh. Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah, Tehran. 10th ed., 1371 Sh., vol. 5, pp. 197-198.

[28] Al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā. Ibid, vol. 1, pp. 188-189.

[29] Tārīkh al-Rusul wa al-Mulūk. Ibid, vol. 2, p. 327.

[30] Ibn al-Jawzi, Abu al-Faraj. Al-Muntaẓam fi Tārīkh al-Umam wa al-Mulūk. Pub: Dār al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyyah. Vol. 3, p. 9.

[31] Ṣāliḥī Shāmī, Muhammad ibn Yusuf. Subul al-Hudā wa al-Rishād fi Sīrah Khayr al-ʻIbād. Research and commentary by: Al-Shaykh ʻĀdil Ahmad ʻAbd al-Mawjūd and Al-Shaykh Ali Muhammad Muʻawwaḍ. Pub: Dār al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyyah, Beirut. 1993, vol. 2, p. 429.

[32] Ibn Shahrāshūb Māzandarani, Rashididdin, Muhamamd ibn Ali. Mutashābih al-Quran wa Mukhtalifah. Pub: Dār al-Baydār linashr, Qom. 1369 Sh., vol. 2, p. 65.

[33] Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah. Ibid, vol. 2, p. 283.

[34] Ṭabarsi, Faḍl ibn Ḥassan. Iʻlām al-Warā bi Aʻlām al-Hudā. Pub: Tār al-Kutub Islāmiyyah, Tehran. 3rd ed., 1390 Sh., p. 10.

[35] Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah li Ibn Abelḥadīd. Ibid, vol. 14, p. 70.

[36] Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah li Ibn Abelḥadīd. Ibid, vol. 14, p. 70.

[37] Ibid, p. 76.

[38] Majlisi, Mohammad Baqir ibn Mohammad Taqi. Biḥār al-Anwār. Pub: Dār Iḥyā’ al-Tirāth al-ʻArabi, Beirut. 2nd ed., 1403 Ah., vol. 35, p. 163.

[39] Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah li Ibn Abelḥadīd. Ibid, vol. 14, p. 70.

[40] Fattāl Neysaburi, Mohammad ibn Ḥassan. Rawḍah al-Wāʻiẓīn. The electronic version of the library of Madrisah Fiqāhat. Vol. 1, p. 81.

[41] Al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā. Ibid, vol. 4, p. 43.

[42] Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah li Ibn Abelḥadīd. Ibid, vol. 14, p. 71.

[43] Jumal min Ansāb al-Ashrāf. Ibid, vol. 3, p. 99.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah li Ibn Abelḥadīd. Ibid, vol. 14, p. 78.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Al-Mufid, Muhammad ibn Muhammad. Īmān Abuṭālib. Journal of al-Shaykh al-Mufid Congress, Qom, p. 18.

[49] Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah li Ibn Abilḥadīd. Ibid, vol. 14, p. 55.

[50] Ibid, vol. 14, p. 77.

[51] Ibid, vol. 14, p. 78.

[52] Al-Ālūsī, Shihābiddin Maḥmūd ibn Abdullah. Rawḥ al-Maʻānī fi Tafsir al-Quran al-ʻAẓīm wa al-Sabʻ al-Mathānī. Researched by: Ali ʻAbdulbārī ʻAṭiyyah. Pub: Dār al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyyah, Beirut. 1st ed., 1415 Ah., vol. 9, p. 251.

[53] Makarem Shirazi, Naser. Yeksado Hashtād Porsesho Pāsokh. Compiled and edited by: Hosseini, Sayyid Hossein. Pub: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah, Theran. 4th ed., 1386 Sh., p. 631.

[54] Al-Ṣadūq, Ibn Bābweyh Muhammad ibn Ali. Kamāl al-Dinn. Researched/revised by: Ghaffārī, Ali Akbar. Pub: Islāmiyyah Pub., Tehran. 2nd ed., 1395 Sh., vol. 1, p. 174.

[55] Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah li Ibn Abelḥadīd. Ibid, vol. 14, p. 69.

[56] Ibid, p. 68.

[57] Ibid, p. 70.

[58] Al-Ghadīr, ibid, vol. 7, p. 393.

[59] Meaning to be superior to another person because of having a higher spiritual rank compared to them.

[60] Biḥār al-Anwār, ibid, vol. 35, p. 112.

[61] Al-Kulayni, Muhammad ibn Yaʻqūb. Al-Kāfī. Researched/revised by: Ghaffāri, Ali Akbar. Pub: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah, Tehran. 5th ed., 1363 Sh., vol. 1, p. 445.

[62] Yeksad Porsesho Pāsokh, ibid, p. 631.

[63] Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah li Ibn Abilḥadīd. Ibid, vol. 14, p. 70.


Keywords : Rajab 26th Demise Abutalib