Abdul Muttalib Son of Hashim
Introduction to Abdul Muttalib
Abdul Muttalib was the grandfather of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (S). His mother's name was Salma and his father was Hashim.
Abdul Muttalib was born in Madina. His mother named him Shibah. He was very young when his father Hashim died. When Hashim was about to die, he told his brother Muttalib, "Go to Madina and bring my son Shibah to Makka."
Muttalib went to Madina and brought his nephew Shibah back to Makka with him. When the people saw the young Shibah with his uncle, they thought he was his slave, and called him Abdul Muttalib, which means slave of Muttalib. Although Muttalib tried to explain that the boy was his nephew, the name stuck, and from that time onwards, Shibah was always known as Abdul Muttalib.
Muttalib continued to manage his brother Hashim's duties until Abdul Muttalib was old enough to take over.
Abdul Muttalib took over the duties of Saqaya and Rifada when his uncle Muttalib died. He had many good qualities and made many changes to the lives and habits of the Quraish. Some of these were:
1. He was the first man to make Nazr and fulfil it. A Nazr is where a person promises Allah that, if his wish is granted, he will perform a certain good deed.
2. He stopped the custom of marriages between close relatives like brother and sister, mother and son, etc.
3. He started the rule of cutting off the hand of a thief.
4. He stopped the people from drinking alcohol.
5. He discouraged the terrible practice of burying daughters alive.
6. He set the fine of 10 camels for killing a person by mistake.
7. He was the first to give 1/5 (Khums) of treasure in the way of Allah.
Abdul Muttalib lived for 82 years and his good leadership earned him the title Sayyidul-Bat'ha, which means Chief of Makka.
The Well of Zam Zam
The well of Zam Zam had existed since the time of Prophet Ibrahim (A). It was a sign of Allah's Mercy to Prophet Ibrahim's (A) wife Hajira and son Prophet Isma'il (A). This blessed well exists even today.
After Prophet Isma'il (A), the tribe of Jarham settled around the well of Zam Zam and used its water for their needs. When they grew rich and powerful in Makka, they did not take care of the well and overused it, so it dried up.
By the time Abdul Muttalib was born, people only knew that the well of Zam Zam existed, but nobody knew where it was anymore.
One day Abdul Muttalib received instructions in a dream to dig up Zam Zam and was given some signs as to where it was. He took his eldest son Harith, and after digging for four days, they managed to find the entrance of the well.
The Quraish claimed that the well belonged to the whole tribe so everyone should have the honour of digging the well. Abdul Muttalib wanted to dig up the well himself, so that he could arrange the distribution of water to everyone, especially the pilgrims, in an organised way.
They could not reach a decision, so they decided to go to a famous wise person in Syria and follow whatever he said.
Every clan sent one person to represent itself. Abdul Muttalib with his son and companions were in one caravan and the others were in another.
During the long journey Abdul Muttalib's caravan had run out of water so they asked the other people for some, but were refused. The situation was such that Abdul Muttalib thought they would die and asked everyone to dig their grave so that when the first person died the other would bury him, and it would only be the last person who would remain unburied. They all dug their own graves.
After some time Abdul Muttalib decided that it was better to keep searching than to die in such a way. By Allah's Mercy, they soon discovered water. Thus, they were able to quench their thirst and fill their waterskins. The other group requested for water. The companions of Abdul Muttalib tried to refuse, but Abdul Muttalib said that if they did that, then there would be no difference between the two.
Seeing the kindness of Abdul Muttalib, the other group said that the miracle of discovering water in the middle of the desert was proof from Allah that the well of Zam Zam belonged to Abdul Muttalib. They did not go on any further and returned to Makka at once.
On his return, Abdul Muttalib dug deeper in the well and found some treasure - two gold deer, some swords and battle armour. The Quraish again claimed a share of the treasure and were prepared to fill up the well if they did not get it. It was decided to draw lots, and the result was that the two gold deer went to the Holy Ka'ba and the rest to Abdul Muttalib, and the Quraish got nothing.
It was then that Abdul Muttalib gave 1/5 of his share to be spent in the way of Allah.
Abdul Muttalib's Nazr
When Abdul Muttalib was digging the well of Zam Zam, he felt that his position amongst the Quraish was weak because he had only one son. At that time he made a Nazr, a promise to Allah, that if he got 10 sons, he would sacrifice one of them to Allah.
Allah blessed Abdul Muttalib with many children. He had 12 sons, some whose names were Harith, Abu Talib, Hamza, Abbas, Abu Lahab and Zubayr. He also had 6 daughters.
When the number of his sons reached ten, Abdul Muttalib knew it was time to fulfil the Nazr. Although it was very difficult for him to sacrifice and lose one of his beloved sons, he did not want to break his promise to Allah. After discussing the matter with his sons, he decided that one would be selected by drawing lots. When the lots were drawn, the name of Abdullah, the father of our Holy Prophet (S), came up.
Abdullah was the youngest and most loved son of his father, but Abdul Muttalib did not turn away from his duty and took Abdullah to the place of sacrifice. However, his family and the people of Quraish were very sad at the thought of losing the young Abdullah and begged Abdul Muttalib to find another solution.
When the problem was put before a wise man, he suggested that a lot should be cast between Abdullah and 10 camels. In case the lot still fell to Abdullah, a further 10 camels should be added and the lot cast again. This should be repeated till the lot fell to the camels.
In those days the penalty for the accidental killing of a person (blood price) was 10 camels, and the Quraish liked this solution. After a great deal of persuasion, Abdul Muttalib agreed.
A lot was cast between Abdullah and 10 camels but the result was Abdullah. The number was increased to 20, but still Abdullah's name came out. The number was increased by 10 until it reached 100. Finally when a lot was cast between Abdullah and 100 camels, the lot fell to the camels. The people were overjoyed, but Abdul Muttalib was not sure he had fulfilled his duty to Allah. So he drew the lots three more times, and each time it fell to the camels.
Finally, Abdul Muttalib was satisfied that his action was correct. He ordered that 100 camels belonging to him should be slaughtered that same day in front of the Holy Ka'ba and no person or animal should be stopped from eating the meat.
In this way Allah protected Abdullah, who later was to become the father of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (S). One year before Aamul Feel (The Year of the Elephant), Abdullah got married to Aamina, daughter of Wahab. Aamina was to become the mother of the Holy Prophet (S).
One year after his marriage, Abdullah was returning from trade in Syria and fell ill in Madina. When Abdul Muttalib heard about it, he sent his son Harith to go and see him. By the time Harith arrived, Abdullah had died. He was buried in Madina. He died two months before his great son was born.
The Holy Prophet (S) used to say, "I am the son of two sacrifices, Prophet Isma'il (A) and Abdullah".
Aamul Feel - The Year of the Elephant
Yemen is a country that neighbours Arabia. Just before the birth of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (S), the ruler of Yemen was a man called Abraha. When Abraha learnt that the Arabs looked upon the Holy Ka'ba with great honour, he decided to build a huge church in San'a in Yemen. When the church was built, he asked the Arabs to leave the Holy Ka'ba and come to his church instead.
The Arab tribes not only ignored this invitation, but one night a woman from the tribe of Bani Afqam even used the place as a toilet. In another incident, some Arab travellers sheltering in the church lit a fire to keep themselves warm and by mistake burnt the church down. As a result, Abraha was very angry and decided to destroy the Holy Ka'ba once and for all.
In 570 A.D. Abraha marched at the head of a huge army towards Makka. He camped outside Makka, and then sent a few of his people to capture the camels of the Makkans. Of the camels captured, around 200 belonged to Abdul Muttalib.
An officer from Abraha came to the Makkans, saying that he did not wish to hurt them but had come to demolish the Holy Ka'ba with his Elephant. Abdul Muttalib, the chief of the Quraish, said that they too did not want to fight Abraha. As for the Holy Ka'ba, it was the house of Allah and He would do whatever He pleased.
Abdul Muttalib then went with some of his sons to see Abraha. Abraha welcomed him with respect. He expected Abdul Muttalib to ask him not to destroy the Holy Ka'ba but instead Abdul Muttalib asked for the return of his camels. Abraha was surprised that Abdul Muttalib was talking about camels when the Holy Ka'ba itself was going to be destroyed.
In response to Abraha's remarks, Abdul Muttalib gave a famous reply, saying: "I am the owner of the camels. The House too has a Master who looks after it." On hearing this, Abraha shook his head and proudly replied: "There is none powerful enough to stop me."
On his return, Abdul Muttalib ordered the people to leave Makka and go to the hills for safety. He then prayed to Allah to protect them and the Holy Ka'ba from any harm.
The next morning Abraha prepared to march towards Makka. All of a sudden, a flock of birds appeared from the side of the sea, holding tiny stones in their claws and beaks. Each bird held three stones and they showered the stones on the army of Abraha in such a way that the Elephant and many men were soon dead. One of the stones hit Abraha on his head and he was so frightened that he ordered the remaining men in his army to retreat at once. Many of his men died on the way back and Abraha himself reached San'a with the flesh falling from his body and died a painful death. This dreadful and miraculous event is mentioned in the Holy Qur'an in the following verses:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful
Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the People of the Elephant? Did He not cause their plan to go astray? He sent down upon them flocks of birds, who showered them with stones of baked clay. So they became like straw eaten up by cattle.
(Suratul Feel, 105:1-5)
THE BIRTH OF THE HOLY PROPHET (S)
The Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad Al-Mustafa (S), was born after sunrise on Friday the 17th of Rabiul Awwal 570 A.D. in Makka. He was born in the Year of the Elephant, when Abraha tried to destroy the Holy Ka'ba.
The parents of the Holy Prophet (S) were Abdullah son of Abdul Muttalib and Aamina daughter of Wahab. Abdullah died two months before his son was born and was buried in Madina. The Holy Prophet (S) belonged to the respected family of Bani Hashim from the tribe of Quraish.
Abdul Muttalib decided to bring up the Holy Prophet (S) under his own care. On the seventh day of the birth of his grandson, he slaughtered a sheep to show his gratitude to Allah for blessing him with a healthy grandson. Many people were invited to take part in the celebrations.
In this gathering, Abdul Muttalib announced to the people that he would name the child "Muhammad", which means "One who is worthy of praise". When the Quraish asked him why he was keeping such an unusual name, he replied that he wanted his grandson to be praised in the heavens and on the earth.
Before this event, the Holy Prophet's (S) mother had already named him "Ahmad". Allah has referred to him by both names in the Holy Qur'an.
The Holy Prophet (S) was breastfed by his own mother Aamina for three days only. As was the custom in those days, he was then given to a foster-mother to nurse. Two women had this honour.
Suwaybah. She was a slave of Abu Lahab and nursed the Holy Prophet (S) for four months. The Holy Prophet (S) and his wife Bibi Khadija (A) always regarded her with great kindness throughout her life. When the Holy Prophet (S) returned from the battle of Khaybar he learnt of her death and was saddened by it.
Halimah. She belonged to the tribe of Sa'd bin Bakr. She brought up the Holy Prophet (S) outside the city of Makka in the desert. Here he grew up strong and healthy and learnt the pure Arabic language of the desert. He stayed with her for five years.
THE CHILDHOOD OF THE HOLY PROPHET (S)
The Holy Prophet (S) lived in the desert with Halimah for five years and she looked after him very well. During this time he learnt about handling animals and also trained in archery. In this happy atmosphere he grew up strong and healthy. Halimah regarded him as very special, because ever since he had come under her care, she was showered with the blessings of Allah and became rich.
When he was five years old, Halimah returned the Holy Prophet (S) to the care of his mother Lady Aamina. The young boy was very dear to his grandfather Abdul Muttalib, because he reminded him of his son Abdullah.
Lady Aamina decided to go to Madina to visit the grave of her husband, Abdullah, and also meet some of her relatives. She took the Holy Prophet (S) along with her and stayed for one month. On the way back to Makka, tragedy struck, and Lady Aamina fell ill at a place called Abwa. After a short time she died and was buried there. The Holy Prophet (S) was now an orphan and Abdul Muttalib took him under his wing. He loved his grandson very much and made sure that he did not feel unwanted. The Holy Qur'an mentions this event as follows:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful
Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter?
(Suratu Dhuha, 93:6)
The Holy Prophet (S) was only eight years old when he lost his grandfather. Before his death, Abdul Muttalib made his son Abu Talib responsible for taking care of the young child.
This was a duty, which Abu Talib carried out fully for the rest of his life.
The loss of Abdul Muttalib made the Holy Prophet (S) very sad, and he kept weeping upto the very edge of the grave and never forgot his kindness.
There were many reasons why Abdul Muttalib chose Abu Talib as the guardian of the Holy Prophet (S). Abu Talib and Abdullah were born of the same mother. He was also well known for his generous nature. He treated the Holy Prophet (S) better than his own sons, and never let him feel lonely.
When the Holy Prophet (S) was twelve years old, Abu Talib took him on a trade journey into Syria with a caravan of the Quraish. On the way they passed through Madyan, the Qura valley and the country of Samud and saw the beautiful natural scenery of Syria. The Holy Prophet (S) used to say that this was one of the most pleasant trips he had ever been on.
At Basra, the caravan stopped to stock up supplies for the rest of the journey. There was an old Christian monk whose name was Bahira, who lived in an old monastery in Basra. The monk never used to speak but when he saw the Holy Prophet (S), he broke his silence and asked, "Who is this boy?" Abu Talib answered that he was his nephew. Bahira then said, "This boy has a brilliant future. He is the same Prophet whose coming has been foretold in the Heavenly Books. His religion will spread throughout the world. However, you must guard him from the Jews, because if they learn about him, they will kill him".
Some historians say that after this warning, Abu Talib did not like to continue his journey and returned with the Holy Prophet (S) to Makka, while others say that he went on to Syria but kept an extra watch over the safety of the Holy Prophet (S). In any case, Abu Talib was more careful than before about the safety of his nephew.
Some historians have written that the Holy Prophet (S) learnt about the stories of the other Prophets and history from the Christian monk and that is how he related them to the people in the form of the Holy Qur'an. This is a shameful lie. It is difficult for one to believe that the Holy Prophet (S) learnt all the stories from his short meeting with the Christian and managed to remember everything for 28 years and then pretended that the Holy Qur'an was revealed to him at the age of 40. The meeting with Bahira served no real purpose except to make Abu Talib aware that his nephew was a very special person.
Thus, the Holy Prophet (S) grew up in the household of Abu Talib, loved and cherished by all. His aunt, Fatima binte Asad, the wife of Abu Talib and mother of Imam Ali (A) looked after him as if he was her own son.
Now you know
When the Holy Prophet (S) reached the age of five, Halimah returned him to the care of his mother Lady Aamina.
Lady Aamina took the Holy Prophet (S) to Madina to visit the grave of her husband, Abdullah, and to meet some of her relatives. However, on the return journey she fell ill and died at a place called Abwa, where she was buried.
Orphaned, the Holy Prophet (S) was taken under the care of his grandfather Abdul Muttalib. Sadly, when he was only eight years old he also lost his grandfather.
So, the responsibility of looking after the Holy Prophet (S) was handed over to his uncle Abu Talib, who treated him better than his own sons. His aunt, Fatima daughter of Asad also treated him well.
At the age of twelve Abu Talib took the Holy Prophet (S) on a trade journey with a caravan of the Quraish. At Basra, an old Christian monk by the name of Bahira upon seeing the Holy Prophet (S) inquired who he was. Abu Talib said that he was his nephew.
Bahira said that this boy was the same Prophet mentioned in the Heavenly Books. His religion would spread throughout the world. However, if the Jews found him, they would kill him.
From then on Abu Talib took special care of the Holy Prophet (S).