Abd al Mutallib ibne Hashim
His given name was Aamir and Abul Harith the Kunyat. At birth he had some gray hair in the middle of his head. In Arabia graying of hair is called shaib. Therefore Abd al Mutallib was called with the sobriquet of Shaiba and Shaibat al Hamd. His father, Hashim, expired while on a journey to Syria. The child was deprived of the paternal love and affection. He grew to the age of seven or eight years in his maternal home in Madina.
In Arabia, those days, skill in riding and martial arts like archery and lancing was a necessity. Shaiba too used to practice archery in his childhood. Once he was doing his archery lessons in an open ground at Yathrib along with other children. Whenever he hit the target during the session, he would shout,” Ana ibne Syed al Batha – I am the son of the chief of Batha!” A person from the family of Banu Harith chanced to pass that way. When he heard the child utter these words he asked about his name and that of his parent. The child said that his name was Shaibat al Hamd son of Hashim ibne Abd Munaf. The person returned to Makka and related the entire incident to Shaiba’s uncle Mutallib. Mutallib said that it was a grave oversight from him that he didn’t care for his nephew. Therefore he instantly proceeded to Yathrib to fetch Shaiba home. He went to the neighborhood of Bani Najjar where he found some children at play in the street. One of these children was Shaiba. He immediately recognized him. He however asked some men of Bani Najjar about the identity of the child. The men too recognized him as Mutallib, the uncle of Shaiba. They asked him if he wanted to take Shaiba to his rightful home. When he replied in the affirmative, they suggested to him to take him away immediately and that they would not create any hindrance in this matter. They said that if Shaiba’s mother came to know about the purpose of his visit and raised any objections, then the Bani Najjar would be forced to prevent him from taking away the child. Mutallib made his camel squat down, and told to Shaiba, “I am your uncle. Come and sit on this camel!” Shaiba complied without any hesitation and Mutallib brought him to Makka. When they entered the ramparts of Makka and the Qureish noticed a child riding the camel with Mutallib, they shouted,”Haada Abd al Mutallib – there comes the slave of Mutallib!” Mutallib told them that the child was not a slave and that he was the son of his brother Hashim. But the people started calling Shaiba by the name of Abd al Mutallib.
Those days there was neither a school nor the people were much in the habit of reading and writing. There weren’t more than three or four literate persons in Makka. Abd al Mutallib, though devoid of parental care, learned to read and write and acquired proficiency in the Arab Martial Skills. Some of his writings go to prove this point. Ibne Nadim writes thus:
“In the treasury of Mamoon there was a leather tablet on which was a document penned by Abd al Mutallib ibne Hashim making a claim with a Hamairi.
Ref: Fehrist Ibne Nadim, Page 13
In addition to his proficiency in the various martial and other skills, he possessed an impressive personality and was tall and strong. Ibne Abbas says:
“I have heard my father say that Abd al Mutallib was tall, handsome and good looking. Whoever looked at him, started liking him.” Ref: Tareeq al Islam Zahbi, Page 37
After Hazrat Hashim, according to his will, Mutallib was the chief of the Qureish and held all the positions connected with the Kaaba. He had a desire to hand over all these responsibilities to Abd al Mutallib during his lifetime only. Therefore, when he thought of going to Yemen, he told to Abd al Mutallib that he was the heir to his father’s inheritance and that he was now capable of handling the responsibilities. He then handed over all the affairs to Abd al Mutallib and proceeded to Yemen and expired there at a place called Rooman.
Abd al Mutallib had all the qualities of head and heart to be a good ruler. After assuming charge, he gave attention to improving the administration of the departments of Saqaya and Rafada. The Spring of Zamzam, that was buried deep underground for centuries, was restored to its pristine position and yielded plenty of sweet water for the pilgrims. Zamzam had disappeared from the sight of the Arabs that they had started calling it Taktam that means something that is upset and hiding from the view. Therefore, Allama Zamakhshari, explaining the reason for the use of the term Taktam says:
“After Bani Jarham, the spring of Zamzam was lost deep in the ground till Abd al Mutallib could make it re-appear. “”
Ref: Faaeq, Vol 1, Page 146
In brief, when the former rulers of Makka, Bani Jarham, were forced to go into exile under the pressure of Bani Qaza-aa, their chief, Umro ibne Harith Jarhami, buried the two golden antelopes gifted by Isfandiar ibne Gashtasab, the seven swords that were the offerings for the Kaaba and the five chains of armor in the Spring of Zamzam and put huge quantities of stones and rubble over it that it was difficult to identify the location of the spring. He then migrated with his tribesmen to Yemen. Much later Abd al Mutallib got a vision of it’s location in his dream. He surveyed the location of the spring according to the indication he had from the vision. After three days of hard labor they noticed the signs of the spring. At this juncture he shouted the praises of Almighty Allah. After a little more excavation, the water gushed out from the spring. The treasure buried by Harith too was recovered.
The Qureish, who were lukewarm about this activity so far, gathered around Abd al Mutallib, and started claiming that the treasure discovered was the property of their ancestors and that they must be given half of it. Abd al Mutallib told them that the discovery was the result of his own hard work and that they had no right over it. Even then, he offered, that if they wished, a decision could be arrived at by drawing lots. The Qureish agreed.to the proposal and the contestants of the lottery were the Kaaba, the Querish and Abd al Mutallib. The Golden Antelopes went to the lot of the Kaaba, and the chains of arm and the swords went to the lot of Abd al Mutallib. The Qureish got but nothing! Abd al Mutallib sold the swords and the chains of arm to get a gold studded door made for the Kaaba. The golden antelopes too were melted for studding the door. Ibne Athir writes:
“This was the first occasion when the door of Kaaba was studded with gold.”
Ref: Tareeq e Kaamil, Vol 2, Page 8.
When the Qureish failed in acquiring these things, they claimed that they had a prorietal right in the Spring of Zamzam. Abd al Mutallib said that the spring was revived with his personal efforts and Allah had granted it only to him. He offered to them that they were free to draw water from it, but there was no question of conceding any property rights to them. But the Qureish were adamant with their claims. Ultimately it was decided to go to the Hermit of Bani Saad in Syria to resolve this issue. Both the contesting
parties were willing to accept her decision. Abd al Mutallib agreed to this proposal and along with a few companions and a contingent of the Qureish proceeded to Syria. They were still on the way when the water containers of Abd al Mutallib and his companions ran dry. They asked the Qureish to give them some water. The Qureish refused saying that their supply itself was scant. When the thirst became unbearable for Abd al Mutallib and his companions, he told his men to dig a grave for every individual so that whoever died, the others bury him. In the end only one person will remain dead without a grave and it would be better than all lying dead, unburied, in the desert. The thirsty group complied, and everyone dug a grave for himself. Abd al Mutallib thought that sitting idle without making any effort for water was not right. He asked his men to scatter in different directions and search for water. Saying this he mounted his she-camel. No sooner the camel lifted its foot, sweet and clear water gushed out from that spot. The companions of Abd al Mutallib jumped for joy. They drank their fill and took supplies in their water containers. When the Qureish witnessed this scene, they said that Allah Himself had resolved their dispute. As he had provided water to Abd al Mutallib in the stark desert, He has also given the Spring of Zamzam to him! They said that they no more needed to go to the Hermit for advice. Both the contesting parties, therefore, returned to Makka from there. Although the Spring of Zamzam had its origins during the times of Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) its renaissance was during the rule of Abd al Mutallib. Other wells too were excavated in Makka during the period of Abd al mutallib, but the copious yield of water that the Spring gave was not matched by any other source. The inhabitants of Makka and the pilgrims preferred to draw water from it thinking that its use was felicitous. The spring, therefore, is also called Shaba-aa, that means the quencher! Even now hundreds of thousands of Hajis and pilgrims drink this water round the year and take away quantities to their homes. If this spring is a heritage left behind by Hazrat Ismail (a.s.), this can also be termed a legacy of Abd al Mutallib!
Ibn e Wazeh and other historians mention a similar event about the well at Taef. This well is known as Dual-Haram and was excavated by Abd al Mutallib with great effort. He used to travel to Taef occasionally and stay there for a few days. Once he noticed that some pers from Bani Kalab and Bani Rabab had pitched their tents and staying near the well. He asked who they were, and why they were halting at that place? They said that they were the owners of the well, Bani Kalab and Bani Rabab. Abd al Mutallib told them that the well was his and, if they wanted to use it, it could only be with his permission. The men again repeated their proprietary claims over the well. The argument thus prolonged. To cut the matter short, Abd al Mutallib proposed that if they wished they could nominate any person to arbitrate. They took the name of Satih Ghassani for the purpose who was a well known sooth-sayer ( Kaahin) of Arabia. They agreed that if the verdict goes against any party, it would give a hundred camels to the winner and twenty camels to Satih. Now they all proceeded towards the hermitage of Satih. Midway the water with Abd al Mutallib’s group got exhausted. He asked the men from the opposite camp to give some water. They said that the bone of contention between them was water only and they will not spare any of it from their stock. Abd al Mutallib said that he would not let his companions perish for want of water. He will go and search for water even if he lost his own life during the effort. Saying this he mounted his camel and went in one direction. After some distance his camel sat down on the desert ground. Looking from the place where the group was halting, the men thought that Abd al Mutallib had expired. But his companions said that he had gone for the noble purpose of searching water for his men and Allah will protect his life in such a situation. When some of the men reached the spot, they noticed that the camel was resting on cool and moist desert sand. And nearby water from a spring was flowing copiously. Bani Kalab and Bani Rabab emptied their water containers and wanted to take a refill of cool and fresh water. Abd al Mutallib’s companions tried to prevent them from taking the water.saying that they had refused to give them water when requested earlier. Abd al Mutallib asked his companions to allow the men to take the water. He said that nobody can be prevented from drinking the water. The two tribes were much impressed with Abd al Mutallib’s gesture but still held on to their demand for arbitration regarding the well. On reaching the place of Satih they tested the soothsayer in various ways. They asked him to tell them about the matter of dispute between the two contending groups. He said that they were quarreling about the well in Taef, by the name of Dual Haram, which belongs to Abd al Mutallib and Bani Kalab or Bani Rabab had no right over it. He asked them to give, as agreed, a hundred camels to Abd al Mutallib and twenty to him! They complied and withdrew their claim over the well.
On returning to Makka, Abd al mutallib announced that some of the residents had resolved that if he had lost in the arbitration, they would pool camels and settle the fine to be imposed on him. Now he asked the persons to take the number of camels each one has pledged to give from the flock received by him in terms of the arbitration. Persons came forward and took away camels in ones, twos and threes. Even after all this some camels were left undistributed. Abd al Mutallib asked his son Abu Talib to slaughter the camels and disburse the meat on the peak of Abu Khamees that the wild animals feasted on it. Abu Talib complied with his father’s command and uttered the following couplet:
We feed others! Even the birds feed on our leftovers!
The hands of persons shiver, who keep their bowls brimming full!
It was the practice of Abd al Mutallib that whatever food was left over, it was disbursed on the top of the hills to feed the wild birds there. Because of this, he was also known as Mat-aam al Tair (or the Feeder of the Birds). He always considered his moral duty to succor the poor and the needy. Once some persons from the tribe of Hazam came to Makka for Haj. While they were returning after the pilgrimage, one person of their group was murdered. As a ransom they withheld one Awad Hadafa ibne Ghanam Adadi. Awad saw Abd al Mutallib on the way and appealed to him for help. He inquired about the matter and asked them to release Hadafa and promised to give them 20 Awqia or 550 grams of gold as blood money and also ten camels and a horse. He also gave them his personal shawl to be kept
as a mortgage till the settlement was made as agreed. They took the shawl and released the captive who rode to Makka along with Abd al Mutallib. Release of Hadafa on the guarantee of an ordinary shawl was because of the high reputation of Abd al Mutallib. The Arabs also considered their honors compromised if they left their mortgaged things unreleased for long spells. Because of this custom amongst the Arabs, Khusro agreed to keep the bow of Hajib bin Zarara as a guarantee for his peaceful conduct. The story goes that with repeated periods of drought, the tribes of Bani Tameem wanted to go to the pastures of Iraq to graze their camels, Abu Zarara went to the court of Khusro to seek his permission. Khusro said that they were treacherous people and that they might create some dispute in his realm. Hajib said that he would stand guarantee for the good behavior of his people and offered his own bow as a surety. At this Khusro and his courtiers started laughing. But one of the courtiers said that the mortgage of the bow must be accepted.because the Arabs consider it a grave dishonor if they are unable to release the goods mortgaged by them. When the period of drought was over, the Arabs decided to return from the pastures in Iraq. In the interregnum Hajib had already expired. His son, Atarad, went to Khusro and told him that his people had fulfilled the requirements of good behavior and if the bow was not returned to him now, he would face lot of ridicule in the Arab land. Khusro appreciated this very much and returned Hajib’s bow to his son Atarad.
In Makka there was a Jew, Aznia, who was an itinerant trader selling his goods in the neighborhood of the town. He sought protection from Abd al Mutallib, which was duly promised. Harb ibne Omayya troubled the Jew and incited some roughs of Qureish who murdered him and looted his belongings. When Abd al Mutallib learned about it, he started investigation into the matter. It was proved that the crime was committed on the instigation of Harb by aamir ibne Abd Manaf ibne Abd al Dar and Saqr ibne Umro and that they were hiding at the place of Harb. He demanded of Harb to hand over the culprits. Harb refused to comply and used harsh language. Rift already existed between the two families which increased after this episode. Harb challenged Abd al mutallib for a debate and contest. First Abd al Mutallib expressed surprise at this challenge, and then he accepted it. It was decided that the King of Abyssinia would act as the arbiter in this dispute. But the king refused to arbitrate. Then Nafeel ibne Abd al Aza was appointed the arbitrator. He recognized the superiority and esteem of Abd al mutallib and decided the matter in his favor. Harb was very upset with this decision and used harsh words against Nafeel and stooped down to mean acts against Abd al Mutallib. His idea was to divert the attention from the arrest and punishment of the murderers. But Abd al Mutallib wouldn’t give up easily. He pursued the matter actively and made the criminals give one hundred camels to the successors of the deceased as a compensation for his blood. He also recovered a major portion of the wares of the Jew from the culprits and handed back to his people. Whatever was the shortfall in the value of the goods, he paid to the victims from his own pocket!
It was during the time of Abd al Mutallib that Najashi, the commander of Abyssinian forces and Abraha ibne Ashram, the ruler of Yemen attacked Makka and tried to demolish the Kaaba. This was a very trying time for the people of Makka. On the one hand there were well organized forces and on the other there was neither numerical strength nor that of materials. When the Yemeni forces camped outside Makka, the hearts of the people shivered. The people of Makka fled towards the hills, ravines and the wildernesses along with their women and children. The sangfroid that Abd al mutallib showed at this trying moment is proverbial. He was neither scared of the enemy hordes nor did he fly from his home and hearth. Some persons suggested to hin to leave Makka for some days. But he replied with full confidence:
“Neither shall I leave Allah’s Place (the Haram) nor shall I seek help from anyone but Allah!”
Ref: Tareeq e Yaqoobi, Vol 1, Page 252
Around this time Abraha sent some of his men into Makka to plunder. They captured 200 camels belonging to Abd al Mutallib. When he learned about it, he went to Abraha. Abraha was much impressed with his personality and received him with respect. He came down from the throne and made Abd al Mutallib squat near him. He asked him of the purpose of his visit. Abd al Mutallib said that Abraha’s men had taken away his camels that must be returned to him. Abraha crossed his brow and said that he thought the ostensible purpose of the visit would be to seek the protection of the Kaaba. But to the contrary he was worried for the safety of a few camels! Abd al Mutallib replied:
“I am the owner of those camels and am demanding for them! There is One owner of that (August) House who will Himself protect it!” Ref: Tareeq Abul Fida, Vol 1, Page 109
Abraha was much impressed with this bold reply and ordered Abd al Mutallib’s camels to be returned. Abd al Mutallib brought the camels back to Makka and left them in the precincts of the Kaaba putting signs on them that they were a trust for the Holy Place! His spirit in doing this was that if the enemy hurt the animals, he would suffer the wrath of the Almighty.
The courage demonstrated by Abd al mutallib at that time is a proof of his absolute faith in Allah. He not only reclaimed his animals from the enemy but expressed his Faith in the Almighty’s Justice instead of groveling in the presence of the tyrant.
After this conversation with Abd al mutallib, Abraha felt some pangs of fear and he wanted to think twice before attacking the Kaaba. He had long conclave with his advisers and on their encouragement, hesitantly, moved towards the Kaaba. On the other side there were none to confront the enemy. Only Abd al Mutallib stood firm at the entrance of the Kaaba and said, “O Allah! This is Your House and only You are its Protector! “While Abraha moved towards the Kaaba with his foul intent, dense black clouds rose on the western horizon. When one looked at the sight with intent, it was discovered that it was a huge school of birds that clutched small pebbles in their claws. This armed force of nature challenged the hordes of Abraha. They dropped the pebbles with good care that no innocent was hurt and no enemy of Allah escaped! The iron hood nor the chain mails were of any use against these pebbles. In no time the entire army was decimated. Abraha escaped with his life but succumbed on the way to Yemen.
This was the period when the people’s hearts were overpowered by the dark clouds of idolatory. They used to call only for their help in times of need. But from his tongue came neither the name of Laat nor of Habal; neither of Munaat nor of Uza. But he appealed only to Allah and put his trust in His Succor! It was the effect of Abd al Mutallib’s courage that during the battle of Hunain, the Prophet (s.a.) remained steadfast despite paucity of men and materials and referring to his descent from Abd al Mutallib he said:
“I am the Prophet without an iota of falsehood in it! I am the scion of Abd al mutallib!
The purpose of saying this was that Abd al Mutallib remained steadfast when Abraha attacked Kaaba with his hordes and in the same manner he, Abd al Mutallib’s son, would remain steadfast despite the large numbers of the enemy in the battle of Hunain. This statement of the Prpohet (s,a,) not only proves the valor and tenacity of Abd al mutallib, but also certifies the fact that he was a monotheist and believer of Allah! If he was an infidel and polytheist, the Prophet (s.a.) wouldn’t have referred to and praised him at the time when he was himself confronted with huge numbers of infidels and polytheists in the battle of Hunain. The pages of history bear evidence that Abd al Mutallib, never in his life, worshipped any idol nor ate the meat animals sacrificed to propitiate the idols. He never adopted polytheist ways in life. He was a monotheist and believed in the Day of Reckoning. Therefore, Allama Halabi writes that a tyrant and ferocious person from Syria during the time of Abd al Mutallib, had received no punishment for his acts of omission and commission during his life. Abd al Mutallib said that a tyrant doesn’t die till he is punished for his tyranny. He said:
“By Allah! After this transient world, there is a Hereafter! There the virtuous will get rewarded and the evil punished!” Ref: Seerat e Halabia, Vol 1, Page 7
“Abd al Mutallib used to teach his children to be generous. He advised them to be hospitable with the guests. He advised them to keep an eye on the Hereafter and believe in the Day of Judgement.
Ref: Murawwuj al Dahab, Vol 1, Page 313
With his belief in Mubda wa Me-aad (God’s Grace and the Hereafter) he was a staunch follower of the faith of Ibrahim (a.s.) and strictly observed its norms. He used to keep himself occupied in circumambulating the Kaaba and remembered Allah while alone and also in the company of people. In the month of Ramadan he used to go into seclusion in the cave of Hira to spend time in the thought of Almighty Allah! Ibne Athir writes:
“It was he who was the first to spend nights in the cave of Hira in prayer. At the commencement of the month of Ramadan he climbed the hill of Hira and used to distribute food to the poor every day of the month.” Ref: Tareeq e Kaamil, Vol 2, Page 9
Not only he molded his own life ideally, but he acted as a reformer for the society and introduced many long lasting reforms.. These may be termed as the precursor of the later Islamic society. Therefore Allama Halabi writes: “He was the initiator of such reforms that many of them have been narrated in the Holy Quran and many are a part of the Prophet (s.a)’s
Ref: Seerat e Halabia, Vol 1, Page 4
Allama Majlisi and other biographers have written that the Prophet (s.a.) has said that Abd al Mutallib introduced five practices prior to the advent of Islam that have been continued in toto thereafter:
1. He declared marrying of father’s spouses or widows by sons as taboo. The Holy Quran says, “Wa laa tankehu maa nakha aabaaakum-Those whom your fathers and grand fathers had married, you must not marry.
2. He distributed a fifth of hoards of treasures discovered to the poor and needy. Allah says in the Holy Book, “Walamu innama ghanimtum min shai fainna lillahi khamsa- You should know that a fifth of the wealth that you got as booty is for Allah.’
3. When Abd al Mutallib rediscovered and excavated the Spring of Zamzam he termed it as Saqayat al Haaj ( The Water Provider for the Hajis). The Holy Quran says, “Ajaltum saqayat al Haaj”.
4. He fixed a compensation of hundred camels as equivalent to blood money for a murder. Islam continued to maintain this compensation to be made to the successors of a murdered person.
5. The Qureish had not fixed the numbers of circumambulations of the Kaaba during pilgrimage. Abd al Mutallib prescribed seven rounds for this purpose, and Islam continued the practice. Allama Majlisi writes about the Prophet (s.a.)’s saying about this, “Either Abd al Mutallib introduced these reforms on the basis of a vision or revived the practices that were current in the Ibrahimi Society that the Qureish had (carelessly) abandoned. – Bahar al Anwaar, Vol 6, Page 38. 99
Besides these reforms, Abd al Mutallib introduced such laws that their importance cannot be denied. Ibne Wazeh Yaqoobi writes that Abd al Mutallib promulgated rules for Wafa e Nazr (Fulfillment of Offerings), Qata Yad e Saariq (Severing the hand of Thieves), Qura ( Drawing of Lots), Mubahila, Mehmaan Nawazi ( Entertainment of Guests), Kasb e Halal ( Legitimate Livelihood) and respect for the Venerable Months of the Calendar. He prohibited slaying of daughters and marriage with certain relations. He banned intoxicants and adultery. He urged the Hajis to use fair earnings for the purpose of the Haj. It was the custom of the Arabs that they used to circumambulate the Kaaba in a naked condition. If the Qureish gave some clothes to a person, he would cover his body, or else he would go round with naked body. He banned this bad practice. The same is the Commandment of Islam: “Dress properly at every act of prayer.”
There was a practice with the Arabs that after the Haj they used to enter their homes through the back doors. He ordered them to use the front doors for this purpose. Islam ordered the same, “Watu al bayoot min abwabaha Enter your homes through the doors.
These are reforms indicative of a person who was fully aware of the teachings of the past Prophets. Although he was himself not a prophet, he is viewed with great reverence for his reforms and achievements. He is remembered as Ibrahim al Taani or Ibrahim the Second.
He was similar in many aspects to his ancestor, Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.). The age attained by him and number of children he had was almost the same as Ibrahim (a.s.). Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) had thirteen sons while Abd al Mutallib had 10 sons and 6 daughters. In habits too they were very similar. Helping the poor and feeding the hungry was their wont. They loved to entertain the guests. This is the reason that Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) is remembered as Abu azyaaf and Abd al Mutallib is termed as Fayyaz ( Generous) and Mutam at Tayr (The Feeder of the Birds). As Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) had excavated the well, Chah e Shaba, on the Egypt-Syria Highway, Abd al mutallib excavated the Zamzam to its pristine glory. Hazrat Ibrahim was the first to have congenital gray hair, and was called Shaiba. So was Abd al Mutallib. In himself, Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was an Ummat as Allah says, “An Ibrahim kaana umma- Ibrahim alone is one umma. “Similarly, with his unique personality Abd al mutallib has been called an Ummat. The Prophet of Islam (s.a.) says:
“Allah will raise my grand father, Abd al mutallib, like the prophets and noble kings that he will be individually counted as an Ummat. Ref: Tareeq e Yaqoobi, Vol 2, Page 14
Both were unique in their disposition. Therefore, the patience and courage displayed by Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) in his readiness to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismail (a.s.), and the same determination shown by Abd al Mutallib to prepare himself to sacrifice his son Abd Allah is proverbial. Therefore Imam Reza (a.s.) saya:
“The firm determination with which Ibrahim prepared to sacrifice his son Ismail, the same determination was manifested by Abd al Mutallib in preparing to sacrifice his son Abd Allah,”
Ref: Bahar al Anwaar, Vol 6, Page 39
The story of this event goes like this. At the time when Abd al Mutallib was excavating the Zamzam, he had only one son who helped him with the task. He prayed at that time that if Allah gave him ten sons, he would sacrifice one of them in His way. His prayer was answered and he had ten sons, viz: Abd Allah, Zubair, Abu Talib, Abbas, Zarar, Hamza, Maqoom, Abu Lahab, Harith and Ghizaq. Now he wished to fulfill his oath. Therefore he gathered all his ten sons and told them about his oath. He asked them as to who among them was willing to offer himself for sacrifice. They looked at each other in surprise and then bowed down their heads. They said that whosoever their father chose to sacrifice, they were all willing to abide by his decision. When he was satisfied that his sons were willing for the sacrifice, he went near the Kaaba and drew a lot putting down the names of all the ten sons. The lot came in the name of his youngest son, Abd Allah. Now Abd al Mutallib was ready to sacrifice his beloved son. Abd Allah was the favorite of everyone at home and they objected to this sacrifice. Abd al Mutallib said that fulfilling the oath was very important for him although it was not easy to kill his own son with his hands. The sons of Abd al Mutallib
and the important persons of the Qureish asked him to draw the lot once again when, perhaps, the name of an elder son might come up. The lot was drawn a second time, and again it was Abd Allah’s name. Akrama ibne Aamir said, “O Chief of the Qureish! If you sacrifice your son now, it might become a custom and practice with the people to sacrifice their sons! You will be known as the originator of this undesirable custom. It will be discreet if you abstain from fulfilling your oath! You might as well consult a Kaahin in the matter” Everyone agreed with Akrama’s suggestion. Therefore they approached a aahina. After hearing the case, she asked as to how much was the blood money for one life in their community. She was told that it was equal to the value of ten camels. She asked them to draw lot in the name of Abd Allah and ten camels. They drew the lot and the result was again for Abd Allah. She asked them to continue to draw the lot repeatedly with ten camels. Even after a hundred camels the lot draws in the name of Abd Allah, he may be sacrificed. When the quantity of camels reached to a hundred, the draw came out for the animals! All the people were delighted but Abd al Mutallib was not satisfied. He wanted the lot to be drawn again.Even then the draw was for the sacrifice of the camels. To further confirm the matter, the draw was made a third time and it was again for the sacrifice of the camels. Now, a hundred camels were slaughtered and the meat was distributed to the populace. Abd al Mutallib and his children didn’t partake of this meat. Ibne Saad writes:
“Abd al Mutallib and any of his sons didn’t eat the meat of these camels.”
Ref: Tabaqaat, Vol 1, Page 89
While this sacrifice enhanced the value of human life ten folds, it also was an example of determination, steadfastness, spirit of fulfillment of oath and highest degree of obedience of the parents by the sons The courage manifested by Abd al Mutallib during this episode is unparalled except for the courage of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) who didn’t hesitate for a moment in his preparedness to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismail, in obedience to Allah’s Command. The sons too, in both the instances, were more than willingto comply. Ismail (a.s.) was a lad of 13 years and Abd Allah 11 years when they were asked to make the supreme sacrifice. They were neither afraid of putting their heads under the sharp knives nor were they worried about dying in that manner. Because of this spirit both of them are remembered with the sobriquet of “Zabeeh” or those who willingly submitted to be slain with the knife! The Prophet of Allah (s.a.) proudly said, “Ana abnal zabeeheen- I am the son of the two ‘Zabeehs’ Here he meant his ancestor, Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) and his father Abd Allah. 9.99
Allah had give to Abd Allah that through him was to be born the Chief of the Prophets, Hazrat Mohammed (s.a.). But his son was posthumously born and Abd Allah didn’t have the good fortune of setting eyes on him. After the event of the Camels, Abd Allah died in Madina while returning from a business trip to Syria. Abd al Mutallib was shattered with this loss. But after a while when Abd Allah’s son Mohammed (s.a.) was born, smiles came back on his face. With great affection he took a round of the new-born’s cradle. He lifted the baby in his arms and brought him near the Kaaba. He prayed there for the child’s happiness and prosperity. On the seventh day of the birth he complied with the custom of Aqeeqa ( the naming ceremony) and gave the name of Mohammed (s.a.) to the child! The child had lost the father before his birth, but his mother too didn’t live for long. When he was only six years, his mother, Amina, too passed away.. Now Abd Allah’s orphan was totally in the care and tutelage of his grand-father, Abd al Mutallib. It seems the patriarch dedicated his life for the upbringing of this beloved grand-son. He always kept the child with himself. He had made it a practice that unless Mohammed (s.a.) joined the spread, none else would start eating nor would he himself touch a morsel!
Mohammed (s.a)’s manners and habits were so gentle that people were always attracted towards him and they thought that the child would achieve greatness in his life. The experienced Abd al Mutallib too gauged the qualities of head and heart in the child. Sometimes he even expressed these thoughts about the child. One day, as usual, the carpet was spread near the Kaaba for Abd al Mutallib. For some reason he was delayed in arriving there. The chiefs of Qureish and their sons were already seated around the carpet. Mohammed (s.a.), the child, happened to pass that way and, without any hesitation occupied the place of his grand-father. The custom was that even the sons of Abd al Mutallib or the chiefs of the tribes were not allowed to take that seat. At that moment Abd al Mutallib arrived. Some persons tried move the son of Abd Allah from where he was sitting. Abd al Mutallib sharply told them:
“Let my son sit on my carpet! There is a desire in his heart to rule a great domain! Very soon he will attain an elevated position!!” Ref: Seerat e Halabia, Vol 1, Page 129
The Prophet (s.a.) manifested glimpses of spiritual greatness, as well, from his very early days. It was because of these manifestations that Abd al Mutallib used to make him pray during the times of calamities and difficulties. He used to pray for rainfall propitiating Allah in the name of Mohammed (s.a.). One year there was no rainfall in Makka and they faced acute drought. People came to Abdul Matallib and beseeched him to pray for rain. Abd al Mutallib made Mohammed (s.a.), who was seven years old then, climb on his shoulder and climbed on the Mount Qabees to pray for rains. While returning after the prayer, they had hardly reached near the Kaaba, when dark clouds gathered and rained so copiously that the valleys were overflowing with water. At that time Raqeeqa binte Saifi wrote a few couplets, one of which reads:
“Allah has quenched our town with the prayers of Shaibat al Hamd, otherwise we were parched and rains had not come for a long period.”
Abd al Mutallib naturally loved Mohammed (s.a.) for being his son’s posthumous off-spring, but the real fountainhead of this love was the knowledge acquired from men of learning and religious leaders that the time had come when the last of the line of the Prophets (a.s.) would appear. The characteristics of this Prophet he derived from the men of learning they were all manifested by the orphan of Abd Allah. He had arrived at the conviction that Mohammed (s.a.) was the Prophet to be annunciated in the near future and was the last of the chain of the Chosen Messengers of Allah. He
therefore expressed about this to the king of Yemen, Saif ibne Ziyazn. This
meeting has been chronicled by almost all the historians of that period. The meeting took place when the King of Yemen delivered his realm from the clutches of the king of Abyssinia. When this news reached Makka, Abd al Mutallib told to the chiefs of Qureish that they must take a delegation to Saif to felicitate him on his victory. They all agreed and, in the leadership of Abd al Mutallib a delegation of 27 members was constituted. In this delegation the important persons were Omayya ibne Abd shams, Asad ibne Abd al Uza, Abd Allah ibne Jadhan, Wahb ibne Abd Manaf and Qasi ibne Abd al Dar. When this delegation arrived at the Ghamdan Palace of Saif, Abd al Mutallib, as the leader of the delegation, sought persmission for presenting an address of felicitation. Saif said that if he thought that he was of a status to present an address to a king, he had the permission to proceed! Abd al Mutallib presented a few words of felicitation and with such good diction and delivery that Saif was delighted and appreciated his assertive delivery, the Qarshi skill at oratory and Hashemite style of speaking. The king inquired, “Who are you?” He replied, “I am Abd al Mutallib, the son of Hashim!” Hearing this, Saif caught hold of his hand and asked him to ascend the throne and sit beside him. He said, “Then, Abd al Mutallib, you are my nephew!” He smiled in the affirmative. The mother of Abd al Mutallib was Salma binte Umro aale Qaitan and Saif too was from Aal e Qaitan. Because of this elationship Saif called him his nephew. The Arabs consider all the women of their tribe as sisters and their children as nephews and nieces. Saif treated Abd al Mutallib with utmost courtesy and respect. He accommodated the other members of the delegation too in his guest houses for important personages. During his stay in Yemen, Saif called Abd al Mutallib in private and told him that he had information of such an important thing that it will be a matter of great pride for you and your clan. Therefore I thought it necessary to inform you about it. He said that in Tihama a child will be born, or he is already born, who will have the seal of Prophethood on his back between the shoulders. His name and his Faith shall last till the world exists. One of his main characteristics is that he would lose his parents and his grand-father and uncle will give him upbringing. I have a hunch that you are his grand-father! Abd al Mutallib who, through predictions and revealed books, knew about this, hearing the same from Saif prostrated in thankfulnessto Allah. Then he told to Saif that what he had said had confirmed his conviction. He said that the boy mentioned by him was already born and he manifests all the characteristics that he had indicated. He is posthumous born and he lost his mother in early childhood. Me,his grand-father and an uncle are his guardians. Saif said, Then, he must be guarded against the mischief of the Jews who might attempt to kill him.”
When the time for the return of the delegation came nigh, Saif presented to everyone with slaves, maids, gold, silver, amber, camels and royal raiment..To Abd al Mutallib he gave ten times more than the gifts he gave to the others. His companions viewed this with much envy. He said, “O Qureish! You should not be jealous of the gifts received by me. They are all transitory. There will be reason for you to envy what is in store and will be
talked about in all places and the coming generations too will be proud of! When they asked as to what the thing is? He said: After a while you will learn about it yourself.”
Ref: Aqd al Fareed, Vol 1, Page 177
The physiognomists of Arabia had, after looking at Mohammed (s.a.)’s face had informed Abd al Mutallib about his great future and the name and fame that he would achieve. Therefore, once, a few persons of Bani Mudlij told him:
“You must take good care of this child because no foot-prints other than his match exactly with the foot-prints of Hazrat Ibrahim at the Muqam e Ibrahim (The Place of Ibrahim in the Kaaba).’ “”
Ref: Tabaqaat Ibn e Saad, Vol 1, Page 118
Hearing these words Abd al Mutallib looked towardfs Abu Talib and said, “Hear what they say!” He must have felt the need to draw Abu Talib’s attention because he must have realized that soon this great responsibility of caring for the child would fall on his shoulders.
Abd al Mutallib had seen more than a hundred summers. But even in his old age his face was daunting, his back straight and he used to dye his hair. But in his last days his vision had gone weak. Despite this he didn’t like to carry a staff for moving around. Once while going round the Kaaba someone dashed into him. He asked who the person was. He was told that it was someone from Bani Bakr. He said jovially, “I have defective eye-sight! But I am sure he can see properly! Now I might need a staff to balance myself!” Then he added, “If I keep a long staff in my hand, I may find it uneasy to carry. And carrying a short staff would force me to bend down that I would consider demeaning for me! “When his sons heard this, they offered that in future one of them would remain with him and provide him support for going wherever he wished to go. Therefore he used to move around with his hand on the shoulder of one of his sons.
When time weakened his body, he fell ill and was bed-ridden. In this state if he had any care, it was for the Orphan of Abd Allah. He worried about his future upbringing. In his last throes he asked for Abu Talib. When Abu Talb came near him, he said, “I make a will to you about the Orphan of Abd Allah. Don’t neglect his care and upbringing.” Ibn e Saad writes:
“When Abd al Mutallib’s time of death arrived, he advised Abu Talib
about the care and protection of Mohammed (s.a.).” Ref: Tabaqaat, Vol 1, Page 118
When he issued instructions to Abu Talib about the care of the child, he took his last breath and passed away peacefully. With his death gloom descended on Makka. Naturally every eye in the place was wet at this great loss, but the Orphan of Abd Allah, who was only eight years old at the time, was extremely sad. He received the love and affection of both his parents only from his grand-father. Seeing him dead, he couldn’t control his emotions. Tears flowed from his eyes. When the dead body was being taken in the bier after giving a bath in water and camphor water and wrapping in Yemeni Linen, he followed crying all the way. He returned home after his beloved grand-father was interred.
The people of Makka were very sad at the demise of their benefactor and chief. The poets penned sad requiems. For many days trade came to a standstill in Makka. Allama Halabi writes:
“There was not such grieving at the death of anyone, as there was on the demise of Abd al Mutallib. For many days trading was suspended in the bazaar of Makka. 99
Ref: Seerat e Halabia, Vol 1, Page 186
He died in Makka at the age of 120 years, after eight years of the Event of the Elephant.
The eminence achieved by Hashim and Abd al Mutallib in this great lineage, was reached by none else. The head-strong Arab tribes recognized their superiority. The author of Aqd al Fareed writes that once the Prophet (s.a.) was traveling with Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Hazrat Abu Bakr. During their journey they reached near a hamlet. Hazrat Abu Bakr went forward and asked the people about the tribe they belonged to. They said they were from the Tribe of Rubiah. Abu Bakr asked them about the branch of Rubiah they were from. They said, “Zahl Akbar!” He asked, “Was Auf ibne Mohlim one of you?” They said, “No!” He asked, “Was Jasas ibne Marra from their tribe?” They replied, “No!” Thus when they replied in negative to many of his queries, Abu Bakr said that in that event they were not from the Zahl e Akbar and were Zahl e Asghar. Hearing this, a lad from that hamlet, Dhagfal bin Hanzala, stood up and and asked Hazrat Abu Bakr, “From which tribe do you come?” He replied, “From the Qureish! The boy asked, “From which branch?” He replied, “I am the progeny of Teem ibn e Marra.” The youth asked, “Was Qasi ibn e Kalab, who gathered the scattered lot in Makka, one of you?” Abu Bakr replied, “No!” The boy asked, “Was Hashim one of you about whom the poet Matrood ibne Kaab Qazayi has said, ‘The esteemed Hashim who put bread in the soup and feasted the people on it when they were starving for food!”” Abu Bakr replied, “No!” The youth asked, “Was Abd al Mutallib one of you? On his spread even the birds used to be guests! His visage was shining like a lamp in the nights” Abu Bakr replied, “No!” He asked, “Are you the progeny of the people who used to quench the thirst of the Hajis?” He replied, “No!” The youth wanted to question him the more, but Hazrat Abu Bakr cut the conversation short and went to the Prophet (s.a.) and repeated the conversation to him. The Prophet (s.a.) smiled and kept quiet.
This incident proves that the Arab tribes attached a lot of importance to the Hashemite family. A descent through Qasi, Hashim and Abd al Mutallib was of prime importance for them. Even those families that had only the name of Qasi in their chronology and not of Hashim and Abd al Mutallib were held in lesser esteem. The eminence that Allah had bestowed on the Hashemi and Mutallibi offspring has not been enjoyed by any other Arab family. Theirs is a tree that is free of any chronological pollution. Therefore the Prophet of Islam (s.a.) has said:
“Allah gave birth to Ismail (a.s) as the progeny of Ibrahim (a.s.) and from Ismail (a.s.) Bani Kanana and from Bani Kanana the Qureish and from the Qureish the Bani Hashim and from them I was selected.” Ref: Tirmizi, Vol 2, Page 221
Hazrat Ali (a.s.) too is a part of this eminent group because he and the prophet (s.a.) are of the same descent. They have both their descent from Hashim and Abd al Mutallib. Hazrat Abd al Mutallib had, from various wives, ten sons. Of these ten brothers, Abd Allah and Abu Talib were born to the same mother.. Their mother was Fatima binte Umro Makhzumia. Abd Allah was the father of the Prophet (s.a.) and Abu Talib the father of Hazrat Ali (a.s.). Ali(a,s,)’s chronology joins with the Prophet (s.a.) with their grand-father Abd al Mutallib. On account of this both are Mutallabi and Hashemi and Qarshi by descent.
Therefore, there is the same ancestral.
eminence in Hazrat Ali (a.s.) as that of the Prophet (s.a.). Another eminence of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) is that his father was Sheik al Batha, Hazrat Abu Talib.