Hadrat Abu Taleb’s Steadfast Faith in Islam
By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
Although over 50 years in age Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) became an orphan anew this day with the loss of the Primordial Muslim, his uncle and guardian, Abu Taleb (AS). It was a double blow within a year for the widower Prophet who was still in the state of mourning for his loving wife, Umm al-Momineen (Mother of Believers), Hazrat Khadija (SA), who had left the mortal world on the 10th of the previous Ramadhan and with whom he had spent almost 26 years of marital bliss.
No wonder the year is known in the history of Islam as Aam al-Hozn (Year of Grief) for the undeniable fact that the Prophet’s 12-year mission in his hometown Mecca was indebted to these towering personalities. If Khadija’s (SA) proverbial wealth had been exhausted to feed, clothe and shelter the neo-Muslim community, the stature of Abu Taleb as Shaykh al-Bat’ha (Senior Statesman) had prevented persecution from the infidels who now became bold to plot against the Prophet’s life.
This dramatic turn of events brought about the Prophet’s historic migration to Medina at God’s command. The rest is history: how the life of the Prophet was saved by Abu Taleb’s youthful son, Imam Ali (AS), and how the latter risked his life by volunteering to sleep on his cousin’s bed that memorable night to enable him to leave Mecca undetected when assassins hovered around the abode of divine revelation.
Since the passing away of Abu Taleb (AS) was a terrible blow for the Prophet, let us join him in this moment of grief in paying our tribute to the direct successor of the monotheistic legacy of the Prophets Abraham (AS) and Ishmael (AS).
Abu Taleb (AS), whose real name was Imran, was the custodian of the Holy Ka’ba, a position he inherited from his father Abdul-Mutallib (AS), and was beside him that fateful day in Mecca when the elephant-led hordes of Abraha the Abyssinian governor of Yemen were miraculously routed by a flock of tiny birds ere they could carry out their threat to destroy the symbolic house of the Unseen but Omnipotent Creator.
It was the year (570 CE) in which the Prophet was born, and as was demonstrated in the subsequent years, so great was Abu Taleb’s love, care and concern for his orphaned nephew that he stood steadfast beside him through thick and thin by giving priority over his own children. At the formal proclamation of Islam by the Prophet, Abu Taleb stood as a bulwark against the pagans and when they imposed social-economic sanctions out of frustration he retired with his nephew and the neo-Muslim community to the gorge outside Mecca (known to this day as She’b Abi Taleb), where he would often expose to danger the life of his own sons for the sake of safety of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
It is strange that despite such yeoman service to Islam, some self-styled Muslims have dared to question the monotheistic beliefs of Abu Taleb, by turning a blind eye to God’s words in the Holy Qur’an (40:28) concerning the True Believer of Pharaoh’s Clan who had concealed his faith for saving the life of Prophet Moses (AS):
“Said a man of faith (rajulun mominun) from Pharaoh’s clan, who concealed his faith (yaktum imanuhu): Will you kill a man for saying “My Lord is Allah”, while he certainly brings manifest proofs to you from your Lord? Should he be lying, on him will be his lie but if he is truthful, there shall afflict you some of what he promises you. Indeed Allah does not guide someone who is a profligate, a liar.”
The ignorant who accuse Abu Taleb of being an unbeliever ought to know that if such was the case, why the Prophet in view of the explicit commandment of God Almighty to annul marriage between a believer and an unbeliever, did not decree separation between his uncle and his wife Fatema bint Asad, whose faith in Islam is beyond question for even the most narrow-minded skeptics. Does it mean the Prophet dared to disobey God for the sake of an unbelieving uncle?
When Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) was asked about the faith of his great grandfather Abu Taleb (AS), he said: What a strange question; If such was the case, the Prophet would have obeyed God’s command and separated his uncle from his aunt, Fatema bint Asad (SA), who was among the earliest acknowledged Muslims.
In view of these irrefutable facts, any doubt concerning Abu Taleb’s steadfast faith in Islam, exposes the sceptics in their true heathen colours as the offspring of malicious pagans, such as Abu Sufyan and other hardcore infidels, that reluctantly became Muslims and that too as late as 8 AH at the surrender of Mecca a couple of years before the Prophet passed away. The following answer should also remove the doubts raised by another group who out of gross ignorance say that Abu Taleb was merely an adherent of the ancient Abrahamic creed (Hanafi from Hanif or the ‘Upright’ as the Qur’an refers to Prophet Abraham).
They ought to understand that there is no difference between the creed of Abraham (AS) and the creed of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Whatever Abraham preached was Islam and whatever Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) promulgated was actually revival of the Abrahamic creed. Thus Islam was not something new for Abu Taleb (AS), who, like his ancestors, had been brought up as a Muslim and adhered to its tenets in contrast to the idolaters who had to forsake idol-worship and declare their acceptance of Islam when the Prophet invited them to his mission. Moreover, faith is proven by deeds and not mere lip service. The life of Abu Taleb is a proof in this regard.
Much to the chagrin of the skeptics, God the All-Wise has ensured that genuine Islam will forever be identified with the direct progeny of Abu Taleb, the Prophet’s infallible Ahl al-Bayt (thanks to conjugal bond between Imam Ali and Hazrat Fatema Zahra), described by the famous Hadith as-Saqalayn as being on par with the Holy Qur’an