Hazrat Abu Talib’s real name was the same as that of his ancestor, Abd Manaf. Some narrators say that his name was Imran. All the earlier historians accept his name as Abu Talib and his Kunyat as the same. He was 35 years older than the Prophet (s.a.). The Prophet (s.a.) was born during Aam al Feel (The Year of the Elephant) and Abu Talib was born 35 years prior to that year in Makka. For 43 years he remained under the tutelage of his father, Abd al Mutallib, and acquired from him his learning in literature, poetry and other disciplines. In his time, he was awell known poet and literateur. Besides this, he possessed an impressive and handsome personality. He combined in his person the Hashemite dignity and Qureishi opulence. When he talked, perals of knowledge flowed from his tongue. He was the inheritor of the high morals and character of his forbears and in the progeny of Abd al Mutallib he was the closest to the traits of his illustrious father.

After Hazrat Abd al Mutallib, he inherited the offices of Rafada and Saqaya. He was remembered with the titles of Sheik al Batha, Syed e Batha and Raees e Makka. Diyar Bakri writes:

“After Hashim, the duty of feeding of the Hajis was entrusted to Abd al Mutallib. After his demise, till the advent of Islam, every year this duty was performed by Abu Talib.”

Ref: Tareeq e Qamees, Vol 1, Page 157

In this world, wealth is a very powerful tool to achieve positions of strength. But Abu Talib’s leadership, management and planning needed no support of wealth. It was his sense of duty, strength of character and individuality that took him to the pinnacle of greatness. Hazrat Ali (a.s.) says:

“Despite being impecunious, my father was accepted as the chief. Prior to him there was none who was impecunious and a chief as well. Ref: Tareeq e Yaqoobi, Vol 2, Page 14

Although the monetary status of Abu Talib was weak, he provided succor to the weak and the poor. For the Hajis he used to get the food prepared with great care and interest. He used to arrange big containers of water and to render it sweet, he used to mix dates and raisins in the water. One year he was very hard pressed for money and was unable to make the arrangements for the feeding of the Hajis. He borrowed ten thousand Dirhams from his brother Abbas and spent all that money for the entertainment of the hajis. The next year too he faced the same situation. Again he took a loan of fourteen thousand Dirhams from Abbas. Abbas agreed to this arrangement on the condition that if Abu Talib was unable to clear all the previous loans, he would have to transfer the office of Saqaya and Rafada to Abbas. Since he was not able to meet his commitment even the next year, he handed over the mantle to Abbas. This kept on transferring to his off-springs later on. Abu Talib conceded the authority to his brother, but continued to serve the Hajis in his personal capacity.

Abu Talib had a very kind heart and was always affected with the hardship and troubles of others. Because of this trait in his nature, there always used to be a number of edy persons calling at his place almost

every day. He was always keen to help them. He would also rescue the oppressed and troubled persons from the clutches of the unkind. Therefore when Abu Salama Makhzoomi returned from Abyssinia, Bani Makhzoom started troubling him on account of his having embraced Islam. Abu Salama sought refuge from him. Abu Talib gave refuge to him and publicly declared that the person was under his protection. He also declared that the Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Mohammed (s.a.) too enjoyed his protection. When people from his tribe demanded Abu Salama to be handed over to them, Abu Talib said that he was his nephew (he was Barra binte Abd al Mutallib’s son and thus his nephew). He told them that he was duty bound to give refuge to the person when he had sought it on account of his relationship with him. If he cannot give protection to his sister’s son, how would he be able to give protection to his brother’s son. Banu Makhzoom couldn’t pursue their demand any further..

In the Arab social structure when the norms of social veracity were dying, and moral turpitude was at its zenith, he saved himself from such aberrations. Gambling was rampant those days and people in most homes used to consume intoxicants. He neither turned towards gambling nor did he ever drink.. Ahmed ibne Zaini Dahlan writes:

“Abu Talib, like his father, even in the Days of Ignorance considered intoxicants Haram (taboo) for himself

Ref: Seerat e Nabawiya, Page 80

Abu Talib not only abstained from taboo things himself, he preached with others to the best of his capability to prevent them from the bad habits. He always strived for the reform of the society and the betterment of the country. He encouraged trading and search for fair livelihood. During the renovation of the Kaaba, it was he who reminded the Qureish not to involve the illgotten wealth for the noble purpose. Prior to the coming of Islam, when floods weakened the walls of the Kaaba, and the Qureish contemplated rebuilding the structure, a huge python was noticed near the foundation of the building. People were scared seeing the reptile and the work came to a stand-still. Qureish were thinking of a way out and Abu Talib said:

“This construction has to be done only with pure and legitimately earned funds. Therefore, don’t put such money for the work that has been acquired under duress.

Ref: Tareeq e Yaqoobi, Vol 2, Page 19

The people followed his advice and put only legitimately earned money for the project. When they came near the Kaaba they saw that a huge bird appeared and flew away with the python in its talons. The way was now clear for them to renovate and reconstruct the Kaaba.

Abu Talib tried to introduce such practices in the society that were based on the norms of equity and justice. He wanted that none should be deprived of his rights. Therefore, with this spirit, he introduced the practice of Qasamat in the matter of blood-money for the murder of Umro bin Alqama. Qasamat means that when a person is murdered, and his successors claim that a particular person is the murderer, and are unable to produce two witnesses, although the circumstantial evidence is there to prove the crime,

then the aggrieved party has to produce fifty persons to take an oath in the support of the prosecution. If they are short of persons to make up the fifty, then some of the witnesses might take the oath twice. This procedure was put into force to ensure that the blood of the murdered person had not gone in vain. Later on Islam too continued with this practice.Ibne abil Hadeed writes:

“During the period of ifnorance Abu Talib introduced the practice of Qasamat to give justice in the case of the murder of Umro ibne Alqama. Islam too continued with this practice.

Ref: Shara Ibne Abil Hadeed, Vol 3, Page 461

Be it friendship or enmity, Abu Talib never abandoned justice and fairplay in his dealings. He was not only against tyranny during peaceful days, but also during the times of battles and strife he didn’t approve unnecessary shedding of human blood. Therefore, during the period of Ignorance a battle was fought between the Qureish and the tribe of Qais which is known as The Battle of Fajar. In this battle, Bani Hashim too were on the side of the Qureish. The Prophet of Islam (s.a.) was still a child. He too went to the battle field along with his uncle but was only a silent observer. The days when Abu Talib participated in the skirmishes, the Qureish used to have an upper hand. The Qureish, considering his presence as a sign of victory, said that whether he actively participated in the battle or not, his presence only would be a source of encouragement for them. Abu Talib said:

“If you abstain from tyranny, injustice and blaming persons unjustly, I shall not move away from your view!

Ref: Tareeq e Yaqoobi, Vol 2, Page 16

This was the noble thinking of Abu Talib that he recognized the difference between the fierceness of the spirit of revenge during the battle and the requirements of defence. He viewed tyranny and torture with displeasure. He tolerated battle only to the extent that it was fought within the established norms of chivalry and fairplay.

Abu Talib was moderate in his views, wanted to be just, affable and thoughtful. The wise men of Arabia used to draw benefit from his company. And took lessons from him in norms of morality.Ahnaf ibne Qais, who was a well known thinker in Arabia, was asked about the person from whom he acquired his affability and good manners. He said that he learned these skills from Qais ibne Asim al Munqari. Qais was asked as to where he got his instruction. He said it was Aksam ibne Saifi who was his mentor. In the end when Aksam was asked the same question, he said:

“The chief of Arab and Ajam, the paragon of knowledge and learning Abu Talib ibne Abd al Mutallib’ 39

Ref: Hadyat al Ahbab, Page 252

In his time he was a statesman, a thinker, a mentor and a man of wisdom. He was a poet of very high caliber. There is a compendium of poetry, Deewan Sheik al Abatah, composed by him and his couplets are spread over many well known books of history. Although Arabia of those days was a cradle of poetry, most of it was self praising Qasida or odes. But his style was different from that of the run of the mill poets then. In his couplets there http://www.alhassanain.org/english

was neither the element of self praise nor the touch of the commonplace. There was a subtle flow and simplicity in his poetry and a lesson for the reader on morals, righteousness and truth. Therefore, Hazrat Ali (a.s.), terming his poetry as an educational and moral treasure says:

“Read his couplet and make your children read them.

Because he was on Allah’s Faith and there

is a big treasury of knowledge

in his poetry.

Ref: Bahar al Anwaar, Vol 9, Page 24

Besides these merits, his ancestral connections and the unique privilege of being the mentor and the guardian of the Prophet of Islam (s.a.) singles him out from all his contemporaries.. The Prophet (s.a.), posthumous born that he was, grew under his tutelage and spent most of his years with him. When the Prophet (s.a.) was six years old he lost his mother and after another two years his doting grand father too expired. The grand father put the child in the trust of his uncle, Abu Talib. When Abu Talib heard his father make his will about the little ward, he said:

“Father ! You needn’t make a will to me about the care of Mohammed (s.a.).

He is my son and nephew!”

Ref: Manaqib, Vol 1, Page 3

Hazrat Abd al Mutallib had many children. At the time of his death all his sons and relations were around him. Every one of them was capable of taking charge of the child. But in his wisdom and farsightedness he entrusted the upbringing and care of Mohammed (s.a.) to Abu Talib. He knew it pretty well that the love and affection that Abu Talib had for the Orphan of Abd Allah was not manifested by his other uncles. The expectations the patriarch had from Abu Talib were not unfounded. He must have also had the fact in his mind that Abu Talib not only had ancestral relationship with Mohammed (s.a.) but he was the closest to him through his maternal relationship—Abd Allah and Abu Talib born to the same mother! Perhaps Abd al Mutallib had gauged from his reading of the revealed books that Abu Talib would be the best guardian and mentor for the upbringing of the Prophet (s.a.). Some historians have also written that a lot was drawn between Abu Talib and Zubair ibne Abd al Mutallib and it went in the favor of the former. There is another mention that when the lot was to be drawn, the little Mohammed (s.a.) caught the lapel of Abu Talib’s cloak and thus expressed his preference. Whatever the basis of this decision, it cannot be denied that Allah wished that His select creature must get the care and support of Abu Talib during his formative and impressionable childhood! Allah has thus expressed in the Holy Book, “Alam yajdak yatima fawa- has he not given you succor finding you orphaned?” All the commentators are in agreement that in this Verse Hazrat Abu Talib’s affection and care for the little orphan is mentioned.

Thus Abu Talib honored the will of his departed father and discharged his duty as the guardian of his beloved nephew. Every historian has acknowledged this fact. Ibne Saad writes:

“Abu Talib loved the Prophet (s.a.) very much,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s