This tradition has been quoted here just to illustrate the futility of Musayyab’s narrative. What is the meaning of asking one to recite the Kalima who had all along been the ardent supporter of the Prophet (a.s.) and the Mission of Islam. Even if we accept that the Prophet wanted Abu Talib to recite the Kalima in his last moments, it doesn’t mean that by this insistence he was being converted to Islam bearing witness to the Faith! The established practice is that every Muslim, when he dies, is helped to recite the Kalima in his last moments!

Thirdly, it appears from the tradition that the subject Verse was revealed immediately after the demise of Hazrat Abu Talib. But in actual fact it is from the Surat al Bara-at which was revealed at the time of capture of Makka, much later than the demise of Abu Talib, that happened three years prior to the Migration (The Hijra). The Verse, therefore, was revealed almost ten years after the demise of Abu Talib! Every intelligent person can deduce from this that how remote is the possibility of connecting the revelation of the Verse to the demise of Abu Talib. It clearly shows that the unscrupulous narrator had concoted the story to discredit Abu Talib. Even if we agree that the Verse was revealed concerning Abu Talib, then how is it

that the Prophet (s.a.) continued to pray for the Deliverance of (the infidel) Abu Talib for ten years and Allah didn’t feel the necessity to warn him against this act for such a long while! Can a belief be based on such a preposterous and concocted tradition and make a decision about the faithfulness or otherwise of a person of the caliber of Abu Talib?

Fourthly, prior to the revelation of the subject Verse, several verses were revealed that prohibited Muslims praying for the deliverance of hypocrites and infidels. For example, the Verse quoted below, and several others of the same nature:

“Whether you pray for their deliverance or not, it is all the same for them!

Allah will never pardon them!!”

This is a verse from Surat al munafeqoon which was revealed before the Surat al Bara-at. Therefore, when The Prophet (s.a.) was forewarned of not praying for an infidel, how did he, according to the tradition, decide to pray for Abu Talib with the ostensible knowledge that he was an infidel? Can we imagine the Prophet (s.a.) defying the injunction of the Holy Book? If the Prophet did pray for the Deliverance of Abu Talib, he was confident of his fidelity, and there cannot be firmer proof of his Faith in Allah than this!.

Fifthly, Tirmizi, in his Sahih, writes in the Bab al Tafseer that Hazrat Ali (a.s.) heard a person praying for the deliverance of his infidel parents and asked him why he was praying for the parents who, he knew, were infidel? He said, did Ibrahim (a.s.) not pray for his uncle Azar who was an idolator? Hazrat Ali (a.s.) mentioned about this matter to the Prophet (s.a.). At that moment the subject Verse was revealed and the Muslims were ordered not to pray for the deliverance of the infidels.

There are several other points that need consideration about this tradition: The first point is that if Hazrat Ali (a.s.) was sure that it was permissible to pray for infidel relatives, he wouldn’t have raised objection with the person. His surprise at the person praying is sufficient proof that a Muslim should not pray for a dead-infidel-relative!

The second point is that in support of his act, the person quoted about the prayer of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) for the deliverance of his uncle, Azar. He needn’t have gone so far back in history. He could have referred to the prayer of the Prophet (s.a.) for his uncle Abu Talib. This is a proof that the person never thought that Abu Talib could be an infidel knowing fully well his contribution to the cause of Islam and the Prophet (s.a.)! In that period none in the populace ever thought that he was an infidel.

The third point is that the person brought forward the example of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) praying for Azar in support of his own prayer for his infidel parents. The truth is that Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) didn’t pray for Azar as is evidenced from the following Verse of the Quran:

“Ibrahim praying for his father (Azar)’s deliverance was on the basis of his promise to him. But when it dawned on him that he was an enemy of God, he expressed “” His abhorrance.

Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.)’s prayer was just to seek guidance and he wanted that he (Azar) received guidance to become eligible for pardon in the

Hereafter. Therefore, however much a person is involved in infidelity and vice, we should not think that he cannot be reformed. An expectation can always be there that he will emerge from his ways of infidelity and vice and tread the way of Faith and Virtue. After death, certainly, a person will not have any opportunity to get guidance for reform. Therefore, this prayer of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) doesn’t provide any justification of persons praying for the Deliverance of infidels and polytheists. The fact emerges from these evidences that the command for not praying for deliverance of infidels came before the revelation of this Verse. And therefore there is neither justification nor permission to pray for deliverance of an infidel. Then how could one imagine that the Prophet (s.a.), despite Abu Talib being an infidel, told to him near his death that,” If asked not to pray, I shall continue to pray for your deliverance.”The prayer for Deliverence depends on the hope for forgiveness. How could one hope for forgiveness for the sin of infidelity. It is established that Allah has decided that those who die in infidelity will certainly go to Hell. Therefore, there is a certainty that the Prophet (s.a.) was praying for the deliverance of Abu Talib with the knowledge that he was a Momin and believer. And after this, there is no reason why anyone should nurse a suspicion that he was an infidel; while there cannot be a stronger evidence of his Fidelity than the Prophet (s.a.) himself praying for his deliverance!

The sixth point about the purpose for the revelation of this Verse is that it is referred with regard to many and varying traditions. The variance of the traditions renders them doubtful. And they don’t remain fit to be accepted or rejected. In this regard one tradition can be quoted. When the Prophet (s.a.) passed near his mother’s grave, he sought permission from Allah to visit the grave and to pray for her deliverance. Allah permitted him to visit the grave and stopped him from praying for her deliverance in view of this Verse of the Quran. There is another tradition that says that the Prophet (s.a.) wanted to pray for the deliverance of his father. This Verse was revealed to stop him from doing so. There is one more tradition. Some Muslims approached the Prophet (s.a.) to seek his permission to pray for the deliverance of their infidel forbears. This verse was revealed at that time prohibiting them from doing so. Some say that the Verse was revealed at the time of offering prayer for deliverance of Abu Talib, the other traditions say that it was revealed concerning the other events mentioned above.

Another tradition records that when the time for the death of Abu Talib drew nigh, the Prophet (s.a.) said, “Uncle! Recite the Kalima that I might give evidence before Allah about your Faith.” Abu Talib refused to recite the Kalima saying, “If I hadn’t the fear of the taunts of the Qureish, I would have done it!” At that time the following Verse was revealed:

“Those who you befriend, you don’t guide. But

Allah Guides those He wishes to Guide.”

This tradition too doesn’t deserve to be accepted for several reasons.

Firstly, the tradition is reported by Abu Hurira Dosi, Abdul Quddud Shami,Abu Sahl Alsiri through Mohammed ibne Ibad, ibne Abi Omer etc originating from Ibne Omer and Ibne Abbas. The tradition is not dependable that the narrator, Abu Huraira, was in his home town of Yemen at the time

of Abu Talib’s demise and almost ten years had passed since this event when Abu Huraira embraced Islam.in 7H. Therefore the question of his being present at the time of the death of Abu Talib doesn’t arise. Hence he wasn’t an eye witness to the event who could certify having seen the Prophet (s.a.) adiving Abu Talib to recite the Kalima and he refusing to comply. If someone did hear this exchange, why hasn’t he revealed the names when the event happened during his days of ignorance and he was personally not present in Makka. There is another reason for the unreliability of narrations about Abu Talib is that he was among the close courtiers and retainers of Muawiya which is a strong evidence of his enmity for Hazrat Ali (a.s.). Because that was one very important qualification for admittance to the Darbar e Sham! Ibne Abil Hadeed writes about this enmity and hate that when Muawiya visited Koofa, Abu Huraira was in the team. He used to sit near Baab e Kinda in the nights and people used to surround him out of curiosity. One night Asbag ibne Nabata too went and joined the group. He asked Abu Huraira if he had heard the saying of the Prophet (s.a.) about Hazrat Ali (a.s.):

“Allahumma waale man waala

Wa aade man aada

O Allah! Befriend him, who befriends Ali (a.s),

And, Hold him an enemy who is Ali’s foe!”

Abu Huraira affirmed that he was aware of the saying! Asbag rejoined at this juncture:

you have established friendship with his enemies and you are inimical with his friends.”

“Then with Allah’s witness I say that

Ref: Shara Nahj al Balaga, Vol 1, Page 360

It was the fruit of this enmity that Muawiya gave to Abu Hurarira the governorate of Madina and showered many favors on him. He gave special privileges to his children after his death. When he received the news of his death, Muawiya wrote to his representative Walid ibne Uqba:

“Search for his successors and give them 10,000 Dirhams and treat them with kindness. He was among those who helped Osman during his incarceration and remained at his House.”

Ref: Tabqaat Ibne Saad, Vol2, Page 340

Connection with Muawiya and attachment to the clan of Bani Umayya was there and, in addition, Abu Huraira was known for narrating more tradition than any other person of his time, although he had privilege of being with the Prophet (s.a.) for a very short while. He narrated more traditions than the persons who had spent the maximum time of their lives with the Prophet (s.a.). This excess of narration by him rendered his narratives rather doubtful. Hazrat Omer, feeling the effect of excessive narration by Abu Huraira, has chided him and said:

“Stop narrating traditions. If you don’t comply with my Instruction, I shall pack you away to the region of the Tribe of Dose.

Ref: Sair Aalaam al Nabla, Page 424

It was the time when Abu Huraira was of the opinion that his mind was a storehouse of traditions and it was withheld as “unworthy” of narration: “Whatever I know of, if I start telling to people,

they will start throwing crocks on me and

say that Abu Huraira is mad!”

Ref: Tabaqaat Ibne Saad, Vol 4, Page 321

Hazrat Ali (a.s.) too was not convinced of his honesty and straightforwardness in narrating the traditions. He therefore said: “Abu Huraira said lot of falsehoods about the Prophet (s.a.)” Ref: Shara Ibne Abil Hadeed, Vol 1, Page 360

Similarly the presence of Ibne Omar at the time of abu Talib’s demise doesn’t sound probable because he was born three years after the Baasat (the Annunciation). This means that at the time of Abu Talib’s death his age was around seven years, and the presence of so young a child at such a somber occasion is not possible in the midst of the chiefs of bani Hashim and the elite of Qureish! Even if he was present there by any chance, how would it be possible for a small child to hear the whispers of the Prophet (s.a.) and Abu Talib and recount the exchange.. Ibne Omer, therefore, cannot be accepted as a witness to the event. And as long as it cannot be established as to the person from whom he heard of the event, his narration will have no weight. Added to this fact, Ibne Omar was among the persons who, after the third Caliph, had refused to owe allegiance to Hazrat Ali (a.s.). He always remained angry with hazrat Ali (a.s.) As far as Ibne Abbas was concerned, he was born three years prior to the Hijra (The Migration) at Shaab e Abu Talib and the same year Abu Talib had expired. Hence, there is no question of his presence during the event and capability to report anything about what happened at the time of Abu Talib’s death. Who could imagine that a babe in arms could hear and recount anything! If he had heard about the episode from some eye witness, he never mentioned any name to establish the veracity of the narration. It appears that some interested parties had concoted the story and attributed it to Ibne Abbas thinking that the hearers might get impressed with his family background and give some credence to the narration.

Further, the other persons in Abu Huraira’s narration, VIz: Mohammed ibne Ibad, Ibne abi Omer or Ibne Kaisan are all insignificant and not dependable as witness to the event. In the narration of Ibne Omer or Ibne Abbas, the two persons named, Abdul Qudous Shami and Abu Sahl Siri, are liars and undependable according to the experts in Ilm ar Rijaal

Secondly, when the Prophet of Islam (a.s) was warned through the Verse of the Quran, “Wa anzar ashiratak alaqrabeen- Warn your near ones”, and particularly asked him to invite his kin to Islam. After the revelation of this Verse, The Prophet (s.a.) started his missionary activities from the very abode of Abu Talib. Then, it doesn’t stand to reason that he was inviting other kinsmen to join the fold and left Abu Talib alone and had no idea till his end to ask hi m to recite the kalmia! Did the Prophet (s.a.) not feel the necessity of inviting Abu Talib to embrace Islam for ten long years sharing the same roof with him.. Was he under the impression that if he insisted on Abu Talib changing his beliefs, he might turn hostile and stop giving

support that was very vital for the Mission at that critical time! It the first case, it means that the Prophet (s.a.) didn’t care to convert Abu Talib to his Faith. In the second case, there will be an element of self interest that cannot be expected from as august a personage as him. The only other alternative is that, from the very beginning, and which is very likely, that the Prophet (s.a.) was convinced of the Faith of Abu Talib and, therefore, he concentrated with his mission in other places! Then what is the question of his insisting on Abu Talib to recite the Kalima when he was in the throes of death!

Thirdly, there are several versions about the purpose of the revelation of this verse. One tradition concerning it is that during the Battle of Ohod the Prophet (s.a.)’s tooth was broken. At that moment he raised his hands and prayed, “O Allah! Guide these ignorant people!” At that time the Verse was revealed. There is another tradition that this Verse was revealed when the Prophet wanted Harith ibne Noman to embrace Islam and he remained hesitant to accept the new creed. Hazrat Ayesha says:

“The Verse Innaka la tahdi min ahbabat’

Was revealed when I was with the Prophet (s.a.) Under the comforter.”

Ref: Marqat bar Hashia Tirmizi, Vol 2, Page 96

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