Rasulullahs’ SA esteemed status in the eyes of Maulana Abū Ṭālib and the Meeting of Bahira
This piece is first of a series of pieces that will highlight Rasulullahs’ SA experience with Maulana Abū Ṭālib SA, and the numerous ways through which Maulana Abū Ṭālib SA defended him, allowing him to navigate Qurayshs’ complex tribal structure and establish Islam amongst existing traditions.
Maulana Abū Ṭālib SA was Rasulullahs’ SA uncle, and Maulana Abdullahs’ brother. Him and Maulana Abdullah AS shared both paternal and maternal lineage (as opposed to a half-brother). Maulana Abū Ṭālibs’ name was Abde Manaf. He, and his full brothers, Maulana Abdullah, and Zubair were the sons of Fatima Binte Amr one of the wives of Maulana Abdullah AS. When Maulana Abdulmuttalibs’ (Rasulullahs’ SA grandfather, whose care he stayed in after the passing of his parents) passing neared, as part of his will, he bequeathed Maulana Abū Ṭālib AS to take Rasulullah SA in his care. Maulana Abū Ṭālib AS sheltered Rasulullah SA, treated him with special dignity and esteem, and sequestered a special close and esteemed space near himself for Rasulullah SA. Rasulullah SA was widely known as Maulana Abū Ṭālibs’ beloved child. Maulana Abū Ṭālib AS kept Rasulullah as one of his children. In fact, he privileged Rasulullah over all of his children, and held Rasulullah in an esteemed position above the rest of his offspring. This was honoring both the fact that he was his brothers’ son, and the promise he had given his respected father Maulana Abdulmuttalib AS. Additionally, his special care for him was inspired by the signs of prophet-hood, and noble character that Maulana Abū Ṭālib AS witnessed in Rasulullah SA.
When Maulana Abū Ṭālib AS planned a trip to Syria with a group from Quraysh he recognized gloominess and melancholy on Rasulullahs’ SA radiant countenance, thus, he inquired about Rasullahs’ sadness. Rasulullah SA expressed that his face was an expression of the dreariness he was anticipating because of Maulana Abū Ṭālibs’ departure. Hence, Maulana Abū Ṭālib AS compassionately took Rasulullah SA with him on his trip.
They parted together and reached Sawmaah in Buṣrā, Syria, the location of a Bahrani Nestorian Monk Bahira. Members from Quraysh often made camp near this location, but Bahira never acknowledged them nor spoke to them. However, when Maulana Abū Ṭālibs’ AS group, amongst whom was Rasulullah SA, passed Sawmaah, Bahira approached Maulana Abū Ṭālib AS and inquired of his and his men’s well-being. Bahia possessed divine foreknowledge and omniscience as a result of his extensive study and understanding of seminal religious texts. He looked towards Rasulullah SA and inquired of his well-being and his general history and with a pensive look internally contemplated.
He then privately addressed Maulana Abū Ṭālib. He foretold, “Indeed the son of your brother has lofty importance, and indeed he will soon be sent as a prophet, this is his time and these are his characteristics”. He then warned him of those who harbour ill-feelings towards him.
While they are speaking, a group of such individuals approached. They noticed Bahira with Maulana Abū Ṭālib AS and they looked towards Rasulullah SA and saw the signs of prophet-hood in him and, thus, intended ill with him as Bahira foretold. In response, Bahira spoke to them, denied them access to Rasulullah SA, and warned them that Quraysh would never surrender him. Thus, Maulana Abū Ṭālib was able to safely return with Rasulullah to Quraysh.
In one narration, it is transmitted that Bahira saw a cloud that shadowed Rasulullah SA and followed him wherever he walked. This is why Bahira engaged the traveling party from Quraysh and prepared food for them.