This write-up is second in a series of pieces that will highlight Rasulullahs’ SA experience with Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA, and the numerous ways in which Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA defended him, thus, enabling him to navigate Qurayshs’ complex tribal structure and firmly establish Islam amongst the existing traditions.
Rasulullah SA wed Maulatona Khadija AS, and Maulana Ali AS and Maulatona Khadija AS become the first man and she the first woman to answer Rasulullahs’ SA call to Islam. They were Islam’s only adherents for eight years, or in some narrations ten years. Later, Rasulullah SA gathered his family members, presented Islam upon them, and asked who amongst them would become his successor and aid him in establishing Islam. Maulana Ali AS was the only one to answer, and this was one of the first narrated instances where Rasulullah SA publicly appointed Maulana Ali AS as his successor. This event took place, as narrated by the famous historian Ibn Ishaq, after the 214th aayat from Surat al-Sho´araa’ وانذر عشيرتك الاقربين”” (And warn your nearest kinsmen) was revealed to Rasulullah SA. Soon after, Islam spread throughout Quraysh and with its growth the number of Muslims increased. As a result, the leaders of Quraysh grew weary of Islam’s increasing influence and plotted against Rasulullah SA, conspiring to end the propagation of a religion that directly threatened their tribal power structure and pagan religion. The below translated excerpt from Syedna Qadi Noman’s Kitaab al-Manaaqib wa al-Mathaalib highlights Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA defense of Rasulullah SA throughout this period, and his skilled deferment of multiple pleas various subgroups of Quraysh made, appealing him to conspire with them against Rasulullah SA, or to at least clear their path in capturing him.
Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA remained steadfast and resolute in his intention to aid Rasulullah SA in the spread of Islam. Rasulullah SA called the people of Makkah al-Mukarramah and Quraysh towards Islam, informed them about what was revealed to him by Allah, warned them of Allah’s wrath, and refuted their existing modes of worship. Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA stood before those who attempted to prevent Rasulullah SA from spreading this message. The rise of Islam was untenable for the pagans of Quraysh since it involved disavowing their existing deities. The leaders of Quraysh, therefore, met and conspired amongst themselves on how to approach Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA to resolve this matter. They came to him complaining, “O’ Abu Ṭalib indeed your brother’s son curses our deities, criticizes our religion, stultified our intelligence, declared our forefathers as infidels, and we see that you defend him and stand in front of him. So, either you deal with him on behalf of us, or you clear the path between us and him.” Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA replied gently and friendly and answered them with a seemingly assuring response. As a result, they turned away from him and Rasulullah SA continued spreading Islam as he was ordered to by Allah Ta´ala.
Many answered Rasulullah’s SA call and entered Islam, however, this troubled Banu Umayyah (a clan in Quraysh named after Abd Shams b. Abd Manaf, Abd Shams was Rasulullah’s SA great-grandfather’s twin) who held deep-rooted hatred for Banu Hashim (Rasululla’s SA great-grandfather Maulana Hashim AS). Together, they approached Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA and said, “Indeed, we had come and complained to you of the difficulties inflicted upon us by your brother’s son. You possess high status amongst us, but we do not possess enough patience on what has come upon us from your brother’s son including: cursing our deities, stultifying our intelligence, and leading astray a portion of our society. So, either you deal with him, or we will fight you and those that follow him until either party perishes. Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA once more tactfully told them, “I will look into what will bring truce by Allah’s will.”
Shortly after, Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA learned that Abd Shams had agreed to wage war on Rasulullah SA and his followers, and had determined that acting quickly was better than waiting till Rasulullah SA gained strength. This news bore heavily upon him, so he met Rasulullah SA and said, “O’ my brother’s son perhaps your tribe’s plot has reached you, and I have deferred them tactfully, but I do not see them turning away from harming you and your followers. Ease things upon yourself and me, and do not pressure me with what I cannot bear.” Upon hearing this, Rasulullah SA thought that aiding him had become difficult for Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA, so he said accordingly, “O’ my uncle do not trouble your soul with that which you cannot bear, but as for me, by Allah, even if the sun was placed in my right hand and the moon in my left I will not leave this matter, until Allah revels it and I am sacrificed for it.” Rasulullah SA then stood up and began to leave. Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA called him back and proclaimed, “O’ my brother’s son, go and say as you like and do as you wish for by Allah I will never surrender you for anything.” Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA then composed verses that encapsulate his steadfast intent to aid Rasulullah SA:
“By Allah they will not reach you even if they all come together until I am covered with dirt; buried.
Then strive for what you have been commanded, there is no shame upon you, and do so with pleasure and joy.
You called me and I thought you to be a well-wisher, then indeed you spoke the truth and are trustworthy.
You presented me with a religion, that I know is the best in the world.
If it were not for blame or my fear you would indeed find me accepting of this matter clearly.”
When Banu Shams learned of Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA resoluteness in aiding Rasulullah SA they feared that Rasulullah SA and his followers would become a unified entity and then they would not be capable of doing anything to prevent them. Thus, they gathered and approached those aligned with them from Banu Abde Manaf and told them about their incident with Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA and the poetry he composed about this matter which reached them. They all agreed on a proposal to present to Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA. They then approached him and told him “We have indeed shared with you wall that has been inflicted upon us by your brother’s son, and we saw fit to present you Ummara Bin Walid (they had brought him with them), indeed you know his reputation as the noblest and the most skillful poet amongst the youth in Quraysh. We give him to you. Take him, his intellect and services are at your disposal. Count him as your child in place of Mohammed, and clear the path between us and him. For indeed he has opposed your religion and the religion of our forefathers, broke our tribe’s social cohesion, and stultified out intelligence. Indeed, this is the trade of a man by another man.” Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA, replied “By Allah, bad is the barter that you offer me, that I take your child and raise him, while I clear the path between you and my child so you may kill him. This will never happen.” Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA then composed verses encouraging Banu Abde Manaf and trying to persuade Abd Shams upon aiding him in supporting Rasulullah SA.
Evan after these verses reached Banu Shams, they remained unchanged in their opposition to Rasulullah SA because of their deep-seated hatred rooted in the historical rivalry with Banu Abd Manaf, but Banu Abd Manaf joined Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA in aiding Rasulullah SA except for Abu Lahab who remained entrenched in his hatred. When the polytheists of Quraysh saw the pact between Banu Abdul Muttalib and Banu Hashim with Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA they realized that they would not be able to harm Rasulullah SA. Therefore, they began torturing those they perceived weaker amongst Quraysh’s Muslims and pressured them to revert to polytheism. However, Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA protected them all, and those that were somewhat hurt remained patient and endured the hardships they faced.
The next article will continue highlighting Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA defense and protection of Rasulullah SA during the Mawsim (particular times of the years when the various tribes gathered, i.e. the Mawsim of Haj). Banu Abd Shams feared that the various tribes of Arab will lean towards Rasulullah SA and answer his calling to Islam. Thus, they plotted against him. It is in this time that Maulana Abu Ṭalib SA composed his famous, “Lammiyah Abu Ṭalib,” a poem in defense of Rasulullah and one that reveals Maulana Abu Ṭalib’s SA true support of Islam and its followers. The next article will extensively cover the contents of this famous Qasidah and its historical context.