BIOGRAPHY OF IMAM `ALĪ IBN ABĪ-TĀLIB

ID Book

BIOGRAPHY OF

IMAM `ALĪ IBN ABĪ-TĀLIB

Translation of SIRAT AMIR AL-MU’MININ

Author: Mufti Ja`far Husayn

Translator: Sayyid Tahir Bilgrami

Publisher: Ansariyan Publications – Qum

First Edition 1427 -1385 - 2006

Thamin Al-a'immah Press

Quantity: 2000

Number of Pages: 720

Size: 162 x 229 mm

ISBN: 964-438-798-8

Ansariyan Publications

P.O. Box 187

22 Shohada St., Qum

Islamic Republic of Iran

Tel: 0098 251 7741744 Fax: 7742647

Email: ansarian@noornet.net

www.ansariyan.net www.ansariyan.org

Foreword

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Bismillahirrahmanirrahim

All praise be to Allah alone, and all blessings be upon the Chosen Prophet, Muhammad, and his household whom He has chosen

Amir al-Mu’minin, `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s), is a great and peerless personality whose qualities have been recognized by friends and foes alike. None could ever deny his sterling qualities. He was born in a distinguished family of the tribe of Quraysh. He had the singular distinction of taking birth in the holy precincts of the Ka`bah. He first opened his eyes in this world to see the radiant visage of the Prophet (a.s). He grew and received upbringing under the tutelage of the Prophet (a.s). Imam `Ali (a.s) followed the footsteps of his mentor and cousin from his very childhood. He was always with the Prophet (a.s) like a shadow and derived felicity from the company. Imam `Ali (a.s) accomplished the various stages of upbringing and training under the fond and watchful eyes of the Prophet (a.s) His head and heart absorbed the actions and the exemplary character of the Prophet (a.s).The purity of thoughts and excellence of upbringing elevated Imam `Ali (a.s) to such heights that the moon and the stars appear to be at lower elevations!

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This is a common belief, and true to a certain extent, that the environment plays a major role in shaping the nature and thoughts of persons. But, in this world, there have been august personalities who were not at all affected by the popular beliefs and superstitions. The thinking of these persons has always been different and their actions far apart from those of the populace. `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) has been one such noble personality who, rather than falling in line with the mundane thoughts and habits of the people, left his mark on their thoughts and actions. With his vision, power of comprehension and Allah’s help he was able to draw a line between right and wrong and, therefore, laid the foundation of a new and unique culture and thought process. Instead of treading the beaten track, he left his own footprints for others to follow. Therefore, in that idolatrous period in the history of Arabia, he never bowed his head to anyone other than the Creator, Allah! He kept his radiant forehead safe from bowing to myriad idols installed in the Ka`bah

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those days. Imam `Ali’s thoughts and actions were always in tune with those of the Prophet (a.s). It was the result of this unity of thoughts that no sooner the Prophet (a.s) proclaimed his Message, `Ali (a.s) accepted it and gave the proof of his adherence to the Truth by being the first person to join the Prophet (a.s) in the prayers.

In his early days Imam `Ali (a.s) dedicated himself to the task of propagating Islam as a universal movement. He became a pillar of support for the Prophet (a.s) to confront and fight against the enemies of the Cause. At the Feast of al-`Ashirah when the Quraysh were dumbfounded at the Prophet (a.s)'s Declaration, Imam `Ali (a.s) faced their piercing eyes and stood firmly to witness the Prophet-hood of Muhammad (a.s). He publicly declared his support to the Prophet (a.s) and remained steadfast in his resolve until the end. History bears witness to the fact that when the infidel Quraysh exceeded all bonds of decency in torturing and ridiculing the Prophet (a.s) and his followers, they had to take shelter in a cave. Imam `Ali (a.s) braved all these hardships and never left the side of the Prophet (a.s) for a moment. He faced untold hardships but remained firm in his resolve. He was scared neither of the hardships nor the blatant threats of the enemies. He bore the difficulties with absolute equanimity. During the days in Medina, when the different tribes in Arabia kept aside their long drawn differences and joined to confront and harm the Prophet (a.s) and his Cause, Imam `Ali (a.s) stood firm as a wall of steel in the battlefield to vanquish and chase them away. He laid to dust the false pride of the infidels of Quraysh, who in the end capitulated to lay down arms and hypocritically professed allegiance to the New Creed!

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The atmosphere was not congenial for Imam `Ali (a.s) after the closing of the eyes of the Prophet (a.s), the greed for power and pelf turned the Divinely commissioned leadership into worldly rule. These circumstances forced him into self-imposed isolation. But whenever the greater interests of Islam were at stake, he came out of his seclusion and gave invaluable advice to the “powers-that-be” in times of important expeditions and economic or religious matters. During these years of seclusion Imam `Ali (a.s) busied himself in study of Islamic tenets and thoughts. He always preferred collective rights to individual desires. When at the ripe old age of fifty-eight he ascended to the worldly caliphate, he found the State in turmoil. With the plunder of the foreign lands there was excess of wealth in the Nation that had changed the very nature of the Arabs for the worst. Instead of the proverbial simplicity, the life style of Arabs turned towards pomp and show of wealth. Although it was not an easy task to mend the fences, Imam `Ali (a.s) faced the intrigue of the adversaries to protect Islam and its moral values.

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His services in this direction were selfless and his observations are a treasure- house in the annals of Islamic History. In the battlefield and in the halls of debate he represented the cause of Islam with absolute valor and success. Whether it was the Feast of al-`Ashirah or it was the presentation of the Verse of Bara’ah to the infidels of Makkah; whether it was the Capture of Makkah, Purification of the Ka`bah, the expedition of Khandaq or that of Khaybar; Imam `Ali’s services to the cause have a unique distinction enjoyed by none else in the comity of the Prophet’s companions. His efforts are rated the highest in the protection, welfare, propagation and development of the Faith of Islam.

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If his contribution is separated from the History of Islam, the history will appear wanting in content. His achievements are a dominant part of the annals of Islamic History. Although in every epoch efforts were made by his adversaries to put curtains of darkness over his achievement, and the establishments of those days were hand in glove with such historians, their enmity and hatred could not succeed in hiding Imam `Ali’s great contributions, and he continues to shine on the horizon of Islam like the brightest of stars!

Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s), on the one hand patronized learning and knowledge to take the caravan of humanity forward and on the other he himself set brightest examples of virtuous action that became a beacon of guidance for the populace. It is necessary that people follow and emulate his way of life. They should draw light from his thoughts and beliefs. The norms of action should be devised on his teachings and actions. The society must be built on the foundation of unshakable principles. Then only the individual and collective lives will be compatible with the requirements of the Faith and will achieve the moral heights.

With this aim impressions of the life and achievements of Imam `Ali (a.s) are being described in this work. Attempt has been made neither to make a colorful presentation nor to exaggerate any facts. We have abstained from the slightest element of bias in this work and all the facts are presented in the light of authentic historical references. They are arranged in such a way that chronologically the presentation has the interest of a biographical work. If any references have been made to the events of difference and controversy in the narrative, we have limited them to mere quotation of the source material without going into a discussion over the matter. We do pray to Allah that this work dispels the clouds of bias and helps people to understand the great personality. “And with none but Allah is the direction of my affair to a right issue; on Him do I rely and to Him do I turn.”

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BIRTHPLACE AND ORIGIN

BIRTHPLACE AND ORIGIN

Arabia is situated in the south west of the Continent of Asia. It is the biggest peninsula in the world. In the north, it has Syria; in the west are the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, in the south flow the azure blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The coastal area of the Red Sea is a barren desert. Away from the coast, there are dry mountains, desert dunes and sandy stretches merging into the horizon. This desert land is called the Hijaz. This area has no agriculture whatsoever nor are there any means of irrigation for crops to grow. If there is any rain, the water runs away into the valleys of the barren mountains or it is accumulated in the low-lying ditches. For miles and miles there will be no trace of water in the desert. In such a parched area where there are vast stretches of desert land and barren mountains, the likelihood of commercial activity and habitation are naturally sparse. However on the periphery of Ka`bah the `Amaliqah (the giants) used to live a nomadic life. These nomads had no permanent habitation and the search for sustenance and water used to take them from place to place in the desert. Wherever they found some water and greenery, they would set their camps. When the water and the pasture for their animals were exhausted, they would move in search for new source of water.

In the Batha’ Valley of this vast desert habitation started with the progeny of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (a.s). Ibrahim (a.s) was born in Babylon one thousand and eighty one years after the Deluge of Noah (a.s). He lost his father during his early childhood and was brought up by his uncle who was known as Azar. Azar means the chief keeper of the temple. This word was later changed to Azar. Ibrahim (a.s) had his upbringing in an environment where idols were carved and worshipped. They also used to worship the sun, moon and the stars. The statue of the ruler of the time used to be revered and worshipped. In such depraved surroundings, Ibrahim (a.s) never had any wish for idol worship. To the contrary, he was against idol worship from his very childhood. He was very critical of the ways of his people and always invited them to worship one and only God. However, the people never paid any heed to his preaching. They continued thinking that all their affairs were controlled by their lifeless idols! When Ibrahim (a.s) felt that his people were incorrigibly adamant in their false beliefs, he thought of giving them a proof of the abject helplessness of the idols. For this, he waited for an opportune moment. The opportunity came when the inhabitants assembled in the wilderness for celebration of a festival and there was not a single soul in the town. He headed for the temple and broke the biggest idol and many smaller ones. He left the hatchet used for breaking the idols near the neck of the biggest idol. When the people returned to the town, they found that the temple was in utter disarray and the pieces of the broken idols scattered all around. They looked at each other in disbelief and then said that this would be the doing of Ibrahim (a.s) who always talked against the idols. They called Ibrahim (a.s) aside and asked him if he had caused the damage? He replied:

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قَالَ بَلْ فَعَلَهُ كَبِيرُهُمْ هَذَا فَاسْأَلُوهُمْ إِنْ كَانُوا يَنطِقُونَ

This is the doing of their biggest idol. If they have the power of speech, do ask them! (21:63)

When the people heard Ibrahim (a.s) say the impossible thing, they said, “O Ibrahim (a.s)! Have the idols ever spoken?” He replied, “How could those who cannot even speak and defend themselves be of any help to anyone. You consider them your gods and bow to them!” The belief of the idolatrous people was that the idols bring the rains; they help in growing the crops, and give them the means of sustenance and protect them against calamities. Now they found the very idols helplessly shattered. They brooded over the matter and then presented Ibrahim (a.s) at the court of Nimrod. He asked Ibrahim (a.s),” How you dared to harm the idols? Pride has gone so much to your head that you have challenged my divine authority! “Ibrahim (a.s) replied, “What are your idols? They are the handiwork of human sculptors. They are weaker than the weakest creatures! Then how do you expect me to accept you as a god when you have no authority over your own life and death! “Nimrod was furious hearing these words from Ibrahim (a.s). His own uncle threatened Ibrahim (a.s) to crush him with the stones. Nimrod ordered Ibrahim (a.s) to be burnt on a pyre. For this purpose a big pyre was lighted. When the flames rose high, Ibrahim (a.s) was thrown into the fire. Not a single hair of his was burnt. It was as if the pyre was a blooming garden. Seeing this miracle, Nimrod was dumb-founded! But his flame of revenge was not extinguished. He ordered Ibrahim’s assets to be confiscated and exiled him from the kingdom. When Ibrahim (a.s) heard this decree, he said, “You have no right to confiscate my animals and belongings!” Nimrod said, “You have acquired these things living in my realm!” Ibrahim rejoined, “Then, return to me the years that I have spent living in your city and take my belongings!” Nimrod had no reply for this argument. He ordered that his belongings may not be confiscated but he must be banished forthwith.

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Ibrahim (a.s) left Babylon along with his spouse Sarah and nephew Lot (a.s)). Passing through Aleppo and Damascus this small group reached Palestine which, in those days, was called Kan`an. In Palestine, his abode was eleven miles away from Jerusalem. The locality is known as Hebron. Ibrahim (a.s) stayed here for sometime and then proceeded to Egypt to preach the people about the Unity of Allah. When the king of Egypt, Raqyūn, saw the pretty Sarah, evil intentions passed through his mind. When he stretched his hand towards her, it instantly was paralyzed. Raqyūn repented his action and begged for Ibrahim’s pardon. He gave valuable gifts to the group and presented a slave girl, Hajar, to Ibrahim (a.s). This girl later on became the consort of Ibrahim (a.s). The historian al-tabari writes that Hajar was the daughter of `Alwan ibn Sinan, the Pharaoh of Egypt. Ibrahim (a.s) returned to Hebron to make it his permanent place of residence. He prayed to Allah to give him off springs that could help him advance his Mission. His prayers were answered and, at the age of eighty-six, he was blessed with his first son Isma`il (a.s) through Hajar. After sometime, Sarah too gave birth to Ishaq (a.s).

When Sarah presented a son to Ibrahim (a.s) she insisted that he should move away Hajar and Isma`il (a.s) from Hebron. Ibrahim (a.s) agreed and traveled with Hajar and Isma`il (a.s). With Divine Guidance, they reached a desolate place in the wilderness of Hijaz. Although the place was devoid of any human presence, Allah had earmarked it for the location of the Umm al-Qura—the mother of towns. Therefore, with the hands of Ibrahim (a.s), the foundation of habitation at the Holy Place was laid. He left Isma`il (a.s) and Hajar there. Ibrahim (a.s) had made a promise to Sara, while departing from Hebron, that he would settle Hajar and Isma`il (a.s) at a safe place and return to her. Therefore, he left them in the trust of Allah and started on his return journey with a heavy heart that he was leaving behind his beloved son and the faithful wife. When he reached the Mount Kada at some distance, he glanced back at Hajar and Isma`il (a.s) and prayed to Allah:

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رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِنْ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُمْ مِنْ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ.

“O Sustainer! Near Your Holy Abode, where nothing grows, I have settled my progeny. O Our Provider! When my progeny establish Prayer, turn the hearts of people towards them and bestow them with sustenance of fruits that they are grateful to You. (14:27)”

Although Ibrahim (a.s) had faith in Allah’s Beneficence, this prayer gave satisfaction to his heart. He then took the way back to Hebron. Hajar made a canopy of the sheet of cloth and sat under it with little Isma`il (a.s). Although it was quiet all around, the courageous lady was not scared at all. She had absolute trust in Allah. She had with her only one pitcher of water that was exhausted in a day or two. Now she worried about water. As the sun progressed on its journey, the intensity of thirst increased. She became restless looking at the parched face of the baby. She started searching for water in the environs. She climbed over the peaks of Safa and Marwah and made seven trips between the two peaks. When she came back very exhausted, Hajar noticed water oozing from the pebbles of sand. She removed the pebbles and stones from the spot and a spring of sweet and cool water spurted out. Hajar’s happiness knew no bounds. She uttered, “Zam-Zam!” This word in the Hebrew language means, “Stay put!” This thus has become the name of the spring. Hajar quenched the thirst of her baby and herself with the cool water and then erected a parapet around the place with stones gathered from the surroundings so that it served as a cistern for the water. Looking at the water, birds started hovering around the place. In no time, there were signs of life in the desolate wilderness.

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At that time a caravan of Banū-Jarham of Yemen passed that way, going to Syria. When they noticed groups of birds in the horizon of the valley, they were surprised. They wondered what the birds had to do in the desolate, waterless desert. When the caravan descended from the heights of the mountain, they noticed a lady sitting with her bowed head and having a baby on her lap. Nearby they saw a spring of water. Finding the spring there, they asked the permission of Hajar if they could settle down in the neighborhood. Hajar was agreeable to their inhabiting the area, but she told them that without the consent of Ibrahim (a.s) she had no authority to give such a permission to them. She asked them to wait until Ibrahim (a.s) came back and made a decision about their request. When Ibrahim (a.s) arrived there, as promised, Hajar obtained his consent and allowed Banū-Jarham to make a settlement there. Thus, a small colony of shacks was the first community of inhabitants there.

Ibrahim (a.s), with Allah’s Wish, commenced construction of the Holy Ka`bah in that wilderness. Isma`il (a.s) helped his father in this work. He carried stones on his shoulders to the site and Ibrahim (a.s) sorted out the stones to erect the walls of the structure. Thus the team of father and son accomplished the construction of the Ka`bah. It was the result of their sincerity and dedication that very soon Ka`bah got the status of the most revered place of pilgrimage in the entire Arabian Peninsula. People started heading for the Ka`bah from all directions. The population of the place thus increased by leaps and bounds. It became a bustling habitation in the heart of Peninsular Arabia and became known by the name of Bakkah. This is its original name and Zabūr (the Psalms of David) too refers to the place as Bakkah. In the Holy Qur’an too, it is termed as Bakkah when the Book mentions about the event of its construction:

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إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِلْعَالَمِينَ.

“The First House that was made for the people is in Bakkah which is felicitous (place) and a source of inspiration for the worlds. (3:96)”

The other name of Bakkah which is in vogue is Makkah al-Mukarramah (the Honored Makkah). Al-Dahhak says that the ‘ba’ (B letter) of Bakkah has been replaced with ‘mim’ (M letter). He says that both are the names of the same place. Some traditions mention that the place where the Ka`bah is located is Bakkah and the habitation around it is Makkah. There are several versions about the naming of the place but those that have been authenticated by the Infallible Ahl-al-Bayt are that the word Bakkah has its root in the word ‘Buka'’ that means lamentation. The reason for giving this name to the place is that whenever the Arabs from all over assembled there, they lamented and wailed loudly. Therefore, Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq (a.s) has said:

Makkah has been named Bakkah that people used to assemble there and do lamenting and wailing.[1]

Mujahid too had a similar opinion. He says:

Makkah was termed as Bakkah because men and women used to assemble there and wail. [2]

And Makkah is derived from the word ‘Muka'’ that means shouting and whistling. Therefore, Imam al-Rida (a.s) says:

Makkah is called Makkah because people there shout and cry.[3]

This shouting and wailing too was considered as a sort of worship by the people there. Therefore, Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:

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وَمَا كَانَ صَلاتُهُمْ عِنْدَ الْبَيْتِ إِلاَّ مُكَاءً وَتَصْدِيَةً.

Near the Ka`bah their worship was whistling and clapping of hands. (8:35)

In the Holy Qur’an the city of Makkah is also mentioned as Umm-al-Qura. The real meaning of the word Umm is origin or foundation. One reason for terming Makkah as Umm-al-Qura is that a spate of human population originated from here and spread far and wide in the world. Therefore, when Isma`il (a.s) married the daughter of Mazzaz ibn `Amr, the chief of the tribe of Banū-Jarham, his progeny prospered and spread soon into Tehama, Najd and Hijaz and as far as Palestine and Yemen. They also established settlements in other parts of the world. This holy land, besides being the foundation of human settlements also is the center for the Faith and Guidance of the humankind. On this very land, the First House of Allah was constructed. The Message of Islam too was first given from these environs. The call for Tawhid (The Unity of Allah) was given from here and the foundation for the Last and Ultimate Faith of Allah has been laid here. The Revelation of the Holy Qur’an too started in Makkah. The Prophet of Islam was born here and his radiance spread far and wide. It is here that `Ali ibn Abi-Talib was born in the Holy precincts of the Ka`bah. In Makkah, he spent his years from childhood to early youth.

It is a fact that different places in the world have effect on the life in consonance with the geographic location and the climate. Therefore, what thrives in one place generally does not in another clime. Similarly, the land in the same area has stretches that have different types of soil. Therefore, when something is grown on a fertile soil, it thrives. If the same crop is on an infertile piece of land, it will wither. The plants growing on soft soils are generally weak. The shrubs growing on rocky soils are hardy. The reason for this is that the roots of the plants growing on desert soils have to penetrate deep to draw the moisture from there. Therefore, Nature has provided these

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plants the strength to contend with the harsh environment. Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) has also made an observation about such desert soils:

Remember the timber of the trees in the wilderness is strong and the bark of fresh and fleshy plants is weak and puny. The wood from the trees growing in the wild burns well and the fire lasts longer.[4]

Similarly, the soil, the climate and the environment of a place have marked effect on the mental and physical built of the people there. The place of birth influences the character and habits of the people there. When there is a change of environment from the wilderness to urban conglomerates, then they slowly mould themselves towards adoption of the new ways.

If we take stock of the inhabitants of the hot desert lands, we find that they are more frugal, chivalrous and hard working than those living in more comfortable and salubrious climes. In the deserts, people have to contend with harsh situations. Therefore, they have the capability to face these difficulties.

Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) had the faculty of physical strength and equanimity of nature endowed by Allah in abundant measure. Even on human consideration too, the harsh desert environment too was responsible for his great faculty of resilience…

Footnote

[1] Ilal al-Sharā’i`.

[2] Al-Durr al-Manthūr Vol 2, Page 52.

[3] Ilal al-Sharaa’i’.

[4] Nahj al-Balāghah.

FAMILY AND PEDIGREE

FAMILY AND PEDIGREE

It is the law of nature that the traits of the ancestors are transferred to the progeny. Every individual is a reflection and inheritor of the qualities of his forbears. Although uninitiated person may not be able to fathom the subtle transfer of traits from the previous generations to the latter, only a trained physiognomist can do it. By looking at a person and hearing him, they can make an educated guess as to the place of his residence and the tribe he belongs to. Certain tribes in Arabia excelled in their incredible capability of determining the origin of a person by just a cursory look at him. They would say who is the son of which person and belongs to which family not having met him anytime in the past! The author of ‘al-Mustatraf’ writes about the physiognomic skills of the tribes of Banū-Lahab and Banū-Mudlaj that if there was any doubt about the parentage of a child, it would be presented before any member of these tribes. By looking at the child and the men in the group, he would point out the person who had fathered the baby! Once a trader’s son passed through the abode of one of these tribes astride a camel… One person from the tribe looked at the boy and his slave walking in front of the camel and expressed surprise over the resemblance between the two of them. When the boy heard this, doubts entered his mind. When he returned home, he talked to his mother and learned that his natural father was the slave. Once Zayd and his son Usamah were taking rest lying in the al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Holy Prophet’s Mosque) with their faces covered. Majzaz ibn A`war, a person from the tribe of Mudlaj saw their exposed feet and correctly determined as to which were the feet of the father and those that belonged to the son. The person, though, had never met and known either Zayd or Usamah.

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This natural instinct is not there only in some humans, but it is also evidenced in several fauna and flora. One Australian Pastor, Mendel, conducted trials on animals and plants. He crossed the seeds of long and short growing varieties of peas. The crop that resulted was all of long grown peas. He again sowed the seeds from this crop and the result was that seventy-five percent were long growing and the rest were short growing. Similarly, Mendel made trials by crossing white rooster having black spots with a black hen. When the egg from this mating was hatched, the chick was bluish in color. He again crossed this bluish rooster with another hen. The resultant chicks from the eggs thus laid hatched into two blue chicks, one white with black patches and another black chick. Mendel concluded from these experiments that when certain characteristics recess in the first generation, they come back in the latter generations!

These similarities are not only restricted to physical looks but also the character and disposition of the progeny too will be a reflection of the forbears. Therefore, the modern school of genetics has proved that the fetus created by the fusion of the male sperm and the female ovum contain in them the characteristics of the ancestors from both the parents. Each cell of the fetus contains forty six thousand chromosomes that can be seen only through a very sophisticated microscope. Each such chromosome contains at least thirty thousand genes. These genes perform the function of transmitting the characteristics of the forbears to the generation after generation. Therefore, it is the mother’s womb where one starts inheriting the traits of the ancestors. When the baby arrives in the world, he will not only have similarities with the parents and grandparents, but will also manifest, progressively, the mental and physical characteristics of the past generations in the family. It must be borne in the minds that the skills that are acquired with personal effort are not generally inherited. These skills are a result of the environment that a person grows in and the type of upbringing he is given. If the environment and the upbringing are not congenial, then the inherited characteristics of the head and heart might be curbed over a period. But these traits might manifest themselves in the later generations.

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In accordance with this hypothesis, if a person’s ancestors had been persona non grata, then the offspring too is likely to have the undesirable characteristics. To the contrary, if the ancestors were persons of good character, then the offspring too will manifest such qualities. Therefore, to judge a person his family background is a very important yardstick. A person whose ancestral chronology is in the darkness, correct assessment of his character and behavior pattern cannot be pre-determined. This is why it is said, “One who does not know the ancestry of a person, cannot fathom his personality.” To comprehend the personality and ancestral greatness of `Ali (a.s), it is important to make a study of his ancestors who have gone by. This will illustrate the nobility and chivalry of character that was transferred to the progeny from generation to generation.

`Abd-Manaf ibn Qasi

His real name was Mughirah and the kunyah Abū-`Abd-Shams. Because of his extreme good looks he was called as Qamar al-Batha'. Because of his charitable disposition and reverence he was called al-Sayyid. Although the elder son of Qasi, `Abd al-Dar was the keeper of the keys of the Ka`bah, the leadership of Quraysh was vested in `Abd-Manaf. In fact, because of his wisdom and sagacity, he rose to the leadership of the tribe during the lifetime of his father! Diyarbakri writes:

`Abd-Manaf rose to the leadership of the tribe during the lifetime of his father. The Quraysh used to abide by all his commands.[31]

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He followed the ways of his illustrious father and perpetrated the institutions of reform established by him. `Abd-Manaf left behind four sons: Hashim, Muttalib, `Abd-Shams and Nawfal. Hashim and Muttalib are remembered as al-Badran or two moons!

Hashim Ibn `Abd-Manaf

His real name was `Amr and because of his imposing personality he was called `Amr al-`Ala'. His kunyah was Abū-Nazlah, his title Sayyid al-Batha’ and Abul-Batha’. His mother was `Atikah. Instead of his name and kunyah, he was better known as Hashim. The reason for this name was that once, during a famine, he got large number of breads cooked, loaded them on camels and brought from Syria to Makkah. He got a soup prepared from the meat of the camels, shredded the breads into smaller chunks, doused them in to large bowls of the soup and fed the people and the visitors to Makkah. From that day, people started calling him Hashim that means one who makes shreds.

Hashim and `Abd-Shams were born as twins. One was born with his palm attached to the forehead of the other. Both were separated from each other with the blow of a sword. At that time, it was predicted that the progeny of both would fight with each other. Therefore, there was always conflict going on between the two families. These two brothers were the forerunners of the Banū-Hashim and Banū-Umayyah. These two families were poles apart as far as their thoughts and beliefs were concerned. The first conflict came about between Hashim and Umayyah the son of `Abd-Shams. Then there was fight between `Abd al-Muttalib, the son of Hashim, and Harb the son of Umayyah. After Harb, his son, Abū-Sufyan challenged the Prophet of Islam (a.s) and fought many battles against him. After Abū-Sufyan his son, Mu`awiyah fought many gory battles against `Ali (a.s). Thereafter, Yazid, the son of Mu`awiyah, martyred Imam al-Husayn (a.s) and his small group of companions. Thus, the enmity between Banū-Hashim and Banū-Umayyah went on for generation together. Even after embracing Islam, there was no change in the treacherous nature of Banū-Umayyah, and they used all the stratagems to annihilate Banū-Hashim.

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Hashim and `Abd-Shams, though of the same parentage and grand parentage, they were as different as a flower and a thorn growing on the same plant. Hashim was a person of great character and nobility. There always used to be a group of needy persons surrounding him for help. The economic growth of the Quraysh, to a great extent, was due to the help and assistance of Hashim. He inculcated the idea of trade and commerce in the minds of the Quraysh and put them on the path of progress. Even prior to Hashim, Quraysh had some idea of trade and commerce, but it was restricted to dealing only in local transactions. One reason for calling them as Quraysh is that the word comes from taqrush that means work, trade and commerce. Hashim took his trading activities forward and extended it to the markets of Syria and beyond to Abyssinia. He also encouraged the Quraysh to follow in his footsteps. He organized trading caravans to Abyssinia and Yemen during the winters and to Syria, Gaza and Ankara during the summer months. The Caesar of Rome used to hold him in high respect. With his influence on the Caesar, he obtained a charter from him that the merchandise of the Quraysh would not be charged any taxes in his realm, facilities of travel to be extended to the trading caravans and safety was guaranteed. This increased the trading activities of the Quraysh by leaps and bounds.

It has been mentioned while discussing about Qasi that he had nominated his elder son, Abdul Dar, as the keeper of the Ka`bah, but he was not able to prove himself equal to the task. Nor anyone from his progeny rose to prove their capability. Matters went from bad to worse and When Hashim saw that Banū-`Abd-al-Dar were grossly incapable of delivering the goods, he had a discussion with his brothers Muttalib, Nawfal and `Abd-Shams and they all agreed that the responsibility of the upkeep of the Ka`bah must be taken away from Banū-`Abd-al-Dar. They were certain that as long as the management was not changed, things could not be set right. When Banū-`Abd-al-Dar heard of the plans of their removal, they came up for armed conflict. On the other hand, the progeny of `Abd-Manaf too got ready to fight. The Arab tribes were divided into two groups. Banū-Asad, Banū-Zahrah, Banū-Tamim and Banū-Harith joined the ranks of the progeny of `Abd-Manaf. The other group consisted of Banū-Makhzūm, Banū-Sahm and Banū-`Adi who sided with Banū-`Abd-al-Dar. Banū-`Abd-Manaf and their cohorts were called Mutayyibūn and the group of Banū-`Abd-al-Dar was called the al-Ahlaf. Skirmishes were about to break out between the opposing groups when some well meaning arbiters intervened and suggested that a truce should be struck through negotiations. They felt that the consequences of a battle might be very serious. Thus an agreement was reached that the functions of Siqayah and Rifadah were to be with Banū-`Abd-Manaf and that of Nidwah, Hijab and Liwa' (the standard) to remain in the charge of Banū-`Abd-al-Dar. When this agreement was concluded, Banū-`Abd-Manaf drew lots amongst themselves for the control of the departments of Siqayah and Rifadah. The lottery went in the favor of Hashim who assumed control of the two departments.

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Hashim took prompt action to reform the two departments. He improved the arrangements for provision of food and water to the Hajjis. He got two new wells, Sajlah and Budhdhar, dug to increase the availability of water. He perfected the two schemes started by his grandfather, Qasi. Nearer the Hajj season he would assemble the Quraysh near the Ka`bah and give them detailed instructions about providing services to the Hajjis. He would tell them:

O group of Quraysh! You are resident in the neighborhood of Allah and live in His House! The time has come that the pilgrims to the House of Allah are about to come to pay their obeisance. They are all the guests of Allah and deserve all the respect and care from you. Therefore, revere Allah’s guests and take good care of them![32]

After giving this sermon, he used to organize the funds. He used to raise some contributions from the Quraysh but the major part of the funds used to be from his own pocket. He always took care that the Hajjis coming from far away places received good care. Eating-places were arranged in Makkah and Mina and cool, sweet drinking water was copiously provided in leathern containers.

Al-Aswad Ibn Sha`r al-Kalbi had himself witnessed this open house. He writes that when he was the representative of a wealthy lady of his tribe, he used to travel to various places with her merchandise. Once he passed through Mina and `Arafat while the Hajj season was on. It was a dark night. He spent the night at one spot. When he awoke in the morning he noticed tall leather tents of Ta’if hitched at a distance. When he went a little forward, he found large cauldrons placed on smoldering fires. Some animals had already been butchered and some more were about to be cut. Servants were flitting around the place doing their tasks. He was astonished to see the bustle of activity. He felt the urge to meet the chief of the tribe. He went further forward and found a carpeted, tall tent where the chiefs of the Quraysh were seated in a circle. At the center of this group was seated an imposing personality holding a staff in his hand and wearing a black scarf on his head. From the scarf hung long tufts of hair on his shoulders… He was much impressed with the scene. At this moment, he heard someone shouting from an elevated place at some distance, “O visitors to the house of Allah! Do come to have your meals!” From another place two persons were announcing, “Those who have taken their mid-day meal should come again for their dinner!” al-Aswad says that he had heard from the Jewish Scholars that this was the period when the unlettered Prophet would appear. Observing the grand feast he felt whether the person seated there is himself the prophet? He asked one person about the identity of the chief who sat surrounded by his companions in the tent. The person said that it was Abū-Nazlah Hashim ibn `Abd-Manaf. Hearing this al-Aswad said:

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By God! This is real grandeur and not the grandeur of Al-Jafnah (the kings of Syria)![33]

This generosity of Hashim made him popular throughout the Arab lands. Umayyah ibn `Abd-Shams, who was a person of mean disposition, was jealous of Hashim’s popularity. He was working under acute inferiority complex and was blue with envy. He looked forward to every opportunity to lower Hashim in the estimation of the people and somehow occupy his position. With this aim, he used his wealth to throw lavish feasts. However, he lacked the natural instinct of kindness and generosity that Hashim had. The people could read his hypocrisy. He realized that this stratagem of his would not work, and after throwing a couple of parties, he gave up. This proved more humiliating for him. People started ridiculing and making fun of him. Umayyah, meanwhile, was in a frenzy of anger and jealousy. Unable to face the taunts of the people any more, he used unsavory language against Hashim. In accordance with the custom of the time, he threw a challenge of munafarah. Munafarah required an arbiter to decide who was the more eminent of the two contesting parties. Hashim was above all this that he would take recourse to such subterfuges to prove his worth. But the Quraysh persuaded him to accept the challenge. Hashim agreed on the condition that the defeated party must give fifty black-eyed she-camels to the victor and should shun the residence of Makkah for ten years. Umayyah agreed to abide by these conditions. They both agreed to have the Hermit al-Khuza`i as the arbitrator. When both of them presented their case to him, he instantly decided in favor of Hashim confirming his nobility and eminence. Hashim took the fifty camels from Umayyah, got them slaughtered and threw a public feast in Makkah. Umayyah moved away from Makkah to Safūriyah where he spent ten years in exile. This created enmity between the two important clans of Arabia. Buladhari writes:

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This was the first manifestation of hate and enmity that appeared between Hashim and Umayyah.[34]

Hashim was a great personage of his time whose noble descent, stature and nobility have been highly recognized. Not only in H ijaz, but also in places far away from there, had his name and fame spread. Even the ruling princes of the time used to hold him in high respect. The king of Rome and the Najashi of Abyssinia went to the extent of offering the hands of their daughters in marriage to Hashim. But he decided not to marry out of the Hijaz. He took several Arab wives from different tribes. The most significant, and important, marriage was with a girl from the Banū-al-Najjar branch of the tribe of Khazraj. The progeny from this marriage was the line that was later to bear the Prophet of Islam (a.s). It is said that Hashim dreamed that he must marry Salma bint `Amr who was residing at Yathrib. This was a lady of great character and nobility. Diyarbakri writes:

Salma, in intelligence and sagacity, was of the same caliber in her time, as was Khadijah later on.[35]

After seeing this dream, Hashim went to al-Madinah with a few relatives and stayed at the place of `Amr ibn Zayd. He treated the guests lavishly and asked about the purpose of their visit. When a proposal was made for the hand of his daughter in marriage to Hashim, he agreed. But he made one condition that if Salma gave birth to a son, he should stay in Yathrib. Hashim agreed to this condition and the marriage was celebrated. After this function, Hashim proceeded to Syria on a business trip. On his return from there, he took Salma to Makkah along with him. After some time, Salma was pregnant. Hashim therefore shifted her to Yathrib and proceeded on another business trip to Syria. This proved the last journey for Hashim. He was seriously ill for a few days, died, and was interred at Gaza, a place about six miles from `Asqalan.

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When Hashim’s companions from the caravan broke the sad news of his demise in Makkah and Yathrib, there was immense mourning. Every person talked of his generosity, kindness and affectionate disposition. This sad news came to Salma like a thunderbolt. The birth of a posthumous son gave her solace. This son was `Abd al-Muttalib.

Hashim had several sons but two of them had issues. One of them was Asad and the other `Abd al-Muttalib. Asad had one son whose name was Hunayn, who remained issueless. Asad had one daughter, Fatimah, who was married to Abū-Talib and bore `Ali (a.s) and other sons. The other son of Hashim, `Abd-al-Muttalib had sons and the Hashemite progeny progressed through him. Ibn Qutaybah writes about this:

The Hashemite on the face of the earth are all the progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib.[36]

`Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim

His given name was `Amir and Abul-Harith the kunyah. At birth, he had some gray hair in the middle of his head. In Arabic, graying of hair is called shayb. Therefore, `Abd al-Muttalib was called with the sobriquet of Shaybah and Shaybat-al-Hamd. His father, Hashim, expired while on a journey to Syria. The child was deprived of the paternal love and affection. He grew to the age of seven or eight years in his maternal home in al-Madinah.

In Arabia, those days, skill in riding and martial arts like archery and lancing was a necessity. Shaybah too used to practice archery in his childhood. Once he was doing his archery lessons in an open ground at Yathrib along with other children. Whenever he hit the target during the session, he would shout, “I am the son of the chief of Batha’!” A person from the family of Banū-Harith chanced to pass that way. When he heard the child utter these words, he asked about his name and that of his parent. The child said that his name was Shaybat-al-Hamd son of Hashim ibn `Abd-Manaf. The person returned to Makkah and related the entire incident to Shaybah’s uncle Muttalib. Muttalib said that it was a grave oversight from him that he did not care for his nephew. Therefore, he instantly proceeded to Yathrib to fetch Shaybah home. He went to the neighborhood of Banū-al-Najjar where he found some children at play in the street. One of these children was Shaybah. He immediately recognized him. He however asked some men of Banū-al-Najjar about the identity of the child. The men too recognized him as Muttalib, the uncle of Shaybah. They asked him if he wanted to take Shaybah to his rightful home. When he replied in the affirmative, they suggested to him to take him away immediately and that they would not create any hindrance in this matter. They said that if Shaybah’s mother came to know about the purpose of his visit and raised any objections, then the Banū-al-Najjar would be forced to prevent him from taking away the child. Muttalib made his camel squat down, and he told Shaybah, “I am your uncle. Come and sit on this camel!” Shaybah complied without any hesitation and Muttalib brought him to Makkah. When they entered the ramparts of Makkah and the Quraysh noticed a child riding the camel with Muttalib, they shouted, “There comes the slave of Muttalib!” Muttalib told them that the child was not a slave and that he was the son of his brother Hashim. But the people started calling Shaybah by the name of `Abd al-Muttalib.

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Those days there was neither a school nor the people were much in the habit of reading and writing. There were not more than three or four literate persons in Makkah. `Abd al-Muttalib, though devoid of parental care, learned to read and write and acquired proficiency in the Arab Martial Skills. Some of his writings go to prove this point. Ibn al-Nadim writes thus:

In the treasury of al-Ma’mūn, there was a leather tablet on which was a document penned by `Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim making a claim with a man from Himyar.[37]

In addition to his proficiency in the various martial and other skills, he possessed an impressive personality and was tall and strong. Ibn `Abbas says,

I have heard my father say that `Abd al-Muttalib was tall, handsome and good looking. Whoever looked at him started liking him.[38]

After Hashim, according to his will, Muttalib was the chief of the Quraysh and held all the positions connected with the Ka`bah. He had a desire to hand over all these responsibilities to `Abd al-Muttalib during his lifetime only. Therefore, when he thought of going to Yemen, he told `Abd al-Muttalib that he was the heir to his father’s inheritance and that he was now capable of handling the responsibilities. He then handed over all the affairs to `Abd al-Muttalib and proceeded to Yemen and expired there at a place called Rawman.

`Abd al-Muttalib had all the qualities of head and heart to be a good ruler. After assuming charge, he gave attention to improving the administration of the departments of Siqayah and Rifadah. The Spring of Zamzam, that was buried deep underground for centuries, was restored to its pristine position and yielded plenty of sweet water for the pilgrims. Zamzam had disappeared from the sight of the Arabs that they had started calling it Taktum that means something that is upset and hiding from the view. Therefore, `Allamah Zamakhshari, explaining the reason for the use of the term Taktum, says,

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After Banū-Jarham, the spring of Zamzam was lost deep in the ground until `Abd al-Muttalib could make it re-appear.[39]

In brief, when the former rulers of Makkah, Banū-Jarham, were forced to go into exile under the pressure of Banū-Khuza`ah, their chief, `Amr ibn Harith al-Jarhami, buried the two golden antelopes gifted by Isfandyar ibn Gashtasab, the seven swords that were the offerings for the Ka`bah and the five chains of armor in the Spring of Zamzam and put huge quantities of stones and rubble over it that it was difficult to identify the location of the spring. He then migrated with his tribesmen to Yemen. Much later `Abd al-Muttalib got a vision of it’s location in his dream. He surveyed the location of the spring according to the indication he had from the vision. After three days of hard labor, they noticed the signs of the spring. At this juncture, he shouted the praises of Almighty Allah. After a little more excavation, the water gushed out from the spring. The treasure buried by Harith too was recovered.

The Quraysh, who were lukewarm about this activity so far, gathered around `Abd al-Muttalib, and started claiming that the treasure discovered was the property of their ancestors and that they must be given half of it. `Abd al-Muttalib told them that the discovery was the result of his own hard work and that they had no right over it. Even then, he offered, that if they wished, a decision could be arrived at by drawing lots. The Quraysh agreed to the proposal and the contestants of the lottery were the Ka`bah, the Quraysh and `Abd al-Muttalib. The Golden Antelopes went to the lot of the Ka`bah, and the chains of arm and the swords went to the lot of `Abd al-Muttalib. The Quraysh got but nothing! `Abd al-Muttalib sold the swords and the chains of arm to get a gold studded door made for the Ka`bah. The golden antelopes too were melted for studding the door. Ibn al-Athir writes:

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This was the first occasion when the door of Ka`bah was studded with gold.[1]

When the Quraysh failed in acquiring these things, they claimed that they had a proprietary right in the Spring of Zamzam. `Abd al-Muttalib said that the spring was revived with his personal efforts and Allah had granted it only to him. He offered to them that they were free to draw water from it, but there was no question of conceding any property rights to them. But the Quraysh were adamant with their claims. Ultimately it was decided to go to the Hermit of Banū-Sa`d in Syria to resolve this issue. Both the contesting parties were willing to accept her decision. `Abd al-Muttalib agreed to this proposal and along with a few companions and a contingent of the Quraysh proceeded to Syria. They were still on the way when the water containers of `Abd al-Muttalib and his companions ran dry. They asked the Quraysh to give them some water. The Quraysh refused saying that their supply itself was scant. When the thirst became unbearable for `Abd al-Muttalib and his companions, he told his men to dig a grave for every individual so that whoever died, the others bury him. In the end only one person will remain dead without a grave and it would be better than all lying dead, unburied, in the desert. The thirsty group complied, and everyone dug a grave for himself. `Abd al-Muttalib thought that sitting idle without making any effort for water was not right. He asked his men to scatter in different directions and search for water. Saying this he mounted his she-camel. No sooner, the camel lifted its foot, sweet and clear water gushed out from that spot. The companions of `Abd al-Muttalib jumped for joy. They drank their fill and took supplies in their water[40] containers. When the Quraysh witnessed this scene, they said that Allah Himself had resolved their dispute. As he had provided water to `Abd al-Muttalib in the stark desert, He has also given the Spring of Zamzam to him! They said that they no more needed to go to the Hermit for advice. Both the contesting parties, therefore, returned to Makkah from there. Although the Spring of Zamzam had its origins during the times of Isma`il (a.s) its renaissance was during the rule of `Abd al-Muttalib. Other wells too were excavated in Makkah during the period of `Abd-al-Muttalib, but the copious yield of water that the spring gave was not matched by any other source. The inhabitants of Makkah and the pilgrims preferred to draw water from it thinking that its use was felicitous. The spring, therefore, is also called Shuba`ah, that means the quencher! Even now, hundreds of thousands of Hajjis and pilgrims drink this water round the year and take away quantities to their homes. If this spring is a heritage left behind by Isma`il (a.s), this can also be termed a legacy of `Abd al-Muttalib!

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Ibn Wadih and other historians mention a similar event about the well at Ta’if. This well is known as Dhu’l-Hiram and was excavated by `Abd al-Muttalib with great effort. He used to travel to Ta’if occasionally and stay there for a few days. Once he noticed that some persons from Banū-Kalab and Banū-Rabab had pitched their tents and staying near the well. He asked who they were, and why they were halting at that place. They said that they were the owners of the well, Banū-Kalab and Banū-Rabab. `Abd al-Muttalib told them that the well was his and, if they wanted to use it, it could only be with his permission. The men again repeated their proprietary claims over the well. The argument thus prolonged. To cut the matter short, `Abd al-Muttalib proposed that if they wished they could nominate any person to arbitrate. They took the name of Sutayh al-Ghassani for the purpose who was a well-known soothsayer (kahin) of Arabia. They agreed that if the verdict goes against any party, it would give a hundred camels to the winner and twenty camels to Sutayh. Now they all proceeded towards the hermitage of Sutayh. Midway, the water with `Abd al-Muttalib’s group were exhausted. He asked the men from the opposite camp to give some water. They said that the bone of contention between them was water only and they will not spare any of it from their stock. `Abd al-Muttalib said that he would not let his companions perish for want of water. He will go and search for water even if he lost his own life during the effort. Saying this he mounted his camel and went in one direction. After some distance, his camel sat down on the desert ground. Looking from the place where the group was halting, the men thought that `Abd al-Muttalib had expired. But his companions said that he had gone for

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the noble purpose of searching water for his men and Allah will protect his life in such a situation. When some of the men reached the spot, they noticed that the camel was resting on cool and moist desert sand. And nearby water from a spring was flowing copiously. Banū-Kalab and Banū-Rabab emptied their water containers and wanted to take a refill of cool and fresh water. `Abd al-Muttalib’s companions tried to prevent them from taking the water saying that they had refused to give them water when requested earlier. `Abd al-Muttalib asked his companions to allow the men to take the water. He said that nobody could be prevented from drinking the water. The two tribes were much impressed with `Abd al-Muttalib’s gesture but still held on to their demand for arbitration regarding the well. On reaching the place of Sutayh they tested the soothsayer in various ways. They asked him to tell them about the matter of dispute between the two contending groups. He said that they were quarreling about the well in Ta’if, by the name of Dhu’l-Hiram, which belongs to `Abd al-Muttalib and Banū-Kalab or Banū-Rabab had no right over it. He asked them to give, as agreed, a hundred camels to `Abd al-Muttalib and twenty to him! They complied and withdrew their claim over the well.

On returning to Makkah, `Abd-al-Muttalib announced that some of the residents had resolved that if he had lost in the arbitration, they would pool camels and settle the fine to be imposed on him. Now he asked the persons to take the number of camels each one has pledged to give from the flock received by him in terms of the arbitration. Persons came forward and took away camels in ones, twos and threes. Even after all this, some camels were left undistributed. `Abd al-Muttalib asked his son Abū-Talib to slaughter the camels and disburse the meat on the peak of Abū-Khamis that the wild animals feasted on it. Abū-Talib complied with his father’s command and uttered the following couplet:

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We feed others! Even the birds feed on our leftovers!

The hands of persons shiver, who keep their bowls brimming full!

It was the practice of `Abd al-Muttalib that whatever food was left over, it was disbursed on the top of the hills to feed the wild birds there. Because of this, he was also known as Mut`im al-tayr (or the Feeder of the Birds). He always considered his moral duty to succor the poor and the needy once some persons from the tribe of Hizam came to Makkah for Hajj. While they were returning after the pilgrimage, one person of their group was murdered. As a ransom, they withheld a compensation for Hudhafah ibn Ghanim al-Adadi. Hudhafah saw `Abd al-Muttalib on the way and appealed to him for help. He inquired about the matter, asked them to release H udhafah, and promised to give them twenty ounce or five hundred and fifty grams of gold as blood money and 10 camels and a horse. He also gave them his personal shawl to be kept as a mortgage until the settlement was made as agreed. They took the shawl and released the captive who rode to Makkah along with `Abd al-Muttalib Release of Hudhafah on the guarantee of an ordinary shawl was because of the high reputation of `Abd al-Muttalib. The Arabs also considered their honors compromised if they left their mortgaged things unreleased for long spells. Because of this custom amongst the Arabs, Khusrow agreed to keep the bow of Hajib ibn Zurarah as a guarantee for his peaceful conduct. The story goes that with repeated periods of drought, the tribes of Banū-Tamim wanted to go to the pastures of Iraq to graze their camels, Abū-Zurarah went to the court of Khusrow to seek his permission. Khusrow said that they were treacherous people and that they might create some dispute in his realm. Hajib said that he would stand guarantee for the good behavior of his people and offered his own bow as a surety. At this, Khusrow and his courtiers started laughing. But one of the courtiers said that the mortgage of the bow must be accepted because the Arabs consider it a grave dishonor if they are unable to release the goods mortgaged by them. When the period of drought was over, the Arabs decided to return from the pastures in Iraq. In the interregnum, Hajib had already expired. His son, `Utarid, went to Khusrow and told him that his people had fulfilled the requirements of good behavior and if the bow was not returned to him now, he would face lot of ridicule in the Arab land. Khusrow appreciated this very much and returned Hajib’s bow to his son `Utarid.

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In Makkah there was a Jew, Udhaynah, who was an itinerant trader selling his goods in the neighborhood of the town. He sought protection from `Abd al-Muttalib, which was duly promised. Harb ibn Umayyah troubled the Jew and incited some roughs of Quraysh who murdered him and looted his belongings. When `Abd al-Muttalib learned about it, he started investigation into the matter. It was proved that the crime was committed on the instigation of Harb by `Amir ibn `Abd-Manaf ibn `Abd al-Dar and Saqr ibn `Amr and that they were hiding at the place of Harb. He demanded of Harb to hand over the culprits. Harb refused to comply and used harsh language. Rift already existed between the two families, which increased after this episode. Harb challenged `Abd-al-Muttalib for a debate and contest. First `Abd al-Muttalib expressed surprise at this challenge, and then he accepted it. It was decided that the King of Abyssinia would act as the arbiter in this dispute. But the king refused to arbitrate. Then Nufayl ibn `Abd-al-`Uzza was appointed as the arbitrator. He recognized the superiority and esteem of `Abd-al-Muttalib and decided the matter in his favor. Harb was very upset with this decision and used harsh words against Nufayl and stooped down to mean acts against `Abd al-Muttalib. His idea was to divert the attention from the arrest and punishment of the murderers. But `Abd al-Muttalib would not give up easily. He pursued the matter actively and made the criminals give one hundred camels to the successors of the deceased as a compensation for his blood. He also recovered a major portion of the wares of the Jew from the culprits and handed back to his people. Whatever was the shortfall in the value of the goods, he paid to the victims from his own pocket!

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It was during the time of `Abd al-Muttalib that Najashi, the commander of Abyssinian forces and Abrahah ibn Ashram, the ruler of Yemen attacked Makkah and tried to demolish the Ka`bah. This was a very trying time for the people of Makkah. On the one hand, there were well-organized forces and on the other, there was neither numerical strength nor that of materials. When the Yemeni forces camped outside Makkah, the hearts of the people shivered. The people of Makkah fled towards the hills, ravines and the wildernesses along with their women and children. The sangfroid that `Abd-al-Muttalib showed at this trying moment is proverbial. He was neither scared of the enemy hordes nor did he fly from his home and hearth. Some persons suggested to him to leave Makkah for some days. But he replied with full confidence:

Neither shall I leave Allah’s Place (the Haram) nor shall I seek help from anyone but Allah![41]

Around this time, Abrahah sent some of his men into Makkah to plunder. They captured two hundred camels belonging to `Abd al-Muttalib. When he learned about it, he went to Abrahah. Abrahah was much impressed with his personality and received him with respect. He came down from the throne and made `Abd al-Muttalib squat near him. He asked him of the purpose of his visit. `Abd al-Muttalib said that Abrahah’s men had taken away his camels that must be returned to him. Abrahah crossed his brow and said that he thought the ostensible purpose of the visit would be to seek the protection of the Ka`bah. To the contrary, he was worried for the safety of a few camels! `Abd al-Muttalib replied,

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I am the owner of those camels, and I am demanding for them! There is One owner of that (August) House who will Himself protect it![42]

Abrahah was much impressed with this bold reply and ordered `Abd al-Muttalib’s camels to be returned. `Abd al-Muttalib brought the camels back to Makkah and left them in the precincts of the Ka`bah putting signs on them that they were a trust for the Holy Place! His spirit in doing this was that if the enemy hurt the animals, he would suffer the wrath of the Almighty.

The courage demonstrated by `Abd-al-Muttalib at that time is a proof of his absolute faith in Allah. He not only reclaimed his animals from the enemy but also expressed his Faith in the Almighty’s Justice instead of groveling in the presence of the tyrant.

After this conversation with `Abd-al-Muttalib, Abrahah felt some pangs of fear and he wanted to think twice before attacking the Ka`bah. He had long conclave with his advisers and on their encouragement, hesitantly, moved towards the Ka`bah. On the other side, there was none to confront the enemy. Only `Abd al-Muttalib stood firm at the entrance of the Ka`bah and said, “O Allah! This is Your House and only You are its Protector! “While Abrahah moved towards the Ka`bah with his foul intent, dense black clouds rose on the western horizon. When one looked at the sight with intent, it was discovered that a huge school of birds clutched small pebbles in their claws. This armed force of nature challenged the hordes of Abrahah. They dropped the pebbles with good care that no innocent was hurt and no enemy of Allah escaped! Neither the iron hood nor the chain mails were of any use against these pebbles. In no time, the entire army was decimated. Abrahah escaped with his life but succumbed on the way to Yemen.

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This was the period when the people’s hearts were overpowered by the dark clouds of idolatry. They used to call only for their help in times of need. But from his tongue came the name of neither al-Lat nor Hubal nor Manat nor al-`Uzza. But he appealed only to Allah and put his trust in His Succor! It was the effect of `Abd al-Muttalib’s courage that during the battle of Hunayn, the Prophet (a.s) remained steadfast despite paucity of men and materials and referring to his descent from `Abd al-Muttalib he said:

I am the Prophet without an iota of falsehood in it!

I am the scion of `Abd-al-Muttalib!

The purpose of saying this was that `Abd al-Muttalib remained steadfast when Abrahah attacked Ka`bah with his hordes and in the same manner he, `Abd al-Muttalib’s son, would remain steadfast despite the large numbers of the enemy in the battle of Hunayn. This statement of the Prophet (a.s) not only proves the valor and tenacity of `Abd-al-Muttalib, but also certifies the fact that he was a monotheist and believer of Allah! If he were an infidel and polytheist, the Prophet (a.s) would not have referred to and praised him at the time when he was himself confronted with huge numbers of infidels and polytheists in the battle of Hunayn. The pages of history bear evidence that `Abd al-Muttalib, never in his life, worshipped any idol nor ate the meat of animals sacrificed to propitiate the idols. He never adopted polytheist ways in life. He was a monotheist and believed in the Day of Reckoning. Therefore, `Allamah Halabi writes that a tyrant and ferocious person from Syria during the time of `Abd al-Muttalib, had received no punishment for his acts of omission and commission during his life. `Abd al-Muttalib said that a tyrant does not die until he is punished for his tyranny. He said:

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By Allah! After this transient world, there is a Hereafter! There the virtuous will be rewarded and the evil punished![43]

Al-Mas`ūdi writes:

`Abd al-Muttalib used to teach his children to be generous. He advised them to be hospitable with the guests. He advised them to keep an eye on the Hereafter and believe in the Day of Judgment.[44]

With his belief in God’s creation and the Hereafter, he was a staunch follower of the faith of Ibrahim (a.s) and strictly observed its norms. He used to keep himself occupied in circumambulating the Ka`bah and remembered Allah while alone and in the company of people. In the month of Ramadan he used to go into seclusion in the cave of Hira’ to spend time in the thought of Almighty Allah! Ibn al-Athir writes:

It was he who was the first to spend nights in the cave of Hira’ in prayer. At the commencement of the month of Ramadan he climbed the hill of Hira’ and used to distribute food to the poor every day of the month.[45]

Not only he molded his own life ideally, but also he acted as a reformer for the society and introduced many long lasting reforms. These may be termed as the precursor of the later Islamic society. Therefore, `Allamah Halabi writes:

He was the initiator of such reforms that many of them have been narrated in the Holy Qur’an and many are a part of the Prophet’s Traditions.[46]

`Allamah Majlisi and other biographers have written that the Prophet (a.s) has said that `Abd al-Muttalib introduced five practices prior to the advent of Islam that continued in thereafter:

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1. He declared marrying of father’s spouses or widows by sons as taboo. The Holy Qur’an says, “Those whom your fathers and grandfathers had married, you must not marry.”

2. He distributed a fifth of hoards of treasures discovered to the poor and needy. Allah says in the Holy Book, “You should know that a fifth of the wealth that you got as booty is for Allah.”

3. When `Abd al-Muttalib rediscovered and excavated the Spring of Zamzam, he termed it as Siqayat al-Hajj (Water Provision for the Hajjis). The Holy Qur’an has mentioned this very term.[47]

4. He fixed a compensation of hundred camels as equivalent to blood money for a murder. Islam continued to maintain this compensation to be made to the successors of a murdered person.

5. The Quraysh had not fixed the numbers of circumambulations of the Ka`bah during pilgrimage. `Abd al-Muttalib prescribed seven rounds for this purpose, and Islam continued the practice. `Allamah Majlisi writes about the Prophet’s saying about this,

Either `Abd al-Muttalib introduced these reforms on the basis of a vision or revived the practices that were current in the Ibrahimi Society that the Quraysh had (carelessly) abandoned.

Besides these reforms, `Abd al-Muttalib introduced such laws that their importance cannot be denied. Ibn Wadih Al-Ya`qūbi writes:

`Abd al-Muttalib promulgated rules for Fulfillment of Offerings, Severing the hand of Thieves, Drawing of Lots, Invocation of God’s curse on the false party (Mubahalah), Entertainment of Guests, Legitimate Livelihood and respect for the Venerable Months of the Calendar. He prohibited slaying of daughters and marriage with certain relations. He banned intoxicants and adultery. He urged the Hajjis to use fair earnings for the purpose of the Hajj. It was the custom of the Arabs that they used to circumambulate the Ka`bah in a naked condition. If the Quraysh gave some clothes to a person, he would cover his body, or else he would go round with naked body. He banned this bad practice. The same is the Commandment of Islam: “Dress properly at every act of prayer.” There was a practice with the Arabs that after the Hajj they used to enter their homes through the back doors. He ordered them to use the front doors for this purpose. Islam ordered the same, “Enter your homes through the doors.”

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These are reforms indicative of a person who was fully aware of the teachings of the past Prophets. Although he was himself not a prophet, he is viewed with great reverence for his reforms and achievements. He is remembered as Ibrahim al-Thani or Ibrahim the Second.

He was similar in many aspects to his ancestor, Ibrahim (a.s). The age attained by him and number of children he had were almost the same as Ibrahim (a.s). Ibrahim (a.s) had thirteen sons while `Abd al-Muttalib had ten sons and six daughters. In habits, too they were very similar. Helping the poor and feeding the hungry was their wont. They loved to entertain the guests. This is the reason that Ibrahim (a.s) is remembered as Abū-al-Adyaf and `Abd al-Muttalib is termed as al-Fayyad (Generous) and Mut`im al-tayr (The Feeder of the Birds). As Ibrahim (a.s) had excavated the well, Shaba, on the Egypt-Syria Highway, `Abd-al-Muttalib excavated the Zamzam to its pristine glory. Ibrahim was the first to have congenital gray hair, and was called Shaybah. So was `Abd al-Muttalib. In himself, Ibrahim (a.s) was an Ummah (a whole nation) as Allah says, “Ibrahim alone is one Ummah.” Similarly, with his unique personality `Abd-al-Muttalib has been called an Ummah. The Prophet of Islam (a.s) says:

Allah will raise my grandfather, `Abd-al-Muttalib, like the prophets and noble kings that he will be individually counted as an Ummah.[48]

Both were unique in their disposition. Therefore, the patience and courage displayed by Ibrahim (a.s) in his readiness to sacrifice his beloved son, Isma`il (a.s), and the same determination shown by `Abd al-Muttalib to prepare himself to sacrifice his son `Abdullah is proverbial. Therefore, Imam al-Rida (a.s) says:

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The firm determination with which Ibrahim prepared to sacrifice his son Isma`il, the same determination was manifested by `Abd al-Muttalib in preparing to sacrifice his son `Abdullah.[49]

The story of this event goes like this. At the time when `Abd al-Muttalib was excavating the Zamzam, he had only one son who helped him with the task. He prayed at that time that if Allah gave him ten sons, he would sacrifice one of them in His way. His prayer was answered and he had ten sons: `Abdullah, al-Zubayr, Abū-Talib, `Abbas, Dirar, Hamzah, Al-Muqawwam, Abū-Lahab, al-Harith and Al-Ghaydaq. Now he wished to fulfill his oath. Therefore, he gathered all his ten sons and told them about his oath. He asked them as to who among them was willing to offer himself for sacrifice. They looked at each other in surprise and then bowed down their heads. They said that whosoever their father chose to sacrifice, they were all willing to abide by his decision. When he was satisfied that his sons were willing for the sacrifice, he went near the Ka`bah and drew a lot putting down the names of all the ten sons. The lot came in the name of his youngest son, `Abdullah. Now `Abd al-Muttalib was ready to sacrifice his beloved son. `Abdullah was the favorite of everyone at home and they objected to this sacrifice. `Abd al-Muttalib said that fulfilling the oath was very important for him although it was not easy to kill his own son with his hands. The sons of `Abd al-Muttalib and the important persons of the Quraysh asked him to draw the lot once again when, perhaps, the name of an elder son might come up. The lot was drawn a second time, and again it was `Abdullah’s name. `Ikrimah ibn `Amir said, “O Chief of the Quraysh! If you sacrifice your son now, it might become a custom and practice with the people to sacrifice their sons! You will be known as the originator of this undesirable custom. It will be discreet if you abstain from fulfilling your oath! You might as well consult a kahin in the matter.” Everyone agreed with `Ikrimah’s suggestion. Therefore, they approached a parson. After hearing the case, she asked as to how much was the blood money for one life in their community. She was told that it was equal to the value of ten camels. She asked them to draw lot in the name of `Abdullah and ten camels. They drew the lot and the result was again for `Abdullah. She asked them to continue to draw the lot repeatedly with ten camels. Even after a hundred camels the lot draws in the name of `Abdullah, he may be sacrificed. When the quantity of camels reached to a hundred, the draw came out for the animals! All the people were delighted but `Abd al-Muttalib was not satisfied. He wanted the lot to be drawn again. Even then, the draw was for the sacrifice of the camels. To further confirm the matter, the draw was made a third time and it was again for the sacrifice of the camels. Now, a hundred camels were slaughtered and the meat was distributed to the populace. `Abd al-Muttalib and his children did not partake of this meat. Ibn Sa`d writes:

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Neither `Abd al-Muttalib nor did any of his sons eat the meat of these camels. [50]

While this sacrifice enhanced the value of human life ten folds, it also was an example of determination, steadfastness, spirit of fulfillment of oath and highest degree of obedience of the parents by the sons The courage manifested by `Abd al-Muttalib during this episode is unparalleled except for the courage of Ibrahim (a.s) who did not hesitate for a moment in his preparedness to sacrifice his beloved son, Isma`il, in obedience to Allah’s Command. The sons too, in both the instances, were more than willing to comply. Isma`il (a.s) was a lad of thirteen years and `Abdullah eleven years when they were asked to make the supreme sacrifice. They were neither afraid of putting their heads under the sharp knives nor were they worried about dying in that manner. Because of this spirit both of them are remembered with the sobriquet of “Dhabih” or those who willingly submitted to be slain with the knife! The Prophet of Allah (a.s) proudly said, “I am the son of the two ‘dhabihs’” Here he meant his ancestor, Isma`il (a.s) and his father `Abdullah.

Allah gave to `Abdullah that through him was to be born the Chief of the Prophets, Muhammad (a.s). But his son was posthumously born and `Abdullah did not have the good fortune of setting eyes on him. After the event of the Camels, `Abdullah died in al-Madinah while returning from a business trip to Syria. `Abd al-Muttalib was shattered with this loss. But after a while when `Abdullah’s son Muhammad (a.s) was born, smiles came back on his face. With great affection, he took a round of the newborn’s cradle. He lifted the baby in his arms and brought him near the Ka`bah. He prayed there for the child’s happiness and prosperity. On the seventh day of the birth he complied with the custom of `aqiqah (the naming ceremony) and gave the name of Muhammad (a.s) to the child! The child had lost the father before his birth, but his mother too did not live for long. When he was only six years, his mother, Aminah, too passed away. Now `Abdullah’s orphan was totally in the care and tutelage of his grandfather, `Abd al-Muttalib. It seems the patriarch dedicated his life for the upbringing of this beloved grandson. He always kept the child with himself. He had made it a practice that unless Muhammad (a.s) joined the spread, none else would start eating nor would he himself touch a morsel!

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Muhammad’s manners and habits were so gentle that people were always attracted towards him and they thought that the child would achieve greatness in his life. The experienced `Abd al-Muttalib too gauged the qualities of head and heart in the child. Sometimes he even expressed these thoughts about the child. One day, as usual, the carpet was spread near the Ka`bah for `Abd al-Muttalib. For some reason he was delayed in arriving there. The chiefs of Quraysh and their sons were already seated around the carpet. Muhammad (a.s), the child, happened to pass that way and, without any hesitation occupied the place of his grandfather. The custom was that even the sons of `Abd al-Muttalib or the chiefs of the tribes were not allowed to take that seat. At that moment `Abd al-Muttalib arrived. Some persons tried to move the son of `Abdullah from where he was sitting. `Abd al-Muttalib sharply told them,

Let my son sit on my carpet! There is a desire in his heart to rule a great domain! Very soon, he will attain an elevated position![51]

The Prophet (a.s) manifested glimpses of spiritual greatness, as well, from his very early days. It was because of these manifestations that `Abd al-Muttalib used to make him pray during the times of calamities and difficulties. He used to pray for rainfall propitiating Allah in the name of Muhammad (a.s). One year there was no rainfall in Makkah and they faced acute drought. People came to `Abd al-Muttalib and beseeched him to pray for rain. `Abd al-Muttalib made Muhammad (a.s), who was seven years old then, climb on his shoulder and climbed on the Mount Qubays to pray for rains. While returning after the prayer, they had hardly reached near the Ka`bah, when dark clouds gathered and rained so copiously that the valleys were overflowing with water. At that time, Raqiqah bint Sayfi wrote a few couplets, one of which reads:

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Allah has quenched our town with the prayers of Shaybat-al-Hamd, otherwise we were parched and rains had not come for a long period.

`Abd al-Muttalib naturally loved Muhammad (a.s) for being his son’s posthumous offspring, but the real fountainhead of this love was the knowledge acquired from men of learning and religious leaders that the time had come when the last of the line of the Prophets (a.s) would appear. The characteristics of this Prophet he derived from the men of learning they were all manifested by the orphan of `Abdullah. He had arrived at the conviction that Muhammad (a.s) was the Prophet to be annunciated in the near future and was the last of the chain of the Chosen Messengers of Allah. He therefore expressed about this to the king of Yemen, Sayf ibn Dhiyazan. This meeting has been chronicled by almost all the historians of that period. The meeting took place when the King of Yemen delivered his realm from the clutches of the king of Abyssinia. When this news reached Makkah, `Abd al-Muttalib told the chiefs of Quraysh that they must take a delegation to Sayf to felicitate him on his victory. They all agreed and, in the leadership of `Abd al-Muttalib a delegation of twenty-seven members was constituted. In this delegation, the important persons were Umayyah ibn `Abd-Shams, Asad ibn `Abd al-`Uzza, `Abdullah ibn Jad`an, Wahab ibn `Abd-Manaf and Qasi ibn `Abd al-Dar. When this delegation arrived at the Ghamdan Palace of Sayf, `Abd al-Muttalib, as the leader of the delegation, sought permission for presenting an address of felicitation. Sayf said that if he thought that he was of a status to present an address to a king, he had the permission to proceed! `Abd al-Muttalib presented a few words of felicitation and with such good diction and delivery that Sayf was delighted and appreciated his assertive delivery, the Qarashi skill at oratory and Hashemite style of speaking. The king inquired, “Who are you?” He replied, “I am `Abd al-Muttalib, the son of Hashim!” Hearing this, Sayf caught hold of his hand and asked him to ascend the throne and sit beside him. He said, “Then, `Abd al-Muttalib, you are my nephew!” He smiled in the affirmative. The mother of `Abd al-Muttalib was Salma bint `Amr from the family of Qaytan and Sayf too was from the same family. Because of this relationship, Sayf called him his nephew. The Arabs consider all the women of their tribe as sisters and their children as nephews and nieces. Sayf treated `Abd al-Muttalib with utmost courtesy and respect. He accommodated the other members of the delegation too in his guesthouses for important personages. During his stay in Yemen, Sayf called `Abd al-Muttalib in private and told him that he had information of such an important thing that it will be a matter of great pride for you and your clan. Therefore, I thought it necessary to inform you about it. He said that in Tihamah a child will be born, or he is already born, who will have the seal of Prophethood on his back between the shoulders. His name and his Faith shall last until the world exists. One of his main characteristics is that he would lose his parents and his grandfather and uncle will give him upbringing. I have a hunch that you are his grandfather! `Abd al-Muttalib who, through predictions and revealed books, knew about this, hearing the same from Sayf prostrated in thankfulness to Allah. Then he told Sayf that what he had said had confirmed his conviction. He said that the boy mentioned by him was already born and he manifests all the characteristics that he had indicated. He is posthumous born and he lost his mother in early childhood. His grandfather, an uncle and I are his guardians. Sayf said, “Then, he must be guarded against the mischief of the Jews who might attempt to kill him.”

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When the time for the return of the delegation came nigh, Sayf presented to everyone with slaves, maids, gold, silver, amber, camels and royal raiment to `Abd al-Muttalib he gave ten times more than the gifts he gave to the others. His companions viewed this with much envy. He said, “O Quraysh! You should not be jealous of the gifts received by me. They are all transitory. There will be reason for you to envy what is in store and will be talked about in all places and the coming generations too will be proud of! When they asked as to what the thing is? He said:

After a while, you will learn about it yourself.[52]

The physiognomists of Arabia had, after looking at Muhammad’s face had informed `Abd al-Muttalib about his great future and the name and fame that he would achieve. Therefore, once, a few persons of Banū-Mudlaj told him:

You must take good care of this child because no footprints other than his match exactly with the footprints of Ibrahim at the Maqam Ibrahim (The Place of Ibrahim in the Ka`bah).

Hearing these words, `Abd al-Muttalib looked towards Abū-Talib and said, “Hear what they say!” He must have felt the need to draw Abū-Talib’s attention because he must have realized that soon this great responsibility of caring for the child would fall on his shoulders.

`Abd al-Muttalib had seen more than a hundred summers. But even in his old age his face was daunting, his back straight and he used to dye his hair. But in his last days, his vision had gone weak. Despite this, he did not like to carry a staff for moving around. Once while going round the Ka`bah someone dashed into him. He asked who the person was. He was told that it was someone from Banū-Bakr. He said jovially, “I have defective eye-sight! But I am sure he can see properly! Now I might need a staff to balance myself!” Then he added, “If I keep a long staff in my hand, I may find it uneasy to carry. And carrying a short staff would force me to bend down that I would consider demeaning for me! “When his sons heard this, they offered that in future one of them would remain with him and provide him support for going wherever he wished to go. Therefore, he used to move around with his hand on the shoulder of one of his sons.

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When time weakened his body, he fell ill and was bed-ridden. In this state if he had any care, it was for the Orphan of `Abdullah. He worried about his future upbringing. In his last throes he asked for Abū-Talib. When Abū-Talib came near him, he said, “I make a will to you about the Orphan of `Abdullah. Do not neglect his care and upbringing.” Ibn Sa`d writes:

When `Abd al-Muttalib’s time of death arrived, he advised Abū-Talib about the care and protection of Muhammad (a.s).[53]

When he issued instructions to Abū-Talib about the care of the child, he took his last breath and passed away peacefully. With his death gloom descended on Makkah. Naturally, every eye in the place was wet at this great loss, but the Orphan of `Abdullah, who was only eight years old at the time, was extremely sad. He received the love and affection of both his parents only from his grandfather. Seeing him dead, he could not control his emotions. Tears flowed from his eyes. When the dead body was being taken in the bier after giving a bath in water and camphor water and wrapping in Yemeni Linen, he followed crying all the way. He returned home after his beloved grandfather was interred.

The people of Makkah were very sad at the demise of their benefactor and chief. The poets penned sad requiems. For many days, trade came to a standstill in Makkah. `Allamah Halabi writes:

There was not such grieving at the death of anyone, as there was on the demise of `Abd al-Muttalib. For many days, trading was suspended in the bazaar of Makkah.[54]

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He died in Makkah at the age of one hundred and twenty years, after eight years of the Event of the Elephant.

The eminence achieved by Hashim and `Abd al-Muttalib in this great lineage, was reached by none else. The headstrong Arab tribes recognized their superiority. The author of al-`Iqd al-Farid writes that once the Prophet (a.s) was traveling with `Ali (a.s) and Abū-Bakr. During their journey, they reached near a hamlet. Abū-Bakr went forward and asked the people about the tribe they belonged to. They said they were from the Tribe of Rabi`ah. Abū-Bakr asked them about the branch of Rabi`ah they were from. They said, “Dhuhal Akbar (the grand)!” He asked, “Was `Awf ibn Muhlim one of you?” They said, “No!” He asked, “Was Jassas ibn Murrah from their tribe?” They replied, “No!” Thus when they replied in negative to many of his queries, Abū-Bakr said that in that event they were not from the Dhuhal Akbar and were Dhuhal Asghar (the minor). Hearing this, a lad from that hamlet, Dhaghfal ibn Hanzalah, stood up and asked Abū-Bakr, “From which tribe do you come?” He replied, “From the Quraysh!” The boy asked, “From which branch?” He replied, “I am the progeny of Taym ibn Murrah.” The youth asked, “Was Qasi ibn Kalab, who gathered the scattered lot in Makkah, one of you?” Abū-Bakr replied, “No!” The boy asked, “Was Hashim one of you about whom the poet Matrūd ibn Ka`b al-Khuza`i has said,

The esteemed Hashim put bread in the soup and feasted the people of Makkah on it when they were starving for food!

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Abū-Bakr replied, “No!” The youth asked, “Was `Abd al-Muttalib one of you? On his spread, even the birds used to be guests! His visage was shining like a lamp in the nights” Abū-Bakr replied, “No!” He asked, “Are you the progeny of the people who used to quench the thirst of the Hajjis?” He replied, “No!” The youth wanted to question him the more, but Abū-Bakr cut the conversation short and went to the Prophet (a.s) and repeated the conversation to him. The Prophet (a.s) smiled and kept quiet.

This incident proves that the Arab tribes attached a lot of importance to the Hashemite family. A descent through Qasi, Hashim and `Abd al-Muttalib was of prime importance for them. Even those families that had only the name of Qasi in their chronology and not of Hashim and `Abd al-Muttalib were held in lesser esteem. The eminence that Allah had bestowed on the Hashemite and Muttalibite offspring has not been enjoyed by any other Arab family. Theirs is a tree that is free of any chronological pollution. Therefore, the Prophet of Islam (a.s) has said:

Allah created Isma`il (a.s) as the progeny of Ibrahim (a.s) and from Isma`il (a.s) Banū-Kinanah and from Banū-Kinanah the Quraysh and from the Quraysh the Banū-Hashim and from them I was selected.[55]

`Ali (a.s) too is a part of this eminent group because he and the prophet (a.s) are of the same descent. They have both their descent from Hashim and `Abd al-Muttalib. `Abd al-Muttalib had, from various wives, ten sons. Of these ten brothers, `Abdullah and Abū-Talib were born to the same mother. Their mother was Fatimah bint `Amr al-Makhzūmiyyah. `Abdullah was the father of the Prophet (a.s) and Abū-Talib the father of `Ali (a.s). `Ali’s chronology joins with the Prophet (a.s) with their grandfather `Abd al-Muttalib. On account of this, both are Muttalibite and Hashemite and Qarashi by descent.

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Therefore, there is the same ancestral eminence in `Ali (a.s) as that of the Prophet (a.s). Another eminence of `Ali (a.s) is that his father was Shaykh al-Batha’, Abū-Talib.

The chronological chart

The chronological chart of `Ali (a.s) is `Ali ibn (son of) Abi-Talib ibn `Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn `Abd-Manaf ibn Qasi ibn Kalab ibn Murrah ibn Ka`b ibn Lu’ay ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr ibn Malik ibn al-Nadr ibn Kinanah ibn Khuzaymah ibn Mudrak ibn Ilyas ibn Mudar ibn Nizar ibn Ma`d ibn Adnan.

The history of Arabia bears witness that all the personalities of this chronological tree have been distinguished persons of their times. They were the followers of the Abraham Faith, progressive in outlook and possessors of spotless character. During the dark, idolatrous times, they were the torch- bearers of the monotheistic Abraham Faith. They endeavored to uphold justice and human rights. They stood firm against the elements of trouble and promoted brotherhood, humanity and thoughtfulness in people. They encouraged trading activity to promote economic growth. They always took up the cause of the weak and down trodden. They hosted the Hajjis coming from far away places for the annual ritual. These were the traits that made them favorites of the populace.

Brief profiles of these personalities are given here to acquaint the reader with their greatness.

`Adnan ibn Adad

He was an illustrious personality in the progeny of Qaydar the son of Isma`il (a.s). The progeny of Qaydar preferred to stay on in Hijaz. `Adnan too was born in Hijaz. The tribes of Banū-Isma`il trace their ancestry to him. This is the reason they are referred to as the Family of `Adnan or the Family of Mudar. He was a handsome person and from the very childhood, he manifested exemplary character. His face reflected his intelligence and fortitude. His forehead was radiant and the brightness of his face manifested that Divine Light was to take birth in his progeny.

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He was the noble leader of men of his time and chivalrous with his sword. He always held important positions in the Arab society. Besides the people of Batha’ and Yathrib, the peripatetic Bedouins of the desert too assembled under his standard. To honor the felicity of the Ka`bah he ordered making of a cloth cover for the structure and personally installed it there. The historian, Al-Buladhari, writes:

`Adnan was the first to provide a cover to the Ka`bah.[1]

When the Caledonian monarch, Nebuchadnezzar, proceeded towards the Arab land after capturing Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem), he attacked Hijaz when `Adnan resisted his hordes to the best of his capabilities. But his men, who were smaller in number, started fleeing. He could not contend with the enemy all alone or with a few dedicated men. Therefore, he felt it discreet to leave Hijaz and head for Yemen with his son `Adnan and settled down in Yemen and died there only. He left behind ten sons. The best known among his sons was Ma`d.

Ma`d ibn `Adnan

His mother’s name was Mehdū bint (daughter of) al-Lahm who was from the tribe of Banū-Jarham. He resided at Yemen with his father and had his upbringing there. When Nebuchadnezzar expired and peace returned to Arabia, the tribes invited Ma`d to return to Hijaz. They deputed one emissary to Yemen particularly to make this request. He proceeded to Hijaz with this person. It has also been recorded that when Nebuchadnezzar established his sway over Arabia, Armiya took Ma`d along to Syria. When unrest subsided after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, he returned to Hijaz and assumed the chieftaincy of the Arab State. Al-Ya`qūbi writes from the progeny of Isma`il (a.s) none attained the status reached by Ma`d. He was held in the highest esteem for his forthrightness and excellent character. Like his father, he was chivalrous and an expert in the martial arts of the time. He never showed his back to an adversary in battle and faced the ignominy of defeat. The author of Tarikh al-Khamis writes:

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With whomsoever he battled, he was victorious.[2]

He was the first to innovate mounting of a saddle on the camel’s back. He also established the boundary of the precincts of the Ka`bah erecting stones there.

Ma`d had four sons—Qada`ah, Nizar, Qanas and Iyad. Qada`ah was the eldest son. Ma`d was popularly known as Abū-Qada`ah. Of the four sons, Nizar was endowed with superior qualities.

Nizar ibn Ma`d

His mother was Mu`anah bint Jawsham who was from the tribe of Banū-Jarham. The birth of Nizar brought immense happiness to his father Ma`d that he fathomed from the radiant forehead of the baby that this child will be the progenitor of the Prophet of Islam (a.s) and the inheritor of the traditions of Ibrahim (a.s). To celebrate the birth Ma`d slaughtered a thousand camels and feasted the tribes of Arabia on a grand scale. He addressed the child thus:

Looking at your status, I consider this sacrifice too meager.[3]

Because Nizar means ‘few’ and ‘little’, the child was named Nizar. He was unique in his good looks and intellect. Diyarbakri writes:

He excelled in his good looks, intelligence and wisdom amongst the people of those times.

On the death of Ma`d the responsibility of leading the tribes of Arabia shifted to Nizar. He discharged his duties with great sense of responsibility. He was the first to invent the Arabic script. In his last days, he lived with his sons in the wilderness. When he felt that the time for his death was nigh, he moved to Makkah. The author of the Tarikh al-Khamis writes that Nizar was interred at Dhat al-Jaysh, a place near al-Madinah. He left behind four sons Rabi`ah, Anmar, Mudar and Iyad.

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Mudar ibn Nizar

His mother’s name was Sawdah. He was attached to the society of Ibrahim and a follower of the Hanafiyyah of Prophet Abraham. He always advised others to follow this faith. The Prophet of Islam (a.s) too confirmed about this in the following words:

Both Rabi`ah and Mudar followed the Faith of Ibrahim (a.s).[4]

In another tradition, he said:

Do not talk ill of Mudar, he was Muslim![5]

Mudar was unique in generosity and sagaciousness. In all respects, he was superior to his brothers. Although all the four sons of Nizar were known for their intelligence, Mudar had special faculties of comprehension, far sightedness and delving into the minds of men. Buladhari writes that when Nizar died, Rabi`ah and Mudar decided to go to the court of the ruler of the time to present their cases to be nominated the chief of the tribe. Mudar was thus preparing for the journey, but Rabi`ah quietly preceded him and reached the court. He took advantage of impressing the ruler and coming into his good books. After some days Mudar too arrived at the court, but on account of his quiet nature he was unable to get closer to the king. When the time for the return of the brothers arrived, the king asked them to request for what they wished to have from him. Mudar had a feeling that Rabi`ah would get a preference over him. He therefore told the king that whatever he gave to him, he should give the twice of that to Rabi`ah because he was the elder of the two brothers. The king agreed to accede to this request. He now asked Mudar to ask what he wanted. Mudar asked the king to remove one of his eyes. The king was initially surprised at this strange request. But after brooding over it for a while, he smiled and said, “You need not worry, I shall give equitable treatment to both of you! I shall not give preference to one brother over the other.” This is an example of the wisdom of Mudar that he conveyed his thoughts to the king in his own subtle way! In this manner, he maintained his status and dignity!

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In addition to his wisdom, Mudar had a sonorous voice and even animals used to be impressed with his good voice. Once he fell down from the back of a camel and his hand was bruised badly. Because of the pain, he cried “Oh! My hand! Oh! My hand!” Hearing this, the camels grazing in the neighborhood gathered around him. While riding on the camels he used to sing. Hearing him sing, the camels used to jog along faster. This promoted the practice of singing of camels, rajz or martial songs among the Arab tribes. The words of the rajz and the jog of the camel are very well coordinated! The faster the rider sings the rajz, the faster the camel will trot.

Muhammad ibn `Abdullah al-Arzaqi writes that Mudar reconstructed the Ka`bah following its rebuilding by Banū-Jarham. Mudar made a will and testament to his sons as follows:

One who sows the seed of discontent will reap shame and disappointment. Excellent good is one that is done without delay! Encourage your psyche to accept the unpleasant things that might reform you. Reject those pleasurable things that might be the cause of harm to you. Patience and control of desires draw a line between good and evil.[6]

Ilyas ibn Mudar

His given name was Habib. When he was born, Mudar was old and feeble. Therefore, he started calling the child as Ilyas. His mother’s name was Rabab bint Haydah. After Mudar he became the head of the tribe. He was remembered with the titles of Kabir al-Qawm (the chief of the folk) and Sayyid al-`Ashirah (the master of the clan). He was highly respected in the Ibrahimi Clan and his life was a mirror of the Hanafiyyah of Prophet Abraham. Later on, the Prophet of Islam (a.s) bore witness to his Faith in the following words:

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Do not talk ill of Ilyas. He was a possessor of (strong) Faith.[7]

The popularity that he achieved with his exemplary behavior has no peer in his period. Diyarbakri writes about him:

The Arabs used to respect Ilyas the same way as they respected Luqman, scholars, and intellectuals of that caliber.

The Arab tribes had total faith in his sagacity and all the disputes between the tribes were brought to him for arbitration. His greatest achievement is that he revived the fading Ibrahimi Faith and banished the defects that had entered in its practice. He made sincere efforts to make the progeny of Isma`il to follow the Faith of Ibrahim. Al-Ya`qūbi writes:

Ilyas was the first person to point out that the progeny of Isma`il had abandoned the traditions (Sunnah) of their forbears. He performed such good acts that after Udd none in the Progeny of Isma`il had done. He turned the progeny of Isma`il towards the practices of their forbears to an extent that they all revived in totality.[8]

Ilyas suffered from the ailment of tuberculosis. His wife, Layla bint Halwan, known as Khandaf, resolved that if Ilyas succumbed to his illness, she would spend the rest of her life in the wilderness and would never sit under a shade. When Ilyas expired, she left to the forest and spent her time crying and wailing for him. Particularly on Thursdays, she used to sing requiems in her husband’s memory from sunrise to sunset. That was the day when Ilyas had died.

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Ilyas left behind three sons: `Amr, `Amir and `Umayr. These three sons, in that sequence, were known as Mudrikah, tabaqah and Qamhah respectively. Ilyas’ sons and the tribes under them are known as Banū-Khandaf.

Mudrikah ibn Ilyas

His real name was `Amr and the patronymic (kunyah) was Abul-Hudhayl. His mother’s name was Layla bint Halwan al-Qada`iyyah. The reason why Mudrikah was given this name was that once his father Ilyas went with his family into the wilderness. When they halted during the journey, one rabbit came into the midst of the camels. This disturbed the camels `Amr chased the rabbit and caught it. Thus, he was named Mudrikah or the “one who got it”. There is another belief that he was given this name because he got all the good characteristics of his forbears. Therefore, Diyarbakri says:

His name is Mudrikah because he acquired all the privileges of his father and grandfather.[9]

He was the keeper of the high ideals of his ancestors and the inheritor of their greatness. Thus, he achieved the position of eminence in the Arab society. Al-Ya`qūbi writes:

Mudrikah ibn Ilyas was the leader of the progeny of Nizar and his eminence and greatness was very much evident.[10]

He left behind two sons: Hudhayl and Khuzaymah.

Khuzaymah ibn Mudrikah

His kunyah was Abul-Asad and his mother was Salma bint Aslam al-Qada`iyyah. Following the Faith, Hanafiyyah of Prophet Abraham, has all along been the characteristic of this family. Like his ancestors, he too strictly followed the Faith of Ibrahim. In Arab lands, there was the custom of tribal suzerainty. For generations this family held this privilege. Al-Ya`qūbi writes that among the Arab rulers he held a very privileged position. The Arabs acknowledged his eminence. He left behind three sons: Asad, Hawn and Kinanah.

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Kinanah ibn Khuzaymah

His kunyah was Abū-Nadr and his mother’s name was Awanah bint Sa`d. He became the chief of the tribes of Arabia after Khuzaymah. He was a possessor of sterling qualities of the head and heart. He was so brilliant that it is difficult to assess his capabilities. The Arabs used to hold him in awe and respect because of his sagacity and generosity. `Allamah Halabi writes about him:

Kinanah was a revered person of high status and because of his erudition and knowledge, the Arabs emulated him.[11]

The historians record about his generosity that he never ate his food alone. He always made it a point to have one or many guests at every meal. If he chanced to eat alone, he would imagine having a guest with him and after taking every morsel, he would put another on a stone put near him!

The following are a few of his words of erudition and learning:

Many faces create illusion with their outward good looks. Their appearance is something and the reality is something else! Judge the foul acts and do not go by the deceptive appearance. Keep an eye on the character of persons![12]

Nadr ibn Kinanah

His real name was Qays. But because of his extreme good looks and the radiance of face, he was called Nadr the good looking! His kunyah was Abū-Yakhlud. His mother’s name was al-Barra’ bint Murr. Some historians are of the view that he was the first to be remembered with the title of Quraysh. They say that it is his progeny that later on came to be called the Quraysh. There are several reasons for remembering him as Quraysh. One reason being the men of his tribe being present at his table for the morning and evening meals. Because of these gatherings, he was given the title of Quraysh, which literally means one who likes to gather people. Another reason attributed to this title is that he had the habit of looking around for needy persons to provide them food and assistance. In the Arabic language Taqrish means to search and provide relief. Another belief is that he was once going by boat to some place. His companions saw a very large sea animal, called Quraysh. He attacked the animal with his sword and killed it. The companions brought it to

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Makkah and put it on the peak of the hill, Abū-Qubays. Whosoever saw this spectacle, he said, “al-Nadr has killed Quraysh!” He was given the title of Quraysh because of this event. A poet says:

Quraysh is an animal that lives in the sea.

Hence Quraysh is named thus after it!

Abū-Hanifah al-Daynawari writes in al-Akhbar al-tiwal that when Alexander reached Makkah from Yemen during his campaign of conquests, he met Nizar ibn Kinanah. At that time in history, Banū-Khuza`ah were in control of Makkah. Alexander asked Banū-Khuza`ah to leave Makkah and go elsewhere. He entrusted the care and control of Makkah to Nizar and his brothers. He also gave gifts to the progeny of Ma`d ibn `Adnan.

Nizar, on assuming reins, concentrated on moral and economic reforms. He kept a severe watch on lawless acts of people. He punished acts of tyranny on innocent people by men in powerful positions. Some historians record that he enforced a fine of one hundred camels on those who committed murders.

He left behind two sons, Malik and Yakhlud. Some historians talk of another son by name Salt.

Malik ibn Nadr

His kunyah was Abul-Harith. His mother was `Atikah bint `Adwan. Some historians mention her name as `Ikrishah. Some others have clarified that her given name was `Atikah and `Ikrishah the nickname. Malik, after his father Nizar, is considered the most popular and influential ruler of Arab lands. Diyarbakri writes about him:

His name was Malik for the very reason that he was the possessor of influence and control in Arabia… .[13]

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Malik was a follower of the Faith of Ibrahim. He meticulously followed the ways of his ancestors. He had three sons: Harith, Shayban and Fihr.

Fihr ibn Malik

His kunyah or filial appellation was Abū-Ghalib and his mother was Jandalah bint Harith al-Jarhami. Some historians say that his given name was Quraysh and his title was Fihr and he only was the forbear of the tribe of Quraysh. Ibn `Abdarah writes:

The tribes of Quraysh trace their origin to Malik and do not go beyond him.[14]

He was endowed with great erudition and learning. He had achieved great heights in learning during the lifetime of his father. He succeeded to the position of his father on his demise. He was known for his bravery and valor. During his rule, Hassan ibn `Abd-Kalal of Yemen came with a huge army from Yemeni and Himyar and attacked Makkah. His intention was to demolish the Ka`bah, take its stones to Yemen and reconstruct the Ka`bah there. His plan was to demolish the sanctity of Makkah and make Yemen the place for Hajj Pilgrimage. When Fihr learnt about the intentions of the Yemeni army, he gathered the Arab tribes under his banner and entered the field of battle to confront Hassan’s hordes. There was fierce fighting between the two armies. Fihr lost one of his sons, Harith, during this battle. In the end, the Yemenis were comprehensively defeated. Hassan was taken prisoner and was released after three years on paying a huge ransom. On the way to Yemen he died. This was how the Nature destroyed the enemy of Ka`bah and its keeper emerged victorious.

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Among Malik’s words of wisdom, his advice to Ghalib, his son, about adopting frugal ways is worth mentioning:

The little wealth that you have in your hands is better than huge hoards that might reduce your respect (in the society).[15]

Fihr had four sons: Ghalib, Muharib, Harith and Asad.

Ghalib ibn Fihr

His patronymic was Abū-Taym and his mother was Layla bint Harith. He succeeded as ruler of the tribes of Arabia after his father’s death. His reign too was highly successful. He had two sons: Taym and Lu’ay.

Lu’ay ibn Ghalib

The name Lu’ay is derived from La'y that means radiance and brightness. His kunyah was Abū-Ka`b and his mother was `Atikah bint Yakhlud He became the ruler of Arabia after his father’s death. He dug a well outside the Ka`bah that was called Aysarah. The locals and the visitors to Makkah used its water to quench their thirst. Lu’ay had four sons: Ka`b, `Amir, Samah and `Awf.

Ka`b ibn Lu’ay

His kunyah was Abū-Musays and his mother was Mawiyyah bint Ka`b al-Khuza`iyyah. He was known for his exemplary character. He used to provide succor to the oppressed. He was the most respected person of his times. A new calendar was commenced with his death that was current until the Year of the Elephant (`am al-fil) came into vogue. This proves the popularity that he had enjoyed. Generally, an Arab calendar originated only when a highly eminent person expired or an event of great importance had taken place. This calendar was current for five hundred and twenty years. This was the intervening period between his death and the Event of the Feel or the Elephant. Prior to Ka`b, the Arabs used to call Friday as Aruba. He proposed calling `Arūbah as Friday (Jumu`ah) and started the practice of Ijtima` or gatherings. In these gatherings, he used to give sermons. It was during these gatherings that he started the practice of saying “Amma ba`d (and then)” while delivering the sermon. Later on Qass ibn Sa`idah al-Iyadi started using this term in letters. Ka`b was a great orator of his times. Besides his sermons on Fridays, his oratory used to be a very important event during the large gatherings at the time of Hajj. In these sermons he used to talk on topics like sanctity of agreements, protection of rights, norms of good behavior and the respect for the Bayt Allah or Ka`bah. He also used to give the tidings of the arrival of the Messenger the Prophet Muhammad (a.s) in one of his sermons he said:

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Adopt kindness and be considerate of relationships. Keep your promises and enhance your wealth through trade that will help you maintain thoughtfulness and generosity. Wherever there is need for spending wealth, do not abstain from doing it. Recognize the greatness of the Haram (Holy Precinct--the Ka`bah) and remain attached to it. Soon great news will emanate from it and the last of the Prophets will emerge from here. This tiding was brought by Mūsa (Prophet Moses) and `Isa (Prophet Jesus).[16]

Ka`b had three sons: Murrah, `Adi and Husays.

Murrah ibn Ka`b

His kunyah was Abū-Yaqzah and his mother was Makhshiyyah bint Shayban. Murrah was an Arab leader of much eminence. He excavated a well near `Arafat from which he used to quench the thirst of the passersby.

He had three sons: Kalab, Yaqzah and Taym.

Kalab ibn Murrah

His given name was Hakim and his kunyah was Abū-Zahrah. His mother’s name was Hind bint Sarir. He became known as Kalab because he was seen much on expeditions with hunting dogs. In the Arab tribes, his personality was much respected. Both his paternal and maternal ancestors enjoyed much eminence in the society. He was very well-known for his wisdom and sagacity. Arabs generally came to him for arbitration when disputes arose between them. For public welfare he got excavated three wells, Khum, Ram, and Hadar, on the outskirts of Makkah. Kalab had two sons: Zahrah and Qasi.

Qasi ibn Kalab

His real name was Zayd. His kunyah was Abū-Mughirah. His mother was Fatimah bint Sa`d. She married Rabi`ah ibn Haram al-`Udhri after the death of Kalab. She moved to the habitation of Banū-`Adhrah with her new husband. The little Qasi moved to the new place with his mother. Kalab’s other son, Zahrah, was a grown youth and stayed back at Makkah. The appellation of Qasi got stuck to Qasi because the word means ‘one who is away’. Qasi received his upbringing with Banū-`Adhrah and he was considered a member of the tribe. Once it chanced that he had an altercation with a man from the tribe of `Udhrah. The person sarcastically said that Qasi was an outsider who had imposed himself on the tribe. Qasi asked him to what tribe he originally belonged. The man said he must go to his mother and ask her. Qasi went to his mother and made inquiries. She replied:

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My son! In the matter of personal pedigree and your male parentage, you are far superior to the `Udhri. You are the son of Kalab ibn Murrah and your people live in Makkah near the Ka`bah.[17]

When Qasi knew that his origin was Makkah, he decided to go there. Fatimah bint Sa`d said that she did not want to prevent him from going and, to the

contrary, her wish was that he went to his ancestral home. But she wanted him to wait for some time. She said that Banū-Quda`ah would shortly leave for Hajj when he could accompany them to Makkah. When Hajj drew near, Qasi along with stepbrother, Zarraj Ibn Rabi`ah joined the caravan of Banū-Khuza`ah and reached Makkah. He stayed with his brother Zahrah Bin Kalab. At that time Makkah was under the control of Banū-Khuza`ah and Halil Ibn Habisah was at the helm of affairs. Qasi asked for the hand of Halil’s daughter, Hubba, in marriage. Halil was aware of Qasi’s ancestral superiority and he readily agreed to the proposal. Hubba gave Qasi four sons who are known by the names of `Abd-Manaf, `Abd al-`Uzza, `Abd al-Qasi and `Abd al-Dar. When these children grew into youths, Halil said that Qasi’s children are his own children and in the future they would be the keepers of the Ka`bah and the rulers of Makkah. Thus Qasi was nominated Halil’s successor. Ibn Sa`d writes:

Halil made a will that the upkeep of the Ka`bah and the emirate of Makkah must vest in Qasi. He also told Qasi that it was his rightful inheritance.[18]

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In the books of history it is also mentioned that when Halil was breathing his last, he willed that his daughter Hubba would be the keeper of the Ka`bah and Abū-Ghafshan al-Malkani to assist her in the discharge of this duty. Therefore, Abū-Ghafshan used to open the gate of the Ka`bah one day and on behalf of Hubba this duty was performed by Qasi the next day. When this practice continued for some time, Qasi told Hubba that the rightful keepers of the Ka`bah were the progeny of Isma`il and, hence, this task must be entrusted to `Abd al-Dar. Hubba said that `Abd al-Dar was her son and she would have no objection entrusting the task to him. But she also insisted that, according to the will of her father, Abū-Ghafshan had an equal right on the matter as she had. She also doubted if he would concede to the new arrangement. Qasi asked her to leave to him the matter of convincing Abū-Ghafshan. When Hubba agreed to concede the keeping of the Ka`bah in favor of her son, `Abd al-Dar, Qasi proceeded to Ta’if where Abū-Ghafshan was residing. One evening Qasi went to the place of Abū-Ghafshan where a carousel of music, dance and drinking was in full swing. Abū-Ghafshan was high with intoxication. He shook Abū-Ghafshan and struck a bargain for the Ka`bah in return for a she camel and one container of liquor. When Abū-Ghafshan regained his senses, he was very sorry for the deal. Qasi returned to Makkah having achieved success in his task. In front of a large gathering the key of the precincts of Ka`bah were handed over to `Abd al-Dar. When Banū-Khuza`ah and Banū-Bakr realized that Abū-Ghafshan had deprived their tribes of the position of the keepers of the Ka`bah because of his intoxicated and inebriated state of mind, they started to fight to get back their authority. Qasi too was prepared for such an eventuality. The Quraysh and Banū-Kinanah were already with him and Zarraj ibn Rabi`ah, along with his brothers and a strong contingent of Banū-Khuza`ah came in support of Qasi. When many men from both the warring groups died, some well-meaning persons arbitrated. Therefore, Ya`mur ibn `Awf was appointed the referee. He ruled that Qasi had a right to be the keeper of the Ka`bah. The families of the persons from his side who died in the fight must be compensated with blood money. The men who lost their lives from the ranks of Banū-Khuza`ah and Banū-Bakr need not be compensated. This verdict was accepted as final and Qasi was now the sole keeper of the Ka`bah and the ruler of Makkah. Ibn Ishaq writes:

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Qasi was appointed the keeper of the Ka`bah and the ruler of Makkah. He gathered together people of his tribe from many places and consolidated his power. All people in Makkah submitted to him. Among the progeny of Ka`b, Qasi is the first ruler to whom the entire tribe owed allegiance. The keeping of the keys of Ka`bah, feeding and provision of water to the Hajjis, presiding over the Majlis (the Council) and bearing the standard of the troops were the duties entrusted to him. Thus, all the prestigious responsibilities were vested in him.[19]

The keeping of Ka`bah always rested with Isma`il and his progeny. After Isma`il, his son Thabit performed this duty. But after Thabit this privilege slipped away from the hands of Banū-Isma`il and shifted to Banū-Jarham, the maternal family of Thabit. Banū-Jarham turned towards tyranny and as their power grew stronger they became more tyrannous. In the second century AD when Yemen was struck with a deluge, a person, of name Qada`ah moved from there to Makkah. He assumed control of Makkah and thus commenced the two hundred years’ rule of Banū-Khuza`ah. When the authority shifted from Banū-Khuza`ah to Qasi he gathered in Makkah the Banū-Fihr who were scattered in the nearby hills and the wilderness as nomads. Because of this act of consolidation, he was remembered with the title of Majma` or the one who gathered together the people! Therefore, Hudhafah ibn Ghanim says thus in his poem:

Your father, Qasi, is one who is known with the title of Majma` and it was through him that Allah brought together all the branches of Fihr in one place!

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Because of this gathering together of people Qasi is remembered with the title of Quraysh. The word Quraysh is derived from taqrish that means consolidating or clubbing together. There is, however, a difference of opinion as to who was the first to get the title of Quraysh. Some say that the progeny of Ilyas were the first to be remembered with this title. Another opinion is that the progeny of Mudar are the Quraysh. Some others say that the first to get this title were the progeny of Nizar ibn Kinanah. One group feels that Fihr ibn Malik was the first to be known with this title. But the researchers do believe that Qasi got the title of Quraysh and his progeny are known as such. Al-tabari writes:

When Qasi came to the precincts of the Ka`bah, and assumed control, he performed deeds of virtue; thus he is remembered as Qarashi. He was the first who was known as Qarashi.[20]

`Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan enquired of Muhammad ibn Jubayr as to when Quraysh came to be called thus. He said ever since they came to the Haram of Ka`bah, they are called the Quraysh. They are called thus because the word is derived from taqarrush which means gathering or assembling together. `Abdul-Malik said,

I have not heard anything like this. My information is that Qasi was known as Qarashi and before him none was addressed with this title.[21]

Ibn Sa`d too was of the same opinion. He writes:

It is because of Qasi that the Quraysh are called as Quraysh. Prior to him they were known as Abul-Nadr.[22]

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By facilitating the settlement of the progeny of Fihr in the environs of the Ka`bah, Qasi revived their past greatness. He helped them achieve high state of civilization. On account of this, the progeny of Fihr held him in great esteem and bowed their heads in acceptance to all his commands, as people would do for the Commandments of their Faith! Buladhari writes:

For the Quraysh, every word of Qasi was like a religious Commandment. They followed his commands and never deviated an iota from what he desired them to do.[23]

In addition to bringing together the progeny of Fihr and settling them, Qasi started the departments of Siqayah (Water Supply) and Rifadah (The Public Mess) for the water and feeding needs of the Hajjis. With the cooperation of the inhabitants of Makkah he used to feed the pilgrims coming from far away places and take care of their comforts. He encouraged the people of Makkah to take interest in this activity. He used to say during his sermons:

You are the neighbors of Allah and the inhabitants of these Holy Precincts. These Hajjis are the guests of Allah and the pilgrims of this Holy House. They are more esteemed than any other guests. Therefore, you must look after their comforts during the period of the Hajj![24]

With his practical and active living Qasi performed highly commendable tasks for the society. He renovated the Ka`bah and thatched its roof with date palm leaves. Between `Arafat and Mina he constructed a building that he named al-Mash`ar al-Haram. During the period of the Hajj lamps used to be lighted in this building to facilitate the pilgrims reaching there without difficulty. Ibn `Abdarah writes:

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Qasi built al-Mash`ar al-Haram where lamps were lighted during the nights as beacons to guide the pilgrims.[25]

He arranged lighting of pyres at Muzdalifah to guide the pilgrims coming from `Arafat. Ibn al-Athir writes:

Qasi was the first to get a pyre lighted at Muzdalifah. Then this practice was revived during the time of the Prophet (a.s).[26]

Before the period of Qasi houses were not constructed in the area of Makkah and people used to live in temporary shacks. He was the first to build a house near the Ka`bah. The door of this house opened towards Ka`bah. This house became known as Dar al-Nidwah. Al-Ya`qūbi writes:

Qasi built his house in Makkah. This was the first house that was constructed in Makkah and was called Dar al-Nidwah.[27]

The Quraysh used to view this house with great respect and veneration. They considered it very felicitous to celebrate their weddings in these precincts. They used to assemble there to settle their societal disputes and when going out to battle they used to raise their standards from there only. Before Qasi arrived at Makkah the people used to draw water from the well of Lu’ay ibn Ghalib known as Aisarah and the well of Murrah ibn Ka`b, known as al-Rawwa’. They also drew water from the stagnated pits near Makkah. Qasi got a well excavated near Makkah to facilitate the people there. This well was called al-`Ajūl. This well was situated at the place where the house of Ummu-Hani’ bint Abū-Talib was located. The reforms achieved by Qasi were the renovation of the Ka`bah, constructing other buildings, relocating the progeny of Fihr in Makkah and other programs of popular welfare.

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Besides his reforms, Qasi is remembered for his words of wisdom. Here we quote a few of his wise sayings:

One who agreed with the mean thoughts and words of a person, he will himself be a party to the meanness.

One who views evil with approbation will himself be an evil person.

One who cannot be reformed with respect, he can be reformed only with insults and harsh treatment.

One who expects more than his worth, he will be deserving of disappointment.

A jealous person is a hidden enemy.[28]

During his last moments, Qasi advised his children in the following words:

Abstain from intoxicating drinks. Though they might help improve your bodies, they will destroy your senses and wisdom![29]

He died in 480 A.D. At Makkah and is buried at the foot of the Mount Hajūn. The Arabs mourned their great leader and reformer. People used to visit his

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graveside with much veneration. Buladhari writes:

When he died, he was interred at the Mount Hajūn. People visited his grave to pay respects to him and acknowledge his greatness.[30]

`Abd-Manaf ibn Qasi

His real name was Mughirah and the kunyah Abū-`Abd-Shams. Because of his extreme good looks he was called as Qamar al-Batha'. Because of his charitable disposition and reverence he was called al-Sayyid. Although the elder son of Qasi, `Abd al-Dar was the keeper of the keys of the Ka`bah, the leadership of Quraysh was vested in `Abd-Manaf. In fact, because of his wisdom and sagacity, he rose to the leadership of the tribe during the lifetime of his father! Diyarbakri writes:

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`Abd-Manaf rose to the leadership of the tribe during the lifetime of his father. The Quraysh used to abide by all his commands.[31]

He followed the ways of his illustrious father and perpetrated the institutions of reform established by him. `Abd-Manaf left behind four sons: Hashim, Muttalib, `Abd-Shams and Nawfal. Hashim and Muttalib are remembered as al-Badran or two moons!

Hashim Ibn `Abd-Manaf

His real name was `Amr and because of his imposing personality he was called `Amr al-`Ala'. His kunyah was Abū-Nazlah, his title Sayyid al-Batha’ and Abul-Batha’. His mother was `Atikah. Instead of his name and kunyah, he was better known as Hashim. The reason for this name was that once, during a famine, he got large number of breads cooked, loaded them on camels and brought from Syria to Makkah. He got a soup prepared from the meat of the camels, shredded the breads into smaller chunks, doused them in to large bowls of the soup and fed the people and the visitors to Makkah. From that day, people started calling him Hashim that means one who makes shreds.

Hashim and `Abd-Shams were born as twins. One was born with his palm attached to the forehead of the other. Both were separated from each other with the blow of a sword. At that time, it was predicted that the progeny of both would fight with each other. Therefore, there was always conflict going on between the two families. These two brothers were the forerunners of the Banū-Hashim and Banū-Umayyah. These two families were poles apart as far as their thoughts and beliefs were concerned. The first conflict came about between Hashim and Umayyah the son of `Abd-Shams. Then there was fight between `Abd al-Muttalib, the son of Hashim, and Harb the son of Umayyah. After Harb, his son, Abū-Sufyan challenged the Prophet of Islam (a.s) and fought many battles against him. After Abū-Sufyan his son, Mu`awiyah fought many gory battles against `Ali (a.s). Thereafter, Yazid, the son of Mu`awiyah, martyred Imam al-Husayn (a.s) and his small group of companions. Thus, the enmity between Banū-Hashim and Banū-Umayyah went on for generation together. Even after embracing Islam, there was no change in the treacherous nature of Banū-Umayyah, and they used all the stratagems to annihilate Banū-Hashim.

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Hashim and `Abd-Shams, though of the same parentage and grand parentage, they were as different as a flower and a thorn growing on the same plant. Hashim was a person of great character and nobility. There always used to be a group of needy persons surrounding him for help. The economic growth of the Quraysh, to a great extent, was due to the help and assistance of Hashim. He inculcated the idea of trade and commerce in the minds of the Quraysh and put them on the path of progress. Even prior to Hashim, Quraysh had some idea of trade and commerce, but it was restricted to dealing only in local transactions. One reason for calling them as Quraysh is that the word comes from taqrush that means work, trade and commerce. Hashim took his trading activities forward and extended it to the markets of Syria and beyond to Abyssinia. He also encouraged the Quraysh to follow in his footsteps. He organized trading caravans to Abyssinia and Yemen during the winters and to Syria, Gaza and Ankara during the summer months. The Caesar of Rome used to hold him in high respect. With his influence on the Caesar, he obtained a charter from him that the merchandise of the Quraysh would not be charged any taxes in his realm, facilities of travel to be extended to the trading caravans and safety was guaranteed. This increased the trading activities of the Quraysh by leaps and bounds.

It has been mentioned while discussing about Qasi that he had nominated his elder son, Abdul Dar, as the keeper of the Ka`bah, but he was not able to prove himself equal to the task. Nor anyone from his progeny rose to prove their capability. Matters went from bad to worse and When Hashim saw that Banū-`Abd-al-Dar were grossly incapable of delivering the goods, he had a discussion with his brothers Muttalib, Nawfal and `Abd-Shams and they all agreed that the responsibility of the upkeep of the Ka`bah must be taken away from Banū-`Abd-al-Dar. They were certain that as long as the management was not changed, things could not be set right. When Banū-`Abd-al-Dar heard of the plans of their removal, they came up for armed conflict. On the other hand, the progeny of `Abd-Manaf too got ready to fight. The Arab tribes were divided into two groups. Banū-Asad, Banū-Zahrah, Banū-Tamim and Banū-Harith joined the ranks of the progeny of `Abd-Manaf. The other group consisted of Banū-Makhzūm, Banū-Sahm and Banū-`Adi who sided with Banū-`Abd-al-Dar. Banū-`Abd-Manaf and their cohorts were called Mutayyibūn and the group of Banū-`Abd-al-Dar was called the al-Ahlaf. Skirmishes were about to break out between the opposing groups when some well meaning arbiters intervened and suggested that a truce should be struck through negotiations. They felt that the consequences of a battle might be very serious. Thus an agreement was reached that the functions of Siqayah and Rifadah were to be with Banū-`Abd-Manaf and that of Nidwah, Hijab and Liwa' (the standard) to remain in the charge of Banū-`Abd-al-Dar. When this agreement was concluded, Banū-`Abd-Manaf drew lots amongst themselves for the control of the departments of Siqayah and Rifadah. The lottery went in the favor of Hashim who assumed control of the two departments.

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Hashim took prompt action to reform the two departments. He improved the arrangements for provision of food and water to the Hajjis. He got two new wells, Sajlah and Budhdhar, dug to increase the availability of water. He perfected the two schemes started by his grandfather, Qasi. Nearer the Hajj season he would assemble the Quraysh near the Ka`bah and give them detailed instructions about providing services to the Hajjis. He would tell them:

O group of Quraysh! You are resident in the neighborhood of Allah and live in His House! The time has come that the pilgrims to the House of Allah are about to come to pay their obeisance. They are all the guests of Allah and deserve all the respect and care from you. Therefore, revere Allah’s guests and take good care of them![32]

After giving this sermon, he used to organize the funds. He used to raise some contributions from the Quraysh but the major part of the funds used to be from his own pocket. He always took care that the Hajjis coming from far away places received good care. Eating-places were arranged in Makkah and Mina and cool, sweet drinking water was copiously provided in leathern containers.

Al-Aswad Ibn Sha`r al-Kalbi had himself witnessed this open house. He writes that when he was the representative of a wealthy lady of his tribe, he used to travel to various places with her merchandise. Once he passed through Mina and `Arafat while the Hajj season was on. It was a dark night. He spent the night at one spot. When he awoke in the morning he noticed tall leather tents of Ta’if hitched at a distance. When he went a little forward, he found large cauldrons placed on smoldering fires. Some animals had already been butchered and some more were about to be cut. Servants were flitting around the place doing their tasks. He was astonished to see the bustle of activity. He felt the urge to meet the chief of the tribe. He went further forward and found a carpeted, tall tent where the chiefs of the Quraysh were seated in a circle. At the center of this group was seated an imposing personality holding a staff in his hand and wearing a black scarf on his head. From the scarf hung long tufts of hair on his shoulders… He was much impressed with the scene. At this moment, he heard someone shouting from an elevated place at some distance, “O visitors to the house of Allah! Do come to have your meals!” From another place two persons were announcing, “Those who have taken their mid-day meal should come again for their dinner!” al-Aswad says that he had heard from the Jewish Scholars that this was the period when the unlettered Prophet would appear. Observing the grand feast he felt whether the person seated there is himself the prophet? He asked one person about the identity of the chief who sat surrounded by his companions in the tent. The person said that it was Abū-Nazlah Hashim ibn `Abd-Manaf. Hearing this al-Aswad said:

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By God! This is real grandeur and not the grandeur of Al-Jafnah (the kings of Syria)![33]

This generosity of Hashim made him popular throughout the Arab lands. Umayyah ibn `Abd-Shams, who was a person of mean disposition, was jealous of Hashim’s popularity. He was working under acute inferiority complex and was blue with envy. He looked forward to every opportunity to lower Hashim in the estimation of the people and somehow occupy his position. With this aim, he used his wealth to throw lavish feasts. However, he lacked the natural instinct of kindness and generosity that Hashim had. The people could read his hypocrisy. He realized that this stratagem of his would not work, and after throwing a couple of parties, he gave up. This proved more humiliating for him. People started ridiculing and making fun of him. Umayyah, meanwhile, was in a frenzy of anger and jealousy. Unable to face the taunts of the people any more, he used unsavory language against Hashim. In accordance with the custom of the time, he threw a challenge of munafarah. Munafarah required an arbiter to decide who was the more eminent of the two contesting parties. Hashim was above all this that he would take recourse to such subterfuges to prove his worth. But the Quraysh persuaded him to accept the challenge. Hashim agreed on the condition that the defeated party must give fifty black-eyed she-camels to the victor and should shun the residence of Makkah for ten years. Umayyah agreed to abide by these conditions. They both agreed to have the Hermit al-Khuza`i as the arbitrator. When both of them presented their case to him, he instantly decided in favor of Hashim confirming his nobility and eminence. Hashim took the fifty camels from Umayyah, got them slaughtered and threw a public feast in Makkah. Umayyah moved away from Makkah to Safūriyah where he spent ten years in exile. This created enmity between the two important clans of Arabia. Buladhari writes:

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This was the first manifestation of hate and enmity that appeared between Hashim and Umayyah.[34]

Hashim was a great personage of his time whose noble descent, stature and nobility have been highly recognized. Not only in H ijaz, but also in places far away from there, had his name and fame spread. Even the ruling princes of the time used to hold him in high respect. The king of Rome and the Najashi of Abyssinia went to the extent of offering the hands of their daughters in marriage to Hashim. But he decided not to marry out of the Hijaz. He took several Arab wives from different tribes. The most significant, and important, marriage was with a girl from the Banū-al-Najjar branch of the tribe of Khazraj. The progeny from this marriage was the line that was later to bear the Prophet of Islam (a.s). It is said that Hashim dreamed that he must marry Salma bint `Amr who was residing at Yathrib. This was a lady of great character and nobility. Diyarbakri writes:

Salma, in intelligence and sagacity, was of the same caliber in her time, as was Khadijah later on.[35]

After seeing this dream, Hashim went to al-Madinah with a few relatives and stayed at the place of `Amr ibn Zayd. He treated the guests lavishly and asked about the purpose of their visit. When a proposal was made for the hand of his daughter in marriage to Hashim, he agreed. But he made one condition that if Salma gave birth to a son, he should stay in Yathrib. Hashim agreed to this condition and the marriage was celebrated. After this function, Hashim proceeded to Syria on a business trip. On his return from there, he took Salma to Makkah along with him. After some time, Salma was pregnant. Hashim therefore shifted her to Yathrib and proceeded on another business trip to Syria. This proved the last journey for Hashim. He was seriously ill for a few days, died, and was interred at Gaza, a place about six miles from `Asqalan.

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When Hashim’s companions from the caravan broke the sad news of his demise in Makkah and Yathrib, there was immense mourning. Every person talked of his generosity, kindness and affectionate disposition. This sad news came to Salma like a thunderbolt. The birth of a posthumous son gave her solace. This son was `Abd al-Muttalib.

Hashim had several sons but two of them had issues. One of them was Asad and the other `Abd al-Muttalib. Asad had one son whose name was Hunayn, who remained issueless. Asad had one daughter, Fatimah, who was married to Abū-Talib and bore `Ali (a.s) and other sons. The other son of Hashim, `Abd-al-Muttalib had sons and the Hashemite progeny progressed through him. Ibn Qutaybah writes about this:

The Hashemite on the face of the earth are all the progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib.[36]

`Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim

His given name was `Amir and Abul-Harith the kunyah. At birth, he had some gray hair in the middle of his head. In Arabic, graying of hair is called shayb. Therefore, `Abd al-Muttalib was called with the sobriquet of Shaybah and Shaybat-al-Hamd. His father, Hashim, expired while on a journey to Syria. The child was deprived of the paternal love and affection. He grew to the age of seven or eight years in his maternal home in al-Madinah.

In Arabia, those days, skill in riding and martial arts like archery and lancing was a necessity. Shaybah too used to practice archery in his childhood. Once he was doing his archery lessons in an open ground at Yathrib along with other children. Whenever he hit the target during the session, he would shout, “I am the son of the chief of Batha’!” A person from the family of Banū-Harith chanced to pass that way. When he heard the child utter these words, he asked about his name and that of his parent. The child said that his name was Shaybat-al-Hamd son of Hashim ibn `Abd-Manaf. The person returned to Makkah and related the entire incident to Shaybah’s uncle Muttalib. Muttalib said that it was a grave oversight from him that he did not care for his nephew. Therefore, he instantly proceeded to Yathrib to fetch Shaybah home. He went to the neighborhood of Banū-al-Najjar where he found some children at play in the street. One of these children was Shaybah. He immediately recognized him. He however asked some men of Banū-al-Najjar about the identity of the child. The men too recognized him as Muttalib, the uncle of Shaybah. They asked him if he wanted to take Shaybah to his rightful home. When he replied in the affirmative, they suggested to him to take him away immediately and that they would not create any hindrance in this matter. They said that if Shaybah’s mother came to know about the purpose of his visit and raised any objections, then the Banū-al-Najjar would be forced to prevent him from taking away the child. Muttalib made his camel squat down, and he told Shaybah, “I am your uncle. Come and sit on this camel!” Shaybah complied without any hesitation and Muttalib brought him to Makkah. When they entered the ramparts of Makkah and the Quraysh noticed a child riding the camel with Muttalib, they shouted, “There comes the slave of Muttalib!” Muttalib told them that the child was not a slave and that he was the son of his brother Hashim. But the people started calling Shaybah by the name of `Abd al-Muttalib.

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Those days there was neither a school nor the people were much in the habit of reading and writing. There were not more than three or four literate persons in Makkah. `Abd al-Muttalib, though devoid of parental care, learned to read and write and acquired proficiency in the Arab Martial Skills. Some of his writings go to prove this point. Ibn al-Nadim writes thus:

In the treasury of al-Ma’mūn, there was a leather tablet on which was a document penned by `Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim making a claim with a man from Himyar.[37]

In addition to his proficiency in the various martial and other skills, he possessed an impressive personality and was tall and strong. Ibn `Abbas says,

I have heard my father say that `Abd al-Muttalib was tall, handsome and good looking. Whoever looked at him started liking him.[38]

After Hashim, according to his will, Muttalib was the chief of the Quraysh and held all the positions connected with the Ka`bah. He had a desire to hand over all these responsibilities to `Abd al-Muttalib during his lifetime only. Therefore, when he thought of going to Yemen, he told `Abd al-Muttalib that he was the heir to his father’s inheritance and that he was now capable of handling the responsibilities. He then handed over all the affairs to `Abd al-Muttalib and proceeded to Yemen and expired there at a place called Rawman.

`Abd al-Muttalib had all the qualities of head and heart to be a good ruler. After assuming charge, he gave attention to improving the administration of the departments of Siqayah and Rifadah. The Spring of Zamzam, that was buried deep underground for centuries, was restored to its pristine position and yielded plenty of sweet water for the pilgrims. Zamzam had disappeared from the sight of the Arabs that they had started calling it Taktum that means something that is upset and hiding from the view. Therefore, `Allamah Zamakhshari, explaining the reason for the use of the term Taktum, says,

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After Banū-Jarham, the spring of Zamzam was lost deep in the ground until `Abd al-Muttalib could make it re-appear.[39]

In brief, when the former rulers of Makkah, Banū-Jarham, were forced to go into exile under the pressure of Banū-Khuza`ah, their chief, `Amr ibn Harith al-Jarhami, buried the two golden antelopes gifted by Isfandyar ibn Gashtasab, the seven swords that were the offerings for the Ka`bah and the five chains of armor in the Spring of Zamzam and put huge quantities of stones and rubble over it that it was difficult to identify the location of the spring. He then migrated with his tribesmen to Yemen. Much later `Abd al-Muttalib got a vision of it’s location in his dream. He surveyed the location of the spring according to the indication he had from the vision. After three days of hard labor, they noticed the signs of the spring. At this juncture, he shouted the praises of Almighty Allah. After a little more excavation, the water gushed out from the spring. The treasure buried by Harith too was recovered.

The Quraysh, who were lukewarm about this activity so far, gathered around `Abd al-Muttalib, and started claiming that the treasure discovered was the property of their ancestors and that they must be given half of it. `Abd al-Muttalib told them that the discovery was the result of his own hard work and that they had no right over it. Even then, he offered, that if they wished, a decision could be arrived at by drawing lots. The Quraysh agreed to the proposal and the contestants of the lottery were the Ka`bah, the Quraysh and `Abd al-Muttalib. The Golden Antelopes went to the lot of the Ka`bah, and the chains of arm and the swords went to the lot of `Abd al-Muttalib. The Quraysh got but nothing! `Abd al-Muttalib sold the swords and the chains of arm to get a gold studded door made for the Ka`bah. The golden antelopes too were melted for studding the door. Ibn al-Athir writes:

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This was the first occasion when the door of Ka`bah was studded with gold.[1]

When the Quraysh failed in acquiring these things, they claimed that they had a proprietary right in the Spring of Zamzam. `Abd al-Muttalib said that the spring was revived with his personal efforts and Allah had granted it only to him. He offered to them that they were free to draw water from it, but there was no question of conceding any property rights to them. But the Quraysh were adamant with their claims. Ultimately it was decided to go to the Hermit of Banū-Sa`d in Syria to resolve this issue. Both the contesting parties were willing to accept her decision. `Abd al-Muttalib agreed to this proposal and along with a few companions and a contingent of the Quraysh proceeded to Syria. They were still on the way when the water containers of `Abd al-Muttalib and his companions ran dry. They asked the Quraysh to give them some water. The Quraysh refused saying that their supply itself was scant. When the thirst became unbearable for `Abd al-Muttalib and his companions, he told his men to dig a grave for every individual so that whoever died, the others bury him. In the end only one person will remain dead without a grave and it would be better than all lying dead, unburied, in the desert. The thirsty group complied, and everyone dug a grave for himself. `Abd al-Muttalib thought that sitting idle without making any effort for water was not right. He asked his men to scatter in different directions and search for water. Saying this he mounted his she-camel. No sooner, the camel lifted its foot, sweet and clear water gushed out from that spot. The companions of `Abd al-Muttalib jumped for joy. They drank their fill and took supplies in their water[40] containers. When the Quraysh witnessed this scene, they said that Allah Himself had resolved their dispute. As he had provided water to `Abd al-Muttalib in the stark desert, He has also given the Spring of Zamzam to him! They said that they no more needed to go to the Hermit for advice. Both the contesting parties, therefore, returned to Makkah from there. Although the Spring of Zamzam had its origins during the times of Isma`il (a.s) its renaissance was during the rule of `Abd al-Muttalib. Other wells too were excavated in Makkah during the period of `Abd-al-Muttalib, but the copious yield of water that the spring gave was not matched by any other source. The inhabitants of Makkah and the pilgrims preferred to draw water from it thinking that its use was felicitous. The spring, therefore, is also called Shuba`ah, that means the quencher! Even now, hundreds of thousands of Hajjis and pilgrims drink this water round the year and take away quantities to their homes. If this spring is a heritage left behind by Isma`il (a.s), this can also be termed a legacy of `Abd al-Muttalib!

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Ibn Wadih and other historians mention a similar event about the well at Ta’if. This well is known as Dhu’l-Hiram and was excavated by `Abd al-Muttalib with great effort. He used to travel to Ta’if occasionally and stay there for a few days. Once he noticed that some persons from Banū-Kalab and Banū-Rabab had pitched their tents and staying near the well. He asked who they were, and why they were halting at that place. They said that they were the owners of the well, Banū-Kalab and Banū-Rabab. `Abd al-Muttalib told them that the well was his and, if they wanted to use it, it could only be with his permission. The men again repeated their proprietary claims over the well. The argument thus prolonged. To cut the matter short, `Abd al-Muttalib proposed that if they wished they could nominate any person to arbitrate. They took the name of Sutayh al-Ghassani for the purpose who was a well-known soothsayer (kahin) of Arabia. They agreed that if the verdict goes against any party, it would give a hundred camels to the winner and twenty camels to Sutayh. Now they all proceeded towards the hermitage of Sutayh. Midway, the water with `Abd al-Muttalib’s group were exhausted. He asked the men from the opposite camp to give some water. They said that the bone of contention between them was water only and they will not spare any of it from their stock. `Abd al-Muttalib said that he would not let his companions perish for want of water. He will go and search for water even if he lost his own life during the effort. Saying this he mounted his camel and went in one direction. After some distance, his camel sat down on the desert ground. Looking from the place where the group was halting, the men thought that `Abd al-Muttalib had expired. But his companions said that he had gone for

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the noble purpose of searching water for his men and Allah will protect his life in such a situation. When some of the men reached the spot, they noticed that the camel was resting on cool and moist desert sand. And nearby water from a spring was flowing copiously. Banū-Kalab and Banū-Rabab emptied their water containers and wanted to take a refill of cool and fresh water. `Abd al-Muttalib’s companions tried to prevent them from taking the water saying that they had refused to give them water when requested earlier. `Abd al-Muttalib asked his companions to allow the men to take the water. He said that nobody could be prevented from drinking the water. The two tribes were much impressed with `Abd al-Muttalib’s gesture but still held on to their demand for arbitration regarding the well. On reaching the place of Sutayh they tested the soothsayer in various ways. They asked him to tell them about the matter of dispute between the two contending groups. He said that they were quarreling about the well in Ta’if, by the name of Dhu’l-Hiram, which belongs to `Abd al-Muttalib and Banū-Kalab or Banū-Rabab had no right over it. He asked them to give, as agreed, a hundred camels to `Abd al-Muttalib and twenty to him! They complied and withdrew their claim over the well.

On returning to Makkah, `Abd-al-Muttalib announced that some of the residents had resolved that if he had lost in the arbitration, they would pool camels and settle the fine to be imposed on him. Now he asked the persons to take the number of camels each one has pledged to give from the flock received by him in terms of the arbitration. Persons came forward and took away camels in ones, twos and threes. Even after all this, some camels were left undistributed. `Abd al-Muttalib asked his son Abū-Talib to slaughter the camels and disburse the meat on the peak of Abū-Khamis that the wild animals feasted on it. Abū-Talib complied with his father’s command and uttered the following couplet:

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We feed others! Even the birds feed on our leftovers!

The hands of persons shiver, who keep their bowls brimming full!

It was the practice of `Abd al-Muttalib that whatever food was left over, it was disbursed on the top of the hills to feed the wild birds there. Because of this, he was also known as Mut`im al-tayr (or the Feeder of the Birds). He always considered his moral duty to succor the poor and the needy once some persons from the tribe of Hizam came to Makkah for Hajj. While they were returning after the pilgrimage, one person of their group was murdered. As a ransom, they withheld a compensation for Hudhafah ibn Ghanim al-Adadi. Hudhafah saw `Abd al-Muttalib on the way and appealed to him for help. He inquired about the matter, asked them to release H udhafah, and promised to give them twenty ounce or five hundred and fifty grams of gold as blood money and 10 camels and a horse. He also gave them his personal shawl to be kept as a mortgage until the settlement was made as agreed. They took the shawl and released the captive who rode to Makkah along with `Abd al-Muttalib Release of Hudhafah on the guarantee of an ordinary shawl was because of the high reputation of `Abd al-Muttalib. The Arabs also considered their honors compromised if they left their mortgaged things unreleased for long spells. Because of this custom amongst the Arabs, Khusrow agreed to keep the bow of Hajib ibn Zurarah as a guarantee for his peaceful conduct. The story goes that with repeated periods of drought, the tribes of Banū-Tamim wanted to go to the pastures of Iraq to graze their camels, Abū-Zurarah went to the court of Khusrow to seek his permission. Khusrow said that they were treacherous people and that they might create some dispute in his realm. Hajib said that he would stand guarantee for the good behavior of his people and offered his own bow as a surety. At this, Khusrow and his courtiers started laughing. But one of the courtiers said that the mortgage of the bow must be accepted because the Arabs consider it a grave dishonor if they are unable to release the goods mortgaged by them. When the period of drought was over, the Arabs decided to return from the pastures in Iraq. In the interregnum, Hajib had already expired. His son, `Utarid, went to Khusrow and told him that his people had fulfilled the requirements of good behavior and if the bow was not returned to him now, he would face lot of ridicule in the Arab land. Khusrow appreciated this very much and returned Hajib’s bow to his son `Utarid.

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In Makkah there was a Jew, Udhaynah, who was an itinerant trader selling his goods in the neighborhood of the town. He sought protection from `Abd al-Muttalib, which was duly promised. Harb ibn Umayyah troubled the Jew and incited some roughs of Quraysh who murdered him and looted his belongings. When `Abd al-Muttalib learned about it, he started investigation into the matter. It was proved that the crime was committed on the instigation of Harb by `Amir ibn `Abd-Manaf ibn `Abd al-Dar and Saqr ibn `Amr and that they were hiding at the place of Harb. He demanded of Harb to hand over the culprits. Harb refused to comply and used harsh language. Rift already existed between the two families, which increased after this episode. Harb challenged `Abd-al-Muttalib for a debate and contest. First `Abd al-Muttalib expressed surprise at this challenge, and then he accepted it. It was decided that the King of Abyssinia would act as the arbiter in this dispute. But the king refused to arbitrate. Then Nufayl ibn `Abd-al-`Uzza was appointed as the arbitrator. He recognized the superiority and esteem of `Abd-al-Muttalib and decided the matter in his favor. Harb was very upset with this decision and used harsh words against Nufayl and stooped down to mean acts against `Abd al-Muttalib. His idea was to divert the attention from the arrest and punishment of the murderers. But `Abd al-Muttalib would not give up easily. He pursued the matter actively and made the criminals give one hundred camels to the successors of the deceased as a compensation for his blood. He also recovered a major portion of the wares of the Jew from the culprits and handed back to his people. Whatever was the shortfall in the value of the goods, he paid to the victims from his own pocket!

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It was during the time of `Abd al-Muttalib that Najashi, the commander of Abyssinian forces and Abrahah ibn Ashram, the ruler of Yemen attacked Makkah and tried to demolish the Ka`bah. This was a very trying time for the people of Makkah. On the one hand, there were well-organized forces and on the other, there was neither numerical strength nor that of materials. When the Yemeni forces camped outside Makkah, the hearts of the people shivered. The people of Makkah fled towards the hills, ravines and the wildernesses along with their women and children. The sangfroid that `Abd-al-Muttalib showed at this trying moment is proverbial. He was neither scared of the enemy hordes nor did he fly from his home and hearth. Some persons suggested to him to leave Makkah for some days. But he replied with full confidence:

Neither shall I leave Allah’s Place (the Haram) nor shall I seek help from anyone but Allah![41]

Around this time, Abrahah sent some of his men into Makkah to plunder. They captured two hundred camels belonging to `Abd al-Muttalib. When he learned about it, he went to Abrahah. Abrahah was much impressed with his personality and received him with respect. He came down from the throne and made `Abd al-Muttalib squat near him. He asked him of the purpose of his visit. `Abd al-Muttalib said that Abrahah’s men had taken away his camels that must be returned to him. Abrahah crossed his brow and said that he thought the ostensible purpose of the visit would be to seek the protection of the Ka`bah. To the contrary, he was worried for the safety of a few camels! `Abd al-Muttalib replied,

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I am the owner of those camels, and I am demanding for them! There is One owner of that (August) House who will Himself protect it![42]

Abrahah was much impressed with this bold reply and ordered `Abd al-Muttalib’s camels to be returned. `Abd al-Muttalib brought the camels back to Makkah and left them in the precincts of the Ka`bah putting signs on them that they were a trust for the Holy Place! His spirit in doing this was that if the enemy hurt the animals, he would suffer the wrath of the Almighty.

The courage demonstrated by `Abd-al-Muttalib at that time is a proof of his absolute faith in Allah. He not only reclaimed his animals from the enemy but also expressed his Faith in the Almighty’s Justice instead of groveling in the presence of the tyrant.

After this conversation with `Abd-al-Muttalib, Abrahah felt some pangs of fear and he wanted to think twice before attacking the Ka`bah. He had long conclave with his advisers and on their encouragement, hesitantly, moved towards the Ka`bah. On the other side, there was none to confront the enemy. Only `Abd al-Muttalib stood firm at the entrance of the Ka`bah and said, “O Allah! This is Your House and only You are its Protector! “While Abrahah moved towards the Ka`bah with his foul intent, dense black clouds rose on the western horizon. When one looked at the sight with intent, it was discovered that a huge school of birds clutched small pebbles in their claws. This armed force of nature challenged the hordes of Abrahah. They dropped the pebbles with good care that no innocent was hurt and no enemy of Allah escaped! Neither the iron hood nor the chain mails were of any use against these pebbles. In no time, the entire army was decimated. Abrahah escaped with his life but succumbed on the way to Yemen.

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This was the period when the people’s hearts were overpowered by the dark clouds of idolatry. They used to call only for their help in times of need. But from his tongue came the name of neither al-Lat nor Hubal nor Manat nor al-`Uzza. But he appealed only to Allah and put his trust in His Succor! It was the effect of `Abd al-Muttalib’s courage that during the battle of Hunayn, the Prophet (a.s) remained steadfast despite paucity of men and materials and referring to his descent from `Abd al-Muttalib he said:

I am the Prophet without an iota of falsehood in it!

I am the scion of `Abd-al-Muttalib!

The purpose of saying this was that `Abd al-Muttalib remained steadfast when Abrahah attacked Ka`bah with his hordes and in the same manner he, `Abd al-Muttalib’s son, would remain steadfast despite the large numbers of the enemy in the battle of Hunayn. This statement of the Prophet (a.s) not only proves the valor and tenacity of `Abd-al-Muttalib, but also certifies the fact that he was a monotheist and believer of Allah! If he were an infidel and polytheist, the Prophet (a.s) would not have referred to and praised him at the time when he was himself confronted with huge numbers of infidels and polytheists in the battle of Hunayn. The pages of history bear evidence that `Abd al-Muttalib, never in his life, worshipped any idol nor ate the meat of animals sacrificed to propitiate the idols. He never adopted polytheist ways in life. He was a monotheist and believed in the Day of Reckoning. Therefore, `Allamah Halabi writes that a tyrant and ferocious person from Syria during the time of `Abd al-Muttalib, had received no punishment for his acts of omission and commission during his life. `Abd al-Muttalib said that a tyrant does not die until he is punished for his tyranny. He said:

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By Allah! After this transient world, there is a Hereafter! There the virtuous will be rewarded and the evil punished![43]

Al-Mas`ūdi writes:

`Abd al-Muttalib used to teach his children to be generous. He advised them to be hospitable with the guests. He advised them to keep an eye on the Hereafter and believe in the Day of Judgment.[44]

With his belief in God’s creation and the Hereafter, he was a staunch follower of the faith of Ibrahim (a.s) and strictly observed its norms. He used to keep himself occupied in circumambulating the Ka`bah and remembered Allah while alone and in the company of people. In the month of Ramadan he used to go into seclusion in the cave of Hira’ to spend time in the thought of Almighty Allah! Ibn al-Athir writes:

It was he who was the first to spend nights in the cave of Hira’ in prayer. At the commencement of the month of Ramadan he climbed the hill of Hira’ and used to distribute food to the poor every day of the month.[45]

Not only he molded his own life ideally, but also he acted as a reformer for the society and introduced many long lasting reforms. These may be termed as the precursor of the later Islamic society. Therefore, `Allamah Halabi writes:

He was the initiator of such reforms that many of them have been narrated in the Holy Qur’an and many are a part of the Prophet’s Traditions.[46]

`Allamah Majlisi and other biographers have written that the Prophet (a.s) has said that `Abd al-Muttalib introduced five practices prior to the advent of Islam that continued in thereafter:

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1. He declared marrying of father’s spouses or widows by sons as taboo. The Holy Qur’an says, “Those whom your fathers and grandfathers had married, you must not marry.”

2. He distributed a fifth of hoards of treasures discovered to the poor and needy. Allah says in the Holy Book, “You should know that a fifth of the wealth that you got as booty is for Allah.”

3. When `Abd al-Muttalib rediscovered and excavated the Spring of Zamzam, he termed it as Siqayat al-Hajj (Water Provision for the Hajjis). The Holy Qur’an has mentioned this very term.[47]

4. He fixed a compensation of hundred camels as equivalent to blood money for a murder. Islam continued to maintain this compensation to be made to the successors of a murdered person.

5. The Quraysh had not fixed the numbers of circumambulations of the Ka`bah during pilgrimage. `Abd al-Muttalib prescribed seven rounds for this purpose, and Islam continued the practice. `Allamah Majlisi writes about the Prophet’s saying about this,

Either `Abd al-Muttalib introduced these reforms on the basis of a vision or revived the practices that were current in the Ibrahimi Society that the Quraysh had (carelessly) abandoned.

Besides these reforms, `Abd al-Muttalib introduced such laws that their importance cannot be denied. Ibn Wadih Al-Ya`qūbi writes:

`Abd al-Muttalib promulgated rules for Fulfillment of Offerings, Severing the hand of Thieves, Drawing of Lots, Invocation of God’s curse on the false party (Mubahalah), Entertainment of Guests, Legitimate Livelihood and respect for the Venerable Months of the Calendar. He prohibited slaying of daughters and marriage with certain relations. He banned intoxicants and adultery. He urged the Hajjis to use fair earnings for the purpose of the Hajj. It was the custom of the Arabs that they used to circumambulate the Ka`bah in a naked condition. If the Quraysh gave some clothes to a person, he would cover his body, or else he would go round with naked body. He banned this bad practice. The same is the Commandment of Islam: “Dress properly at every act of prayer.” There was a practice with the Arabs that after the Hajj they used to enter their homes through the back doors. He ordered them to use the front doors for this purpose. Islam ordered the same, “Enter your homes through the doors.”

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These are reforms indicative of a person who was fully aware of the teachings of the past Prophets. Although he was himself not a prophet, he is viewed with great reverence for his reforms and achievements. He is remembered as Ibrahim al-Thani or Ibrahim the Second.

He was similar in many aspects to his ancestor, Ibrahim (a.s). The age attained by him and number of children he had were almost the same as Ibrahim (a.s). Ibrahim (a.s) had thirteen sons while `Abd al-Muttalib had ten sons and six daughters. In habits, too they were very similar. Helping the poor and feeding the hungry was their wont. They loved to entertain the guests. This is the reason that Ibrahim (a.s) is remembered as Abū-al-Adyaf and `Abd al-Muttalib is termed as al-Fayyad (Generous) and Mut`im al-tayr (The Feeder of the Birds). As Ibrahim (a.s) had excavated the well, Shaba, on the Egypt-Syria Highway, `Abd-al-Muttalib excavated the Zamzam to its pristine glory. Ibrahim was the first to have congenital gray hair, and was called Shaybah. So was `Abd al-Muttalib. In himself, Ibrahim (a.s) was an Ummah (a whole nation) as Allah says, “Ibrahim alone is one Ummah.” Similarly, with his unique personality `Abd-al-Muttalib has been called an Ummah. The Prophet of Islam (a.s) says:

Allah will raise my grandfather, `Abd-al-Muttalib, like the prophets and noble kings that he will be individually counted as an Ummah.[48]

Both were unique in their disposition. Therefore, the patience and courage displayed by Ibrahim (a.s) in his readiness to sacrifice his beloved son, Isma`il (a.s), and the same determination shown by `Abd al-Muttalib to prepare himself to sacrifice his son `Abdullah is proverbial. Therefore, Imam al-Rida (a.s) says:

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The firm determination with which Ibrahim prepared to sacrifice his son Isma`il, the same determination was manifested by `Abd al-Muttalib in preparing to sacrifice his son `Abdullah.[49]

The story of this event goes like this. At the time when `Abd al-Muttalib was excavating the Zamzam, he had only one son who helped him with the task. He prayed at that time that if Allah gave him ten sons, he would sacrifice one of them in His way. His prayer was answered and he had ten sons: `Abdullah, al-Zubayr, Abū-Talib, `Abbas, Dirar, Hamzah, Al-Muqawwam, Abū-Lahab, al-Harith and Al-Ghaydaq. Now he wished to fulfill his oath. Therefore, he gathered all his ten sons and told them about his oath. He asked them as to who among them was willing to offer himself for sacrifice. They looked at each other in surprise and then bowed down their heads. They said that whosoever their father chose to sacrifice, they were all willing to abide by his decision. When he was satisfied that his sons were willing for the sacrifice, he went near the Ka`bah and drew a lot putting down the names of all the ten sons. The lot came in the name of his youngest son, `Abdullah. Now `Abd al-Muttalib was ready to sacrifice his beloved son. `Abdullah was the favorite of everyone at home and they objected to this sacrifice. `Abd al-Muttalib said that fulfilling the oath was very important for him although it was not easy to kill his own son with his hands. The sons of `Abd al-Muttalib and the important persons of the Quraysh asked him to draw the lot once again when, perhaps, the name of an elder son might come up. The lot was drawn a second time, and again it was `Abdullah’s name. `Ikrimah ibn `Amir said, “O Chief of the Quraysh! If you sacrifice your son now, it might become a custom and practice with the people to sacrifice their sons! You will be known as the originator of this undesirable custom. It will be discreet if you abstain from fulfilling your oath! You might as well consult a kahin in the matter.” Everyone agreed with `Ikrimah’s suggestion. Therefore, they approached a parson. After hearing the case, she asked as to how much was the blood money for one life in their community. She was told that it was equal to the value of ten camels. She asked them to draw lot in the name of `Abdullah and ten camels. They drew the lot and the result was again for `Abdullah. She asked them to continue to draw the lot repeatedly with ten camels. Even after a hundred camels the lot draws in the name of `Abdullah, he may be sacrificed. When the quantity of camels reached to a hundred, the draw came out for the animals! All the people were delighted but `Abd al-Muttalib was not satisfied. He wanted the lot to be drawn again. Even then, the draw was for the sacrifice of the camels. To further confirm the matter, the draw was made a third time and it was again for the sacrifice of the camels. Now, a hundred camels were slaughtered and the meat was distributed to the populace. `Abd al-Muttalib and his children did not partake of this meat. Ibn Sa`d writes:

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Neither `Abd al-Muttalib nor did any of his sons eat the meat of these camels. [50]

While this sacrifice enhanced the value of human life ten folds, it also was an example of determination, steadfastness, spirit of fulfillment of oath and highest degree of obedience of the parents by the sons The courage manifested by `Abd al-Muttalib during this episode is unparalleled except for the courage of Ibrahim (a.s) who did not hesitate for a moment in his preparedness to sacrifice his beloved son, Isma`il, in obedience to Allah’s Command. The sons too, in both the instances, were more than willing to comply. Isma`il (a.s) was a lad of thirteen years and `Abdullah eleven years when they were asked to make the supreme sacrifice. They were neither afraid of putting their heads under the sharp knives nor were they worried about dying in that manner. Because of this spirit both of them are remembered with the sobriquet of “Dhabih” or those who willingly submitted to be slain with the knife! The Prophet of Allah (a.s) proudly said, “I am the son of the two ‘dhabihs’” Here he meant his ancestor, Isma`il (a.s) and his father `Abdullah.

Allah gave to `Abdullah that through him was to be born the Chief of the Prophets, Muhammad (a.s). But his son was posthumously born and `Abdullah did not have the good fortune of setting eyes on him. After the event of the Camels, `Abdullah died in al-Madinah while returning from a business trip to Syria. `Abd al-Muttalib was shattered with this loss. But after a while when `Abdullah’s son Muhammad (a.s) was born, smiles came back on his face. With great affection, he took a round of the newborn’s cradle. He lifted the baby in his arms and brought him near the Ka`bah. He prayed there for the child’s happiness and prosperity. On the seventh day of the birth he complied with the custom of `aqiqah (the naming ceremony) and gave the name of Muhammad (a.s) to the child! The child had lost the father before his birth, but his mother too did not live for long. When he was only six years, his mother, Aminah, too passed away. Now `Abdullah’s orphan was totally in the care and tutelage of his grandfather, `Abd al-Muttalib. It seems the patriarch dedicated his life for the upbringing of this beloved grandson. He always kept the child with himself. He had made it a practice that unless Muhammad (a.s) joined the spread, none else would start eating nor would he himself touch a morsel!

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Muhammad’s manners and habits were so gentle that people were always attracted towards him and they thought that the child would achieve greatness in his life. The experienced `Abd al-Muttalib too gauged the qualities of head and heart in the child. Sometimes he even expressed these thoughts about the child. One day, as usual, the carpet was spread near the Ka`bah for `Abd al-Muttalib. For some reason he was delayed in arriving there. The chiefs of Quraysh and their sons were already seated around the carpet. Muhammad (a.s), the child, happened to pass that way and, without any hesitation occupied the place of his grandfather. The custom was that even the sons of `Abd al-Muttalib or the chiefs of the tribes were not allowed to take that seat. At that moment `Abd al-Muttalib arrived. Some persons tried to move the son of `Abdullah from where he was sitting. `Abd al-Muttalib sharply told them,

Let my son sit on my carpet! There is a desire in his heart to rule a great domain! Very soon, he will attain an elevated position![51]

The Prophet (a.s) manifested glimpses of spiritual greatness, as well, from his very early days. It was because of these manifestations that `Abd al-Muttalib used to make him pray during the times of calamities and difficulties. He used to pray for rainfall propitiating Allah in the name of Muhammad (a.s). One year there was no rainfall in Makkah and they faced acute drought. People came to `Abd al-Muttalib and beseeched him to pray for rain. `Abd al-Muttalib made Muhammad (a.s), who was seven years old then, climb on his shoulder and climbed on the Mount Qubays to pray for rains. While returning after the prayer, they had hardly reached near the Ka`bah, when dark clouds gathered and rained so copiously that the valleys were overflowing with water. At that time, Raqiqah bint Sayfi wrote a few couplets, one of which reads:

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Allah has quenched our town with the prayers of Shaybat-al-Hamd, otherwise we were parched and rains had not come for a long period.

`Abd al-Muttalib naturally loved Muhammad (a.s) for being his son’s posthumous offspring, but the real fountainhead of this love was the knowledge acquired from men of learning and religious leaders that the time had come when the last of the line of the Prophets (a.s) would appear. The characteristics of this Prophet he derived from the men of learning they were all manifested by the orphan of `Abdullah. He had arrived at the conviction that Muhammad (a.s) was the Prophet to be annunciated in the near future and was the last of the chain of the Chosen Messengers of Allah. He therefore expressed about this to the king of Yemen, Sayf ibn Dhiyazan. This meeting has been chronicled by almost all the historians of that period. The meeting took place when the King of Yemen delivered his realm from the clutches of the king of Abyssinia. When this news reached Makkah, `Abd al-Muttalib told the chiefs of Quraysh that they must take a delegation to Sayf to felicitate him on his victory. They all agreed and, in the leadership of `Abd al-Muttalib a delegation of twenty-seven members was constituted. In this delegation, the important persons were Umayyah ibn `Abd-Shams, Asad ibn `Abd al-`Uzza, `Abdullah ibn Jad`an, Wahab ibn `Abd-Manaf and Qasi ibn `Abd al-Dar. When this delegation arrived at the Ghamdan Palace of Sayf, `Abd al-Muttalib, as the leader of the delegation, sought permission for presenting an address of felicitation. Sayf said that if he thought that he was of a status to present an address to a king, he had the permission to proceed! `Abd al-Muttalib presented a few words of felicitation and with such good diction and delivery that Sayf was delighted and appreciated his assertive delivery, the Qarashi skill at oratory and Hashemite style of speaking. The king inquired, “Who are you?” He replied, “I am `Abd al-Muttalib, the son of Hashim!” Hearing this, Sayf caught hold of his hand and asked him to ascend the throne and sit beside him. He said, “Then, `Abd al-Muttalib, you are my nephew!” He smiled in the affirmative. The mother of `Abd al-Muttalib was Salma bint `Amr from the family of Qaytan and Sayf too was from the same family. Because of this relationship, Sayf called him his nephew. The Arabs consider all the women of their tribe as sisters and their children as nephews and nieces. Sayf treated `Abd al-Muttalib with utmost courtesy and respect. He accommodated the other members of the delegation too in his guesthouses for important personages. During his stay in Yemen, Sayf called `Abd al-Muttalib in private and told him that he had information of such an important thing that it will be a matter of great pride for you and your clan. Therefore, I thought it necessary to inform you about it. He said that in Tihamah a child will be born, or he is already born, who will have the seal of Prophethood on his back between the shoulders. His name and his Faith shall last until the world exists. One of his main characteristics is that he would lose his parents and his grandfather and uncle will give him upbringing. I have a hunch that you are his grandfather! `Abd al-Muttalib who, through predictions and revealed books, knew about this, hearing the same from Sayf prostrated in thankfulness to Allah. Then he told Sayf that what he had said had confirmed his conviction. He said that the boy mentioned by him was already born and he manifests all the characteristics that he had indicated. He is posthumous born and he lost his mother in early childhood. His grandfather, an uncle and I are his guardians. Sayf said, “Then, he must be guarded against the mischief of the Jews who might attempt to kill him.”

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When the time for the return of the delegation came nigh, Sayf presented to everyone with slaves, maids, gold, silver, amber, camels and royal raiment to `Abd al-Muttalib he gave ten times more than the gifts he gave to the others. His companions viewed this with much envy. He said, “O Quraysh! You should not be jealous of the gifts received by me. They are all transitory. There will be reason for you to envy what is in store and will be talked about in all places and the coming generations too will be proud of! When they asked as to what the thing is? He said:

After a while, you will learn about it yourself.[52]

The physiognomists of Arabia had, after looking at Muhammad’s face had informed `Abd al-Muttalib about his great future and the name and fame that he would achieve. Therefore, once, a few persons of Banū-Mudlaj told him:

You must take good care of this child because no footprints other than his match exactly with the footprints of Ibrahim at the Maqam Ibrahim (The Place of Ibrahim in the Ka`bah).

Hearing these words, `Abd al-Muttalib looked towards Abū-Talib and said, “Hear what they say!” He must have felt the need to draw Abū-Talib’s attention because he must have realized that soon this great responsibility of caring for the child would fall on his shoulders.

`Abd al-Muttalib had seen more than a hundred summers. But even in his old age his face was daunting, his back straight and he used to dye his hair. But in his last days, his vision had gone weak. Despite this, he did not like to carry a staff for moving around. Once while going round the Ka`bah someone dashed into him. He asked who the person was. He was told that it was someone from Banū-Bakr. He said jovially, “I have defective eye-sight! But I am sure he can see properly! Now I might need a staff to balance myself!” Then he added, “If I keep a long staff in my hand, I may find it uneasy to carry. And carrying a short staff would force me to bend down that I would consider demeaning for me! “When his sons heard this, they offered that in future one of them would remain with him and provide him support for going wherever he wished to go. Therefore, he used to move around with his hand on the shoulder of one of his sons.

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When time weakened his body, he fell ill and was bed-ridden. In this state if he had any care, it was for the Orphan of `Abdullah. He worried about his future upbringing. In his last throes he asked for Abū-Talib. When Abū-Talib came near him, he said, “I make a will to you about the Orphan of `Abdullah. Do not neglect his care and upbringing.” Ibn Sa`d writes:

When `Abd al-Muttalib’s time of death arrived, he advised Abū-Talib about the care and protection of Muhammad (a.s).[53]

When he issued instructions to Abū-Talib about the care of the child, he took his last breath and passed away peacefully. With his death gloom descended on Makkah. Naturally, every eye in the place was wet at this great loss, but the Orphan of `Abdullah, who was only eight years old at the time, was extremely sad. He received the love and affection of both his parents only from his grandfather. Seeing him dead, he could not control his emotions. Tears flowed from his eyes. When the dead body was being taken in the bier after giving a bath in water and camphor water and wrapping in Yemeni Linen, he followed crying all the way. He returned home after his beloved grandfather was interred.

The people of Makkah were very sad at the demise of their benefactor and chief. The poets penned sad requiems. For many days, trade came to a standstill in Makkah. `Allamah Halabi writes:

There was not such grieving at the death of anyone, as there was on the demise of `Abd al-Muttalib. For many days, trading was suspended in the bazaar of Makkah.[54]

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He died in Makkah at the age of one hundred and twenty years, after eight years of the Event of the Elephant.

The eminence achieved by Hashim and `Abd al-Muttalib in this great lineage, was reached by none else. The headstrong Arab tribes recognized their superiority. The author of al-`Iqd al-Farid writes that once the Prophet (a.s) was traveling with `Ali (a.s) and Abū-Bakr. During their journey, they reached near a hamlet. Abū-Bakr went forward and asked the people about the tribe they belonged to. They said they were from the Tribe of Rabi`ah. Abū-Bakr asked them about the branch of Rabi`ah they were from. They said, “Dhuhal Akbar (the grand)!” He asked, “Was `Awf ibn Muhlim one of you?” They said, “No!” He asked, “Was Jassas ibn Murrah from their tribe?” They replied, “No!” Thus when they replied in negative to many of his queries, Abū-Bakr said that in that event they were not from the Dhuhal Akbar and were Dhuhal Asghar (the minor). Hearing this, a lad from that hamlet, Dhaghfal ibn Hanzalah, stood up and asked Abū-Bakr, “From which tribe do you come?” He replied, “From the Quraysh!” The boy asked, “From which branch?” He replied, “I am the progeny of Taym ibn Murrah.” The youth asked, “Was Qasi ibn Kalab, who gathered the scattered lot in Makkah, one of you?” Abū-Bakr replied, “No!” The boy asked, “Was Hashim one of you about whom the poet Matrūd ibn Ka`b al-Khuza`i has said,

The esteemed Hashim put bread in the soup and feasted the people of Makkah on it when they were starving for food!

p: 86

Abū-Bakr replied, “No!” The youth asked, “Was `Abd al-Muttalib one of you? On his spread, even the birds used to be guests! His visage was shining like a lamp in the nights” Abū-Bakr replied, “No!” He asked, “Are you the progeny of the people who used to quench the thirst of the Hajjis?” He replied, “No!” The youth wanted to question him the more, but Abū-Bakr cut the conversation short and went to the Prophet (a.s) and repeated the conversation to him. The Prophet (a.s) smiled and kept quiet.

This incident proves that the Arab tribes attached a lot of importance to the Hashemite family. A descent through Qasi, Hashim and `Abd al-Muttalib was of prime importance for them. Even those families that had only the name of Qasi in their chronology and not of Hashim and `Abd al-Muttalib were held in lesser esteem. The eminence that Allah had bestowed on the Hashemite and Muttalibite offspring has not been enjoyed by any other Arab family. Theirs is a tree that is free of any chronological pollution. Therefore, the Prophet of Islam (a.s) has said:

Allah created Isma`il (a.s) as the progeny of Ibrahim (a.s) and from Isma`il (a.s) Banū-Kinanah and from Banū-Kinanah the Quraysh and from the Quraysh the Banū-Hashim and from them I was selected.[55]

`Ali (a.s) too is a part of this eminent group because he and the prophet (a.s) are of the same descent. They have both their descent from Hashim and `Abd al-Muttalib. `Abd al-Muttalib had, from various wives, ten sons. Of these ten brothers, `Abdullah and Abū-Talib were born to the same mother. Their mother was Fatimah bint `Amr al-Makhzūmiyyah. `Abdullah was the father of the Prophet (a.s) and Abū-Talib the father of `Ali (a.s). `Ali’s chronology joins with the Prophet (a.s) with their grandfather `Abd al-Muttalib. On account of this, both are Muttalibite and Hashemite and Qarashi by descent.

p: 87

Therefore, there is the same ancestral eminence in `Ali (a.s) as that of the Prophet (a.s). Another eminence of `Ali (a.s) is that his father was Shaykh al-Batha’, Abū-Talib.

Footnote

[1] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol. 1, Page 15.

[2] Tārīkh al-Khamīs Vol. 1, Page 147.

[3] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol. 1, page 148.

[4] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 1, Page 226.

[5] Tabaqāt ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 58.

[6] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 1, Page 226.

[7] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah Vol 1, Page 17.

[8] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 1, Page 227.

[9] Tārīkh al-Khamīs Vol 1, Page 150.

[10] Tārīkh Al-Ya`qūbī Vol 1, Page 229.

[11] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 16.

[12] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 16.

[13] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 1, Page 162.

[14] Al-`Iqd al-Farīd, Vol 1, Page 209.

[15] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Page 16.

[16] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 41.

[17] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 11.

[18] Tabaqāt, Vol 1, Page 68.

[19] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 1, Page 155.

[20] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 23.

[21] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 71.

[22] Tabaqāt Vol 1, Page 71.

[23] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 52.

[24] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 14.

[25] Al-`Iqd al-Farīd, Vol 2, Page 209.

[26] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 18.

[27] Tārīkh Al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 1, Page 239.

[28] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, page 13.

[29] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 13.

[30] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 152.

[31] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 1, Page 156.

[32] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 60.

p: 88

[33] Tārīkh Al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 1, Page 243.

[34] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 61.

[35] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 1, Page 158.

[36] Al-Ma`ārif, Page 33.

[37] Fihrist Ibn al-Nadīm, Page 13.

[38] Tārīkh al-Islām, Page 37.

[39] Al-Fā’iq, Vol 1, Page 146.

[40] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 8.

[41] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 1, Page 252.

[42] Tārīkh Abul-Fidā’, Vol 1, Page 109.

[43] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 7.

]44] Murūj al-Dhahab, Vol 1, Page 313.

[45] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 9.

[46] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 4.

[47] See the Holy Qur’ān, 9:19.

[] Bihār al-Anwār, Vol 6, Page 38.

[48] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 14.

[49] Bihār al-Anwār, Vol 6, Page 39.

[50] Tabaqāt, Vol 1, Page 89.

[51] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 129.

[52] Al-`Iqd al-Farīd, Vol 1, Page 177

[] Tabaqāt Ibn Saad, Vol 1, Page 118.

[53] Tabaqāt, Vol 1, Page 118.

[54] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 186.

[55] Al-Tirmidhī, Vol 2, Page 221.

ABŪ-TALIB IBN `ABD AL-MUTTALIB

ABŪ-TALIB IBN `ABD AL-MUTTALIB

Abū-Talib’s real name was the same as that of his ancestor, `Abd-Manaf. Some narrators say that his name was `Imran. All the earlier historians accept his name as Abū-Talib and his kunyah as the same. He was thirty-five years older than the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) was born during `am al-fil (The Year of the Elephant) and Abū-Talib was born thirty-five years prior to that year in Makkah. For forty-three years, he remained under the tutelage of his father, `Abd al-Muttalib, and acquired from him his learning in literature, poetry and other disciplines. In his time, he was a well-known poet and littérateur. Besides this, he possessed an impressive and handsome personality. He combined in his person the Hashemite dignity and Qurayshi opulence. When he talked, pearls of knowledge flowed from his tongue. He was the inheritor of the high morals and character of his forbears and in the progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib he was the closest to the traits of his illustrious father.

p: 89

After `Abd al-Muttalib, he inherited the offices of Rifadah and Siqayah. He was remembered with the titles of Shaykh al-Batha’, Sayyid al-Batha’ and Ra’is Makkah. Diyarbakri writes:

After Hashim, the duty of feeding the Hajjis was entrusted to `Abd al-Muttalib. After his demise, until the advent of Islam, every year this duty was performed by Abū-Talib.[1]

In this world, wealth is a very powerful tool to achieve positions of strength. But Abū-Talib’s leadership, management and planning needed no support of wealth. It was his sense of duty, strength of character and individuality that took him to the pinnacle of greatness. `Ali (a.s) says,

Despite being impecunious, my father was accepted as the chief. Prior to him, there was none who was impecunious and a chief as well.[2]

Although the monetary status of Abū-Talib was weak, he provided succor to the weak and the poor. For the Hajjis he used to get the food prepared with great care and interest He used to arrange big containers of water and to render it sweet, he used to mix dates and raisins in the water. One year he was very hard pressed for money and was unable to make the arrangements for the feeding of the Hajjis. He borrowed ten thousand dirhams from his brother `Abbas and spent all that money for the entertainment of the Hajjis. The next year too he faced the same situation. Again he took a loan of fourteen thousand dirhams from `Abbas. `Abbas agreed to this arrangement on the condition that if Abū-Talib was unable to clear all the previous loans, he would have to transfer the office of Siqayah and Rifadah to `Abbas. Since he was not able to meet his commitment even the next year, he handed over the mantle to `Abbas. This kept on transferring to his offspring later on. Abū-Talib conceded the authority to his brother, but continued to serve the Hajjis in his personal capacity.

p: 90

Abū-Talib had a very kind heart and was always affected with the hardship and troubles of others. Because of this trait in his nature, there always used to be a number of needy persons calling at his place almost every day. He was always keen to help them. He would also rescue the oppressed and troubled persons from the clutches of the unkind. Therefore, when Abū-Salamah Makhzūmi returned from Abyssinia, Banū-Makhzūm started troubling him on account of his having embraced Islam. Abū-Salamah sought refuge from him. Abū-Talib gave refuge to him and publicly declared that the person was under his protection. He also declared that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (a.s) too enjoyed his protection. When people from his tribe demanded Abū-Salamah to be handed over to them, Abū-Talib said that he was his nephew (he was al-Barra’ bint `Abd al-Muttalib’s son and thus his nephew). He told them that he was duty bound to give refuge to the person when he had sought it on account of his relationship with him. If he cannot give protection to his sister’s son, how would he be able to give protection to his brother’s son? Banū-Makhzūm could not pursue their demand any further.

In the Arab social structure when the norms of social veracity were dying, and moral turpitude was at its zenith, he saved himself from such aberrations. Gambling was rampant those days and people in most homes used to consume intoxicants. He neither turned towards gambling nor did he ever drink. Ahmad ibn Zayni Dahlan writes:

p: 91

Abū-Talib, like his father, even in the Days of Ignorance considered intoxicants Haram (taboo) for himself.[3]

Abū-Talib not only abstained from taboo things himself, he preached with others to the best of his capability to prevent them from the bad habits. He always strived for the reform of the society and the betterment of the country. He encouraged trading and search for fair livelihood. During the renovation of the Ka`bah, it was he who reminded the Quraysh not to involve the ill-gotten wealth for the noble purpose. Prior to the coming of Islam, when floods weakened the walls of the Ka`bah, and the Quraysh contemplated rebuilding the structure, a huge python was noticed near the foundation of the building. People were scared seeing the reptile and the work came to a standstill. Quraysh were thinking of a way out and Abū-Talib said:

This construction has to be done only with pure and legitimately earned funds. Therefore, do not put such money for the work that has been acquired under duress.[4]

The people followed his advice and put only legitimately earned money for the project. When they came near the Ka`bah they saw that a huge bird appeared and flew away with the python in its talons. The way was now clear for them to renovate and reconstruct the Ka`bah.

Abū-Talib tried to introduce such practices in the society that were based on the norms of equity and justice. He wanted that none should be deprived of his rights. Therefore, with this spirit, he introduced the practice of al-Qassamah in the matter of blood money for the murder of `Amr ibn `Alqamah. Al-Qassamah means that when a person is murdered, and his successors claim that a particular person is the murderer, and are unable to produce two witnesses, although the circumstantial evidence is there to prove the crime, then the aggrieved party has to produce fifty persons to take an oath in the support of the prosecution. If they are short of persons to make up the fifty, then some of the witnesses might take the oath twice. This procedure was put into force to ensure that the blood of the murdered person had not gone in vain. Later on Islam too continued with this practice. Ibn Abil-Hadid writes:

p: 92

During the period of ignorance Abū-Talib introduced the practice of al-Qassamah to give justice in the case of the murder of `Amr ibn `Alqamah. Islam too continued with this practice.[5]

Be it friendship or enmity, Abū-Talib never abandoned justice and fair play in his dealings. He was not only against tyranny during peaceful days, but also during the times of battles and strife, he did not approve unnecessary shedding of human blood. Therefore, during the period of Ignorance a battle was fought between the Quraysh and the tribe of Qays, which is known as The Battle of al-Fajar. In this battle, Banū-Hashim too were on the side of the Quraysh. The Prophet of Islam (a.s) was still a child. He too went to the battlefield along with his uncle, but only a silent observer. The days when Abū-Talib participated in the skirmishes, the Quraysh used to have an upper hand. The Quraysh, considering his presence as a sign of victory, said that whether he actively participated in the battle or not, his presence only would be a source of encouragement for them. Abū-Talib said:

If you abstain from tyranny, injustice and blaming persons unjustly,

I shall not move away from your view![6]

This was the noble thinking of Abū-Talib that he recognized the difference between the fierceness of the spirit of revenge during the battle and the requirements of defense. He viewed tyranny and torture with displeasure. He tolerated battle only to the extent that it was fought within the established norms of chivalry and fair play.

p: 93

Abū-Talib was moderate in his views, wanted to be just, affable and thoughtful. The wise men of Arabia used to draw benefit from his company. And took lessons from him in norms of morality. Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays, who was a well-known thinker in Arabia, was asked about the person from whom he acquired his affability and good manners. He said that he learned these skills from Qays ibn `Asim al-Minqari. Qays was asked as to where he got his instruction. He said it was Aktham ibn Sayfi who was his mentor. In the end when Aktham was asked the same question, he said:

“The chief of the Arabs and the non-Arabs, the paragon of knowledge and learning Abū-Talib ibn `Abd al-Muttalib”[7]

In his time, he was a statesman, a thinker, a mentor and a man of wisdom. He was a poet of very high caliber. There is a compendium of poetry, Diwan Shaykh al-Abtah, composed by him and his couplets are spread over many well-known books of history. Although Arabia of those days was a cradle of poetry, most of it was self-praising Qasidah or odes. But his style was different from that of the run of the mill poets then. In his couplets, there was neither the element of self-praise nor the touch of the commonplace. There was a subtle flow and simplicity in his poetry and a lesson for the reader on morals, righteousness and truth. Therefore, `Ali (a.s), terming his poetry as an educational and moral treasure says:

“Read his couplet and make your children read them. Because he was on Allah’s Faith and there is a big treasury of knowledge in his poetry.”[8]

p: 94

Besides these merits, his ancestral connections and the unique privilege of being the mentor and the guardian of the Prophet of Islam (a.s) singles him out from all his contemporaries. The Prophet (a.s), posthumous born that he was, grew under his tutelage and spent most of his years with him. When the Prophet (a.s) was six years old, he lost his mother and after another two years, his doting grandfather too expired. The grandfather put the child in the trust of his uncle, Abū-Talib. When Abū-Talib heard his father make his will about the little ward, he said:

Father! You need not make a will to me about the care of Muhammad (a.s). He is my son and nephew![9]

`Abd al-Muttalib had many children. At the time of his death, all his sons and relations were around him. Every one of them was capable of taking charge of the child. But in his wisdom and farsightedness he entrusted the upbringing and care of Muhammad (a.s) to Abū-Talib. He knew it pretty well that the love and affection that Abū-Talib had for the Orphan of `Abdullah was not manifested by his other uncles. The expectations the patriarch had from Abū-Talib were not unfounded. He must have also had the fact in his mind that Abū-Talib not only had ancestral relationship with Muhammad (a.s) but he was the closest to him through his maternal relationship `Abdullah and Abū-Talib born to the same mother! Perhaps `Abd al-Muttalib had gauged from his reading of the revealed books that Abū-Talib would be the best guardian and mentor for the upbringing of the Prophet (a.s). Some historians have also written that a lot was drawn between Abū-Talib and al-Zubayr ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and it went in the favor of the former. There is another mention that when the lot was to be drawn, the little Muhammad (a.s) caught the lapel of Abū-Talib’s cloak and thus expressed his preference. Whatever the basis of this decision, it cannot be denied that Allah wished that His select creature must get the care and support of Abū-Talib during his formative and impressionable childhood! Allah has thus expressed in the Holy Book, “Has he not given you succor finding you orphaned?” All the commentators agree that in this Verse Abū-Talib’s affection and care for the little orphan is mentioned.

p: 95

Thus Abū-Talib honored the will of his departed father and discharged his duty as the guardian of his beloved nephew. Every historian has acknowledged this fact. Ibn Sa`d writes:

Abū-Talib loved the Prophet (a.s) very much, even more than his own children. He made him sleep near himself. Whenever he went out, he always took him along. He valued him more than anything else in the world![10]

Abū-Talib had made a deep study of the ways of Muhammad (a.s) from his very childhood. He found him quiet, shy and lonely. He never played or cavorted like any other children would. He had no taste for sight seeing. Neither he was harsh to anyone nor did he ever play any childish pranks. All these observations impressed Abū-Talib so much that he realized that the child was far above the ordinary children of his age. Therefore, besides his familial love for the child, he developed an inexplicable respect for him! This affection and respect was behind his willingness to make any sacrifices for Muhammad (a.s) as years went by.

The manifestations that Abū-Talib observed in the child made him wonder. Whenever Muhammad (a.s) partook food with the family, however sparse the quantity, everyone seemed to have eaten his fill! Therefore, it was a practice in the household that the child had to be around before anyone started eating. Abū-Talib made it a rule that Muhammad (a.s) should take the first morsel before anyone else partook of the food. If someone lifted the bowl of milk to drink, Abū-Talib asked him to wait until Muhammad (a.s) had it. They noticed that when they drank the milk after the child, the quantity in the bowl would suffice for the entire family. Seeing this, Abū-Talib would say to Muhammad (a.s), “You are blessed!”

p: 96

Once he was going somewhere with Muhammad (a.s). When they were at a distance of three miles from Mount `Arafah at Dhu’l-Majaz, they felt very thirsty. He asked Muhammad (a.s) if water could be found anywhere near that place. Muhammad (a.s) dismounted from the camel, kicked a boulder and uttered something. Water started flowing near the boulder. He said, “Come uncle! Drink the water!” When they drank the water, he kicked the boulder once again and the flow of the water stopped. Seeing these manifestations, Abū-Talib used to make Muhammad (a.s) the intercessor for his prayers, particularly in times of drought. Therefore, once there was utter panic in Makkah because of no receipt of rains for a very long spell. Some said that they must beg al-Lat and al-`Uzza for help. Others were bowing to Manat. One elderly person said:

“Where are you loitering (in the dark) when there is the offspring of Ibrahim (a.s) and the son of Isma`il (a.s) in your midst.”[11]

People asked him if he was referring to Abū-Talib? He said “Yes!” Hearing this Abū-Talib was approached by the people complaining of the failure of all cultivation and drought prevailing in the region. He wanted him to pray for rains. Abū-Talib caught hold of the hand of the Orphan of `Abdullah and proceeded to the precincts of the Ka`bah. He made the child squat near the wall of the Ka`bah, raised his finger towards the sky. There were no signs of rain falling. But within moments cool winds started blowing, dense clouds gathered and it started pouring. The parched land became wet and greenery reappeared in the wilderness.

p: 97

Abū-Talib was a reputed trader of wheat and perfumes in his day. According to the custom of the Quraysh, he used to travel on business to Syria once every year. When the time for one of his journeys approached, he mentioned to Muhammad (a.s) about his plans but did not ask him to join the caravan. At that time, his age was only twelve years and he did not want to expose the youth to the hardships of the travel through the desert. When he knew that his uncle was not taking him along, he embraced him and started insisting on accompanying him. Abū-Talib too had no desire of leaving him behind in Makkah. He agreed to take him along saying:

By God, I shall take him along!

We shall never be separated from each other![12]

Abū-Talib took him along and commenced his journey to Syria. When their caravan arrived at al-Basrah in the southern region of Syria, the hermit Jirjis (Georges) ibn Abi-Rabi`ah, who was known with the sobriquet of Bahira, saw Muhammad (a.s) in the caravan and noticed signs in him that he knew were of the Last of the Prophets (a.s). To look at him from close quarters, he invited the entire caravan to his hermitage for a meal. The Quraysh left behind Muhammad (a.s) near the baggage and went along to the hermitage to share Bahira’s repast. When he did not find the youth in the group, he asked, “Is anyone left outside that has not entered the hermitage with you?” They informed him that only a child has been left out to take care of their merchandise. Bahira asked them to call him in too. When he came, Bahira looked at Muhammad (a.s) with keen interest from head to toe, removed his cloak from the back and saw the Seal of Prophethood between his shoulders. He also asked him about several things experienced by him during the waking and sleeping hours. Then he asked Abū-Talib about his relationship with the child. Abū-Talib said that it was his son. Bahira said that he could not possibly be his son. He told that he could say with certainty that the child’s father was no more. Then Abū-Talib told him that the child was his nephew and was his charge. That he was posthumously born. Bahira said that the child must be taken back home from there only, lest the Jews learn about him and cause him harm. The child is the Messenger of Allah and will be Ordained as Prophet. He added that when the caravan was descending from the hill, he noticed that the trees were bowing down and wherever the child went a cloud was hovering over his head. Besides these manifestations, he had read about the child in the revealed books of yore wherein his face, the personality and other features have been described. On the strength of these evidences, he stressed that the child was the Prophet whose coming has been forecast!

p: 98

When the Prophet (a.s) attained the age of twenty, he told Abū-Talib that he had seen three radiant bodies in his dream and one of them, pointing towards him, was saying to the other two that this is the one to whose succor you must rise when the time comes. He did not talk anymore than that. Abū-Talib mentioned about this dream to a scholar of Makkah. He looked at Muhammad (a.s) intently and said, “By God! He is the possessor of a pure spirit and is a true prophet!” Abū-Talib asked the person to keep his counsel and not reveal about his finding to anyone. He feared that people of his own tribe become jealous of Muhammad (a.s) and cause harm to him. He told the man that what he surmised was true and he himself had visions about the phenomenon:

My father `Abd al-Muttalib had told me that he (Muhammad) has been sent as a Prophet by Allah and had instructed me to keep the matter a secret lest the enemies harm him.[13]

These events had paved the way for Abū-Talib to accept the evidence of Muhammad’s Prophethood. He had the conviction that the Orphan of `Abdullah was the prophet of the near future. Therefore, for his upbringing and education, he felt spiritual elation more than material happiness. He used to hover around him like a worm around the radiance of the light. He took full care of him, day and night. Muhammad (a.s) had entered the state of youth from childhood. Now Abū-Talib started thinking of putting him on the road to earning his livelihood. The economic medium of earning a living in the Qurayshi society was trading. But this definitely needed monetary investment that Muhammad (a.s) lacked. At that time in Makkah there was a wealthy lady, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, who used to depute her representatives to different cities to trade on her behalf. Abū-Talib suggested to Muhammad (a.s) to offer to manage her business. He himself went to her and requested her to depute Muhammad (a.s) to tour on her behalf for business as is done by others. Khadijah approved of this offer, explained her business terms and issued merchandise to Muhammad (a.s) to proceed on a tour of business. He kept trading on her behalf for some time and achieved much success. Khadijah was much impressed with his business skills, honesty and straightforwardness. Through some source, she sent a proposal of matrimony to Muhammad (a.s). After consulting his uncle, Abū-Talib, he accepted the proposal. After finalizing the initial procedures Abū-Talib, Hamzah, `Abbas and other persons from Banū-Hashim and important personages from the tribe of Quraysh went to the house of Khadijah. The marriage agreement was finalized and Abū-Talib recited the Sermon of matrimony:

p: 99

All praise to Allah who created us in the offspring of Ibrahim (a.s) and the progeny of Isma`il (a.s) the children of Ma`d and Mudar; and made us the keepers of His House (the Ka`bah) and made it the Place of Hajj and Peace for us. He made us rulers over men this is my nephew, Muhammad ibn `Abdullah. To whomsoever he is compared, he will emerge superior in nobility And felicity; wisdom and superiority Although he has less of wealth, wealth is like the declining shadow that goes away and is like something that comes to one temporarily and is withdrawn! By Allah! His future is great and a great Message will emanate from him![14]

Although this sermon is very short, it reflects Abū-Talib’s beliefs and thoughts about the Prophet (a.s) He starts the sermon with the praise of Allah that proves his faith in the Unity of Allah. Then he proudly claims his descent from Ibrahim (a.s) and Isma`il (a.s). Then he expresses pride over the privilege his family had of being the keepers of the Holy Ka`bah. This indicates that they were the rulers because of their august descent but also because they were the true practitioners of the Faith of Ibrahim (a.s). Then he praises the wisdom and sagacity of Muhammad (a.s) and describes the transitory nature of wealth in this world. He compares wealth to the declining shadow that vanishes with time. Then with the words of “al-Naba’ al-`Azim” he concludes that the Prophet (a.s) had a radiant future in store and predicts that soon he will guide the humankind on the Straight Path.

p: 100

When the Prophet (a.s) completed forty years of his life, Allah wanted him to fulfill the purpose for which he had been created. The heavy burden of guiding humankind was placed on his shoulders. He became known the beacons of guidance and removing the darkness of ignorance and polytheism from the society. He stood up to take the Message to every home in every nook and corner of the world. In the early years of al-Bi`thah (the Annunciation) he propagated his creed discreetly and in secret. Only select few persons had embraced Islam and great care was exercised in declaring their faith to others. For offering congregational prayer (salat al-jama`ah) they carefully sought opportunities and venues. Sometimes they used to pray inside the four walls of their homes. At other times he would go with `Ali (a.s) to the crevices of hills around Makkah to offer their prayers. Once Abū-Talib chanced upon the two cousins prostrating in one of these hidden crevices. He called up `Ali (a.s), his son, and asked him about the faith that he was practicing along with his cousin. He replied, “I have adopted the Faith of Allah and His Prophet, Muhammad (a.s)!”

Hearing this, Abū-Talib said:

You remain attached to him; he will guide you to the Path of Virtue![15]

If Abū-Talib was an infidel and an enemy of Islam, he would definitely have told the Prophet (a.s) that he had entrusted to him his impressionable young son, `Ali (a.s), with full trust that he would not lead him away from his father’s faith and create rift between father and son doing otherwise. To the contrary, when Abū-Talib noticed `Ali (a.s) offering prayers according to the tenets of Muhammad’s Faith, he encouraged him and told him that by following his cousin he would remain on the right path! This proves that Abū-Talib was not in favor of the ways of the infidels and idolaters.

p: 101

Three years went by when the Prophet (a.s) propagated his Faith quietly without making any public announcement. Then came Allah’s Command that he should go public in spreading his mission. For this purpose the Prophet (a.s) got together a feast at the home of Abū-Talib where all the relatives and friends were invited to convey the Message of the New Faith to them and ask them to give up idolatry forthwith. Abū-Talib realized from the very looks of the Quraysh that they would not budge from their deeply ingrained beliefs. He knew that they will be forced to rise against the Prophet (a.s). He therefore sounded Muhammad (a.s) to be discreet in propagating his mission. However, he told Muhammad (a.s) that he should not consider himself hapless and alone. He assured him that, as his uncle, his fullest protection was there for him. Impressed by Muhammad’s spirit of choosing the Right Path despite all the difficulties, Abū-Talib told him:

“By God! Until we have lives in our bodies, we shall protect him from his enemies!”[16]

When the Prophet’s voice went outside the four walls of the home and reverberated in the idolatrous environments of Makkah, then, as a reaction, waves of resistance and opposition rose. Those who were his friends and admirers turned sworn enemies now. Quraysh created hurdles at every step in the way of the missionary activities of the small group. They created every imaginable impediment in the way of propagation of the Faith. But the Prophet (a.s) took all these difficulties in his stride. When the Quraysh saw that he was pursuing his mission with determination, they came to Abū-Talib as a strong and influential delegation to ask him to dissuade Muhammad (a.s) to forthwith terminate his activities. They said that he had flattered some unimportant persons to adopt his Faith. They also said that they wanted to talk with Muhammad (a.s) to refrain from what he was doing. Abū-Talib went inside the house to meet Muhammad (a.s) and apprise him of what the delegates were saying. He asked him to meet them, if he felt it worth doing so. The Prophet (a.s) came out and asked the Quraysh what they wanted to tell him. They said that they wished to bring to his notice that they wanted him not to have anything to do with their idols. They wanted him not to talk ill of the idols and stop attacking their age-old religious practices. They said that if he agreed to abide by this demand, they would not interfere with his activities. The Prophet (a.s) rejoined saying that his belief was that Allah is one and that they should worship only Him. Other than Him, they should stop worshipping their own fabricated gods. He affirmed that it was his duty to condemn idolatry and promote worship of one and only Allah. The Quraysh said that it was strange that he wanted them to give up the practices of their fathers, grandfathers and the forbears! How, they said, he expected them to abandon their pantheon of gods and accepted to worship only one god, Allah! Saying this, they went away in a huff.

p: 102

. At this juncture, Abū-Talib used his discretion and cool thinking to ensure that the disturbed feelings of the Quraysh did not go beyond control. If he had taken a tough stand with them, they might have turned aggressive instantly. Besides considering discretion as the better part of valor, Abū-Talib wanted to give some time to the Quraysh to give a serious thought to Muhammad’s mission. He wanted them to think over the matter with cool minds to distinguish between the right and the wrong. He told them that they had all along recognized Muhammad’s truthfulness and straightforwardness; they should weigh him in this matter with the same yardstick. He wanted them to consider that until the age of forty years they never found him telling a falsehood, then how could they imagine that in the very important matter of Faith he would suddenly tell falsehoods against his very grain! But the Quraysh were very adamant. They would not budge an iota from their stand. They thought that the only solution to the problem lay in silencing the Propagator of the Truth! But Abū-Talib being around, the Quraysh did not have courage to take the extreme step against Muhammad (a.s) They played a trick on Abū-Talib that they brought a handsome lad from the clan of Quraysh to him and suggested that he could adopt him, `Imarah ibn al-Walid, and hand over Muhammad (a.s) to them. When he heard this strange request, Abū-Talib said:

How strange is this justice that you want me to bring up your son and hand over my own son to you for killing. By God! I shall never do this!”[17]

p: 103

This demand of the Quraysh was contrary to all norms of natural love and affinity, made in utter ignorance or deliberate purpose that they wanted Abū-Talib to hand-over his nephew to their tyranny. Even a person of very ordinary intelligence would not tolerate such a suggestion. Abū-Talib, on the contrary, was a person of great courage and filial affection.

This demand of the Quraysh demonstrates their mean mentalities. They stooped so low in the enmity of Muhammad (a.s) that all thought of virtue had left them. It can well be imagined how difficult it would have been to prevent them from implementing their nefarious plans. Did anyone other than Abū-Talib ever think of removing these hurdles in the way of Muhammad (a.s). History is helpless in indicating any other name than this uncle and protector of the Prophet (a.s). Because of Abū-Talib this stratagem of the Quraysh too was neutralized. Despite all their tyrannies and oppression, the voice of Islam, instead of being suppressed, increased in volume day by day. Now they feared that if the numbers of his followers swelled, then this group might grow in strength to disturb the political balance in Makkah. When they felt that this revolutionary idea might disturb their apple cart, some of the sheiks and elites came once again to Abū-Talib. They said that during their previous visit they had quietly departed after making their case with him. But they stressed that they had now run out of patience and no more willing to consider his seniority and old age. They had thought that the voice advocating for change might die of its own. But, contrary to their expectations, that did not happen. They wanted him to warn his nephew sternly to stop talking about the heavenly things. Otherwise, they wanted him to stay aloof and let them decide the things for themselves! Seeing their changed and stern attitude Abū-Talib went to Muhammad (a.s) and apprised him of the unreasonable attitude of the Shaykhs of Quraysh and advised him to adopt an attitude that they did not kill him with stealth. Abū-Talib also told him that how long he could contend with their crowd all alone. Hearing these words from Abū-Talib, Muhammad’s eyes watered. And he said in a shaking voice, “Uncle! I invite them to be virtuous and to worship Allah! This is according to Allah’s Commandment to me. Even if the Quraysh put the moon in one hand and the sun in the other, I cannot refrain from doing my duty!” Saying this he walked away from the presence of his uncle. When Abū-Talib saw Muhammad (a.s) going, he felt a shivering in his old body. He called Muhammad (a.s) to come back and impressed with his courage said with full confidence:

p: 104

O Son of my brother! Go and tell them what you wish to! By Allah! I shall never abandon your side![18]

Getting this courageous response from Abū-Talib the tears from Muhammad’s eyes vanished. The courage of the determined heart increased many fold. The feeling of loneliness and helplessness had gone. After renewing his determination, Abū-Talib headed towards the Quraysh. He asked them not to linger there any more and added:

By Allah! My nephew’s tongue is never accustomed to falsehoods![19]

Although these delegations from the Quraysh were making Abū-Talib a medium of communication, he was never seen as siding with them. If he had endorsed their views, he would have asked Muhammad (a.s) to avoid interfering with their religious practices instead of just communicating their messages. He would have asked him not to condemn their idol. He could have also told Muhammad (a.s) that he himself was a follower of their creed. But history fails to make any reference that Abū-Talib ever took that sort of attitude. He was just communicating the message without adding anything to endorse their stand. The Quraysh too had understood that Abū-Talib was in total support of his nephew and that it was not possible to endorse their stand. They now formed a group to oppose Muhammad (a.s) tooth and nail on their own. They sometimes threw stones on him, sometimes the garbage. They called him a magician, a sorcerer and a madcap. Whenever he stood up for offering prayer, they would try to ridicule him.

One day the Prophet (a.s) was busy offering prayer near the Ka`bah. Abū-Jahl spotted some persons sitting nearby and asked them if one of them who could disturb Muhammad’s prayer. `Abdullah ibn al-Zuba`ra stood up and brought some dung and gore. He rubbed it on the face of Muhammad (a.s). After completing his prayer the Prophet (a.s) went straight to Abū-Talib who was very upset seeing him in that predicament. He asked the name of the person who did such a mean thing. When he was told that the mischief was done by `Abdullah al-Zuba`ra, he took his sword and proceeded towards the Ka`bah.

p: 105

As soon as the culprit and his companions saw him coming in a rage, they tried to sneak away from there. Abū-Talib told in a thundering voice that if any one of them moved from his place, he will no more be a living man. They shrank into a huddle at the place they were. Abū-Talib smeared gore and dung on each of their faces and chided them.

Once it happened that the Prophet (a.s) did not return home until late in the evening. Abū-Talib was worried that the Quraysh might abduct or even kill him. He searched him in all the possible places but without any success. He called some Hashemite youths and asked them to sit near the Quraysh chiefs hiding poniards inside their sleeves. One of them should go and take a place near Abū-Jahl. If they got wind that Muhammad (a.s) was killed, they should pounce on their individual targets and kill them instantly. The youths took their poniards and sat close to the chiefs as instructed. Abū-Talib redoubled his search now. Near the hill of Safa he found Zayd ibn Harithah coming towards him. He asked him if he had seen Muhammad (a.s). He informed that a few moments ago he was with him at the base of the hill of Safa. Abū-Talib asked him to go and call him immediately. He added that until he found him safe and sound, he would not return home. Zayd informed Muhammad (a.s) the worry of his uncle. He immediately rushed to where his uncle was. Abū-Talib was much relieved to see his nephew. The next day he took Muhammad (a.s) and the Hashemite youths to the chiefs of Quraysh and recounted the previous evening’s episode to them. The youths showed the poniards that they were hiding under their sleeves. Abū-Talib told the chiefs that if Muhammad (a.s) had come to any harm at their instance, they would all have been slain. He asked them to view those sharp poniards carefully:

p: 106

By God! If you had killed Muhammad (a.s), not one of you would have lived thereafter. We would have died and would have killed you all![20]

Rivalry already existed between Quraysh and Banū-Hashim. And now it turned into open enmity. The ire of the Quraysh reached such heights that they decided to boycott Banū-Hashim. They forced them, thus, to move away from the town to a ravine of the hill on the outskirts. This place too was not out of the reach of the Quraysh. A danger always lurked that they might attack from any direction any time. In the nights, the danger used to be more. In view of this danger Abū-Talib used to remain awake the whole nights. In the bed of the Prophet (a.s), he used to make one of his sons sleep every

night. It was the time when the Prophet (a.s) had supporters in the entire Arabia who could be counted on the fingers! It was Abū-Talib in these dire circumstances who was like a mountain of support and protection for him. He neither left his side any time, nor did he remove his hand from giving help and protection to his nephew. It was his courage and support that Quraysh could not put into operation their nefarious plans and the Prophet (a.s) remained safe from them. Abū-Talib continued to defend him the way the circumstances demanded every time and rendered the satanic plans of the Quraysh ineffective. If Abū-Talib had not protected his nephew wholeheartedly, the course of history would have been different and the early Muslims, and their Prophet (a.s), would have had to bear untold atrocities at the hands of the cruel Quraysh.

p: 107

Abū-Talib’s spirit of sacrifice and dedication and determination in providing help and support to the Prophet (a.s) is a universally acknowledged fact of Islamic History. None could dare to deny this fact. But some people have tried to give another color to this act of support to mar the spirit of the entire act. Therefore, they have been stressing that the help rendered by Abū-Talib was not with any spirit of religious fervor but was sheer filial and tribal consideration that prompted him to do what he did! They say that Arabs come to the help of a person who is related to them by the distance of many generations. In the case of Muhammad (a.s), he was caring for his own brother’s son! There is no denying the fact that he was most closely related to Abū-Talib. But one has to consider that the dispute was not over any material things. Muhammad (a.s) had challenged the very fabric of their religion, their idolatry and Abū-Talib was a practitioner of that creed. In the matters of religion persons do not tolerate the deviation of their own sons, here we find him defending a nephew knowing fully well that he had plans to destroy the very creed! Abū-Talib was helping him to strengthen his mission of change. This attitude cannot just be termed as support because of filial attachment only! If the support extended was only because of familial attachment, one has to consider whether the support will be more for one’s own sons or a nephew. Abū-Talib, with his unstinted support to Muhammad (a.s) exposing his own sons to the danger of retaliation by the Quraysh and this danger was potent and constant! He went to the extent of asking his sons to sleep in the bed of Muhammad (a.s) to preclude any chance of surprise attack by the enemy in the nights. At what cost? Was it not at the risk to the lives of his own sons? What was the spirit behind these acts? Any father rates the protection of his own son more than that of a nephew. Then why is this phenomenon contrary to human nature? There must have been a stronger and more potent inspiration for Abū-Talib to do what he did! This certainly makes one ponder that the help and support to Muhammad (a.s) had a very strong religious overtone and not only filial attachment of his uncle. Abū-Lahab too was an uncle of the Prophet (a.s). Why did not he come to the rescue of Muhammad (a.s) because of filial attachment! To the contrary, he has gone down into the history as the worst and sworn enemy of the Prophet (a.s) only because he cared only for his ancestral creed and was intolerant to any change even at the hands of his own blood relation! Even Ibrahim (a.s) and Azar were related to each other. Azar too was an uncle of Ibrahim (a.s). Why did he come to harm his own nephew? Similarly, Noah’s own son went in support of the infidels against his father. Why there were dissensions between Noah (a.s), Lot (a.s) and their wives? The differences were because they wished to practice different creeds! On the one hand attributing Abū-Talib’s unstinted support only to filial love and on the other hand doubting his Faith does not appeal to reason!

p: 108

The way Abū-Talib dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the protection and care of Muhammad (a.s), a rational mind will think that if he was not convinced of the veracity of the Prophet’s Mission, he would not have gone to the lengths in his support that he did. He was doing this at the cost of his comfortable life and the eminence that he had in that nomadic society. This is clear evidence that his heart was radiant with the light of Faith and there were the imprints of belief in Allah and His Prophet (a.s) in his psyche. Therefore, Asaduddin, the judge, has written:

In our view, Faith is witnessing (upholding) the things upheld by the Prophet (a.s) and their inclusion in the Shari`ah is proven. This too is the belief of the majority of master scholars, such as al-Buqlani and Ishaq al-Safara’ini.[21]

When the scholars and researchers endorse the witness of the hearts and the batini (intrinsic) belief of a person as Faith, then why one should refute Abū-Talib’s Faith. His contributions to the propagation of Islam and support to the Prophet (a.s) are proof of his Faith. In fact, this spirit is not evidenced by many of the persons who publicly accepted Islam. Public acceptance of the creed can also be done by hypocrites! There has not been dearth of such persons in the annals of Islamic History! They made tall claims of support to Islam with their tongues, but when the time came for making sacrifices, they fled from the scene of battle! There are also instances of persons intriguing with the enemies against the interest of the Prophet (a.s) and Islam. True belief in Islam is from the depths of the heart and not mere lip service. Faith is the name of firm belief and conviction and belief not mere utterance of some words from the tongue for the benefit of the hearer! If oral utterance alone were the expression of Faith, then Allah would not have refuted the Faith of such persons:

p: 109

Some persons say with their tongues that they have Faith in Allah and the Day of Reckoning although they are those who have not adopted the Faith.

The Faith that comes from the heart will have no place for hypocrisy and duplicity. Every act of such persons will be a mirror of his Faith and in accord with the requirements of the belief. On the basis of the person’s actions, his Faith is identified. Faith means firm belief and conviction. Conviction has its effect on the actions of the person. Viewing the life and actions of Abū-Talib one cannot deny the fact that all his assertions were in the service of strengthening Islam. His contribution can be termed as the foundation stone of the super-structure that arose later on. He bore all sorts of hardships to strengthen and pave the way for the propagation and growth of the Creed. He supported the Prophet (a.s) with absolute dedication and sincerity. He kept himself away from the polytheist practices of the day practiced the Islamic ways. From his life is evident the friendship for Islam and obedience of the Prophet’s teachings. Then who has the right to remove him from the sphere of Islam when the Holy Qur’an says that if a person’s ways are in accord with Islam and his actions are the same as those of Muslims, then people should not term him an infidel:

A person who wishes you peace and presents himself as a Muslim, you must not tell him that he is not a person of the Faith.

p: 110

If it is accepted that Abū-Talib did not profess Islam publicly, the majority of the jurists believe that public profession of Faith is not compulsory when there is a strong reason to keep it in wraps. Therefore, in the initial years after the Annunciation, the invitation to the Creed was done on the quiet and in secret conclaves. The Prophet (a.s) himself used to advise the new entrants to keep their creed secret. This was a wise way of protecting Islam and its proponents. In accordance with this, many prominent Muslims kept their identity secret for many years. They followed the Islamic norms only to the extent it was possible it those difficult days. Even when Islam assumed the status of a group, however small, some Muslims discretely kept away from it for their own reasons. They did this to avoid tensions in the families or the society. History indicates that `Umar’s sister, Fatimah, who was the wife of Sa`id ibn Zayd, had already adopted Islam along with her husband. She used to keep her Islam secret. Similarly, Na`im ibn `Abdullah, who belonged to the tribe of Banū-`Adi, was already a Muslim but kept his creed a secret because of the pressures from his tribesmen. After the Migration of the Prophet (a.s), when the Islamic Commonwealth was established in al-Madinah, there was still a group of Muslims in Makkah who continued to keep their Faith a closely guarded secret. The Prophet’s own uncle, `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, was one of such personages. Therefore, Abū-Rafi` writes:

p: 111

I was the slave of `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and had already adopted Islam at the homes of the Prophet’s relatives. Therefore, Ummul-Fadl—the wife of `Abbas—and I were Muslims. `Abbas was scared of his tribesmen and did not want to invite their ire. Hence, he kept his Islam a secret.[22]

These persons were serving the cause of Islam in their own way by keeping their Faith a secret. Therefore, these were the persons who kept the Prophet (a.s) informed of the movements of the Quraysh who were planning preemptive attacks on the meager forces of early Islam. Ibn Abd al Bar writes about `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib:

He sent all the reports about the polytheists to the Prophet (a.s) in writing that gave strength (of information) to Muslims. `Abbas desired to join the Prophet (a.s) in al-Madinah. But the Prophet (a.s) wrote to him that his presence at Makkah was better and beneficial.[23]

This proves that their keeping the faith as a secret was with the approval of the Prophet (a.s). If keeping one’s Faith secret were against the norms of Islam, then the Prophet (a.s) would never have allowed it. It proves conclusively that keeping one’s Faith secret is not considered non-Islamic in any way!

If affirmation of Faith by a person required oral expression, the condition definitely will be unnecessary that it should be only in prescribed form. When this condition is not necessary, then Abū-Talib’s affirmation of the Prophethood of Muhammad (a.s) cannot be denied. The Prophet (a.s) once visited Abū-Talib to inquire about his health when the patriarch said:

p: 112

“O my nephew! Pray to your Sustainer who has made you ordained Prophet that He gives me recovery from illness![24]

The Prophet (a.s) raised his hands in prayer and said, “O Allah! Give recovery to my Uncle.” As a result of this prayer Abū-Talib immediately recovered from the illness and left his bed. If he had not accepted Muhammad (a.s) as Allah’s “Ordained” Prophet, he would not have referred to the Prophethood when he asked him to pray. Is not accepting the Annunciation (al-Bi`thah) acceptance of the Prophethood? And is not instant recovery after the prayer a confirmation that Abū-Talib did have Faith in Muhammad’s Prophethood! Besides this event, many a couplet composed by Abū-Talib is proof that affirms his belief in Muhammad’s Prophethood. These couplets affirm his Faith in the veracity of Islam, the truthfulness of the Faith and the Prophethood of Muhammad (a.s). Such couplets are so many that ShahrAshūb Al-Mazindarani has written in ‘Mutashabihat al-Qur’an’ commenting on the Verse of Sūrah of al-Hajj that the couplets that evidence Abū-Talib’s Faith number more than three thousand. Ibn Abil-Hadid, after quoting several of his couplets writes:

These couplets have been quoted in continuity. Even if the continuity was not there, they are all on the same subject that is common in all the couplets. And that common factor is affirmation of the truthfulness of Muhammad (a.s).[25]

Some of the couplets composed by Abū-Talib are quoted here for the interest of the readers. These couplets fully represent his Faith and Belief and the historians have quoted them with full proof of authenticity:

p: 113

When the Quraysh infidels accused the Prophet (a.s) of falsehoods, he pointed towards the Prophet (a.s) and recited the following couplets:

You are custodian (amin) and Allah’s custodian in which there is no falsehood! You are free of cheap talk and are straightforward! You are that Prophet of Allah about whom we know! And on you has been Revealed the Qur’an by Allah! [26]

When the Quraysh asked him to stop the Prophet (a.s) or else they would be forced to become aggressive, Abū-Talib recited the following couplets:

By Allah! Until I am interred in the soil,

The Quraysh hordes dare not come near you!

Recount Allah’s Commands without fear,

Happily cool your eyes in this manner!

You have invited me to Islam—I know you as my well wisher,

And then you are amin as well!

I am sure Muhammad’s Faith is

Better than all the faiths in the world![27]

When they took shelter in the Shi`b Abū-Talib to protect the Prophet (a.s) from the Quraysh, Abū-Talib composed an encomium (qasidah) of one hundred and twenty couplets. A few of those couplets will be of interest here:

By Allah’s House! Your thought is wrong that we could be

suppressed In the matter of Muhammad (a.s);

And that for his protection we will not use arrows and spears!

We shall not surrender him to the enemy

Until we die in front of them and forget our wife and children!

I have protected him with my heart and my life,

And defended him with my shoulders and the chest!

p: 114

O Sustainer! Help him with Your Succor!

And help the Faith that is the Truth, Pure and free of admixture!

Ibn Husham says that one year the people were suffering from acute drought due to scanty rainfall. They went to the Prophet (a.s) and requested him to pray to Allah for rains. He lifted his hands towards the Heaven and offered a prayer. Before he completed the prayer, dark clouds gathered over the horizon and it rained copiously. When he saw the rain falling, the Prophet (a.s) remembered Abū-Talib and said, “If Abū-Talib was alive today, he would be very happy!” One of the companions said, “Perhaps you have remembered a couplet that he had recited about you!” The person then recited it:

Intercession is sought of the radiant faced persons while

praying for rains,

Intercession of those who are the support for the orphans and widows!”

The Prophet (a.s) said, yes! I do remember.”

The imprint of Abū-Talib’s affection was so deep on the heart of the Prophet (a.s) that he did not forget him for a moment. Al-Buladhari has written that when the Prophet (a.s) was seriously ill, Fatimah said, “By Allah! You are just the way that a poet has said about you:

He is so white that waters of clouds are sought by the

intercession of his face

He was the shelter of the orphans and the haven for the widows

Hearing this, the Prophet (a.s) opened his eyes and said:

This is the saying of my uncle, Abū-Talib.[28]

p: 115

Abū-Talib’s couplets were indicative of his deep Faith, acceptance of the truth and unfathomable love for Islam and its founder. Every couplet of his is the proof of his profound Faith. If people shun their bias, there is no reason they should harbor any doubts about his true Faith. Please do consider with justice if a few of his couplets, even one of them, was traced to any other person, they would have produced it as an evidence of the deep Faith of the person! For what sin people are maligning the Faith of the Prophet’s beloved uncle who was ready to sacrifice everything for the nephew and his Faith. Was it for the sin of giving upbringing to the Orphan of `Abdullah who was destined to be the Last and the Most Perfect of the Prophets (a.s)? Was it for the sin of protecting and preserving him in the face of the enmity and the onslaught of the Quraysh? Was it for his fighting against the machinations of the polytheists to harm the Prophet (a.s)? Was it for propagating the creed of Muhammad (a.s) to every nook and corner of Arabia through his impeccable poetry eulogizing Muhammad (a.s) and his creed? The truth is that the only crime of Abū-Talib in the eyes of those biased critics is that he was the beloved father of `Ali (a.s)! These persons are those who are in total darkness and have no mind to catch a ray of the radiance! Abū-Talib’s Faith and belief is a radiant Truth that will be denied by only those who refuse to accept the whiteness of the dawn and the radiance of the stars. Ibn Abil-Hadid has said so wonderfully:

p: 116

The futile talk of an ignorant person and the deliberate silence of the learned would not diminish Abū-Talib’s greatness and status! It will be like pretending that the daylight is stark darkness, though this thought will not affect the brightness of the day!

The proof of Abū-Talib’s Faith does not lie only in his poetry. More than these are thoughts and utterances that the Prophet (a.s) and the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt have made about him from time to time. These sayings are important from two points. One is that the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt are all from his progeny and every person’s life will be like an open book in front of the members of his family. He cannot keep his Faith, acts and habits hidden from them. There the witness of the members of a family will be the most reliable. The second point is that, from the juridical point of view his sayings are a proof positive of his Faith. After seeing these proofs, one can term it neither the familial bias nor as any type of partiality. Therefore, commenting on the Prophet’s saying, “…If you adhere to him, you shall never be misled”, al-Muhaddith al-Dahlawi writes:

‘Akhaz’ means that one should remain attached to the love of the Ahl al-Bayt; one should hold them in respect, act on their sayings (and exhortations) and have complete faith on their utterances. [29]

From the Ahl al-Bayt none have ever expressed any doubt whatsoever about the Faith of Abū-Talib. To the contrary, all of them have, at some time or other, expressed their high opinions about his staunch Faith in the Prophet (a.s) and Islam. This unanimity of opinion of the Ahl al-Bayt about Abū-Talib is accepted by all the erudite scholars of Islam. Therefore, Abul-Kiram `Abd al-Salam ibn Muhammad says:

p: 117

The Imams of Ahl al-Bayt are unanimous on the fact that Abū-Talib died a Muslim. Whatever is contrary to the belief of the Ahl al-Bayt is never dependable.[30]

`Allamah al-tabarsi, of the Shi`ah School of Thought writes:

Unanimity of the Ahl al-Bayt on the Faith of Abū-Talib is proven, and their unanimity is final and binding.[31]

Below are some of the sayings of the Prophet (a.s) and the Infallible Imams (a.s) which are the clear proof that they were all unanimous about the Faith of Abū-Talib and his Deliverance on the Day of Reckoning.

`Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib asked the Prophet (a.s) if he expected the Deliverance of Abū-Talib? He said, ‘For him (Abū-Talib) I expect every good from Allah!’[32]

`Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) said:

Abū-Talib did not die until he was sure that the Prophet (a.s) was completely happy and satisfied with him.[33]

Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (a.s) was asked about the faith of Abū-Talib, and he said:

It is surprising that Allah had ordered the Prophet (a.s) that no Muslim woman be allowed to remain married to an infidel, and Fatimah bint Asad who was one of the first ladies to embrace Islam was Abū-Talib’s spouse until her death.[34]

At this stage, this fact must be borne in minds that Fatimah bint Asad embraced Islam during the early days of al-Bi`thah (Annunciation) of the Prophet (a.s), remained alive and the spouse of Abū-Talib for ten years thereafter until her death. If they both belonged to different creeds, the natural consequence would have been religious dispute and separation. But no book of history makes even a passing reference about this.

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Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s) has said:

“Abū-Talib ibn `Abd al-Muttalib left this world as believers (mu’min).”[35]

Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq (a.s) was told by a person that some persons were of the opinion that Abū-Talib died an infidel. The Imam (a.s) said:

They are liars. Witnessing the prophethood of Muhammad (a.s), Abū-Talib has said, “Do not you know that we found Muhammad (a.s) a Prophet the same way as Mūsa (a.s) whose references are there in the Earlier Books. [36]

Imam Mūsa al-Kazim (a.s) was asked by Durust ibn Mansūr about the Faith of Abū-Talib. The Imam (a.s) replied:

He witnessed about the Prophet (a.s) and everything that he (a.s) brought![37]

Imam al-Rida (a.s) wrote in a reply to a letter from Aban ibn Mahmūd:

If you do not accept the Faith of Abū-Talib, your Journey will be in the direction of the Hell.[38]

Imam al-Hasan al-`Askari (a.s) has said:

Abū-Talib was like the mu’min of the Family of Pharaoh who kept their Faith a closely guarded secret.[39]

In the early days after the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s), Abū-Talib keeping his Faith secret and not openly expounding his beliefs before the infidels of the Quraysh was an act of extreme discretion. If, immediately after the announcement of Muhammad’s Prophethood, he had declared his conversion to Islam, the infidels would have opened their skirmishes on two fronts. He would not have been able to help the Prophet (a.s) by inviting the enmity of the Quraysh against himself as well. Although it was not a secret to the infidels of the Quraysh that at every occasion Abū-Talib came to the rescue of the Prophet (a.s). Thus, the voice of Islam was spreading and its circle was spreading. But they had no direct cause to find fault with Abū-Talib and antagonize him. The statesmanlike attitude of Abū-Talib provided him the opportunity to keep a sort of touch with the infidels and convey to them, in a subtle manner, the merits of Islam as a Faith. If Abū-Talib had not adopted this attitude, the superior numbers of the Quraysh at the time would have proved a more formidable foe for the fledgling group of Muhammad (a.s) and his companions. Whatever opportunities the Prophet (a.s) has to propagate his Faith was, to a great extent, due also to the covert and overt support of Abū-Talib. If he were not there, the prevailing environment at Makkah would have rendered Muhammad’s missionary work very slow. The well-known scholar, Ibn Abil-Hadid who belonged to the Mu`tazilah Sect, acknowledged the contribution of Abū-Talib to the spread of Islam thus:

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If Abū-Talib and his son, `Ali (a.s) were not there, Islam would never have stood on its feet, one of them gave his support and help in Makkah, and the other put his own life in jeopardy in al-Madinah.

This is a matter of great surprise that on the one hand it is acknowledged that Abū-Talib’s sacrifices and practical support helped the spread of Islam, and on the other they blatantly accuse him of infidelity. This opposition is from those who were willing to accept the weakest indications as evidence of Faith and ardently supported certain persons who had a flip-flop attitude of many a time thinking whether Muhammad (a.s) was really a prophet or not! As opposed to this, they unreasonably count those persons out of Islam who valiantly supported the cause of Islam in its formative days. Abū-Talib’s discreet silence at times and valiant support to his nephew at others was a great asset for the propagation of Islam. His practical life was molded in the way of Islam. Every act of his was mirror of the Prophet’s teachings and living proof of the veracity of Islam. He supported Islam, in word and in deed, with such zeal that was not possible for any person who was opposed to the creed that Muhammad (a.s) was propagating.

Even if all these proofs and evidences are kept aside, no one can deny the profound love that Abū-Talib had for the Prophet (a.s). This great love for the Prophet (a.s) itself is a strong proof of his acceptance of the creed. In the wildest imagination, one cannot think that the love for the Prophet (a.s) and the hate for his Creed could exist together in one person! If there is love for the Prophet (a.s) in one’s heart, then naturally it cannot be devoid of love for Islam!

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There does exist a group people who are mentally not prepared to endorse the infidelity of Abū-Talib, but baseless, and false, traditions that have been surreptitiously introduced into the books of history cause them confusion. These traditions however do not qualify for veracity on the established yardstick for judging their correctness. They are the fabrications of the minions of the Umayyad Court! Their attempt is to cover the services of Abū-Talib to Muhammad (a.s) and Islam because of their enmity with `Ali (a.s).It is necessary to make an overview of the traditions concocted by them and people with vision can themselves read between the lines.

The first tradition says that when Abū-Talib was on his deathbed, the Prophet (a.s) came near him. At that time Abū-Jahl and `Abdullah ibn Umayyah were there. The Prophet (a.s) said, “Uncle! Say, ‘There is no god save Allah’ so that I be witness of your Faith in Islam!” Abū-Jahl and `Abdullah chided Abū-Talib saying that if he did this, he would become an outcast from the tribe of `Abd al-Muttalib. Abū-Talib now said,

“I am from the Tribe of `Abd al-Muttalib!”

He thus refused to say it. The Prophet (a.s) then said,

“If I am not ordered (by Allah) to do otherwise, I shall continue to pray for your Deliverance!”

At this juncture, the following Verse was revealed:

The Prophet and the Believers must ensure that they do not pray for the Deliverance of polytheists, even if they are their near ones, when it is evident to them that their destiny is the Hell

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Now, the tradition quoted above is our subject of discussion on various counts:

Firstly, the narrator of this tradition is Musayyab. Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani writes in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib that Musayyab is among the narrators who quote mainly from Abū-Sufyan ibn Harb and his own father Harb, and he is quoted only by his son, Sa`id. It is evident therefore that neither his narrations were given any importance those days nor was he trusted by any one. There is another reason that he converted to Islam only at the time of the fall of Makkah At the time of the demise of Abū-Talib neither was he present at his bedside nor had he access to any person of importance at the time. If he had heard of the incident from someone, the identity of the person was not established. Therefore, the tradition is very weak and unacceptable. Besides this, there was an element of bias in his reporting. The person’s son, Sa`id, sub-narrator, was a sworn enemy of `Ali (a.s). Therefore, Ibn Abil-Hadid has written:

Sa`id ibn Musayyab was against `Ali (a.s) and opposed him.[40]

His enmity for the Ahl al-Bayt is evident from the event of the demise of Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (a.s) when his bier was brought to the Prophet’s Mosque in al-Madinah and all the concourse of the town joined the Funeral Prayers, Sa`id continued to sit alone in the mosque and did not join the congregation. When asked why he did not join the prayer for that noble soul, he said:

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At this place of sanctity, I prefer to offer two genuflections of prayer instead of joining the congregation for the Funeral Prayer for that noble soul![41]

He surpassed all limits of enmity that he blatantly refused to participate in the last prayers for the revered personage, remaining in the same surroundings all the while! Can the narration of such an inimical person be trusted to decide whether Abū-Talib was an infidel or not? His hatred for the progeny of Abū-Talib has been proved without any element of doubt.

Secondly, this tradition is a contradiction of the tradition that Abū-Talib, in the throes of death, moved his lips and was reciting the kalmia of the Unity of Allah! This tradition has been quoted by many reputed historians in their books. Therefore, Abul-Fida’ writes:

When Abū-Talib’s time of death approached, he moved his lips. Al-`Abbas moved toward him, and then said to the Prophet, ‘O Son of my brother! Abū-Talib has recited the kalimah (i.e. shahadah) that you wanted him to recite.’ The prophet said: Thanks to Allah for He guided you.’[42]

This tradition has been quoted here just to illustrate the futility of Musayyab’s narrative. What is the meaning of asking one to say the kalimah 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 Abū-Talib to say the kalimah in his last moments, it does not 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 say the kalimah in his last moments!

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Thirdly, it appears from the tradition that the subject Verse was revealed immediately after the demise of Abū-Talib. But in fact it is from the Sūrah of Bara’ah which was revealed at the time of capture of Makkah, much later than the demise of Abū-Talib, that happened three years prior to the Migration (The Hegira). The Verse, therefore, was revealed almost ten years after the demise of Abū-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 Abū-Talib. It clearly shows that the unscrupulous narrator had concocted the story to discredit Abū-Talib. Even if we agree that the Verse was revealed concerning Abū-Talib, then how is it that the Prophet (a.s) continued to pray for the Deliverance of (the infidel) Abū-Talib for ten years and Allah did not 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 Abū-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 Sūrah of al-munafiqūn which was revealed before the Sūrah of Bara’ah. Therefore, when The Prophet (a.s) was forewarned of not praying for an infidel, how did he, according to the tradition, decide to pray for Abū-Talib with the ostensible knowledge that he was an infidel? Can we imagine the Prophet (a.s) defying the injunction of the Holy Book? If the Prophet did pray for the Deliverance of Abū-Talib, he was confident of his fidelity, and there cannot be firmer proof of his Faith in Allah than this!

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Fifthly, Al-Tirmidhi, in his Sahih, writes in the Bab al-Tafsir that `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 idolater?’ `Ali (a.s) mentioned this matter to the Prophet (a.s). 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 `Ali (a.s) was sure that it was permissible to pray for infidel relatives, he would not 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 Ibrahim (a.s) for the deliverance of his uncle, Azar. He need not have gone so far back in history. He could have referred to the prayer of the Prophet (a.s) for his uncle Abū-Talib. This is a proof that the person never thought that Abū-Talib could be an infidel knowing fully well his contribution to the cause of Islam and the Prophet (a.s)! 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 Ibrahim (a.s) praying for Azar in support of his own prayer for his infidel parents. The truth is that Ibrahim (a.s) did not pray for Azar as is evidenced from the following Verse of the Qur’an:

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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 abhorrence.

Ibrahim’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 could not 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 Ibrahim (a.s) does not 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. Therefore, there is neither justification nor permission to pray for deliverance of an infidel. Then how could one imagine that the Prophet (a.s), despite Abū-Talib being an infidel, told him near his death that, “If asked not to pray, I shall continue to pray for your deliverance.” The prayer for Deliverance 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 (a.s) was praying for the deliverance of Abū-Talib with the knowledge that he was a mu’min 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 (a.s) himself praying for his deliverance!

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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 do not remain fit to be accepted or rejected. In this regard, one tradition can be quoted. When the Prophet (a.s) 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 Qur’an. There is another tradition that says that the Prophet (a.s) 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 (a.s) 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 Abū-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 Abū-Talib drew nigh, the Prophet (a.s) said, “Uncle! Recite the kalimah that I might give evidence before Allah about your Faith.” Abū-Talib refused to say the kalimah saying, “If I had not the fear of the taunts of the Quraysh, I would have done it!” At that time, the following Verse was revealed:

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Those who you befriend, you do not guide. But Allah guides those He wishes to guide.

This tradition too does not deserve to be accepted for several reasons.

Firstly, the tradition is reported by Abū-Hurayrah al-Dūsi, `Abd al-Quddūs al-Shami, Abū-Sahl al-Sayri through Muhammad ibn `Abbad, ibn Abi-`Umar, etc… originating from Ibn `Umar and Ibn `Abbas. The tradition is not dependable that the narrator, Abū-Hurayrah, was in his home town of Yemen at the time of Abū-Talib’s demise and almost ten years had passed since this event when Abū-Hurayrah embraced Islam in 7 A.H. Therefore, the question of his being present at the time of the death of Abū-Talib does not arise. Hence he was not an eyewitness to the event who could certify having seen the Prophet (a.s) advising Abū-Talib to say the kalimah and he refusing to comply. If someone did hear this exchange, why has not he revealed the names when the event happened during his days of ignorance and he was personally not present in Makkah? There is another reason for the unreliability of his narrations about Abū-Talib is that he was among the close courtiers and retainers of Mu`awiyah which is a strong evidence of his enmity for `Ali (a.s), because that was one very important qualification for admittance to the Dardar al-Sham! Ibn Abil-Hadid writes about this enmity and hate that when Mu`awiyah visited al-Kūfah, Abū-Hurayrah was in the team. He used to sit near Bab-Kindah in the nights and people used to surround him out of curiosity. One night al-Asbagh ibn Nubatah too went and joined the group He asked Abū-Hurayrah if he had heard the saying of the Prophet (a.s) about `Ali (a.s):

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O Allah! Befriend him, who befriends `Ali (a.s), and, hold him an enemy who is `Ali’s foe!

Abū-Hurayrah affirmed that he was aware of the saying! Al-Asbagh rejoined at this juncture:

Then with Allah’s witness, I say that you have established friendship with his enemies and you are inimical with his friends.[43]

It was the fruit of this enmity that Mu`awiyah gave to Abū-Hurayrah the governorate of al-Madinah and showered many favors on him. He gave special privileges to his children after his death. When he received the news of his death, Mu`awiyah wrote to his representative al-Walid ibn `Uqbah:

Search for his successors, give them ten thousand dirhams, and treat them with kindness. He was among those who helped `Uthman during his incarceration and remained at his House.[44]

Connection with Mu`awiyah and attachment to the clan of Banū-Umayyah was there and, in addition, Abū-Hurayrah was known for narrating more tradition than any other person of his time narrates, although he had privilege of being with the Prophet (a.s) for a very short while. He narrated more traditions than the persons who had spent the maximum time of their lives with the Prophet (a.s). This excess of narration by him rendered his narratives rather doubtful. `Umar, feeling the effect of excessive narration by Abū-Hurayrah, has chided him and said:

Stop narrating traditions. If you do not comply with my instruction, I shall pack you away to the region of the Tribe of Dūs.[45]

It was the time when Abū-Hurayrah was of the opinion that his mind was a storehouse of traditions and it was withheld as “unworthy” of narration:

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Whatever I know of, if I start telling to people, they will start throwing crocks on me and say that Abū-Hurayrah is mad![46]

`Ali (a.s) too was not convinced of his honesty and straightforwardness in narrating the traditions. He therefore said:

Abū-Hurayrah said lot of falsehoods about the Prophet (a.s).[47]

Similarly the presence of Ibn `Umar at the time of Abū-Talib’s demise does not sound probable because he was born three years after the al-Bi`thah (the Annunciation). This means that at the time of Abū-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 Banū-Hashim and the elite of Quraysh! Even if he were present there by any chance, how would it be possible for a small child to hear the whispers of the Prophet (a.s) and Abū-Talib and recount the exchange. Ibn `Umar, 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 would have no weight. Added to this fact, Ibn `Umar was among the persons who, after the third Caliph, had refused to owe allegiance to `Ali (a.s). He always remained angry with `Ali (a.s) as far as Ibn `Abbas was concerned, he was born three years prior to the Hegira (The Migration) at Shi`b Abū-Talib and the same year Abū-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 Abū-Talib’s death. Who could imagine that a baby in arms could hear and recount anything! If he had heard about the episode from some eyewitness, he never mentioned any name to establish the veracity of the narration. It appears that some interested parties had concocted the story and attributed it to Ibn `Abbas thinking that the hearers might get impressed with his family background and give some credence to the narration.

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Further, the other persons in Abū-Hurayrah’s narration, Muhammad ibn `Abbad, Ibn Abū-`Umar or Ibn Kaysan are all insignificant and not dependable as witness to the event. In the narration of Ibn `Umar or Ibn `Abbas, the two persons named, `Abd al-Quddūs al-Shami and Abū-Sahl al-Sayri, are liars and undependable according to the experts in `Ilm al-Rijal.

Secondly, when the Prophet of Islam (a.s) was warned through the verse of the Qur’an,

وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الأَقْرَبِينَ

“Warn your near ones”,

and particularly asked him to invite his kin to Islam. After the revelation of this Verse, The Prophet (a.s) started his missionary activities from the very abode of Abū-Talib. Then, it does not stand to reason that he was inviting other kinsmen to join the fold and left Abū-Talib alone and had no idea until his end to ask hi m to recite the kalmia! Did the Prophet (a.s) not feel the necessity of inviting Abū-Talib to embrace Islam for ten long years sharing the same roof with him. Was he under the impression that if he insisted on Abū-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 (a.s) did not care to convert Abū-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 (a.s) was convinced of the Faith of Abū-Talib and, therefore, he concentrated with his mission in other places! Then what is the question of his insisting on Abū-Talib to say the kalimah when he was in the throes of death!

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Thirdly, there are several versions about the purpose of the revelation of this verse. One tradition concerning it is that during the Battle of Uhud the Prophet’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 ibn al-Nu`man to embrace Islam and he remained hesitant to accept the new creed. `A’ishah says:

The Verse:

إِنَّكَ لا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ…

(Surely, you cannot guide whom you love… 28/56)’ was revealed when I was with the Prophet (a.s) under the comforter.[48]

There are many such traditions that are contradictory to one another. Considering the contradictions, the correctness of the tradition under review is questionable. Another valid reason is that the narrators too are not dependable. From the first tradition it appears that the Verse was revealed six years after the demise of Abū-Talib, because the Battle of Uhud was fought in the year 3 H. And he had expired three years prior to the Hegira. `A’ishah’s version suggests that the Verse was revealed around three to four years after the death of Abū-Talib because she was married in 1H which was the period about three or four years after the demise of Abū-Talib. In this event the Verse cannot concern Abū-Talib since, at the time of its revelation, he was no more in the world. And, after a person’s death, neither there is need of guidance for him nor any reason for his refusing to take advice! And, if it is presumed that the Verse was revealed on many occasions, it cannot be accepted until there is a positive proof of the events.

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Fourthly, even if the Verse is accepted to have been revealed concerning Abū-Talib, no doubt can be cast as to his Faith because the manner is the same as the Verse “O Prophet! When you threw the arrow, it was not you, but Allah has thrown it…” In this verse, there is contradiction of ramy with the words ma ramayta and with idh ramayta, there is affirmation. Affirmation because the event was performed at the hands of the Prophet (a.s) and contradiction because in fact the act emanated from Allah. Therefore, in the Verse there is affirmation of the guidance and contradiction as well. It means that apparently, the guidance was through the Prophet’s preaching and instructions, but in reality, it was the result of Allah’s help and support. The reason is that Allah is the fountainhead of Guidance. If His consent is not available, none can achieve the state of guidance! The Prophet, in this process of guidance is only the medium. Now, the Verse does not mean that the Prophet (a.s) cannot guide those whom he considers his friends, or he cannot influence them with his guidance. The meaning is that those whom the Prophet holds friends too are guided by Allah to the path of Faith. This view is supported by other verses of the Holy Qur’an, like:

لَيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ.

O Prophet! Responsibility of guiding these people is not on you; Allah gives guidance to those He wants to. (2:272)

This illustrates that the guidance of Abū-Talib to the path of Virtue was not only because of The Prophet’s guidance, but Allah’s Wish was there. This Verse adds confirmation to Abū-Talib’s Faith rather than contradicting it. The services that he rendered to Islam are a positive proof of his Faith, and Allah’s Wish has been his motivating factor in all these efforts!

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The fifth point is that if the Verse is accepted to have been revealed concerning Abū-Talib, then it is confirmed that The Prophet (a.s) held him in great regard as a friend, which fact is a part of history. The Prophet (a.s) expressed affection for `Aqil ibn Abi-Talib because of the love for his father:

I consider you a friend on two counts: firstly, because of my relationship with you, and secondly because of the love for Abū-Talib who had affection for you.[49]

This love for Abū-Talib is a positive proof of his Faith because the Prophet (a.s) could not possibly have befriended or loved any infidel or hypocrite.

Therefore, Allah says:

لا تَجِدُ قَوْمًا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ يُوَادُّونَ مَنْ حَادَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَوْ كَانُوا آبَاءَهُمْ أَوْ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ أَوْ إِخْوَانَهُمْ أَوْ عَشِيرَتَهُمْ.

Those who believe in Allah and the Day of Judgment, you will not find them befriending the enemies of Allah and His Prophet, even if they are their fathers, sons, brothers or men of their tribe. (22:58)

When Muslims are asked not to befriend the infidels and polytheists, even when they are their own kin, how is it possible that the Prophet (a.s) kept extremely friendly and affectionate relations with Abū-Talib! An infidel and polytheist is an enemy of Allah. How could an enemy of Allah be a friend of the Prophet (a.s), whom Allah Himself has called a Habib or Dear Friend! When the love and affection between the Prophet (a.s) and Abū-Talib is irrefutable, there remains no doubt about the Faith of the latter.

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Sixthly, it does not stand to reason, according to the discipline of higher knowledge, how could a person be an infidel who, all his life, stood like a wall in the support of the Prophet (a.s), openly supported the cause of Islam, announced in crowds of the Quraysh that Muhammad’s Faith was the best, acknowledged Muhammad (a.s) like the prophets of yore and was never intimidated by any force while taking sides with the Prophet (a.s)

The third tradition in this series is that a person heard Ibn `Abbas say that the Verse, “And they prohibit (others) from it and go far away from it, (6:26)” is revealed about Abū-Talib, and to ascribe it to him the meaning of the Verse is taken that “although he prevented the Prophet (a.s) from the infidels harming him, he himself maintained a distance from the prophet (a.s)” In his view the condition of Abū-Talib with regard to the Prophet (a.s) was the same that he did protect Muhammad(a.s) from his enemies, did not profess the Faith himself! This tradition too is weak and not worth acceptance.

First of all, there is no continuity of the narrators of this tradition. The name of the person who was the medium between Ibn `Abbas and the narrator Habib ibn Abi-Thabit has not been mentioned. When the narrator himself had not heard it directly from Ibn `Abbas, nor has he mentioned the name of the first person who had heard and communicated to him, how could the narrative be accepted as concerning Abū-Talib. The narrative is doubtful because the narrator, Habib ibn Thabit, is a cheat and exaggerator according to scholars of `Ilm al-Rijal. Secondly, the place and time of revelation of the Verse is indicative that it is about a group of infidels and polytheists that attributed the Qur’an to “Stories of people of Old Times” Therefore the author of “al-Kashshaf” and `Allamah al-Baydawi have written that Abū-Sufyan, al-Walid, `Utbah, Shaybah, Abū-Jahl, al-Nadr Ibn Harith and some other persons heard the Prophet (a.s) recite the verses of the Qur’an, they asked al-Nadr ibn Harith as to what Muhammad was reciting? He replied that it was stories of old times. This is mentioned in the first part of the Verse,

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…يَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ هَذَا إِلاَّ أَسَاطِيرُ الأَوَّلِينَ

The infidels say that these are stories of people gone by and nothing else. (6:25)

In the last part of the verse, it is mentioned that they will be destroyed because of their waywardness and misdeeds: “they expose themselves to destruction and have no sense.” Between these two parts of the verse there is “And they prohibit (others) from it and go far away from it.” If the meaning of the first part of this verse is taken as ‘they prevent the Prophet (a.s) from harms way,’ the entire verse becomes disconnected and its continuity becomes disturbed. The verse talks about shameful things and deserving of condemnation and because of them their destruction is definite. But protecting the Prophet (a.s) from harm is a virtuous act and has no connection with the first and last parts of the Verse, Therefore, the meaning of “they prevent people from following the Prophet (a.s) and listening to the recitation of the Qur’an” will be correct and meaningfully coordinated with the first and last part of the verse.

Therefore Ibn Kathir and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi have preferred the same meaning of the Verse and have written that this Verse is revealed about the polytheists who used to stop people following the Prophet (a.s) and obstruct them from hearing the recitation of the Qur’an. Therefore, as long as it is not confirmed that Abū-Talib came in the way of people following the teachings of the Prophet (a.s) and hearing the readings of the Qur’an, his being the subject of the Verse cannot be established. The fact has been accepted by all, friend and foe, that Abū-Talib had never asked anyone not to listen to the recitation of the Book nor even suggested to the people not to follow the Prophet‘s teachings. In fact, he never differed with the ideas and teachings of Muhammad (a.s) He spent his entire life in the protection and promotion of the Prophet’s Creed. In view of this, they will be dishonest, who do Misinterpret the Meaning of the verse to discredit Abū-Talib. They try to break the earlier and latter part of the Verse and make a futile effort to try to prove that Abū-Talib was an infidel and that he strived to maintain a distance from the Prophet. When did Abū-Talib ever turn away from the Prophet (a.s) and abstain from helping and defending him?

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The fourth tradition is the one that is narrated by `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib. He told the Prophet (a.s) that Abū-Talib was busy in supporting and helping him. Will he get any reward for these efforts or all his troubles would go in vain? The Prophet (a.s) said that Abū-Talib is up to his knees in the Hell and that if he (the Prophet (a.s) had not interceded; he would be in the lower echelons of the Hell!

This tradition too is concocted and false.

Firstly this tradition is attributed to `Abbas, who is also credited with the tradition that Abū-Talib, at the instance of The Prophet (a.s) recited the kalimah of Unity of Allah and departed from this world. Will there be any weight in the traditions of contradictory nature narrated by one person and concerning only one individual!

Further, there is a marked difference in the meaning of this and other traditions of this general. In one tradition it is said that intercession has been made by the Prophet (a.s) on behalf of Abū-Talib and he is in the upper echelon of the Hell and in another tradition it is said that intercession will be made on the Day of Reckoning and in yet another tradition it is recorded that there is diminution of retribution but there is no mention of the Prophet’s intercession. With this handling of the traditions, they become doubtful and unacceptable.

Thirdly, the narrators of these traditions were liars, unreliable and scheming. Therefore, al-Dhahbi writes in Mizan al-I`tidal about the narrators, and says about Sufyan that he copies traditions from liars. He writes about `Abdul-Malik ibn `Umayr that his memory is not good. Similarly, he makes such negative remarks on some other narrators who are unknown and not dependable according to experts. Depending on such narrators, neither can one draw any conclusion about the Faith or infidelity of any person, nor can a surmise be made whether the person will be Hell-bound or deserve the Reward of the Heaven!

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Fourthly, this tradition mentions that in view of Abū-Talib’s unstinted support to the cause of Islam the Prophet (a.s) made intercession on his behalf and his retribution was reduced, while in regard to the infidels and polytheists there is no question of either any intercession or reduction of retribution! Therefore,

Allah says:

وَنَسُوقُ الْمُجْرِمِينَ إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ وِرْدًا. لا يَمْلِكُونَ الشَّفَاعَةَ إِلَّا مَنْ اتَّخَذَ عِنْدَ الرَّحْمَانِ عَهْدًا.

“We shall chase the sinners to the Hell like the thirsty animals And seeking intercession at that time will not be in their Choice but of those who have borne witness to Allah’s Unity (Tawhid). (19:86)

At another place, Allah says:

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَهُمْ نَارُ جَهَنَّمَ لَا يُقْضَى عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُوا وَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ مِنْ عَذَابِهَا.

“Those who became infidels, for them there is Hellfire. They will neither end nor will they die. There will not be any diminution in their Retribution. (35:36)

Ibn al-Athir writes:

“Fayyad, the judge, says that there is ijma` (Unanimity of Opinion) that the infidels will not benefit from their good deeds. Neither will they get bounties as Reward nor there diminution of their Retribution.”

When this tradition does not weigh on the yardstick of the Qur’anic texts and consensus, even if its narrators were truthful and just (decent), it is not acceptable in any condition. In this instance, the narrator is neither nor decent.

The fifth point is that the Prophet (a.s) who was a paragon of kindness could only bring Abū-Talib out of the depths of the Hell, but could not help him to get total relief from the Hellfire in the top layer of the Hell! For his selfless and unstinted services to Islam, if not getting him assigned to the Heaven, at least he could have been settled in its suburbs! When these type of concessions have been given to Anūshirwan despite his infidelity for his sense of justice! Hatam enjoys this concession for his generosity! Even for the sworn enemy of Islam, Abū-Lahab, concessions have been recommended. Therefore, the well-known ahl al-hadith, Wahid al-Zaman, in his book Lughat al-Hadith, Bab al-Zad, page 12, narrates a tradition that one person dreamt of Abū-Lahab saying that he got some water on Mondays. This, he said, was the reward for freeing tūbya, his slave girl, to celebrate the birth of the Prophet (a.s).[50] There is another tradition of similar type. The Prophet (a.s) saw Abū-Lahab in his dream that he was restless with thirst, and he did have something to quench his thirst. The Prophet (a.s) asked, “What is it that you have to quench your thirst?” Abū-Lahab replied, “tūbya fed you the milk and I had released her from slavery. I have been rewarded for that.”[51]

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How strange it is the Abū-Lahab is rewarded for his small gesture of releasing a slave girl. Abū-Lahab, no doubt, was a sworn enemy of the Prophet (a.s) and in the forefront of the persons ridiculing and insulting him. He remained stubbornly infidel until his last breath. And Abū-Talib, who dedicated his entire life to the care and service of the Prophet (a.s) there is no acknowledgement of his effort in bringing up the Prophet (a.s) and providing support and protection all along to his mission. In some other traditions it is also said that although Abū-Talib will be in the upper echelon of the Hell; his brain would melt and fall near his feet because of the excessive heat of the Hellfire. Can it be imagined that this Retribution will be despite the intercession of the Prophet (a.s). In return for his sterling services, there is reduction in his Retribution as described above. But please think over what the Prophet (a.s) has to pray for Abū-Hurayrah’s mother:

Shah Waliyyullah writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) prayed for the conversion of Abū-Hurayrah’s mother, and she became a Muslim the same day!”[52]

How could it be imagined that his prayer for the deliverance of Abū-Hurayrah’s mother was accepted and his prayer was not answered when he prayed for Abū-Talib, although he was a staunch supporter of the Prophet’s Cause. Can Umm Abū-Hurayrah’s being a mother of Abū-Hurayrah be a cause of her deliverance Even if we overlook the services of Abū-Talib to the cause of the Prophet’s Creed, should not his efforts in the bringing up of Muhammad (a.s) and protecting him against all odds be sufficient for his deliverance! Who was Umm Abū-Hurayrah? Just the mother of Abū-Hurayrah who died an infidel!

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The fifth justification they advance is through the tradition, which says,

Two different creeds cannot share inheritance.

Therefore, they say that a Muslim cannot inherit the assets of an infidel and an infidel likewise cannot be an inheritor of a Muslim. They say that if Abū-Talib was a Muslim, `Ali (a.s) and Ja`far, who were Muslim, would not have refused to accept Abū-Talib’s inheritance. They also say that `Aqil and Talib, who had not embraced Islam until the time of Abū-Talib’s death, inherited his assets.

This justification they proffer is a mere exaggeration. First of all they refer to an inconclusive and undependable tradition that `Ali (a.s) and Ja`far had refused to accept the inheritance of their father. Then they refer to another tradition to support their contention that the refusal was because their father died an infidel. The truth is that neither the meaning of the tradition is what they try to give it, nor the two sons ever refused to accept the inheritance. The meaning of this tradition is taken that if the inheritor and the forbear were not of the same Faith, then the inheritance becomes void. The contention is that if the father was a Muslim and the son an infidel, the son would not get the inheritance. Similarly, if the son is a Muslim and his father was an infidel, he would not accept the inheritance. The inheritance would go void wherever the inheritor and the forbear professed different creeds. In the view of Shi`ah Jurists a Muslim can inherit the assets of his infidel parent, while an infidel is entitled only to the assets of his infidel parent. He does not get anything from the effects of his father if he was a Muslim. This is with a view to maintain the ascendance of Islam. This is also supported by the tradition

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Islam has ascendance over every thing and nothing has ascendance over Islam.

Therefore, even if Abū-Talib is presumed not a follower of Islam, his Muslim sons cannot be disinherited. If the Islamic law required the Muslim sons of infidel parents to be disinherited, most of the early companions of the Prophet (a.s) qualify for this treatment. The history, however, has not been able to throw one example of a companion being disinherited on the demise of his infidel father! Does this not indicate that, perhaps this law was only for the nearest kin of the Prophet (a.s)? Besides, if `Ali (a.s) had not accepted anything from the estate of his father, is it not possible that he might have done it for some other reason than that draconian law of inheritance! Perhaps he avoided taking any part of the inheritance because of his frugal nature and left everything for his brother `Aqil. Or it was also possible that `Aqil had usurped the entire estate of his father. History too supports this possibility. The historians have written that when the Prophet (a.s) migrated from Makkah to al-Madinah, `Aqil took advantage of the absence of the Prophet (a.s) and he sold the house of Khadijah and two houses of `Abd al-Muttalib, inherited by Abū-Talib, to Abū-Sufyan when neither the Prophet (a.s), `Ali or Ja`far were present in Makkah to prevent him from striking that deal without their consent. When, after the fall of Makkah, the time for asking `Aqil about his unfair transaction, they forgave him. This forgiveness cannot be termed as `Aqil’s right of inheritance, because all the three had their right according to the Islamic Law of Inheritance! Therefore, Ibn Shihab says:

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“The truth is that `Aqil occupied the Houses of `Abd al-Muttalib after the Migration of the Prophet (a.s) the same way as the infidels of Quraysh occupied the houses of the other migrants. After the conquest of Makkah, neither the Prophet (a.s) nor the migrants demanded the return of their properties. If `Aqil had a right over the property according to the Law of Inheritance, then under what law he sold the house of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid.”[53]

The sixth argument they proffer is that through the weakest tradition it does not emerge that Abū-Talib ever prayed alone or in the company of the Prophet (a.s) although he lived for ten long years after the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s). If he was a Muslim, he would certainly have been seen praying sometime or other, because offering of prayer is an important pillar of Islam.

This argument too does not hold water. In a situation where traditions are concocted to prove his infidelity, it is not a matter of surprise if there is no tradition to support the claim that Abū-Talib did, if ever, offer prayers. But none can deny the fact that, in early days after the al-Bi`thah, Abū-Talib once found his son, `Ali (a.s) offering prayer with the Prophet (a.s), and expressed his appreciation and support for his act. He termed this way of offering the prayer as an act of virtue and exhorted `Ali (a.s) to remain attached to the Prophet (a.s). Once he chanced to see `Ali (a.s) standing behind the Prophet (a.s) on the right side. He told his other son Ja`far:

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“You too should stand on the left side behind your uncle and offer prayer.”

Even if he had not participated in the prayers, it must have been to protect the Prophet (a.s) from the mischief and machinations of the Quraysh. Then, during his lifetime, prayer was still not declared mandatory nor was it given a prescribed form. The prayers offered those days were only optional. Therefore, Abū-Talib not praying was not a proof of his not having embraced Islam!

The seventh argument proffered against Abū-Talib is that if he were a Muslim, then how is it that the Prophet (a.s) did not offer the Funeral Prayer for him. This was done, despite the instructions to offer the prayer before any dead Muslim is interred.

This argument is baseless because the command for the Funeral Prayer came much after Abū-Talib’s death. This prayer was not offered for any Muslim who died in that period. After a short time of the death of Abū-Talib, Umm al-Mu’minin (The Mother of the Believers) Khadijah died and the prayer was not offered for her too. This was despite the fact that she was the first lady to ever have embraced the Creed of Islam. Al-Buladhari writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) entered the grave prior to interment of Khadijah. Until that time, there was no order for offering the Funeral Prayer.”[54]

This is the list of baseless doubts that people have concocted to prove the infidelity of Abū-Talib. The faith of Abū-Talib is supported with the sayings of the Prophet (a.s) and the consensus of the Infallible Imams (a.s). Every right thinking person can read the bias of the critics of Abū-Talib and see through the thin veneer of doubts they try to create in the minds of people.

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Abū-Talib was the protector of the Creed and the supporter of the Faith of Islam. He was like a protective rampart for the Prophet (a.s) and an invincible fort. He confronted severe difficulties with courage and at no moment, he raised the slightest objection for coming to the help of Muhammad (a.s) and his Divine Mission. He acted with the same zeal, during his long association with the Prophet, when he was young and when he was a grand old man! Even on his deathbed, his mind was occupied with the thoughts of protecting Islam and its founder! Therefore, facing the difficulties at Shi`b Abū-Talib, his health deteriorated beyond repair. He called up the Shaykhs and elite of Quraysh and advised them to be trustworthy, truthful, generous, and charitable to the poor, to respect the Ka`bah and to protect and help the Prophet (a.s).He said:

“I make a will that you do good to Muhammad (a.s). He is a custodian (amin) in the Tribe of Quraysh and a siddiq (truthful person) for the Arabs. He has all the qualities, which I have willed you to cultivate. He has brought a Thing about which the hearts are convinced and the tongues are silent because of fear of enmity. By Allah! I am visualizing the scene when the poor of Arabia and the Bedouin of the neighborhood and the weak saying “labbayka (Here I am)” to his call! Muhammad (a.s) has entered the whirlpool with them and the elite of Quraysh have been belittled, the chiefs ridiculed and their homes rendered desolate. The poor and the weak have come to the positions of power and the elite are subjugated to them. Those who are far away are drawing benefits. The Arabs have turned his sincere friends and with purity of hearts have become his well-wishers. They have entrusted to him their leadership. O group of Quraysh: You should also become the friends and supporters of Muhammad (a.s). By Allah! Whoever treads the path shown by him, he will get the Guidance and whoever follows his ways, will be felicitous. If I had some more life in me and there was some delay in my inevitable death, I would shield him from the attacks of his enemies and protect him against difficulties!”[55]

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After this general advice, he turned to the Progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib and said:

“As long as you keep paying heed To Muhammad’s words, and follow his precepts, Felicity and benefit will come to you. Follow him and give him a helping hand, you will remain on the path of guidance!

Eulogizing about the truthfulness and the trustworthiness of the Prophet (a.s), during his last moments, Abū-Talib advised his family to seek knowledge and guidance following him. If a person does not acknowledge and bear witness to the Prophethood of Muhammad (a.s), then there is no use of his existence. Are these words of wisdom and enlightenment not the proof of his Faith in Islam?

When he was through with his will to all concerned, the signs of impending death emerged on his face. The color of his face changed and his forehead developed the pearls of sweat. The biggest supporter and protector of the Prophet (a.s) breathed his last. His passing away cascaded an avalanche of sorrow on the Prophet (a.s). Tears welled in his eyes and in a hoarse voice, he told `Ali (a.s):

“Go, wash his body, wrap him in the shroud and make arrangements for his interment. May Allah give him forgiveness (and absolution) and keep him in His Blessing.”[56]

The Prophet (a.s) nominated `Ali (a.s) to the task of preparing his father for the last rites, although he was the youngest of his brothers. The only reason for this change from the normal social custom of assigning such duties to the eldest brother was that `Aqil and Talib had not embraced Islam until their father had passed away and Ja`far, although in the fold of Islam, was away in Abyssinia. This act too throws light on the Faith of Abū-Talib. If he were an infidel, there would be justification for entrusting this duty to one of his sons who was still living in infidelity. Thus, after all the preparations, the Prophet (a.s) looked at his beloved uncle in his shroud, cried and said:

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“O uncle! You have brought me up in my childhood; you gave an orphan, your profound love, and me and maintained me. On my growing up you gave me support. May Allah give you Good Reward on my behalf!”[57]

When people started carrying the bier, the Prophet (a.s) supported it with his shoulder from start of the journey until it reached the graveside. He participated in the interment of the mountain of patience and courage at the foot of the Mount Hajūn.

For the Prophet (a.s) the passing away of Abū-Talib was a big calamity. He was his biggest supporter and promoter. The Prophet (a.s) was now left in the midst of sworn enemies to contend with them. Although statistically Muslims were a sizeable group now, there was none of the caliber and position of Abū-Talib who could confront the tyranny of the Quraysh with some degree of success. It was logical that the nefarious activities of the Quraysh increased with the death of Abū-Talib. Ibn Husham writes:

“When Abū-Talib died, the Quraysh gave so much trouble to the Prophet (a.s) that during the living days of his uncle, they could not have had desire of putting him through such hardship.”[58]

The sadness of Abū-Talib’s death was still fresh when, after a month and five days of his demise, Khadijah passed away. This tragedy too had a profound saddening effect on the Prophet. He was so much affected with these two deaths that he named that year as the Year of Sorrow! He said:

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“Those days, two calamities struck the Ummah. I cannot say which one is the greater cause of Sorrow for me![59]

The Prophet (a.s) termed the passing away of Abū-Talib and Khadijah as great calamities for the Ummah. The reason was that in the early days of his ordainment as the Prophet (a.s) the two stood with him as strong pillars of support. Khadijah sacrificed her entire wealth for the Mission of the Prophet (a.s) and Abū-Talib stood like a rock between him and the forces of tyranny. These two deaths, which were a calamity for the person of the Prophet (a.s), were certainly calamitous for the Ummah as well!

The people of Makkah mourned the passing away of the chief of the Quraysh, the scion of `Abd al-Muttalib, the Ra’is Batha’, Abū-Talib. `Ali (a.s) penned elegies on the death of his beloved father. A few couplets of one of the elegies are given here:

“O Abū-Talib! You are the Place of Peace for those seeking refuge Rain bearing cloud in drought and a light in the darkness! On your death, the people with modesty are saddened. May Allah shower His Bounties on you. May Allah’s Beneficence be on you. You were the best (beloved) Uncle of the Prophet (a.s)”[60]

Fatimah bint Asad

Fatimah bint Asad was the mother of `Ali (a.s). Asad was the son of Hashim born to al-Qayla’ bint `Amir. Because of this relationship, she was a grand daughter of Hashim and an aunt of The Prophet (a.s). When the Prophet (a.s) came under the guardianship of Abū-Talib it was Fatimah bint Asad who was providing to him the maternal care and love that is very essential for the upbringing of any child. If Abū-Talib gave to Muhammad (a.s) the paternal affection, she was deputizing as the foster mother. She used to care for him more than she did for her own children and at times, she would not bother about her own children if Muhammad (a.s) required attention. She loved him so much that during the season of the ripening of the dates, she would get up early in the morning, pick the choicest fruits and reserve them for Muhammad (a.s). Before serving the food, she would reserve small quantities for him just in case he felt hungry before the next meal.

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The Prophet (a.s) loved her as he would his own mother. Acknowledging her love and affection, he once said:

“After Abū-Talib, there was none more affectionate and kind to me than her.”[61]

The Prophet (a.s) was so much influenced by her love and affection that he invariably took out time from his busy schedule to call on her and pay his respects. Ibn Sa`d writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) used to visit her and generally had his siesta at her place.”[62]

Fatimah Bint Asad mothered seven children of Abū-Talib. She had three daughters (Ritah, Jumanah and Fakhitah who was known as Ummu-Hani’) and four sons (Talib, `Aqil, Ja`far and `Ali). Talib was ten years older than `Aqil, `Aqil was ten years older than Ja`far, Ja`far was ten years senior to `Ali (a.s). These children had the unique privilege that both their parents were of Hashemite Descent. They were the first to have such a distinction. Ibn Qutaybah writes:

“Fatimah bint Asad was the first Hashemite lady who gave birth to Hashemite offspring!”[63]

Fatimah bint Asad was from the Hashemite clan that was known for its high character, life style, culture and was different from the other rustic tribes of Arabia. She was perfect in the manners and etiquette for which her family was well-known. She was a follower of the Faith of Ibrahim (a.s) like her ancestors did and was free from the aberration of idolatry and polytheism. Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) has talked about his relation of descent and ancestry with `Ali (a.s):

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“Allah has created us from the seed of Adam (a.s), transferred through pure loins and pure wombs. `Ali had his descent from the same loins as did I, until Allah gave me birth through Aminah’s womb and `Ali through Fatimah bint Asad.”[64]

Fatimah bint Asad not only was privileged in her descent, but she was among the first ladies to embrace Islam and to migrate to al-Madinah when the Prophet (a.s) decided to migrate. Ibn al-Sabbagh al-Maliki writes:

“Fatimah bint Asad embraced Islam and migrated with the Prophet (a.s); and she was one of the earliest converts to Islam.”[65]

Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani writes:

“al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam says that when the verse ‘O Prophet! when believing women come to you (60:12)’ was revealed, I heard the Prophet (a.s) inviting the women to join the Fold and Fatimah bint Asad was the first lady who responded to the call and swore allegiance to the Prophet (a.s)”[66]

She was one of the ladies in the Battle of Badr who were serving water to the troops and taking care of the injured. She was an organized housekeeper as should be a lady with Islamic spirit and took care of all the household affairs efficiently. But when Fatimah al-Zahra’ came to her home as a bride, the duties of the household were divided. All the tasks indoors were assigned to Fatimah al-Zahra’ and the outdoor tasks connected with the home were done by Fatimah bint Asad. Therefore, `Ali (a.s) said to her:

“Fatimah, daughter of the Messenger, will relieve you of grinding and kneading and going Out to fetch water and other outdoor Tasks will remain with you.”[67]

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They also had a slave girl to assist in the indoor and outdoor tasks of the home. But Fatimah bint Asad wished to relieve her of the chains of slavery. Therefore, she told the Prophet (a.s) one day that she wanted to free the girl. The Prophet (a.s) said,

“If you free her, Allah will protect every part of your body from the Hellfire!”

When she was about to declare the girl free, she fell seriously ill. She wanted to make a will to the Prophet (a.s) about freeing of the girl, but was unable to modulate the words on account of the effect of the illness. She made gestures to the Prophet (a.s) about it and he affirmed that he would comply with her wish.

She was a person of high piety. Whenever she heard of the Pressure in the Grave and the Day of Reckoning, she used to shake wit fear of Allah. Once she heard from the Prophet (a.s) that people will be raised on the Day of Judgment in naked state. She expressed that it would be a matter to be ashamed of. The Prophet (a.s) said that he would pray to Allah that she was not raised naked. Once when she heard about the Pressure in the Grave, she expressed how she would be able to bear that pressure when her body was so weak. The Prophet (a.s) said,

“I shall plead with Allah that He relieved you of the Pressure in the Grave!”

When Fatimah bint Asad expired, `Ali (a.s) went crying to the Prophet (a.s) and gave him the sad tiding. Te Prophet (a.s), seeing tears in the eyes of `Ali (a.s), asked, “Why are you crying?” He replied, “Just now my mother passed away!” The Prophet’s eyes watered and he said,

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“By Allah! She was my mother too!”

He got up immediately and all the companions too rose to follow him. When he reached her house, the Prophet (a.s) removed his cloak and said,

“It should be used as the shroud for her interment!”

When the bier emerged out after the last bath and shrouding of the body, he gave his shoulder for carrying it to the graveside. Sometimes he was carrying the bier from the front and at others, he would move to the back. He thus walked barefoot to, Jannat al-Baqi`, the graveyard. He had briefed some men for the digging of the grave. When digging was done, he entered the pit. He widened its sides with his own hands and removed the excess soil that fell into it from the sides. He lay down in the grave for a while and glanced to the right and the left. Then he came out of the pit, and said crying:

“O revered mother! May Allah bless you. You were the best of mothers!”[68]

Noticing this preferential treatment, some of the companions asked the Prophet (a.s) that they had never seen him give such importance to any other person. He replied that, after his uncle, Abū-Talib, she was the kindest person to him. She used to remain hungry and feed him properly. She used old clothes and always provided him good raiment. She took more care of him than of her own children. He had given his cloak as a shroud so that she was

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raised clad in it on the Day of Reckoning. He said that he lay down in her grave for a while that she did not experience the Pressure in the Grave. A scholar of Ahl al-Sunnah, Shaykh `Ali al-Marzūqi writes:

The Prophet (a.s) himself interred Fatimah bint Asad and gave his own dress as a shroud. At the moment He was heard saying, ‘Your son!’ When she was asked about her God, she said: ‘Allah!’ When asked about her Prophet she replied correctly. When asked about her Imam, words failed her. At this moment the Prophet prompted her: ‘Your son!’”[69]

She died in 4 A.H. And has been buried at Jannat al-Baqi`. But the compound wall of Jannat al-Baqi` has been raised and the grave is now in a neglected passage out side the wall. When the Hajjis pass that way, they recite Sūrah of al-Fatihah for her soul.

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Khamīs , Vol 1, Page 157.

[2] Tārīkh Al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 14.

[3] Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, Page 80.

[4] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 19.

[5] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 3, Page 461.

[6] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 16.

[7] Hadiyyat al-Ahbāb, Page 252.

[8] Bihār al-Anwār, Vol 9, Page 24.

[9] Manāqib, Vol 1, Page 3.

[10] Tabaqāt, Vol 1, Page 119.

[11] Tārīkh al-Islām, Page 36.

[12] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 1, Page 257.

[13] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 14.

[14] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 139.

[15] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 58.

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[16] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 1, Page 41.

[17] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 42.

[18] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 67.

[19] Al-Isābah, Vol 4, Page 116.

[20] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 203.

[21] Sharh al-Muwaffaq, Page 718.

[22] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 159.

[23] Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 485.

[24] Al-Isābah, Vol 4, Page 114.

[25] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 3, Page 315.

[26] Manāqib Ibn Shahrāshūb, Vol 1, Page 39.

[27] Tārīkh Ibn Kathīr, Vol 3, Page 42.

[28] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 553.

[29] The footnote on Mishkāt, Page 569.

[30] Arjah al-Matālib, Page 268.

[31] Majma` al-Bayān, Vol 2, Page 287.

[32] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 124.

[33] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 2, Page 312.

[34] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 2, Page 312.

[35] Al-Hujjah, ibn Sa`d, Page 27

[36] Usūl al-Kāfī, Page 244.

[37] Usūl al-Kāfī, Page 242.

[38] Mir’āt al-`Uqūl, Vol 2, Page 264.

[39] Al-Hujjah, Ibn Sa`d, Page 115.

[40] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol. 1, Page 270.

[41] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 5, Page 222.

[42] Tārīkh Abul-Fidā, Vol 1, Page 120.

[43] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 1, Page 360.

[44] Tabaqāt ibn Sa`d, Vol 2, Page 340.

[45] Siyar A`lām al-Nubalā', Page 424.

[46] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 4, Page 321.

[47] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 1, Page 360.

[48] Al-Tirmidhī, footnote, Vol 2, Page 96.

[49] Tārīkh al-Islam by al-Dhahbi, Vol 2, Page 233.

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[50] Lughat al-Hadith, Bāb al-Dād, Page 12.

[51] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 9.

[52] Hujjat Allāh al-Bālighah, Vol 2, Page 578

[53] From the footnote of Al-Fā’iq, Vol 1, Page 188

[54] Ansāb al Sharaf, Vol 1, Page 406

[55] Thamarat al-Awrāq, Vol 2, Page 13

[56] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 105

[57] Tārīkh Al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 26

[58] Sīrat Ibn Hushām, Vol 2, Page 58

[59] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 26

[60] Tadkirah, Sibt ibn al-Jawzī, Page 6.

[61] Al-Istī`āb Vol 2, Page 774

[62] Tabaqāt, Vol 8, Page 222

[63] Al-Ma`ārif, Page 88

[64] Kifāyat al-Matālib, Page 26

[65] Al-Fusūl al-Muhimmah, Page 13.

[66] Maqātil al-Tālibiyyīn, Page 4

[67] Al-Isābah, Vol 4, Page 399

[68] Tārīkh al-Khamīs , Vol 2, Page 526

[69] Kitāb al-Azminah wal-Amkinah, vol 2, Page 280

THE FELICITOUS BIRTH

THE FELICITOUS BIRTH

The Ka`bah is a very ancient structure. Its foundation was laid by Adam (a.s) and the walls were raised by Ibrahim (a.s) and Isma`il (a.s). Although this building is devoid of any designs and embellishments, made out of lime and stones, every stone is the fountainhead of felicity. The Holy Qur’an says about it:

“Allah has rated Ka`bah as an honorable abode.”

This eminence of the Ka`bah is permanent and eternal. From the day of the laying of its foundation, it has the same eminence, and shall be there forever. This is expressed through various acts of worship in Islam. Therefore, every Muslim, be the person an Arab, a non-Arab, a Westerner or an Oriental, will face towards the Ka`bah when standing up to pray! When they circumambulate the building, they exercise care to see that their shoulders do not move away from it. This circumambulation is a very important pillar of the performance of the Hajj.

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`Ali (a.s) was born at this felicitous place on the thirteenth of Rajab, Friday, thirty years after `am al-fil. This privilege of taking birth in the holy place went to none before him and anyone after him! The chroniclers of the traditions and the biographers of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) have recorded this as a very important event in his life. Therefore, al-Hakim al-Nayshabūri writes:

“It is proved from continuous narrations that Amir al-Mu’minin was born at the center of Ka`bah from the womb of Fatimah bint Asad.”[1]

Shah Waliyyullah too reports about this birth with some detail:

Reports in continuity prove that Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali (a.s) was born on Friday, the thirtieth of Rajab, thirty years after `am al-fil at the center of Ka`bah. Besides him, none was ever born there, before or after him.[2]

The modern time scholar `Abbas Mahmūd al-`Aqqad has termed this felicitous birth as the renaissance of the felicity of the Ka`bah and the forerunner of the worship of, one and only, Allah there:

“`Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) was born inside the Ka`bah and Allah kept his face away from bowing to the idols there. His birth there was the beginning of the new era of worship of one and only Allah.”[3]

Similarly, every historian and biographer has mentioned about this fact. However, some, accepting the birth of `Ali (a.s) in the Ka`bah have tried to lessen the importance of the event. Sometimes they express a view that taking birth inside the Ka`bah is not of any importance, particularly when it was used as a place for installation of idols. The reply to them is that if a mosque is converted into a temple, a church or any other place of worship, it will remain a mosque. Its sanctity will not diminish because of the change. Similarly, if idols were installed in the Ka`bah, its sanctity remained unchanged. Even when Ka`bah was declared as the Kiblah[4] it continued to have the idols until Makkah was conquered and the idols removed from there. Sometimes they say that Fakhitah bint Zuhayr gave birth to Hakim ibn Hizam inside the Ka`bah thirteen years before the `am al-fil. They say that there is no sanctity of being born inside the Ka`bah when even an infidel was born there.

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This attitude is contrary to the position taken by the historians and biographers who have admitted in clear terms that besides `Ali (a.s), no one else was born inside the Ka`bah prior to or after him. Besides this, it can be sanctimonious only for a Muslim to have taken birth inside that holy precinct. For an infidel, it is immaterial where he is born! The event of an infidel taking birth inside the Ka`bah will not be of any significance to him like meeting the Prophet (a.s) or even visiting the precincts of the Ka`bah. However, a person in the Faith of Islam will consider it a good fortune to have seen the Prophet (a.s) or he had the opportunity to visit the Holy Place. It cannot be said about `Ali ibn Abi-Talib that he was ever under the influence of infidelity or that he was born an infidel. Therefore, it is mentioned in the books of Ahl al-Sunnah that when `Ali (a.s) was in his mother’s womb, and she wanted to bow in front of the idols, he used to turn inside in such a way that it became impossible for her to bow! Although this narrative is not acceptable according to the Shi`ah belief, it is a positive proof that `Ali (a.s), from the womb of his mother to his grave, was never in the influence of infidelity. And those who have written about the birth of Ibn Hizam have termed it as an accidental birth. But `Ali’s birth there was according to the wish of Allah. Therefore, `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib says that he and Yazid ibn tannab and some persons of Banū-Hashim and Banū-al-`Uzza were sitting near the Ka`bah when Fatimah bint Asad came and stood near the Ka`bah for a while. Hardly any time elapsed when there appeared signs of concern on her face. She lifted her shaking hands towards the sky and prayed,

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“O my Sustainer! I have faith in You, Your Prophets and the Books Revealed to them. Ease my difficulty for the sake of this very House, its Builder and the one who is in my womb! Make the birth of the child I am carrying easy for me! I am confident that he is one of the radiant signs of Your Greatness and Your Majesty!”

`Abbas says that when Fatimah bint Asad finished the prayer, they saw the rear wall of the Ka`bah go asunder and she entered through that opening without any hesitation. Then immediately the opening closed and the wall was the same way as it was earlier.

The veracity of this narrative has been accepted by the scholars of both the schools of thought. Therefore, from among the erudite Shi`ah scholars, `Allamah Abū-Ja`far al-tūsi in al-Amali, `Allamah Majlisi in Bihar al-Anwar and from the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah, Mir-Salih al-Kashshafi in al-Manaqib and Mawlawi Muhammad Mubin in Wasilat al-Najat have recorded this event. This tradition highlights the fact that this event did not happen all of a sudden as an accident. The miracle is that the wall of the Ka`bah went asunder and Fatimah Bint Asad went boldly in and the wall came back to its original position. It was a manifestation of the Divine Power of Allah. Fatimah bint Asad emerged from the Ka`bah three days after the birth of `Ali (a.s) with the baby in her arms.

The Prophet (a.s), who was waiting eagerly outside, went forward and took the son of his beloved uncle in his arms. The baby opened his eyes and the first person on whose face he set his eyes was the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) put his tongue in the mouth of the newborn and, they say, he transferred the Divine Prophetic Knowledge to him. Witnessing this event, the Prophet (a.s) has said, “He chose me for the first glimpse and I selected him for the knowledge.”

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`Ali (a.s) has several relationships with the Ka`bah. The Prophet (a.s) has termed him ‘like the Ka`bah’, that his own forbears had constructed it and were the protectors and keepers of the edifice. Hassan ibn Kalal attempted to demolish it when Fihr ibn Malik defeated and imprisoned him. Abrahah ibn Ashram attacked with a fleet of elephants when `Abd al-Muttalib steadfastly stood at the entrance to the Ka`bah. If the idolaters had converted it into a storehouse of idols, it was `Ali (a.s) who, astride the shoulders of the Prophet (a.s), demolished the idols and threw them out. Therefore, his birth was the prelude of the purification of the Ka`bah.

While `Ali (a.s) had the singular privilege of being born in the holy precincts of the Ka`bah, the timing of his birth was very felicitous that he was born in the month of Rajab which is one of the sanctimonious months in the Islamic Calendar. On the twenty-seventh of this month, the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s) took place and commenced the invitation for the people to embrace Islam. This also is an indication of the nearness and affinity that `Ali (a.s) had for Islam! `Ali’s life had been a mirror of Islamic teachings and character. Islam and `Ali (a.s) grew under the tutelage of the Prophet (a.s).

Footnote

[1] Mustadrak, Vol 3, Page 483

[2] Izālat al-Khafā, Page 251

[3] Al-`Abqariyyah al-Islāmiyyah, Page 863

[4] Direction in which Muslims turn to pray.

NAME, APPELLATION AND FILIAL APPELLATION

NAME, APPELLATION AND FILIAL APPELLATION

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Abū-Talib named him Zayd after his ancestor, Qasi ibn Kalab. Fatimah bint Asad named him Haydar after her father Asad. Asad and Haydar both the words mean a tiger. Therefore, in the battle of Khaybar, while reciting the martial poetry combating with Marhab, he said,

“I am that whose mother has named him Hayder!”

The Prophet (a.s), under divine inspiration called him with the name of `Ali (a.s). There is another opinion that Abū-Talib himself gave him the name of `Ali (a.s). As a proof, they present the following couplet of Abū-Talib:

“I have given him the name of `Ali that eminence and success always follow him. Respectability is the only wealth that remains forever.”

This name, literally meaning greatness and high status, proved most appropriate for `Ali (a.s). Although the Umayyads tried their level best to play down his name and the kunyah, they could not succeed in doing it. Therefore, Abū-Na`im al-Isfahani writes in Hilyat al-Awliya’ that the son of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas was `Ali and kunyah Abul-Hasan. One day `Ali ibn `Abdullah went to Abd al Malik who said that he could not tolerate his name and kunyah. He did not change his name but changed his kunyah to Abū-Muhammad! With this bent of mind, for centuries no Muslim ruler by the name `Ali was there. But today, in the Muslim population anywhere, after Muhammad, the most popular name is `Ali. Despite centuries of suppression and oppression, the name (`Ali) spread all over the world with the spread of Islam!

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He has several titles that signify his various qualities. The most popular are al-Murtada, al-Wasi and Amir al-Mu’minin. His first kunyah is Abul-Hasan. Another well-known kunyah is Abū-Turab. Generally, Arabs keep the kunyah on the name of the first son. For instance, Abū-Talib adopted the kunyah as Abū-Talib when his first son Talib was born. `Abd al-Muttalib had his kunyah based on the name of his first-born son as Abū-Harith. The second kunyah of `Ali (a.s) was on the suggestion of the Prophet (a.s). It is written in Sirat Ibn-

Husham that during the battle of al-`Ashirah, `Ali (a.s) and `Ammar ibn Yasir went towards the lake of Banū-Mudlaj and lay down under the shade of a tree on green grass. Hardly any time passed when the prophet (a.s) too arrived there, and seeing `Ali’s dusty clothes he said,

“O Abū-Turab, in what condition are you!”

From that day, `Ali’s kunyah became Abū-Turab. `Allamah Halabi has written:

“In the battle of al-`Ashirah the Prophet (a.s) had given to `Ali (a.s) the kunyah of Abū-Turab when he found him and `Ammar ibn Yasir sleeping and `Ali (a.s) was covered in dust”[1]

In the beginning this kunyah was suggested for `Ali only. Prior to him, none had this kunyah. Therefore, Shaykh Aluddin writes:

“For the first time ever, `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) was addressed with the kunyah of Abū-Turab.”[2]

Al-Bukhari has included this incident in his Sahih that the Prophet (a.s) once came to the residence of Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s) and not finding `Ali (a.s) at home he enquired about him. Fatimah (a.s) said that they had some difference of opinion and that in a state of anger he went out. The Prophet (a.s) asked one person to go and look for `Ali (a.s).The person noticed `Ali (a.s) lying on the floor of the mosque. He returned and informed his whereabouts to the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) then went to the mosque and noticed `Ali (a.s) covered all over in dust. He dusted his clothes and said,

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“Get up, Abū-Turab!”

After this event he was known with the kunyah of Abū-Turab.

This narration, when compared with the earlier tradition sounds different and is not plausible according to the norms of Dirayah. The reason for the non-plausibility is that during the entire married life of Fatimah and Al (a.s) there is no instance of ever being any differences between them. Their lives have been examples of most cordial marital relationship. From the tradition where `Ammar ibn Yasir was also there, it appears that the Prophet (a.s) had suggested the kunyah of Abū-Turab in Jumada II, 2 A.H., because the Battle of al-`Ashirah was fought in that period. Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s) was married to `Ali (a.s) on the first of Dhul-Hijjah 2 A.H. that is, six months after the proposal of this kunyah. In that event, there is no chance of any difference of opinion between the two and the need to go away from home in anger. Because at that time, Lady Fatimah was not married to `Ali (a.s). It appears that the tradition has been concocted to please the Umayyad rulers who used to address `Ali (a.s) with this kunyah while they carried out their campaign of vilification against him. A name that is associated with an unpleasant memory would never be a popular name. Although this kunyah of `Ali (a.s) is the most likeable of this titles Therefore, Sahl ibn Sa`d says:

“`Ali liked Abū-Turab more than all his names.”[3]

Footnote

[1] Vol 2, Page 142

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[2] Muhā¤arāt al-Awā’il, Page 123

[3] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 8, Page 63

APPEARANCE, BEARING AND LOOKS

The study of human appearance and bearing is an important branch of psychology. This is based on innumerable studies and experiments. These psychologists study the eyes, nose, forehead and other parts of the body and arrive at a conclusion about the person’s nature and temperament. According to these experts, a bulging forehead is a sign of intelligence and cleverness. When the arms of a person are firm and wide, he has the qualities of a leader of men. The hardness of hair, according to them, is a sign of valor and big eyes indicate a person who is quick of nature. One who has a short neck might be tricky and querulous. When a person has fleshy calves is generally foolish. One who has small and sunken eyes is tricky and treacherous. One who has weak and thin shoulders is apt to be poor in thinking. Although these are hypothetical assessments, at best, they give a fair idea about the persons under study.

According to the books of history and biography, the appearance of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) can be described as given here:

His body was heavy, his complexion light whitish, his appearance and bearing were very attractive, and his visage was smiling and shiny like the full moon. Abul-Hajjaj Mudrak says,

“He was more handsome and attractive than others.”

He had a wide forehead. Ibn `Abbas says,

“I have not seen temples better looking than those of `Ali (a.s)”

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On his forehead, calluses had developed on account of excessive prostration in prayer. He had a delicate and pointed nose and eyes big and dark that reflected determination and boldness. Abul-Hajjaj says that he had seen traces of collyrium in `Ali’s eyes. His eyes were bright, eye brows were bow shaped, eyelashes long, teeth properly spaced and shining. Zurarah ibn Samarah says,

“When he smiled the teeth shone like strings of pearls!”

His neck was muscular and long. His chest was wide and hairy. His biceps were well formed. His wrists were strong and firm and finding the joint

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between the wrists and the arms was difficult. His collarbones were wide and strong. His palms were hard and the knees were neither weak nor fleshy. His tummy was rather bulgy. His beard was dense and wide. The hair of his head was grey. Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah says,

“`Ali (a.s) once dyed his hair with henna once, and then abstained from doing it.”

Because of excessive use of the armor, the hair on his forehead had fallen. His height is slightly more than the average. `Ali (a.s) himself said,

“Allah has bestowed on me a modest body and height When my adversary is short, I strike on his head to cut him into two pieces and if he is tall I cut him horizontally into two.”

His voice was clear and loud, his style and speed of walking was like that of the Prophet (a.s), elegant and slightly drooping to the front. When he advanced to face an adversary in battle, he used to walk briskly and his eyes used to get reddish.

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Ibn Qutaybah writes in al-Ma`arif that a woman saw `Ali (a.s) and said,

“As if he had been broken and he was then rejoined!”

People thought that it means that his body was asymmetrical. In fact, what the woman said was an Arabic idiom and its allegorical meaning is different from its apparent meaning. Therefore, Sayyid Muhsin al-`Amili writes in A`yan al-Shi`ah and `Umar Abul-Nasr in al-Zahrah also writes the saying of Ibn `A’ishah that the quoted sentence is for the person whose arms are muscular and his eyes piercing the ground and not a person who is asymmetrical of body!

HABITS AND TEMPERAMENT

HABITS AND TEMPERAMENT

Amir al-Mu’minin had a smiling face, was good-natured and a paragon of sincerity. He was kind to the poor and always took care of the orphans. He was an exact replica of the manners and character of the Prophet (a.s). He met the elite and the ordinary persons with the same affability. He used to treat the slaves with the same consideration as he would treat his own relatives. To servants he always gave help in sharing their heavy burdens. He hated self-praise. He lived a very simple and frugal life. Like the ordinary folk, he ate simple food and wore inexpensive clothes. Most of the chores he preferred to perform with his own hands. He used to repair his own footwear, stitch his torn cloaks and always went to the bazaar to buy the grocery. He used to work as a farm laborer. He used to excavate ponds with his own hands, plant trees and water them. Instead of amassing wealth, he preferred to distribute it to the poor and impecunious. He did not like distinction based on color and descent. He used to treat the guests with great honor. He never sent back any needy person empty handed. He never let the feelings of hate; rancor and revenge come near him. He exercised forbearance and forgiveness to a surprising extent. He was strict in the matter of Faith and always fulfilled the requirements of justice and fairplay. He used to tread on the path of truth and fairness and never was partial to anyone in these matters. He never used methods of stealth and cunning even with his sworn enemies. He spent the nights in prayer and supplication. After the Morning Prayers he used to give instruction to people in matters of the Qur’an and Fiqh (Muslim jurisprudence). With the fear of Allah, he used to shiver. He used to cry so much while supplicating to Allah that his beard used to get wet with the tears.

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Once Dirar ibn Samarah al-Dhuba’i visited the court of Mu`awiyah. Mu`awiyah asked him to tell something about `Ali (a.s) because he had the privilege of spending lot of time with him. In the beginning Dirar was reluctant, but on insistence of Mu`awiyah he said:

By Allah! His aims were high and physique strong! He always talked with determination and acted with justice and fairness. The streams of learning used to flow from him and his words were like songs of erudition and wisdom. He was not attracted to the false glitter of the world. He used to take solace in the loneliness of dark nights. Tears used to flow from his eyes and he used to be immersed in thoughts. He preferred dress that was modest and liked simple food. He lived with us like an ordinary person. Whenever we asked anything, he would reply with patience. By Allah! Despite all the nearness, we used to hold him in awe before we opened our mouths to speak with him. He respected men of learning and gave the poor the privilege of his company. The powerful could never expect his support in their waywardness and the weak was never disappointed with his justice. Allah is witness that I have seen him, in dark nights, restlessly holding his beard and wincing as would a person bitten by a snake and saying “O world! Go and deceive someone else! Do not come to flatter me. How is possible for me to reconcile with you that I have already divorced you thrice! You are transient and your importance is but little! It is a pity that the provision for the journey is meager, the destination is distant and the way frightening!”[1]

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This was the Voice of Truth that reverberated in the Dardar al-Sham, a court where sycophants were gathered to flatter the tyrant. None could dare there to speak out the truth. This was a unique situation that a person of courage did speak! The books of history record that the courtiers cried copiously hearing the talk of Dirar and even the eyes of Mu`awiyah watered. This was the magnetic effect of the high morality and veracity of actions that even the hearts of enemies melted like wax. Amir al-Mu’minin was an ideal mixture of awe and dignity, kindness and compassion. He was as hard as a mountain and as soft as the cloud in flight. One of the companions of `Ali (a.s), Sa`sa`ah ibn Sawhan, has said:

“(Imam) `Ali used to live amongst us as an ordinary person. Despite his humility and softness, we used to be hesitant and subdued in his presence, like the prisoner who had a sword of the executioner over his head!”[2]

In view of these characteristics of `Ali (a.s), Mulla `Ali al-Adhrabayjan has something wonderful to say:

“He used to challenge the enemy and attack him like Allah’s Tiger! And while doing charity and good deeds he looked like the parent of the orphans!”

Footnote

[1] Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 463

[2] Preface Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd

HIS SARTORIAL HABITS

HIS SARTORIAL HABITS

Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) used to wear simple and inexpensive dress, the type of dress generally worn by the poor and middle class Arabs of those days. Sometimes he wore dress of a quality even poorer than that! His intention always was to cover the body and not to show off grandeur of the dress! He sometimes wore summer apparel during winters and wore the winter apparels during the summers. In time of need, he would patch up his dresses with the bark of the date or pieces of leather. He never felt belittled wearing such clothes. Once he was wearing a cloak, which was having several patches. Some persons made remarks about this. He said,

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“Wearing such tatters, it creates a feeling of humility in the heart and the people of the Faith will try to emulate me when they see me in such humble apparel!”

Al-Mas`ūdi writes that during the period of his Caliphate, he never wore a new dress! His normal dress consisted of a loincloth, cloak and a scarf. He preferred to wear the turban on his head. He used to say:

“The turban is the crown of the Arabs.”[1]

Statements of some persons are given here who saw Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) on different occasions and had recorded about the type of dress he wore.

Jabir al-Ju`fi says that he saw Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) wearing a black headgear on his head. One end of the turban was hanging on his chest and the other on his back.

`Amr ibn Marwan says that his father had told him that he saw `Ali (a.s) wearing a black turban on his head and both its ends were hanging at his back.

Yazid ibn Harith al-Fazari says that he saw the Imam (a.s) was wearing a white Egyptian turban on his head.

Abū-Hayyan says that he saw a thin cotton cap on the head of the Imam (a.s).

Ayyūb ibn Dinar says that his father told him that he had seen `Ali (a.s) wearing a loincloth and a scarf on his shoulders. On another occasion, he saw him wearing two scarves made in Najran.

Abhur ibn Harmūz says that his father saw the Imam (a.s) coming out of the Mosque at al-Kūfah wearing a loincloth half way between his feet and knees and was wearing a scarf on his shoulders.

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In those days, generally this was the dress of the people. Therefore, at the Ghadir Khumm when the Prophet (a.s) raised `Ali (a.s) on his hands, the tradition says, that it was raised so much that the whiteness of the armpit was visible. The reason was that the Prophet (a.s) was wearing only a chador on his shoulders, which moved away while he raised `Ali (a.s).

Nawf al-Baqali says that he saw `Ali (a.s) wearing a shirt and wore a footwear made of the bark of date palm.

Ibn `Abbas says that he saw a torn footwear in the feet of `Ali (a.s) that he had also seen him repair.

`Ata Abū-Muhammad says that he saw the Imam (a.s) wearing a cloak of rough cloth.

Khalid Abū-Umayyah says that that the Imam’s loincloth was up to his knees.

`Abdullah ibn Abi-Hudhayl says that he saw on his shoulders a cloak made of rough cloth. The sleeves of the cloak were touching the tips of his fingers.

`Abd al-Jabbar ibn Mughirah says that Ummu-Kathirah told him that she had seen `Ali (a.s) that his loincloth was of coarse cloth and he wore a cloak of coarse cloth as well. Over the cloak, he wore a scarf.

Abul-`Ala’ the manumitted slave of Aslam says that he saw that `Ali (a.s) tied his loincloth above the umbilical region.

Abū-Malikah says that he once went to the presence of the Imam (a.s) and saw that he had tied his cloak like the loincloth around his waist. Over the cloak, he had tied a rope to keep it in place.

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Qudamah Ibn `Attab says that he saw the Imam (a.s) wearing a white woolen cloak and had wrapped around his shoulders red striped shawls of Qatari origin. He wore a headgear of fine cloth.

Abū-²abyan says that he saw `Ali (a.s) wearing a yellow loincloth and was covering his shoulders with a flowery black shawl.

Zayd ibn Wahab says that he saw the Imam (a.s) emerging out of his house and his loincloth was having several patches.

Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Rahman says,

“`Ali (a.s) wore his ring on the right hand.”[2]

`Ali (a.s) used to wear either ruby or turquoise on his rings. He also used Chinese Gold and sometimes cornelian for his rings. On the cornelian, there used to be the engraving, “almulku lillah (Kingdom is Allah’s)”. In some traditions, it is said that the engraving used to be, “lillahi almulku.” He used to keep a whip in his hand. While delivering a sermon he used to take the support of a bow or a sword.

Footnote

[1] Sīrat Ibn Hushām, Vol 2, Page 286

[2] Kifāyat al-Tālib, Page 25.

FOOD HABITS

FOOD HABITS

`Ali’s food habits too were very moderate and frugal. Generally, he took bread made out of unsieved barley flour and a sweet beverage prepared from parched barley meal. The accompaniment for the bread generally was a little salt; sometimes he took a little vinegar, and sometimes, green vegetables and at times milk. He ate very little meat. Ibn Abil-Hadid says:

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“If he used anything with the bread, it used to be the salt or vinegar. Sometimes he ate greens. He rarely took camel’s milk with his food. He seldom ate meat and used to say that people should not make their tummies the Grave yard of animals!”

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s) says that `Ali (a.s) served meat and bread to his guests and he himself ate his bread with vinegar or olive oil.

He used to keep bread and Sattu in a sealed bag. Someone said that he was living in Iraq, a land of plenty, and what was the need to seal his supply of food? The Imam (a.s) replied that he did not seal his stock of food for the reason of scarcity and the real reason was:

“I do not like to fill my tummy with a thing I do not know about!”[1]

`Amr Harith says that once at noon time he had the privilege of visiting the Imam (a.s). He saw a sealed bag was placed in front of him. He took out a dried piece of bread from it, soaked in water, sprinkled a little salt over it and ate. Seeing the dry pieces of bread `Amr asked Fiddah at least she should sieve the flour and remove the chaff before kneading it for making the bread. Fiddah said that once she sieved the flour and the Imam (a.s) asked her not to do it again. Once she had put in the bag other eatables besides the dry bread, the Imam (a.s) started sealing the bag to avoid anyone putting other things in the bag.

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`Adi ibn Hatam says that once he saw dry pieces of barley bread, salt and a pitcher of water in front of `Ali (a.s), He said:

“You are busy with jihad during the days and occupied with prayers in the nights. Is the food you are taking sufficient for your nutritive maintenance?”

The Imam (a.s) looked at `Adi and said, “The psyche has to be trained for Mystic Exercise that it does not become rebellious.” Then he recited the following couplet:

Make your psyche accustomed to contentment otherwise, it will have excessive desires![2]

Suwayd ibn Ghaflah says that he went to the Imam (a.s) and saw that he had a bowl of sour yogurt in front of him and barley bread in his hand, which had flakes of barley chaff all over. He was breaking the bread, sometimes with his hand and others by putting it on his knee. Once he went to greet the Imam on `Id. He saw that `Ali (a.s) had bread and Khatifah. Suwayd asked the Imam (a.s), “Even on a festive occasion you eat such frugal food?” The Imam (a.s) replied,

“`Id is for those whom Allah has pardoned!”[3]

The Imam (a.s) never ate two types of food at one time. If, at any time, various dishes were placed in front of him, he would mix and make them one. Therefore, at the time of a festival, several dishes were placed before him. He mixed portions of the different foods and made it one. Once he got food that had meat in it but not any oil. Someone suggested if some oil could be added to it. The Imam (a.s) replied,

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“We do not eat two things at one time!”[4]

The Imam (a.s) always ensured this. During his last days, once his daughter Ummu-Kulthūm placed barley bread, salt and milk in front of him. He asked her to take away the bowl of milk and ate the bread with salt.

In emulation of the Prophet (a.s), he abstained from things that Muhammad (a.s) avoided eating. Therefore, `Adi ibn Thabit says that once `Ali (a.s) was served a drink prepared from sieved flummery. He refused to take it; and said:

“A thing that the Prophet (a.s) has not taken, I do not like to take!”

While `Ali (a.s) avoided eating delicacies, never ate even the frugal fare to the fill. Ibn Abil-Hadid writes:

“He never ate to satiation of the appetite”[5]

While Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) emulated the Prophet (a.s) in other matters, he was meticulous in following his food habits as well. He took care of the minutest details of seating at the meals, the way of taking the morsels and the style of eating. Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq (a.s) says:

Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) was much like the Prophet (a.s) in his food habits and style of eating.”

He used to wash his hands before and after eating. He used to say that hands became clean of oily deposit if they were washed. And the eyes become bright He used to sit on his knees with folded legs. He disapproved of putting one leg over the other and sitting cross-legged. He used to say bismillahi before starting to take food. He also said that if someone missed reciting this before starting to eat, he could do so in the midst of the meal as well. He used to commence the meal with a little salt. He used to wait for the food to cool down if it was served hot. He used all the five fingers of the right hand for eating. He always picked his morsel from the front instead of taking the hand to different sides of the platter. He never picked up Tharid (the pieces of bread soaked in gravy) from the center of the service and always took his share from the periphery. Of all the beverages, he preferred water and particularly the rainwater. He said that the rainwater wards away diseases and cleansed the digestive system. Instead of throwing away the crumbs of bread from the spread, he used to pick and eat them. He said that this practice cured illness. He never drank from the mouth of the pitcher nor from the broken side of any container. He did not like blowing over foods and drinks. Once he asked his servant, Muslim, to fetch a tumbler of water. When he came in front of the Imam (a.s), he blew over the water because there was some particle floating on the surface. The Imam (a.s) said, “Now! You drink this water and bring another tumbler for me!”

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Footnote

[1] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh

[2] Manāqib ibn Shahrāshūb

[3] An Arab food that is prepared by boiling flour in milk.

[4] Kifāyat al-Tālib

[5] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah, the Introduction.

CHILDHOOD

CHILDHOOD

There are three phases in every human being’s life: childhood, youth and old age. There are different requirements in every phase of ones life. Childhood is for play. In this phase, the individual does not have full sense of things. The childish activities prove this. They cannot distinguish between right and wrong while at play

The aptitude of Abū-Talib’s son was different from the other children. He was never seen at childish games and play. He was away from other activities that children enjoy indulging in. His looks indicated courage, determination, and his actions dignity. His physical and mental activities were different from those of other children. The development of his physical identity was faster than that of the children of his age. He grew in a day as much as another child in a month. Therefore, his body was strong and the sense of comprehension far advanced. The author of Arja al-Matalib, Najmuddin Fakhr al-Islam Abū-Bakr ibn Muhammad al-Marandi writes in Manaqib al-Ashab about the reason for giving the name Haydar to `Ali (a.s) that while he was still a baby in arms, his mother once left him alone at home. The house was at the foot of a hill. A snake came down from the hill, came near the baby and started hissing. The baby caught the snake in one hand and pressed it until it died. When his mother came back, she noted the dead reptile in the hand of the baby and said,

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“O my tiger! May Allah keep you alive!”

When he grew up and started walking around, he used to lift heavy stones with ease and bring them down from the top of the hills. He was fond of breaking the idols.

According to the norms of Arab upbringing, Abū-Talib trained his children in archery, horse riding and wrestling. He used to gather his sons and nephews together and arrange their matches in these disciplines and taught them the finer points of the martial arts. `Ali (a.s), though he was the youngest of all, was never subdued by the others. He used to defeat all his brothers and cousins without any difficulty. This was a Divine Gift to him. Ibn Qutaybah writes:

With whomsoever he wrestled, he defeated him![1]

Besides this physical strength, `Ali (a.s) was far advanced in the development of his mental capabilities. He had a great sense of distinguishing between the right and wrong from his very childhood. He recognized the Real Creator (Allah) as soon as he opened his eyes. Living in the environment of idolatery, he never thought the idols fit for worship! When people were hesitant to accept Islam for long after the Prophet declared his Annunciation, he had understood its importance prior to this declaration. Therefore, he himself has said:

“I see the light of Revelation and Prophethood and get the Fragrance of Prophethood,”[2]

His high vision saw the light of Prophethood and smelled its fragrance. Even before the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s), he made him his role model. Therefore, `Ali’s childhood, like his youth and old age, was a mountain of greatness. Viewing the period of his childhood, one understands that a great personality was in the making. This greatness was a gift from the Almighty Allah!

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Footnote

[1] Al-Ma`ārif, Page 91

[2] Nahj al-Balāghah

EDUCATION AND UPBRINGING

EDUCATION AND UPBRINGING

The ideal environment that `Ali ibn Abi-Talib had was his singular privilege. He opened his eyes in the lap of the Prophet of Islam (a.s), had his upbringing under his tutelage and spent his youth in his august company. He benefited from the Prophet’s fountainhead of learning and grew up under his care as Fatimah bint Asad says:

“When `Ali (a.s) was born, the Prophet (a.s) Gave him this name and made him suck his tongue. He dropped his saliva in the mouth of the baby and put his tongue in his mouth. Sucking the tongue, the baby slept. On the second day we searched for a foster mother, but `Ali (a.s) took away his mouth from the bosom of the women. We thought of Muhammad (a.s). He put his tongue in the mouth of the baby who then slept soundly. This went on until Allah desired it to be so.”[1]

Although during the period of fosterage `Ali (a.s) had his mother’s care, but after weaning the Prophet (a.s) took up the responsibility. He used to give him the bath and spend hours taking him round in his arms. While awake, he used to sing lullabies to him. He took more care than the parents did in the upbringing of `Ali (a.s). At the age of six years `Ali (a.s) formally came under the care of the Prophet (a.s).The parents were relieved of his responsibility. The apparent reason of his coming totally under the tutelage of the Prophet (a.s) was that Makkah was passing through one of its worst droughts and Abū-Talib had difficulty of maintaining his large family. The Prophet (a.s), realizing his uncle’s straitened financial position, felt that he needed to be helped. He discussed the matter with his other uncle, `Abbas. He told him that Abū-Talib will not express about the difficulties himself. He said that Allah had endowed `Abbas with wealth and he could provide his brother some relief by sharing the burden along with the others in the family. `Abbas agreed with the suggestion and both of them went to Abū-Talib for a discussion. They suggested to him that they came to him with a proposal that they would share the burden of maintaining some of his children. In the beginning, he was hesitant, but in the end, he yielded. They decided that `Aqil would remain with Abū-Talib, and said that `Abbas was free to take other sons with him. Therefore, `Abbas took charge of Talib, Hamzah agreed to take up guardianship of Ja`far and the Prophet (a.s) himself requested his uncle to allow him to take the responsibility of `Ali (a.s). The fact is that from the Day of Creation `Ali (a.s) had been earmarked for him!

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The drought came as a blessing in disguise for `Ali (a.s) that he came under the direct tutelage of the Prophet (a.s). Ibn Jarir al-tabari writes:

“It was Allah’s Blessing for `Ali (a.s) that the Quraysh suffered one of the worst droughts at the time. This way Allah accomplished what He had planned for `Ali (a.s)”[2]

It is natural that children do not want to be separated from their parents. But the Prophet’s love and affection did not let `Ali (a.s) feel much for the separation from his father and mother. He found his father’s affection in the affectionate looks of the Prophet (a.s). He received a wealth of joy and happiness under his loving care. The Prophet (a.s) used to feed the child with his own hands, made him sleep near himself. He took care of the child day and night and attended to all his needs himself. `Ali (a.s) himself says about his upbringing:

“I was still a child that the Prophet (a.s) took the responsibility of my upbringing. He used to keep me close to his chest. He made me sleep near him and made me smell his fragrance. He used to chew some food and then feed it to me.[3]

This was an example of `Ali’s physical upbringing. But since the Prophet (a.s) was created by Allah for the moral uplift of the entire world, one can imagine the attention and training that he would provide to the one who has been specifically earmarked for his personal tutelage! On the one hand he was `Ali’s benefactor and on the other he was the Mentor for the Entire World. In these circumstances, definitely `Ali (a.s) would receive the best of training and upbringing imaginable! Therefore, the prophet (a.s) paid utmost attention to the development of the intellectual and moral development of his ward. `Ali (a.s) says about his moral training thus:

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“I used to trail the Prophet (a.s) the way a she-camel’s little one trails it! Every day he used to raise the flags of good morals for me and used to order me to follow them!”[4]

This upbringing played such a role in the development of his personality that he was a replica of the Prophet (a.s) in morals, knowledge and action and was recognized as the reflection of his mentor’s qualities and excellence. Therefore, because of Divine Blessing and the august company of the Prophet (a.s), `Ali (a.s) was endowed with extraordinary qualities.

In his own words, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) has described thus:

“In my chest is the knowledge that has been fed to me as bird feeds its little ones!”

This allegory of `Ali (a.s) has lot of meaning and delicacy in it. As a bird, feeds the food stored in its beak to its off spring, the Prophet (a.s) transmitted all the knowledge, be it on Shari`ah, wisdom, Qur’an, Sunnah, Morals and statesmanship, evident and hidden, current or past, to `Ali’s chest. After completion of this training the Prophet (a.s) said,

“I am the city of Knowledge and `Ali is its Gate!”

The Prophet (a.s) very clearly indicated now that anyone desirous of acquiring his knowledge had compulsorily to go through `Ali (a.s). Is not it a fact that entry to any city has to be made through its gate! `Ali (a.s) is a personality whose knowledge is directly acquired from his mentor, the Prophet (a.s), and the Prophet’s knowledge is the direct Endowment from Allah!

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Footnote

[1] Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, Dahlān, Page 176

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 57

[3] Nahj al-Balāghah

[4] Nahj al-Balāghah

THE FIRST TO ACCEPT THE FAITH OF ISLAM

THE FIRST TO ACCEPT THE FAITH OF ISLAM

Islam is a discipline of life, which is in consonance with the human nature, and the temperament of the Universe. It does not neglect the requirements of nature at any stage. The aims of Islam and the Nature are identical and their destination is the same! Therefore, in the Holy Qur’an “Din-Religion” is also called Islam:

إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الإِسْلامُ.

The Religion for Allah is only Islam. (3:19)

It is described as Nature too.

فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا.

Turn your face from everything else and turn towards ‘Din’. This is the ‘Nature’ of Allah on which men are created. (30:30)

The Prophet of Islam (a.s) says:

Every child is born on ‘Nature.’[1]

Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq (a.s) was asked, “What is ‘Nature’? He replied,

“It is only Islam!”

When Islam is Nature and Nature is Islam, then being born on ‘nature’ will mean that every child, whether he is born to Muslim parents or not, is a Muslim at birth. When he comes under the influence of the non-Muslim parents, and their society, he picks up thoughts and ways of that environment. He moves away from the way of ‘Nature’ and adopts the way of his ‘parents’ and starts practicing their faith. If a child gets the right environment after birth, he will then, having taken birth on ‘Nature’ will be attached to Islam internally and externally.

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`Ali (a.s) was born on the Din al-Fitrah and received his upbringing in such a congenial environment that in accordance wit his own words:

“I was born on the Din al-Fitrah and therefore I had precedence In Faith and Hegira.”[2]

From his early days `Ali (a.s) was with the Prophet (a.s). He received his upbringing under the watchful eyes of the Prophet (a.s) and followed his thoughts and beliefs. He never had anything to do with infidelity and idolatery. Therefore, Ahmad ibn Zainy Dahlan writes:

“`Ali was never under the influence of polytheism because he was under the care and supervision of the Prophet (a.s) like his own son. He emulated him in all matters.”[3]

Once Sa`id ibn Musayyab asked Imam Zayn al-`Abidin (a.s) at what age `Ali (a.s) embraced Islam? The Imam (a.s) replied,

Was he ever an infidel that you ask such a question? However, when Allah had Ordained Muhammad (a.s) the Prophet, `Ali (a.s) was ten years old and he was not an infidel then!”[4]

This question can be asked only about the persons who were infidels and polytheists and had embraced Islam leaving behind their evil ways. If `Ali (a.s) is recognized as the first to embrace Islam, and the earliest Muslim, it is because when the Prophet (a.s) was Ordained in to the Faith, he was the first to endorse his allegiance. Even otherwise `Ali (a.s) was on the same Faith as was the Prophet (a.s) prior to his Annunciation!

After the Annunciation, the Prophet (a.s) started his campaign of propagation of the Faith from his home only. It is quite natural that the best persons to vouch for the honesty and integrity are the immediate members of his family. Therefore, when the Voice of Islam had not yet left the four walls of the Prophet’s home Khadijah and `Ali (a.s), who was eagerly waiting the felicitous moment, embraced Islam. Neither `Ali (a.s) doubted the veracity of the claims of the Prophet (a.s), as some others did later on, nor did he express surprise over his claims. These two personalities were the closest to the Prophet (a.s) and had precedence over all the others in embracing the True Faith! Amir al-Mu’minin says:

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“At that time Islam was not there in any place outside the four walls of the Prophet (a.s) And Khadijah’s home. However the third Person in their group was I.”[5]

Besides this precedence in embracing Islam, these two had the privilege of being the first to offer the Islamic Prayer along with the Prophet (a.s). For a long time after the Annunciation, these were the only two who were seen praying along with the Prophet (a.s). Therefore, Isma`il ibn Iyas says that his grandfather, `Afif, narrated that he used to visit Makkah for trading and used to be the guest of `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib. Once, near the Ka`bah he spotted a handsome, young person looking towards the sun and then facing the Ka`bah, saying “allahu-akbar”. In a while, a child came and stood on the right behind the young person. Then a lady came and stood behind both of them. The young person did a genuflection and both the persons behind him followed suit. When he raised his head, they did the same. Then he prostrated and the two behind him prostrated too. `Afif was much impressed with this way of offering prayer. He asked `Abbas, who those three persons were? He informed, “The youth is my nephew Muhammad (a.s) ibn `Abdullah, the child is another nephew of mine, `Ali (a.s) ibn Abi-Talib and the lady is the wife of Muhammad (a.s), Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. Muhammad (a.s) has advised me that this method of prayer was communicated to him by Allah!” He added:

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“By Allah! I do not know if there is another person, besides these three, on the face of the earth who is a follower of this Faith.”[6]

When `Afif became a Muslim later on, he used to say with great craving:

“How I wish I had embraced Islam on that Day to be the third person to join the Fold.”[7]

`Afif had witnessed the scene when on the land, and under the sky, there were only three persons praying to Allah and he always nursed the feeling of regret that if he had received the Guidance, he would have become the fourth person in the Faith and his name would have gone down in the roster of Muslims after `Ali (a.s) and Khadijah (a.s). If someone else had embraced Islam in that period, his name too would have appeared in these narrations. `Abbas too mentioned only the names of these in his narration. Precedence in Islam of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) has been recognized by almost all the historians and biographers. Therefore, Ibn Husham says:

“Amongst men the first person to embrace Islam, to join him in his prayer and witness what all Allah sent through the Prophet (a.s) was `Ali (a.s). At that time his age was ten years.”[8]

In this regard, the evidences of certain important companions of the Prophet (a.s) too are mentioned here:

The Prophet (a.s) himself said:

“The first Muslim amongst you is `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s)”[9]

Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) says:

“I was the first to embrace Islam on the call of the Prophet (a.s).”[10]

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`Abdullah ibn `Abbas says:

“First of all `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) embraced Islam.”[11]

Abū-Dharr al-Ghifari says:

“I have heard the Prophet (a.s) say to `Ali (a.s), ‘You were the first to accept the Faith and bear my witness.’”[12]

Salman al-Farisi says:

“In this Ummah the first to reach near the Prophet (a.s) at the Cistern of Kawthar and the first to embrace Islam is `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s)”[13]

Abū-Ayyūb al-Ansari says:

“The first person to profess Faith on the Prophet (a.s) was `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s)”[14]

Zayd ibn Arqam says:

“The first to witness faith on the Prophet (a.s) was `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s).”[15]

Besides precedence in embracing Islam, the first to join the Prophet (a.s) in his prayers were only `Ali (a.s) and Khadijah (a.s). Besides these two, during the early days of Islam no third name is mentioned having joined the prayer. If anyone else had joined the ranks of Muslims in that period, why the history is silent about their joining or not joining the prayers with the Prophet (a.s)? For the first seven years, these were the only two who used to join the Prophet (a.s) at the prayers. Therefore, `Ali (a.s) says,

“I prayed with the Prophet (a.s) seven years prior to the others.”[16]

To strengthen this claim, some more sayings are recorded here:

Anas ibn Malik says:

“The Prophet (a.s) was Annunciated on Monday and on Tuesday `Ali (a.s) offered his prayer.”[17]

Buraydah al-Aslami says:

“The Revelation came on Monday and on Tuesday `Ali (a.s) offered the prayer.”[18]

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Jabir ibn `Abdullah al-Ansari says:

“On Monday the Prophet (a.s) was ordained the prophet and on Tuesday `Ali (a.s) offered the Prayer.”[19]

Mujahid says:

“`Ali (a.s) was the first to offer prayer, and his age at the time was ten years.”[20]

After all these evidences, there should not be any doubt about the precedence of `Ali (a.s) in embracing Islam and offering the Islamic prayers. But some persons have invented lame excuses to categorize precedence according to age of the persons who had embraced Islam in that period. Therefore, they say that Abū-Bakr was the first to embrace Islam amongst men, Khadijah among the ladies and `Ali (a.s) among the children and Zayd ibn Harithah among the slaves! This procedure, instead of establishing the true precedence, makes it

confused and blurred! The only purpose behind this categorization seems that they want to deny `Ali (a.s) the privilege of being the first to embrace Islam! But this procedure itself is a proof of the futility of their claim. If some other person, of their choice had preceded in embracing Islam, there would not have been the need for them to take shelter behind flimsy categorization. This claim is also not proved through the statements of the contemporary persons who have all talked about `Ali’s precedence in Islam and have made no other reference which can be extended in support of the ostensible categorization. When they claim that `Ali (a.s) was the first to embrace Islam in the category of children, can they produce a roster of other children who embraced Islam then? Those early days, when the adults, including the big names of later days, were shying away, what was the question of children coming into the fold of Islam! If it is accepted that Abū-Bakr was the first among the men who were major to accept Islam, how could it be proved that he embraced Islam prior to `Ali (a.s)? To cover this inability to prove his precedence, they are inventing the theory of categorization to withhold their futile claims of precedence. All their claims cannot prove that Abū-Bakr joined the fold before `Ali (a.s) There is no proof, even of the fact, whether Abū-Bakr had precedence over other major males in embracing Islam! In fact, history points out that a good number of males had embraced Islam prior to him. Therefore, Muhammad ibn Sa`d inquired from his father Sa`d ibn Abi-Waqqas:

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“Did Abū-Bakr have precedence over you people in embracing Islam? He said, ‘No!’ More than Fifty persons had embraced Islam before him!”[21]

Sa`d ibn Abi-Waqqas is counted as a major companion and one of the al-`asharah al-mubashsharah (The Ten about whom the Prophet (a.s) has Guaranteed the Heaven!). It is proper to make flimsy claims of categorization of precedence in Islam in opposition to the claims of such an eminent Companion of the Prophet (a.s)! Another reason to turn down these claims is that around the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s), Abū-Bakr was not there in Makkah. He was away in Yemen and learned about the developments only after his return from there. Therefore, Ibn al-Athir writes:

“Abū-Bakr says that when he returned to Makkah, the Prophet (a.s) had already been ordained. `Uqbah ibn Abi-Mu`it, Shaybah, Rabi`ah, Abū-Jahl, Abul-Bukhtari and the chiefs of Quraysh came to me. I asked them if any calamity had struck them. Or there had been any severe accident? They said, ‘O Abū-Bakr! The biggest saddening news is that the Orphan of `Abdullah has claimed that he is Allah’s Ordained Prophet!”[22]

Therefore, when he was not present in Makkah at the time of the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s), then no question arises on his precedence over `Ali (a.s) in embracing Islam. The sayings of the Companions prove, and the historians agree, that `Ali (a.s), on the day following the Annunciation was seen praying near the Ka`bah along with the Prophet (a.s). This proves that he had embraced Islam on either the Day of Annunciation or the next day when he was seen at prayer!

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Considering these evidences, it is imperative to accept that `Ali (a.s) had precedence over others in embracing Islam. If there was the slightest chance of disproving it, people would not have brought up the flimsy excuse of his being a child and a minor at the time of his entering the fold of Islam. They add another excuse saying that perhaps `Ali (a.s) accepted Islam only to please his benefactor, the Prophet (a.s). They say that even if there is precedence in embracing Islam, it is not valid because of his being a minor. They say that those who embrace Islam at the age of majority do so with full conviction and understanding and that their Faith is valid. A minor can accept a Faith in emulation of his elders, while a major person accepts only if he is convinced. These people do not know that wisdom and conviction not always come with age. Sometimes minors are more wise and intelligent than the older persons. Allah says about Yahya (Prophet John):

“He was still a child when We made him an arbiter, intelligent and affable”

`Isa (a.s) has said from his cradle:

“I am Allah’s creature. He gave me the Book and made me a Prophet.”

In both instances the capability appears at its zenith although the state of ‘maturity” is far away! Although `Ali (a.s), at the time of his embracing Islam, was still a minor, he had never worshipped any idols throughout his childhood. He manifested all the signs of wisdom and intelligence at that age. `Allamah al-Suyūti writes:

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“`Ali never worshipped idols even in his childhood.”[23]

It is a fact that grown up and matured persons of those days showed their ignorance by prostrating to the idols and seeking boons from them. If with age, they had intelligence and wisdom, they would not have indulged in worship of inanimate idols.

This group of persons was on one side, on the other was another group of persons like Abū-`Uthman al-Jahiz and Ibn Taymiyah who went to the length of saying that the embracing of Islam by a minor is not valid. Therefore, despite declaring oneself a Muslim, a minor is not a Muslim in true sense. This sort of belief is possible only from a person who is in the ranks of Nawasib (Those incurring the hostility of the Prophet’s Household and their followers). The question is whether `Ali (a.s) embraced Islam on his own or was invited to do so by the Prophet (a.s). If he did it, on his own, how did he know that he must respond to the call of the Prophet (a.s) and decided that declaring Faith in him is binding? If the Prophet (a.s) had invited him to embrace Islam, then he must have thought it valid to induct a minor to its fold. If the acceptance of `Ali as a minor into the fold was invalid, then the Prophet (a.s) should have regularized the process sometime in the future after `Ali (a.s) attained majority. But nowhere in the history, there is any reference of such event. This would mean that `Ali (a.s) was not in the fold of Islam. This sort of canard can be expected only from those who themselves have nothing to do with Islam. The fact is that when some people realized about the precedence of `Ali (a.s) embracing Islam, they came up with the talk of his faith as the Islam of Emulation and, as such, was invalid. They closed their eyes to the fact that at that time the condition of the age of maturity for application of Shari`ah was not in force, nor for acceptance of the Faith. It only depended on one’s understanding and intelligence. Therefore, `Allamah Halabi writes:

p: 186

“`Al i’s Islam was valid on this count, although all agree that at that time he was still a minor. His own saying is that he was still a child and had not reached maturity when he had precedence over others in embracing Islam. The reason was that even children were eligible then and their eligibility was withdrawn in the year of Khaybar. Al-Bayhaqi says that this eligibility became invalid in the year of al-Khandaq and the condition of majority was introduced. Another version is that the condition of the age of maturity was introduced in the year of Hudaybiyah. Prior to that it depended on the intelligence and understanding of the person.”[24]

At the time of the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s), `Ali’s age was about ten to twelve years when a person is sufficiently knowledgeable, intelligent and capable of understanding things. When his Islam was valid in terms of the norms of Shari`ah at that time, attempts to term it invalid reflects the thinking of the persons who do it!

Footnote

[1] Al-Wāfī

[2] Nahj al-Balāghah

[3] Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, Page 177

[4] Al-Wāfī

[5] Nahj al-Balāghah

[6] Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 65

[7] Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 65

[8] Sīrat Ibn Hushām, Vol 1, Page 262

[9] Al Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 457

[10] Tārīkh Baghdād, Vol 4, Page 233

[11] Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 458

[12] Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 208

[13] Al Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 457

[14] Sharh al-Taqrīb, Vol 1, Page 85

[15] Vol 4, Page 368

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[16] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 37

[17] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 214

[18] Mustadrak Hakim, vol 3, Page 112

[19] Tārīkh al-Kāmil, Vol 2, Page 22

[20] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 3, Page 33

[21] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 60

[22] Usd al-Ghābah, Vol 3, Page 208

[23] Tārīkh al-Khafā, Page 177

[24] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 269

THE FEAST OF `ASHIRAH

THE FEAST OF `ASHIRAH

The Prophet (a.s), as soon as he was Ordained as the Messenger, he silently commenced his mission. When he entered the fourth year of this activity, he received a Commandment from Allah to openly propagate the Faith:

وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الأَقْرَبِينَ.

“Preach your nearest relations!”

On the Revelation of this Verse, the Prophet (a.s) made Abū-Talib’s residence the head quarters of his Mission. He asked `Ali (a.s) to make arrangements for a meal to be served to the progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib and to invite them to join the feast. `Ali (a.s) procured one shank of meat, one measure of milk and about three seers of wheat flour. Then he went round inviting people. At the appointed time about forty persons assembled at the house of Abū-Talib. Among the guests were Abū-Talib, Hamzah ibn `Abbas and Abū-Lahab. Although the number of guests was high considering the quantity of food, Allah made it sufficient for all the guests and some quantity was left over. When the guests finished the meal, the Prophet (a.s) rose from his place and tried to make the announcement of his Prophethood and to invite them to the Right Path. Abū-Lahab interrupted at this point and said, “Muhammad wants to lead you away from the faith of your ancestors. Do not give ear to his suggestions lest you get affected with his magical spell!” As a result of the outburst of Abū-Lahab the group got restive. Some stood up to depart and others followed them. The Prophet (a.s) could not communicate what he had planned to say. The second day, the Prophet (a.s) extended invitation to the same group through `Ali (a.s). They again assembled for the meal. After the meal, the Prophet (a.s) rose to give a talk. Abū-Lahab once again tried to interrupt. But Abū-Talib chided him and asked him to sit quietly. Abū-Talib told him:

p: 188

“O unfortunate person! What have you to do with these things?”

Hearing this, Abū-Lahab had no courage to interrupt any further and sat quietly putting his head on his knees. Abū-Talib addressed the gathering and asked them to sit comfortably in their places. He asked the Prophet (a.s) to tell what he wished to say. He said that the people would listen to him with attention and act on what he had to say. The Prophet (a.s) got encouragement from these words of support and addressed the gathering:

“O progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib! By Allah! No youth in Arabia has brought any thing better than what I have brought for you. I have brought for you the welfare of this world and the Hereafter. Allah has commanded me to invite you towards this welfare! Who is the person amongst you willing to become my associate and helper? I assure you that he will be my Brother, My Vicegerent and my Successor!”[1]

Barring three or four persons, none of the gathering was happy over the statement and none had the courage to extend his hand in support. Everyone sat quietly with bowed heads. Suddenly, in that quiet environment `Ali’s voice broke the silence:

“Although I am young, definitely younger than all of them, I shall be your associate, helper and protector! If someone cast an evil eye on you, I shall break that eye! If someone created turmoil, I shall strike him!

The Prophet (a.s) said:

“O `Ali! Wait for a while! Perhaps someone from the grown ups might come forward!

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When after making the call thrice no one came forward, the Prophet (a.s) called `Ali (a.s) close to himself, put his hand on his head and said:

“Certainly! This is my Brother, My Associate and My Vicegerent. It is binding on all of you to listen to him and obey him!”[2]

When the Quraysh heard this statement, they had a sarcastic smile on their faces. They stole glances at each other, joked with each other and some braves told Abū-Talib, “Now you will have to listen to and obey your son!” Although the gathering took `Ali’s words lightly, later on it was proved that the promise that the small boy made in the gathering of the Quraysh was kept in letter and spirit. In the most difficult situations, he shielded the Prophet (a.s) from the assaults of the enemies. He proved to the world that there was none more deserving of the brotherhood, support and the position of the successor of the Prophet than he was.

In recognition of the selfless services of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s), the Prophet (a.s) was bound to make a public announcement of his Succession and Vicegerency! While returning from the Farewell Pilgrimage, at a place called Ghadir Khumm, the Prophet (a.s) delivered a Sermon wherein he said:

“`Ali is the master of him, whose master I am!”

Saying this, the Prophet (a.s) proclaimed the Succession and the Vicegerency of `Ali (a.s). This was an echo of the promise made at the Feast of al-`Ashirah and the recognition of the fulfillment of `Ali’s Resolution to act as the support and bulwark for the Prophet of Islam (a.s).

p: 190

The da`wat al-`Ashirah also throws light on the Vicegerency or Caliphate of `Ali (a.s) that the Prophet (a.s) had declared only three things at the Feast:

Tawhid or Unity of Allah, Prophethood and Succession or caliphate of `Ali (a.s).

Along with the announcement about Tawhid and Prophethood, the mention of caliphate illustrates its importance in the consideration of the Prophet! This proves that if Tawhid and Prophethood are the main pillars of Islam, the caliphate (of `Ali (a.s) too is of prime importance. As the acceptance of Tawhid and Prophethood is imperative for a Muslim, the acceptance of `Ali’s Succession and Vicegerency too is necessary.

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 63

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 63

HELP AND ASSISTANCE TO THE PROPHET COMMENCES

HELP AND ASSISTANCE TO THE PROPHET COMMENCES

When the Prophet of Islam (a.s) started open propagation of the Faith, the Quraysh, because of their respect and consideration for Abū-Talib, did not directly attack the Prophet (a.s) but they set urchins to trouble him and throw stones and brickbats on him. They thought that this way they could force the Prophet (a.s) to abruptly discontinue his mission. Therefore, whenever he came out of his house, the youths of the Quraysh used to follow him, shouting invectives and throwing stones and garbage at him. The Prophet (a.s) was much disturbed and saddened with this treatment, but he never uttered a word against the culprits. He knew that arguing with the children and youth was not of any use. Once `Ali (a.s) saw the marks of injury on the Prophet’s body and asked him about the cause of the injuries. The Prophet (a.s) explained to him that the Quraysh themselves do not come out openly against him but send out their children to cause him harm. Whenever he came out, they came together, followed him and threw stones and pebbles on him. `Ali (a.s) was very disturbed to hear this and said, “O Prophet of Allah (a.s)! In the future, you should not go out alone. I shall be with you. If they throw brickbats on you, I will hurl stones at them. Then they will not have courage to do such nasty things again!” The next day `Ali (a.s) was with the Prophet (a.s) when he stirred out of their home. The Quraysh youths, as usual tried to crowd the Prophet (a.s). They noticed that `Ali (a.s) was standing in front of the Prophet (a.s). The youths were almost of the same age as `Ali (a.s) but first they hesitated seeing his angry face and then advanced sheepishly. `Ali (a.s) rolled up his sleeves and sprang on them like an angry tiger. He broke the limb of one attacker, struck the head of another and threw another down! The crowd of youth, getting a good beating from a youth of their own age fled defeated! They ran to their elders and complained, “`Ali (a.s) has beaten us!” But the elders could not gather any courage to confront `Ali (a.s) because the youths were doing the mischief at their instance only. From that day, the youth of Quraysh stopped misbehaving. Whenever they saw `Ali (a.s) with the Prophet (a.s), they would try to crouch themselves in some corners to hide from their view! They did not dare any time in the future to trouble the Prophet (a.s).

p: 191

After this incident, `Ali (a.s) was remembered with the title of al-Qadim that means a person who breaks the bones and the ribs! Therefore, during the Battle of Uhud when he came out to fight Talhah ibn Abi-Talhah, Talhah asked who was coming to fight. He said, “I am `Ali Ibn Abi-Talib!” When he knew that it was `Ali (a.s) that was against him, he said:

“O al-Qadim! I think none other than you can dare to come and fight with me!”[1]

Talhah remembered him with the title they gave him in their youth!

Footnote

[1] A`yān al-Shī`ah

THE QURAYSH BOYCOTT

THE QURAYSH BOYCOTT

When the Quraysh failed in crushing the Islamic Movement and suppress the voice of the Prophet (a.s), and lost all hope of bringing him to their thinking, they came to a conclusion that unless Muhammad (a.s) was not handed over them, they would terminate all relations with Banū-Hashim and declare an economic boycott against them. They decided to neither sell anything to them nor establish any matrimonial relationship with the family. To give authenticity to this agreement, Mansūr ibn `Ikrimah al-`Abdari drafted a document with mutual consent on which eighty chiefs of Quraysh put their seal of approval. This document was given in the safekeeping of Abū-Jahl’s aunt Ummul-Jallas who was warned to keep it safe as a valuable document.

When Banū-Hashim heard of this agreement, they felt it difficult to live at Makkah any more. They shifted to a cave at a distance from Makkah. This cave was known as Shi`b Abū-Talib. Now they were cut away from the people of Makkah, and people of Makkah from them. The boycott agreement of the Quraysh affected other tribes as well. None had the courage to interact or transact with Banū-Hashim. However, Abul-`as ibn Rabi`ah, Hakim ibn Hizam and Husham ibn `Amr sometimes used to load camels with provisions and push them stealthily towards Shi`b Abū-Talib. Banū-Hashim also managed to buy some provisions at high prices during the Hajj periods. Because of buying things at exorbitant prices, and because of no occupation, they ran out of funds and ultimately they reached the stage of starvation. The predicament was such that sometimes they had to chew the leaves of trees. The elders were demonstrating forbearance, but the children used to cry inconsolably. Others used to hear of their tribulation, but none took pity on them. The Quraysh, instead of commiserating with them, took sadistic pleasure in their plight! It was quite natural considering the temperament of the Quraysh. But the surprising thing was that there still existed a group of Muslims in Makkah who were rich and persons of means! But history fails to suggest if they ever attempted to come to the rescue of their brethren during the long period of suffering. Some humanitarian persons, who had not embraced Islam until then, used to provide some succor to Banū-Hashim!

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Those who made claims of friendship and love during the days of comfort turned their eyes away in times of difficulty!

Quraysh were convinced that Banū-Hashim would not be able to bear the travails of the boycott and abandon the prophet (a.s). They thought that when he was rendered friendless, they would subdue him easily. But the Banū-Hashim never left the side of the Prophet (a.s) for a moment and faced the difficulty with indomitable courage. In this context the courage of Abū-Talib assumed proverbial proportions. The only worry he had those days was to ensure the safety of Muhammad (a.s). He worried that the enemy might make a preemptive, surprise attack to kill him. In the nights, he used to keep a vigil around the place where the Prophet (a.s) slept, or even he would shift him from one place to the other in the dead of the nights. One of his sons would sleep in the place where the Prophet (a.s) was moved. This he was doing with the fear that the enemy agents might have seen the place where the Prophet (a.s) had retired for the night and might plan to attack him unawares. In most of these shifting, `Ali (a.s) used to substitute for the Prophet (a.s) in the place where he first slept. `Allamah Halabi writes:

“Abū-Talib used to tell the Prophet (a.s) every night to retire to his bed and sleep. When all others slept, he used to awaken the Prophet (a.s) and ask one of his sons or nephews to substitute him in his bed. This he was doing for the fear that the enemy might get intelligence of his place of rest and attack to kill him.[1]

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This duty was generally entrusted to `Ali (a.s). Ibn Abil-Hadid writes:

“When others learnt about the place of rest Of the Prophet (a.s), Abū-Talib used to feel the danger to his life. He used to awaken him in the dead of night and substitute his son, `Ali (a.s), to sleep in his place.”[2]

This period of tribulation commenced in the seventh year after the Annunciation from the first of Muharram and ended in the tenth year. For full three years the Banū-Hashim had to bear the extreme hardships. Now some people started feeling the cruelty of the Quraysh and the sufferings of Banū-Hashim. They tried to intervene and get the agreement of boycott abrogated to enable the Prophet (a.s) and others to return home. Therefore, one influential

person from Makkah, Husham ibn `Amr, tried to move in the matter and talked to Zuhayr ibn `Abdullah Makhzūmi and told him that his mother, `Atikah, was the daughter of `Abd al-Muttalib. He asked him how he could silently watch the sufferings of the children of `Abd al-Muttalib. Zuhayr said that he was very concerned with the happenings, but he was helpless being all alone. Husham told him that he was not alone and offered to join in trying to solve the problem. They also thought of recruiting support from more persons. They felt that Mut`im ibn `Adi too looked amenable to joining the team. When they talked to him, he willingly agreed to join. Now Abul-Bukhtari, Ibn Husham and Zum`ah ibn Abi-al-Aswad too volunteered. All these five persons came to the saloon of the chiefs of Quraysh and said, “O chiefs! We have come to you with the purpose of pleading with you for the freedom of Banū-Hashim. It is a grave injustice that we live comfortably and `Abd al-Muttalib’s progeny live in penury and starvation. We shall not take rest until the document of boycott is abrogated and settle the Banū-Hashim in their homes.” Abū-Jahl crossed his brows and said, “We shall never permit that they ever return to their homes! On them the doors of Makkah are closed forever and ever!” The delegates too replied to him tersely. Quraysh were adamantly sticking to their stand and refused to lift the boycott. It was almost reaching the point of conflict between the two groups when Abū-Talib was spotted approaching the place. This unexpected arrival gave Abū-Jahl the thought that Abū-Talib was coming to surrender Muhammad (a.s) to them because of the unbearable sufferings of Banū-Hashim. When Abū-Talib reached there, the Quraysh asked him about the reason of his coming. He replied:

p: 194

“My nephew has informed me, and I never heard him tell lies, that the Document (of Boycott) has been infested with mites and except the name of Allah on the top, the entire matter concerning tyranny and injustice has been eaten by the mites if he is proved right, you must retract from your wrong attitude, and if he has lied, I shall hand him over to you. It will be your choice whether you kill him or leave him!”[3]

The Quraysh accepted this just offer from Abū-Talib, and sent a messenger to fetch the document. They were surprised to see that, as told by the Prophet (a.s), the entire document was eaten by the mites except the words “In the name of Allah” Now the Quraysh were very confused and started making excuses. Abū-Jahl said until the end that they would not terminate the pact of boycott. But Husham ibn `Amr, and his companions, forced them to agree to the abrogation of the boycott. The Banū-Hashim could alas get back to their homes!

For Banū-Hashim, the period of boycott was a period of great trials and tribulation. On the one side were the Quraysh with all their stratagems of tyranny and on the other were the hapless and suffering families of the Banū-Hashim. The children were scared and the elders worried. Every moment they had the fear of the enemy’s attack. In these trying circumstances the sangfroid of Abū-Talib and his spirit of sacrifice had been proverbial. Every other day he substituted the Prophet (a.s) with his son in the bed with the fear that the enemy might attack in the dead of the night and kill the person in the Prophet’s bed. If some well-wishers had not raised their voice against the boycott and miraculously the mites had not eaten away the boycott document, there was no way for them but to perish in the bargain!

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For Quraysh it was an opportunity to see the Right Path! Even after seeing a Divine Miracle, their eyes were closed. When they found the information given by the Prophet (a.s) veracious to the last word, they should have forsaken their unfair stand. And perceived the beacon towards the Right Path. There was no reason for them to think that the Prophet (a.s) had made a guess about the mites attacking the document. Generally, mites attack things in moist and salubrious climates. Makkah is a place with high temperatures and mites cannot thrive there. And if it was a mere coincidence, then how is it that the mites ate away every word of the document except the name of Allah about which the Prophet (a.s) had said. Although the Quraysh stuck to their inimical stand despite this miracle, some good persons did respond positively. Ibn Wadih al-Ya`qūbi writes that some people embraced Islam after this event. When persons, seeing the mite eaten document embraced Islam, how is it possible that Abū-Talib who vouched for the veracity of the Prophet’s statement about the condition of the document without even seeing it, could be termed an infidel!

Footnote

[1] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 1, Page 342

[2] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 3, Page 310

[3] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 209

MIGRATION TO AL-MADINAH

MIGRATION TO AL-MADINAH

On release from the virtual incarceration at Shi`b Abū-Talib, of Banū-Hashim, the enthusiasm of the Quraysh in pestering them cooled down. Although, in their hearts, they had the same hatred for the Prophet (a.s), his family and companions, as erstwhile. They had some consideration and awe of the personality of Abū-Talib that kept them in a degree of check. Abū-Talib had now grown old and the troubles of exile had not done any good to his health. He deceased a short while after his return from Shi`b Abū-Talib. Now the people of Makkah got total freedom to trouble the Prophet (a.s) and the new converts to Islam the way they wished. None had the courage to stop them from their nefarious activities. Every day the troublesome activities of Quraysh increased.

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When the tyranny of the Quraysh became unbearable, the Prophet (a.s) went to Ta’if from Makkah. Ta’if is at a distance of sixty miles from Makkah and has a salubrious climate. According to a narrative of Abul-Hasan al-Mada’ini, `Ali (a.s) and Zayd ibn Harithah accompanied the Prophet (a.s) on this journey. The purpose of the Prophet (a.s) behind this trip was to invite the people of Ta’if to the fold of Islam. But the people there were worse than those in Makkah were. They did not agree to listen to the Prophet (a.s) and set wayward urchins and vagabonds to throw stones at the visiting party. With difficulty the Prophet (a.s) spent a month at Ta’if and, literally, the vagabonds chased the party away from there. The only way left for them was to head back to Makkah. They came to the outskirts of the town and camped at the Cave of Hira’. It was risky for them to enter the precincts of the town without some plausible support. He sent word to Mut`im ibn `Adi through a person seeking his protection. When he pledged his support, the Prophet (a.s) entered the town. Here he faced the same difficulties and hurdles as he faced at Ta’if. But, despite all the difficulties, he continued his Mission. He visited the nearby hamlets and propagated the Message of Islam. The Quraysh too shadowed him during these trips and used to interrupt the meetings calling him a madcap. The Prophet (a.s) however maintained his calm and composure. He never reacted angrily and thus continued his mission.

p: 197

It was the practice of the Prophet (a.s) that during the Hajj, he used to meet the persons coming from far away places to give them the Message of Islam. Those pilgrims, who were of receptive nature, embraced Islam. It was the Hajj on the tenth year after the Annunciation when a group from Yathrib visited Makkah. When the Prophet (a.s) during a trip of propagation reached Mina, he came across six persons near `Uqbah. He went near them and asked about the tribe to which they belonged. They said that they were from Yathrib and they belonged to the Tribe of Khazraj. The Prophet (a.s) sat down with that group and recited to them some Verses from the Holy Qur’an and invited them to embrace Islam. They were much influenced by the Islamic Principles and they readily embraced it. Now, this was the beginning of the spread of Islam in Yathrib. During the next Hajj, twelve persons came from Yathrib and embraced Islam. The following year a contingent of seventy-three persons arrived and embraced Islam at the hands of the Prophet (a.s) these persons said that it was their desire that the Prophet (a.s) changed his residence to Yathrib and made it the head quarters for his Mission. They promised him all cooperation and protection. In Makkah, there were many hurdles in the way of propagating the Faith. He informed to the Muslims that he intended to migrate to al-Madinah. The Muslims were already fed up of the ill treatment meted out to them by the Quraysh. When they found a place of peace, they started migrating one after another. When the Quraysh saw that the Muslims have gained support and protection of the people of Yathrib, they feared that if the Prophet (a.s) too migrated, his disturbed group might consolidate and rise against them. Therefore, the Quraysh started creating hurdles in the way of those migrating to al-Madinah. They withheld the families and children of some migrants, snatched away the money from some and threatened some others. But all these schemes of the Quraysh were of no avail and barring a few persons all the intended migrants succeeded in changing their residence.

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When the Quraysh failed in their efforts to curb the migration, they called together a council in which all the major families excepting the Banū-Hashim participated. From Banū-`Abd-Shams, `Utbah, Shaybah and Abū-Sufyan, from Banū-Nawfal, Taymah ibn `Adi, Jubayr ibn Mut`im and al-Harith ibn `Amir, from Banū-`Abd-al-Dar, Nizar ibn Harith, from Banū-Asad, Abul-Bukhtari ibn Husham, Zum`ah ibn al-Aswad and Hakim ibn Hizam, from Banū-Makhzūm, Abū-Jahl ibn Husham, from Banū-Sahm, Nabih and Munabbih, sons of al-Hajjaj, from Banū-Haja, Umayyah ibn Khalaf were at the conclave. In addition to these dignitaries, some other people too attended the meeting. It happened that one aged person from Najd attended this meeting. One person who started the proceedings of the meeting said that the

Muslims have struck an alliance with people from outside and they can acquire a position of strength at any time in the future. The meeting must seriously deliberate the matter. If this movement is not curbed, there was a lurking danger of their rising under the leadership of Muhammad (a.s) and attacking the Quraysh! There was the need for devising a way to nip Islam in the bud and to give such punishment to Muhammad (a.s) that, in future, none else raises his head. Al-`as ibn Wa’il, Umayyah ibn Khalaf and Ubay ibn Khalaf said that Muhammad (a.s) must be chained and incarcerated in a dungeon until he died with hunger and thirst. The Najdi old man said that the suggestion was not good. If such a step was taken, the people of Muhammad’s tribe might fight and get him released. `Utbah, Shaybah and Abū-Sufyan said that he must be exiled so that they do not hear any word against their idols in the future. The Najdi opposed this proposal too saying that wherever he went, he will gather people around him with his sweet talk and make them rise against the Quraysh. Then none will be able to curb his onslaught. Abū-Jahl said that strong youths should be selected from every tribe and they should all, in unison, attack Muhammad (a.s) and kill him. In such an event any one tribe cannot be blamed individually for the killing and it will be beyond the strength of Banū-Hashim to avenge the killing. Therefore, they will be forced to accept the blood money instead of demanding with retaliation! He added that they would together contribute to pay the amount of the blood money. This suggestion was accepted by everyone and the Najdi too endorsed it. To implement the project it was decided to post a vigil near the Prophet’s residence around dusk to keep a keen eye on the movements there lest he escaped getting wind of their plan. In the darkness of the night, the youths would then barge into his house and kill him. Here the conclave against him was in progress, and on the other side, Allah had forewarned the Prophet (a.s) of the impending danger. Therefore, Allah has said in the Qur’an:

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وَإِذْ يَمْكُرُ بِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيُثْبِتُوكَ أَوْ يَقْتُلُوكَ أَوْ يُخْرِجُوكَ وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُ اللَّهُ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ

“Remember the time when the infidels were scheming against you to incarcerate you at some place or to kill you or to banish you. They were planning their stratagem and Allah had his own plan. Allah is a better Planner!”

To implement Allah’s Plan, the Prophet (a.s) called `Ali (a.s) and said,

“O `Ali! Quraysh have decided that they would assassinate me tonight. But Allah has ordered me to leave Makkah and make you sleep in my bed! It is very disturbing for me to leave you

behind surrounded with enemies, but this is the command of Allah, therefore: You must cover yourself with my green Hadramite shawl and sleep in my bed and no harm will come your way from them.”[1]

`Ali (a.s) did not raise a word of dissent or objection against the Prophet’s instruction. He was concerned only of the safety of the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) assured him that he would be able to safely escape from the clutches of the enemies. Hearing this, `Ali (a.s) made a prostration of thanksgiving to Allah! Ibn ShahrAshūb writes:

“`Ali (a.s) was the first to Make a prostration of Thanksgiving and the first to keep his face on the dust after prostration”[2]

After raising his head from the prostration, `Ali (a.s) asked the Prophet (a.s) to go peacefully and that he would sleep in his bed as instructed. The Prophet (a.s) could elude the infidels and proceeded towards the Mount tūr and `Ali (a.s) fearlessly covered himself with the Prophet’s shawl and peacefully slept in his bed. `Allamah Diyarbakri writes:

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“On the night of the Migration when `Ali (a.s) slept on the bed of the Prophet (a.s), Allah Revealed to Archangel Gabriel and Archangel Michael, saying: I have established a relationship of brotherhood between you two and Have made the life of one more than that of the other. Who is the one between you who can sacrifice his life for the other?’ They both opted for their individual life only! Then Allah Revealed to them why they were not like `Ali (a.s)! ‘I made him Muhammad’s brother. At the cost of his life, he is sleeping on the bed of Muhammad (a.s). Descend both of you, to the earth and guard him from his enemies!’ Therefore, Archangel Gabriel stood at the head and Archangel Michael stood at the foot of the bed and started saying: ‘Felicitations! O son of Abū-Talib! Who is like you that Allah prides on the angels because of you’ and then Allah Revealed the Verse: ‘There are also people who stake their lives in the way of Allah, and Allah is very kind on His Creatures’”[3]

After the Prophet (a.s) went away, Abū-Bakr came to his house. Not finding him there, he asked `Ali (a.s), “Where is the Prophet (a.s)? On being told that he had gone towards the Mount tūr, Abū-Bakr too proceeded in that direction. The historian al-tabari writes:

“When the Prophet (a.s) heard the sounds of the steps of Abū-Bakr in the darkness of the night, he thought that one of the infidels was following him. He increased the speed of walking. The strap of his sandal gave way and one of his toes was injured. This caused him bleeding. However he kept on walking fast!”[4]

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Abū-Bakr felt that he was the cause of inconvenience to the Prophet (a.s) and therefore he called him aloud and identified himself. Recognizing his voice, the Prophet (a.s) stopped. Around dawn both reached the Mount tūr and took shelter in a cave.

The vigil of the infidels continued at the house of the Prophet (a.s). Whenever they peeped inside, they found the Prophet (a.s) deep in his sleep covered in his shawl! Near the dawn, they unsheathed their swords and rushed into the house. Hearing the slight commotion, `Ali (a.s) removed the shawl from his face. When they saw `Ali (a.s) in the bed of the Prophet (a.s) their faces went pale! Surprised they asked where Muhammad (a.s) had gone. `Ali (a.s) asked them, “Did you entrust him to me that you are asking me about him? Allah knows where he is!” At this reply, the infidels were much upset. They were facing defeat in their designs. They thought of avenging the failure against `Ali (a.s) but ultimately left him unharmed and went with crestfallen faces to go in the pursuit of the Prophet (a.s).

The infidels of Quraysh so far had the satisfaction that although most of the Muslims had migrated from Makkah, Muhammad (a.s) was still there for them to wreak their revenge against him. Even if the Muslims acquired strength at Yathrib, they dare not attack Makkah for the fear of the Prophet’s safety. Now that the Prophet (a.s) had escaped, the situation had drastically changed. They made men run in all directions to search for the Prophet (a.s). Some men reached near the Mount tūr in their search. Outside the cave, there was neither any mark of footsteps nor any signs of someone entering it. At the entrance, spiders had knit their web and some pigeons had made their nest. The men returned from there disappointed. Abū-Jahl announced that whoever brought back the Prophet (a.s), he will be gifted a hundred camels. Suraqah ibn Malik, in the greed of the gift, went in search of the Prophet (a.s). He even spotted him. But the person was awed with the majesty of the Prophet (a.s). He quietly returned. The Prophet (a.s) stayed in the cave for three days and nights. On the fifth of Rabi` I, he started traveling towards al-Madinah. After traversing the distance of three miles he halted with Banū-`Amr ibn `Awf at the place called Qaba. He halted there until `Ali (a.s) joined him.

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After the departure of the Prophet (a.s), `Ali (a.s) stayed at Makkah for three days. He returned the things in the trust of the Prophet (a.s) to their owners. On the fourth day he seated Fatimah bint Muhammad, Fatimah bint al-Zubayr and Fatimah bint Asad in litters on the camel backs and proceeded towards al-Madinah. When Quraysh learned that even `Ali (a.s) had left for al-Madinah, they felt deeply insulted and sent a contingent of eight men mounted on camels in his pursuit. When `Ali (a.s), and his retinue, was around twenty-five miles from Makkah near the hill of Dajnan, the men too reached there. Seeing them, he dismounted the ladies, made them stay at the foot of the hill in a safe place, and confronted the men. The men tried to surround and ambush him and addressed in a harsh tone asking him to return to Makkah with them. They also said that if he did not yield, they would take him there forcibly. `Ali (a.s) did not pay any heed to what they said and breaking the circle he moved forward. The slave of Harb ibn Umayyah, Janah, unsheathed his sword and stood in his way. A change came on the face of `Ali (a.s), he put his hand on the scabbard of his sword and moved forward. Janah attacked but missed the mark. `Ali (a.s) moved his sword and the slave was cut into two. When the other men saw this scene, they fled in fear! `Ali spent the night at the foot of the hill of Dajnan and early morning moved towards al-Madinah. It was summer time and hot winds were blowing. Walking on the hot sand, the soles of his feet developed calluses. It was only his spirit that kept him moving forward. Alas, the small entourage reached Qaba where they joined with the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) came forward and embraced him affectionately. His eyes watered and he removed the dust from `Ali’s cloak with his own hands. They now traveled safely to al-Madinah.

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The courage demonstrated by `Ali (a.s) sleeping in the bed of the Prophet (a.s) has no parallel in the history. He had learned from the Prophet (a.s) about the plans of the Quraysh to assassinate him in the bed that night. The ease with which he slept in that bed demonstrates his courage and the profound love and care that he had for the safety of the Prophet (a.s). He knew that he was exposing his own life to jeopardy. But for him, no sacrifice was big enough in the cause of the Faith and the Prophet (a.s)!

If `Ali (a.s) had not slept in the bed, or even moved away from it after some time out of fear, it would have warned the vigilantes and they could have easily pursued and caught up with the Prophet (a.s) and the result could have been either the loss of the life of the Prophet (a.s) or his incarceration at Makkah to prevent his migration to al-Madinah. Both ways it would have been detrimental to the propagation and the progress of the Faith. It was `Ali’s courageous act that ensured the safety of the Prophet (a.s) and the victory of Islam over infidelity!

Footnote

[1] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 72

[2] Manāqib, Vol 1, Page 127

[3] Tārīkh al-Khamīs , Vol 1, Page 325

[4] Tārīkh Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 100

THE EVENT OF BROTHERHOOD

THE EVENT OF BROTHERHOOD

After migrating to al-Madinah the Muhajirūn (the Migrants) and the Ansar (The Local Helpers) became so friendly with one another as if there was no difference of the tribe or the place of origin between them. It appeared that all of them belonged to one large family. They treated their properties as common, their honor and respect as common, and shared their happiness and sorrows together. This was a true example of unity and integrity. To make these bonds stronger, the Prophet (a.s) repeated the establishment of brotherhood between individuals of the two groups as he had done with the persons at Makkah. This created closer bonds between individuals and they forgot the difference of origin and the tribal affiliations.

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In the view of experts, brotherhood can be strong only between individuals of the same nature. If the natures are different, and the individuals come together for whatever reason, the togetherness will be temporary. The Prophet (a.s) kept this factor in mind when he established brotherhood between individuals from the two groups. He closely studied the natures of the individuals before declaring them brothers. When he saw that any two persons had a lot in common, he named them brothers. Therefore, in Makkah, Abū-Bakr and `Umar were named brothers, `Uthman and `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf, Talhah and al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam were made brothers. Their brotherhood is evident from the events of the caliphate, Shūra and the Battle of the Camel! Similarly in al-Madinah keeping in mind the natures of the individuals Abū-Bakr was created the brother of Kharijah ibn Zayd, `Umar of `Utban ibn Malik, `Uthman of Aws ibn Thabit, Abū-`Ubaydah of Sa`d ibn Mu`adh, `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf of Sa`d ibn Rabi`ah, al-Zubayr of Salamah ibn Salamah, Talhah of Ka`b ibn Malik, `Ammar ibn Yasir of Qays ibn Thabit, Salman al-Farisi the brother of Abul-Darda’. Thus, whoever appeared of a similar nature to that of another person was declared brothers. It was also borne in the mind that the two persons were of the same level of capability and intelligence. On this occasion the Prophet (a.s) named about forty-five or fifty Muhajirūn and an equal number of Ansar as brothers and tied them in the bonds of brotherhood. But he did not find any one who could be declared a brother to `Ali (a.s). Perhaps it was not possible too, because at the Feast of al-`Ashirah, It was already declared that `Ali (a.s) was the brother of the Prophet (a.s). But to renew the bond, in al-Madinah too, the Prophet (a.s) declared `Ali (a.s) his brother! Therefore, Ibn `Abd al-Barr writes:

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“Once the prophet (a.s) established brotherhood between the Muhajirūn, and at another time between the Muhajirūn and the Ansar. On both these occasions he told `Ali (a.s) he was his brother in this world and in the Hereafter!”[1]

This brotherhood does not mean the common Islamic brotherhood that, according to the Verse,

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ.

“The Believers are all brothers, (49:10)”

This brotherhood is of a higher level and a reflection of nearness and attachment between the two persons. If this was the common bond of friendship, then `Ali (a.s) already enjoyed it because of being a Muslim and of the same descent as the Prophet (a.s).Then what was the need of public declaration of their brotherhood? Then there was no reason that when he was not included in the roster of brotherhood at the beginning for him to complain about it! When the Prophet (a.s) created the companions as brothers and did not mention `Ali (a.s) at that time, he approached the Prophet (a.s) with tears in his eyes and said, “O Prophet (a.s)! You have named the Muhajirūn and Ansar as brothers, but you did not think me deserving of this honor!” The Prophet (a.s) embraced `Ali (a.s) and said:

“O `Ali! You are my brother in this world and in the Hereafter.”[2]

This brotherhood not only brightened the ancestral brotherhood between the two, but also proved the superiority of `Ali (a.s) over the Muhajirūn and Ansar. It also highlighted the similarity between the superior character and nature of `Ali (a.s) as that of the Prophet (a.s). When `Ali (a.s) has been declared by the Prophet (a.s) as his brother, it proved that he was the only person amongst the Muslims deserving of that position! This choice is not because of the ancestral affinity but it is on the basis of identical qualities of the two persons. `Ali therefore considered this brotherhood with the Prophet (a.s) as a great privilege and when he was holding the reins of government, he once went up the pulpit and said:

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“I am Allah’s creature and the brother of His Prophet (a.s)”[3]

Footnote

[1] Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 273

[2] Al-Tirmidhī, Vol 2, Page 143

[3] Tārīkh Abul-Fidā, Vol 1, Page 127

THE MATRIMONY

THE MATRIMONY

Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s) was born to Khadijah al-Kubra and was the dearest daughter of the Prophet (a.s). Her birth took place at Makkah in the fifth year of the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s). When she was only five years old her beloved mother, Khadijah, died. The entire responsibility of her upbringing became the responsibility of the Prophet (a.s). Despite his very busy schedule, he gave good attention to her education and training. His attention and her personal innate capability resulted in her accomplishments that became an example for the womenfolk of the world. While she was a replica of the Prophet (a.s) in her looks and personality, she was also a reflection of his qualities of head and heart. When she walked, it felt as if the Prophet (a.s) was walking. When she spoke, she modulated the words the same way as her father did. She achieved such heights in learning that the Prophet (a.s) gave her the titles of `adilat maryam (the equivalent of Mary) and sayyidat nisa’ al-`alamin (the Doyenne of the women of the world). Whenever she came to the presence of the Prophet (a.s), he used to stand up in respect. `A’ishah says:

“Whenever Fatimah came to The Prophet (a.s), he used to stand up, kiss her, welcome her and guide her with his own hands to sit on his carpet.”[1]

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After arrival in al-Madinah, Lady Fatimah attained the age of maturity. At this time, the elite of Quraysh and other important persons sent in proposals for her hand in marriage. One person was very proud of his wealth. He offered excessive dowry if the Prophet (a.s) acceded to his request for marriage with his daughter. The Prophet (a.s) turned away his face when this proposal was mooted before him. He told some other persons, “Fatimah’s matter is in the hands of Allah! He will fix a match for her!” When none of the proposals received the assent of the Prophet (a.s), some of the Companions asked `Ali (a.s) to stake his claim. They said that there is no reason that he proposed and got a refusal from the Prophet (a.s). He said that he felt shy to make the proposal to the Prophet (a.s). When those persons insisted, he promised to moot the subject with the Prophet (a.s) at an appropriate time. Therefore, one day after completing the important tasks, he went to the presence of the Prophet (a.s) and sat quietly in a corner. When he saw him sitting quietly, the Prophet (a.s) understood that he wished to make some important request. He said, “`Ali! Do you wish to say something?” He replied, “Yes!” The Prophet (a.s) asked, “Then! Tell me!” A blush crossed the face of `Ali (a.s). He kept his eyes down and said in low tone, “O Prophet of Allah (a.s)! You have brought me up from my childhood. And your kindnesses on me were more than those of my own parents! Now I am approaching you for more kindnesses!” The Prophet (a.s) understood the intent of `Ali (a.s) and happiness reflected from his face. He asked `Ali (a.s) to wait for sometime and went to the inner chamber of his house. He asked Fatimah al-Zahra’, “My daughter! `Ali (a.s) has made a proposal for your hand. What is your opinion about it?” Fatimah al-Zahra’ sat with her head bowed down and did not reply. The Prophet (a.s) said, “Quietness is acceptance!” he came out with a smiling face and told `Ali (a.s) that the proposal for marriage with his daughter was accepted. He asked `Ali (a.s) to arrange money for the dowry. `Ali (a.s) said, “O Prophet of Allah (a.s)! Except for armor, a sword, and a camel, I have nothing else!” The Prophet (a.s) said, “Keep the camel and the sword with you and sell the armor to raise the money for dowry and other expenses.” `Ali (a.s) sold the armor to `Uthman for a consideration of four hundred and eighty dirhams and presented it to the Prophet as the dowry. He gave some dirhams from that money to Abū-Bakr and asked `Ammar ibn Yasir and some other companions to accompany him and buy the household utensils etc from the bazaar. He gave some dirhams to Bilal to buy perfumes etc.

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It was the month of Dhul-Qa`dah of 2 A.H. In the al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Holy Prophet’s Mosque) the group to witness the Marriage Covenant between the bride (Fatimah al-Zahra’) and the groom (`Ali) had assembled. The Companions of the Prophet (a.s) were there in numbers. The Prophet (a.s) delivered the Sermon. It was a speech of erudition and knowledge. The covenanting parties gave their assent. Then this happy occasion was concluded with a prayer by the Prophet (a.s) for the couples’ happiness and prosperity. In the month of Dhul-Hijjah 2 A.H., the bride shifted to the residence of the groom. The Prophet (a.s) got together the Wedding Reception.

He ordered meat and bread and the groom, `Ali (a.s), arranged for cooking oil and dates. The reception was an open house for all the inhabitants in al-Madinah. All the Muhajirūn and the Ansar attended the reception. All the guests ate to their fill. After service of the dinner, lot of food remained. One portion of the food was reserved for `Ali (a.s) and Fatimah. Food was also sent to the homes of the Prophet’s wives.

The dowry that was given to the daughter of the Prophet (a.s) and the richest lady of Arabia, Khadijah, consisted of the following:

One dress

One Scarf

One Black Headgear from Khaybar

One cot knit with date fiber

Two mattresses-one filled with wool and the other with date fiber

Four pillows made of Ta’if Leather

One mat

One curtain of silk and cotton waste

One millstone

One small pitcher of bronze

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One big water-skin

One pot

One big tumbler

One spouted Jug

Some small earthen bowls

The approximate total cost of all these things was about eighty dirhams.

When the Prophet (a.s) saw his daughter’s dowry, he had tears in his eyes. He looked at the materials, lifted his head towards the sky and said:

“O Allah! Give them prosperity whose utensils are mostly earthen.”

When dusk was around, and the shadows darkened, the Prophet (a.s) helped Lady Fatimah (a.s) mount the mule, al-shahba’, and the atmosphere of al-Madinah reverberated with the calls of “allahu-akbar”. From every side came sounds of prayers. The women of Ansar and Muhajirūn accompanied the wedding procession singing. Salman al-Farisi was holding the reins of the mule and walked in front of it. The Prophet (a.s) and all the men of Banū-Hashim carried unsheathed swords in their hands. The procession went round the Prophet’s Mosque and reached its destination. The Prophet (a.s) took the hand of his daughter in his hand and put it in the hand of the groom, `Ali (a.s) and said:

“`Ali! May the daughter of the Prophet (a.s) be auspicious for you!”

The Prophet (a.s) then called for a tumbler of water, took a mouthful of the water in his mouth, put it back in the tumbler and then sprinkled the water from the tumbler on the chests of `Ali (a.s) and Fatimah. Then he said:

O Allah! Give prosperity to both of them! Give prosperity to their progeny as well![2]

After giving his blessings, when the Prophet (a.s) entered the home of `Ali (a.s) and Fatimah, he again prayed for their happiness and prosperity! Seeing the daughter of Khadijah settle in her new home, the Prophet (a.s) returned home happily!

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Footnote

[1] Mustadrak, Hakim, Vol 3, Page 160

[2] Al-Isābah, Vol 4, Page 366

THE SONS OF THE PROPHET

THE SONS OF THE PROPHET

This alliance was of great importance that on the one hand, it was the origin of the progeny of the Prophet (a.s) and on the other, the enemies of Islam were quietened who were blaming him of being issueless. Although the Prophet (a.s) male issues did not survive, Hasan (a.s) and Husayn (a.s) on account of being the sons of his daughter, Fatimah al-Zahra’, were accepted as his sons and through them his progeny prospered and spread throughout the world. Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) said:

“Allah has put the progeny of all other prophets in their backbones and my progeny in the backbone of `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s)”[1]

Whether the offspring is from the daughter or from the son, it is certainly the offspring of the parents! Not considering the children of daughters as the offspring of the father was the practice of the Days of Ignorance. In those days, some persons considered it a shame to give a daughter in marriage to another family. They used to think that they were sending the daughter as a slave to the other house. In some tribes, they considered a great honor to bury the newborn daughters alive. When these daughters somehow survived and were married, their children were looked down upon as outcasts. Therefore, an Arab poet of those days has very nicely described this tendency:

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Our sons’ sons are our sons. Our daughters’ sons are but strangers!

The Prophet of Islam (a.s) termed the daughters’ offspring as the fathers’ offspring and abolished the practice of the Days of Ignorance that only the sons’ offspring deserve to be accepted as the offspring of a family. Therefore, whenever he mentioned about the sons of Fatimah al-Zahra’, he called them his own sons. Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s) too addressed him as father. They addressed `Ali (a.s) as Abul-Hasan. But after the expiry of the Prophet (a.s), Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s) started calling `Ali (a.s) as father. `Ali (a.s) too considered them as the sons of the Prophet (a.s) on account of being Fatimah al-Zahra'’s sons. Therefore, at the Battle of Siffin, when Imam al-Hasan (a.s) went forward to combat, `Ali (a.s) said,

“Stop this youth from going to combat! His death will make me weak and shattered because I am shy of putting these two youths (Hasan and Husayn) in the mouth of death lest the progeny of the Prophet (a.s) is extinguished!”[2]

Once, Abul-Jarūd told Imam al-Baqir (a.s) that when the verse of Mubahalah, “…our sons and your sons” was presented as proof of Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s) being the sons of the Prophet (a.s), some people said, “Of course, the daughters’ children are the progeny but are not born from the backbone of the father!” The Imam (a.s) said that Allah says in the Holy Qur’an about taboo women:

And the wives of your sons born from your backbone are taboo (haram) for you (to marry).

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The Imam (a.s) told Abul-Jarūd to ask the objectors whether it was permissible for the Prophet (a.s) to marry the spouses of Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s). If they said in the affirmative, they will be wrong. If they say that he cannot marry them, the only reason for it being taboo is that they were the wives of the Prophet’s born of his backbone (sulb).

Ibn Babawayh al-Qummi has written that when Imam Mūsa al-Kazim (a.s) was called to the court of Harūn al-Rashid, the ruler asked him why he was called the progeny of the Prophet (a.s) although you are the progeny of `Ali (a.s) and the lineage descends from the father. The Imam (a.s) said, “If the Prophet (a.s) came back to the world and claims matrimonial relationship with you, will you accept it?” Harūn replied, “Most willingly! This relationship for us is the matter of great pride!” Hearing this, the Imam (a.s) said:

“But he cannot claim to establish matrimonial relationship with us and nor can we give him our relationship because we are his progeny and you are not!”[3]

Muhammad ibn Talhah al-Shafi`i writes in Matalib al-Sa’ūl that al-Hajjaj ibn Yūsuf al-Thaqafi that whenever al-Shi`bi mentioned the names of Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s) he mentioned about them as the sons of the Prophet (a.s). Al-Hajjaj got furious over it and called him to reprimand. When al-Shi`bi reached the court, he found a group of scholars of al-Kūfah sitting there. Al-Hajjaj asked him, “I have heard that you call Hasan and Husayn the sons of the Prophet although they were not his sons but the sons of his daughter Fatimah, and the progeny is not identified through the mothers!” Al-Shi`bi remained quiet for some moments and then recited the following verse from the Holy Qur’an:

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وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ كُلاًّ هَدَيْنَا وَنُوحًا هَدَيْنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ دَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُوسُفَ وَمُوسَى وَهَارُونَ وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ وَزَكَرِيَّا وَيَحْيَى وَعِيسَى وَإِلْيَاسَ كُلٌّ مِنْ الصَّالِحِينَ

“And form the progeny of Ibrahim, Dawūd, Sulayman, Ayyūb, Yūsuf, Mūsa, and Harūn were the guided ones; thus, We reward the righteous. And Zakariyya, Yahya, `Isa and Ilyas were Guided. They were all of Allah’s virtuous creatures. (6:84-85)”

After reciting this verse, al-Shi`bi said that `Isa -Jesus- (a.s) too has been included in the Progeny of Ibrahim (a.s) definitely because he descended Ibrahim (a.s) through his mother Maryam. When we treat `Isa (a.s) as the progeny of Ibrahim (a.s) through his mother Maryam bint `Imran, then why Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s) cannot be termed the progeny of Muhammad (a.s) through his daughter Fatimah al-Zahra’, their mother! In the case of `Isa (a.s) there was a difference of several generations between his ancestor, Ibrahim (a.s) and himself. But in the case of Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s), they were the next of kin to the Prophet (a.s)! Hearing this al-Hajjaj kept quiet.

Once `Amr ibn al-`As criticized `Ali (a.s) for calling Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s) as the sons of the Prophet (a.s). When the Imam (a.s) heard this he asked the informer to tell the enemy of Allah (`Amr) that if they are not his sons, then the Prophet (a.s) would be termed abtar (issueless) as his father al-`As ibn Wa’il used to call the Prophet (a.s). The truth is that Allah has termed the enemies of the Prophet (a.s) abtar instead of him!

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Mu`awiyah’s slave Dhakwan says that once Mu`awiyah said that instead of calling Hasan and Husayn (a.s) as the sons of the Prophet (a.s) they should be called the sons of `Ali (a.s) because they are not from the backbone of the Prophet (a.s).

Dhakwan says further that Mu`awiyah instructed him to prepare a list of his progeny. He prepared a roster of his sons and the grand children and presented to his master. Mu`awiyah asked him why he did not add the names of his grand children through his daughters. Dhakwan said how they could come in the roster of your progeny when they are the children of your daughters. Mu`awiyah understood his point and said that every word is said according to the situation!

It is surprising that Mu`awiyah accepted even the illegitimate son of his father, Ziyad ibn Sumayyah, as the son of Abū-Sufyan against the norms of Islam. But those whom Allah and His Prophet (a.s) themselves recognized as the sons of the Prophet (a.s) he blatantly refused to accept them as such.

About Abū-Jahl’s Daughter

`Ali (a.s) neither married a second wife during the lifetime of Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s) nor he ever thought of another marriage while she was alive. But some inimical narrators have concocted stories to malign him. The story is that `Ali (a.s) wanted to marry Abū-Jahl’s daughter by name Juwayriyyah or Jamilah. When the Prophet (a.s) heard about this, he was very upset and opposed the idea. Therefore, Musawwir ibn Makhramah says that `Ali (a.s) wished to marry the daughter of Abū-Jahl and when Fatimah heard about it, she complained to the Prophet (a.s) and said that the people of his clan have started saying that he had not the slightest care for his daughters and that `Ali (a.s) was bringing another woman home in the person of Abū-Jahl’s daughter! When the Prophet (a.s) heard this, he was very upset, went to the pulpit and said:

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“I do not make the legitimate (halal) as illegitimate (haram) and legitimate as illegitimate, but By Allah! The Prophet’s daughter and the daughter of Allah’s enemy cannot be united in matrimony with one person!”[4]

Another narration in this connection is that Musawwir ibn Makhramah heard the Prophet (a.s) say from the pulpit that Banū-Husham ibn Mughirah had sought his permission to give their daughter in marriage to `Ali (a.s). He replied:

“I do not permit! I do not permit! I do not permit! But if the son of Abū-Talib gives divorce to my daughter, he can enter into matrimony with that girl!”[5]

This and many such narratives are attributed to Musawwir ibn Makhramah. This person was the nephew of `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf and was born two years after the Migration in Makkah and moved to al-Madinah in 8 A.H. Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani writes about him:

“Two years after the Hegira he was born in Makkah. He came to al-Madinah at the end of Dhul-Hijjah, 8 A.H.”[6]

The author of al-Isabah writes:

“He was born two years after the Hegira and after the conquest of Makkah, Dhul-Hijjah 8 A.H. he came to al-Madinah when his age was six years.”[7]

Makkah was captured in 8 A. H. and the concocted story too was dated around the same period. Until that time Abū-Jahl’s children had not embraced Islam. Therefore, on the day of the capture of Makkah, Bilal had sounded the adhan standing near the Ka`bah, the same Juwayriyyah bint Abū-Jahl demonstrated her infidelity when she said:

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“God has kept my father safe from hearing the crude voice of Bilal!”[8]

There is no question of matrimony with an infidel like this. The surprising thing is that the old companions are quiet and a child of six years becomes a narrator! And the bigger surprise is that the erudite scholars who reject the evidence of Ibn `Abbas regarding the event of Qirtas saying that the small child cannot be trusted to report correctly, accept and quote the story concocted by Musawwir ibn Makhramah. If there were ant truth in these stories, the governor of Syria would be the first to make all possible use of them. Even Umm al-Mu’minin `A’ishah would be too pleased to talk about these things. But the silence of these two persons proves beyond doubts that they too believed that the stories are concocted.

Also considering `Ali’s nature one cannot imagine his doing anything without consulting and seeking the permission of the Prophet (a.s) or to think of doing anything that might have hurt or disturbed him. There are several points to ponder while rejecting these stories outright:

How can we imagine that `Ali (a.s) could quietly plan matrimony with Abū-Jahl’s daughter and she seeks the permission of the Prophet (a.s) for such an alliance. Is such a thing possible from a person who never took a step without the consent of the Prophet (a.s)!

How is it possible that the Prophet (a.s) would term legitimate as illegitimate in ire, even if it is for his personal consideration. While the Prophet (a.s) is known for his strict observance of the norms of Shari`ah, how can one imagine his anger even if his daughter was faced with the prospect of the second woman to share her home and hearth! We can therefore conclude that the narrations quoted are sheer concocted stories.

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Here it is of interest to quote an incident about al-Ma’mūn, the `Abbasid ruler. Al-Ma’mūn gave his daughter Umm al-Fadl in marriage to Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s).The Imam (a.s) took her along to al-Madinah. From al-Madinah she wrote to her father that Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s) had some slave girls at his home. Al-Ma’mūn wrote to her angrily:

“We have not married you to him to make whatever is legitimate for him illegitimate. Do not ever repeat such complaints again!”[9]

When a worldly ruler like al-Ma’mūn was so particular about things termed legitimate by the Shari`ah, even though the interest of his own daughter was involved, then how could one imagine that the Prophet (a.s) would wave aside the norms of Shari`ah to side with his daughter. Can we imagine the Prophet (a.s) going to the pulpit to air his ire? Can we imagine `Ali (a.s) defying the Prophet (a.s) if he asked him to desist from doing certain things? The story does not hold water when it says that the Prophet (a.s) angrily said that the daughter of the Prophet (a.s) and an infidel enemy of Allah’s daughter could not be under one roof. When it is well-known that Ummu-Habibah bint Abū-Sufyan, Safiyyah bint Huyay, his own spouses, were the daughters of known infidels and the enemies of Allah!

The truth behind all this concoction is that when the enemies of `Ali (a.s) did not get anything against him, they went around spinning such yarn and canard. The cunning adopted by them is that they want to show the nobility of Fatimah and her importance in the eyes of the Prophet (a.s), but their main aim is to belittle `Ali (a.s) in the consideration of the common Muslims by spreading such stories.

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Footnote

[1] Al-Sawā`iq al-Muhriqah, Page 154

[2] Nahj al-Balāghah

[3] `Uyūn al-Akhbār

[4] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 1, Page 412

[5] Tārīkh al-Khamīs , Vol 1, Page 412

[6] Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb, Vol 10, Page 151

[7] Al-Isābah, Vol 3, Page 399

[8] Tārīkh Abul-Fidā, Page 145

[9] Al-Sawā`iq al-Muhriqah, Page 123

WIVES AND CHILDREN

In deference and consideration for Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s), Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) did not think of another marriage during her lifetime. But after she passed away, he married ladies from different tribes at different times and had several issues through them. The particulars of `Ali’s spouses and their children are given here:

Fatimah al-Zahra’

She gave birth to Imam al-Hasan (a.s) on the fifteenth of Ramadan, 3 A.H. and to Imam al-Husayn (a.s) on the fifth of Sha`ban, 4 A.H. History mentions about another son, Muhsin, who died in early childhood. Some say that he died before birth in an accidental miscarriage. This was a tragedy in the History of Islam that happened within about a year of the passing away of the Prophet (a.s). She gave birth to two daughters. The elder was Zaynab al-Kubra whose title was al-`Aqilah. The second daughter was Zaynab al-Sughra whose kunyah was Ummu-Kulthūm. Zaynab al-Kubra was married to `Abdullah ibn Ja`far and Ummu-Kulthūm was married to Muhammad ibn Ja`far.

Umamah bint Abil-`as

In deference to the will of Fatimah al-Zahra’, `Ali (a.s) married her. She gave birth to Muhammad al-Awsat who was martyred in the Battlefield of Karbala’.

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Ummul-Banin bint Hizam al-Kalabiyyah

Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) asked his brother `Aqil, who was an expert at Arab genealogy, to select a lady from any tribe that is known for its exceptional valor so that she gave birth to valorous sons. `Aqil suggested to him to marry Ummul-Banin al-Kalabiyyah whose tribe was famous in Arabia for their exploits of chivalry and bravery. `Ali (a.s) married her. She gave birth to four sons: `Abbas, `Abdullah, `Uthman and Ja`far. `Abbas was born in 26 A. H and was the eldest of the four brothers. Then `Abdullah, `Uthman and Ja`far were born in that order. All the four brothers fought valiantly and were martyred by the troops of Yazid in the battle of Karbala’.

Layla bint Mas`ūd al-Darimiyyah

Ibn al-Athir writes in al-Kamil and Ibn Sa`d in al-tabaqat that two sons were born to her. They were Abū-Bakr and `Abdullah. Some historians are of opinion that both the names were of the same person. Shaykh `Abbas Qummi writes in Muntaha al-Amal that she gave birth to Muhammad al-Asghar and Abū-Bakr. Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin writes in A`yan al-Shi`ah that apparently the two names were that of one person. Muhammad al-Asghar is the name and Abū-Bakr is the kunyah. Shaykh al-Mufid too considered Abū-Bakr as the kunyah. He too was martyred in Karbala’.

Asma’ bint `Umays al-Khath`amiyyah

Ibn al-Athir writes in al-Kamil that Muhammad al-Asghar was born to her. Ibn Sa`d writes in al-tabaqat that she gave birth to Yahya and `Awn. Yahya died while `Ali (a.s) was alive and `Awn died in the battle of Karbala’.

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Ummu-Habib al-Sahba’ bint Rabi`ah al-Taghlubiyyah

She gave birth to one son, `Umar al-Atraf and one daughter Ruqayyah al-Kubra. They were both born as twins. Ruqayyah al-Kubra was married to Muslim ibn `Aqil.

Khawlah bint Ja`far al-Hanafiyyah

She gave birth to Muhammad who was well-known with the title of Ibn al-Hanafiyyah. His kunyah was Abul-Qasim. He died at al-Ta’if in 81 A.H.

Umm-Sa`id bint `Urwah al-Thaqafiyyah

Ibn ShahrAshūb writes that she gave birth to Nafisah, Zaynab al-Sughra and Ruqayyah al-Sughra. Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin writes that she gave birth to Umm al-Hasan and Ummu-Kulthūm al-Sughra. Some chroniclers write that Ummu-Kulthūm was Nafisah’s kunyah.

Ummu-Shu`ayb al-Makhzūmiyyah

Ibn ShahrAshūb writes that Umm al-Hasan and Ramlah, two daughters were born to her.

Mukhabba`ah bint Imru’ al-Qays

She gave birth to one daughter who died in her childhood.

Besides these wives, Amir al-Mu’minin had several slave girls whom he had married. The daughters born through these alliances were Ummu-Hani’, Maymūnah, Zaynab al-Sughra, Ramlah al-Sughra, Fatimah Umamah, Khadijah, Ummul-Kiram, Ummu-Salamah, Ummu-Ja`far, Jumanah and Nafisah.

At the time of the death of `Ali (a.s) the surviving wives were Umamah, Asma’ bint `Umays and Ummul-Banin besides the eighteen slave girls. His progeny continued with Imam al-Hasan (a.s), Imam al-Husayn (a.s), Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, `Abbas and `Umar al-Atraf. Some chroniclers say that the total number of children he had was twenty-five, some others say that it was twenty-eight and others say they were thirty-three or thirty-five. The reason for this difference is perhaps some of them had counted the name and the kunyah as separate persons. Some have counted Muhsin in the list of children and others have not.

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CONSTRUCTION OF THE MOSQUE AND SEALING OF THE DOORS

CONSTRUCTION OF THE MOSQUE AND SEALING OF THE DOORS

The Prophet (a.s), until after six months after his arrival in al-Madinah, stayed at the home of Abū-Ayyūb al-Ansari. During this period neither there was any specific place for congregational prayers nor a permanent place of residence for him. He felt is necessary to construct the mosque along with a house for the family. There was a vacant piece of land near the house of Abū-Ayyūb al-Ansari where some animals used to be penned. The Prophet (a.s) liked this land for building the mosque. The land belonged to the people of Banū-al-Najjar from which family `Abd al-Muttalib’s mother came. The Prophet (a.s) wanted to buy away the land but the owners refused to accept any money for it and said that instead of material value they would prefer to get Reward from Allah. The Prophet (a.s) did not like to take the land without cost because it belonged to two orphans whose names were Sahl and Suhayl and were under the guardianship of Asad ibn Zurarah. The Prophet (a.s) bought the land through Asad, got it leveled and started the construction of the mosque on it, which was ready in the shape of a four walled enclosure in a few days. Then, putting on wooden pillars and thatch, one part of the enclosure was covered to provide shade from the sun. On one side of the mosque, rooms were built for the ladies, which were increased later on as the need arose. In the middle of these rooms the house of `Ali (a.s) was constructed. The Muhajirūn coming from Makkah too started building their quarters on the other periphery of the mosque. They had doors opening towards the mosque and they used to enter the precincts through these doors. The Prophet (a.s) thought that this arrangement was not proper for the sanctity of the mosque and ordered that the doors opening into the mosque be sealed and the houses to have doors at the back. He wanted them to enter the mosque only through the main door. He permitted only the door of `Ali’s house to open towards the mosque. Al-Tirmidhi writes:

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“The Prophet (a.s) ordered that except the door of `Ali’s house all other doors to be sealed.”[1]

Some persons did not like this arrangement. Certain brows frowned, some mouths opened and the gossip mill started working. The Prophet (a.s) heard about the feelings of the companions. He therefore gathered them and said:

“Neither have I neither sealed your door nor Have allowed `Ali’s door to Remain open. It is Allah Who has Ordered sealing of your doors and Leaving `Ali’s door open.”[2]

Certain relatives of the Prophet (a.s) too wished that the doors of their homes opened towards the mosque, therefore they complained that showing partiality towards `Ali (a.s) he had allowed him this privilege and refused them the facility. He said:

“Neither have I sent you out nor did I allow `Ali (a.s) to stay. It is Allah who has kept you out and `Ali (a.s) to stay in.”[3]

`Umar too considered this a singular privilege for `Ali (a.s) and used to say:

“`Ali ibn Abi-Talib enjoyed three such special privileges that if I got even one, it would have meant to me more than owning red haired camels.” When asked what these privileges were, He said: “The first was that he was married to Fatimah bint Muhammad (a.s); secondly, he had the honor of residing inside the mosque with the Prophet (a.s), and thus the matters that were legitimate for the Prophet (a.s) became legitimate for him, and Thirdly, He was given the Standard on The Day of Khaybar!”[4]

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Ibrahim al-Hamawayni writes in Fara’id al-Simtayn that at least thirty companions have talked about the tradition of Fath al-Bab (The Opening of the Door) and termed it as a singular privilege for Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s). In the school of Ahl al-Sunnah, while this tradition is certainly quoted, they also mention that the Prophet (a.s) had said

“Barring the window of the house of Abū-Bakr, no other window was open towards the mosque.”

When there was no chance of refuting the first narration, they tried to connect the two versions saying that the first event happened in the first year of Hegira and the second happened during the last days of the Prophet (a.s) This means that when the Prophet (a.s) ordered the sealing of the doors all openings were sealed except that of `Ali’s house. But when the time for the departure of the Prophet (a.s) was nigh, he ordered Abū-Bakr’s window to remain open towards the mosque and ordered all other windows sealed. This way they thought that a similarity had been established between the two events. But the effectiveness of the similarities of events will be in the event of their weight on the scale of dirayah. The second narration is weak according to dirayah because Abū-Bakr’s house was not on the periphery of the mosque since after migration he first lived with Banū-Abd `Awf and then he built his house outside al-Madinah in a village, Sakh, about a mile from the mosque. He used to visit the Prophet (a.s) during his illness from there only. Therefore, the historian al-tabari has written that on the day of the death of the Prophet, Abū-Bakr came to al-Madinah and inquired about his condition:

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“When he was assured that There was some diminution in the pain suffered by the Prophet (a.s), He (Abū-Bakr) went satisfied to his home in Sakh.”[5]

It is surprising that Abū-Bakr used to live in Sakh and was not in al-Madinah at the time of the demise of the Prophet (a.s), nor did he have any house adjacent to the mosque, then from where and how that ‘window’ was installed to remain installed and all other windows were ordered shut! Remember, these were the last days of the Prophet (a.s) and in his extreme illness, according to Al-Tirmidhi, three days before his death he orders all windows opening towards al-Masjid al-Nabawi sealed and Abū-Bakr’s window to remain in its place! If we analyze this narration, the order was issued on Friday or Saturday and the Prophet (a.s) demised on Monday. This means that this event happened after the Event of Qirtas, that took place on the Friday before the Prophet’s demise when the COMPANIONS raised hue and cry that he was seriously ill and pen and paper must not be brought to him that he was not in full control of his senses! But the later, ostensible, order about the WINDOW they sheepishly accept, if ever it was issued, and implemented!

This narrative, being against all norms of dirayah, is constructively wrong that in one version it talks about khawkhah (window) and in others as bab (door). The meaning of the narrative becomes different with the use of these two different words and thus the narrative is unreliable. If instead of window, we accept the word door, the two events cannot be coordinated. Because in the earlier event all the doors opening towards the mosque were ordered closed excepting that of the house of `Ali (a.s) that continued to remain open. In the second, ostensible, event, when there was no other door opening towards the mosque, then how could they be sealed and the door of Abū-Bakr’s (nonexistent) house to continue to have the door opening towards the Mosque! The purpose for the concoction of this story seems that when, even `Umar recognized the opening of `Ali’s door towards the Mosque as a singular privilege, they made a weak attempt to devise a story to establish the same privilege for Abū-Bakr!

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It is imperative to consider that what was the reason for leaving the door of `Ali (a.s) open towards the mosque and ordering all others sealed. It is apparent that the main purpose must have been to preserve the sanctity of the precincts. The doors of the Companions were opening towards the mosque and they used to enter through those doors in all conditions of cleanliness or otherwise. This was ultra vires the sanctity of the place. The Prophet (a.s) therefore ordered all the doors opening into the mosque to be sealed excepting that of `Ali’s house. The reason for this exception was that `Ali (a.s) was chaste, pure, and was free of all apparent impurities. Therefore, no conditions were imposed on his entry to the mosque, as was the case of the Prophet (a.s). Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) said:

“O `Ali! None other than you and me is permitted to enter his mosque in the state of apparent impurity”[6]

On account of this purity and chastity, `Ali’s door was kept open towards the mosque and all others were ordered sealed. As the homes of Mūsa (a.s) and Harūn (a.s) were accepted as mosques, the house of the prophet (a.s) and his Vicegerent (a.s) too had the same sanctity. Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) said:

“Allah ordered Mūsa (a.s) that he build a pure and clean Mosque and none else, other than Mūsa (a.s) and Harūn (a.s), should reside in that. Allah ordered me to build a pure and clean mosque wherein only me, `Ali (a.s) and his two sons, And none else, should reside.”[7]

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When this privilege was reserved only for the Prophet (a.s), `Ali (a.s) and his Chaste sons (a.s), no question arises of allowing the door or window of any other person opening into the mosque. If it was the Divine will to give the same status to Abū-Bakr, he would have been allowed to keep the door open in the first instance only! When he was not eligible for such a privilege, what was the question of his having a door or window opening in that direction! Another question about the narrative is that the word khawkhah does not mean a window. At best, it can be translated as ‘a ventilator’. It is written in the al-Fayrūzabadi’s Arabic-Arabic Dictionary, “a hole that allows light into a house.” The ventilators cannot be used for entering or leaving a house and they are located on the walls almost at the roof level! When it is impossible to enter or exit the house through the khawkhah, then what privilege ouch a contraption would provide to Abū-Bakr!

Footnote

[1] Sahīh Al-Tirmidhī, Vol 2, Page 214

[2] Khasā’is al-Nassā’ī, Page 37

[3] Mustadrak Hakim, Vol 3, Page 117

[4] Mustadrak Hakim, Vol 3, Page 125

[5] Vol 2, Page 420

[6] Mishkāt, Page 564

[7] Khasā’is, Suyūtī, Page 243

THE PROPHET’S EXPEDITIONS

A ghazwah is a war or a battle in which the Prophet (a.s) himself participated. After the Annunciation, the Prophet (a.s) bore the hardships inflicted by the infidels of Makkah for thirteen long years. When he moved from Makkah to al-Madinah, he did not have any thought of wreaking revenge on the infidels and polytheists. But the Quraysh were working under the shame of defeat and failure and were very upset over the Prophet (a.s) escaping unscathed from Makkah. After rendering the Muslims of Makkah homeless, they were planning strategies to destroy Islam and finish the Movement once for all! They started putting together all their evil powers to achieve their ends. The Prophet (a.s) who had peacefully tried to propagate his Faith in Makkah and had struck agreements of peace with the Jewish Tribes of al-Madinah, wished that no opportunity arose for wars with the Quraysh that would mean unnecessary shedding of innocent blood. But the Quraysh wanted to destroy the peace and tranquility of the Muslims in al-Madinah by imposing wars over their heads. The Prophet (a.s) was left with no other choice than fighting in self-defense. Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) made no mention of waging wars and did not give permission to his men to take any precipitate action until the Quraysh and the Jews forced any such eventuality. Allah had given assent for jihad when the activities of the infidels crossed all limits of decency. Therefore, Allah says in the Holy Book:

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“Those (the Muslims) against whom the Infidels fight, too have permission to battle, because hardships were inflicted on them, and Allah has the power to help them.

The fact is not hidden that the Infidels first forced the Muslims out of their homeland and attacked their homes to annihilate them. In these circumstances if war was not declared against them, their very existence would have been in jeopardy. No doubt, Islam is the custodian of peace and tranquility, but it does not mean that it wants people to stoically face all the tyrannies endlessly. The Muslims had to exercise their right to fight for their own safety and tranquility. In the circumstances, they were left with no other choice than rising to the occasion and preparing to combat the enemy. If war is an abhorrent activity, the responsibility for the consequences rests on the shoulders of the aggressors. One who clashes with the enemy in self-defense can never be blamed for the consequences of the conflict.

The word ‘Islam’ has its root in the word ‘Salamah’ that means ‘Peace’. It is evident from the very name that the Religion, of Islam, stands for peace and tranquility. It shows that Islam is opposed to bloodshed and conflict. Islam makes no difference of race and color and is opposed to any forced annexation of territory. It permits war only in two situations: the first is when the enemy wages a war of aggression and attacks Muslims and without warfare there is no way of protecting the lives and property of the Muslims. Secondly, if there is positive evidence of the enemy making warlike preparations and any neglect might cause irreparable damage to lives and properties of the Muslims. In both circumstances, when waging war became unavoidable, the Prophet (a.s) gave his assent for it. The Muslims clashed with the Infidels once at the wells of Badr then at the foot of the hills at Uhud. Sometimes they defended themselves from within the bounds of al-Madinah. All these theatres of war were geographically close to the Dar al-Islam, al-Madinah and very far from the Dar al-Kufr of those days, Makkah. This proves that all these campaigns by the Muslims were solely in self-defense. If Muslims had aggressive designs, these battles would have been fought nearer the homes of the Infidels! They were all the preemptive and planned attacks of the Infidel Enemy! Only the Battle of Khaybar was fought away from the Islamic Base and closer to the stronghold of the Jews. But the truth is that they were exiled from al-Madinah for intriguing against the Muslims and raising men and materials to wage a war against them. If the Prophet (a.s) had not initiated preemptive action, they were about to attack al-Madinah with immense power of men and materials.

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Although Islam has given permission of waging wars in unavoidable circumstances, there are strict norms about the various stages like the outbreak, the action in the actual theater and the aftermath of the wars! At every stage, they have to keep in mind the ultimate aim of peace and tranquility. Before any warlike activity, they have to invite the opponents to Islam or Peace! The opponents must be informed that the purpose of the conflict is not shedding unnecessary blood and causing loss of property and making slaves and prisoners out of children, women and men. Islam also prohibits harming women, children and maimed and injured men. Therefore, in the Battle of Hunayn, when Khalid ibn al-Walid killed a woman, the Prophet (a.s) expressed his disapproval of the act and ordered him not to commit any such act in the future. Once talking to the troops, the Prophet (a.s) said that they must take care to see that the women and children of the infidels were not harmed during the war. Someone said that they were the children of the polytheists and they deserve to be killed. The Prophet (a.s) said,” Are not many of you good persons not the offspring of the infidels?” Islam never permits causing obstruction to the flow of essentials like food and water even for the troops of the enemy. It also bans destruction of enemy property like gardens, farms and buildings. Similarly, it abhors sadistic severing of the body parts of the fallen enemies. This was one of the heinous practices of the Days of Ignorance in Arabia. Islam abolished this nefarious practice! Islam also laid down norms for the treatment of the prisoners of war. It also established norms for collecting reparations (fidyah) and releasing them honorably. If circumstances required keeping them under detention, norms were there for their proper treatment during the incarceration. Even if they were to be kept as slaves, the treatment had to be very humane.

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It cannot be denied that after the Prophet of Islam (a.s), Muslims had waged some wars of aggression and expansion when the norms of jihad were overlooked. While one group championed the acts of terror and suppression as their right, they thought that victory, wealth and pelf acquired through such wars was Rightful! But Islam neither approves of such wars nor is it responsible for such atrocious acts! Islam has declared in clear terms: “There is no aggression in the Faith!” All the Verses that have been revealed in the Holy Qur’an concerning jihad are about the circumstances when the enemy forcefully tries to suppress and crush the Muslims. Islam neither permits aggressive warlike initiatives nor does it allow forcing its thoughts on others cruelly. The responsibility of the wars is always on the kings and emperors who, for self-aggrandizement and craving for wealth, plundered innocent peoples and caused untold hardship to huge human populations. These acts gave an opportunity to some people to blame Islam that it was spread with the strength of the sword!

After these introductory sentences, we shall describe the ghazawat that were fought by the Prophet (a.s) that highlight the defensive aspect of these battles and at the same time illustrate the prowess and valor of the Standard Bearer of Islam and the Victor of the Battles, `Ali (a.s).He set such high standards in his conduct of the warfare that he never chased a combatant running away from the theatre, he never harmed women and children, never killed an injured opponent and never stripped an enemy as was the practice during the battles of those times!

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THE EXPEDITION OF BADR

THE EXPEDITION OF BADR

The Quraysh who had already become the deadly enemies of the Muslims of Makkah, after the Migration the Ansar of al-Madinah too had become abhorrent for them. Their crime was that they came to the help of the Prophet (a.s), gave him succor and shelter. The Faith that the Quraysh did not like flourishing in their own domain, was finding roots in Yathrib. How could they bear to see it prosper and grow there and elsewhere? They determined that to safeguard their cultural and traditional heritage, they would not allow this new Faith to establish and spread. They resolved to fight with the Muslims until they were totally obliterated from the face of the Earth or they recant from the new Faith and revert to the old ways! Therefore, describing their plans, the Holy Qur’an says:

وَلا يَزَالُونَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ حَتَّى يَرُدُّوكُمْ عَنْ دِينِكُمْ إِنْ اسْتَطَاعُوا

“These infidels will always fight with you, until, if they can, make you turn away from your Faith. (2:217)”

Although the Jews of al-Madinah had made a covenant of peace with the Prophet of Islam (a.s) on his arrival, that they would support the cause if an attack was made by the infidels on al-Madinah, but they were very concerned with the increasing popularity and power of the Muslims as a threat for their own safety. They therefore established surreptitious contacts with the Quraysh and tried to form a joint front against the Muslims. To give vent to mischief, Karz ibn Jabir al-Fahri was made to attack the pastures of al-Madinah and chase away the flocks of animals with him. The Prophet (a.s) chased him until the valley of Safwan but could not catch him. Now he appointed `Abdullah ibn Jahsh to keep an eye on such events. He went with a few companions to Naqlah, which is a place between Makkah and Ta’if. When they reached Naqlah, a small group of Quraysh businessmen was halting there on their return from Ta’if. One of the companions of `Abdullah ibn Jahsh, Waqqad ibn `Abdullah al-Tamimi, shot dead `Amr ibn al-Hadrami with an arrow. They took `Uthman ibn `Abdullah and al-Hakam ibn Kaysan prisoner along with their merchandise and returned to al-Madinah. These were the days of the month of Rajab when fighting and killing are prohibited. The Prophet (a.s) was very upset with `Abdullah ibn Jahsh, reprimanded him, and set the detainees free along with their goods. Although this was an isolated incident that was committed without the approval of the Prophet (a.s), the Quraysh saw it as an excuse to prepare for a war. They started crying about reparations (qisas) for the life of Ibn al-Hadrami and went ahead in full swing for the preparations for war. They decided that they would attack al-Madinah as soon as Abū-Sufyan returned from his business trip to Syria. Abū-Sufyan was to return through al-Madinah, that was the usual halt for caravans back and forth Syria. While the people of Makkah were eagerly awaiting Abū-Sufyan’s return, he sent to them a letter through Zamzam ibn `Amr al-Ghifari that the Muslims were planning to attack his caravan near al-Madinah to plunder his merchandise and that they should reach there post haste with all preparations for a war. The Quraysh were almost ready and did start without any loss of time on getting the letter. Now Abū-Sufyan avoided the normal route and proceeded on his journey along the coast, reached Jeddah in five days and Makkah in another three days. When the troops of the Quraysh reached near Badr, they got news that Abū-Sufyan’s caravan had reached home safely. Some men of Banū-Zahrah said that the caravan had reached home unmolested and therefore there was no need of fighting and that they should return home from there. But Abū-Jahl refused to return home without fighting. With the attitude of Abū-Jahl it is clear that the intention of bringing the troops was not to protect the caravan but he wanted to fight a war at any cost. The Banū-Zahrah however returned home and did not participate in the war.

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The story was going the rounds in al-Madinah that Abū-Sufyan’s caravan was to pass along with lot of merchandize enroot to Makkah from Syria and that the warlike preparations were in full swing at Makkah to attack al-Madinah. The Muslims were still unprepared for a war and wanted to avoid any such eventuality. They were eagerly watching for the arrival of Abū-Sufyan’s caravan through the normal route that it might not be difficult for them to overpower that small group and capture large amount of booty in the bargain. The Qur’an records this in the following words:

وَإِذْ يَعِدُكُمْ اللَّهُ إِحْدَى الطَّائِفَتَيْنِ أَنَّهَا لَكُمْ وَتَوَدُّونَ أَنَّ غَيْرَ ذَاتِ الشَّوْكَةِ تَكُونُ لَكُمْ.

“When Allah informed you that the Infidels of Makkah will confront you in two groups, you wanted to have the smaller group in your share. (8:7)”

Generally the historians have believed the cohorts of Banū-Umayyah that the Prophet (a.s) came out with the intention of plundering the caravan of Abū-Sufyan, but instead of finding the caravan, he came across the Quraysh troops. It is a pity that the historians have included even the Prophet (a.s) among the persons who had the thought of plunder and loot and termed it as the only purpose for the campaign. Therefore, Muhammad ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) moved out with the idea of getting the Caravan of the Quraysh, and unexpectedly he came across the enemy (troops).”[1]

This stand is contrary to the clarifications made by the Holy Qur’an. It says about the events of Badr:

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كَمَا أَخْرَجَكَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَيْتِكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِنْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لَكَارِهُونَ. يُجَادِلُونَكَ فِي الْحَقِّ بَعْدَ مَا تَبَيَّنَ كَأَنَّمَا يُسَاقُونَ إِلَى الْمَوْتِ وَهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ.

“As your Sustainer has sent you out of your home with the Truth, when one group of Muslims was talking against the war and on knowing about the Truth was fighting with you as if in front of their eyes they were being pushed towards death. (8:5-6)”

If the move of the Prophet (a.s) were to plunder the Caravan, it would have been exactly the same way, as some Muslims wanted it. Then there would have been no reason for them to protest and fight and think that they were being pushed towards death. They knew it that Abū-Sufyan’s Caravan had no more than forty persons and the Muslim men totaled over three hundred. This expression of a group of Muslims was because they were scared of the large number of the Quraysh Troops. We have to accept the fact in the light of what the Holy Qur’an says that the Prophet (a.s) did not move out to plunder the caravan, but to prepare in advance to meet the onslaught of the Quraysh Army! Therefore, `Ali (a.s) says:

“The Prophet (a.s) used to ask about Badr. When we learned that the Infidels have moved forward, the Prophet (a.s) moved towards Badr. Badr is the name of a well where we reached earlier than the infidel Quraysh”[2]

This was the first major war between Islam and infidelity. The Muslims were poorly equipped and in small numbers as compared with the expected strength of the enemy. Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) thought it necessary to take the opinion of the Ansar and Muhajirūn about their willingness to take on the formidable adversary. People gave different replies to the queries of the Prophet (a.s). Some were heart breaking and others very encouraging. It is recorded in the Sahih Muslim that on one of the replies of Abū-Bakr and `Umar, the Prophet (a.s) turned away his face. When al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad saw the signs of concern on the face of the Prophet (a.s) he said,

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“O Prophet (a.s)! We are not the Banū-Isra’il who told Mūsa (a.s) ‘You go and your God, and both of you Fight! We shall keep sitting here!’ By Allah! Who has endowed you the Prophethood! We shall fight from your back your right and your left Until Allah gives you Help and Victory”

These words took away the gloom of concern from the face of the Prophet (a.s) and he offered a prayer for al-Miqdad. Then he turned towards the Ansar and asked them, what is your opinion?” Sa`d ibn Mu`adh al-Ansari told with enthusiasm, “O Prophet of Allah (a.s)! We have absolute Faith in you and we have vowed to obey you! Therefore, we are with you! If you jump into the ocean, we shall jump along with you! Nothing can stop us from keeping your company! Do rise in the name of Allah! Not one person from us will turn his Back on you!” The Prophet (a.s) was very pleased with this reply and said:

“By Allah! Now I see the spots with my eyes where the Enemies will fall dead!”[3]

The Prophet (a.s) had a small contingent of three hundred and thirteen men, of whom there were seventy seven Muhajirūn and the rest were the Ansar. They left al-Madinah and stayed at a little distance from the Well of Badr. They did have a fear that the enemy might make a surprise attack by the night. As a precaution he had asked `Ali (a.s), Sa`d ibn Abi-Waqqas and al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam to reconnoiter the location of the enemy by going a little forward. Surveying the surroundings the three reached near the well of Badr and spotted some men there. Seeing them, the other men fled. `Ali (a.s) chased them and captured two of the men who were slaves. The companions, seeing them, gathered around them and asked as to who they were? They said that they were the watermen of the Quraysh and had gone to the well in search of water. Hearing the name of the Quraysh, the companions lost their temper and started beating the men trying to make them reveal that they were not the slaves of the Quraysh but were the men of Abū-Sufyan. Out of fear they confessed that they were the men of Abū-Sufyan. The Prophet (a.s) was busy offering his prayer. After finishing the prayer he said that it is very strange that they tell the truth, you beat them, and leave them when they tell a lie. These certainly are the men of the Quraysh. The Prophet (a.s) himself interrogated them and they revealed that they had no knowledge about the whereabouts of the Caravan of Abū-Sufyan. They also said that the Quraysh army was camped about three miles from Badr. About the numbers, they said they had no correct idea, but every time they are slaughtering nine to ten camels! The Prophet (a.s) made estimation from this information that they will be about nine hundred to one thousand men. Then he asked who the chiefs among them were. The men told the names of some prominent chiefs of Quraysh. At this, the Prophet (a.s) said that Makkah had sent forth pieces of its heart for the campaign!

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Hearing about the arrival and location of the Quraysh, the Muslims moved towards the Well of Badr. The Quraysh army was camping at the periphery of the valley of Badr on a hillock of sand. They were about a thousand men and had seven hundred camels and three hundred horses with them. They had plenty of spears, swords and other implements of war. Against this, the Muslims were lesser in numbers and very weak in the matter of materials. They had very few swords and armors. They had seventy camels and two horses. Where they had camped, the feet were sinking down into the sand. It was Divine help that it showered hard during the night and the sand was consolidated. They also collected plenty of drinking water. With this Divine help, the sagging morale of the Muslims improved! They all prepared themselves to face the enemy with courage! Ibn al-Athir, al-tabari and other historians have written about the happenings at the Battle of Badr that when the Prophet (a.s) arrived at Badr, Sa`d ibn Mu`adh said, “O Prophet of Allah (a.s)! We prepare a thatch with the leaves of the date palm so that you can sit in its shade! Near the shack will be in readiness your steed. If we overwhelm the enemy, there is no problem. In the event of our defeat you can proceed fast to al-Madinah on the horse! There our men will defend you. If they had known that you are going out for a battle, they would not have stayed back!” The Prophet (a.s) prayed for the welfare of Sa`d and asked him to erect the shack and stayed in that.

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If dirayah is kept in mind while judging the veracity of the narrations, then this narration cannot be trusted at its face value. It neither is supported by the events of the Battle of Badr nor is it commensurate with the character of the prophet (a.s) that the world knows of. First of all, from where could Sa`d get so many date palm leaves to be able to erect a shack in the desert sands. Therefore, Ibn Abil-Hadid writes:

“I am very surprised at the matter of the shack. From where did he get sufficient number of date palm leaves to build the shack when in the soil Of Badr no date palms grow?”[4]

If it is said that he had brought them from al-Madinah, it sounds ridiculous that why he brought so many palm leaves all the way? As such, the party was short of draught animals and it would be laughable to carry along the palm leaves from there. Besides this, it has always been the wont of the Prophet (a.s) that he always wanted to be the same way as all the others in his party and never accepted any special treatment for himself. He took active part in the physical work of the construction of the mosque and in digging the trenches. Also, it was the need of the leadership that he moved shoulder to shoulder with the Muslims without seeking or accepting any special treatment! And in the battles, everything depends on the spirit and the Spiritual Strength of the commander! Then how could it be imagined that the Prophet (a.s) instead of joining the ranks of the brave warriors, kept sitting comfortably in a shack! Not only this, but in the event of defeat the suggestion that the Prophet (a.s) would have a fast steed waiting for him near the shack to escape to al-Madinah leaving behind his defeated companions to the mercy of the enemy! It is the most unimaginable act that could ever be suggested to the Prophet (a.s)! The events of Badr are the proof that the Prophet (a.s) spent his time organizing the troops in formations, arranging the left and the right flanks, and issued orders from time to time depending on the fast changing circumstances. He identified the spots where the prominent men from the ranks of the enemy fell and held the command like an experienced commander. Al-tabari writes:

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“On the Day of Badr the Prophet (a.s) was seen chasing the enemies with His unsheathed sword, reciting the Verse ‘Soon the enemy army will face defeat and flee showing their backs!’”[5]

All these affairs cannot be conducted sitting away from his men in a comfortable shack. For the accomplishment of all these affairs, and prediction of victory and success, which were certainly according to a Revelation from Allah, no question arises of making arrangements to flee in the event of defeat! Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) has thrown light on the activities of the Prophet (a.s) on the Day of Badr:

“When the Day of Badr came, and People assembled, we took shelter under The Prophet (a.s); his majesty was dominating and was in the vicinity of the enemy more than all of us!”[6]

It is evident from this statement that instead of preferring the shack, or thinking of escape in the event of defeat, the Prophet (a.s) was all the time controlling the theatre of the war and functioning as a commander who doe not get any thought of the possible defeat! The last part of the narrative, where Sa`d says, “If those who remained back in al-Madinah had known that you were coming out for a war, they would not have stayed back”, is a reflection of the weakness of the narrative. The Revelation of the Qur’an has clearly indicated that one group was feeling uneasy about the war and that they were being pushed to meet death. If they had no idea of the impending war, why there was so much scare and fear.

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In the army of Quraysh, too there were persons who were not so much against the Prophet (a.s). Despite their infidelity, they had some consideration for the person of the Prophet (a.s). Some of such persons had already embraced Islam but had not declared their Faith. They did not want to participate in the war but Quraysh forced them to join up. The Prophet (a.s) thought it proper to warn his men about such people. He said that some persons from Banū-Hashim and others are in the ranks of the army of the infidels but they have no enmity or wish to fight with us. Therefore, if any of you come across Abul-Bukhtari ibn Harith, `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib or anyone from Banū-Hashim, you should not kill them because they have been forcibly recruited to fight with us.” After this announcement of the Prophet (a.s), some persons winced and expressed their unhappiness. Therefore, Hudhayfah Ibn `Utbah told the Prophet (a.s) that he wanted them to put to sword their relatives and he wanted them to leave `Abbas alive. He swore on Allah, that if he came face to face with `Abbas, he would kill him. The Prophet (a.s) asked `Umar if he heard what Hudhayfah had said. Will he strike my uncle with his sword? `Umar said:

“O Prophet of Allah (a.s) Allow me to cut his head with my sword. He is a Hypocrite!”[7]

After these necessary instructions, the men were arranged in the left and the right flanks in proper order. The Standard of the Ansar was given to Sa`d ibn `Abadah and that of the Muhajirūn was handed over to `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s). Ibn Kathir writes:

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“The Prophet (a.s) gave the Standard on the Day of Badr to `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) When he was twenty years old.”[8]

The enemies too organized their men. `Utbah ibn Rabi`ah, his brother Shaybah and his son al-Walid came forward from the ranks of the Quraysh and called for hand-to-hand combat. From the troops of Islam `Awf ibn Harith, Mu`awwadh ibn Harith and `Abdullah ibn Rawahah went forward to fight. `Utbah asked who they were. They replied that they were the Ansar from al-Madinah. `Utbah knit his brows and said that they were not of the same status as he was and that they should go back to their lines. He addressed the Prophet, “Muhammad! Send men in status equal to us to fight! Men who are from our Tribe!” The three volunteers returned to their positions. When the prophet (a.s) saw this conceited attitude of the Quraysh, that they did not rate the Ansar equal to themselves, he sent `Ubaydah ibn Harith, Hamzah ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s). `Utbah was demanding that Quraysh be sent to fight with him. The Prophet (a.s) not only deputed the Quraysh but the tallest figures of Banū-Hashim, the progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib! He did this to prevent others from saying that in partiality he was trying to protect his relatives! At that time `Ubaydah was seventy years old, `Ali (a.s) was a youth who had no experience of warfare and was coming to a theatre of war for the first time. When `Utbah knew that `Ali (a.s), `Ubaydah and Hamzah had come to fight him, he said that he had a match to confront him in battle. `Ubaydah went forward to fight with `Utbah, Hamzah with Shaybah and `Ali (a.s) with al-Walid. Al-Walid tried to attack `Ali (a.s) but he sent an arrow to incapacitate him. After being hit by the arrow, al-Walid went to the side of his father to take his support. But before he reached `Utbah, the son of Abū-Talib (a.s) surrounded him in such a way that he could not save himself from `Ali’s sword and slept unto death before reaching the lap of his father. When Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) was through with al-Walid, the Muslims called him that Shaybah was overwhelming his uncle Hamzah. He noticed that both were lying exhausted on the ground with their swords blunted and the shields shattered. He went forward, attacked Shaybah, and severed his head with the sword. Now `Ali (a.s) and Hamzah turned towards `Utbah who was busy combating with `Ubaydah. They noticed that `Ubaydah was injured and unable to stand the onslaught any more. When `Utbah was about to martyr him, the swords of Hamzah and `Ali (a.s) severed the head of `Utbah. `Ubaydah was severely injured and `Ali (a.s) and Hamzah carried him to where the Prophet (a.s) was stationed. He saw that a leg of `Ubaydah was almost completely amputated and the pith was oozing from the cut. He put `Ubaydah’s head in his lap and tears fell from his eyes on `Ubaydah’s face. He opened his eyes and said, “O Prophet (a.s)! Will I be raised with the Martyrs?” The Prophet (a.s) said, “Yes! You will be counted with the martyrs!” `Ubaydah added, “How I wish Abū-Talib was around to see that we did not let his words go in vain:

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“We shall surrender Muhammad (a.s) to the enemies only when we die fighting before him and we become oblivious of the memory of our wife and Children!”

`Ubaydah, while returning from Badr, died either at the Valley of Rawa’ or Safrah and was interred there.

The killing of the renowned braves of the Quraysh made the morale of their troops sink to very low ebb. When Abū-Jahl saw their morale running very low, he shouted to egg them on! tu`aymah ibn `Adi got motivated. He went like a wild elephant to the arena. `Ali (a.s) hit him with his lance. The giant could not control his balance and fell down. He turned on the ground for a while and breathed his last. `Ali (a.s) said,

“By Allah! After today he will not come to fight with us about Allah with hatred in his heart!”[9]

After tu`aymah, al-`As ibn Sa`id came fully armored to the arena. `Ali (a.s) killed him too with a stroke of the sword. Then `Abdullah ibn al-Mundhir and Harmalah ibn `Umar came with great vigor. Both became the victims of `Ali’s sword. Similar was the fate of Hanzalah gave such a blow of his sword on his head that it shattered into two. This Hanzalah was the son of Abū-Sufyan and Mu`awiyah’s brother. Before him, his maternal grandfather, `Utbah, uncle al-Walid were killed by `Ali (a.s).When during the caliphate of `Ali (a.s), Mu`awiyah threatened him of war, he reminded him of the fate of his grandfather, uncle and brother in the Battle of Badr. He wrote:

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“I am none other than Abul-Hasan who killed `Utbah, your grandfather, al-Walid your Uncle and Hanzalah your brother on the day of Badr”[10]

Because of the killing of these eminent persons of the army of the infidels, there was total chaos in their ranks and men were scared of coming forward for man-to-man combats. They realized that if they came to the arena alone, none will be spared by the sword of `Ali (a.s). Therefore, now they started attacking in groups. The Muslims, seeing their increasing numbers of combatants coming forward, wanted to move forward too. But the Prophet (a.s) ordered to maintain their order and attack the Quraysh with arrows only. He prayed to Allah:

“O Allah! If this group of Muslims is killed, then on the face of the earth there would not remain any to worship You! O Allah! Fulfill Your Promise of Succor and victory!”[11]

He took a nap of sleep, opened his eyes and said, “Thanks to Allah! He has answered my prayers and has sent the Angels to help us!” Therefore, Allah says in the Holy Book:

“When you were pleading with your Sustainer, He accepted your prayer and replied that a thousand Angels would come in droves for your help.”

When the Quraysh threw arrows, in reply to arrows, and came near to the troops of Islam, the Prophet (a.s) ordered his men to attack them in full vigor now. Therefore, the swords were unsheathed, the bows twanged and arrows were released. The fight was so intense that the arena was echoing with the sounds of the clash of swords and the hiss of the flying arrows. The Muslims went on forward killing the infidels. Alas, the onslaught of `Ali (a.s) and Hamzah disheartened the enemy ranks. They went as a flock of sheep attacked by a tiger. Sa`d says:

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“I saw `Ali (a.s) fight on the Day of Badr. From his chest came a sound like neighing of a horse and was constantly reciting martial poetry. When he returned His sword was red with blood!”[12]

During the battle, Nawfal ibn Khuwaylid, a mortal enemy of the Prophet (a.s) passed in front of `Ali (a.s). He gave Nawfal such a blow of the sword that it cut the helmet, shattered the head of the infidel, and cut his jaw. With the next blow both his legs were cut. The Prophet (a.s) was pleased that the enemy of Allah was killed. And said, “Thanks to Allah! He has answered my prayers!” The battle was in its last stages. The infidels’ morale had totally vanished. Abū-Jahl, his brother al-`As ibn Husham and other chiefs of Quraysh had been slaughtered. The enemy was in the last throes of defeat. Around dusk, they had abandoned arms and fled leaving behind their materials. The Muslims chased them and, instead of killing them, took them captive with the idea of collecting ransom from the Quraysh. When Sa`d ibn Mu`adh saw that the Muslims were taking the infidels captive instead of killing them, he was very upset and told the Prophet (a.s):

“O Prophet of Allah! This has been the first occasion when Allah gave us victory over the infidels. Instead of leaving them alive, I would prefer crushing them!”[13]

Seventy bodies of the infidels were scattered in the arena. The Prophet (a.s) got them thrown into the Well of Badr and addressing them said, “I saw the truth in Allah’s promise! Did you find the promise of your gods true?” Some people said, “O Prophet of Allah! Do you speak with the dead? Do they hear us talk?” He said:

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“They hear my talk more clearly than you do, but they have no faculty to reply!”[14]

After accomplishing these tasks, the Prophet (a.s) ordered all the booty of war to be collected in one place. Some natures did not like this arrangement. They wished that, according to Arab custom, whatever booty anyone got, it were his rightful possession. But the Prophet (a.s) did not permit this and put the entire collection in the charge of `Abdullah ibn Ka`b. The captive infidels were sent to al-Madinah. When they reached the valley of Safrah, he got the booty equally divided among all the men. This task could also have been done after reaching al-Madinah, but perhaps some persons were becoming restless and it was thought good to be done with the booty. On reaching al-Madinah he arranged for the captives to be accommodated with different persons and instructed them to give humane treatment to the men. Therefore, as long as they were in the custody of the Muslims, they were treated well. The captives too acknowledged this fact. Those captives who were men of worth, arranged for the ransom money. The poor were released without paying any ransom. At the time of the Annunciation of the Prophet (a.s), there were only seventeen literate Quraysh. Feeling the need for literacy, such of those captives who were literate and poor, he ordered them to teach reading and writing to small groups of, say ten, children, after which they would be released from captivity! There is also a narrative about the captives of Badr that the Prophet (a.s) consulted Abū-Bakr, `Umar and `Ali (a.s) whether they should be killed or ransomed. Abū-Bakr opined that they should be released on payment of ransom. `Umar was against this idea:

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“By Allah! I do not agree with this view of Abū-Bakr! You must order me that I behead so and so! Ask Hamzah to kill his brother `Abbas and ask `Ali (a.s) that he kills `Aqil!”[15]

The Prophet (a.s) through his ijtihad, decided not to act on the suggestion of `Umar and preferred Abū-Bakr’s suggestion of releasing the captives on payment of ransom money. On the day following the decision, `Umar came to the Prophet (a.s) and found him and Abū-Bakr crying. He asked, “Why are you two crying? If there is something on account of which you are crying, please let me know that I could join you too!” The Prophet (a.s) said that because of accepting the ransom I find retribution hovering as near as the tree here (pointing towards the tree in the neighborhood). He also said that the following Verse too has been revealed:

“The Prophet (a.s) should not make enemies captive without lot of bloodshed. You want wealth and Allah wishes the betterment of the Hereafter. Allah is Dominant and Wise. If Allah’s Guidance were not there from before, you would have gathered something. That would bring you lot of Retribution.”

`Umar says that because of collection of ransom, the Prophet (a.s) lost seventy companions, the very next year in the Battle of Uhud and seventy more were taken captive by the enemy. The Prophet (a.s) also lost his tooth, his face was injured and his companions left his company.

It needs consideration why the Prophet (a.s) had to consult his companions. Is not there clear instruction in the Holy Book about the matter? No. The Qur’an clearly says about the prisoners of war to take ransom from the captives and release them. Therefore, the Qur’an says:

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“When you fight with infidels, kill them. When you make them thoroughly injured, tie them up. Then release them in kindness or take ransom and free them. Do this until the enemy puts down his arms!”

This is a verse from Sūrah of Muhammad and was revealed before the Battle of Badr. Therefore, the Qur’an had provided instructions about treatment of the captives ahead of the Day of Badr, and the Prophet (a.s) released some of the captives on payment of ransom, some on providing instruction on reading-and-writing to the children and some others he released in kindness because they were poor persons. When all this was done in accordance with the prior instructions of Allah, then what was the question of any reprimand? When there was Divine Decree (nass) what was the need of consulting the companions about treatment to the captives of war? And about `Umar suggesting that Hamzah kill `Abbas, `Ali (a.s) kill `Aqil, we do not know what reply the Prophet (a.s) gave to him. This suggestion came after hearing the Prophet (a.s) before the battle commenced that the Muslims should exercise care to see that none of the Banū-Hashim or `Abbas in the enemy ranks were killed. And this suggestion coming from `Umar who, when Hudhayfah thought of killing `Abbas, called Hudhayfah a hypocrite. Had all these ideas escaped from `Umar’s mind or for him killing the persons was not legitimate in the theatre of war and it became legitimate later on!

If this narrative is accepted that because of accepting the ransom, and releasing the men, retribution was hovering around, then the Prophet (a.s) could have abrogated the acceptance of the ransom and arranged for the execution of the captives. Because the ransom money would take lot of days and the event took place immediately after the battle was over. In fact, the history records that it took about two months for the ransom money to arrive. And terming the happenings of the Battle of Uhud as a retribution for the acceptance of ransom and release of the captives sounds strange. Anyway, this is a concocted narrative and the reason for the concoction to cover the shame of the desertion of the Companions (including some very prominent names) from the Battle Field of Uhud! They want to make an excuse that if the Prophet (a.s) had not released the captives at Badr by taking ransom, the event of the desertion of the Companions would not have taken place! They also contend that the reprimanding Verse too was revealed as a consequence of the release of the prisoners although; there is not the slightest indication towards the Prophet (a.s) in the said Verse.

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Shah Waliyyullah blames the Companions of not killing the deserting infidels, making them captives and extracting ransom from them. He writes:

“The Companions were inclined towards taking ransom from the captives. Although Allah wished that the root of infidelity was destroyed. Because of this, they were reprimanded and then pardoned!”[16]

Craving for wealth and riches is a human failing but where the strengthening of the Faith against the Infidels is concerned, the material gains have always to be forgone. This tendency of running after wealth in the Arabs could not be curbed very much even after the advent of Islam. Therefore, in the beginning the Companions preferred attacking the Caravan of Abū-Sufyan to plunder its rich merchandise rather than meet the army of the infidels in the battle! The men also took the infidels captive instead of killing them with the same purpose of getting the ransom from them. Once the captives were shifted to al-Madinah, they were not in the arena of war and the only alternative left was to release them on taking ransom from them. It was the right thing to do according to the Verse of Sūrah of Muhammad (a.s).

In this ghazwah, the infidels were shamed absolutely. They lost seventy men and seventy were taken prisoner. The rest fled. Muslims lost only fourteen men, of whom six were Muhajirūn and eight Ansar. The infidels being killed at the hands of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) numbered thirty-five. This was half the total number of casualties suffered by the enemy. He accounted particularly for the chiefs of the Quraysh, viz: Shaybah, al-Walid, Hanzalah, Nawfal ibn Khuwaylid, al-`As ibn Sa`id, Mughirah ibn al-Walid, etc. The victims dying at the hands of `Ali (a.s) is the evidence of the fact that he was not enamored of the ransom nor he had chased the deserters from the ranks of the infidels. He was busy all the time in uprooting the strength of the infidels through his exploits. If the Muslims were defeated in this battle, they would have suffered extreme feelings of inferiority and lack of valor and bravery would cause them abject defeat. But the victory at Badr got Muslims the recognition as a force to reckon with! This victory, that was the victory of truth, justice and equality had the greatest contribution coming from Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) through his chivalry and bravery!

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This battle was fought on Friday, the seventeenth of Ramadan, 2 A.H.

Footnote

[1] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 3, Page 3

[2] Tārīkh Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 133

[3] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 140

[4] Ibn Abī-Hadīd, Vol 3, Page 330

[5] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 172

[6] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 135

[7] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 151

[8] Al-Bidāyah wal-Nihāyah, Vol 7, Page 223

[9] A`lām al-Warā, Page 89

[10] Nahj al-Balāghah

[11] Tārīkh Kāmil, Vol 2, Page 87

[12] Kanz al-`Ummāl, Vol 5, Page 270

[13] Tārīkh Kāmil, Vol 2, Page 88

[14] Tārīkh al-Kāmil, Vol 2, Page 90

[15] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 169

[16] Hujjat Allāh al-Balaghī, Vol 2, Page 573

THE EXPEDITION OF UHUD

THE EXPEDITION OF UHUD

In Badr, seventy renowned warriors of the Quraysh were killed. The other troops were shamed and ran away showing their backs to the theatre of war. This defeat caused the silence of death on the streets of Makkah. This was like the quiet of the ocean under which strong currents struggle to rise. It was like a dormant volcano that might erupt any time. There was a wave of anger and sorrow in the hearts of the Quraysh. Their hearts were burning with the thought of revenge. With the fear that the anger might subside, they had prohibited people from shedding tears on the loss of the near and dear in the Battle of Badr. Besides, there was also a custom in the Arab society that women did not cry until they had avenged the loss of a dear person in a fight or a war. This spirit encouraged to wage another decisive war of revenge. Abū-Sufyan, who had dreams of leading the Quraysh, got an opportunity after Abū-Jahl and other chiefs died in the Battle of Badr. To win the support of the masses he took a public oath that he would not oil his scalp until he did not take revenge for every Quraysh life lost in Badr. Therefore, in Dhul-Hijjah 2 A.H. he went with a contingent of two hundred men to cause destruction in al-Madinah. When he reached the outskirts of al-Madinah, he killed two men of Ansar who were working in the farms. He also committed arson by setting fire to a date garden. When the Prophet (a.s) heard of this, he chased him up to a place called Kudr but he escaped with his men.

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This was the preface for the preparations for a bigger campaign. `Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl, Safwan ibn Umayyah, `Abdullah ibn Rabi`ah and other important persons gave the previous year’s profits as their war effort to a common fund for the warlike preparations. This was fifty thousand miskal of gold and one thousand camels. They thought that their troops had to be financially strong to be able to fight a war successfully. Therefore, the Holy Qur’an says about them:

“These infidels spend their riches to stop men from taking the Path of Allah. They will soon spend these riches, it will become the cause of craving and sorrow for them, and then they will be defeated. Those who adopted infidelity will be sent straight to the Hell.”

The Quraysh had no problems for funding the war. What they lacked were men of valor and bravery. To solve this problem they hired some poets who were capable of writing fiery patriotic poems. They sent their men to recite, and incite men, in the areas of different tribes far and near! One poet of Makkah, Abū-`Uzza `Amr ibn `Abdullah went to Tihamah and made the men of. Banū-Kinanah endorse his views and seven hundred of them joined the ranks of the Quraysh army. The recruitment proceeded in this manner and the number of men swelled to three thousand. These were committed men ready for any sacrifices!

Hind, the wife of Abū-Sufyan, whose father `Utbah, brother al-Walid and uncle Shaybah were killed in the Battle of Badr, made tireless efforts to prepare the Quraysh for another decisive campaign. She became chief of fourteen women who joined the army. Among these women was Khalid ibn al-Walid’s sister Fatimah, `Amr ibn al-`As’s wife Rita, `Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl wife Ummu-Hakim bint Harith, Sufyan ibn `Uwayf’s wife Qutaylah bint `Amr, al-`Azib ibn Sufyan’s wife `Amrah bint Harith, Talhah ibn `Uthman’s wife Saltah bint Sa`d, al-Harith ibn Sufyans wife Ramlah bint tariq and Safwan ibn Umayyah’s wife al-Barra’ bint Mas`ūd. The purpose of these women joining the army was to upbraid the feelings of the fighters in the theatre of the war and egg them on to fight more valiantly! They were to shame them and bring them back to the battlefield in the event of their trying to desert.

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When this army, in the command of Abū-Sufyan, left Makkah, `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib thought that if it made a preemptive attack on al-Madinah, the Muslims would not be able to defend themselves. Therefore, through a person from Banū-Ghifar he sent word to the Prophet (a.s) that the troops of Quraysh have started for an attack on al-Madinah. Because of his timely warning the Prophet (a.s) deputed two men to keep a watch on the outskirts of al-Madinah. They went to some considerable distance and brought the intelligence that the report from `Abbas was correct. And the army of Quraysh causing destruction enroot had reached almost the out skirts of al-Madinah. Although these were the same people who were vanquished at Badr, they had refurbished their ranks with men from Tihamah and Kinanah. When the Muslims got the wind of fast approaching enemy, there cropped up differences in their ranks as to how best to tackle the attack. Some felt that since the Muslims had lesser numbers, and the infidels were many times more, the best approach would be to take a defensive stance. They suggested that the stronger persons should guard the ways to the city with swords and lances. If some of the enemy’s men managed to sneak in, the women, children and the old persons should start throwing stones and other missiles to hurt them. When the enemy was weakened and confused, the men should organize to combat with them. Some other persons thought that under the circumstances only defensive fight was possible. The best approach for this defensive fight was for the men to go out and create a front at some distance from the ramparts of the city. Of those who were making this suggestion were Hamzah, Sa`d ibn `Abadah and the persons who did not join the combat in Badr and were keen to show their valor now. Those who wanted to fortify inside the city and fight were `Abdullah ibn Ubay, the infamous hypocrite, and some others. The mind does not accept the thought that this suggestion was made in the best interests of the Muslims while it was well-known that he was sagaciously scheming against them that they were evacuated from al-Madinah ignominiously.

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The historians generally have endorsed the opinion that the Prophet (a.s) himself was of the view that they must remain entrenched inside al-Madinah and fight from there. But because of the majority opinion, he condescended to go out for the fight. When he came out of his home fully equipped with the battle gear, the persons who were insisting on conducting the battle from outside al-Madinah told him that he might as well do the defense of al-Madinah from inside and there was no need for him to wear the battle gear. The Prophet (a.s) said:

“It is not proper for the Prophet that when he has worn the battle gear, to remove it before the battle is fought.”[1]

These words are a reflection of the confidence, and determination to do jihad with the enemy. This also proves that the Prophet (a.s) would not act under any external influence or pressure. In fact it was the need of the hour to take the enemy on in open ground and not to give him the freedom to cause destruction inside al-Madinah. The statement of the Prophet (a.s) is not only the proof of his indomitable courage but it is also a golden lesson for the Muslims to face the enemy with courage and valor. When the battle had become inevitable, there was no need for very defensive stances. In such circumstances, offence is the best form of defense! They have to fight with courage not showing their backs to the foe!

The Prophet (a.s) appointed Ummu-Maktūm as the administrator of al-Madinah and on the fourteenth of Shawwal 3 A.H., after the Friday Prayer, went out of the city with his contingent. From a shorter route, he moved towards the Mount Uhud where the armies of the Quraysh had been camping since the twelfth of Shawwal. The Prophet (a.s) would have traversed half the distance when, `Abdullah ibn Ubay along with his men, cut away from the Prophet’s party and returned to al-Madinah. He made the excuse that his suggestion of fighting from within al-Madinah was turned down and therefore he was not joining the combatants. Now the Muslims were only seven hundred, who had to contend with three thousand men of the Quraysh. From the seven hundred, men from the Ansar of Banū-Salamah and Banū-Harithah too were thinking of withdrawing. But better sense prevailed with them and they stayed on. The Holy Qur’an speaks about them like this:

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“When two groups from you (from here only) determined to accept defeat.”

The Prophet of Islam (a.s) with these seven hundred established base at the foot of Uhud. The day was already over, and the next day, the fifteenth of Shawwal, Saturday, both the armies opened their fronts. The army of the infidels was large and there was excess of materials with them too. They had seven hundred armored men while the Muslims had only one hundred. The infidels had three thousand camels and two hundred horses and the Muslims had only two horses. One was with the Prophet (a.s) and the other with Abū-Buradah. Because of paucity of men and material, the troops had to be arranged in such a way that the enemy did not get the chance to attack from every direction. Therefore, with defensive tactic, the hill was placed in the back and the troops faced towards the city of al-Madinah on the left, in the Ravine of al-`Aynayn fifty men were stationed under `Abdullah ibn Jubayr. He was strictly instructed not to leave the station at any cost until further orders. From the strategic point of view, this was a very important requirement. If this was not done, the infidels could have attacked the Muslims from that end and decimated the Muslims. After this strategic arrangement, the remaining troops were arranged in order. On the Right Flank was Sa`d ibn `Abadah and on the Left Flank was Usayd ibn Hudayr. One standard was given to Mus`ab ibn `Umayr and the main standard of the Prophet’s Army, as in all the battles fought by him, was in the hand of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s).

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The infidels too arranged their troops. On the right flank was Khalid ibn al-Walid and on the left flank, the chief was `Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl. The chief of cavalry was `Amr ibn al-`As and of the archers, `Abdullah ibn Rabi`ah. At the heart of the formation, the Quraysh had the idol of Hubal on a camel beside which Abū-Sufyan stood. The standard of the army was in the hand of a person from Banū-`Abd-al-Dar, Talhah ibn `Uthman. When the army was in full readiness, the Quraysh shouted praises for Hubal and Hind and other women stood in front of the troops and to promote enthusiasm in the men they started singing and dancing with drums in their hands:

“We are the daughters of stars. Walk on carpets demurely. Like the active birds. Musk in the parted hair. And pearls shining in the necks. If you advance, we shall embrace you. And spread carpets for you. If you turn your backs, we shall abandon you. In a way as if we never had any attachment”

Once this song was over, the drums of war were sounded and the fighting started. The standard-bearer of the Quraysh, Talhah ibn `Uthman came forward fully equipped and with proud gait. He said sarcastically, “O Muslims! It is your feeling that when one of you is killed, he goes to the Heaven and if anybody from our side dies, his place is the Hell! Therefore, anyone from your ranks who wishes to go to the Heaven or wants me to go to the Hell should come into the arena!” `Ali (a.s) came forward reciting the rajz waving his sword in his hand. The swords of the two warriors clashed. Talhah made a skirmish, and `Ali (a.s) made it go in vain and made a counter skirmish and with one stroke cut Talhah’s legs. He swayed and fell to the ground. The Prophet (a.s), when he saw him falling and the standard of the infidels dipping, said, allahu-akbar, and the Muslim, in unison, repeated the call! `Ali (a.s) wanted to sever Talhah’s head but he noticed that he was lying naked. He did not like to strike at him a second time in that condition and left him turning with pain on the ground. Some persons said, “Why did not you kill him?” He replied, “When he turned naked, my modesty did not permit me to strike him any further! He also pleaded with the mention of my relationship with him!” After wriggling on the ground for some time, Talhah died. With the killing of Talhah, the morale of the infidels’ nose dived! They had no courage left to come for man-to-man combat. Now they started to attack in groups. The Muslims came forward and quelled their onslaught. From both sides the bows twanged, swords clashed with swords and the fight became intense. Abū-Dujanah al-Ansari, Hamzah and `Ali (a.s) made repeated attacks and killed rows after row of the enemy. This created pandemonium in the ranks of the infidels.

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The Prophet (a.s) had donated a sword to Abū-Dujanah at the start of this war. He tied a red scarf on his head, took the sword in his hand and dashed into the crowd of the enemy’s men. He thus reached the place where the women of the infidels were singing and beating the drums to enthuse their men to valor. He lifted his sword to hit Hind bint `Utbah for a moment. But he thought that he should not defile the sword given by the Prophet (a.s) with the blood of an infidel female!

Hamzah’s sword too was creating havoc in the ranks of the infidels. After the killing of Talhah ibn `Uthman, `Uthman ibn Talhah picked up the standard of the infidels. Hamzah struck him one blow and silenced him.

`Ali (a.s), keeping his standard aloft, attacked the enemy vigorously and continuously. Whosoever lifted the flag of the infidels, he was killed and the flag used to dip in this manner on a regular basis! In this short space of time, eight times they had to change the standard-bearer! When there was none left from Banū-`Abd-al-Dar to lift the flag, a slave of the family, Thaw’ab, lifted it! `Ali (a.s) came forward, hit him with his sword diagonally at his waist and cut him into two. Thus, all the standard-bearers of the infidels were finished. Ibn al-Athir writes:

“One who finished the standard-bearers (of the infidels) was `Ali (a.s).”[2]

The enthusiasm of the Quraysh sagged with the obliteration of all their standard-bearers. The spirit of the Muslims rose and they fought bravely although they were a fourth in numbers when compared with their adversaries. They continued to advance with valor. The infidels fled, in dire disarray, leaving behind the idol of Hubal flat on its face on the ground! The women of the Quraysh gathering their skirts ran for their lives! The Muslims, when they saw the enemy fleeing, were over whelmed with greed and, forgetting about the enemy, started gathering the booty of war. The keepers of the ravine, who were under strict instructions from the Prophet (a.s) not to leave their post at any cost, too abandoned their position, descended to loot, and plunder the defeated infidels. Al-tabari writes:

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“Those persons were shouting “Booty! Booty!” `Abdullah asked them to stay that they were forgetting the Prophet’s orders. But they refused to stop and went in search of booty!”[3]

This irresponsible behavior of the guards gave Khalid ibn al-Walid and `Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl to bring two hundred men through the vacated ravine and attack the Muslims from the rear. `Abdullah ibn Jubayr valiantly defended the ravine with two to four men who stayed back with him, but they were all martyred by the infidels. Seeing this success of Khalid, the fleeing infidels started coming back. The fallen standard of the infidels was picked by a woman from Banū-`Abd-al-Dar, `Amrah bint `Alqamah al-Harithiyyah. The infidels rearranged their fleeing hordes and attacked the Muslims. The Muslims, oblivious of the developments, were busy collecting the booty was now facing the enemy onslaught from two fronts. This created confusion in their ranks and in some instances, they attacked their own comrades. Therefore, Usayd ibn Hudayr was injured by Abū-Buradah ibn al-Nayyir and Abū-Buradah was mistakenly struck by Abul-Dana. In spite of the shouting of Hudhayfah’s father, Muslims were killed at the hands of Muslims! The picture of the war suddenly reversed. The war that was almost won was now on the brink of defeat. Some Muslims were martyred, some were injured and some others fled showing their backs to the battlefield! The historian al-tabari writes:

“When the Muslims were inflicted with this calamity, a third of them were martyred, a third injured, and a third fled for their lives!”[4]

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In this atmosphere of utter pandemonium, Suba` ibn `Abd al-`Uzza came in front of Hamzah. Hamzah called him “O son of mischievous woman!” Then he rushed towards him with his sword and killed him at that very spot. Jubayr ibn Mut`im whose uncle, Taymah ibn `Adi was killed by `Ali (a.s) in the Battle of Badr had promised his slave Wahshi that if he killed Muhammad (a.s), `Ali (a.s) or Hamzah, he would free him from slavery. For Wahshi it was difficult to attack the Prophet (a.s) or `Ali (a.s), but he determined to kill Hamzah. When he got the opportunity, he threw his lance with such dexterity that it pierced the umbilicus region of the body of Hamzah. Despite this mortal blow, Hamzah jumped towards his attacker but because of the effect of the injury, he fell down and joined the ranks of martyrs.

Ibn al-Athir writes in Usd al-Ghabah that when there was general pandemonium, the Prophet (a.s) was for a while out of `Ali’s sight. He looked around in the bodies of the dead Muslims but there was no sign of him. He thought for a moment if he had gone away from the theatre of the battle. But then he felt that he was one who would never be a deserter. He also thought whether Allah had raised him alive to the Heaven in His anger against the misbehavior of the Muslims! He now thought that the best course for him would be to succumb fighting with the infidels. Therefore, he broke the sheath of his sword and attacked the columns of the enemy. When the crowd of the infidels thinned, he found the Prophet (a.s) determinedly fighting the enemy. Thus, he never left the battlefield for a moment. `Ali (a.s) stayed with the Prophet (a.s), defended him and fought bravely with the infidels. Ibn Sa`d Writes

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“On the day of Uhud when the people ran away, `Ali (a.s) steadfastly stayed with the Prophet (a.s) and resolved that he would be with the Messenger until his own death.”[5]

In the meantime, a group of fifty men advanced to attack the Prophet (a.s). He told `Ali (a.s) to go ahead and quell them. `Ali (a.s) attacked them like a tiger and spread-eagled them. Thus, from whichever side the infidels appeared, `Ali (a.s) dealt with them severely. In these attacks Shaybah ibn Malik al-`Amiri and all the four sons of Sufyan ibn `Uwayf, Abul-Shu`a`, Khalid, Abul-Hamra’ and Ghurab were killed by `Ali (a.s) and he kept the Prophet (a.s) safe from their onslaught. Seeing this valor and the spirit of sacrifice of `Ali (a.s), Archangel Gabriel told the Prophet (a.s):

“O Prophet of Allah! This is truly sympathy and affection!”[6]

The Prophet (a.s) replied, “Why not! `Ali (a.s) is mine, and I belong to `Ali (a.s)! Archangel Gabriel then said, “I belong to both of you!” At that moment the sound of the Herald was heard saying, “There is no sword other than Dhul-Faqar and no victory without `Ali.” There were sounds of appreciation and approbation all around!

While `Ali (a.s) was busy combating, the infidels ambushed the Prophet (a.s) and `Abdullah ibn Shihab, `Utbah ibn Abil-Waqa’, Ibn Qamiyyah al-Laythi, Ubay ibn Khalaf attacked him and `Abdullah ibn Shihab hit on his forehead. `Utbah ibn Abi-Waqqas hurled at him four stones, one after another in quick succession and he lost four of his teeth and his lips were badly bruised with this attack. Ibn Qamiyyah came near him and hit his hood with a sword. As a result of this blow, the links of the hood hurt his forehead. The face of the Prophet (a.s) was red with the blood flowing from the forehead. Ubay ibn Khalaf attacked the Prophet (a.s) and he snatched a lance from his companion, Harith ibn Suma`, and struck Ubay who died on his return journey at a place, Saraf, on the way. From these attackers, `Abdullah ibn Hamid was killed by Abū-Dujanah. Some men from the Ansar saw that the Prophet (a.s) was under attack and they came forward and intervened. Seeing the Ansar, the infidels retreated some distance and started throwing arrows from there. Abū-Dujanah al-Ansari became the shield for the Prophet (a.s) to save him from the arrows. He took the arrows on his back. Also near the Prophet (a.s), Mus`ab ibn `Umayr got busy stopping the attacks of the enemies. Ibn Taymiyah got an opportunity and martyred him. He thought by mistake that he had martyred the Prophet (a.s) himself in the confusion. Therefore, he approached close to his men and proudly announced that he had killed Muhammad (a.s)! Happily, they shouted, “Muhammad (a.s) has been killed!” From the Muslim ranks some had already deserted when they smelled defeat, most of those who remained was disheartened when they heard this announcement. Now there was a total chaos in their ranks. Some sat quiet on the hillocks keeping one hand over the other, and others ran speed haste to al-Madinah! Al-tabari writes:

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“The Prophet’s Companions fled leaving him behind. Some sped Away to al-Madinah and some others climbed the hillocks for shelter. The Prophet (a.s) called them, ‘O Creatures of Allah! O Creatures of Allah! Come to me! Come to me!”[7]

The Holy Qur’an records the event in this manner:

إِذْ تُصْعِدُونَ وَلا تَلْوُونَ عَلَى أَحَدٍ وَالرَّسُولُ يَدْعُوكُمْ فِي أُخْرَاكُمْ

“When you were scaling the hillock and the Prophet was calling you, you did not turn back to look! (3:153)”

In this state of pandemonium and selfishness Anas ibn Nizar happened to pass by the hillock where the Muhajirūn and Ansar were sitting with bowed heads. He looked at them in surprise and asked them, “why you people are sitting here?” They said, “The Prophet (a.s) has been martyred!” He repudiated them saying, “What will you do living after he has gone? Rise, and defend the Faith for which he laid down his life!” Saying this Anas rushed towards the theatre of war. There he met Sa`d ibn Mu`adh and told him that he was getting the fragrance of the Heaven from the Mount Uhud. Saying this he rushed into the rain of arrows and the swords to attack the infidels. Thus, he was martyred fighting with valor. Al-tabari has particularly taken the names of `Umar ibn al-Khattab and Talhah ibn `Ubaydullah amongst those who were sitting on the hillock while the Prophet (a.s) was at great risk and even they heeded the rumor that he had been martyred and had no concern for defending the Faith and resigned to their fate that everything was lost. Al-tabari has recorded their conversation that illustrates their bent of mind:

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“Some of the men sitting on the hillock said how much they wish to get a messenger, whom they could send to `Abdullah ibn Ubay, who would request Abū-Sufyan to give us amnesty. O People! Muhammad (a.s) has been killed, return to your tribe, Quraysh, lest they come and kill you too![8]

The Holy Qur’an tells about these people:

أَفَإِيْن مَاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انْقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَى أَعْقَابِكُمْ وَمَنْ يَنْقَلِبْ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَنْ يَضُرَّ اللَّهَ شَيْئًا وَسَيَجْزِي اللَّهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ

“If the Prophet (died his natural death or) was martyred, then will you return towards infidelity? And those who revert to infidelity cannot harm Allah in any way. Soon Allah shall give Good Reward to those who are thankful to Him (3:144)”

The Prophet (a.s) gave the Lava to `Ali (a.s) after Mus`ab was martyred. He was occupied in quelling the enemy when he heard that the Prophet (a.s) had been martyred. He cut through the crowd of men to the place where he had left the Prophet (a.s) a short while ago. He found him alive and his anxiety was relieved. Although he was himself contending with injuries, he forgot his own condition when he found the Prophet (a.s) bleeding. He supported him and led him toward the ravine. When Ka`b ibn Malik saw the Prophet (a.s), he was happy and instantaneously said, “This is the Prophet of Allah (a.s)!” `Ali (a.s) cautioned him to be quiet and went with the other Muslims in the surroundings to the ravine. Then he went to the Pond of Mihras and fetched some water in his shield. At that moment, Fatimah al-Zahra’, with some other ladies, came to the ravine having heard the rumors that the Prophet (a.s) had been martyred. She was relieved to see her father alive, but started crying when she saw his forehead bleeding. She instinctively embraced her father and then, with the assistance of `Ali (a.s), nursed his wounds. She burned a piece of rug and applied the ash as an astringent to the wounds.

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[8] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 201

The battle was almost over the infidels were happy over their victory and the defeat of the Muslims. Abū-Sufyan climbed one of the peaks and asked the Muslims, “Is Muhammad (a.s) alive?” The Prophet (a.s) asked his men not to give him any reply. He again repeated the question. He asked, “Is the son of Abū-Quhafah there? He did not get any reply. Then he asked, “Is `Umar ibn al-Khattab there?” Even then, he did not get any reply! He now told his men that perhaps they had all been killed. `Umar. Despite the Prophet’s warning could not control him and said that they were all alive. Abū-Sufyan shouted the slogan, “Exalted is Hubal!” On the advice of the Prophet (a.s), the Muslims echoed in unison, “Allah is Most Exalted and Most Majestic!” Abū-Sufyan said, “We have al-`Uzza and you do not have it!” The Muslims replied, “Allah is the Guardian for us and you do not have any!” He then said that they won yesterday and he was the winner today. He added that they have avenged the death of those killed at the Battle of Badr. He also warned that during the same month next year they would again confront the Muslims for a war at Badr. He proudly announced, “Muslims! Our people have retaliated upon some of your dead. I neither permitted nor stopped them from doing it!” Saying this, Abū-Sufyan marched towards Makkah with his men and materials!

In this bloody encounter, two ladies were in the theatre of war to nurse and help the wounded and to give water to the fighting men. One of them was Ummu-`Imarah Nasibah bint Ka`b. Her husband, Zayd ibn `Asim and two sons, Habib and `Abdullah, were martyred fighting in the Cause of Islam. When this lady saw that the Prophet (a.s) was in the range of the enemy’s arrows, she stood in front of him and took the arrows on her chest. When Ibn Qamiyyah came with a sword to attack the Prophet (a.s), she took a sword to defend him until her arm was badly injured. The other lady was Ummu-Ayman who, when she saw the Muslims deserting the arena and running away, she tried to stop them from this shameful act. When her appeals fell on deaf ears, she was throwing sand on their faces and telling,

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“Go and sit at home (like women) spinning the cotton and leave behind your sword with me!”[9]

Compared to the boldness and character of these ladies, there is a sizeable list of men who timidly deserted the theater of the war. In this roster are names of men who could definitely be expected to remain committed and provide help, protection and support to the Prophet of Islam (a.s). This is an irrefutable fact of history. The only persons who remained steadfast were `Ali (a.s), Abū-Dujanah al-Ansari, Sahl ibn Hunayf, `Asim ibn Thabit, al-Miqdad ibn `Amr, Sa`d ibn Mu`adh, Usayd ibn Hudayr, Talhah ibn `Ubaydullah and al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam. The rest were in the roster of deserters. Some of them did flee, but returned after things cooled down. Among the returnees was Abū-Bakr himself who said:

“On the day of Uhud, people deserted the Prophet (a.s) and I was the first to return to him.”[10]

Although there is no clarification in this statement as to when this ‘return’ came about, but the events are indicative that this happened only after the battle was over. If this ‘return’ was in the midst of the battle, history would certainly have recorded about his valorous conduct of inflicting blows on the adversaries or of suffering wounds at their hands! Imagine, one of the fingers of Talhah was injured during the battle and history has the record of this minor hurt! If such an august personality had undergone any hardship, its remaining unreported is not at all possible!

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It has already been mentioned that `Umar was spotted at a safe distance from the theatre of the battle on the top of a hillock! Therefore, he himself says:

“We got separated from the Prophet (a.s) on the Day of Uhud and I was (safe) atop a hill!”[11]

`Uthman was in the group that appeared after full three days of the battle. Therefore, Ibn al-Athir writes:

“Among those deserters was `Uthman ibn `Affan and others who remained in Uways for three days and then returned (safely) to the Prophet (a.s). He saw them and said: ‘You had gone too far!’”[12]

The bravery and valor that `Ali (a.s) showed in this ghazwah is a great example of Islamic jihad. At a time when the feet of the Islamic army had shaken with the concerted attack of the enemy, he combated all alone, curbed their advances with his indomitable courage, and protected the Founder of Islam (a.s). As long as the combat lasted, he neither took his hand away from the scabbard of his sword nor his feet at all swayed! Although he was fatigued with constant fighting throughout the day and he had several injuries caused by arrows, spears and swords, his spirit was indomitable! `Allamah al-Suyūti writes:

“On the Day of Uhud `Ali (a.s) was inflicted with sixteen sword injuries”[13]

Although Muslims did not achieve victory in this ghazwah, `Ali’s and Hamzah’s exploits of valor and the brave support of some other persons saved the Muslims from total defeat. This situation did not crop up because of some unexpected and accidental event. But the main cause was misunderstandings and lack of discipline in carrying out strict commands. Even before the battlefront was created, the opinion of the Muslins was divided as to the strategy to be adopted. One group insisted on fighting from within al-Madinah and the other, rightly, wanted to meet the enemy outside the city. And when the Prophet (a.s) came from his house in readiness for the battle, there was another change in the opinion suggesting that he stayed in the city to conduct the war. One group did withdraw into al-Madinah because their suggestion was not accepted. This affected the morale of the men and two tribes of Ansar, Banū-Salamah and Banū-Harithah were thinking of withdrawing from the conflict. These events prove that the Muslims, from the very beginning, were showing signs of indiscipline and the spirit that is imperative for jihad was absent in most men. This resulted in the set backs that have been described in the earlier paragraphs. This situation was not because of the superior numerical and material strength of the enemy, but it was due to lack of determination in the Islamic troops. Therefore, the indomitable spirit exhibited by a handful of the Muslim participants limited the enemy’s success to partial win. The main culprits in the poor performance of the Muslim army were the men who were under strict instruction from their Commander, The Prophet (a.s), not to leave the post of vigil at the ravine, but out of avarice for the booty from the deserting enemy troops, they did leave their post and the enemy attacked from that end and made the Muslims a sandwich between the two fronts. They neither remembered the Prophet’s strict orders nor did they listen to their supervisor who repeatedly asked them not to abandon their post. If they had not done, what they did, the result would have been different from what it was. The Holy Qur’an observes about these men of avarice:

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“Some men amongst you are desirous of the world and others want the Hereafter.”

Al-tabari has written that from the words “desirous of the world” are meant those persons who left the ravine unprotected to loot and plunder the fleeing troops of the enemy and those who wanted the “Hereafter” remained steadfast with the Prophet (a.s) to defend him and the Faith. Ibn Mas`ūd says:

“I never thought before this day that from the Companions of the Prophet (a.s) there were men who cherished the worldly wealth.”[14]

Besides these guards, the responsibility for the poor performance also goes to those who left the Prophet (a.s) encircled by the enemy and fled, despite the Prophet (a.s) repeatedly asking them to be courageous and to stay back! Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:

“O people of the Faith! When you are confronted with the enemy in the battlefront, Beware! Do not flee showing your backs!

Although the Muslims had to suffer severe casualties, they learnt a lesson that they should not allow indiscipline and differences to creep into their ranks. They must remain disciplined at all times and obey their Commander implicitly. They should remember that differences, selfishness and controversy are the precursors of defeat. This battle also proves that the apparent victory or defeat is not the touchstone of right and wrong. Sometimes, those who are on the Right Path have to face defeat! There was another very important benefit to the Ummah that the faces of the Hypocrites were blatantly exposed by their own behavior. The cowards in the ranks of the Muslims too were exposed that they did not have the spirit of sacrifice that a true Muslim must have!

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During this ghazwah, seventy Muslims were martyred and twenty-two infidels were killed. Although the hypocrites of Quraysh avenged their dead from Badr, the fires of revenge were still burned in their hearts. In the intoxication of success, they ill-treated the Martyrs bodies that were lying in the battlefield. Therefore, Mu`awiyah ibn Mughirah ibn Abil-`as cut the ears of Hamzah’s dead body. Hind bint `Utbah cut asunder his stomach, extracted the liver and chewed it. She severed the different parts of his body, made garland from them, and wore around her neck. The other women too followed suit and did the same heinous things to the bodies of other martyrs. Abū-Sufyan too, keeping aside all norms of decency, desecrated the dead body of Hamzah; hit the point of a spear on his face. At this point one person, Halis ibn `Alqamah shouted, “See! What treatment Abū-Sufyan is giving to the dead body of a person from a noble tribe!” When Abū-Sufyan heard this, he withdrew in shame!

Abū-Sufyan’s spirit of revenge remained in his nature even after embracing Islam. Therefore, during the reign of `Uthman, he kicked the grave of Hamzah and said:

“O Abū-`Imarah (Hamzah)! The State for which we clashed swords, is today in the hands of our children, with which they are playing!”[15]

This was Abū-Sufyan’s spirit of revenge which continued with his progeny after his death. Therefore, Mu`awiyah ibn Abi-Sufyan, at the Battle of Siffin, wanted to give the same treatment to the body of martyred `Abdullah ibn Badil. At that point a man from his own army, `Abdullah ibn `Amir, said,

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“As long as I live you cannot do defiling of his body!”[16]

Mu`awiyah was forced to desist from the heinous act. Similarly Abū-Sufyan’s grandson, Yazid ibn Mu`awiyah, desecrating the severed head of Imam al-Husayn (a.s) perpetrated the foul tradition of his accursed father and grandfather! He proved the heinous nature of Banū-Umayyah by ordering the perpetration of the Tragedy of Karbala’.

The Prophet of Islam (a.s) had already heard that the bodies of the martyrs had been desecrated and defiled by the tyrants. He asked the people to find about the condition of the body of his uncle, Hamzah. Harith ibn Suma`ah said that he had seen the place where Hamzah was martyred and that he would go there forthwith and bring back the information. Saying this he went to the base of the hill to find about the body. But on returning he could not muster courage to relate the condition of the body to the Prophet (a.s).The Prophet (a.s) sent `Ali (a.s) to find out the condition of the body. He too could not relate the details to the Prophet (a.s). In the end, the Prophet (a.s) himself went personally. When he saw the body and its severed parts, he cried inconsolably.

Ibn Mas`ūd says:

“We had never seen the Prophet (a.s) cry so inconsolably.”[17]

When some people told that Hind had chewed the liver of Hamzah, he asked whether she ate a part of it. They said she just chewed and threw it away. The Prophet then said:

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“Allah will not tolerate that any part of Hamzah’s body went to the Hell.”[18]

When the news reached al-Madinah that Hamzah was martyred, his sister Safiyyah came running from there. The Prophet (a.s) tried to dissuade her from seeing her brother’s body. But she said that there was no use preventing her from setting eyes on her brother’s remains. She told that she knew what heinous treatment was given to him by the infidels. Then the Prophet (a.s) put his shawl on the body of Hamzah. The shawl was small; therefore, they put some grass and leaves to cover his feet. Now the Prophet (a.s) allowed Safiyyah to see him. When Safiyyah saw the body, she uttered, “We are Allah’s and to Him shall we return.” Despite all her efforts to control herself, she could not stop her tears and sobs. The Prophet (a.s) too cried.

Now the martyrs had to be interred. First, the Prophet (a.s) led the funeral prayer for Hamzah and then for the other martyrs in a manner that Hamzah too was in the rows of the persons praying behind the Prophet (a.s). Then, two martyrs at a time were interred in their own bloodied clothes. With Hamzah, his sister’s son, `Abdullah ibn Jahsh too was buried. In one narration, it is mentioned that he was buried alone. Some of the martyrs were also buried in al-Madinah at Jannat al-Baqi`. Their relatives took these bodies away before the Prophet (a.s) had asked not to remove any bodies from Uhud.

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On the twenty second of Shawwal, the Prophet (a.s) moved to al-Madinah. When he passed through the locality of the Ansar he heard the wails and cries of the women. On inquiry, he was told they were mourning those who were martyred at Uhud. Tears came to the eyes of the Prophet (a.s). He said, “There is none to cry for Hamzah!” When the Ansar heard this, they asked their women to visit Hamzah’s place and give their condolences. Therefore, the ladies went and gathered at the house of Fatimah and condoled Hamzah’s death. The Prophet (a.s) went to the Mosque and hearing the sound of the cries of the condoling women he prayed for their welfare. Ibn Sa`d writes:

“It is a custom among the women of the Ansar that whenever there is a death in their families, they first cry over the martyrdom of Hamzah and then cry over the person who was dead.”[19]

This should be an eye-opener for the people who, against the example set by the Prophet (a.s) himself, say that those who believe that the martyrs are dead might cry over them and not those who believe that the martyrs are not dead!

On return from the Battle of Uhud, two persons from the army of the infidels were taken prisoner who was killed. One of them was Abū-`Uzza al-Jamahi who had motivated the people of Tihamah and Kinanah through his oratory to join the ranks of the Quraysh army. He was also among those who were taken prisoner at Badr and taking pity at his poverty, the Prophet (a.s) had released him without paying any ransom. He had taken a vow at that time that in future he would not take part in any activity against the Muslims. Again, he growled for release in front of the Prophet (a.s) who said:

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“A mu’min (true believer) cannot be bitten (by a snake) from the same pit twice!”[20]

He was now killed for his breach of promise. The second person was Mu`awiyah ibn Mughirah who had taken part in perpetrating retaliation with the dead body of Hamzah. He spent the night hiding in the out skirts of al-Madinah but came in the morning to the residence of his relative, `Uthman. On enquiring, he was told that `Uthman was not home. He said that he had bought a camel from him and had come to pay for it. Therefore, he must be asked to come home wherever he was. Therefore, `Uthman was fetched home. When he saw the enemy of Allah and the Prophet (a.s) at his threshold, he was much worried. He asked, “Why he had come?” The man said that he was his near relation and wanted shelter from him. `Uthman took him to a dark corner of the house and hid him there and returned to the Prophet (a.s). There he heard him say that Mu`awiyah was in al-Madinah and was loitering inside the city in the morning. He must be searched and apprehended. Some persons said that he had no place to go in al-Madinah other than `Uthman’s home. They left `Uthman with the Prophet (a.s) and went to his house. On inquiry, the inmates did not utter any word but pointed towards a dark corner of the house where the person was hiding. They apprehended him and brought him to the Prophet (a.s). `Uthman now knew that the secret was out. He told the Prophet (a.s), “I had come to you early morning to request for granting amnesty to this person!” The Prophet (a.s), on the request of `Uthman, gave a respite of three days to the person to get away from al-Madinah or else he will be executed. `Uthman arranged a means of transport and money for him so that he could go anywhere he wanted to. But Mu`awiyah was still in the limits of al-Madinah after expiry of the three days. On the fourth day the Prophet (a.s) ordered people to chase Mu`awiyah and apprehend him. Hearing this, Zayd ibn Harithah and `Ammar ibn Yasir, searched for Mu`awiyah and apprehended near al-Jamar. `Ammar threw an arrow at him and Zayd killed him with his sword. Another narration is that `Ali (a.s) had killed him. Al-Buladhari writes:

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“`Ali (a.s) killed Mu`awiyah ibn Mughirah.”[21]

Some historians say that Mu`awiyah had left al-Madinah, lost his way and again entered the limits of the city and had the hope that `Uthman would again obtain his release. He therefore came to `Uthman’s home and was hiding there. But the Muslims apprehended him before `Uthman could petition the Prophet (a.s) in the person’s favor. The story that he lost the way and wandered back to al-Madinah does not sound plausible. The route to and from al-Madinah was very clear and there was no wilderness on the outskirts for long distances that a person could get lost. The ostensible purpose of the person, perhaps, was to linger on in al-Madinah and spy on the Muslims about their future course of action!

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 190

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 197

[3] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 193

[4] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 197

[5] Tabaqāt, Vol 3, Page 23

[6] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 197

[7] Tārīkh Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 26

[8] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 201

[9] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 2, Page 254

[10] Tārīkh Khamīs, Vol 1, Page 485

[11] Izālat al-Khafā, Vol 1, Page 168

[12] Tārīkh al-Kāmil, Vol 2, Page 110

[13] Tārīkh al-Khulafā’, Page 114

[14] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 193

[15] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 4, Page 51.

[16] Ibn Abil-Hadīd, Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah, vol 5, Page 271

[17] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Vol 2, Page 273

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[18] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 2, Page 273

[19] Tabaqāt, Vol 2, Page 44

[20] Tārīkh al-Kāmil, Vol 2, Page 114

[21] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 328

THE EXPEDITION OF BANŪ-AL-NADIR

THE EXPEDITION OF BANŪ-AL-NADIR

In Safar 4 A.H. one chief of Abul-Bara’ came from Najd to al-Madinah. The Prophet (a.s) invited him to embrace Islam. He said that he would have no objection to embracing the Faith, but he would prefer if the Prophet (a.s) sent with him a delegation of Muslims to Najd to extend the invitation to the people there. The Prophet (a.s) expressed his doubt that some persons in Najd might harm the delegates. Abul-Bara’ said that the men would go in his personal protection. The Prophet (a.s) selected seventy companions who were pious, and well informed, and sent them with a letter from himself to the people of Najd. On reaching the region, the delegation halted at Bi’r-Ma`ūnah and gave the Prophet’s letter to Haram ibn Malhan to take it to `Amir ibn al-tufayl, the nephew of Abul-Bara’. That enemy of Allah refused to read or even take the letter. Haram ibn Malhan, sensing the situation said that if he had his pardon, he would say something. Before he could say anything further, at a hint from `Amir, one of his men pierced a spear in the back of the courier. He fell down dead.

After this heartless murder, `Amir sent his men to Bi’r-Ma`ūnah to attack the Muslims. But they refused to act because they were aware of the protection that al-Barra’ had promised them. With the help of some other tribes, `Amir surrounded the Muslims and killed all of them excepting two of the group. Of these two, one was Ka`b ibn Zayd whom they thought dead and left him. The other was `Amr ibn Umayyah who was taken prisoner but later on released as a thanksgiving offer of `Amir’s mother for a boon that she had received! When `Amr reached Qarqarat al-Kadar, on the way to al-Madinah, he noticed two companions of `Amir and quietly shadowed them. While the two were sleeping under a tree, he murdered them as retaliation for the killing of the delegates by `Amir. When he reached al-Madinah he learnt that both the persons had been given a written amnesty by the Prophet (a.s). When the Prophet (a.s) was informed of this event, he said that whatever had happened was because of lack of information and misunderstanding and that blood money shall be paid to both the families.

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The Prophet (a.s) was having an agreement of cooperation with the Jewish Tribes of Banū-Qunayqa`, Banū-Qurayzah and Banū-al-Nadir. He thought of borrowing some money from Banū-al-Nadir for paying to the families of the two deceased persons as a settlement. They responded by saying that he was their guest and they would comply with what he has asked for. The Prophet (a.s), along with his Companions, went to the locality of Banū-al-Nadir which was in the neighborhood of al-Madinah. He sat there with his back to the wall of their fortress. Banū-al-Nadir were not having any good intentions. They sent a person, `Amr ibn Jahsh, to climb the wall of the fortress and throw a big stone on the Prophet (a.s) to kill him. The Prophet (a.s) got a vision that he should immediately rise and return to al-Madinah. He sent a word through Muhammad ibn Maslamah that the Banū-al-Nadir were behaving treacherously and were attempting to kill him contrary to the terms of their agreement. He served them a notice that with all their belongings they should go away within ten days. When Banū-al-Nadir got this notice, they prepared to leave al-Madinah. But `Abdullah ibn Ubay, who was their cohort, asked them to keep staying in their homes and not to shift to any other place. He assured them that he would help them with two thousand strong contingent. He also told them that in the event of a conflict even Banū-Qurayzah, Banū-Ghatafan and their allies too will help them. When Banū-al-Nadir received offers of help, they decided to stay put and sent word to the Prophet (a.s) that they would not evacuate their homes and he might do whatever he wished to! In a manner, it was an invitation to fight, leaving no choice for the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) got together a small contingent and marched towards the fortress. Al-Tabari writes:

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“On that day the Standard of the Prophet (a.s) was in the hand of `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s).”[1]

When Banū-al-Nadir saw the Islamic contingent coming, they locked themselves inside the fortress. The Muslims established a siege of the fortress. When they saw that they were surrounded from all sides, the Banū-al-Nadir started flinging stones and arrows from the ramparts of the fortress but did not succeed in disturbing the siege. One night some Jews came out of the fortress and sent a barrage of arrows on the Muslims to force them lift the siege. One of them took aim of the Prophet’s tent and shot an arrow. The Prophet (a.s) ordered his tent to be pitched at the base of the hill away from the open, exposed place. The Prophet (a.s) ordered the shifting, and `Ali (a.s) stood up and watched to identify the bowman. When the Companions missed `Ali (a.s) they asked the Prophet (a.s) of his whereabouts. He said that he must have gone for some work. A short while after that they found `Ali (a.s) coming with the head of a Jew in his hand. He went near the Prophet (a.s) and put the head near his feet. He said, “This is the head of the famous Jewish bowman, Ghalūl, who had sent the arrow towards your tent! He and nine of his fellow bowmen have been creeping around our camps. If I can lay my hands on more of them, I shall bring them dead or alive!” The Prophet (a.s) sent Abū-Dujanah, Sahl ibn Hunayf and a few more persons with `Ali (a.s). He came out with his men. They must have gone a little distance when they surrounded the Jews before they could get inside the fortress and lock themselves in. All the nine Jews were killed outside the gate of their fortress.

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When Banū-al-Nadir saw that their men got killed and Banū-Ghatafan and Banū-Qurayzah did not turn up to help nor was any sign of the two thousand men promised by `Abdullah ibn Ubay, they capitulated to the Prophet (a.s) and requested for amnesty that they would ultimately evacuate the fortress and leave the place. The Prophet (a.s) agreed to their request but prohibited them from taking the arms with them. Whatever else was in their possession, they were free to take away. Therefore, the Jews demolished their dwellings with their own hands and they carried away the doors, windows and other merchandise on camels and went singing and playing musical instruments! Some of them went towards Syria and one group in which there was Salam ibn Abil-Haqiq, Kinanah ibn Rabi`ah and Huyay ibn Akhtab went to the west of al-Madinah and settled down in Khaybar.

The lands of Banū-al-Nadir and the gardens were treated as evacuee property were termed as the property of the Prophet (a.s). Therefore, `Umar says:

“The property of Banū-al-Nadir that Allah had given to His Prophet (a.s) was a special property because the Muslims neither ran their horses nor the camels.”[2]

This event took place on the fourth of Rabi` I, 7 A.H. and six months after the Battle of Uhud.

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 226

[2] Futūh al-Buldān, Page 26

THE EXPEDITION OF AL-AHZAB

THE EXPEDITION OF AL-AHZAB

Banū-al-Nadir, after expulsion from al-Madinah, settled down in Khaybar. But their mischievous nature did not let them remain quiet. They were very keen to take revenge for their expulsion from their homes. They were themselves not strong enough to take on the Muslims, but they were making efforts to enhance their fighting strength and had plans of joining hands with the Quraysh and some other tribes to attain the cause dear to all these parties. Therefore, a delegation of twenty persons from Banū-al-Nadir, of which the prominent persons were Huyay ibn Akhtab, Kinanah ibn Rabi`ah, Salam ibn Mushkam and Salam ibn Abil-Haqiq along with some chiefs of Banū-Wa’il went to Makkah and met Abū-Sufyan and other chiefs of Quraysh. They discussed with them about their intention of a conflict with the Muslims, and definitely, this was the favorite subject of the Quraysh. They all pressed their chests to the walls of the Ka`bah and vowed to help each other that they would fight with the Muslims until they are not very annihilated. When this oath was taken, the Jews headed towards Banū-Ghatafan and convinced them to ally with them and the Quraysh. Similar alliances were struck with Banū-Kinanah and some other tribes and they had approximately four thousand men in the group now. They now set out to attack al-Madinah. On the way the troops of Banū-Sulaym, Banū-Asad, Banū-Fazar and Banū-Ashja` joined them. Their force now was touching ten thousand men. They had three hundred riding, draught horses, and four thousand camels. There was no scarcity of material for war.

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Although they kept all their preparations in wraps, and wanted to make a preemptive, surprise attack, through some riders of Banū-Khuza`ah, the Prophet (a.s) got wind of the impending attack. He got together an emergency meeting of the Companions to discuss the gravity of the situation and to devise the strategy to prepare for the confrontation. Salman al-Farisi said that the people of Iran used to dig trenches on the expected entry points of the enemy to prevent swift advancement of their troops and to take defensive measures in the time thus gained. The benefit will be that the trenches serve as defensive fortresses. This suggestion was generally liked by everyone and the Prophet (a.s) ordered speedy implementation of the project. Al-Madinah was secure from three sides because of the walls of the houses, hills and the oasis. Only the Eastern end of the city was not secure and always the entry point for any invaders. The Prophet (a.s) shifted all the women and children to small fortresses within al-Madinah and the men all came out with crowbars to dig the trench. They surveyed the area, fixed the benchmarks, divided the entire length into blocks of the length of forty hands each, and entrusted each block to a group of ten persons. The Prophet (a.s) took active part in the work and assured the Muslims that one day they would rule Syria, Rome, Pars and Yemen!

Arabs were not aware of the construction of the trenches. This was first thought of by the grand son of Faridūn, Manocher, who invented the trenching for defensive purposes. For the first time in Arabia, Salman was introducing it. He was not only supervising the work of others but was giving a helping hand to groups along the length of the trench. Because of his dexterity, both Muhajirūn and the Ansar wanted Salman to be with them. Therefore, the Muhajirūn said, “Salman is ours!” The Ansar too echoed, “Salman is one of us!” The Prophet, when he heard this, said:

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“Salman is ours! Salman is from our Ahl al-Bayt!”[1]

Therefore the Muslims, who were three thousand in numbers, worked day and night and dug a five yards wide, five yards deep and three and half miles long trench. The Prophet (a.s) got erected eight defensive stations along the length of the trench, and at each station was posted a Muhajir and an al-Ansari to keep constant vigil along with some men to help in time of need. They had stocks of stones to keep as missiles to prevent the enemy men from crossing over the trench. When the Jews and the infidels reached the environs of al-Madinah, they found that the huge trench was a big hurdle in their way! They said:

By God! No Arab has devised this strategy so far![2]

The Jews and the Quraysh were of the view that because of their numerical and material strength, they would take on the Muslims as soon as they reached al-Madinah and immediately bring them down to their knees! But this new defensive strategy had pulled back their advancing steps. They had a feeling of dejection on confronting the hurdle.

One of the Jewish tribes with whom the Prophet (a.s) had the agreement of peace was Banū-Qurayzah. They were under an oath to support the Muslims if an outside force attacked al-Madinah. Abū-Sufyan was worried that if Banū-Qurayzah sided with the Muslims in terms of their agreement, and then their strength would increase. He wanted to try to make them repudiate the agreement. Therefore, he deputed one chief of Banū-al-Nadir, Huyay ibn Akhtab to visit Banū-Qurayzah and persuade them to violate the agreement. Huyay went to the fortress of the chief of Banū-Qurayzah, Ka`b ibn Asad that was situated on the East of the city of al-Madinah. He knocked at the entrance and Ka`b asked who it was? When Huyay identified himself, Ka`b understood his sly purpose. He refused to open the door and admit him. Huyay insisted on him to open the door and told him that he was bringing for him a happy tiding that the Quraysh and all the tribes of Arabia had united to fight with the Muslims! He added that if he wanted the goodwill of the Arabs, he should support their cause. Ka`b said that they had never experienced anything from the Prophet (a.s) other than good and trustworthiness! He said they would not breach the agreement needlessly. He also added that the unity of the Arabs he talked of was like the fast flying clouds that might thunder, but seldom rain! Huyay said that keeping the door closed for a guest is not a way with Arabs! Please open the door and talk to me for a while! On the insistence of Huyay, Ka`b opened the door and admitted him. They entered into an argument and the result was that Huyay was able to talk Ka`b into agreeing to cooperate with them. He also assured him that in the event of the Quraysh losing, his tribe would face the situation with Banū-Qurayzah. Therefore, they tore away the document of agreement the tribe had signed with the Prophet (a.s). Now, Banū-Qurayzah were friends and allies of the Quraysh.

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When the Prophet (a.s) learnt about the breach of agreement by Banū-Qurayzah, he sent Sa`d ibn Mu`adh to them to persuade them to behave. But this had no effect on them and they said in clear terms that they did not know any one nor did they have any agreement with anybody. Since these people were living within the boundaries of al-Madinah, they would be a danger for the women and children when hostilities with the enemy troops started. Their attitude added pressure on the Muslims. The Holy Qur’an describes this situation thus:

“When those people were on you from the top and from the bottom and when your eyes became stony and the hearts stretched and came to your throats and when you started

having several doubts about Allah, then came the time for the trial of the Muslims and they were shaken severely.”

At this time, it was natural that the Muslims were worried and confused. When the enemy was on their doorstep in hordes and within the city Banū-Qurayzah too were waiting in ambush. Then there were a sizeable number of hypocrites in the ranks of the Muslims as well who were themselves scared for their lives and were creating panic in others as well. Therefore, they started making excuses and pulling away from the line of action and even told the Prophet (a.s) that their homes were not well protected, they had fear of thefts and thus wanted to go home. The Holy Qur’an says:

وَإِذْ قَالَتْ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْهُمْ يَا أَهْلَ يَثْرِبَ لا مُقَامَ لَكُمْ فَارْجِعُوا وَيَسْتَأْذِنُ فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمْ النَّبِيَّ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّ بُيُوتَنَا عَوْرَةٌ وَمَا هِيَ بِعَوْرَةٍ إِنْ يُرِيدُونَ إِلاَّ فِرَارًا.

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“And when a group from them said, ‘O people if al-Madinah! You have no place here and you must return back.’ From them one group that sought the Prophet’s permission said that their homes were empty (unprotected), although they really were not empty and unprotected. They just wanted to make an excuse for running away. (33:13)”

Things went to such a pass that Mut`ib ibn Qushayr, who had the honor of serving in the Battle of Badr said,

“Muhammad (a.s) was promising us that we will have the treasures of Khusrow and Caesar in our hands. But today our predicament is such that even if someone wants to go to attend the nature’s call, he does not feel safe!”[3]

But there were some sincere persons who were not afraid of the enemy’s strength and were not scared of the hardships confronting them. In fact, these conditions strengthened their Faith and confidence levels enhanced. The Holy Qur’an says about these persons:

وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلاَّ إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا

“When the True Believers saw the hordes of the infidels, they said. ‘This is the thing that Allah and His Prophet (a.s) promised. And Allah and His Prophet (a.s) had told the truth.’(33:22)”

This was the time of great trial for the Muslims. The extreme cold and non-availability of food made them weaker and even the infidels were fed up waiting on the other side of the trench. It was the twenty-seventh day since they started the siege and still the hand-to-hand battle had not started. Only stones and arrows were exchanged with no result whatsoever. At last, they decided that somehow hoodwinking the guards they should go across the trench and fight the Muslims with swords. So some of their chiefs reconnoitered the trench and found a spot where it was slightly less wide and, as it chanced, the spot was not so well protected. They determined that the horses could be jumped from there to cross over. For this purpose they selected the famous cavalier of the Quraysh, `Amr ibn `Abd-Wudd al-`Amiri with `Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl, Hasal ibn `Amr, Munabbih ibn `Uthman, Dirar ibn al-Khattab al-Fahri, Nawfal ibn `Abdullah and Hubayrah ibn Abi-Wahab. They went round, came forward, kicked the horses and were able to jump across the trench. This small success gave the infidels some encouragement and Abū-Sufyan and Khalid ibn al-Walid organized the ranks of their men to send the footmen across to commence concerted fighting. Although, the cavaliers were all experienced men in warfare but `Umar ibn `Abd-Wudd had a very high reputation and was known as the support of the Arabs and the knight of Yalyal, that at a place of this name he overpowered a thousand robbers all alone. Therefore, `Umar told the Prophet (a.s) at that moment that he was himself in a caravan of trade proceeding to Syria and `Amr too was one of the group. When the caravan reached Yalyal, a thousand robbers attacked them. The entire group fled except `Amr ibn `Abd-Wudd who kept fighting alone and chased away the robbers. After this event, `Amr had the fame as the best swordsman in Arabia. With his participation in any battle, the morale of the men shoots up. As if a thousand more men were with them! When `Amr threw a challenge for fight, there was total silence! The Prophet (a.s) said, “Who is there to answer this dog?” `Ali (a.s) went near the Prophet (a.s) and said, “O prophet of Allah! I shall fight him!” The Prophet (a.s) asked him to wait that some other of his Companions might volunteer! He again asked if anyone was willing to face `Amr in battle. But the result was only stony silence! `Ali (a.s) again asked for permission and he was ordered to wait. `Amr started repeatedly calling someone for combat! He said sarcastically, “O Muslims! Where is your Heaven that you go to after your death! And where is the Hell that will be my destiny after I die? Come! Either you go to the Heaven or consign me to the Hell!” Then he kicked his horse, came closer to the Muslim troops, and started reciting a martial poem:

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“My voice has gone soar shouting and shouting!

I fight like a brave even in places where men of valor show weakness!

My feet move faster towards battle, and a bold youth’s qualities certainly are charity and valor!”

Because of repeated calls of `Amr, a quiet had descended on the Muslim ranks. They were stealing glances at each other quietly. None of the ostensible “brave” Companions had the courage to come forward and challenge him. The historians have recorded the moment in these words, “As if birds were sitting on their heads!” When `Ali (a.s) heard the repeated challenge from an infidel and the timid silence of the valiant Companions, he could not stand it anymore. He once again came close to the Prophet (a.s) and sought his permission to go and combat! “O Prophet of Allah! I must now fight with this accursed person! “The Prophet (a.s) had stopped `Ali (a.s) twice before this. The purpose was not that he did not want him to fight, but it was to know that whether any other ‘brave” Companions really take courage in their hands to face that champion! If `Ali (a.s) was allowed to fight at the very first call of `Amr, the others would have said that they too were ready to fight with him. Now it has been proved that they were the shirkers! After this general trial of the will of the Companions, the Prophet (a.s), to brighten the quality of self-confidence and bravery in `Ali (a.s) said:

“That cavalier is Yalyal `Amr ibn `Abd-Wudd!”

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`Ali (a.s) said:

“If he is `Amr, let him be! I am `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s)!”

The Prophet (a.s) put the headgear, al-Sahab, on the head of `Ali (a.s) and put the armor, Dhat al-Fudūl, on his body, tied the sword, Dhul-Faqar, around his girdle and lifting his hands towards the sky prayed:

“O Allah! You had taken away `Ubaydah on the day of Badr, and Hamzah in the battle of Uhud. Now there is only `Ali (a.s) whom You must guard. O Allah! Do not make me lonely and You are the better Guardian!”[4]

While `Ali (a.s) proceeded towards the arena, the Prophet (a.s) uttered these words:

“The total Faith moves towards total infidelity!”

`Ali (a.s) challenged `Amr and recited the following poem in reply to his earlier rajz:

“Wait! The one who will respond to your challenge has come;

He is not weak and is a person with determination and vision.

And only truth is the guarantee for success!

I hope that I shall arrange women to wail for you with such a blow that it will vanish after doing its task!

But its mention will always be made during encounters!

Both stood for a while facing each other. According to the martial practice, `Abd-Wudd asked who his opponent was. He replied that he was `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s). `Abd-Wudd asked, “In your army, is not there anybody else to fight with me? You are the son of Abū-Talib and he was my friend! I do not want to kill the son of my friend! You better go and send out some grown up person so that he will be killed at my hands instead of you!” `Ali (a.s) said, “But I like to shed your blood!”

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The famous author of the Ahl al-Sunnah, Musaddiq ibn Shabib, says that `Amr mentioned about his friendship with Abū-Talib only to save his own life, because he had witnessed in the Battle of Badr that whosoever confronted `Ali (a.s) would not return alive from the arena. Therefore, he wanted to avoid the chance of fighting with `Ali (a.s). It was not possible to show his back after entering the arena. Therefore, he devised this ruse to avoid the combat with `Ali (a.s).

When `Amr knew that it was not possible to avoid this combat, he acquiesced. When `Ali (a.s) noticed that he was himself on foot and `Amr was on his steed, and generally a horseman has an advantage over a foot soldier, he thought of making `Amr dismount. He said, O `Amr! If your opponent asked of you three favors before the fight, you are known to be accepting one of his requests. Is it true?” He said “Yes” `Ali (a.s) then said, “My first wish is that you embrace Islam that you do not have to fight with me!” `Amr said, “It was not possible!” `Ali (a.s) said, “My second wish is that you cut away from your troops and go away!” `Amr replied, “Turning away from the arena is not the wont of men! Only women can be deserters from the theatre of war!” Then `Ali (a.s) said, “If you are not ready to fulfill this wish of mine, my third and final wish is that you should dismount from your horse and combat with me!” Hearing this `Amr, dismounted from his steed in anger and anguish and

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slashed on the feet of the horse with his sword. Apparently, this was a meaningless act, but he wanted to impress that cutting away the legs of the horse he had sealed his avenue of escape. Now he had to kill or to be killed! Another reason could be that perhaps he wanted to gain some psychological advantage over the opponent by his dramatics! But `Ali (a.s) was not the one to be carried away. When he came to fight in the way of Allah, he was a mountain of determination! He did not give any importance to the swordsmanship of `Amr and gave him the chance to take precedence in attacking. Therefore, he rushed on `Ali (a.s) brandishing his sword. He stopped the sword on his shield. `Amr was an accomplished swordsman. Despite his defense, `Amr’s sword bruised his head and blood flew on his forehead. Now the Sword of Faith swayed in `Ali’s hand and he made a counter attack! He roared like a tiger and hit on the legs of `Amr with such ferocity that both his legs were cut away and he fell on the ground! `Ali (a.s) loudly said, “allahu-akbar!” and the ground reverberated with this slogan! `Ali (a.s) climbed on to the chest of `Amr and severed his head. The Companions, because of a sand storm, were unable to see anything. When they heard the sound of the slogan, they realized that `Ali (a.s) was victorious. In the meanwhile, the storm abated and things became clearly visible. They saw that `Ali (a.s) was coming with bloodied sword in one hand and the head of `Amr ibn `Abd-Wudd in the other! His gait was like that of a tiger walking during a light shower of rain! He had a couplet on his lips:

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“I am `Ali (a.s) and son of `Abd al-Muttalib! For a man death is better than deserting!”

Seeing `Ali (a.s) coming in that manner, some said that he was walking with pride that day! The Prophet (a.s) heard this and said that in the arena of battle, Allah likes this attitude! Any way, when `Ali (a.s) arrived after winning the battle of Faith over infidelity, the Prophet (a.s) embraced him and praising his great service to the Cause said:

“One blow of `Ali (a.s) on the Day of Khandaq (the Trench) is more (felicitous) than the prayers of all the Jinn and Men!”[5]

When `Umar noticed that quite contrary to the practice of the Arabs, `Ali (a.s) neither took away the armor of `Amr ibn `Abd-Wudd nor he took the sword and the helmet, he asked, “O `Ali! Why did not you take away his armor?” `Ali (a.s) replied, “I did not feel like making him naked.” This was the greatness of `Ali’s character!” At this juncture one Arab poet said:

“In the battle the determined eyes of the warriors turn towards the adversary and not the booty!”

`Amr’s sister too recognized this gesture of `Ali (a.s). Therefore, when she heard that the killer of her brother did not remove anything from the body of her brother, she said, “His killer is definitely a noble person with high moral values!” When people said that it was `Ali Ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) she recited the following couplets:

If `Amr’s killer was anyone other than `Ali,

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I would have cried for him forever

But his killer is he who has no faults

And his father is known as chief of Makkah.

After the death of `Amr, his friends were disheartened. No one else had the courage to call for man-to-man combat. All of them ran towards the trench to jump away from it. `Ali (a.s) got them surrounded. `Amr’s son showed signs of resistance and he was killed by `Ali (a.s). Nawfal ibn `Abdullah, trying to cross the trench, fell into it. The Muslims started throwing stones at him. He said, “If you want to kill me, do not kill me in this insulting manner. Let someone from you come down and fight with me” `Ali (a.s) jumped into the trench and finished him with one blow! Munabbih ibn `Uthman, while trying to cross the trench, was pierced by an arrow, and died after reaching Makkah. `Ikrimah reduced his weight by throwing away his spear, crossed the trench and with Hubayrah reached the camp of the Quraysh. `Umar saw Dirar ibn al-Khattab running away. He chased him. Dirar turned back to attack, but when he noticed it was `Umar, he said, “O `Umar! Remember this good deed that I have done to you!” He also escaped to his camp. The infidels were not in a position to take away their dead. But they demanded to take the bodies of `Amr and Nawfal are given to them in exchange for a sizeable ransom. The Prophet (a.s), said, “They are your property! We do not sell dead bodies!” When they got permission, they took the dead bodies away.

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After the killing of the few eminent persons of the infidel forces, the morale nosedived very low and none else had the courage to attempt crossing the trench. The paucity of food materials too was pressing. Staying there any further would have disastrous consequences for them. They were already thinking of withdrawing when, one night, there was a severe rainstorm that destroyed their tents and paddocks. The horses and camels were going helter-skelter, the cauldrons on fire over turned. Now there was no other way than lifting the siege and quietly going away. Therefore, Abū-Sufyan said that biding there any more was of no use. Saying this he got up and the camps were wound up! In the morning, when the Muslims looked across the trench, they found the ground vacant. They made prostrations of thanksgiving to Allah! Shouting slogans of victory, they happily returned home!

In this battle, the hypocrites lost four men. `Amr ibn `Abd-Wudd, Nawfal ibn `Abdullah and Hasal ibn `Amr were killed by `Ali (a.s) and Munabbih ibn `Uthman got injured and died after arriving at Makkah. The other men of the Muslim army either threw stones at Nawfal when he fell into the trench and one of them shot an arrow at Munabbih who died of the injury in Makkah. And `Umar made a short chase of Dirar ibn al-Khattab and he himself had to be indebted to the fleeing person that he decided not to attack the worthy. The one person who really dealt with the renowned warriors of the infidels was `Ali (a.s). His blows to the great warriors of the Quraysh dampened their spirits and all their plans for subduing the Muslims.

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There is a lot of similarity between the ghazwah al-Khandaq and the battle between Saul and Goliath. Briefly, we are describing the other battle to highlight the salient similarities between the two. Goliath, a scion of Pharaoh, was the ruler of Banū-Isra’il. He was a tyrant and had made the lives of his subjects miserable. The Banū-Isra’il complained about it to Ishmael, the prophet of the time. Ishmael, with Allah’s permission, selected a poor water carrier, Saul, to be the king. Banū-Isra’il were upset saying what was so special in Saul. They felt that neither he had wealth nor did he have an impressive personality. The reply given by Ishmael is indicated in these words of the Holy Qur’an:

“Allah has given him preference and superiority, knowledge and strength of the body. Allah gives his land to anyone He wants”

The way the Qur’an has put forth the contents of the Verse, it reflects on the method of appointment and the style of governance. This appointment is not because of the wealth or status of the person but it is because of knowledge, nobility and valor.

When Goliath saw that the state was being transferred to Saul, he arranged his army and came to the battlefront. Saul too took the Banū-Isra’il with him and moved away from Palestine and went to the region of Jordan, camped in front of the enemy’s army. The army of Saul had one thousand and three hundred men. When he saw the huge army of Goliath, he felt scared. When Goliath came to the arena riding on an elephant, no one took courage in his hands to meet him in combat. When Saul saw the cowardice of his companions, he declared that whoever killed Goliath would be given half of the kingdom and he would give his daughter in marriage to him. But none had courage to challenge the strong man. Ishmael said that he will be killed by the person who is from the progeny of Lu’ay ibn Ya`qūb and Mūsa’s armor would fit his body. Therefore, Isha, who was from the progeny of Lu’ay ibn Ya`qūb, was asked to present his ten sons. When they came, each one of them was asked to try the armor of Mūsa, but it fitted only Dawūd, who was the youngest son. They said that only he could overpower Goliath. Dawūd wore the armor and came to the arena. Goliath, seeing him said:

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“O young man! Will you fight me at your tender age?”[6]

He replied that he was willing to take him on. Dawūd took stones in his sling when Goliath said; “Will you kill me like they kill the dogs?” He replied, yes! The reason is that you are worst than a dog!” Dawūd swung his sling and threw the stone at such speed that it broke Goliath’s head and went through it. Goliath fell down on the ground and died instantly. With Goliath’s death, there was pandemonium in his army and the men fled. Ya`qūb was given the kingdom because of this achievement. He was also married to Saul’s daughter.

Now let us compare the ghazwah Khandaq with that battle and see the similarities between the two. In Khandaq, the army of Muslims was very small compared to that of the infidels. Similarly, Saul’s army was small and that of Goliath was very large covering the wilderness of Jordon. Saul’s men were scared of this very large army. The way `Amr ibn `Abd-Wudd came boasting of his strength, Goliath too behaved the same way. The way none in the army of Islam had the courage to challenge `Amr other than `Ali (a.s), so too Ya`qūb was the only person from Saul’s army who could challenge Goliath. As `Amr came astride a horse to challenge the army of Islam, Goliath was riding on an elephant. The way Dawūd was on foot, so too was `Ali (a.s). As Mūsa’s armor exactly fitted Ya`qūb so did fit the Prophet’s armor for `Ali. As Dawūd was the youngest of his brothers, so was `Ali (a.s) the age of Dawūd and `Ali (a.s) was thirty years at the time of the wars! As Goliath objected to the young age of Dawūd, so did `Amr about `Ali (a.s). Shaykh `Ali `Ala’uddin has written:

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“Amongst the prophets, Dawūd (a.s) and amongst the Saints `Ali ibn Abi-Talib were the leaders of the warriors”[7]

The way the Prophet (a.s) addressed `Amr as dog, Dawūd called Goliath worse than a dog as well. As the armies of the infidels fled from the Battle of al-Ahzab, so did those of Goliath! The way `Amr’s killer became the son-in-law and successor of the Prophet (a.s), so did Ya`qūb got married to Saul’s daughter and was his successor too. Awareness of this similarity is evident from what Hafiz Yahya ibn Adam has said:

“If the killing of `Amr by `Ali (a.s) can be compared to any event reported in the Holy Qur’an it is the Verse, ’Then those people defeated the enemy with Allah’s Orders and Dawūd killed Goliath.’”[8]

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Kāmil, Vol 2, Page 122

[2] Sīrat Ibn Hushām, Vol 3, Page 235

[3] Sīrat Ibn Hushām, Vol 3, Page 233

[4] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd, Vol 4, Page 344

[5] Mustadrak Hakim, Vol 3, Page 32

[6] Bidāyat al-Rumūz, Page 159

[7] Muhā¤arāt al-Awā’il, Page 204

[8] Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, Dahlān, Vol 2, Page 111

THE EXPEDITION OF BANŪ-QURAYZAH

THE EXPEDITION OF BANŪ-QURAYZAH

When the joint forces of the Quraysh and the Jews were vanquished in the ghazwah al-Ahzab, The Prophet (a.s) decided to take action against Banū-Qurayzah who had breached their agreement with the Muslims and openly sided with the Quraysh-Jewish Combine during that campaign, on the instigation of Huyay ibn Akhtab. The Prophet (a.s) formed an advanced party of three Khazrajis under `Ali (a.s) and sent them with the standard of war. Al-Tabari writes:

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“The Prophet (a.s) gave the Standard of War to `Ali ibn Abi-Talib and sent him with the Advance Guard towards Banū-Qurayzah.”[1]

Banū-Qurayzah had a feeling that they might be punished for their breach of the agreement. They had locked themselves up in their fort after the armies of the infidels was decimated and thought that their fort was unconquerable. When `Ali (a.s) reached near the fort, and planted a spear in the ground, the Jews shouted invectives against the Prophet (a.s). When he heard this, he wanted to return and tell the Prophet (a.s) to stop going close to the fort. He was still on the way when the Prophet (a.s) arrived. `Ali (a.s) requested him not to go near the fort because the Jews were using foul language. The Prophet (a.s) said that when they see him, they would desist from using such language. On reaching near the fort, the Prophet (a.s) reprimanded them and ordered his tent to be pitched outside the fort. The Muslims laid siege of the fort and sealed all the exit and entry points for the besieged Jews. Among the inmates of the fort was Huyay ibn Akhtab who had tempted Banū-Qurayzah to support the Quraysh in the Battle of al-Ahzab. He had promised the Banū-Qurayzah that in the event of the defeat of the Quraysh he would stay with them and share their fate.

The chief of Banū-Qurayzah, Ka`b ibn Asad saw that the siege by the Muslims was getting tougher, therefore he told his people that there is mention of the prophethood of Muhammad (a.s) in the Divine Books, and if they agree to embrace Islam now, they could win their freedom without any problem… But their men would not agree to this suggestion. Then Ka`b suggested that the next course of action open for them was to kill their women and children, go out of the fort and fight to finish. Doing this, they will have no care left for their families. They would not accept even this suggestion. Then he said that it was the eve of Sabbath, the Muslims would not imagine that the Jews would attack on the sacred night. The attack, if it is executed, will have an element of surprise and the Muslims will be taken on unawares. But the Jews turned down even this suggestion. They said that they could not imagine desecrating the Sabbath.

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Twenty-five days passed since the fort was besieged. They kept raining stones and arrows on the Muslims but did not succeed in breaking the siege. When they were fed up with the hardships of the siege, the Jews sent Nabash Ibn Qays to the Prophet (a.s) that they were willing to lay down arms if they were pardoned and allowed to move away with their families and their wealth. They then offered that they would abandon all their belongings and would leave only with the families. Even this was not acceptable to the Prophet (a.s). They were told that they must surrender unconditionally. Nabash went back and told them what transpired. They sent a message to the Prophet (a.s) requesting him to depute Abul-Bu`bu` al-Ansari so that they talk to him and come to a final conclusion. The Prophet (a.s) sent Abul-Bu`bu` to them. They asked him if it would be safe for them if they made an unconditional surrender. He replied in the affirmative but pointed his hand towards the neck indicating his apprehension of what would happen to them if they surrender.

This act of Abul-Bu`bu` contrary to all norms of decency and was not proper official emissary to do. The Qur’an mentions about this event thus:

“O believers! Do not be dishonest in the matters of Allah and the Prophet (a.s), nor knowingly commit dishonesty with trusts.”

When Banū-Qurayzah felt that unconditional surrender might spell their doom, and then they said:

“We accept Sa`d ibn Mu`adh as the mediator and will abide by his decision.”[2]

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The Prophet (a.s) too accepted Sa`d ibn Mu`adh as the mediator and that his decision would be binding for both the parties.

Ibn Husham writes that when the Banū-Qurayzah refused to surrender, `Ali (a.s) said:

“By Allah! I shall either get martyred, as Hamzah was martyred, or capture the fort!”[3]

Saying this, he took al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam along and advanced to attack the fort. When Banū-Qurayzah saw him advancing to attack, they shouted with concern:

“O Muhammad (a.s)! We bow our heads to the decision of the arbitrator, Sa`d ibn Mu`adh!”

Sa`d ibn Mu`adh was injured in the Battle of al-Ahzab and was recuperating at al-Madinah in the tent of Rafidah al-Ansariyyah. When he was brought in a litter, Banū-Aws surrounded him and said that the Prophet (a.s) had left the decision about the fate of Banū-Qurayzah to him and he should give a mild judgment in their favor. Sa`d said that he will give a decision which is just and fair. The people understood from what Sa`d said that the judgment would go against Banū-Qurayzah. His decision was that the men of Banū-Qurayzah be executed and the women and children taken as slaves. Therefore, the men were executed and the women and children taken away as captives. Their belongings were confiscated and distributed to the troops. The Holy Qur’an says about this incident:

وَأَنْزَلَ الَّذِينَ ظَاهَرُوهُمْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مِنْ صَيَاصِيهِمْ وَقَذَفَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ الرُّعْبَ فَرِيقًا تَقْتُلُونَ وَتَأْسِرُونَ فَرِيقًا . وَأَوْرَثَكُمْ أَرْضَهُمْ وَدِيَارَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ وَأَرْضًا لَمْ تَطَئُوهَا وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرًا.

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“And He drove down those of the followers of the Book who backed them from their fortresses and He cast awe into their hearts; some you killed and you took captive another part. And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their rage; they did not obtain any advantage, and Allah sufficed the believers in fighting; and Allah is Strong, Mighty.”

This punishment appears very severe, but if the circumstances were considered, the worst critic would accept that Banū-Qurayzah did deserve the harsh punishment. Despite the Prophet (a.s) giving all the concessions in terms of the agreement, Banū-Qurayzah collaborated with the enemy, the Quraysh, against the interests of the Muslims. Even their chief, Ka`b ibn Asad, had accepted that the Prophet (a.s) was abiding by the agreement in

word and spirit. Flouting this agreement, Banū-Qurayzah themselves were responsible for the consequences. When Banū-al-Nadir were exiled from al-Madinah, the agreement with Banū-Qurayzah was revised maintaining the old mild terms even when the circumstances demanded making a more severe agreement. But they flouted the agreement by collaborating with the enemy during the battles of Uhud and al-Ahzab. If they were left alive, they would be a constant danger to the people of al-Madinah. The punishment meted out to them was not so strange for the people of the world. Traitors and collaborators are dealt with everywhere in this manner. When Huyay ibn Akhtab, the main instigator of the episode who tempted Banū-Qurayzah to collaborate with Quraysh was taken for execution he told `Ali (a.s), “A decent person is executing another decent person!” And then he requested `Ali (a.s) that he not be undressed after execution. `Ali (a.s) said it was not his way to render an enemy naked after killing him! In accordance with his practice, he did not take away the dress of Huyay.

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Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 245

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 246

[3] Sīrat ibn Hushām, Vol 3, Page 251

THE TRUCE OF AL-HUDAYBIYAH

THE TRUCE OF AL-HUDAYBIYAH

Makkah was the ancestral town and the birthplace of the Prophet of Islam (a.s). He spent fifty-three years of his life here and it was here that he got his first Revelation from Allah. For thirteen years the Revelations of the Holy Book continued coming here only. Although he had to leave the home and hearth because of the troublesome attitude of the people of Makkah, he always liked to mention and hear about his home town. Love for ones own place of birth is quite natural Whether one had a comfortable life or had to face hardships in his home town, its memories will ever live in his mind. Besides this natural affinity, the Prophet (a.s) had a spiritual attachment with the place because it has located in it the Ka`bah and other places of religious importance. This urge for Makkah was not only in the heart of the Prophet (a.s) but all the Companions had the same attachment for the place. Now it was six years since they had Migrated and now they were all eager to visit Makkah and circumambulate the Ka`bah. Once the Prophet (a.s) related about a dream of his. He saw in the dream that they had entered the Haram of Ka`bah and were doing the circumambulation. Hearing of this dream the eagerness of the Companions to make a visit too increased. They insisted on the Prophet (a.s) to plan a visit. From the Quraysh they expected some resistance in allowing the Muslims to come there. However after the ignominious defeat at al-Ahzab, it was conjectured that their spirit of battle had cooled and that they might not hinder the visit by the Muslims. Considering the keenness and pressure from the Companions, the Prophet (a.s) planned a visit and invited people from the neighborhood of al-Madinah too to join. Some people avoided going because it crossed their minds that the Quraysh might think it a good opportunity to start a battle. The number of persons who made up their minds to travel was around one thousand and four hundred to one thousand and five hundred. Along with this entourage, the Prophet (a.s) started from al-Madinah on I Dhul-Qa`dah 6 A.H. They had seventy camels for the ceremonial sacrifice, and all the members of the party were dressed in the loincloth prescribed for the pilgrimage and carried no arms to give confidence to the Quraysh that they had no warlike intentions!

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It was evident from the dress of the Prophet (a.s) and the Companions that they were not going for a battle and heading for a pilgrimage to Ka`bah. But the Quraysh did not allow them to enter Makkah. When this caravan reached the Valley of `Asfan, Busr ibn Abi-Sufyan al-Ka`bi came to the presence of the Prophet (a.s) and said that the Quraysh had assembled in the Valley of Dhi-tuwa hearing of the arrival of the caravan and Khalid ibn al-Walid was stationed at Kura` al-Ghamim with a contingent of troops to prevent them from reaching Makkah. The Prophet (a.s) changed his route, and via Thaniyyat al-Marar, they reached Hudaybiyah which is a well at a distance of fifteen miles from Makkah and the area around it was known by the same name. Khalid informed the Quraysh that the caravan has changed its route and had reached Hudaybiyah. Quraysh sent Badil ibn Warqa’ al-Khuza`i along with some men from Banū-Khuza`ah to talk with the Prophet (a.s). He asked the Prophet (a.s) to give up the idea of going to Makkah and return from Hudaybiyah only. He said that if he went any further, Quraysh would use force to stop him. At any cost they did not want his party to enter Makkah. The Prophet (a.s) said that they had come only to circumambulate the Ka`bah and Quraysh need not have any apprehensions from them and they had no plan whatsoever of fighting with them. Badil conveyed the Prophet’s message to the Quraysh who agreed that the intentions did not appear warlike; nonetheless they would not be allowed to enter. If they tried to enter forcibly, the Quraysh would fight to stop them. `Urwah ibn Mas`ūd al-Thaqafi said that it would not harm Quraysh in any manner if they enter, perform `Umrah and return like any other group generally coming for the pilgrimage! Quraysh said that Arabs would consider it as their weakness and capitulation if the Muslims were allowed in. Then `Urwah sought permission to negotiate with the Prophet (a.s) and send his party back peacefully. Quraysh agreed and he came to the presence of the Prophet (a.s). He said, “O Muhammad (a.s)! Quraysh is the tribe you personally belong to! Imagine if you annihilate the tribe, it will be the first example in the entire Arabia that someone destroyed his own tribe! Quraysh do not want that you enter Makkah. If you try to do it, the consequence will be a fight! When the hostilities start, the same people who are around you will run away!” At this point Abū-Bakr chided him rather impolitely and said that they shall never abandon the Prophet (a.s). `Urwah asked who this person was. He was told that it was Abū-Bakr. He said, “O Abū-Bakr! I remember one good turn you did to me! Otherwise I would have properly replied to your impoliteness!” `Urwah’s patience and forbearance nipped the little tiff in the bud. It was possible that he might have left the talk incomplete and gone away and misguided the Quraysh to go for fighting. The Prophet (a.s) realized about his balanced and fair thinking and asked him, “Is it fair to prevent us from performing the `Umrah and not allowing our sacrificial camels reaching near the Ka`bah? We have neither come with an intention of war nor shall we unnecessarily start hostilities” `Urwah was very much impressed with the attitude of the Prophet (a.s) and returned to the Quraysh. He told them that he had gone in the past to the presence of kings like Caesar, Khusrow and Najashi, but meeting the Prophet (a.s) was an entirely different experience for him. He did not find the aura of respectability and dignity anywhere else as in his company. He recommended that the party must be allowed to perform the `Umrah and go back peacefully. But the Quraysh did not heed his advice and were adamant in their stand. When Halis ibn `Alqamah saw that the matter was not getting resolved, he asked to be permitted to make his efforts for resolution. He proceeded to Hudaybiyah. When he saw the sacrificial camels restless with hunger, and he heard the call of “labbayka! allahumma labbayka!” from the men in the caravan, he returned without entering the camp. He told the Quraysh that preventing the group from performing the `Umrah will be sheer cruelty and there is no reason stopping any pilgrims from entering the Ka`bah. Quraysh however were still adamant. Seeing this attitude Halis said:

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“O People of Quraysh! Maybe we have a pact with you! But we have not made any understanding with you that you prevent, whosoever it might me, from performing the rites of pilgrimage in Makkah!”[1]

When these representations failed, the Prophet (a.s) sent Kharrash ibn Umayyah al-Khuza`i on his personal camel to the Quraysh to assure them that he did not mean to fight and had come there only for `Umrah. Kharrash talked to the Quraysh that they need not obstruct the party performing the rites of pilgrimage but they did not listen to any argument and even threatened to kill him. Halis and the tribes under his control prevented them from the act. Under protection of their swords they escorted Kharrash to safety. However the Quraysh slaughtered the Prophet’s camel. They did not stop at it. They deputed fifty roughs from Makkah to go to the camp and trouble them. They reached near the camp and started throwing stones and arrows on the party. The Muslims were not so weak that they would be cowed down by those roughs. They surrounded and withheld the men. They were brought before the Prophet (a.s) who released them without any punishment. He called `Umar

and asked him to visit Makkah and impress on the Quraysh that their visit was not for fighting. `Umar expressed his inability in the following words:

“In Makkah there is none from my tribe, Banū-`Adi, who could come forward for my rescue! I have enmity with Quraysh and my harshness and strictness towards them is no secret. I have fear for my life from them. You may send `Uthman instead, he has more influence over the Quraysh!”[2]

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Now the Prophet (a.s) called `Uthman and appointed him for the task. Along with him a delegation of ten Muhajirūn too was sent. When he reached Makkah he conveyed the message from the Prophet (a.s) to Abū-Sufyan and other chiefs that they need not resist the group’s entry for `Umrah. They did not pay any heed to what he said. Instead they stopped him from returning. `Uthman secured the protection of his relative, Aban ibn Sa`id, but the others were at the mercy of the Quraysh. Because of their detention in Makkah, rumors became current amongst the Muslims that `Uthman and the other delegates had been killed. Since they were sent by the Prophet (a.s) as diplomats and their killing was against all norms of international laws, there was a feeling of anger amongst the Muslims. They started talking of avenging the killings. When the Prophet (a.s) felt the disturbed emotions of the Muslims, he gathered them under a tree and took a bay`ah from them that in the event of a conflict, they would not desert and run away. Therefore, Jabir ibn `Abdullah says:

“The Prophet (a.s) took bay`ah from us that we do not run away from the fight!”[3]

This bay`ah is called the bay`at al-ridwan (Allegiance of Approval) because Allah had expressed His approval and happiness over it and said:

لَقَدْ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ فَأَنْزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَثَابَهُمْ فَتْحًا قَرِيبًا .

“Certainly Allah was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to you under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility on them and rewarded them with a near victory. (48:18)”

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Now they learnt that `Uthman and other delegates were safe and there was no need for fighting. They returned safely to the camp. The result of this was that the emotions of the Muslims cooled down. On the other side, the infidels of the Quraysh too were not in a mood for hostilities. They only wanted to salvage their false sense of honor and prestige. Therefore, after this event, they sent Huwaytib and Suhayl ibn `Amr for negotiations. The Prophet (a.s) too was not in favor of a battle. He approved negotiations for an understanding. For the negotiations he nominated `Ali (a.s). Al-Tabari writes:

“The Quraysh sent Suhayl ibn `Amr and Huwaytib and the Prophet (a.s) selected `Ali (a.s) for the parleys.”[4]

When the talks started, the representatives of the Quraysh felt that the opposite party did not intend fighting, started putting forward unreasonable conditions for the settlement. Therefore, after much debate, the following terms were agreed to by both the sides:

(1) This visit the Muslims would return without performing the `Umrah.

(2) Next year they can visit Makkah for `Umrah but not to halt there for more than three days.

(3) They should not carry any arms, other than swords, along with their caravan. The swords should all the time be in the sheaths.

(4) The tribes of Arabia shall have the right to make agreement of cooperation with any of the two sides and the conditions will also apply to the tribes on both sides.

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(5) If any person from Makkah strayed into the territory of the Muslims, it would be binding on the Muslims to return him safely. If any Muslim went to the Quraysh territory, he will not be returned to them.

(6) The agreement will be valid for a period of ten years. During this period there will be neither hostility nor restriction on travel.

All these conditions were, more or less, in the favor of the Quraysh and they were not ready for the deal without enforcing them. In these conditions it was really difficult to establish peace with them when a sizeable block of the Quraysh was not in favor of any peace and the majority of Muslims did not like the terms of the agreement. Now there were only two options. Either to accept their conditions or reject them outright and get ready for a battle! The Prophet (a.s) had an eye on the consequences of any conflict with them at that time when the Muslims were in a state of absolute unpreparedness for battle. If the Prophet (a.s) decided to fight, despite the disadvantage, and even if the Muslims were victorious, and entered Makkah as the winners, the animosity of the Quraysh would become so much that they would never ever think of embracing Islam. Another conclusion could also have been drawn that the Prophet (a.s) was not peace loving and that as soon as he had military strength he took the first opportunity to wreak vengeance on the Quraysh. While all the previous battles were defensive in nature, this one would have been termed an aggressive campaign. This was the prime reason that the Prophet (a.s) gave preference to peace. Although they had to yield some concession in the terms of the agreement, the deal was not as a result of defeat in any battle. In fact it was after repeated successes in the previous battles. But the Prophet (a.s) demonstrated his love for peace after victories in battles! He also exposed the ignorance and the stubbornness of the Quraysh by offering them conditions of peace.

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After deciding the terms of peace, it came to drafting the agreement. Suhayl created hurdles at every step in this matter too. When `Ali (a.s) started writing the draft, the Prophet (a.s) asked him to write “bismillahirrahmanirrahim” on the top of the document. Suhayl said they did not know what “arrahman” was. He just wanted them to write “bismikallahumma” at the head of the document (this was first used by Umayyah ibn al-Salt before Islam and was generally written in all letters and documents since then). The prophet (a.s) did not want to enter into an argument and accepted his suggestion. Then `Ali (a.s) wrote “This is the agreement of peace which Allah’s Prophet Muhammad has made with Suhayl ibn `Amr.” Suhayl objected about this sentence as well that they did not accept Muhammad (a.s) as the Prophet of Allah. If they had recognized him as the Prophet (a.s) they would not have objected to his entering Makkah. He therefore wanted them to write his name as “Muhammad (a.s) ibn `Abdullah”. The Prophet (a.s) asked `Ali (a.s) to strike off the words “rasūlullah” with his pen and write “Muhammad ibn `Abdullah”. `Ali (a.s) put down his pen in anger saying, “By Allah! I shall not strike off the words, ‘rasūlullah’ from the document!” The Prophet (a.s) said, “I shall strike off the words myself!” He drew a line across those words and told `Ali (a.s):

“One day, you too will be put to such a test!”[5]

When the document was ready, witnesses from both sides put a hand to it. One copy of the document was given to the Prophet (a.s) and another to Suhayl ibn `Amr.

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All the matters connected with the drafting and execution were completed under the direct supervision of the Prophet (a.s) and no Companions were asked to participate in the proceedings nor their opinions were obtained. It was only `Ali (a.s) who helped the Prophet (a.s) in deciding on the terms and drafting of the document. Many Companions were against the terms of the agreement and even the need to make peace with the Quraysh. They were hoping to enter Makkah despite the opposition of the infidels and perform `Umrah. But when they were asked to return from Hudaybiyah without performing the `Umrah they were so much disturbed that doubts cropped up in their minds. Al-Tabari writes:

“When the Companions of the Prophet (a.s) started from al-Madinah they had no doubt about victory on the basis of the dream that the Prophet (a.s) saw. But when they knew about the truce and the need to return, and knew that the Prophet (a.s) himself had agreed to the terms of the truce, a big doubt crept into their minds and were about to start a dispute.”[6]

`Umar was most upset with this truce. His anger rose so much that he went to the presence of the Prophet (a.s) and said, “Are you not the true Prophet?” The Prophet (a.s) replied, “Yes! I am!” `Umar added, “Did you not say that we shall all enter the al-Masjid al-Haram and circumambulate the Ka`bah?” The Prophet (a.s) replied, “Yes! I had seen a dream and interpreted it that the time is coming when we shall enter to al-Masjid al-Haram and circumambulate the Ka`bah! But I did not say that we shall do it this year only. Whatever has happened is with the Command of Allah! I cannot do anything against His Commands! Allah will never let the enemy to be trampling me!” Even after this explanation by the Prophet (a.s), `Umar’s ire did not subside. He went to Abū-Bakr in anger and talked in the same manner with him. He said:

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“O `Umar! Keep holding his reins! I bear witness that he is the Prophet of Allah (a.s)!”[7]

Abū-Bakr had to confirm about the prophethood of Muhammad (a.s) because it was evident from `Umar’s way of talking that he was so much angry and upset about the truce that he started doubting the very prophethood of Muhammad (a.s). Therefore, `Umar has expressed his doubts in this manner:

“By Allah! Ever since I embraced Islam, I never had a doubt, but on that day!”[8]

The anger of the companions was such that while the Prophet (a.s) giving a practical shape to it ordered them to sacrifice the animals and cut their hair, they started disobeying. Despite instructing them several times they did not comply. The Historian al-Tabari writes:

“By Allah! Despite the Prophet (a.s) ordering them thrice, none of them rose to obey!”[9]

When the Prophet (a.s) saw this state of affairs, he was very saddened. He stood up and went to the tent of Umm-Salamah and sat down quietly. She saw the sad visage of the Prophet (a.s) and asked the reason for his glumness. He complained about the behavior of his companions. Umm-Salamah said, “You need not force anyone. Go and sacrifice your animal, get your hair removed and change the dress.” The Prophet (a.s) came out of the tent, sacrificed the animal, removed his hair and changed from the Ihram to ordinary dress, when the companions saw that the decision of the Prophet (a.s) cannot be changed, some persons followed suit. Most of them got small tufts of hair removed. Their anger seemed not be coming down. Al-Tabari writes:

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“They were clipping each other’s hairs. But it seemed as if they were in a state of sadness and might slay each other.”[10]

When the Prophet (a.s) saw the men removing their hair, he said, “May Allah be kind on them!” The companions said:

“O Prophet of Allah (a.s)! You have offered a prayer of blessing for the men who are getting their hair cut But you did not pray for those who got their hair clipped! He said, ‘Because they did not doubt!’”[11]

In spite of the misbehavior of the Companions, the Prophet (a.s) strictly adhered to the terms of the truce. The conditions of the truce were still being discussed. At this time the son of Suhayl ibn `Amr, Abū-Jandal, who had converted to Islam and was facing incarceration with the infidels, escaped from the vigil of his guard and came to the presence of the Prophet (a.s), the chains of the gaol still in his ankles. He said, “O Prophet of Allah! Allow me to ride with you!” When the representative of the Quraysh, Suhayl saw his son, he said, “A truce agreement has already been agreed upon by us! If any of our men escaped and came to you, you will have to return them to us. In terms of this clause you must return Abū-Jandal to us.” The Prophet (a.s) said, “The agreement is not complete as yet and you started asking for complying with its terms!” Suhayl said, “If you do not hand over my son to us, we shall abrogate the agreement of truce!” The Prophet said, “Then, you might take him away!” He advised Abū-Jandal to be patient and handed him over to Suhayl.

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When Abū-Jandal started walking away, `Umar stood up, and guiding his hand toward the scabbard of the sword, said, “The blood of an infidel is not worth as much as that of a dog!” He thought that Abū-Jandal would attack his father and kill him. Abū-Jandal said:

“O `Umar! You do not have more right than me to follow the command of the Prophet (a.s)!”[12]

The infidels of Quraysh getting their conditions accepted practically thought that they had the upper hand, although this condition was not harmful to the Muslims in any manner whatsoever. After the truce one person from the Quraysh, Abū-Basir `Utbah ibn Usayd embraced Islam and came to al-Madinah slyly. Quraysh deputed two persons to al-Madinah with a letter to bring him back. The Prophet (a.s) called Abū-Basir and asked him to go back to Makkah. He unwillingly accompanied the emissaries. When they reached the Valley of Dhul-Halifah, Abū-Basir praised the sword of one of them. He said that certainly the sword was very good and took it out of the sheath. With the excuse of looking at it, Abū-Basir took the sword from the hand of the person and killed him. When the other person saw that his companion was killed, he ran away and reaching al-Madinah informed the Prophet (a.s) that Abū-Basir had killed his companion. In that time Abū-Basir too reached al-Madinah and told the Prophet (a.s) that he had handed him over to the Quraysh in terms of the agreement and now there is no responsibility on him any further and that he need not be handed over to them again. The Prophet (a.s) said that this person wanted to give vent to trouble between the two sides, If he was given any support, the Quraysh would definitely start a conflict. Abū-Basir now understood that the Prophet would definitely hand him over to the Quraysh. Taking an opportunity he went towards the shore of the sea and stayed there. On the other side, Abū-Jandal, who was incarcerated in Makkah, heard that Abū-Basir was hiding at a place on the coast and he too escaped from captivity and went the same way. In due time that place became a place of refuge for the fugitives from Makkah. The number of such persons rose to seventy and they formed a strong group. When the caravans of Quraysh used to pass through there on the way to Syria, this group attacked and looted them. The Quraysh were fed up of this and sent word to the Prophet (a.s) to call those men to al-Madinah. They said that in future they would not claim back any person who had embraced Islam of his free will and moved to al-Madinah. The Prophet (a.s) sent word to Abū-Basir to come to al-Madinah. He was seriously ill at that time and asked Abū-Jandal to go. Therefore, they disbanded the group and went to al-Madinah. The route of travel now was safe for the Quraysh.

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The utility and advantage of this truce was not comprehended by most Muslims. At the time of the execution of the agreement, and even after that, they were unhappy about it. But later on when they got certain political and other advantages because of the terms of the truce, they realized that their thinking was wrong and started appreciating the farsightedness of the Prophet (a.s). Some of the salient advantages the Muslims got from the truce are:

The first benefit was that the unreasonable attitude of the Quraysh became evident to the tribes that they had stopped the Muslims from performing pilgrimage at Makkah which was the right of every individual, from whatsoever place he came. The tribes were unhappy with the Quraysh on account of this and sympathetic towards the Muslims.

The second benefit was that the Muslims, who were in Makkah, and keeping their Faith secret, became fear less and openly declared it and publicly performed the rites of prayer etc. And when persons, impressed by the Islamic norms, converted to the Faith, the Quraysh could not interfere with them because of the terms of the agreement.

The third benefit was that the infidels got opportunities to meet and exchange views with the Muslims Because of removal of restrictions of visiting al-Madinah, they frequented there and observed the excellent morals and the divine qualities of the Prophet (a.s) more closely. They started getting impressed with the Islamic teachings and subtly carried the message back to Makkah. Therefore, in a short span of two years the number of Muslims in Makkah doubled. The historian al-Tabari says:

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“Within two years the population of Muslims was more than double than what it was.”[13]

The fourth benefit was that it refuted the belief of the people that Islam had spread with the strength of the sword. If the sword had played any part in the spread of the Faith, the truce should have played a role of deterrent in its spread. To the contrary its fast growth was a result of the love of peace that the Faith propagated. If hostilities had continued after Hudaybiyah, the spread of Islam would not have been so fast. Peace gave an opportunity to the right thinking persons to flock towards it.

The fifth benefit was that the new generation of the Quraysh observed the peace loving attitude of the Prophet (a.s) in comparison to the stern stance of Abū-Jahl and Abū-Sufyan. They also thought about the canard spread by the infidels and the Jews and read through it. They realized that all this talk about the Prophet (a.s) was wrong. If the Prophet (a.s) was of aggressive bent of mind, he had better strength of men and material and could have started battles to avenge the earlier fights that the Quraysh had imposed on him. But this truce, and his attitude thereafter, proved that he was a man of peace! In the past he fought back only in self-defense.

The sixth benefit was that the Quraysh were contented that during the period of the truce they will not be attacked by the Muslims. Therefore, they did not feel the need to arm themselves any more. But when they took part in the conflict between Banū-Bakr and Banū-Khuza`ah, against the terms of the truce, and sided with their friends, Banū-Bakr, and killed persons from Banū-Khuza`ah who were the allies of the Muslims, the Muslims came forward and conquered Makkah! The truce in fact laid the foundation of the consolidation of the Muslim State! Allah has termed the annexation of Makkah as “al-fath al-mubin” and the Prophet (a.s) termed it “`azm al-futūh!”

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While this truce proved the sagacity and right thinking of the Prophet (a.s), its implementation proved that he had great regard for commitments and agreements.

The advantages derived from patient and meticulous follow up of the truce are:

The first is that when there is the possibility of peace, war cannot be started with this end in view even if harsh terms and conditions for the truce are accepted, it would be beneficial for the society in the longer run. No doubt, it could have caused some heart burn to the Companions who were ignorant and less farsighted. The truce was declared on the terms of the infidels and the fruitful results are there for every one to see.

Secondly, the implicit implementation of a truce or an agreement is absolutely essential even if the truce is with infidels and hypocrites. Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) did not hesitate in handing over Abū-Jandal and Abū-Basir to the infidels to meet the requirements of the terms of the truce. This shows his high respect for the terms of the agreement. However, when the Quraysh acted against the terms of the truce, immediate action was taken and the conquest of Makkah was the result.

Thirdly, the Prophet (a.s) is not bound with the public opinion. The opinion of the companions was against the signing of the truce. But the Prophet (a.s) used his best discretion and the results are there for everyone to see. This discretion also had the Divine Backing. If the Prophet (a.s) consulted the Muslims, it was only to keep them at rest. When their opinion was not worth accepting, he discreetly kept it aside

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The part played by Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) in the negotiations and formulation of the truce of Hudaybiyah has been invaluable. He conducted the parleys for the truce as meticulously as he did during the earlier campaigns of battle with the Quraysh. It is common experience that those who are adept at warfare do not have any aptitude for peace making. `Ali (a.s), who was the greatest warrior of his time, proved his mettle at peace making too. Shaykh al-Mufid writes:

“All the matters connected with Hudaybiyah were in the charge of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s)—whether it was the bay`at al-ridwan, organizing the troops or the negotiations and drafting of the truce!”[14]

He had felt the need for truce and peace from the very beginning. Therefore, he was neither confused nor did he doubt the Prophet (a.s), as was done by some senior Companions. He also did not like to score off the words rasūlullah from the truce document. This shows his staunch Faith and dedication to the Prophet (a.s). Shaykh `Abd al-Haqq al-Muhaddith al-Dahlawi writes:

“`Ali (a.s) not agreeing to erase the words rasūlullah is not disobedience nor disrespect, but it is the manifestation of his obedience and respect for the Prophet (a.s).”[15]

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 276

[2] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 138

[3] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 279

[4] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 278

[5] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 128

[6] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 281

[7] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 280

p: 305

[8] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 2, Page 32

[9] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 283

[10] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 283

[11] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 283

[12] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 1, Page 22

[13] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 283

[14] Kitāb al-irshād, Page 54

[15] Madarij al-Nabuwwah, Vol 2, Page 286

THE CAMPAIGN OF KHAYBAR

THE CAMPAIGN OF KHAYBAR

After the Truce of Hudaybiyah, in the beginning of the seventh year of the Migration, the Prophet (a.s) decided to invade Khaybar. Khaybar is a word from the Hebrew lexicon. This means either a fort or a rampart. There is another saying that among `Amaliqah (the giants), there were two brothers by names of Yathrib and Khaybar. Wherever they resided, those places got named after them. Therefore, after the name of Yathrib the city of al-Madinah was originally named. So too was named Khaybar after the brother of that name.

Khaybar is located eighty miles from al-Madinah on the border of Hijaz and Syria. It was famous for its oases and greenery and was inhabited by the Jews. It was also the center of their armed forces. For defensive purposes they had built seven small and big forts. These forts were named as al-Na`am, al-Katibah, al-Shiqq, al-Natat, al-Wati, Salamlam and Qamūs. In these forts lived ten to fourteen thousand Jews. In this number those who were exiled from al-Madinah too were there who had fought the Muslims in collaboration with the infidels and had lost the battle notwithstanding their numerical strength and better battle equipment. When they heard that the Muslims had accepted the Quraysh’s terms of truce at al-Hudaybiyah, they thought that the Muslims now have no will to fight. Because of this misapprehension, they thought the Muslims have surrendered their spirit to fight and, therefore, the time was ripe for the Jews to start a campaign of attack and destruction against them to erase the shame of the Battle of Ahzab. Although the Jews were not lesser in numbers, even then to augment their forces, they made an agreement of cooperation with Banū-Ghatafan who were located about six miles from Khaybar. They promised to Banū-Ghatafan that they would give half the produce of Khaybar if they helped them win against the Muslims. The Banū-Ghatafan agreed to this offer and sent four thousand troops for the campaign.

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When the Prophet (a.s) learned that the Jews of Khaybar were preparing to attack al-Madinah, he thought of taking punitive action at the earliest. Therefore, after return from Hudaybiyah, they stayed in al-Madinah for twenty days and with one thousand and six hundred Companions, of whom there were some cavaliers and the rest footmen, proceeded toward Khaybar. When the Islamic army reached the outskirts of Khaybar it was morning. The inhabitants of Khaybar were proceeding to their fields with the farm implements and pitchers of water. When they saw the Islamic army arrive, they ran back to their forts. When the Prophet (a.s) saw them running away, he raised the slogan of “allahu-akbar” and said:

“Khaybar is destroyed! Whenever we enter the borders of any place, those who were affected with bad times would have very bad times!”

The Prophet (a.s) knew that Banū-Ghatafan were committed to help the Jews if hostilities erupted. He therefore camped his army strategically at the place called Rajih which was between the habitations of Khaybar and Banū-Ghatafan. The plan was to prevent Banū-Ghatafan from reaching to help the Jews. When they heard of the arrival of Muslims and came out to go towards Khaybar, they were obstructed by the Muslim army. Fearing destruction of their own villages, they went back home. After the return of Banū-Ghatafan, the Muslims now moved for the siege of Khaybar. The Jews secured the women and children in the Fort al-Katibah and locking themselves in the other forts started a barrage of arrows on the Muslims. After a few skirmishes, the Muslims took some of the fortresses, but victory depended on subduing the fort of Ibn Abil-Haqiq that was situated on a sloping hillock and that was called Qamūs. The fort too was called with this name. This is the same fort that is mentioned as Khaybar in the traditions and the history. In front of the fort there was a deep trench. The fort was rather invincible because of its location and construction.

p: 307

In the Ghazwah generally, the command used to be with the Prophet (a.s) the standard bearer was `Ali (a.s). But the Prophet (a.s) was suffering for some days with pain in the temples and `Ali (a.s) was not able to join the ranks at Khaybar because he had conjunctivitis. Because of this some people got a chance of asserting themselves and, taking the standard in their hands without formal approval, thought of annexing the Fort Qamūs. Therefore, `Umar held the flag in his hand and with one contingent of the army advanced to attack the fort He tried his best but did not succeed. He had to return disappointed and disillusioned. Then Abū-Bakr took the flag in his hand and got the same results. `Umar took the flag a second time and failed in his attempt. To cover his failure, he put the blame on the troops. But the troops squarely blamed him for the defeat terming it as the failure of his strategy of warfare! Al-Tabari writes:

“When `Umar went with some troops and confronted the men of Khaybar, he and his men ran away and returned to the Prophet (a.s). At that moment the troops said that `Umar had showed cowardice and `Umar said that the troops were a bunch of cowards!”[2]

When there was some reduction in the Prophet’s head ache, he emerged out of his tent and noticing the dropping morale in the troops he said:

“By Allah! I shall give the Standard to a person tomorrow who will attack ceaselessly and will not be the one who flees! He befriends Allah and His Prophet (a.s) and they are his friends. Allah will give us Victory on both his hands!”[3]

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The Prophet (a.s), in spite of the leaders of the troops blaming them for the failure, did not make any changes in the troops who went for the previous attempts. He only changed the chief because the success of any operation depends on the perseverance and the leadership of the chief. When the chief shows his back to the battle, naturally the troops follow the leader! The words of the tradition too indicate the fact that the chiefs in the earlier attempts flew! Otherwise, there was no need to say that he would next time give the Standard to a person particularly stressing on his quality of steadfastness and that he would not flee. Anyway, this statement of the Prophet (a.s) is a mirror in which there is clarification of the facts of the matter and description of the traits of the conqueror of Khaybar. And the faces of the persons who chose to fly! The statement also gives the tiding of victory. In the beginning of the statement there is an oath and a positive expression that the next day victory will be theirs. This statement, therefore, is the result of a Revelation from Allah because predicting what is going to happen tomorrow is not permitted. Allah ordains that what one intends doing tomorrow, he should not say that it shall certainly be done. Therefore, Allah says:

وَلَا تَقُولَنَّ لِشَيْءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِلٌ ذَلِكَ غَدًا إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ.

“And do not say of anything: Surely I will do it tomorrow, unless Allah pleases. (18:23)”

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In the tradition quoted the words are few, but every word is reflective of praise and superiority for the person intended by the Holy Prophet (a.s) as the subject of his attentions.

The first expression is that he will be a ‘man’! If the word is used allegorically, it means that the person will be a paragon of valor and will fight with determination. The use of this word is also a pun against the earlier incumbents who lacked in the trait of valor. Otherwise all of them were men! A man is one who, after entering the arena of battle, does not show his back until victory is achieved or he succumbs to the onslaught of the enemy!

The second quality of the chief mentioned by the Prophet (a.s) is that he is valorous and not the fleeing type! After saying that he will be valorous, there seems no need to say that he would not flee. But this point was raised that those who had the dreams of becoming the standard-bearers should introspect whether their feet shook in the battlefield. If they did, then they should forget about becoming the standard-bearers.

The third quality of the chief mentioned by the Prophet (a.s) is that he is a friend of Allah and the Prophet (a.s), and they befriend him. It is the charisma of friendship that in the way of Allah, man faces all hardships. Therefore, Allah says:

“Allah befriends those who fight in his way in formations as if they are walls that have been impregnated with lead.”

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Another indication the Prophet (a.s) made was that the fort would be annexed by him. Where there is perseverance, Allah helps. There was so much certainty of this victory that on return from al-Hudaybiyah, the Prophet (a.s) was given the vision in the following words:

“They will soon get victory”

Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) said,

“Allah will give victory at his hands.”

Allah had predicted victory and the Prophet (a.s) said that the one who carried the standard on the next attempt would be the victor!

After this announcement by the Prophet (a.s), the matter was on everyone’s tongue. There was an element of expectancy in the atmosphere. Every Companion wished that he was the lucky person tomorrow to get the standard in his hand. Even those who took the standard earlier during this campaign and failed were expecting to be chosen the next time! Ibn al-Athir writes:

“From the Quraysh everyone expected that he only will be the standard bearer.”[4]

If they had kept their attention on the words of the Tradition and kept in their minds the events of the past, each word was sufficient to put off the flame of the lamp of hope. But it is human nature that they claim positions of importance, however little they might have the hope of succeeding. They were sure that `Ali (a.s) would not be able to go to the front because the inflammation of his eyes would not allow him even to look at the ground under his feet. Therefore, they were assuring each other that they need not have any fear from `Ali (a.s) because of the ailment of his eyes. The only alternative to take the Standard would be one of the others. Here the persons were making conjectures, and on the other hand `Ali (a.s) was informed of the announcement made by the Prophet (a.s). Hearing this he became quiet.

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“O Allah! The one whom You bestow, cannot be deprived by anyone, and the one whom You deprive, he cannot be bestowed by anyone!”

Waiting for the morrow, the Companions were turning the whole night in their beds. In the morning they gathered in front of the Prophet’s tent. Muhammad Ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari writes:

“They all assembled near the Prophet (a.s) early in the morning. Everyone was hoping that the Standard would be given to him!”[5]

After the morning’s prayer, the Prophet (a.s) emerged from his tent with a white flag in his hand. Seeing the flag, there was a feeling of expectancy in every heart. Every one tried to push aside the others and come to the front. Some stretched their necks and others tried to rise on their haunches expecting that the Prophet (a.s) would give his attention to them. Some of them were so excited and restless that their names appeared in the History of Islam. Of these was also `Umar, who himself said:

“Before that day, I did not have the urge to be the leader as I had then! On that day I stretched my neck and hoped that the Standard would be given to me!”[6]

(252)

Burayd ibn Aslamah who was present in the ghazwah Khaybar took the names of both `Umar and Abū-Bakr, saying this:

“On the second day, both Abū-Bakr and `Umar raised their necks in the hope of getting the Standard!”[7]

Sa`d ibn Abi-Waqqas says:

“I sat squatting near the Prophet (a.s), got up and stood in front of him!”[8]

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The acts of valor of none of his Companions was hidden from the Prophet (a.s).that he would consider anyone claims if he raised his neck or reject the claim of one who squatted down! He glanced at the crowd and asked where was `Ali (a.s). None thought that `Ali’s name would come up. There were voices from all directions that he was down with the inflammation of the eyes. The Prophet (a.s) asked to send someone and fetch him. Therefore, Salamah ibn al-Akwa` went and asked him to come. The Prophet (a.s) put `Ali’s head on his lap and applied his saliva on the inflamed eyes and said:

“O Allah! Protect him from the effects of heat and cold, and help and support against his enemy.”

The saliva of the Prophet (a.s) worked as a medicine for the eyes of `Ali (a.s). Instantly the inflammation disappeared. At that time, Hassan ibn Thabit, praising the Prophet (a.s), composed the following couplets:

“Inflamed were the eyes of `Ali (a.s) in battle of Khaybar

Saliva of the Prophet (a.s) worked as the remedy

Without medicine, the saliva brightened the eyes

Felicitous was the cure and felicitous the healing power

The Prophet said I should give standard to him who is double-edged sword

Valiant and destroyer of enemy columns and dotes on the Prophet (a.s)”

When the eyes of `Ali (a.s) were cured, the Prophet (a.s) himself put the armor over the cloak of `Ali (a.s), put the sword around his girdle, gave the Standard in his hand and asked him to conquer the fort of Khaybar. `Ali (a.s) stood up after taking the flag in his hand, turned towards the Prophet (a.s) and asked him how long he wanted him to fight? The Prophet (a.s) said he must fight them until they embrace Islam. Even if one person came to the right path because of you, it will be better than having a camel with red hair! `Ali (a.s) went running towards the arena. Some persons asked him to wait that they too would join him. But he did not stop for a while and stopped when he reached near the Fort Qamūs and planted the Standard there. One Jew saw him from the top of the fort and asked who he was. He said that he was `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) When he saw his demeanor, he said, “O group of Jews! Your defeat is certain!” The Jews were very proud of the invincibility of Fort Qamūs. Because of the failure of the earlier flag bearers of the Islamic army, their morale was high. But hearing such words from their own man there was pandemonium in their ranks and fear in their hearts. Now some persons from the Muslim army too reached near `Ali (a.s). The governor of the fort Marhab’s brother al-H arith, who had earlier come to the arena of the battle, made a surprise attack and martyred two Muslims. `Ali (a.s) moved like a lightning and killed him. When Marhab saw that his brother was killed, blood entered his eyes. He wore a second armor over the first and, on the head wore a helmet carved out of a stone and with two swords and a lance, came out of the fort. He was reciting the following martial poem:

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“The people of Khaybar know I am Marhab

I am armed and an experienced warrior!”

Marhab was bulky and an adept at fighting. When he called for a fight, very few responded! Diyarbakri writes:

“Amongst the Muslims, it was not possible for anyone to take him on.”[9]

When `Ali (a.s) listened to his rajz, he said:

“I am that whose mother named him Haydar

I am a male lion and valiant like the tiger

Whose knuckles are strong and the neck wide

Like the tiger in the jungle, ferocious to look at

I shall attack in a way to shatter your joints

And leave the adversary to be fodder for the wild beasts

Like a honorable and strong youth

I shall use my sword on the columns of the infidels

And slay you with my sword on a large scale.”

Marhab moved forward and attempted to attack `Ali (a.s). He evaded the attack and counter attacked him. `Ali’s stroke cut through Marhab’s helmet, his head and pierced the jaws. He fell down dead with a thud. Marhab’s death disheartened the Jews. And when some more renowned warriors met their end at the hands of `Ali (a.s), there was total chaos in their ranks and all of them ran towards the fort. `Ali (a.s) kept advancing forward when a Jew attacked his arm and, with the impact, his shield fell down to the ground. With his Divine Strength `Ali (a.s) picked up a heavy door and used it as a shield! This door was so heavy that later on eight persons were not able to lift it. Therefore, Abū-Rafi` says:

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“I had seven men with me, and I was the eighth. We tried our best to turn that door but we were unable to do that!”[10]

`Umar too was much surprised at the incident. Therefore, he told `Ali (a.s) that he picked up very heavy load. `Ali (a.s) replied:

“It did not seem heavier than my own shield to me!”[11]

The Jews got scared with this show of strength and locked themselves inside the fort. `Ali (a.s) went forward and with one jerk both the shutters of the gate of the fort came in his hands. This incredible strength was nothing but Divine Strength! Therefore, `Ali (a.s) himself said:

“I did not break the gate of the fort of Khaybar with my own human strength. But it was the Divine Strength that helped me!”[12]

If someone does some service in the cause of Islam, it is a grave crime to attribute it to someone else! But this kept happening in the annals of Islamic history for the craze for power. Therefore, about the event of Khaybar too such attempts, however unsuccessful, have been made. They have concocted a tradition in the name of Jabir ibn `Abdullah al-Ansari, who was not even present in Khaybar at that time, that Marhab was killed by Muhammad ibn Maslamah al-Ansari! This they do blatantly, despite all the major historians are witness to the fact that Marhab was killed, while battling with `Ali (a.s), by the Imam (a.s) himself! Whether Muhammad ibn Maslamah’s name has ever been mentioned in the histories as a man of valor, his name is certainly there with those of persons who refused to owe allegiance to `Ali (a.s) and openly opposed him! Perhaps this attitude of Ibn Maslamah prompted the adversaries of the Imam (a.s) to concoct the story! If Muhammad ibn Maslamah was really the killer of Marhab, then histories should have recognized him as the conqueror of Khaybar. Overpowering, and eliminating, Marhab was like overpowering Khaybar! If Ibn Maslamah is recognized by the historians as the conqueror of Khaybar, then they shall have to think of the Prophet’s tradition wherein he said, “Allah will give conquest at his hands.” It is unanimously accepted that these words were uttered by the Prophet (a.s) about `Ali (a.s). How could one imagine that the Prophet (a.s), through his Divine Knowledge, forecasts the name of the victor, and some people concoct stories to credit the event to someone else!

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Although the tribes of the Jews had made agreements of peace and cooperation with the Prophet (a.s), whenever they got an opportunity they never abstained from mischief. As a result they were banished from al-Madinah Even after leaving al-Madinah their activities continued. There was no other alternative left than giving them punitive punishment. The battle was a result of all these events in which fifteen Muslims lost their lives and ninety-two Jews were killed. Women were taken captive, of whom there was Huyay ibn Akhtab’s daughter who was Safiyyah whom the Prophet (a.s) married. The other Jews were released on conditions that they worked as farm hands on the lands of Khaybar and shared half of the produce with the Muslims.

Khaybar was a very fertile area and it used to cater to a major portion of the food requirement of the Hijaz Province of Arabia. When this area came under the control of the Muslims, it brought economic prosperity to them. The Muhajirūn, who were living in penury after leaving Makkah, found avenues to improve their lot. `Abdullah ibn `Umar said:

“After the conquest of Khaybar, we got the ability and means to have our square meals.”[13]

Umm al-Mu’minin `A’ishah says:

“When Khaybar was captured, we thought that we would eat the dates to our fill!”[14]

Buladhari writes in Futūh al-Buldan that from the produce of Khaybar, each of the spouses of the Prophet (a.s) was getting eighty wasq of dates and twenty wasq of barley.

Although there was a large number of foot soldiers in the campaign, the victory was only at the hands of `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s)! Although others too attempted to fight with the standard in their hands, they turned their backs away from the arena! After getting repeatedly repulsed, the Prophet (a.s) declared that he would give the standard in the hands of the victor on the morrow! There was high expectancy among the Companions, but the victor, as decided by Allah and his Prophet (a.s) was `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s)!

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Footnote

[1] Sahīh Muslim, Vol 1, Page 459

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 300

[3] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 2, Page 53

[4] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 149

[5] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 1, Page 525

[6] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 2, Page 48

[7] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 300

[8] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 2, Page 48

[9] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 2, Page 50

[10] Sīrat Ibn Hushām, Vol 3, Page 35

[11] Al-Manāqib, Vol 1, Page 444

[12] Tārīkh al-Khamīs, Vol 2, Page 51

[13] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 2, Page 40

[14] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 2, Page 40

THE LAND OF FADAK

THE LAND OF FADAK

Fadak is on the outskirts of Khaybar. It is a fertile and lush green settlement where Fadak ibn Ham was the first to pitch his tents. The place was therefore named after him. Like Khaybar, here too the Jews lived. They organized the irrigation facility and made the barren land bloom! Yaqūt al-Hamawi writes:

“This land had bubbling ponds and many oases.”[1]

After the conquest of Khaybar, the people living in the neighborhood owed allegiance to the Muslims without any conflict. The inhabitants of Fadak too surrendered the proprietary rights over the land and entered into an agreement to share the produce equally with the Muslims. Therefore, they sent word to the Prophet (a.s) that they had no intention of fighting and they were willing to accept the same conditions as were imposed on the people of Khaybar. The Prophet (a.s) accepted their offer and sent `Ali (a.s) to finalize the agreement with their chief, Yūsha` ibn Nūn. After the discussions, it was agreed that the people of Fadak would forego the proprietary rights over the land, until it and share the crop equally with the Prophet (a.s). By virtue of the agreement, the Land of Fadak became the property of the Prophet (a.s) because the land that was acquired without any fight or conflict, in terms of the Islamic Law, vested with the Prophet (a.s). Therefore, the Holy Qur’an says:

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وَمَا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ مِنْهُمْ فَمَا أَوْجَفْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ خَيْلٍ وَلَا رِكَابٍ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ يُسَلِّطُ رُسُلَهُ عَلَى مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَاللَّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ .

And whatever Allah restored to His Messenger from them, you did not press forward against it any horse or a riding camel but Allah gives authority to His messengers against whom He pleases, and Allah has power over all things

The territories that are annexed through warfare are termed as ghanimah or Booty. The land and property that is acquired without any war or conflict is called fay’ or anfal. The land of Fadak too came in the category of anfal because it was acquired without any physical conflict. Therefore, it was the personal property of the Prophet (a.s) on which the other Muslims had no right. Al-Tabari writes:

“Fadak was the exclusive property of the Prophet (a.s) because the Muslims neither ran their camels over it nor the horses!”[2]

Al-Buladhari writes:

“Fadak was an exclusive property of the Prophet (a.s) because the Muslims neither ran their camels nor the horses over it.”[3]

Yaqūt al-Hamawi writes:

“This village Allah gave to the Prophet (a.s) in the seventh century as a consequence of the truce.”[4]

After the clear Commandment of the Qur’an and the recorded history of the event by the reputed chroniclers, the fact is established that Fadak was the exclusive property of the Prophet (a.s). Therefore, in exercise of this right, he had transferred this property to Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s) during his lifetime through a written deed. `Allamah Jalal al-Din al-Suyūti writes about it:

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“Ibn Mardawayh has quoted from Ibn `Abbas that when the Verse, ‘O Prophet! Give the right of your kin to them’ was revealed, he transferred Fadak to Fatimah (a.s).”[5]

Thana’ullah, the judge, writes:

“Al-tabarani and others have quoted from Abū-Sa`id al-Khidri that when the Verse, ‘O Prophet! Transfer the rights of your kin to them’ was revealed, the Prophet (a.s) called Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s) and gave Fadak to her.”[6]

Thereafter, until the Prophet (a.s) lived, the land of Fadak was in the possession of Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s). Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s), mentions about it in his letter:

“Under this sky we had only the land of Fadak in our possession. Even on that, the mouths of some persons were watering! The Best Judge is Allah!”[7]

But after the demise of the Prophet (a.s), for certain ‘reasons of State’ the Land of Fadak was taken away from Fatimah (a.s). She went in appeal against this, but her claim was rejected! We shall deal with this matter in detail in a subsequent chapter. The pity is that the person against whom the appeal was preferred was also sitting in judgment!

This travesty of justice and fairplay resulted in Fatimah (a.s) not being accepted as the owner of the Land of Fadak despite holding the transfer deed nor in terms of her being the rightful successor to the inheritance of her father, Muhammad (a.s)! She was so upset with this injustice that she boycotted the person responsible for the act and did not talk to him until her death!

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Footnote

[1] Mu`jam al-Buldān, Vol 14, Page 338

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 302

[3] Futūh al-Buldān, Page 27

[4] Mu`jam al-Buldān, Vol 14, Page 238

[5] Al-Durr al-Manthūr, Vol 4, Page 177.

[6] Tafsīr al-Ma¨harī, Vol 5, Page 432

[7] Nahj al-Balāghah

THE CONQUEST OF MAKKAH

THE CONQUEST OF MAKKAH

At al-Hudaybiyah, a truce was declared between the Quraysh and the Muslims that both the parties will not indulge in fighting for the next ten years. If one of the parties infringed the agreement, then the other will not be bound by the terms. One of the tribes having a treaty with the Muslims, Banū-Khuza`ah and a tribe having a treaty with the Quraysh, Banū-Bakr, had been at loggerheads for long, but because of the wars between the Quraysh and the Muslims they were quiet for some time. They had both kept aside their differences and were united against the Muslims. When the long truce between the Quraysh and the Muslims became effective, Banū-Bakr attacked Banū-Khuza`ah and killed one of their men. The suppressed animosity was revived. Although Banū-Bakr was sufficient to deal with Banū-Khuza`ah, Quraysh supplied arms to Banū-Bakr. This was an infringement of the truce with the Muslims. Also, `Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl, Safwan ibn Umayyah and Suhayl ibn `Amr who were the signatories to the treaty with the Muslims took active part in the conflict between the two tribes in favor of Banū-Bakr. Banū-Khuza`ah took shelter in the Ka`bah to save their lives. Even there they were attacked and killed. When they were helpless, a delegation of forty persons from Banū-Khuza`ah under the leadership of `Amr ibn Salem went to the Prophet (a.s) in al-Madinah and lodged a protest that the Quraysh had infringed the truce taking part in the hostilities and supplying arms to Banū-Bakr against them, the vassals of the Muslims. The Prophet (a.s) agreed to provide help to them. He sent a message to the Quraysh to give the blood money to Banū-Khuza`ah for their lives lost during the conflict or abstain from aiding and abetting Banū-Bakr, or otherwise their treaty with the Muslims would become void. Quraysh refused to abide by the suggestions and said plainly that neither they would give the blood money nor they will abstain from helping Banū-Bakr. Because of this stubborn attitude of the Quraysh, the Prophet (a.s) made a public declaration that there was no more a treaty of peace with the Quraysh.

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After this announcement by the Prophet (a.s), the Quraysh were restless. They started brooding over the consequences of their infringement of the terms of the truce. Realizing that they were incapable of meeting the onslaught of the Muslims, they started planning to keep the truce intact. Therefore, they deputed Abū-Sufyan to al-Madinah to negotiate and diplomatically save the situation. When he arrived at al-Madinah, Abū-Sufyan went straight to his daughter Ummu-Habibah who was one of the spouses of the Prophet (a.s). When Ummu-Habibah saw her father coming, she quickly folded the bedding of the Prophet (a.s). When Abū-Sufyan asked her why she moved away the bedding, Ummu-Habibah said that it was the bedding of the Prophet (a.s) and she would not like him to sit on that because he was an infidel and idolater. Abū-Sufyan went away from there with an unpleasant mood. He went to the Prophet (a.s) and requested him to renew the treaty for truce with the Quraysh. The Prophet (a.s) did not pay heed to any of his arguments. He sat there for a while and went to Abū-Bakr and asked him to recommend to the Prophet (a.s) for renewing the treaty. Abū-Bakr expressed his inability to help. He then went to `Umar and he too excused himself. When he was disappointed everywhere, he went to `Ali (a.s) and sought his help in the matter. He said that when the Prophet (a.s) arrives at a decision, none else has the right to interfere with it. Abū-Sufyan told Fatimah (a.s), who was sitting there, “O daughter! If your son, Hasan (a.s), intervenes and gets the truce renewed he will be called as the Chief of Arabs until the world exists.” She replied, “Hasan (a.s) is still a child and has nothing to do with these matters!” In the end he told `Ali (a.s) that if he cannot help, he must at least suggest what the Quraysh should do to save the situation. `Ali (a.s) suggested to Abū-Sufyan to make an announcement for renewal of the truce and go away to Makkah! Abū-Sufyan asked what benefit such an announcement will bring to the Quraysh? He replied that it could not be predicted whether the declaration would be of any advantage to the Quraysh or not. Any way, Abū-Sufyan did go to the mosque and made a public announcement that the Quraysh were unilaterally renewing their truce of peace with the Muslims. After this announcement, he went away to Makkah.

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When he reached Makkah, people asked him what was the result of his visit to al-Madinah? He said that he had a discussion with the Prophet (a.s) but he would not agree to renew the truce. Then he told about going to Abū-Quhafah and `Umar ibn al-Khattab and getting no help. He said that he went to `Ali (a.s) who listened to him with attention and only on his suggestion he had made a unilateral public announcement of renewal of the truce by the Quraysh. The Quraysh asked whether the Prophet (a.s) approved of this measure. Abū-Sufyan said that he did not have the approval of the Prophet (a.s) for the renewal. The Quraysh said that any declaration of a truce has at least two consenting parties, if the other party has not agreed there is no sense in your announcement. `Ali (a.s) has pulled a fast one on you!

The Prophet (a.s) was much affected with the bloodshed caused by Banū-Bakr and in terms of the agreements, he was bound to come to the rescue of Banū-Khuza`ah. Therefore, he asked his people to be ready for battle and asked others outside of al-Madinah to prepare for joining the troops. People started arriving in numbers on the call of the Prophet (a.s) and started preparing the arms for the fight. But none knew where they had to go for the fight! The Prophet (a.s) took full care to see that the Quraysh did not learn about these preparations to take them on unawares! The Companions who knew about the program were strictly warned to keep their confidence. But Hatib ibn Balta`ah, whose family was in Makkah, committed the mistake of revealing the secret by writing a letter to `Amr ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and sending it to him through his slave girl. In the letter, he mentioned that the Prophet (a.s) was preparing to attack Makkah. The Prophet (a.s) learned about this betrayal through a Revelation. He sent `Ali (a.s) and al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam to intercept the girl and bring her back to al-Madinah. She had only reached the Valley of Dhul-Halifah when she was captured. `Ali (a.s) asked her about the letter, but she flatly refused any knowledge about it. Al-Zubayr rummaged her belongings but did not find the letter. `Ali (a.s) said that it was not possible that she did not have the letter when the Prophet (a.s) had informed them about it. There is no question of a wrong statement from him. He sternly questioned the girl and told her that if she did not produce the letter a search of her clothes would be made. Because of this threat, she produced it from the hair of her head. `Ali (a.s) went with the letter to the Prophet (a.s) and reported to him about the entire episode. The Prophet (a.s) assembled all the Companions and told them that he had warned everyone to maintain the secrecy about the entire operation. But one of them tried to unsuccessfully reveal the secret to the Quraysh. The letter written in this connection has been intercepted and, therefore, the person should own his guilt. Otherwise, he might be put to grave shame! Hearing this, Hatib stood up shaking and said, “O Prophet of Allah (a.s)! I am the guilty person. I have not done it for the friendship of the Quraysh or enmity for Islam. I thought that I would be able to secure my children by earning the gratitude of the Quraysh. My family is living in Makkah at their mercy. `Umar angrily rose up and said:

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“O Prophet of Allah! Permit me that I cut away his head. He is a hypocrite!”[1]

But the Prophet (a.s) forgave the person. The Holy Qur’an mentions about the episode:

…تُسِرُّونَ إِلَيْهِمْ بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ بِمَا أَخْفَيْتُمْ وَمَا أَعْلَنتُمْ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْهُ مِنْكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاءَ السَّبِيلِ.

…would you manifest love to them? And I know what you conceal and what you manifest; and whoever of you does this, he indeed has gone astray from the straight path. (60:1)

On the tenth of Ramadan 4 A.H., the prophet (a.s) marched with one hundred thousand strong army of armed men Four hundred companions were on horses and the rest were footmen. When the army reached Ghadir, the prophet (a.s) asked the men to break their fasts and he too did the same. Some people hesitated in doing it. When the Prophet (a.s) learnt about it, he said that they were sinners. After this everyone broke his fast. When they reached Thaniyyat al-`Uqab, the Prophet’s uncle, `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, met him along his family members. `Abbas sent his family to al-Madinah and himself joined the entourage of the Prophet (a.s).Twelve miles before Makkah, the Prophet (a.s) established camp. `Abbas came out riding on the mule of the Prophet (a.s) to find a person who could go to the Quraysh to tell them to come to the camp and appeal for amnesty. He also suggested to them that they embrace Islam and save themselves from destruction. After the unsuccessful visit of Abū-Sufyan to al-Madinah the Quraysh had the fear that the Muslims would come anytime to settle scores with them. Therefore, they used to remain alert during the nights to quell any surprise attack in the darkness of the night. With this purpose Abū-Sufyan, Hakim ibn Hizam and Badil ibn Warqa’ were on rounds of the outskirts of Makkah when they noticed lights of fire at a distance in the direction of Marj al-Dharan. Abū-Sufyan asked who these people could be? Badil ibn Warqa’ said it could be the troops of Banū-Khuza`ah. Abū-Sufyan said that Banū-Khuza`ah had no means to mobilize such a huge army. They were still discussing the matter when they met `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib. Abū-Sufyan asked him if he knew about the army at some distance from there. He replied that it was the army of the Prophet of Islam (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) was marching towards Makkah with an army of one hundred thousand men and might attack with the dawn! He said none from the Quraysh will survive this onslaught. Hearing this, Abū-Sufyan shivered and asked what should be done to save themselves. `Abbas asked him to sit on his mule behind him and that he will get him amnesty by talking to the prophet. When `Abbas passed through the army with Abū-Sufyan, `Umar espied them and he went running to the Prophet (a.s) and told him that the enemy of Allah was coming. He asked for his permission that he would kill him. When `Abbas heard `Umar stressing on killing of Abū-Sufyan, he said:

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“Stop O `Umar! You are saying this because he is from the progeny of `Abd-Manaf. If he was from your tribe, Banū-`Adi, you would never have uttered any such thing.”[2]

The Prophet (a.s) told `Abbas to keep Abū-Sufyan in his tent and fetch him to his presence in the morning. When he was brought in the morning, the Prophet (a.s) said, “O Abū-Sufyan! You have still not understood that besides Allah, there is no other god!” Abū-Sufyan replied that it seemed like it. If there were any other god than Allah, he would come to their rescue. The Prophet (a.s) said, “You have still not understood that I am the Prophet of Allah (a.s)?”Abū-Sufyan replied that his mind was not clear about it! `Abbas told Abū-Sufyan that if he cared for his life, he should embrace Islam or else someone would kill him. When he saw that there was no other way, he recited the kalimah and joined the ranks of Muslims. `Abbas recommended that Abū-Sufyan loved pomp and show and that he may be given some important position. The Prophet (a.s) said that whoever took shelter in his house will have amnesty and those who take shelter in the al-Bayt al-Haram too will have amnesty. Those who lock themselves up in their homes too shall be safe. The Prophet (a.s) asked `Abbas to take Abū-Sufyan to such a spot that he could have a birds eye view of the vast army! `Abbas took him to a place from where he saw the well armed troops, row after row! He told `Abbas, “Your nephew has become the ruler of a great Empire!” `Abbas replied,” it is not an empire. It is only the grandeur of the prophethood!” Abū-Sufyan added, “I did not remember when I made the remark! It must be as you say!”

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After seeing the army of Islam, Abū-Sufyan returned to Makkah. He told the Quraysh that Muhammad (a.s) had come with a huge army. People asked him if he had been there. What has he said? Abū-Sufyan informed them that the Prophet (a.s) had told him that those who took shelter in Abū-Sufyan’s house will have amnesty. The people said that his house was not big enough to take lot of people. He then told that those who took shelter in the al-Bayt al-Haram too would have amnesty. He then addressed the Quraysh and told them that they are not strong enough to fight the Muslims. It would be better for them if the embraced Islam. His wife, Hind bint `Utbah, hearing this came forward and caught hold of his beard and said, “O people! Kill this foolish old man!” Abū-Sufyan told her,” remember! If you hesitate slightly in embracing Islam, you will lose your head!” The Quraysh were still brooding over the matter in surprise when Sa`d ibn `Abadah entered Makkah carrying the Standard of Islam.

The words that Sa`d was uttering were manifesting his desire to avenge the atrocities that the Quraysh had inflicted on the Muslims and that he will advance killing people and letting their blood. `Abbas told the Prophet (a.s) that Sa`d had intensions to harm the people. The Prophet (a.s) had no plan to enter into unnecessary fights. He therefore asked `Ali (a.s) to:

“Go to Sa`d, take the Standard from him and enter Makkah!”[3]

`Ali (a.s) took the Standard from Sa`d and marched into Makkah with the army behind him. Quraysh had no courage left to encounter the huge army. They locked themselves up at homes. For those who had the doors of Makkah closed for them yesterday, the doors of victory and success were wide open today. This was a victory of Islam’s love for peace and amity! For this victory they did not have to fight any battles. But in every group there will be some trouble makers. They cannot live without being harsh to their adversaries. Therefore, Khalid ibn al-Walid, who had embraced Islam just before the conquest of Makkah, and Islam has not yet brought about any change in his thinking, while passing through the lower reaches of Makkah, started fighting with Banū-Bakr. The Prophet (a.s), passing through the Mount Hajūn, noticed the shining of the blades of swords. This upset him very much. He ordered, “This bloodshed must be stopped forthwith!” But many men from Banū-Bakr were already killed. When the Prophet (a.s) arrived from the upper reaches of Makkah, he came to the Ka`bah and circumambulated it. He noticed that the chiefs of the Quraysh were standing with bowed heads. These were the persons who did everything possible to harm the Prophet (a.s). they pushed him away from home and did not let him live in peace even in exile. He looked at them and asked what treatment they expected from the Muslims? They put their heads further down in shame! The Speaker of Quraysh, Suhayl ibn `Amr said,” You are the son of a noble brother and a noble uncle! We only expect good from you! “The Prophet (a.s) replied, “Today there will be no revenge taken on you! Go! You are all free!” This was the manifestation of the noble character and broadmindedness of the Prophet (a.s). Those who were his deadly enemies embraced Islam. Yesterday’s orphan was today’s ruler who not only ruled their bodies but also their hearts! The hegemony of Quraysh had vanished in thin air and infidelity died its own death!

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Although the men of Makkah embraced Islam and some of them were already having the seeds of Faith in their minds, but certainly, there was a vast majority of persons who had embraced Islam in their helplessness. Sudden change in the Faith and beliefs is difficult for the human nature. There were also some who were adamantly infidel. Many of them escaped from Makkah and were hiding elsewhere. They would have proved dangerous for Islam. Therefore, it was necessary to mete out to them punitive punishment. Although the Prophet (a.s) had declared general amnesty, he issued orders for some mischief mongers to be executed wherever they were found, even if they were hanging form the cover of the Ka`bah. Therefore, `Abdullah ibn Khatal and his slave girl who used to sing lampooning songs against the Prophet (a.s), Huwayris ibn Nuqayd and Mughith ibn Sabbabah were executed. Some persons were pardoned from orders of execution as well. Therefore `Abdullah ibn Abi-Sarh took shelter with `Uthman and was released on his recommendation. `Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl escaped towards Yemen. His wife Umm Hakim appealed for amnesty for him, that was granted. Habar ibn al-Aswad, `Amr ibn `Abd al-Muttalib’s slave girl Sara and Khatal’s slave girl saved themselves by embracing Islam. Besides these some other persons were hiding in Makkah with the intention of creating trouble. `Ali (a.s) heard that al-Harith ibn Husham and Qays ibn al-Sa’ib and some persons of Banū-Makhzūm were there in the house of Ummu-Hani’ bint Abi-Talib. He came to her house and asked that those hiding inside must be handed over. Ummu-Hani’ could not recognize `Ali (a.s). She said, “O person! I am the real sister of `Ali (a.s) and the daughter of Muhammad’s uncle! If you force me to surrender those whom I have given shelter, I shall complain to the Prophet (a.s). Now `Ali (a.s) removed the hood from his head when Ummu-Hani’ recognized him. She ran close to him and said that she had already resolved to complain to the Prophet (a.s). He said, “You may keep your resolution by complaining to the Prophet (a.s)! Ummu-Hani’ then came to the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) asked her the reason for her visit. She said, “O Prophet of Allah! I have given shelter to some people from my husband’s family. `Ali (a.s) wants to take then in custody!” The Prophet (a.s) said, “To whomsoever you gave shelter, I have given shelter!”

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About the events of the conquest of Makkah, `Ali’s attitude had been exemplary at all stages. He preferred obedience to the Prophet (a.s) over everything else. This attitude was so much engrained in his nature that everything he thought and did was a reflection of the actions of the Prophet (a.s).He was the keeper of the confidences of the Prophet (a.s) about the campaign for the conquest of Makkah and he never opened his mouth ever to assert his own importance when a Companion who was there at the Battle of Badr and at bay`at al-ridwan tried to reveal the secret to save his family from the Quraysh in Makkah. When Abū-Sufyan consulted him regarding the renewal of the truce with Quraysh, unlike Abū-Bakr and `Umar he adopted a soft, discreet attitude in denying to intercede with the Prophet (a.s) that was acknowledged by Abū-Sufyan on his return to Makkah. This was the reason that he had not returned to Makkah totally dissatisfied about his efforts at renewing the truce. If this were not the case, he would certainly have stressed that the Muslims might soon attack them. In that event, all efforts at keeping the plans of the attack confidential would have been futile. Then `Ali (a.s) also hinted to Abū-Sufyan that there was no guarantee that if he made unilateral announcement of renewal of the truce, whether it would be of any advantage or not. This advice by `Ali (a.s) to Abū-Sufyan appeared as if he wanted to momentarily shake him away. But even then Abū-Sufyan was grateful and did acknowledge it when he returned to Makkah.

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During this campaign too the Standard of Victory was in the hands of `Ali (a.s) like in all other battles. Although in the beginning the Standard was given to Sa`d ibn `Abadah, but when his attitude was seen to be harsh and revengeful, the Prophet (a.s) took away the Standard from him and gave to `Ali (a.s). If the Prophet (a.s) had given the Standard to anyone other than `Ali (a.s), Sa`d would have deemed it a personal affront and might have hesitated to hand over the Standard But giving it to `Ali (a.s) was like giving it back to the Prophet (a.s) himself. `Ali (a.s) had the capability of handling matters both at war and during the peace times. One cannot even imagine that he would do anything under momentary emotions. It is an attractive aspect of his character that when at war, he is an adept warrior and in peace, he is so soft and pliable that he never took part in any warlike actions!

Here, he also manifested his attitude of following the rules. He did not want to spare even the persons who took shelter in his own sister’s house until the Prophet (a.s) himself ruled on the matter. This shows that in the enforcement of the law there was no dividing line between kin, friend or foe!

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 328

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 331

[3] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 166

PURIFICATION OF THE KA`BAH

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`Amr ibn Laha al-Khuza`i had seen the `Amaliqah (the giants) worshiping idols in the year 207 A.D. in Egypt and Syria. He did not find any advantage in idol-worship, but he liked the art of carving of the idols. He brought some of the idols to Makkah and installed them in the Ka`bah. In time, Makkah became a centre of idolatry. The biggest idol of the Quraysh was Hubal which was installed at the highest point in the Ka`bah. Around it there were kept hundreds of idols tied to each other. Out of the three hundred and sixty days of the year, one day was earmarked for the veneration of one particular idol. In emulation of the people of Makkah, the people in the surrounding areas too were attracted to idol worship. When they visited the Ka`bah during the Hajj, they would take home stones from there and carve out idols for themselves in the shape of the idols in Makkah. This way every tribe of Arabia had its own idols. About one stage away from Makkah, a place called Naqlah had an idol by name al-`Uzza. This place was venerated by the Quraysh and Banū-Kinanah. In Ta’if there was the idol of al-Lat. At some distance from al-Madinah there was Manat that was the god of Aws, Khazraj and Ghassan. For the Hamdan tribe of Najran the idol for worship was Ya`ūq. In Yanbu` and its environs the idol of Hudhayl, Sawah was installed. In Dawmat al-Jandal Banū-Kalab’s god, Wudd was installed. Some isolators considered these idols as the representatives of one and only God. They used to pray and ask for boons from these inanimate idols! They were unable to understand that those inanimate pieces of stone had no power to grant their wishes or save them from the natural calamities! They used to say that through them they were able to reach closer to God! The Holy Qur’an also records their thoughts:

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وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلَّا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَى …

“And as for those who take guardians besides Him, saying, We do not serve them save that they may make us nearer to Allah… (39:3)

The purpose for annexing Makkah was not that the Prophet (a.s) wanted to expand his territory and get termed as a conquer. The main purpose was to abolish idolatry and spread the message of Unity of Allah. After subduing Makkah the first step was to give attention to the destruction of the idols in the Ka`bah. Although there was the risk of the Quraysh rising against this step, the Prophet (a.s) decided to go ahead with the performance of his duty against all possible odds. First he erased the paintings of the prophets and the angels from the walls of Ka`bah. Then, along with `Ali (a.s), he destroyed the idols put at the lower levels of the Ka`bah. Now was the turn of the bigger idols at higher level. The Prophet (a.s) told `Ali (a.s) that he would climb on his shoulders to reach the idols. He did climb but he felt weakness and came down. He now asked `Ali (a.s) to climb on his shoulders and perform the task. `Ali (a.s) went up the shoulders of the Prophet (a.s) and besides the smaller idols he destroyed the big Hubal that was installed on a foundation of steel rods. He pulled it with such strength that it crashed to the ground and shattered to pieces. It would have been such a pathetic scene for the Quraysh that until the other day they were worshiping the idol that was lying today shattered on the ground!

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`Ali (a.s), after breaking this big idol, dropped down to the ground and smilingly told the Prophet (a.s), “I have jumped form such height but was not hurt a little!” The Prophet (a.s) replied, “How could you get hurt when Muhammad (a.s) raised you and Jibril (Archangel Gabriel) helped you down!” This was the greatness of `Ali (a.s)! In other words, this was the Mi`raj (Ascension) on the shoulders of the one who had the privilege of the Real Mi`raj. `Ali (a.s) himself has said:

“If I wished, I could have touched the heights of the sky!”

There were other people too with the Prophet (a.s) at that time. This task could have been entrusted to any other person by the Prophet (a.s). But the Prophet (a.s) did not want any one else to be associated with the work of the purification of the Ka`bah. The reason was that `Ali (a.s) had never bowed down before the idols in the past and always prostrated before Allah, the Real Creator! Other persons, at some time in their past lives, were idolaters! If they were asked to destroy the idols, they might have hesitated in performing the task. One example is the people of Ta’if, who, even after embracing Islam, did not like to break the idol with their own hands. Therefore, when they embraced Islam at the hands of the Prophet (a.s), they requested him to leave their idols untouched for one year. When the Prophet (a.s) turned down their request, they refused to break the idols with their own hands and wanted someone else to do the task!

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THE DAY OF AL-GHUMAYDA’

THE DAY OF AL-GHUMAYDA’

After the conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (a.s) was still there when he arranged to send delegations to various places in the neighborhood to propagate the Message of Islam. For this purpose Khalid ibn al-Walid was sent to Judhaymah with a group of three hundred and fifty persons. He was strictly told not to pick up a fight with anyone. He was asked to restrict himself to the task of propagating the Faith. Ibn Sa`d writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) sent Khalid ibn al-Walid to Banū-Judhaymah to propagate the Message of Islam and not to fight with them.”[1]

In the period before Islam, Khalid’s uncle, Fakihah ibn Mughirah and `Abd al-Rahman’s father `Awf were killed by some youths of Banū-Judhaymah on their return journey from Yemen. The Quraysh, to avenge these killings, attacked them, but they paid the blood money and settled the claim. Now that Khalid chanced to go there at the head of the delegation, his desire for revenge revived and he could not control himself from fulfilling his vile wish. When the party reached the Well of Ghumayda’, at a distance of two stages from Makkah, they broke journey there. This well was the property of Banū-Judhaymah and they lived in its environs. When they saw Khalid camping with his men near the well, they feared that he intended to fight with them. They therefore armed themselves and got ready to fight. When Khalid saw them in readiness to fight, he asked them who they were. They replied that they were Muslims; they had constructed a mosque in their neighborhood, given regular call (adhan) for prayer and regularly offer prayers in the mosque! Khalid said that if they were Muslims, why they were carrying arms with them. They expressed their fear that on account of the past enmity, he might start fighting with them. He assured them that he had no intention of fighting and asked them to unarm themselves. They replied:

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“When we are Muslims, we shall not take to arms against Allah and His Prophet”[2]

Saying this, they started unarming themselves. One person from their tribe, Jahdam, asked them to think before they unarmed. He thought that after disarming them, Khalid would tie them up and then execute them to death. He said that in no event he would disarm and wanted his people to do the same. His people told him the period of battles was over and they should not disturb the peace again. They said that Khalid was now a Muslim and there was no need to fear him. Thus, they all removed their arms and kept them aside. When Khalid saw them unarmed, he asked his men to charge and overwhelm them. He asked the men, who were mostly from his own tribe, to tie them securely with ropes and confiscate their arms. Then he got them executed one after the other. `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf, who was a member of the delegation, was very upset with the act of Khalid. Both had an altercation and `Abd al-Rahman said, “You have committed an act of the period of ignorance in the times of Islam!” Khalid said, “I have avenged your father `Awf!” `Abd al-Rahman said, “You are a liar! I have myself killed my father’s killer! You have avenged the killing of your own uncle Fakihah ibn Mughirah!”[3]

The historian Al-Ya`qūbi writes:

`Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf said, “By Allah! Khalid has killed those persons who had embraced Islam!” Khalid told him, “I have avenged the killing of your father `Awf!” `Abd al-Rahman said, “You have only avenged the killing of your uncle Fakihah ibn Mughirah!”[4]

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When the Prophet (a.s) learned about the killing of the people of Banū-Judhaymah, he was very sad, turned towards the Ka`bah and said:

“O Allah! I express in Your Presence my displeasure over the act of Khalid ibn al-Walid.”[5]

Then he asked `Ali (a.s) to go with the cash received from Yemen to Banū-Judhaymah at the well of Ghumayda’ and pay the blood money for every life lost by them. `Ali (a.s) went there, paid the blood money to every family and made good their losses. In the end he asked, if they had any more claims. They said they did not have any further claims. Then `Ali (a.s) said that some more money was left with him and he did not want to take it back. Therefore,

he distributed the money to them on behalf of the Prophet (a.s). After completing the task, he returned to the Prophet (a.s) and reported on the visit. The Prophet (a.s) said:

“I sacrifice my father and mother on you! I liked what you have done more than the red haired camels!”[6]

The act of Khalid ibn al-Walid was absolutely against the norms of Islam. Islam does not permit killing even an infidel without valid reason. Even in the arena of battle, if an infidel recites the kalimah, he should not be attacked. Once Usamah ibn Zayd killed a person when, during the battle, he had recited the kalimah. When the Prophet (a.s) learnt about this, he reprimanded Usamah. Usamah said that the person had recited the kalimah out of the fear of the sword. The Prophet (a.s) said angrily, “Did you peep into the heart of the person?” Imagine killing of Banū-Ghumayda’ by Khalid, who had built a mosque and offered prayers, only to avenge a killing of his relative during the Period of Ignorance! At the time of the Conquest of Makkah the Prophet (a.s) abolished the practice of avenging killings that was prevalent in the Period of Ignorance, saying:

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“The avenging of blood, the tribal pride and unnecessary shedding of blood of the Period of Ignorance I have trampled under my feet!”[7]

After the sad killings, Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) not only paid the blood money for every life lost, but paid them more than their legitimate right. If their feelings were not ameliorated in these manners, there was a danger of their recanting the Faith because they had newly embraced Islam. The heinous act of Khalid could have had a very bad effect on the others who were still brooding over the prospect of coming into the fold of Islam. The healing touch of the prophet (a.s) and `Ali (a.s) had a salutary effect on the people!

Footnote

[1] Al-Tabaqāt, Vol 2, Page 147

[2] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 3, Page 47

[3] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 32

[4] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 3, Page 47

[5] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 242

[6] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 47

[7] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 170

THE EXPEDITION OF HUNAYN

THE EXPEDITION OF HUNAYN

During the conquest of Makkah, the Quraysh had laid down arms in front of the Prophet of Islam (a.s) and then the fear of the Muslims became rooted in the minds of the infidel tribes of Arabia. Most of them sought amnesty from the Muslims. But the naughty tribes of Banū-Hawazin and Banū-Thaqif were still rebellious. They were still planning to be mischievous. One of the chiefs of Banū-Hawazin, Malik ibn `Awf al-Nasri, colluded with Banū-Jathm and Banū-Nasr to raise an army for a result oriented battle with the Muslims. Banū-Thaqif who had once stoned away the Prophet (a.s) from Ta’if joined hands with them. Malik ibn `Awf also sent word to Banū-Sa`d to join hands with them. Banū-Sa`d did not agree with the offer saying that Muhammad (a.s) had his upbringing with them and they would not like to fight with him. But some of their men did join the collaborators. The size of the army reached a total of five thousand. Malik ibn `Awf was named the Commander-in-chief and Abū-Jarwal the standard bearer. They started on the campaign along with their families, children and flocks of animals! In this army was the famous warrior of Arabia, Durayd ibn Samah. His age at the time was 120 years but he was brought sitting in a litter on the back of a camel to make use of his vast experience of planning the strategies of battle. When the army halted at the Valley of Awtas he said that the place will be suitable for the movement of horses and for undertaking combats! He also said that the place was neither too soft nor very stony. At that moment, he heard the sounds of children and sheep. He enquired of Malik ibn `Awf about the sounds. He informed that women and children too were there with the army. He asked why they were brought with the troops. He was told that with the families and children along, no one will think of showing his back to the battlefield! He said that when the fear of the enemy dominates the minds of the troops, nothing can stop them from running away! If defeat was faced in these circumstances, the shame will not leave them forever! Then he asked, “Are Banū-Kalab and Banū-Ka`b too with you?” He replied that they had not joined with them. The old man said that if luck had favored them, they too would have joined the army! He expressed his frank opinion that they return to their respective habitations! If then the Muslims attacked them, they would be able to defend themselves and other tribes too might come to their rescue against the aggressors. Malik did not agree with his advice. Durayd said that then he would not have anything to do with the campaign! In fact Malik did not want his interference because he would claim credit if the battle was won by them! Therefore, rejecting a wise suggestion, the troops advanced forward to fight!

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When the Prophet (a.s) learned that Banū-Hawazin and Banū-Thaqif were advancing for a battle with the Muslims, he deputed `Abdullah ibn Hadrad to reconnoiter about their movements. He returned after his investigations and reported to the prophet (a.s) that their intention to battle was very evident and that the Muslims must be ready to repulse their attack. The Prophet (a.s) called `Umar and told him what he had heard from Ibn Abi-Hadrad. `Umar said Ibn Abi-Hadrad cannot be trusted because he is a liar. At this point Ibn Abi-Hadrad addressed `Umar and said:

“O `Umar! If you are refuting me, you were used to refuting the Truth in the past”[1]

The Prophet (a.s) trusted the intelligence of Ibn Abil-Hadrad and ordered the troops to be in readiness. They loaned from Safwan ibn Umayyah, who had not still embraced Islam, a hundred armors and other equipment of war and on 8 Shawwal 8H moved with 12,000 troops. In this contingent there were 10,000 persons who had accompanied him from al-Madinah. The other 2,000 were the recent converts from Makkah. The numerical strength was thrice as much as that of the Infidels. This has created a subtle feeling of pride among the Muslims. Therefore, seeing the strength of the army of Islam, Abū-Bakr said, “Today we shall not face defeat because of paucity of numbers!” The enemy arrived at the Valley of Hunayn and entrenched the men in the crevices and passages of the passages of the hills Hunayn is a valley lying on the hills between Makkah and Ta’if and had plain grounds on one side and ravines and ditches on the other. When the Muslims reached the Valley of Hunayn in the morning, and advanced on the difficult and sloping terrain, the enemy started throwing stones and arrows on them. The Muslims did not expect this sudden attack on them. Pandemonium broke out in the troops. First the Front Guard flew! The commander of the group was Khalid ibn al-Walid! When those coming from behind saw Khalid running away, they too took to their heels! The pandemonium was such that no one bothered about the others. They were all running helter-skelter. Abū-Qutadah who was one of the deserters said:

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“The Muslims flew! I too flew with them. Suddenly I noticed `Umar Ibn al-Khattab among the deserters I asked him, ‘What has happened to the people?’ He replied, ‘It is Allah’s Wish!’”[2]

The books of Hadith and biographies certainly recorded about this flight, but the Holy Qur’an too records the incident thus:

لَقَدْ نَصَرَكُمْ اللَّهُ فِي مَوَاطِنَ كَثِيرَةٍ وَيَوْمَ حُنَيْنٍ إِذْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ كَثْرَتُكُمْ فَلَمْ تُغْنِ عَنْكُمْ شَيْئًا وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ الْأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ ثُمَّ وَلَّيْتُمْ مُدْبِرِينَ.

“Certainly Allah helped you in many battlefields and on the day of Hunayn, when your great numbers made you vain, but they availed you nothing and the earth became strait to you notwithstanding its spaciousness, then you turned back retreating. (9:25)

When Abū-Sufyan saw the Muslims running away he said, “Wait! When they are vanquished, they will run to the sea shore!” Kildah ibn Hanbal said, “Today the spell of Islam has been broken!” Some said that al-Lat and Manat had avenged their destruction! Although they were in the army of Islam, but their hearts were not with them. They would certainly have showed their backs if defeat looked into their faces. But the surprising fact was that those who were there at the bay`at al-ridwan and swore to lay down their lives for the Cause chose to fly! Within no time, a major portion of the 12,000 men vanished in thin air! Very few persons remained with the Prophet (a.s). According to one narration, only four persons, `Ali (a.s), `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, Abū-Sufyan ibn al-Harith and `Abdullah ibn Mas`ūd remained steadfastly with the Prophet (a.s). According to another narration there were ten persons with him, viz: `Ali Ibn Abi-Talib (a.s), `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, al-Fadl ibn `Abbas, Abū-Sufyan ibn al-Harith, Rabi`ah ibn al-Harith, `Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, `Utbah and Mu’tah sons of Abū-Lahab and Ayman ibn `Ubayd. The Prophet (a.s) was astride a pony in the battlefield. `Abbas and al-Fadl were standing on the right and left of him. Abū-Sufyan was at the back holding the saddle of the mule and `Ali (a.s) was in the front meeting the attacks of the enemy with his sword. The other persons formed a protective circle around the Prophet (a.s). The enemy’s pressure increased every moment. Malik ibn `Awf came forward to attack the Prophet (a.s). Ayman ibn `Ubayd countered his attack and was martyred defending. The history records that in the moment of trial the

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Prophet (a.s) was the most steadfast. He had these words on his lips:

“It is true that I am the Prophet (a.s) I am the son of `Abd al-Muttalib!”

When he saw the Muslims deserting the theatre of war, he turned left and right, and called them:

“O Allah’s Creatures! Where are you heading to?”

When he found none heeding his call, he turned to his uncle, `Abbas, and asked him to call the deserters in a loud voice. `Abbas shouted at the top of his voice:

“O men of Ansar! O those who were present at the bay`at al-ridwan!”

On this call, some of the deserters came back. `Ali (a.s) gathered them under his Standard and advanced to attack the enemy. On the other side, the enemy too was alert. Both the sides attacked each other with swords. Sparks came out of the clashing swords. The Prophet (a.s) said:

“The oven of battle is hot now!”

The Standard Bearer of Banū-Hawazin, Abū-Jarwal was riding on a camel. He was waving his black flag, and he attacked reciting martial poems. `Ali (a.s) was looking for a chance to attack him. From the back he hit the legs of the camel with his sword. The camel fell down and Abū-Jarwal was not able to keep his balance. At that moment `Ali (a.s) gave him such a blow that he was cut into two. With the killing of Abū-Jarwal the morale of the enemy sank low. Their men started running away. The deserters from the Muslim army who were hiding themselves in the crevices of the hills came back and attacked the enemy in unison. Some of the enemy men were killed and others were taken captive. The fight was on when the time for meals arrived. The Prophet (a.s) said that they should stop fighting now and those taken captive should not be executed. But despite this order, two of the captives were killed. One of them was Ibn al-Akwa` who was functioning as a detective for Banū-Hudhayl during the campaign for conquest of Makkah. When `Umar found him helpless, he motioned to an al-Ansari to slay him. The other person killed was Jamil ibn Mu`ammar. He too was killed by an al-Ansari. When the Prophet (a.s) asked for an explanation from him, he said that `Umar had prompted him to kill the person. The Prophet (a.s) said that he had personally asked them not to kill the captives, looked angrily at `Umar and turned away his face! After some days, on the intervention of `Umayr ibn Wahab, the Prophet (a.s) overlooked that act of `Umar. Similarly, the Prophet (a.s) was disturbed at the killing of a woman. Looking at her dead body, he asked who had killed her. The people informed that it was Khalid ibn al-Walid who killed her. He asked the persons to go to him and tell:

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“The Prophet of Allah (a.s) prohibits you from slaying women, children and laborers.”[3]

The war was over but the Muslims continued to chase the infidels. They took custody of the enemy’s animals and materials. They took lot of prisoners of war, among whom were women and children. The Prophet (a.s) wanted one person, Bahad, to be apprehended alive. Therefore, the Muslims held him and his family members. Among the captives was al-Shayma’ bint al-Harith, who was the prophet’s sister by the virtue of her mother being his foster mother during his childhood. When she was put to hardship by the Muslim troops, she told them that she was their Prophet’s foster sister. They did not believe it and brought her to the presence of the Prophet (a.s). She said, “I am al-Shayma’, your foster sister! Once you had bitten my back in your childhood! The mark is still there! “The Prophet (a.s) recognized her and made her sit on his own quilt. He asked her, “Would you like to live with us, or return to your own tribe?” She preferred to get back to her tribe. The prophet (a.s) gave her a slave, one camel and some sheep and sent her away with respect.

During this campaign, four Muslims were martyred and seventy infidels were killed. Thousands were taken captive. They got large amount of booty of war. In that, there were 24,000 camels, 40.000 sheep and lot of silver. The captives and the booty were left in the charge of Badil ibn Warqa’ al-Khuza`i at Valley al-Ju`aranah. Those who were able to escape with their lives went to Ta’if. The chief of Banū-Hawazin, Malik ibn `Awf was among the fugitives who reached Ta’if. One group went to Awtas and another reached Naqlah.

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Ghazwah of Hunayn was a big trial for the Muslims. In the beginning, they were unable to meet the sudden attack of the enemy. They were under the illusion of the large force they had. If they had exercised care and forethought to the possibility of the enemy troops attacking from the caves and crevices, they would not have faced the initial setbacks. There was also a group of the capitulators of the campaign for conquest of Makkah who were not wholeheartedly participating in the battle. If, during this battle, the prophet (a.s) and his near relations were not steadfast, the battle was nearly lost.

In this victory too, `Ali (a.s) played the major part. He never left the company of the Prophet (a.s) for a moment and was fighting the enemy like a shield for his Master. It was his example that brought back many a deserter to the battlefield!

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 346

[2] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 3, Page 45

[3] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 180

THE SIEGE OF AL-TA’IF

THE SIEGE OF AL-TA’IF

Banū-Thaqif and their chief, Malik ibn `Awf al-Nasri, escaped from Hunayn and took shelter in Ta’if. They kept accumulating the equipment of warfare for one full year and locked themselves up in the fort. The army of Islam, under the command of the Prophet (a.s) chased them and laid siege of the Ta’if Fort. From both sides there was exchange of arrows. The Muslims were in open ground and the Infidels were in the security of the fort. They rained so many arrows from the fort that some of the Muslims got martyred and many more injured. When there was no means of subduing the well-entrenched enemy, Salman al-Farisi came up with the idea of Catapult. With a specially devised catapult they started hurling fairly large stones on the fort. Thus they were able to breach the wall of the fort. When the Muslims tried to enter the fort through the breach, the infidels threw red-hot iron rods from the top. The Muslims were forced to withdraw a little and did not succeed in capturing it.

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In the meantime, the Prophet (a.s) asked `Ali (a.s) to visit areas surrounding Ta’if and ordered him to destroy any place where idols were installed. `Ali (a.s) took a group of men with him and passed near the habitation of Banū-Khatm while it was still dark. They resisted and one of their well-known fighter came forward and challenged for a fight. `Ali (a.s) asked someone of his men to go ahead and kill the infidel. When none took courage in his hands, Abul-`As ibn Rabi`ah saw that `Ali (a.s) was himself getting ready to confront the enemy. He offered that he would go. But the Imam stopped him and told him that if he succumbed during the fight, Abul-`as should take the command. Saying this, `Ali (a.s) advanced swiftly and killed the infidel in one stroke. When Banū-Khatm saw their warrior killed, they retraced their steps. `Ali (a.s) went forward and destroyed all the idols of Banū-Hawazin and Banū-Thaqif. When the entire area was free of the idols, he returned. When the Prophet (a.s) saw him coming, he loudly raised the slogan of ‘allahu-akbar’ and took `Ali (a.s) to a corner. They were quietly exchanging confidences for quite some time.

Some persons did not like this quiet talk. They said, “Today the exchange of confidences with the cousin is quite long!” `Umar could not control himself. And he told the Prophet (a.s) directly that he talked with `Ali (a.s) in private and did not allow others to come near him! The Prophet (a.s) replied:

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“I have not exchanged confidences with `Ali (a.s), but Allah has done it.”[1]

During these days of the siege, Nafi` ibn Ghaylan, with some cavaliers of Banū-Thaqif, emerged out of the fort. He was chased and killed. The cavaliers fled in fear. Now the besieged persons did not have any courage to come out of the fort. During this time the people living in the environs of Ta’if accepted Islam. Some slaves of Banū-Thaqif came out of the fort and accepted Islam on condition that they would be free men. The siege was now over twenty days and there was no indication of the fort being captured. The Prophet (a.s) asked Nawfal ibn Mu`awiyah about the matter. He said that the enemy was like a fox in its den. On waiting it can be caught, if the chase is given up, there is no fear of harm. The Prophet (a.s) thought it better to lift the siege and leave Banū-Thaqif to their own scruples. He made an announcement that they were leaving from there the next day. Therefore, the Companions prepared for traveling on the following day. `Uyaynah ibn Hasan al-Fazari talked of Banū-Thaqif in laudatory words when the Muslims prepared to lift the siege. Despite being a member of the Islamic army, he praised the enemy in these words:

“By Allah! I did not come with you to fight with Banū-Thaqif. My purpose was that when Muhammad (a.s) captured Ta’if, I take a woman of Banū-Thaqif as my slave!”[2]

Someone said, “O Allah’s Messenger! At least curse the Banū-Thaqif!” Instead of cursing, the Prophet (a.s) uttered these words:

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“O Allah! Guide Banū-Thaqif and send them to me!”[3]

The Prophet’s prayer was answered very soon after that. One delegation of Banū-Thaqif came to al-Madinah and called on the Prophet (a.s). They offered to embrace Islam but made a condition that their idol of al-Lat should be left unharmed for three years! The Prophet (a.s) rejected this condition. Then they reduced the period to two years, one year and finally to one month!

Every time the Prophet (a.s) refused to accept the condition. Then they said that if he insisted to break the idol, he should ask someone else to perform the task and should not ask them to break their own idol! The Prophet (a.s) accepted their request. Then they asked to be exempted from offering mandatory prayers. The Prophet (a.s) said:

“There is no good in a Faith Where there is no prayer!”

Then he uttered these words of warning:

“You accept Islam, or else I shall send one, towards you, who is from me, (or he said, he is like my Conscience)! He will cut your necks and enslave your women and children and confiscate your wealth and property.”[4]

`Umar said that a wish came to his mind that the Prophet (a.s) meant him as that person! But the Prophet (a.s) caught hold of `Ali’s hand and said twice: “This is him! This is him!”

The delegation returned to Ta’if and made their report about the meeting. They all agreed to unconditionally accept Islam.

In this expedition too, `Ali’s presence is prominent. Along with the duties of the jihad, he is also active propagating the Faith. During the siege he destroyed the idols of Banū-Thaqif and Banū-Hawazin and brought about a change in the thinking of the people in the environs of Ta’if preparing them to embrace Islam. He killed a strong warrior of Banū-Khatm forcing them to capitulate. He killed Nafi` ibn Ghaylan and chased away his cavaliers. In the end, they all embraced Islam fearing his valorous attacks!

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In this campaign, certain aspects of `Ali’s superiority are very evident. The Prophet (a.s) exchanged confidences with him within sight of the other important Companions! When others expressed their objections, the Prophet (a.s) said that `Ali (a.s) was not only the keeper of his confidences, but of Allah as well! Then the Prophet (a.s) compared `Ali (a.s) with his own Conscience, with his Own Self!

Footnote

[1] Sahīh al-Tirmidhī, Page 487

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 355

[3] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 181

[4] Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 477

DISTRIBUTION OF THE BOOTY

When the Prophet (a.s) returned from Ta’if and camped at the Valley of al-Ju`ranah on the fifth of Dhul-Qa`dah, a delegation of Banū-Hawazin embraced Islam and came to his presence. They requested the persons of their tribe taken captive be freed. One chief of Banū-Sa`d, Zuhayr ibn `Amr, said that among the captives were two of the Prophet’s own aunts who had brought him up in their own arms. If any Arab chieftain had taken the milk of one of our ladies, he would certainly have respected her. You too must treat us with dignity, and we do not expect anything else from you. The Prophet (a.s) told him that when the Muslims assembled, he should broach the subject of the release of the captives with them. He said that at that moment he will raise the matter of the release of the progeny of `Abd al-Muttalib. Therefore, when the Muslims came after the ²uhr Prayer, the captives said that the Prophet (a.s) had taken the milk of one of their tribeswoman and on that strength; they ask to be freed from captivity. The Prophet (a.s) said that he was foregoing the share of Banū-`Abd al-Muttalib. The Muhajirūn and the Ansar said that their share too belonged to the Prophet (a.s) and that they had foregone their rights in his favor. However, `Aqrah ibn Habis, `Abbas ibn Mirdas and `Uyaynah ibn Hasan were a bit reluctant. When the captives were released, the Prophet (a.s) asked the delegates about Malik ibn `Awf al-Nasri. They said that he was with the Banū-Thaqif at Ta’if. The Prophet (a.s) asked them to send word to him that if he came there, the members of his family will be released from captivity. When Malik got the message, he immediately started from Ta’if, and reaching al-Ju`ranah, he went to the presence of the Prophet (a.s) and embraced Islam. The Prophet (a.s) released his family, gave back his confiscated assets and gave him a hundred camels as a gift.

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When the captives of Hawazin were released, the Muslims insisted on the distribution of the booty of war and said that the camels, goats and sheep might be distributed there and then! The Prophet (a.s) gave his approval and the distribution started. The Prophet (a.s), from his khums, gave a hundred camels each to the persons who had newly embraced Islam. Abū-Sufyan and his sons Mu`awiyah and Yazid were given a hundred camels each. Besides

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them, `Aqrah ibn Habis, `Uyaynah ibn Hasan and some other persons received a hundred camels each. Some persons were given lots of fifty camels. Generally, the rest of the men got four camels and forty sheep each. The Ansar too received the booty in the same manner. They complained that the Prophet (a.s) preferred his own people, although the Ansar supported him in the time of need. When he heard about these murmurs, he assembled them and told them that he had given some preferential treatment to the Quraysh that they do not recant from Islam! He said that they had their camels and sheep with them and you, the Ansar, have with you your Prophet (a.s)! He asked them what was preferable. The eyes of the Ansar watered and they said, “O Allah’s Messenger (a.s)! We wholeheartedly accept the distribution of the booty! In their share is the worldly wealth and you are in our share!” The Prophet (a.s) offered a prayer for the Ansar and their progeny!

`Abbas ibn Mirdas al-Aslami too was expecting a larger share of the booty than the ordinary Muslims got. He wrote some couplets to express his displeasure, “Hasan and Habis were not superior to my father Mirdas in any society, neither I am inferior to `Uyaynah and `Aqrah. But whom you down grade will not rise again!

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The Prophet (a.s) said, “Cut his tongue!” meaning that he be quietened by giving him some more of the booty! But he did not understand the allegory and shivered thinking that his tongue was about to be cut! When `Ali (a.s) asked him to come, he asked where he was being taken. He said that he was being taken along to comply with the orders of the Prophet (a.s)! He therefore accompanied `Ali (a.s) to the place where the camels and sheep were penned. `Ali (a.s) asked him to take more camels to bring his tally to hundred and join the group of the al-Mu’allafatu-Qulūbuhum (the Pretenders) or remain contented with the four camels and continue in the group of Muhajirūn!” `Abbas ibn Mirdas asked `Ali (a.s) to let him be with his four camels because he could not imagine to be counted among the al-Mu’allafatu-Qulūbuhum!

Amir al-Mu’minin had placed before him both the situations and had also explained the consequence of each of them giving him the right to maintain the privilege of being in the group of the Migrants or going to the side of the Pretenders!

After the distribution, the Prophet (a.s) returned to Makkah and performed the minor pilgrimage of `Umrah. `Attab ibn Usayd was appointed the governor of Makkah and then the Prophet (a.s) left for al-Madinah in the beginning of the month of Dhul-Hijjah.

PROPAGATION OF ISLAM IN YEMEN

PROPAGATION OF ISLAM IN YEMEN

During 8H, the Prophet (a.s) deputed Khalid ibn al-Walid with a group of Companions to Yemen for propagating the Message of Islam there. He stayed there for six months, but the efforts did not bear any fruits. There was no positive reaction from the people there al-Barra’ ibn `azib, who was a member of the delegation, says:

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“The Prophet (a.s) sent Khalid ibn al-Walid to Yemen for inviting people to the Faith. I was one of the persons sent with him. He stayed there for six months, but none paid any heed to him.”[1]

When the Prophet (a.s) learnt about the failure of the mission, he sent `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s) to take charge of the work. He asked him to send Khalid and his team back. Those from the team who wished to stay further in Yemen; they may be permitted to stay back. Al-Barra’ ibn `azib says that he preferred to stay on with `Ali (a.s). When the Yemenis learned that Khalid was going and `Ali (a.s) was replacing him, they were keenly interested and gathered at one place. After the Morning Prayers `Ali (a.s) went to them and read the letter that the Prophet (a.s) had sent for the people of Yemen. Then he delivered a Sermon on the virtues of Islam. The talk was so effective that the people, who did not respond even after six months of Khalid’s efforts, embraced Islam. The Historian al-Tabari writes:

“The entire tribe of Hamdan embraced Islam in one day.”[2]

When `Ali (a.s) informed the Prophet (a.s) about this event, he did a Prostration of Thanksgiving and said thrice: On Hamdan my Salam.”

In the Battle of Siffin the tribe of Hamdan was solidly behind `Ali (a.s). Seeing their exploits of valor, `Ali (a.s) said:

“If I was the keeper to the Gate of Heaven, I would have asked the Tribe of Hamdan to enter peacefully.”

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After the Tribe of Hamdan embraced Islam, the avenues for the progress and propagation of Islam opened up in Yemen. With the rays of the sun of knowledge, the darkness of infidelity was dispelled! In every nook and corner there were the voices witnessing the Unity of Allah!

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 289

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 390

THE EMIRATE OF YEMEN

THE EMIRATE OF YEMEN

Although the Yemenis had embraced Islam with one Sermon of `Ali (a.s), they were still not fully conversant with the tenets of the Faith. Therefore, it was necessary to give them instruction on the legitimate (halal) and taboo (haram) from Islamic point of view. They were also to be told about the mandatory, the optional prayers, and other pillars of Islam. They needed to get their disputes settled according to the laws of the Faith. For taking care of all these things, the Prophet (a.s) deputed `Ali (a.s) once again to Yemen. For this important mission, there was the need for knowledge and balanced thinking was very essential. This was his first stint outside the area of Hijaz and `Ali (a.s) was initially reluctant to accept the onerous responsibility. He told the Prophet (a.s) that he was still young and new to such an assignment. He felt that it might be difficult for him to handle the work without advisers around. The Prophet (a.s) put a hand on the chest of `Ali (a.s) and said:

“O Allah! Make `Ali’s heart well informed and the tongue free of defects and errors!”[1]

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`Ali (a.s) says that after that day he never had difficulty in assessing correctly between two persons. The quality of confidence and determination became stronger in him.

At that time of his selection the senior Companions, both Muhajir and Ansar, were present. But the Prophet (a.s), despite `Ali’s youth nominated him for the emirate of Yemen. In this connection, he neither consulted anyone nor obtained anyone’s opinion. The Prophet (a.s) was confident that `Ali (a.s) was the most suitable candidate of the job. It was this confidence that the Prophet (a.s) entrusted the important functions of delivering justice to people in his lifetime and prepared `Ali (a.s) for the same function after him as well. Therefore, the Prophet of Islam (a.s) said:

“O `Ali! After me, you will be the judge for the mutual disputes of the people!”[2]

If leading a congregational prayer is termed the qualification for selecting the Caliph, then why is the emirate of Yemen, first ever such important assignment in the annals of Islamic History, not termed a better qualification for the selection as the Caliph! We should understand that leading a congregational prayer is one thing and leading the governance of a people is another! The duties of an emir and a caliph are similar that need skills in governance and deliverance of justice.

Footnote

[1] Al-Istī`āb, Vol 3, Page 36

[2] Mustadrak al-Hākim, Vol 3, Page 122

SARIYYAT WADI AL-RAML

SARIYYAT WADI AL-RAML

Some people gathered in Wadi al-Raml and were planning a surprise night attack on al-Madinah. They were looking for an opportune time to carry out their plan. But one person chanced to know their plans and gave the information to the Prophet (a.s). These people were not a regularly organized contingent but were a group of brigands and highway robbers. The Prophet (a.s) gave the standard to Abū-Bakr and sent with troops to quell and disburse this mob. When the troops reached the Wadi al-Raml, the brigands went into hiding. The Muslims looked around for them, and not finding any trace, relaxed thinking that they had fled getting wind of the coming of the Muslim attack. The Muslims were tired of their journey. They decided to spend the night in the valley and slept soundly. After some hours of their sleeping, the brigands came out quietly from their hideouts and attacked the Muslims. In the confusion, some Muslims were killed and the rest ran for their lives. When the unsuccessful group returned, the Prophet (a.s) gave the standard to `Umar to lead the campaign. The morale of the brigands was high now. When they saw the contingent arrive, they came out of their hideouts and started fighting with such ferocity that the Muslim contingent was forced to withdraw. After these two failures, `Amr ibn al-`As told the Prophet (a.s) to give him the command to control the situation. The Prophet (a.s) complied with his wish, but the result was the same as before. After these repeated failures, the Prophet (a.s) appointed `Ali (a.s) as the Commander of the contingent and sent him for the campaign. He also asked the earlier unsuccessful commanders too to join the contingent under him. The first strategy of `Ali (a.s) was to change the route of advance from that which was followed by the earlier three attempts. He also made the journey during night and rested the troops during the day. This provided them a degree of stealth in their movement. They thus were able to surprise the enemy by sudden attack. While the first rays of sunlight was about to touch the peaks, the tips of the swords started shining. The enemy fled because of the element of surprise in the attack and the Muslims proceeded to al-Madinah victoriously. The Prophet (a.s) on hearing of the arrival of the victorious army came out of the city to give them a reception. He happily said:

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“O `Ali! If I had not the fear that some people of my Ummah might say what the Christians said about `Isa (a.s), I would have said something about you that people would pick up the soil from under your very feet, wherever you went!”[1]

The success of this campaign was because of the leadership of `Ali (a.s) in planning the strategy of war. He kept a keen eye on the reasons of the failure of the previous attempts and took care to eliminate them. In the first attempt, they were lethargic and careless in their movement. Having gone to the den of the enemy, they casually retired to sleep without even posting nominal night vigil. The second and third attempts they made the mistake of following the same route of travel and thus gave early warning of their arrival to the enemy. `Ali (a.s) eliminated all these faults and added the element or surprise by traveling in the night and reaching the arena just before dawn! If he had made the same mistakes as the first three leaders did, his attempt might have met with the same result as theirs did!

Footnote

[1] Kitāb al-irshād Shaykh al-Mufīd, Page 76

SARIYYAT BANŪ-TAYY

After the conquest of Makkah the idols of the Ka`bah had been destroyed. During the ghazwat al-Ta’if, the idols of Banū-Thaqif and Banū-Hawazin too were destroyed. But those of Banū-tay were still intact. Among these idols was one, by name of Fils that was the center of their adulation! The Prophet (a.s) determined to destroy it too. He deputed `Ali (a.s) during the month of Rabi` II, 9 A.H. towards the habitations of Banū-tay to destroy the idols there and invite the people to the Right Path. `Ali (a.s) started for the campaign with a contingent of 150 men. The Chief of Banū-tay, `Adi ibn Hatam went toward Syria along with his family and children, when he heard of the arrival of the Muslim contingent. `Ali (a.s) attacked the neighborhood of Banū-Hatam and destroyed their idol. From that place, he got three expensive armors and three swords. Among these swords were Rasūb and Mukhazzam that were very famous swords throughout Arabia for their excellent quality which were offered to the idols by al-Harith ibn Abi-Shimr. Besides these, lot of other valuables and livestock were obtained from there. `Ali (a.s) distributed some of the booty to the men in the contingent and took the rest and the captives to al-Madinah. Among the captives, there was Safanah, the daughter of the legendary Hatam, who was accommodated at a place near the mosque where captive women were generally kept. During those days, the Prophet (a.s) passed that way when Safanah complained that her father was dead and there was none to take care of her. She pleaded to be released and said that Allah will reward him for the kindness. The Prophet (a.s) asked who she was. She said that she was the sister of `Adi ibn Hatam. The Prophet (a.s) asked her if she was the sister of the same `Adi ibn Hatam who fled from Allah and His Prophet (a.s). Saying this, he went his way. The next day when he passed that way, Safanah pleaded again and he gave the same reply! Safanah thought that there was no hope left for her release! The third time when the Prophet (a.s) passed that way, she had no courage to renew her appeal. While she was thinking whether to say anything or not, someone from behind the Prophet (a.s) prompted her to appeal to the Prophet (a.s) for her release. She took courage in her hands, stood up and said, “O Prophet of Allah (a.s)! Please do not make me a subject of ridicule among my people! I am the daughter of the Chief of Banū-tay, Hatam! My father was very charitable His wont was to release the captives, feed the poor and help the needy!” The Prophet (a.s) ordered that she be released forthwith because she was the daughter of a person who was gentle, kind and held high morals. He also told Safanah to stay in al-Madinah until a dependable escort was arranged to send he safely to her people. Safanah asked the people about the identity of the person who prompted her to speak with the Prophet (a.s). They informed her that he was the Prophet’s cousin `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s). After sometime, a caravan from Banū-Khuza`ah came to al-Madinah. Safanah requested the Prophet (a.s) to send her with them. The Prophet (a.s) made good arrangements for her journey and she safely reached her brother `Adi Bin Hatam in Syria.

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Safanah complained to her brother `Adi that he abandoned her alone and fled. She also told him about `Ali (a.s) on whose prompting she could accomplish her release from captivity. She also told him about the good treatment meted out by the Prophet (a.s) to her. She very strongly suggested to `Adi to go to the presence of the Prophet (a.s) at the earliest that he will get the honor of joining the ranks of the people who have adopted the Right Path. `Adi says that he liked the suggestion and therefore headed for al-Madinah. When he went to the presence of the Prophet (a.s) in the al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Holy Prophet’s Mosque), he told him that he was `Adi ibn Hatam. The Prophet (a.s) was very pleased to meet him and asked him to accompany him home. On the way, they met an old woman and heard her complaints. `Adi thought that the Prophet (a.s) had not the slightest element of pride and conceit for his position. When they reached the Prophet’s home, he spread his carpet for `Adi to sit. And he squatted on the bare ground. `Adi again thought that this cannot be the way of royalty! `Adi was still indecisive in his mind when the Prophet (a.s) said, “O `Adi! You take a fourth of the booty of war, but in your Christian Faith this is not permissible! Perhaps you are shy of our Faith because there is poverty among our people and there are lots of enemies in our environment! But soon there will be such affluence here that even on searching there will be scarcity of takers for the wealth! Women will then visit the House of Allah all alone fearlessly! You will learn that the White Palace of Babylon has been annexed by the Muslims!” `Adi witnessed with his own eyes the excellent character and manners of the Prophet (a.s) and heard his talk that went straight to his heart! He embraced Islam at the same auspicious moment and became an ardent companion of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) and was on his side during the campaigns of Jamal, Siffin and Nahrawan.

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GHAZWAh OF TABŪK

GHAZWAh OF TABŪK

One trading caravan from Syria spread a rumor in al-Madinah that the Caesar of Rome, Heracles, was planning to attack al-Madinah and the Christian tribe, Banū-Ghassan, Banū-Lakhm, Banū-Qazm and Banū-Amilah were gathering under his flag. Banū-Ghassan, they said, had converted their territory, Syria, as a cantonment to mobilize the armies of Rome and Syria. They also said that the reconnoitering troops have reached as close as the area of Balqa’. The Prophet (a.s) on the basis of these reports started the preparations to meet the enemy. He ordered the Muslims to prepare for stopping the advancing enemy. All the wars that the Muslims fought were inside the country and they had not faced any external opponent. This campaign was to be fought on foreign soil, and was against a distant Emperor whose conquests extended to Persia and beyond. On hearing the Prophet’s orders, the men, instead of feeling the thrill of the prospective battles, were crestfallen. The reason for this mood was that they were facing a drought of late and only during the current season, the crop was good and nearing harvest. They were not in a mood to travel leaving behind their ready crops. Besides, the summer heat was severe and harsh for travel through the desert. In such circumstances, the Muslims started making excuses to avoid going on the campaign. The Holy Qur’an says about these persons:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَا لَكُمْ إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمْ انفِرُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ اثَّاقَلْتُمْ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ أَرَضِيتُمْ بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا مِنْ الْآخِرَةِ .

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“O People who embraced the Faith! When you are asked to start in the way of Allah, your feet became embedded in the ground. Are you happy with this life instead of the Hereafter? (9:38)”

When pressure mounted over the Muslims with admonishing, Verses, and they saw no way out other than joining the contingent, then some willingly and others not so willingly got ready to go. Some others malingered and stayed back at their homes. The Prophet (a.s) took help from within al-Madinah and other areas to get together a contingent of 30,000 men and

during the month of Rajab 9H left al-Madinah and their first halt was at Thaniyyat al-Wida`. `Abdullah ibn Ubay, with his men, too was with the contingent and camped in the low-lying area of Thaniyyat al-Wida`. When the Prophet (a.s) advanced with the army, Ibn Ubay returned to al-Madinah with his men.

After a major number of the Muslims leaving al-Madinah, the hypocrites who remained back and those who returned from the way, in the event of the defeat of the Muslim army, which `Abdullah Ibn Ubay expected, they planned to invade the Prophet’s home and loot it and send away the members of his family from al-Madinah. There was also danger from people who had not as yet embraced Islam and were defeated in the battles that they fought with them. Such people might see an opportunity to plunder the properties and assets of the Muslims. In these circumstances, it was the demand of farsightedness that a person should be left in al-Madinah who could face any eventuality with courage and control things from going awry. Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) decided to leave behind `Ali (a.s) whose fear was already embedded in the hearts of the Arabs because of his recent successes in the battles. The hypocrites of al-Madinah did not like this arrangement. When they were unable to find any excuse, they said:

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“The Prophet (a.s) considering him a burden, has left him behind!”[1]

`Ali (a.s) who was continuously winning in the battles with the infidels, was feeling for being dropped from the contingent going for the new Campaign. When he heard this taunt from the hypocrites, he could not control himself and put on the arms and started moving behind the army at some distance. After sometime, he caught up with them and went to the presence of the Prophet (a.s). He complained to the Prophet (a.s) that the hypocrites say that he was left behind because he would be a burden during the campaign. The Prophet (a.s) said that they were liars and I am leaving you behind in al-Madinah because the administration there should be either with me or with you. He also said that in his Ahl al-Bayt and in his Ummah, he was his successor. He added:

“Are you not happy that you have the same relationship with me as Harūn (a.s) had with Mūsa (a.s). The only difference is that there will be no prophet after me.”[2]

Hearing this, `Ali (a.s) happily went back to al-Madinah. And the Prophet (a.s) proceeded with the army towards the border of Syria. The ruins of the Tribes of Thamūd were on the way. When they reached the place, the Prophet (a.s) asked his men not to take any water from the wells there, neither for ablutions nor for drinking purpose. When his eyes fell on the ruins, he hid his face with a cloth and rode his camel faster to leave the place behind as soon as possible. The next day the Muslims ran short of water. They came to the Prophet (a.s) and told him that if they were allowed to take water on the way, this situation of scarcity would not have arisen. The Prophet (a.s) lifted his hands for prayer and before his prayer was over, dark clouds appeared on the horizon and copious rain started. The men drank it and stored in their containers.

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The journey through the dry deserts was very tiring. Fifteen to twenty persons had to share one camel or horse. They rode on these animals in turns. They had to trudge through the desert more on foot than astride any animal. For eating, they got no more than dry bread and water was very scarce. Those who were unable to bear the hardship, they started returning back. Whenever the Prophet (a.s) was informed of the deserters, he used to say,” If they have virtue in them, they will come back to join us. If not, it will be lesser burden on our heads!” Abū-Dharr fell behind because his camel was very emaciated and was unable to keep pace with others. People told the Prophet (a.s) that even Abū-Dharr had deserted. About him, too the Prophet (a.s) said that if he had virtue in him, he would join back the caravan. When Abū-Dharr saw that the camel was unable to go any further, he took away his baggage from its back and started moving forward on foot. Some people of the army saw him coming at a distance. They started speculating who the person could be who was walking all alone. The Prophet (a.s) said it must be Abū-Dharr. When the men strained their eyes a little, they confirmed it was he! The Prophet (a.s) said:

“May Allah have mercy on Abū-Dharr that he is coming alone, he will die in loneliness and will be raised on the Day of Judgment alone.”[3]

When the army reached Tabūk, they struck camp there. For long distances, there was not any sign of the Roman troops. The Prophet (a.s) camped there for twenty days, but from no direction, there was any sign of approaching armies. The information given by the Syrian traders was wrong. In this time, the Prophet (a.s) sent delegations to the chiefs of the tribes in the area inviting them to embrace Islam or start paying the jizyah. The chief of Ayla, Yawhanna ibn Rawbah came to the Prophet (a.s) and struck a truce at a jizyah of 300 Dinar. Similarly, the Christians of tribes of al-Jarba’, Adhruh and al-Muqanna too entered into agreements to pay jizyah. The chief of Dawmat al-Jandal, Ukaydar ibn `Abd al-Malik was brought in captivity. He too accepted to pay jizyah and was released. When the Prophet (a.s) was satisfied that there was no sign of the enemy Roman troops, he ordered his men to return to al-Madinah. There is a valley, al-Mushaqqaq, lying between Tabūk and al-Madinah. At that place, there is a spring from where water was coming at a very slow rate. He ordered that those who reached earlier than him should not drink water from the spring. But some men, who arrived there earlier, drank the little water that had accumulated from the spring. When the Prophet (a.s) arrived there, he found that the pit of the spring was empty of water. He asked the men about who arrived there first. The men took the names of the first arrivals. The Prophet (a.s) asked them if they were not warned not to drink the water before he arrived. Al-Tabari writes:

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“Then the Prophet (a.s) cursed them.”[4]

The Prophet (a.s), noticing the scarcity of water, held his palms under the oozing water and the palms were full of it, he offered a prayer. And the water from his hand he poured into the pit. The prayer was answered and the spring started yielding water copiously. Everyone of the army quenched his thirst.

On the return journey, another sad event happened. When they reached `Uqbah Dhul-Fatr, they thought that the passage through the hills was tortuous and difficult. If the animals became restless, there was a likelihood of their falling into the ravines. The Prophet (a.s) announced that no one should take that route until his camel goes. But some persons conspired that they will disturb the Prophet’s camel to cause an accident. The Prophet (a.s) was astride his camel and Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman was holding the rope in the front, and `Ammar ibn Yasir was at the back. With the lightning they saw twelve riders, with faces covered, proceeding towards the ravine Hudhayfah pointed this out to the Prophet (a.s), and he reprimanded the group. Hudhayfah and `Ammar pushed back those twelve camels. The Prophet (a.s) asked Hudhayfah who these persons were. He expressed his ignorance. The Prophet (a.s) said that they were the hypocrites and will ever remain so. They came with a view that they wanted to disturb my camel and cause its fall in the ravine. Then the Prophet (a.s) told the names of all the twelve culprits to Hudhayfah and asked him to keep the information a secret. But despite this warning, the information got revealed to some people. Once Imam al-Hasan (a.s) told Mu`awiyah ibn Abi-Sufyan:

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“You will recall the day when some persons wanted the camel of the Prophet to fall into the ravine and these persons were twelve in number and one of them was Abū-Sufyan.”[5]

When the Prophet (a.s) was proceeding towards Tabūk, some deceptive persons came to him and said that they had constructed a mosque so that the diseased and disabled, who are unable to go long distances to the other mosques offer prayers there. They requested him to visit their mosque and offer prayer there. The Prophet (a.s) said that he was on an important journey then, and would visit the mosque some other time. When he returned from his journey to Tabūk and reached Dhi-`Awan near al-Madinah, the following verse was revealed:

وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مَسْجِدًا ضِرَارًا وَكُفْرًا وَتَفْرِيقًا بَيْنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَإِرْصَادًا لِمَنْ حَارَبَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَلَيَحْلِفُنَّ إِنْ أَرَدْنَا إِلَّا الْحُسْنَى وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ .

“And those who built a masjid to cause harm and for unbelief and to cause disunion among the believers and an ambush to him who made war against Allah and His Messenger before; and they will certainly swear: We did not desire aught but good; and Allah bears witness that they are most surely liars. (9:107)

The Prophet (a.s) ordered Malik ibn Dakhsham and Ma`an ibn `Adi to dismantle that mosque.

The expedition to Tabūk was a very trying experience for the Muslims. They had to travel through the scorching heat of the desert leaving behind the gardens and the green fields. Only those were steadfast who preferred the Rewards of the Hereafter to the comforts of this life. Those who had accepted Islam to enjoy the power and pelf that they thought it will give them, were unable to bear the hardships of the journey and complained about it. The hypocrites therefore deserted the army at various stages and left a proof of their mindset. So far, they were able to hide their infidelity in the thick veneer of hypocrisy. But now they were exposed. Therefore, this campaign is also called the disclosing campaign because it exposed the veneer of the hypocrites and they faced shame and ignominy. Even if they wanted to keep their hypocrisy in wraps at that moment, they could not have done it. They could have hidden their hypocrisy only if they had boldly come out of their homes, faced all the hardships of the journey and remained steadfast with the Prophet (a.s) all through the campaign. They could not do it, and thus they were exposed!

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Ghazwah of Tabūk is the only campaign of the Prophet (a.s) in which `Ali (a.s) did not participate. But this was not because he did not want to be there in the war. It was the decision of the Prophet (a.s) to leave him behind in al-Madinah to take care of things that he would do while present there. This too was a responsibility like the jihad that `Ali (a.s) performed well. He maintained the law and order in al-Madinah efficiently and effectively.

Whenever the Prophet (a.s) traveled out of al-Madinah he appointed someone to take charge of the administration of the city. The person used to be given the position of an ordinary governor or administrator. But `Ali’s appointment was of a different nature. He told him that his status, in the eyes of the Prophet (a.s), was the same as that of Harūn (a.s) for Mūsa (a.s). Harūn (a.s) was the caliph and Successor of Mūsa (a.s)! The Holy Qur’an therefore says about the prayer of Mūsa (a.s):

وَاجْعَلْ لِي وَزِيرًا مِنْ أَهْلِي هَارُونَ أَخِي اشْدُدْ بِهِ أَزْرِي وَأَشْرِكْهُ فِي أَمْرِي.

“And give to me an aider from my family Harūn, my brother Strengthen my back by him and associate him (with me) in my affair. (20:29-32)”

The Prophet (a.s) terming `Ali (a.s) as the equivalent of Harūn (a.s) proved that as Harūn (a.s) was the Caliph and Vicegerent of Mūsa (a.s) so was `Ali (a.s) his own Vicegerent. Saying that Mūsa (a.s) nominated Harūn (a.s) his successor for a short while, and so was the appointment of `Ali (a.s) temporary is not correct. But the question arises, why Mūsa (a.s) did not appoint anyone else instead of Harūn (a.s)? The answer is that he was the most superior and the most competent to be the successor and the vicegerent of Mūsa (a.s). So was `Ali (a.s) the most superior and the most competent to be the Prophet’s Caliph and Vicegerent!

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Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 368

[2] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 3, Page 54

[3] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 271

[4] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 373

[5] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abil-Hadīd, Vol 2, Page 103

PROPAGATION OF SŪRAT BARA`AH

PROPAGATION OF SŪRAT BARA`AH

The infidels and hypocrites of Arabia used to perform the Hajj at the Ka`bah and even after the conquest of Makkah, they continued the practice. In their practices, circumambulating the Ka`bah in naked state was one amoral aspect. It was necessary to stop it. So far, the Prophet (a.s) had not banned them from coming for the ritual. But the initial Verses of the Sūrah of Bara’ah express disgust for the infidels and hypocrites. In compliance with this, it was felt necessary to stop them from entering the precincts of the Ka`bah. The Prophet (a.s) gave these verses to Abū-Bakr and sent him to Makkah. Soon after sending him, he deputed `Ali (a.s), to proceed on his personal camel, al-`Adhbah, and take the parchment on which the Verses were inscribed from Abū-Bakr and proceed to Makkah to recite them to the people there. `Ali (a.s) rode the camel fast, overtook Abū-Bakr, communicated the Prophet’s message, obtained the Verses from him and proceeded to Makkah. He also told Abū-Bakr that if he wished he could go along with him or else return to al-Madinah. Ibn al-Athir writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) gave the Sūrah of Bara’ah to Abū-Bakr to take to Makkah, but called him back from the way and told him that for the propagation of the Verses the person from his own house was suitable and therefore entrusted the Verses to `Ali (a.s)”[1]

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Al-Tabari has written about this event in greater detail:

“The Prophet gave the verses to Abū-Bakr and sent him appointing him as the emir of the Hajj. When he reached the Valley of Dhū-Halifah near the Masjid al-Shajarah, `Ali (a.s) arrived and took the Verses from him. Abū-Bakr came back to the Prophet (a.s) and said, ‘I sacrifice my parents on you! Is there any revelation about me?’ The Prophet said, No! But

these Verses have to be propagated either by me or the one who is from me!”[2]

Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s), on reaching Makkah, recited the Verses to the people at `Arafat and Mina and announced that the hypocrites who had committed the breach of trust, the truce agreement with them would go void in four months. And then no infidel and hypocrite, who has not embraced Islam, shall be allowed to enter the precincts of Ka`bah to circumambulate it for performing the Hajj Pilgrimage. It caused some brows to frown among the hypocrites, but none had courage to say anything. They were helpless before the might and dominance of Islam. They were forced to pretend that they had embraced Islam. Al-Tabari writes:

“The hypocrites blamed each other and returned and said that since the Quraysh had embraced Islam, they had no way other than following suit!”[3]

This task was not as simple as it appeared. The truce agreements with the infidels were being abrogated and entry into the Al-Masjid al-Haram and performance of Hajj by them was banned. It was possible that they turned rebellious and started to conspire against the Muslims. Because of these fears the Prophet (a.s) was worried about the safety of `Ali (a.s) and was eagerly awaiting his return. When Abū-Dharr gave the news of his return, the Prophet (a.s) was overjoyed. He went out of the city with his companions and welcomed `Ali (a.s).

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For this task removing one emissary and appointing another was not the personal decision of the Prophet (a.s) but it was in compliance to a Revelation from Allah. All the Commands of Allah have always a definite purpose behind them. The purpose behind the change must have been the need to highlight the importance and the superiority of the person entrusted with the job! Therefore, if from the beginning `Ali (a.s) was deputed, it would have been considered a matter of routine. Detailing an important person and withdrawing him midway to send `Ali (a.s) highlighted the importance of the task and the eminence of the person who replaced the earlier emissary! Then the announcement that the replacement was at the Command of Allah gave the act more eminence! It is a matter of conjecture that a person whom Allah did not deem fit to propagate a couple of Verses of the Qur’an to the people of Makkah, was elevated to the caliphate after the demise of the Prophet (a.s)!

It is a pity that some people took shelter behind the excuse of public opinion and installed a person to caliphate and sending the candidate into oblivion who was most deserving of the position. The Commentator of the Qur’an, Ibn `Abbas, too mentions about this incident to prove `Ali’s right to caliphate. He says:

“By Allah! The Prophet (a.s) had thought only him suitable to recite the Verses of Sūrah of Bara’ah to the people of Makkah.”[4]

Ibn `Abbas arguing about the Right to caliphate referring to the incident about the Recitation of the Sūrah of Bara’ah meant that the Prophet (a.s) was hinting at his choice of the successor. `Ali (a.s) himself referred to the incident while making claim of the Caliphate at the meeting of the Shūra. He said:

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“Is there anyone amongst you who was entrusted with the task of propagating the Sūrah of Bara’ah and the Prophet (a.s) had told him that anyone other than the prophet (a.s) and ME could do the task.”[5]

If claim is made for Abū-Bakr sitting his Imamate of the prayer, would not they have used the incident of the Sūrah of Bara’ah as another strong proof to claim the Caliphate for him! Then why they do not accept this as a proof for the claim of `Ali (a.s) for the caliphate?

Footnote

[1] Jāmi` al-Usūl, Vol 9, Page 475

[2] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 383

[3] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 283

[4] Kanz al-`Ummāl, Vol 6, Page 391

[5] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abil-Hadīd, Vol 2, Page 61

THE CALL FOR MUBAHALAh OR IMPRECATION

THE CALL FOR MUBAHALAh OR IMPRECATION

Najran is in the north of Yemen about ten stages away from San`a’. It was a fertile area with 73 settlements those days. In those conglomerates about forty thousand Christians lived. They were initially idol worshippers like the Arabs but a Christian hermit, Fimiyūn, who earned his living as a mason, converted them to Christianity. Fimiyūn was a migrant from Rome. It was his selfless missionary zeal that the entire population converted to Christianity. Very soon, Najran became an important centre of Christianity. They constructed a Church for performing their religious rites. This was built with the skins of the camels and became famous as Ka`b Najran. People assembled there for prayers and made offers. In addition to the offerings made at the Church, its income was 200,000 annually that were used for the upkeep of the hermits and the pastors.

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When Islam progressed after the conquest of Makkah, and the warring groups capitulated, the Prophet (a.s) invited those tribes that had not embraced Islam until then. In 10H a message was sent to the Christians of Najran as well. They were asked to embrace Islam or start paying jizyah as the subjects of the Islamic Dominion. When the Bishop of Najran read the Prophet’s letter, he gathered all the important persons of the area and discussed the matter with them. he told them that they should all put their head together and devise the strategy to find a solution for the problem. Although the news created a commotion in the population, the braves started talking of battle. The Bishop calmed them down. When he talked to the people, there were different suggestions to face the situation. In the end, after much deliberation, they decided to send a delegation to al-Madinah and talk to the Prophet (a.s). Therefore, a delegation of 14 persons under the leadership of `Aqib al-Sayyid and Abū-Harithah was constituted. Abū-Harithah was an eminent scholar of Christian Faith and Aqib Sayyid was known for his sagacity and wisdom. When the delegation arrived at al-Madinah, the people were surprised at the grandeur of their raiment! Earlier no other delegation had arrived with such pomp! When they descended from their carriages near the al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Holy Prophet’s Mosque), and entered proudly into the Mosque, the Prophet (a.s) noticed the gold rings in their fingers and their dresses of silks; he turned away his face from them! The time for their prayer was at hand and turning to the East, they commenced their prayer. Some persons wanted to stop them from praying but the Prophet (a.s) prevented them from doing it. After their prayer the delegates waited for a while. When the prophet (a.s) did not pay them any attention, they had frowns on their faces and left the mosque in a huff. When they saw `Uthman and `Abd al-Rahman outside, they complained to them about the cold treatment meted out to them. They said that they have come in response to the message of Muhammad (a.s) but he turned away his face from them and did not acknowledge even the greetings! They said that they did not know why he treated them like that. But `Uthman asked them to go to `Ali (a.s). They took the delegates to `Ali (a.s) and mentioned about the cold treatment that the Prophet (a.s) gave them. He told them that they should go in ordinary raiment and without the gold rings in the fingers. Then the Prophet (a.s) will give them a good reception. They followed `Ali’s advice and the Prophet (a.s) sat down with the delegates after the `Asr Prayer and discussed with them many matters of mutual interest. When he invited them to embrace Islam, they said that they were already Muslims! He asked, “How you are Muslims when you eat pork, worship the Cross and consider Jesus as the Son of God?” They replied that certainly they consider the Messiah as the Son of Allah! They asked the Prophet (a.s), “If he is not the son of God, then who his father is? Can anyone take birth without a father?” The Prophet (a.s) recited the following verse from the Qur’an:

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إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَى عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ خَلَقَهُ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ .

“For Allah, the example of `Isa (a.s) is like that of Adam (a.s), whom He made with the soil and said, ‘Be’, and he ‘Was’. (3:59)”

The Prophet (a.s) conveyed that `Isa (a.s) did not have only the father, but Adam was created by Allah without either parent. Then why do not they call Adam (a.s) the Son of Allah? They had no reply for this argument and hence they started unnecessary debate. When they were not paying any heed to the arguments, the following Verse was revealed:

فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنْ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنْفُسَنَا وَأَنْفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَلْ لَعْنَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ.

“But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars. (3:61)”

The Prophet (a.s) read this verse to the Christians and invited them for the imprecation (Mubahalah). The need for imprecation arose because if the matter was closed just with discussions, they would turn back and say that they requested the Prophet (a.s) for a debate, but we were not satisfied with his arguments. There was only one alternative to challenge them for the imprecation. After the Mubahalah, they would have nothing to brag home about. Initially the Christians were scared about the prospect of an imprecation. But later they relented. They asked the Prophet (a.s) to give them a day respite. Then they went back to their inn and had a long discussion between themselves. Everyone had his own opinion. Abū-Harithah said that if Muhammad (a.s) came tomorrow with his Companions and lot of men in attendance, we can accept to go for imprecation with him. But if he came in humility with his children and the family members, we must refute to have imprecation with him!

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After making the agreement for the imprecation, the Prophet (a.s) selected a place outside al-Madinah for the purpose. Salman al-Farisi prepared it by removing the grass and the weeds from the ground. Early next morning the Christians reached the venue of the imprecation. The Muhajirūn and Ansar too came to the ground. When the Prophet (a.s) learned that the Christians had reached the site, he called for `Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn (a.s).

Sa`d ibn Abi-Waqqas says:

“When the Verse of Mubahalah (Imprecation) was revealed, the Prophet (a.s) called `Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn (a.s) and said, ‘O Allah! These are my Ahl al-Bayt!’”[1]

Al-Ya`qūbi writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) came out early morning that al-Hasan and al-Husayn were holding his hands, `Ali was in his front and Fatimah was behind him.”[2]

When the Prophet (a.s) reached the grounds of Mubahalah he squatted under a tree and made `Ali (a.s) sit in his front, Fatimah (a.s) at his back and Hasan (a.s) and Husayn (a.s) on his right and left. He told them that when he offered prayer they should all say ‘Amen!’ When the Christians saw with the Prophet (a.s) one male, a female and two children, they were first surprised and then an unknown fear took hold of them! Abū-Harithah said:

“O group of Christians! I am seeing such faces that if Allah Desire to move a mountain from here, He will do it for those faces. Do not imprecate with them! Or else you will meet with death and destruction!”[3]

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When the Christians knew that the persons coming with the Prophet (a.s) were his cousin and son-in-law, `Ali (a.s), the daughter Fatimah (a.s) and the grandchildren al-Hasan and al-Husayn (a.s), they were dumb founded. They now thought that if the Prophet (a.s) had not strong Faith, he would not have exposed his family to the imprecation! They were still in a dilemma when Abū-Harithah’s brother Karaz ibn `Alqamah, who was already impressed with the Truth of Islam, said, “O Group of Christians! I see that Muhammad (a.s) himself is that last prophet about whom there is reference in our Sacred Bulletins. We should not imprecate with him. Because those who imprecate with the Prophets, they fall perpetually in the abyss of destruction. Just open your eyes and see the surroundings. The nature is silently telling about your impending destruction!” When they lifted their eyes, they noticed that the brightness of the sun had dimmed, in the atmosphere there were clouds of smoke, the leaves were shed by the trees and the birds were hiding in their nests! The hearts of the Christians shook seeing these manifestations of the nature! They requested to be excused from the imprecation. The Prophet (a.s) readily acceded to their request. He appointed `Ali (a.s) to settle the terms of the truce with Najran. `Ali (a.s) agreed on the following terms:

Every year twice, in the months of Safar and Rajab, they will give 1000 drapes (each valued forty dirham) as jizyah to the Muslims. If there were hostilities in Yemen, Najran will give to the Muslims 30 armors, 30 swords, thirty horses as their war effort. In return, they will be free to until their own lands and live in peace. The safety of their lives and property will be the concern of the Muslims.

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This victory in the annals of human history is unique and only one of its type. On, the one side are five individuals, unarmed, of whom there is one lady and two innocent children! They were firm on the strength of Faith and made the representatives of Najran capitulate before them and enter into a treaty on their terms!

At this time the Ansar, the Muhajirūn, the al-`asharah al-mubashsharah, the Warriors of Badr along with their children too were present. According to the Verse of the Qur’an, the Companions, and their families, too could have been included in the imprecation! But only `Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn (a.s) were selected for the event! If the meaning of the Verse was that one should go with two sons, one daughter and a person dear to him, then the Prophet (a.s) could have told the others that he considered them to participate in the imprecation. But according to the Verse of the Qur’an, he was permitted to take only four persons along. He could have also said that if there were scope for more than four persons, he would have taken them along. It was not the restriction on the numbers for not including more persons in the imprecation. It was the qualities that were not present in any other persons than the four who went. Otherwise, there was no reason for the Prophet (a.s) to ignore others for the event.

For entering the stage of Mubahalah, two qualities were essential. One was Strong Faith and the other Truthfulness. Strong Faith was essential because without it there was risk of fatality as a result of the imprecation if the participant was weak in his Faith. In such situations only those will come forward who are truthfully following their Faith without any doubt or fear. Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) selected the persons who were absolute in their Faith and the most truthful. The imprecation was with the untruthful persons, if there was the slightest element of untruth on this side, the result could be fatal! The Christians, by the clear-cut text of the Holy Qur'an were untruthful on account of their beliefs, because they falsely believed in three gods the father, the son and the Holy Spirit! But the belief of Unity is so strong that they also said that there is only one God! Because of this confusion, their Faith or Belief was not strong. The philosophy of Trinity is the innovation of some inventive minds and the Holy Qur’an says about it:

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إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُنَافِقُونَ قَالُوا نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَكَاذِبُونَ.

“When the hypocrites come to you they say that they bear witness that you are prophet of Allah, and Allah bears witness that they are liars. (63:1)”

Therefore this proves that if the heart is separated from the tongue, in a way that the heart thinks something and the tongue says something else, then it is a falsehood, although the words coming out of the tongue may be factual. Truthful is the word that is compatible with both the heart and the tongue. What comes out of the tongue is factual and is also there in the heart. Who can deny that the persons whom the Prophet (a.s) selected to participate in the imprecation were paragons of Faithfulness and Truthfulness? `Ali (a.s) himself said:

“The Prophet of Islam (a.s) did not find the slightest untruth in any of my talks nor any falsity or weakness in my actions.”[4]

While this selection manifested the Strength of faith and Truthfulness of the Ahl al-Bayt, and their superiority over others, that Allah deemed their participation necessary in the act of imprecation, the Prophet (a.s) asked them to say ‘Amen’ on the completion of his prayer of Mubahalah! It was thanks to their exemplary characters that Islam achieved the Victory the al-fath al-mubin ! It is surprising that those who were actively participating with the Prophet (a.s) in his Prophetic Duties, and without whose participation the Mubahalah was not possible, they were kept aside in the matter of the Caliphate that they were not thought necessary even at the consultative stage of the Succession!

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Footnote

[1] Sahīh Muslim, Vol 2, Page 278

[2] Tārīkh al-Ya`qūbī, Vol 2, Page 66

[3] Tafsīr al-Kashshāf, Chapter 3.

[4] Nahj al-Balāghah

SARIYYAt BANŪ-ZUBAYD

SARIYYAt BANŪ-ZUBAYD

When the Prophet (a.s) returned from Tabūk the chief of a branch of Banū-Madhhij, Banū-Zubayd, `Amr ibn Ma`d Yakrab came to al-Madinah and met the Prophet (a.s). When he was invited to embrace Islam, he accepted and his tribesmen followed suit. `Amr’s father, Ma`d Yakrab was killed during the period of Ignorance. `Amr told the Prophet (a.s) that he wanted to claim qisas for his father’s life. The Prophet (a.s) said that the heinous practice has been abolished and he should forget about qisas. He kept quiet at that time but returning home he took to rebellion and recanted from Islam. He attacked Banū-al-Harith ibn Ka`b and killed their men.

When the Prophet (a.s) heard of his mischief, he sent three hundred men under `Ali (a.s) to Yemen for subduing these rebellious people and to collect the jizyah from the Christians of Najran. When `Ali (a.s) was about to start on his journey, the Prophet (a.s) gave him the Standard and tied the headgear, one end of which he kept on the chest and the other on the back. The Prophet (a.s) told `Ali (a.s) that any outbreak of fight with Banū-Zubayd, if it takes place, should be from their side only. Another contingent, under Khalid ibn al-Walid, was also sent at the same time towards the tribe of Banū-al-Ju`fi. He instructed Khalid that if ever both the contingents came together, and were involved in fight, `Ali (a.s) will hold the joint command. `Ali (a.s) made Khalid ibn Sa`id the chief of the front guard of his contingent and Khalid ibn al-Walid appointed Abū-Mūsa al-Ash`ari. Both the contingents moved towards their destinations. When Banū-al-Ju`fi learned of the arrival of the Muslim army, they divided into two groups, one group went to Yemen and the other joined Banū-Zubayd. When Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) learned about this, he sent word to Khalid that when he received the message, he should halt at that place. But Khalid thought that this way he would lose the command of the contingent and refused to halt. `Ali (a.s) sent a group of men under Khalid ibn Sa`id to go and stop Khalid from proceeding any further. Khalid ibn Sa`id moved forward and stopped them. When Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) joined with the other contingent he reprimanded Khalid ibn al-Walid for his attitude and the army went forward. When they reached a place called Kashar, they came face to face with Banū-Zubayd. `Amr ibn Ma`d Yakrub came to fight. Khalid ibn Sa`id wanted to start fighting, but `Ali (a.s) restrained him and himself came out with his sword. `Amr ibn Ma`d Yakrub was a famous combatant, but when he saw `Ali (a.s) himself in the arena, he fled. One of his brothers and a nephew was killed. His wife Rakanah bint Salamah and children were taken captive. Besides them, several other women too were taken captive and plenty of booty too was captured. After defeating the enemy, `Ali (a.s) proceeded toward Makkah for Hijjat al-Wada` leaving behind Khalid ibn Sa`id to collect the taxes from Banū-Zubayd and if any of them embraced Islam, provide them amnesty. When `Amr ibn Ma`d Yakrub learnt that his wife and children had been taken captive, he came to Khalid ibn Sa`id, embraced Islam and got his wife and children released. At that time he presented his famed sword, Dhussa’mah, to Khalid ibn Sa`id.

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Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) had taken one slave girl from the booty. Khalid ibn al-Walid sent a letter to the Prophet (a.s) in which he complained about this action of `Ali (a.s). When the Prophet (a.s) read this letter, he was much upset and told al-Barra’ ibn `Azib:

“What opinion you have about this person who is a friend of Allah and the Prophet and they befriend him”[1]

Al-Barra’, finding anger written on the face of the Prophet (a.s), said, “O Prophet of Allah! I seek refuge from the anger of Allah and His Prophet (a.s)! I have come to you only as a courier. “Hearing this, the Prophet (a.s) cooled down.

Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) had every right on the booty of the battle. And his share could have been much more than a maidservant. But those who have enmity in their hearts searched for such opportunities to turn the Prophet (a.s) against him. At that time too, they made a similar attempt, but the tables turned on them only. The Prophet (a.s) shut their mouths saying that `Ali (a.s) was a friend of Allah and His Prophet (a.s) and they his friends!

Footnote

[1] Sahīh al-Tirmidhī, Page 215

THE HIJJAT AL-WADA`

THE HIJJAT AL-WADA`

In 6H the Prophet (a.s) started with the intention of performing `Umrah (the Minor Pilgrimage) at Makkah but the Quraysh obstructed the effort and he returned to al-Madinah from Hudaybiyah. During 7H too he went for `Umrah but because of the terms of the truce with the infidels he could not stay in Makkah for more than three days. In 8 A.H. Makkah was conquered and the Ka`bah was cleared of the idols. In 9H `Ali (a.s) was deputed to Makkah with the Verses of the Sūrah of Bara’ah to purify the various aspects of the Hajj from the undesirable practices of the infidels. He banned the infidels from entering the precincts of the Ka`bah. In 10H the Prophet (a.s) decided to perform the Hajj and the invitation for the pilgrimage was announced all over:

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وَأَذِّنْ فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَى كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ.

“And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path. (22:27)”

On the call of the Prophet (a.s) Muslims came from all over and assembled in al-Madinah to join his entourage to Makkah to learn about the Islamic Rites of the Hajj and to perform the pilgrimage with him. The Prophet (a.s) left al-Madinah along with thousands of pilgrims on 26 Dhul-Qa`dah. Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s) and the Prophet’s spouses too were in the group. When around the ²uhr Prayer the caravan reached the Valley of Dhul-Halifah, they took the bath prior to wearing the Hajj uniform and everyone recited the talbiyah.

`Ali (a.s) was still in Yemen when the Prophet (a.s) wrote to him to proceed to Makkah for Hajj. With a small contingent of troops, he started on the journey. On the way, he gave the command of the men to a senior person, wore the Ihram at Yalamlam, and reached Makkah before the arrival of the Prophet (a.s) to welcome him. When the Prophet (a.s) saw him, his face glowed. He asked, “O `Ali (a.s)! With what Intent have you put on the Ihram?”

`Ali (a.s) replied, “Since you had not mentioned about the matter in the letter, I have worn the Ihram with the intent that I shall perform the same pilgrimage that you perform! I have left behind 34 camels for the sacrifice.” The Prophet (a.s) said that he had with him 66 camels and that `Ali (a.s) was a member of his family for the rites of the Hajj and the Sacrifice of the animals. Then `Ali (a.s) made a report about his campaign in Yemen and gave the account of the booty and jizyah collected. He said that he had left those things in the charge of the contingent and had started for the pilgrimage. The Prophet (a.s) asked him to fetch his contingent to Makkah. He must have gone a small distance when he saw his contingent arriving. He reprimanded the men for coming away without orders. He also saw that they were all wearing cloth from the booty as Ihram. He told the person in charge of the contingent to take the cloth pieces from the men. The men were not too happy about this order and they complained to the Prophet (a.s) when they met him. The Prophet (a.s) said:

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“O people! Do not complain about `Ali (a.s)! He is strict in the Cause of Allah!”[1]

Prior to Islam people used to perform two types of Hajj; hajj al-ifrad hajj al-qiran. In both these types, `Umrah has a definite and permanent place which is performed after the rites of the Hajj. The only difference between the two types is that for the Hajj al-Qiran the sacrificial animals have to be with the pilgrim and for the hahh al-ifrad the sacrificial animals will not be with the pilgrim.

At this time, the verse “And accomplish the pilgrimage and the visit for Allah… (2:196)” was revealed and a third type of Hajj, Hajj al-Tamattu` came into vogue. In this type of Hajj, both Hajj and `Umrah are performed together. The `Umrah here is performed, at the same time, prior to the Hajj. After the `Umrah the Ihram is removed and is again put on for the Hajj. This is called Hajj al-Tamattu` because the restriction of wearing Ihram between `Umrah and Hajj is removed. Here the Ihram is removed and again put back on the eighth of Dhul-Hijjah, the Day of Tarwiyah and the rites of Hajj are performed. This Hajj is for the people who live within 48 miles or more from Makkah.

During the Hijjat al-Wada`, mostly there were people who did not have the sacrificial animals with them. The Prophet (a.s) asked them to change their intent for Hajj to that of `Umrah and remove the Ihram thereafter. Those who had the animals with them must keep wearing the Ihram after the `Umrah. Since the Prophet (a.s) was having the sacrificial animals with him, his intent was for Hajj al-Qiran and since `Ali’s intent too was same as that of the Prophet (a.s), he too did not remove the Ihram and continued with the performance of the Hajj al-Qiran. When the people saw the Prophet (a.s) continuing with the Ihram, they were hesitant about removing theirs. When he saw them not obeying the orders, he felt sad and anger appeared on his face. `A’ishah says about it:

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“The Prophet (a.s) arrived at Makkah on the 4th or 5th of Dhul-Hijjah and came to me in great anger. She asked him, “Who has angered you? May Allah send the person to the Hell!” He said, “Do you not know that I gave an order to the people and they hesitated in obeying it! If I had known that the situation would develop like this, I would not have brought the sacrificial animals with me, bought the animals here and then I could have removed my Ihram as they are supposed to do!”[2]

As people opposed the Hajj al-Tamattu` during the lifetime of the Prophet (a.s), they did the same after him as well and preferred their own wish against the order of the Shari`ah. Therefore `Imran ibn Husayn says:

“The Verse of Hajj al-Tamattu` was revealed in the Qur’an and the Prophet (a.s) ordered us about it. Later on no further Verse was revealed on the matter to change the order nor did the Prophet (a.s) stop us from it until his death. But there was one person who said, what he said with his own intuition.”[3]

The Commentator of Sahih Muslim, al-Nawawi writes:

“Here, `Umar ibn al-Khattab is meant, because he was the first to raise objections against the Hajj al-Tamattu`. As far as `Uthman and others were concerned, they were his followers!”[4]

Anyway, on 8 Dhul-Hijjah the Prophet (a.s) ordered the people who had removed Ihram after the `Umrah to wear them again for the Hajj. The Prophet (a.s) was already in Ihram and so was `Ali (a.s) on the instructions of the Prophet (a.s). When the people wore the Ihram, they proceeded to Mina. The next day, after the Morning Prayers, the pilgrims moved to `Arafat. Prior to Islam the Quraysh had established a custom that they used to stop at al-Mash`ar al-Haram and say that they were the Ahl al-Haram and that they would not go out of the Haram. But the other people used to go to `Arafat. The Quraysh were thinking that the Prophet (a.s) too would not go beyond al-Mash`ar al-Haram. But the Qur’an ordained, “From where others start to go, you too should go!” Therefore, the Prophet (a.s) proceeded towards `Arafat, and reaching there, camped at Namirah. The ²uhr and `Asr Prayers were offered together and then spending the night at al-Mash`ar al-Haram they returned to Mina on the day of `Id. After stoning the jamarat al-`aqabah, the Prophet (a.s) sacrificed the thirty camels with his own hands and asked `Ali (a.s) to sacrifice the remaining animals. After the sacrifice he took one piece of meat from each animal, got it cooked, tasted a little and got the rest distributed. After the sacrifice, they got their heads shaved, changed from the Ihram into ordinary clothes and returned to Makkah. Then they circumambulated the Ka`bah and did the sa`y between the Safa and Marwah. Now they returned to Mina where they waited until 13 Dhul-Hijjah and did the stoning of the ramy al-jamarat. Now all the rites of the Hajj were over and the prophet (a.s), with his retinue, started for al-Madinah.

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Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 402

[2] Sahīh Muslim, Vol 1, Page 403

[3] Sahīh Muslim, Vol 1, Page 403

[4] Sharh Sahīh Muslim, Vol 1, Page 402

GHADIR KHUMM

GHADIR KHUMM

When the Prophet of Islam (a.s) started his journey towards al-Madinah after the Hajj, there were approximately one hundred thousand persons in the entourage who hailed from various towns and villages. Some people wanted to travel to al-Madinah with the Prophet (a.s) before they disbursed towards their respective homes. There were others who would leave the caravan when they reached the places from where they were to take diversion towards their homes. As the homes of the people were getting nearer, they advanced faster. Some of them were very happy that they were returning safely after performing the pilgrimage and some others were morose that the felicitous journey was coming to an end. The caravan was moving smoothly when at a place about three miles from al-Juhafah was a thorny valley that is known as Ghadir Khumm. The Prophet (a.s) ordered the caravan to halt there. This was such a sudden and unexpected order that the people were rather surprised. The surprise was more because the place was not for the halting of caravans. There was no provision for shelter from the sun in the place.

The purpose of stopping the caravan was that the Prophet (a.s) wanted to communicate to the Muslims an important Commandment of Allah. This was the most appropriate place and time because very soon the crowds would disburse and proceed towards their respective homes. People from all the places were there and it was the best occasion to disseminate the important message to all the nooks and corners of the Islamic domain. There was another valid reason to stress the importance of the message that Ghadir Khumm was not a regular station for rest and recuperation of the caravans. They were asked to stop there specifically because something very vital was to be communicated to them. They were eagerly and patiently waiting to hear about the important Commandment of Allah.

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Prior to this, the Da`wat al-`Ashirah was in a small group of close persons from Banū-Hashim, and during the ghazwah Tabūk and the Propagation of the Sūrah of Bara’ah the Prophet (a.s) had subtly indicated about the succession that was sufficient for any intelligent person to know that `Ali (a.s) was the person he desired to succeed him as his Vicegerent. On the other side were the persons who did not like even small matters of import assigned to `Ali (a.s). How was it possible for them to bear with the declaration of `Ali (a.s) as the Prophet’s Successor! The Prophet (a.s) was fully aware of this tendency in some persons. He was reading from their faces their inner feelings concerning `Ali (a.s) and their actions strengthened his conviction about their thinking and knew that they would bring about all sorts of impediments in the matter of the succession. He wished that there should be a positive Command from Allah in this regard and He fulfilled his wish thus:

يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ وَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنْ النَّاسِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ.

“O Messenger! Deliver what bas been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people; surely Allah will not guide the unbelieving people. (5:67)”

`Allamah al-Shawkani writes:

“Abū-Sa`id al-Khidri says that the verse was revealed in Ghadir Khumm concerning `Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a.s)”[1]

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After receiving this implicit Command, there was no scope for any delay in communicating the contents to the Ummah. The Prophet (a.s) dismounted from his camel and others too followed suit. On the shouting of the slogan of hayya `ala khayr al-`amal (Come to the Best of Deed) those who were going ahead turned back and the stragglers hurriedly came forward. They all gathered in that desert wilderness. It was midday and the winds were scorching hot. Barring some thorny Acacia bushes there was no greenery around. The Companions took off their cloaks, tied them round their limbs, and sat down intently listening on the burning sands. The Prophet (a.s) asked his men to improvise a pulpit by stacking saddles of the camels one over another between two Acacia bushes. He then ascended the pulpit. Zayd ibn Arqam says:

“The Prophet of Islam (a.s) stood at the dried lake, Ghadir Khumm, which lies between Makkah and al-Madinah, and after Praising Allah and sermonizing the gathering, said,’ O People! I am a mortal human being and the time is not far when the Messenger will come from Allah and I shall have to abide by the Call! I am leaving behind with you two weighty things; one is the Book of Allah which has radiance and Guidance. Keep holding it firmly!’ He stressed on the need of the people holding fast to the Book of Allah. Then he said, ‘The second weighty thing that I leave with you is my Ahl al-Bayt. I remind you of Allah regarding the Ahl al-Bayt! I remind you of Allah regarding my Ahl al-Bayt! I remind you of Allah regarding my Ahl al-Bayt!’”[2]

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After these introductory words, the Prophet (a.s) called three times in a high pitch, “Do I not have more right over you than you have yourself?” The gathering assented in unison, “Of course! It is so!” After obtaining this assent from the people, the Prophet (a.s) raised `Ali (a.s) by putting his hands under his arm pits and said:

“O People! Allah is my Master and I am the Master of all the Believers, I have more right over them than their selves! Remember of whomsoever I am the Master, he too is their Master! O Allah: Be a friend to one who befriends him and be an enemy of one who is his enemy!”[3]

Ibn `Abd al-Barr writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) said on the Day of Ghadir Khumm, ‘of whom I am Master, this `Ali (a.s) too is his Master! O Allah! Whosoever befriends him, be his friend; be the enemy of those who have enmity for him!”[4]

After this announcement, the Prophet (a.s) descended from the makeshift pulpit and offered the ²uhr Prayer in congregation. After the prayers he went into his tent and asked people to go to `Ali’s tent in groups and congratulate him on his appointment to the august position. Therefore, the Companions met him and gave their felicitations. The Prophet’s Consorts and other ladies too expressed their happiness over the event. `Umar’s words of praise are an indelible part of the History:

Felicitations, O son of Abū-Talib! You have become the master of all believing men and women!”[5]

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While the people were felicitating `Ali (a.s), Archangel Gabriel came and gave the good news of the Completion of the Faith and the Fulfillment of the Blessings:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمْ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا.

“This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion. (5:3)”

Jalaluddin al-Suyūti writes

“Abū-Sa`id al-Khidri says, ‘When the Prophet (a.s) raised `Ali (a.s) in his place at Ghadir Khumm and announced his Wilayah, Jibril (Archangel Gabriel) came to the Prophet (a.s) with the Verse.”[6]

The tradition of Ghadir has been narrated in continuity and is free of any doubt whatsoever. None could refute it. But people have been making some interpretations to dilute its importance. `Alam al-Huda Sayyid al-Murtada has said that refuting the event of Ghadir is like denying the existence of the Sun and the Moon! `Allamah Muqbali has said that if the event of Ghadir is not certain, then there is nothing certain in the Din! The narrators of both the schools agree that the Prophet (a.s) addressed a huge gathering of Muslims and took oath of their allegiance to himself. Then he told them that for whomsoever he was the Master, `Ali (a.s) too was the Master. But efforts have been made to interpret the meaning of the word Master to hide the fact of the matter. Because if they accepted that `Ali (a.s) had the same status for the Ummah as did the Prophet (a.s), the plan of some people to manipulate the succession and the event of Banū-Saqifah would have failed. Therefore, they attach the meaning of friend to the word mawla. Sometimes they say that it means supporter and helper. But it is a matter of conjecture that the Prophet (a.s) had to hold the crowds eager to reach their homes in that hot desert to communicate the message of help, support and friendship? The message was of such import that he did not want it communicated to their homes through individual couriers and wanted to convey in the huge gathering of the Believers. At that time a part of the Caravan was staggering far behind and another group was advancing fast in front and reached al-Juhafah, about three miles ahead He ordered both the groups to assemble in the hot desert and started his talk only when all had arrived. Then the Prophet (a.s) took an oath from the large gathering that he had complete right over each and every individual in the Ummah. When they assented in unison, the Prophet (a.s) said that `Ali (a.s) too was their master with the same rights as himself. No intelligent person will agree that the Prophet (a.s) went through all the inconvenience and trouble at that extremely hot place just to stop people and tell them that if he was their friend and supporter, `Ali (a.s) too was the same! There was not any need for him to announce about the friendship because the Holy Qur’an had already proclaimed:

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وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ.

“As for the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other. (9:71)”

The announcement was not necessary just to create or strengthen friendship between all the Believers. That was already expected and mandated by Allah. The purpose was that there were pressure groups in the Ummah and Allah had also said “Allah will save you from the mischief of men.” This mischief was not only external but also from the inside and therefore the announcement was made so forcefully. In fact, this announcement was the echo of the announcement that the Prophet (a.s) made to the small group of Banū-Hashim twenty years ago at the Feast of al-`Ashirah:

“This is my brother and my heir and successor. Hear him and obey him!”[7]

This announcement not only cleared the matter of the Caliphate but its importance in all the propagation of the Faith carried out by the Prophet (a.s). Although the Prophet (a.s).had from his Annunciation to Migration and then until Hijjat al-Wada` spelled out the commandments that were revealed from time to time. The Muslims implicitly started following these commands as and when they were communicated to them. Therefore, they started offering mandatory prayers, fasting during the month of Ramadan, participated in the jihad and came in hordes for the Hajj. But the Verse “If you do not do this, it will be as if you have not delivered any message at all”, proves that all the earlier commands would be ineffective unless the last and final commandment was communicated to the Ummah. This means that the twenty-three years of the Prophet’s Mission depended on its completion on the conveyance and fulfillment of the last Commandment Revealed at Ghadir Khumm.

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If this message were not communicated, the task of Prophethood would have remained incomplete. Two things become evident from this. One is that this Commandment is the principal and foundation of the Faith of Islam. The other tenets have a secondary, though mandatory, nature. As a superstructure cannot stand firm, like a house of cards, without a strong foundation, so also this Commandment is the foundation of the Faith of Islam.

Footnote

[1] Fath al-Qadīr, Vol 3, Page 57

[2] Sahīh Muslim, Vol 2, Page 279

[3] Al-Sawā`iq al-Muhriqah, Page 41

[4] Al-Istī`āb, Vol 2, Page 460

[5] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol 4, Page 281

[6] Tafsīr al-Durr al-Manthūr, Vol 2, Page 259

[7] Al-Kāmil fit-Tārīkh, Vol 2, Page 42

THE CONTINGENT OF USAMAH IBN ZAYD

THE CONTINGENT OF USAMAH IBN ZAYD

The Prophet of Islam (a.s) had deputed al-Harith ibn `Umayr al-Azdi as his ambassador to the ruler of al-Basrah with the Message of Islam. But on the way the ruler of Balqa’, Shurahbil arrested and killed him. When the Prophet (a.s) got this sad news, he sent a contingent under Zayd ibn Harithah, Ja`far ibn Abi-Talib and `Abdullah ibn Rawahah with instructions that if Zayd was killed, Ja`far ibn Abi-Talib should assume command. If he was martyred, `Abdullah ibn Rawahah should take charge of the contingent. When they reached Ma`an, they got news that Heracles of Rome was camping at Balqa’ with the armies of Rome and Syria. When the Muslims got wind of the huge enemy armies, they halted at Ma`an and wanted to call more troops from al-Madinah. But `Abdullah ibn Rawahah encouraged the men to improve their morale and said that they should not be afraid of the disparate groups forming the enemy ranks and that they must go forward and confront the enemy! The courage of the Muslims was thus boosted and they marched forward. When they reached, Mushrif, a satellite town of Balqa’, they turned towards Mu’tah sensing the movements of the enemy and confront them appropriately. They organized their men into proper left and right flanks. The enemy troops too arrived there and organized themselves. Zayd ibn Harithah went forward with the Standard in his hand and was martyred fighting. Now Ja`far ibn Abi-Talib took the Standard in his hand and lost his right hand fighting the enemy. He took the Standard in his left hand. That too was severed during the fight. He now held the standard close to his chest and bearing more than eight wounds from swords and arrows, he was martyred. The Prophet (a.s) gave him the posthumous titles of Dhul-Janahayn (One with two wings) and al-Tayyar fil-Jannah (The one who flies in the Heaven). `Abdullah ibn Rawahah now took charge of the battle and he too was martyred fighting. After these well-known commanders, there was none of the renowned warriors left. But one al-Ansari, Thabit ibn Arqam picked up the Standard and asked the men to select a standard-bearer from amongst them. They proposed that he himself should do the duty. He said that he was not ready to take the responsibility. Therefore, Khalid ibn al-Walid came forward to become the Standard-bearer. After a little while of fighting, the dusk fell and it became dark. The fighting stopped because of the darkness. Khalid considered the nightfall was to his advantage and withdrew with the men in the cover of darkness and started the return journey to al-Madinah. When the fleeing contingent reached al-Madinah, the people started pelting dust on their faces to shame them. They used to hide their faces while going around and Salamah ibn Husham stopped going to the congregational prayers in shame. When they went to the mosque, the people used to shame them with the calls of deserters! They used to say:

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“Are you one of the persons who deserted from Allah’s Way?”[1]

This event took place in Jumada I, 8H but no steps were taken to exact qisas for the martyrs of Mu’tah. It appears that, for some reason, the Prophet (a.s) wanted to postpone it for his last days. Therefore, during his illness, he called Usamah ibn Zayd, a youth of 18 or 19 years, and put him at the head of a contingent. Ibn Sa`d writes:

“From the Ansar and Muhajirūn there was hardly any prominent person who was not asked to join the ghazwah. Amongst them were Abū-Bakr Siddik, `Umar ibn al-Khattab, `Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah, Sa`d ibn Abi-Waqqas, Sa`id ibn Zayd, Qutadah ibn al-Nu`man and Salamah ibn Aslam ibn Huraysh were included”[2]

When the Prophet (a.s), despite his illness, handed over the Standard to Usamah ibn Zayd, the Muslims started criticizing his capability instead obeying the Commands of the Prophet (a.s) and accepting him as their commander. Sometimes they said that Usamah was too young and inexperienced and at other times, they said that he was the son of a freed slave and it was below their dignity to serve under him. When the Prophet (a.s) got wind of this gossip, he came out with covered head, in a state of high fever, and said:

“If you have objection about his Commanding the Contingent, you have been critical of his father’s command too. By Allah! He was capable of the Command and in my eyes more likeable than others! This youth too is dear to me than the others!”[3]

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Then he went into the house and the ailment became more acute. Even in that state, he was repeatedly telling, “Send the Contingent of Usamah soon, send the Contingent of Usamah urgently, and send the Contingent of Usamah urgently!”

Usamah came to the presence of the Prophet (a.s) to see him and said, “O Prophet of Allah (a.s)! It would be better if the contingent leaves after you recover from your illness!” He replied, “No! You must start forthwith without any delay!” Usamah got up to go and prepare for the departure of the contingent. On the other side, the Prophet’s ailment increased and he swooned. When he recovered slightly he asked if the Contingent had left or not. When he was told that the preparations for the departure were under way, he folded his brow and said,

“Send the Contingent of Usamah urgently and Allah’s curse on those who do not join it”[4]

With repeated exhortations of the Prophet (a.s) the Contingent moved out of al-Madinah, but it halted at a distance of three miles in Wadi al-Jurf. Someone came to them and gave the tiding that the Prophet (a.s) was in his last throes. Hearing this Usamah, `Umar and Abū-`Ubaydah came back to al-Madinah. When the Prophet (a.s) demised, the rest of the Contingent returned to al-Madinah.

For the Muslims every Command of the Prophet (a.s) is the Command of Allah. Going against his commands is tantamount to disobeying Allah. Despite the repeated exhortations by the Prophet (a.s), the persons nominated to be a part of the Contingent were hesitant in proceeding on the campaign. When the Prophet (a.s) asked for paper and pen to dictate his will, they said that he was in a state of delirium and not in his senses. But when they refused to obey the Command for proceeding on the Campaign what excuse they were offering for disobeying the Orders of Allah’s Prophet (a.s)?

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To understand the reasons for the behavior of the Companions at that time, we shall have to go into the scenario of the event. History points out that after the Hijjat al-Wada`; the Prophet (a.s) started keeping indifferent health. This illness was the forerunner of his death. The Prophet (a.s) had hinted in his Sermons of the Hijjat al-Wada` and Ghadir Khumm that the time for his departure was nigh. After returning from the H ijjat al-Wada, ` he hinted about it. The Companions understood that this sun was about to set after giving his radiance for twenty-three years! `Abdullah ibn Mas`ūd says:

“Our Prophet (a.s) gave the tiding of his death a month before he died.”[5]

On the one hand, the Prophet (a.s) was talking about his imminent demise and on the other; he was expressing concern about mischief by some people in the Ummah. Therefore, one night he walked with much difficulty to Jannat al-Baqi` and prayed for the people of the graves and said, “Seeing the living people the way they are, your condition is praiseworthy. Now mischief is spreading like dark nights and the mischief that will rise will be worse than the earlier one!”

In the trying circumstances when the time for his Call was nigh on one hand and on the other mischief was raising its ugly head. He had to think whether to suppress the mischief or to seek qisas for the martyrs of Mu’tah. Almost two years had passed since the persons were martyred at Mu’tah and the qisas was not obtained so far. The subject was almost in the cold storage for very long and why did the prophet (a.s) think of sending a contingent to extract the qisas now when he was himself critically ill? He also did not have the tendency of conquering people and annexing places. He always fought in his own defense. Then why did he repeatedly order the contingent to go, and prayed for the Curse of Allah for those who abstained from joining the Contingent. He had never taken such a stringent stand before. Whenever any person made excuses for not joining to jihad, he readily conceded his request. But here there is only one command that the people in the Contingent must leave immediately for the campaign. Generally, people during their last days have the wish to have all their kin and companions near them to make their passage smooth and help in arranging the last rites. Here the Prophet (a.s) was sending away two of his closest Companions on a campaign under the Command of a youth of nineteen years! If the Prophet (a.s) had the matter of the Shūra and the imminence for the selection of the successor in his mind he would never have tried to send the two important contenders for the position hundreds of miles away from al-Madinah at this critical juncture! If he had the idea of prevention of possible mischief after his demise through their good offices, he would never have packed them away to a distant destination! It is a fact that the Prophet (a.s) was not happy with the men around him. Some persons were deviating from Islam when they felt that his end was near and others gave indications that they were paving their way to capture the seat of power. They were busy designing and devising ways to usurp power through

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these stratagems dividing people. The Prophet (a.s) had already declared at Ghadir Khumm that `Ali (a.s) was his Vicegerent and Caliph. But he was foreseeing certain difficulties in the implementation of this decision. He had felt that attaching the slightest importance to `Ali (a.s) upset and disturbed certain persons. He knew that these persons would oppose the implementation of what was decided at the Feast of Dual-`Ashirah and Ghadir Khumm. Those who did not accept the Command of Usamah ibn Zayd in the Prophet’s lifetime, they would go to any length to deny the Caliphate to `Ali (a.s) when the Prophet (a.s) was not around. The Prophet (a.s) had appointed Usamah the

Commander of the contingent over Abū-Bakr and `Umar because he was indirectly impressing on them that youth was no bar for persons holding positions of responsibility. The Prophet (a.s) did feel that his antagonists would raise the question of `Ali (a.s) youth when the question of Caliphate came up. Even after this exercise of care the opponents did raise the question that `Ali (a.s) was young and an old person should take the office of the caliph. The contingent of Usamah ibn Zayd was set up with the twin purpose of extracting qisas for the martyred Muslims and to send away the main contenders for the Caliphate hundreds of miles away to facilitate smooth succession. But the contenders had their well thought out plan ready and even at the cost of getting cursed by the Prophet (a.s) they did not move more than a few miles from al-Madinah. It was their utter misfortune that they did not comply with the last Command and instruction of their beloved Prophet (a.s)!

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During the lifetime of the Prophet (a.s), his command was treated in a cavalier manner. But soon after his demise, the first thing the Caliph did was to send Usamah’s Contingent on the Campaign. It was a poor attempt to cover their tracks that they had blatantly disobeyed the prophet’s Commands. This was done by Abū-Bakr despite opposition from many quarters. The Ansar were of the view that the Campaign should be postponed and, if not, some person other than Usamah should command it. Therefore, `Umar took sides with the Ansar and Abū-Bakr pulled `Umar’s beard in anger and said:

“You die and let your mother sit in mourning for you! O son of al-Khattab! He was appointed the Commander by the Prophet (a.s) and you ask me to remove him!”[6]

If sending of the Contingent was in compliance of the Command of the Prophet (a.s), then no demand should have come for removing him from the post because he was selected by the Prophet (a.s) himself. Usamah was the choice of the Prophet (a.s) and although `Umar was asking Abū-Bakr to remove Usamah as a mouthpiece of the Ansar, he should have himself told them that he was the choice of the Prophet (a.s) instead of strongly seeking his removal! Abū-Bakr too should have taken out his ire on the Ansar for their demand instead of pulling at the beard of `Umar in anger. Abū-Bakr did not join the campaign because of his duties as the Caliph. `Umar took permission from Usamah, the Commander, to stay away. The question is whether Usamah had the right to permit the persons named and detailed by the Prophet (a.s) to join the contingent for the Campaign to stay away. But how could the poor youth act against the might of the ruling clique!

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Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 323

[2] Al-Tabaqāt, Vol 2, Page 190

[3] Sahīh Muslim, Vol 2, Page 283

[4] Al-Milal wan-Nihal, Page 8

[5] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 435

[6] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 462

LEADING THE CONGREGATION

LEADING THE CONGREGATION

The Prophet (a.s), during his illness, as long as he had strength, regularly kept going to the mosque for prayers. But when the ailment increased, he had to stop going there. Therefore, on Monday, after the call for the morning prayers was sounded, Bilal came to the Prophet (a.s) and reminded him to go for the prayer. He told him that he did not have enough strength to reach the mosque and that someone else may be asked to lead the congregation. `A’ishah suggested that her father, Abū-Bakr, be asked to do it. Hafsah said her father `Umar could do the job. When the Prophet (a.s) heard the names of Abū-Bakr and `Umar from them, he realized that instead of being in the Contingent of Usamah they were still in al-Madinah contrary to his orders. In anger, he got up and with difficulty proceeded towards the mosque. He thought that one of them might lead the prayer and make it an excuse for elevation to the position of the Caliphate. He kept his arms round the shoulders of al-Fadl ibn `Abbas and `Ali ibn Abi-Talib and went to the mosque. He found that Abū-Bakr had reached the arch of the mosque. The Prophet (a.s) waved him to move back, went forward and led the congregation. The incident had been given another color that the person who was the deputy of the Prophet (a.s) at the congregation, deserved to be the first Caliph of Islam. But we have to see whether Abū-Bakr, on his own, went to the Prophet’s place of prayer or he was ordered to do so? Even if he was ordered to lead a prayer in the mosque, is it a qualification to be named the Caliph?

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The traditions recorded in the books of History are so different and contradictory that it is very difficult to accept them as authentic. One narration says something and another something else about the same incident. Most of these narrations are from `A’ishah. The contradictory nature of these narrations render them weak. We shall mention a few of the narrations to prove our point of view. Ibn Husham writes:

“Bilal reminded the Prophet (a.s) of the prayer when he asked `Abdullah ibn Zum`ah to ask someone to lead the congregation. `Abdullah says, ‘I went out and did not find Abū-Bakr and `Umar with the people there. I asked `Umar to come and lead the prayer. When he loudly sounded the Takbir, the Prophet (a.s) asked where was Abū-Bakr? Allah and the Muslims do not agree that `Umar leads the prayer. Then Abū-Bakr was called but he arrived when `Umar had already finished the prayer. Abū-Bakr too offered the prayer with the congregation.”[1]

It appears from this tradition that in the beginning the Prophet (a.s) did not name any particular person to lead the prayer and had left it to the discretion of `Abdullah to ask someone to do the job. Because of this open permission he asked `Umar to lead When he started the prayer the Prophet (a.s) called for Abū-Bakr to lead the prayer. But before he arrived `Umar had completed the prayer and Abū-Bakr repeated the process. It surprises seeing this narration that when the Prophet (a.s) had told `Abdullah that he should ask someone to lead the congregation, and `Umar complied, then what was the need to rush a person to call Abū-Bakr to come and repeat the process? Was praying behind `Umar not legitimate? If it was legitimate, then what was the sense in repeating the process? If the Prophet (a.s) wanted that only Abū-Bakr should lead the prayer, then he could have instructed `Abdullah in the first instance to ask that person to lead! If that was done, `Umar could have been spared the ignominy that his leading the prayer was voided!

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Ibn Sa`d says:

“When `Umar sounded the Takbir the Prophet (a.s) said, ‘No! No! Where is the son of Abū-Quhafah?’ Hearing this, the rows got disturbed and `Umar moved away from the niche and Abū-Bakr came forward and led the prayer.”[2]

In the first narrative quoted above it is mentioned that a person was sent to call Abū-Bakr and from this narration it seems that he arrived himself. In the first narrative it is recorded that Abū-Bakr arrived after the prayer was over and in this narration it is said that `Umar had to give way from the middle of the prayer! Besides the contradictions, there is one thing that disturbs the minds is that what was the need to interrupt the prayer. If it is accepted that the person leading the prayer was a sinner and transgressor, there is one group in Islam, which does not enforce the condition of decency (`adalah) for Imamate during prayers. And the group in which decency of the Imam is mandatory, breaking the prayer in progress is not permitted! If during the prayer it is learned that the Imam is a sinner, the people can change the intent from the congregational prayer to individual prayer and complete the process. In no event, they can break the prayer when they have started to offer it.

Ibn Jarir al-Tabari writes:

“The Prophet (a.s) said that Abū-Bakr be told lead the prayer. Then he himself took support of two persons and stirred out in a manner that his two feet were dragging on the ground. When he reached near Abū-Bakr, the latter moved back. The Prophet (a.s) waved him to stay where he was. He sat near Abū-Bakr and offered his prayer. (`A’ishah says) that Abū-Bakr was following the Holy Prophet and the other people were following him.”[3]

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This narration suggests that the Prophet (a.s) had sent for Abū-Bakr to be called to lead the prayer. When he stood up for the prayer, the Prophet (a.s) himself, despite his sickness, came and joined the congregation sitting next to Abū-Bakr. The Prophet (a.s) asking Abū-Bakr to lead the prayer and then himself coming to the mosque, despite his sickness, gives a doubt whether he really asked for Abū-Bakr to lead the prayer. The narration does not mention that the Prophet (a.s) himself asked Abū-Bakr to go and lead the prayer. Perhaps like `Abdullah ibn Zum`ah asking `Umar to lead, similarly someone else might have prompted Abū-Bakr to come and take the lead at the prayer. When the Prophet (a.s) learned of these happenings, he would have decided, despite the poor condition of his health, to go to the mosque. The narration that Abū-Bakr was following the Prophet (a.s) in his prayer and the other persons in the congregation were following him is a meaningless contention. Because if Abū-Bakr was the Imam for that particular prayer, he could not have been the follower of anyone else for that prayer! If the Prophet (a.s) was the Imam then Abū-Bakr would be only the follower and nothing else. It is not possible that a person can be an Imam and the follower at the same prayer! If such was the case then those who are in the back rows, they become followers of those who are in the rows in front of them!

Ibn Jarir al-Tabari writes

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“The prophet (a.s) asked `Ali (a.s) to be called. `A’ishah said she wished he had called Abū-Bakr. Hafsah said she wished he had called `Umar. In that time, all of them assembled near the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) said, ‘You people go away. I shall call you when needed!’ Therefore, they went away. Then the Prophet (a.s) asked if it was time for prayer. He was told it was the time. He wanted to ask Abū-Bakr to lead the prayer. `A’ishah said he was weak of heart and `Umar must be asked to lead. The Prophet (a.s) then agreed for `Umar to be asked for leading the prayer. `Umar said that with Abū-Bakr around he would not agree to lead. Abū-Bakr went forward. In this time, the prophet (a.s) felt some relief from his ailment and came out of his room. Abū-Bakr heard his footsteps and tried to move back. The Prophet (a.s) pulled at the lapel of his cloak and made him stand where he was. He himself sat down and where Abū-Bakr had stopped the Recitation, he continued.”[4]

In this narration certain things have come that help in understanding the real facts. One thing is very evident that the prophet (a.s) had asked for `Ali (a.s) to be called but why and for what reason, the narration does not elucidate. In the last part of the narration, the Prophet (a.s) asked if it was time for the prayer. He was replied in the affirmative. This highlights that the Prophet (a.s) was calling `Ali (a.s) when it was the time for the prayer. What else could have been the reason of calling him at the time of the prayer other than that he was to be asked about leading the prayer? This was so evident that `A’ishah and Hafsah read between the words and suggested and wished that their fathers were called. If the Prophet (a.s) was calling `Ali (a.s) for some other specific work there was no reason for `A’ishah and Hafsah suggesting that their fathers be called! Their suggestion would be reasonable when they were sure of the purpose of the call and that they preferred their fathers to substitute `Ali (a.s) for performing that task. There is another point to be noted that as soon as the names of the two persons are suggested, they arrive. Their arrival suggests that it was a pre planned move thinking that the Prophet’s condition would not warrant his coming to the mosque and that when a call came from `A’ishah and Hafsah they would rush to the mosque to take the lead in the prayer. On this basis, their claim to caliphate would strengthen. But the Prophet (a.s) sends them away saying that he did not need their presence immediately and would call them when needed. This proves that the Prophet (a.s) wanted to be alone at that time to discuss the matter for which he had called `Ali (a.s). If he wanted Abū-Bakr to lead the prayer, what was preventing the Prophet (a.s) to ask Abū-Bakr to lead the prayer before asking him to go away from his presence. It was the time for prayer and Abū-Bakr was present before the Prophet (a.s)! As soon as he goes out of the room, he is given a message that he should lead the prayer! The question arises that why Abū-Bakr was not asked to lead the prayer when he came to the Prophet’s presence and was sent the instruction immediately after coming out of the room. What was the strategy in the message and who carried the message to him? The answer to this question is that neither any message was given to him nor was there any messenger who carried it to him!

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At that time `A’ishah made an excuse that Abū-Bakr was weak at heart and that `Umar should be asked to lead the prayer in his place! When `Ali (a.s) was called, she did not talk of `Umar and said that she wished Abū-Bakr was called and later on she expressed about the weakness of her father’s heart and suggested the name of `Umar for leading the prayer. The more surprising thing about the narrative is that the Prophet (a.s) agrees with this suggestion! Although in the narration of `Abdullah Ibn Zum`ah it is mentioned that when the Prophet (a.s) heard `Umar loudly saying the Takbir, he was angered and said that `Umar leading the prayer was neither to the liking of Allah nor do the Muslims like it! Now, in the latter narration the Prophet (a.s) is very willingly allowing `Umar to lead the prayer! Now the dilemma is whom to believe and whom not to believe. How is it possible that the person whose lead in the prayer is not to the liking of Allah and the Muslims is permitted to lead in the end on the recommendation of `A’ishah? When `Umar is at last asked to lead, he withdraws saying that when Abū-Bakr was around he would not come forward to lead. This does not sound correct because when `Abdullah ibn Zum`ah asked him to lead, he immediately agreed without a whimper of protest in favor of Abū-Bakr. It is another matter that the prayer that was already offered was voided, or left incomplete, and Abū-Bakr took over the lead. No sooner Abū-Bakr stood up to lead the prayer, the Prophet (a.s) arrived. The plausible reason is that when the Prophet (a.s) called `Ali (a.s), it was thought that he might ask `Ali (a.s) to lead the prayer. To circumvent this, they told Abū-Bakr, as if on behalf of the Prophet (a.s), that he should lead the prayer. When he stood up to lead the Prophet (a.s), somehow arrived at the mosque to stop him and take the lead himself. Otherwise, when the Prophet (a.s) had expressed in ability to go to the mosque, what persuaded him to change his plan? In this narration a sentence has been added saying that the Prophet (a.s) continued the Verse that Abū-Bakr was reciting from the point where the latter stopped. This was an attempt to make Abū-Bakr a partner to the Prophet (a.s) in leading the prayer. We wonder if this prayer too was void like the one that `Umar was leading a while ago. If the recitation is done from the middle, it will be in complete and there will be a doubt of the prayer becoming void.

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Muhammad ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari writes:

“`A’ishah says that when the Prophet (a.s) suffered from his last illness, Bilal came and mentioned about the prayer. The Prophet (a.s) said that Abū-Bakr be asked to lead the prayer. I said that Abū-Bakr had a weak heart and standing in your place he might start crying and may not be able to recite the Verses Again the Prophet (a.s) said that Abū-Bakr must lead the prayer and repeated the same words. On the third or fourth repetition he said, ‘You are like the women of Yūsuf! Abū-Bakr must lead!’ Abū-Bakr started the prayer. In that time the Prophet (a.s), leaning on the shoulders of two men, went out and I remember the scene that his two feet were dragging on the ground under them. When Abū-Bakr saw the Prophet (a.s) he started withdrawing. The Prophet (a.s) asked him to continue with the recitation. Abū-Bakr withdrew a little backward and the Prophet (a.s) sat beside him. Abū-Bakr was sounding the Takbir to the hearing of the congregation.”[5]

In this narration too the weakness of the heart of Abū-Bakr is mentioned with a corollary that when he stood in the niche of the mosque he might cry. This way `A’ishah wanted to impress on the Prophet (a.s) that the concern that Abū-Bakr had about his illness, none other had it. He will shiver standing in the Prophet’s place in the Mosque thinking that his master would never again stand there! The purpose behind this talk certainly was to impress on the Prophet (a.s) that her father had the greatest love and regard for him and therefore none other qualified more than he did to lead the prayer in the absence of the Prophet (a.s). The author of “al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah” says the Prophet (a.s) compared `A’ishah to the lady with Yūsuf (a.s) that Zulaykhah had gathered the ladies of Egypt for a feast, although the purpose was only to show Yūsuf (a.s) to them. Similarly `A’ishah wanted Abū-Bakr to lead the prayer but outwardly gave an impression that she did not want him to do that

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In this narration it is also mentioned that the Prophet (a.s) insisted on Abū-Bakr leading the prayer. On the one hand they talk of the Prophet’s insistence and on the other as soon as Abū-Bakr stood up for the prayer; they say that the Prophet (a.s) arrived with the support of two persons to lead the congregation! Reading this tradition, even a person with average intelligence would neither accept that the Prophet (a.s) insisted on the assignment to Abū-Bakr to lead nor even permitting him to stand at the niche of the Mosque. If this appointment was from the Prophet (a.s) he would certainly have asked Abū-Bakr to lead the congregation to the completion of the prayer! When the Prophet (a.s) took over the lead, Abū-Bakr acted as the Mukabbar who sounds the Takbir when the Prophet (a.s) went into genuflection and prostration. The Mukabbar is not the Imam and crediting Abū-Bakr of leading the prayer instead of the Prophet (a.s) is not right!

Seeing the contradictory nature of these narratives, one cannot believe that the Prophet (a.s) nominated Abū-Bakr to lead the prayer. There was no question of his nomination because the Prophet (a.s) had detailed Abū-Bakr, `Umar and other Companions to proceed on the campaign with Usamah ibn Zayd and kept insisting until his last moment that they should go in obedience to his orders! How is it possible that on the one hand he orders them to leave al-Madinah with the Contingent of Usamah and on the other to stay back and lead the prayer? This story of leading the prayer has been created to justify elevating and justifying Abū-Bakr’s appointment to the Caliphate. Ibn Hajar al-Makki went to the extent of considering his leading in the prayer as the text for Abū-Bakr’s Caliphate. He writes:

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“On account of this Imamate, all the scholars believe that there was a text for Abū-Bakr’s caliphate.”[6]

If certainly the Prophet (a.s) appointed Abū-Bakr as the Caliph on account of a Divine commission through his leading the congregation at the prayer, then despite his poor condition of health why did the Prophet (a.s) come out of his room and removed Abū-Bakr to lead the prayer himself? If it is assumed that leading the congregation is the Nass caliphate then how could Abū-Bakr nominate `Umar as Caliph when the Prophet (a.s) had stopped him from leading the congregation at prayer? If leading the congregation in prayer is the Nass caliphate, then the Prophet (a.s) used to detail someone or other to do this whenever he was away from al-Madinah in connection with the Ghazwah. With this logic Ibn-Ummi-Maktūm was the most deserving candidate because he was given this privilege many a time! Ibn Qutaybah writes:

“The prophet (a.s) generally on the occasions of ghazawat used to leave behind Ibn Ummi-Maktūm in al-Madinah to lead the people in prayers.”[7]

From this Imamate of Ibn-Ummi-Maktūm, that was for much linger duration that the one time Imamate of Abū-Bakr, have people ever thought that it was the Nass caliphate for Ibn-Ummi-Maktūm? Even in his presence, the Prophet (a.s) asked others to lead the prayers on several occasions. The prominent among such persons are Abul-Bu`bu`, Sabbah ibn `Arfatah, `Attab ibn Usayd, Sa`d ibn `Abadah, Abū-Dharr al-Ghifari, Zayd ibn Harithah, Abū-Salamah al-Makhzūmi and `Abdullah ibn Rawahah. Did any one of them who did the Imamate of the congregation stake their claim for the caliphate on the basis of this singular privilege enjoyed by them? Then what is the meaning of considering Abū-Bakr standing up to lead a prayer as the Nass caliphate in his favor? Abū-Hurayrah al-Dūsi narrates from the Prophet (a.s):

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“The obligatory prayers can be offered behind any Muslim, virtuous or otherwise, even if he had committed the major sins.”[8]

If this Imamate is the Nass caliphate, then the appointment of Usamah above Abū-Bakr, `Umar and other senior Companions can also be sited as a Nass for claiming the position of the Caliph! The command of the contingent was more important than the Imamate of the Congregation at that time as, otherwise, the Muhajirūn and Ansar would not have objected to making the son of a slave, and a youth, to lead such heavyweights like `Umar and Abū-Bakr in battle!

Footnote

[1] Sīrat ibn Hushām, Vol 2, Page 302

[2] Al-Tabaqāt, Vol 2, Page 222

[3] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 439

[4] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 439

[5] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 1, Page 95

[6] Tathīr al-Jinān, Page 40

[7] Al-Ma`ārif, Page 126

[8] Al-Mishkāt, Page 100

THE CALAMITY OF QIRTAS

THE CALAMITY OF QIRTAS

Islam was the life’s achievement for the prophet (a.s) for the propagation of which he had borne all sorts of hardships and severe opposition. Every individual desires that whatever he has developed with hard work remains safe from the machinations of destructive opponents. He preserves and protects it in his lifetime and tries to leave it in safe hands when the time for leaving the world arrives. He therefore makes an oral will or reduces his instructions on paper to doubly safeguard his legacy. Can we imagine that the Prophet (a.s) would leave intestate especially when it was the question of preserving and protecting his legacy which was the great Faith of Islam!

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In view of this very important and urgent need, knowing that his sickness was of terminal nature, the Prophet (a.s) asked for pen and paper brought to him two to four days before he demised. He wanted to write a document that would be a source of guidance for the people until the end of the world and safeguard his Ummah from getting divided into many sects and groupings. But some persons conspired to obstruct the Prophet (a.s) from making his will and testament.

“`Umar said that the Prophet (a.s) was overwhelmed with pain and for us the Book of Allah is sufficient.”[1]

This is a narration from al-Bukhari who also says:

“The Prophet (a.s) said, ‘Bring a paper to me that I write for you a document after which you will not go astray!’ On this, persons started sharp arguments, although quarreling near the Prophet (a.s) was not proper. People said, ‘The Prophet (a.s) is in a delirium!’ the Prophet (a.s) said, ‘Leave me to my scruples! I am fine in whatever condition I am than what you are calling me to!”[2]

When the differences overstretched and the sounds of shouts were coming, the consorts of the Prophet (a.s) said from behind the curtains:

“Give to the Prophet (a.s) whatever he is asking for. `Umar asked them to keep quiet and said that they were like the women of Yūsuf who cry when the Prophet (a.s) falls ill and when he is hale and hearty ride on his neck. At this, the Prophet said, ‘they are better than you!’”[3]

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The ladies kept calling from their private quarters but none paid any heed and never gave a paper and pen to the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) was sad over the Companions disobeying his Commands, terming his ill heath, although he was in full senses, as delirium and raising a rumpus instead of leaving him in peace. He was fed up of the happening around him and said, “Go away from me!” this was the worst calamity of the History of Islam that its founder wanted to write down his last will and testament for the benefit of the Ummah to protect them from going astray and his voice was submerged with in the noise raised by the people around him. Alas! He left this world disappointed and dismayed with certain of his close associates! Ibn `Abbas used to cry much thinking of the events of that day and the pebbles of sand kept in front of him used to get wet with the tears that dropped from his eyes:

“It was such a great calamity that the differences between the Companions and their shouting and misbehavior obstructed the Prophet (a.s) writing down his will.”[4]

People have tried in several ways to find excuses from the happenings of that sad day. They tried to put the blame on the entire crowd instead of pin pointing the culprits and exposing their evil designs and faces! But all these efforts went in vain and the facts could not be hidden from the public gaze. Al-Bukhari’s two narrations quoted above are a reflection of this. While in the first narration there is reference of the Prophet’s acute pain and the accusation of delirium, he has tried to hide the name of the person by referring to the accuser in the plural form instead of mentioning it as a singular and recording the name of that person. Where the events are light of nature al-Bukhari does not refrain from using the names of the characters involved! Where the words used are unpalatable, he cleverly tries to avoid the name of the person who used them. But this attempt does not seem to protect the memory of the perpetrators of those cruel and undesirable words. In some narratives, they use the word “some” instead of blaming the “crowd” to protect the big ones from ignominy. Ibn Sa`d says:

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“Some persons who were there said that because of the intensity of the ailment, the Prophet (a.s) was uttering insensible words.”[5]

In this narration, the circle of the perpetrators has been narrowed down. Bu even there the use of the word “some” does not pinpoint the real culprit! However Shaykh Shihabuddin al-Khafaji has lifted the curtain from the face of the person and written the fact, and nothing but the fact!

“`Umar said that the Prophet (a.s) was uttering insensible words.”[6]

Accusing the Prophet (a.s) of delirium and insensible talk, from whatever quarter, is the most heinous thing to do and the persons who perpetrated such talk must be identified! A person having the ordinary knowledge of the Divine Knowledge of the Prophet will never dare to say that the prophet (a.s) was talking insensible things in his delirium. Because of this impertinent talk, the Prophet (a.s) had to ask those persons to leave him alone! It is really a great calamity that the people succeeded in preventing the Prophet (a.s) from making his will and testament. One fails to understand what fear the person had in his mind that he was not allowing the Prophet (a.s) to get the paper and pen. Even in the state of delirium he wanted to write something, what was the problem for the person allowing reducing to writing down the last wishes of a person no lesser than the Prophet 0f Islam (a.s)? The persons who were bent on disobeying the Prophet (a.s) succeeded in disobeying his last Command and wish!

p: 398

Here, to get over the blame of disobeying the Prophet (a.s) they said that the Faith was Complete and the chain of the Revelations was already broken. Therefore, it was not necessary to write down any thing else. Of course, the Din or Faith was complete, but it does not mean that the Ummah was totally safe from going astray. If it were the case, there would never have been schisms in the ranks of the Muslims nor the springing up of myriad sects. This is all the result of the Ummah going astray. To eliminate these causes the Prophet (a.s) wanted to write down his final Will and Testament. If he had not thought it necessary, what was the need for him to ask for paper and pen? It is also not correct to say that the chain of the Revelations was broken. Until the last breath, the Prophet (a.s) continued to get the Revelations. Therefore, Anas ibn Malik says:

“Allah continued the series of Revelations from the time before the demise of the Prophet (a.s) until his last breath and the maximum revelations came on the day of his death.”[7]

This proves that whatever the Prophet (a.s) was saying, and whatever he wanted to be written down, was on the basis of revelations and the commands of Allah. The person who said that it was delirious talks, even if it were reduced to writing; they would have rejected it to suit their own ends!

We have also to consider what the Prophet (a.s) was trying to communicate and what was the need for doing it. The books of history and tradition are witness that on his deathbed, the Prophet (a.s) was continuously saying:

p: 399

“I am leaving behind me two things for you. If you remain attached to both of them, you will not go astray after me. Both the things are bigger than each other. One is the Book of Allah that is a rope that has one end in the Heaven and the other on the earth. The second thing is my `itrah, my Ahl al-Bayt. These two shall not separate from each other until they come to me at the Cistern of Kawthar. You must think yourself what attitude you should have for these things.”[8]

When the time for his death drew nigh, he raised the hand of `Ali (a.s) and said:

“`Ali (a.s) is with the Qur’an and the Qur’an is with him. The two will not separate from each other until they reach me at the Cistern of Kawthar. I shall ask them how you proved yourself in THEIR regard.”[9]

In the tradition previous to this, the Prophet (a.s) had termed remaining attached to the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt as a guarantee against depravity and going astray. The words used by him were, “You will not go astray after me.” We have also used the same words here lest we go astray in our act! After now, you shall never go astray! This proves to every individual of average intelligence that the things that the Prophet (a.s) termed as the guarantee for their protection from going astray, he wanted to write in his Will and Testament for the benefit of the Posterity. He knew that there were certain for

p: 400

Footnote

[1] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 1, Page 25

[2] Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Vol 2, Page 121

[3] Al-Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 2, Page 244

[4] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 2, Page 244

[5] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 2, Page 242

[6] Nasīm al-Riyā¤, Vol 4, Page 278

[7] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 2, Page 93

[8] Al-Mishkāt, Page 599

[9] Al-Sawā`iq al-Muhriqah, Page 126

THE PROPHET’S LAST JOURNEY

THE PROPHET’S LAST JOURNEY

(338)

THE PROPHET’S LAST JOURNEY

One day prior to his demise the Prophet (a.s) called `Ali (a.s) close to himself and said, “O `Ali! Now is the time for my departure! After my death, you must give me the bath, drape me in the shroud and put my mortal remains in the grave. You must fulfill the promises that I have made with people. I have taken a loan from a certain Jew for the expenses of the Contingent of Usamah ibn Zayd. You must clear this debt!” Then he took out the ring from his finger and asked `Ali (a.s) to wear it. He also gave to `Ali (a.s) his sword, helmet the yellow turban and other arms. That day was over and the next day was Monday 28th of Safar 11H. Now the condition of the Prophet’s health deteriorated. The clouds of death were hovering over his head. He was in semi comatose condition prior to death. The time was close when the human body stops breathing and the spirit travels towards its final destination. The Prophet (a.s) opened his eyes and when he did not find `Ali (a.s), who had gone out for some errand, he said, “Call my friend!” `A’ishah says:

p: 401

“When the time of his departure was nigh, the Prophet (a.s) asked his dearest one (habib) to be called. Someone went and called Abū-Bakr. The Prophet (a.s) did not look on him and put his head down. He again wanted his Habib to be called. A person went and called `Umar. When the Prophet (a.s) saw him he put his head down and again asked for his Habib. Now `Ali (a.s) came. When the Prophet (a.s) saw him, he took him under his quilt and remained like that until he was dead. His hand was over `Ali (a.s) at that moment.”[1]

This was the greatest tragedy in the History of Islam. Everyone was affected with this sad event but for the Banū-Hashim and his close family it was the most irreparable loss. The condition of the Prophet’s Daughter was such as if her own life had been snatched away from her. Her children were crying for the loss of their doting Grandfather. The entire world of `Ali (a.s) was changed. In spite of exercising maximum control over his emotions, tears were running from his eyes. Crying, he touched his hands to the face of his departed mentor and cousin and touched his own face. He closed the eyes of the Prophet (a.s) gently and covered his face with the cloth. Then, as per the wish of the Prophet (a.s), he got busy with the preparation for his interment. Ibn Sa`d writes:

“When the Prophet (a.s) died, his head was on the lap of `Ali (a.s). It was `Ali (a.s) who gave him the last bath. Al-Fadl Ibn `Abbas was supporting the Prophet (a.s) and Usamah ibn Zayd was giving the water.”[2]

p: 402

When Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) had given the bath to the Prophet (a.s), he draped his body in the shroud and alone offered the Funeral Prayer. The persons who were gathered at the mosque were discussing as to who must be asked to lead the last parting prayer for the Prophet (a.s) and where he should be interred. Some people thought that the compound of the mosque was a suitable place for the purpose. Other said that the Jannat al-Baqi` was the right place. When `Ali (a.s) learned about these discussions, he came out of the room and said, “The Prophet (a.s) was our leader in his lifetime and is our Imam and leader in his death too! Therefore, every individual group should go into the room and offer Funeral Prayer individually! As far as the place for his interment is concerned, he will be buried at the same place where he breathed his last!” As instructed by the Imam (a.s) the Banū-Hashim first went into the room and offered the Funeral Prayers. Then followed the Muhajirūn and the Ansar. Of course, one group was deprived of offering the Prophet’s Funeral Prayer. They were the persons who were jostled together at the Saqifah of Banū-Sa`idah busy in the worldly conclave of deciding about the corporal power structure! After the Funeral Prayers, the Prophet (a.s) was interred in the same room where he expired. Zayd ibn Sahl excavated the grave. The persons in charge of the interment were `Ali (a.s), `Abbas ibn `Abd al-Muttalib, al-Fadl ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and Usamah ibn Zayd. When the time for burial came, the Ansar called from outside, “O `Ali! Please include one of our persons in the process that we do not remain deprived of the felicity!” `Ali (a.s) called Aws ibn Khawli to come in and allowed him to descend into the grave of the Prophet (a.s). `Ali (a.s) took the body in both his hands and lowered it into the grave. When the body was laid in the grave, he removed the cloth from the face, turned the body towards the Kiblah, and put the cheek on the dust in the grave. `Ali (a.s) put the earth on the body with his own hands, leveled its surface and sprinkled water over it!

p: 403

Footnote

[1] Al-Riyā¤ al-Na¤irah, Vol 2, Page 237

[2] Al-Tabaqāt, Vol 2, Page 263

COMPLIANCE WITH THE WILL

COMPLIANCE WITH THE WILL

The things that a person leaves unfulfilled in this world and those that need to be done only after the death of the person, he entrusts to a person close to himself whom he deems capable and willing to comply with his wishes. It is the bounden duty of a person to comply with the will of a dear departed person to the best of his capability. The Prophet (a.s) had appointed `Ali (a.s) as his wasi with the confidence that he would comply with all his wishes and instructions during his lifetime and thereafter. He would treat them as his bounden duty. Therefore, `Ali (a.s) acted as the most responsible and committed executer of the Will of the Prophet of Islam (a.s). For the last rites of the Prophet (a.s), in accord with his wish, `Ali (a.s) personally gave him the bath and the burial. Despite of the unfavorable conditions in the neighborhood and the machinations of the adversaries, his only concern at the time was to comply with the last wishes of the Master. In addition to these normal duties, he was responsible for fulfilling the promises that the Prophet (a.s) had made to some people and to clear his outstanding debts. This has also been sited in one of the traditions of the Prophet (a.s): “`Ali will fulfill the promises made to me and will clear my debts.” `Ali (a.s) meticulously performed all the tasks and responsibilities that were entrusted to him by the Prophet (a.s). `Abd al-Wahid ibn `Awan says:

p: 404

“When the Prophet (a.s) died, `Ali (a.s) appointed a herald to announce that whatever promises the Prophet (a.s) made to the persons or the debts he owed to them, should call on him for settlement. Every year during the H ajj, he used to send a person to make an announcement near `Uqbah, the place of sacrifice, about his commitment to honor the promises made to the people by the Prophet (a.s). After him, Imam al-Hasan (a.s) followed the practice and so did Imam al-Husayn (a.s). Then the practice was discontinued.”[1]

Could there be a better example of dedication and fulfillment of responsibilities than this that during the Hajj when people from all over are assembled the announcement was made for fifty years to ensure that the demands of no person remained unattended? For such settlement `Ali (a.s) neither made the condition of any written documents nor he asked for any witnesses. `Abdullah ibn `Awn says that whatever claims anyone made, `Ali (a.s) settled them

This attitude of Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) should have been a lesson for the persons who did not value the claim of the Prophet’s daughter and made the excuse that the requirements of the witness were not completely complied with. They should have also thought that when the legacy of the Prophet (a.s) was the property of the State then, logically, the liabilities of the Prophet (a.s) too should have been the responsibility of the State as well. But they kept their silence on this matter! It does not stand to reason that the fixed assets of a person are attached by the Sate and the debts incurred by him, also in the discharge of his duty to the State, were left for others to discharge! One has to recognize that one who took the responsibility of discharging the debts was the Prophet’s Deputy after him and the usurpation of the Prophet’s was not a legitimate act!

p: 405

Footnote

[1] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 2, Page 319

DENYING THE PROPHET’S DEATH

DENYING THE PROPHET’S DEATH

There was a pall of gloom over al-Madinah after the death of the Prophet (a.s). Muslims were gathered inside and around the al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Holy Prophet’s Mosque). Their eyes were turning again and again towards the room where the mortal remains of their beloved mentor were lying. Every person was in deep sorrow and grief. The initial rites of the funeral were being performed in the midst of tears and mourning. Suddenly in this sad environment rose a shrill voice:

“Some hypocrites think that the Prophet (a.s) has passed away! By Allah! He is not dead and is visiting Allah as did Mūsa ibn `Imran and returned after remaining away from his people after forty days. At that time too it was said that Mūsa was dead. By Allah! The Prophet (a.s) will return and cut the hands and feet of the persons who say that the Prophet (a.s) has died.”[1]

Again, the voice rose in a warning tone:

“One who says that the Prophet (a.s) is dead, I shall strike him with my sword. The Prophet (a.s) has been carried away to the Firmament!”[2]

These sounds were coming from the mouth of `Umar who was adamant in saying that the Prophet (a.s) was alive and the rumor of his death has been spread by the hypocrites and thus he had put guard over the tongues of the people swinging around his sword. Ibn Kathir writes:

p: 406

“`Umar stood up and started sermonizing and threatened the people who talked about the death of the Prophet (a.s) that he would cut them to pieces! He said that the Prophet (a.s) was lying unconscious and when he rose, he will kill people and cut their limbs. At this time `Amr ibn Za’idah was reciting the following Verse at the rear of the Mosque: ‘Muhammad (a.s) is a Prophet and many prophets have gone by afore him’!”[3]

The effect of this outrageous talk of `Umar was to affect the thinking of the people and to change their topic of discussion. Therefore, the saddened masses started looking at one another in surprise and whispering to one another whether the Prophet (a.s) had really died or was alive! Although the people who heard him were not willing to believe his words, they had no courage to ask him to go inside and see for himself whether the Prophet (a.s) was really dead or not. Everyone was dumbfounded and was looking at `Umar fencing around with his sword! He was sometimes saying that the Prophet (a.s) was lying unconscious, again he said that he has been raised to the Firmament and he said that like Mūsa ibn Harūn he had gone into hiding! Now, which version of his to accept and which to reject? There was total confusion among those who were standing around watching his fencing skills! What was the need of frightening the people with his martial skills with the sword? If the spirit had gone to the Firmament, as he said, then that was death! If according to `Umar the Prophet (a.s) had gone the way Mūsa went, then Mūsa had gone bodily and had returned with the Torah. The Prophet’s body was very much there and there was no purpose his going the way Mūsa (a.s) went. When Mūsa (a.s) went for forty days he left behind his brother and Vicegerent, Harūn (a.s). `Umar in his outrage was silent about this very important aspect of the comparison that he was making! The Holy Qur’an says:

p: 407

وَقَالَ مُوسَى لِأَخِيهِ هَارُونَ اخْلُفْنِي فِي قَوْمِي وَأَصْلِحْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ .

“Mūsa said to his brother Harūn: Take my place among my people, and act well and do not follow the way of the mischief-makers. (7:142)”

`Umar should have hinted at this aspect when he was drawing a comparison with what happened to Mūsa (a.s). But, perhaps, discreetly, he was avoiding hinting at this point in his talk!

Besides, he should have also clarified about who those hypocrites were who, according to him, spread rumors about the death of the Prophet (a.s). He knew that, naturally, the sad news emanated from the household of the Prophet (a.s) where the consorts of the Prophet (a.s), Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s), `Ali (a.s), Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s), `Abdullah ibn `Abbas, al-Fadl ibn `Abbas, `Abdullah ibn Ja`far and others from Banū-Hashim were there. Were these the hypocrites whose limbs, according to `Umar, the Prophet (a.s) would return to cut away!

Certainly, there was confusion in the people about the demise of their beloved Prophet (a.s). This confusion would have persisted, but Abū-Bakr arrived from the place of Sakh in the environs of al-Madinah hearing about the demise of the Prophet (a.s) and heard `Umar ferociously denying to accept that the Prophet (a.s) was dead. He went inside, removed the cloth from the face of the Prophet (a.s), went out, and talked with `Umar for a while, and then addressed the people thus:

“One who worships Allah must know that Allah is immortal and those who worshipped Muhammad (a.s) should know that Muhammad (a.s) has expired. Then he recited this Verse, ‘Muhammad (a.s) is only a prophet of Allah. Before him, there were prophets who have gone. If he dies, or is assassinated, you will turn to infidelity. And those who turn back they cannot harm Allah in any way. And Allah will soon Reward the grateful.’”[4]

p: 408

When `Umar heard this Verse from the mouth of Abū-Bakr, he expressed surprise and said:

“Is it a Verse from the Holy Qur’an? I did not know that it is a Verse from the Qur’an. Then he added, ‘O people! This is Abū-Bakr who has ascendance over the Muslims! Owe allegiance to him! Owe allegiance to him!”[5]

`Umar who was insisting that the Prophet (a.s) was not dead a while ago accepts the fact hearing the Verse from the mouth of Abū-Bakr. Seeing this sudden change in his attitude, a doubt rises in the mind that whether `Umar really believed that the Prophet (a.s) was alive and not dead. If so, did he get the idea only after hearing that the Prophet (a.s) was no more? If his belief was such, while obstructing the Prophet’s call for pen and paper for writing his will, he could have said that wills are made only by mortal human beings and the Prophet (a.s) was immortal and he did not need to make a will! Instead of this, he said that the Prophet (a.s) was in a state of delirium and he might utter insensible words as his will! A while ago, he was an adamantly denying the Prophet’s death and now changed his stance and said:

“By Allah! I decided to say what I said because of this Verse:’ in the same way We have made you the Middle Ummah that you bear witness to the people and the Prophet (a.s) a witness over you!’ By Allah! I had the feeling that the prophet (a.s) will remain with his Ummah until the end to bear witness over them!”[6]

p: 409

Then he had seen the Prophet (a.s) struggling between life and death, and now he had seen that the Prophet (a.s) had no signs of life in his body. There were wails rising from the house and the people were expressing sadness over the demise.

This vehement denial of the death of the Prophet (a.s) and sudden face suggests to every right thinking person that there must have been some strategy behind his behavior. His sudden advocacy of people’s allegiance to Abū-Bakr instead of thinking of the last rites of their beloved Prophet (a.s) suggests that he was not so much concerned about the Prophet (a.s) than the matters of power and Caliphate. The truth is that `Umar was not so ignorant that he was not recognizing the fact of the demise of the Prophet (a.s). This was his well thought out political move.

To understand this political move we shall have to recapitulate on certain events. The history is witness that `Ali (a.s) was closely associated with the invitation to the faith of Islam from the very time of the annunciation of the Prophet (a.s) and was always ready to serve the cause. The Prophet (a.s) wished to propagate and protect Islam through him. This fact is evident from the events of Da`wat al-`Ashirah and the Ghadir Khumm. Most of the Companions, both the Muhajirūn and Ansar, were aware of the choice of the prophet (a.s) for his Vicegerent and Successor. Ibn Abil-Hadid writes:

“The majority of Muhajirūn and Ansar had no doubt that after the Prophet (a.s) `Ali (a.s) will be wali `Amr (the Vicegerent)”[7]

p: 410

It cannot also be denied that the Prophethood and caliphate in the same family was not acceptable to a particular group, and the reason was that they wanted to establish their own hegemony. Therefore, they started preparing their strategy from the living days of the Prophet (a.s) itself. They put impediments against any move that they found was going against their interests. The Prophet (a.s) asks for paper and pen from his deathbed, and they talk impertinently to avoid writing of the will by the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) orders these persons to proceed on a Campaign under the command of Usamah ibn Zayd and they disobey the Prophet’s orders. One of the main perpetrators of this disobedience was the same `Umar who enacted the drama that the Prophet (a.s) had not demised when the ostensible reason for disobeying his command was that they were sure that he was going to demise and they wanted to be around to manipulate the Caliphate in their favor! Al-Buladhari writes:

“When the Prophet of Allah died, `Abbas said, ‘O `Ali! Come out! I shall owe allegiance to you in front of the people to ensure that none differs about you.’ But `Ali (a.s) refused and said, ‘who can differ (or deny) our Rights and who can overwhelm us?’ `Abbas said, ‘then you will see this will happen!’”[8]

`Umar was one of the persons who did not want the Prophethood and caliphate remaining with one family and feared that the initiative for the bay`ah might assume a practical shape. Therefore, he wanted to crush the movement before it raised its head. At that juncture, he could not think of any strategy and hence, to gain time by diverting the attention of the crowds, he played the ruse of the Prophet’s immortality and that the story of his death was a rumor spread by the hypocrites! As soon as Abū-Bakr arrived the entire drama was over and `Umar started seeking the people’s allegiance for his Caliphate! What was the need for asking for the people’s allegiance at that somber moment? Anyway, after his appeal for votes, it became evident that all his fencing with the sword and the words was merely to play to the galleries until his candidate for the Caliphate arrived on the scene and none else was proclaimed as the successor and Caliph to the Prophet (a.s). Therefore, the events of the Saqifah Banū-Sa`idah are witness to the fact that the group considered installation of their candidate as Caliph more urgent than attending to the last sickness of their beloved Prophet (a.s) and his last rites! They gave a political defeat to the Ansar and established their own hegemony!

p: 411

Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 442

[2] Tārīkh Abul-Fidā’, Vol 1, Page 156

[3] Al-Bidāyah wan-Nihāyah, Vol 5, Page 242

[4] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 443

[5] Al-Bidāyah wan-Nihāyah, Vol 5, Page 242

[6] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 450

[7] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abil-Hadīd, Vol 3, Page 8

[8] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 583

AN OVERVIEW OF THE EVENTS OF SAQIFAH

AN OVERVIEW OF THE EVENTS OF SAQIFAH

There was a pall of gloom over al-Madinah after the death of the Prophet (a.s). Muslims were gathered inside and around the al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Holy Prophet’s Mosque). Their eyes were turning again and again towards the room where the mortal remains of their beloved mentor were lying. Every person was in deep sorrow and grief. The initial rites of the funeral were being performed in the midst of tears and mourning. Suddenly in this sad environment rose a shrill voice:

“Some hypocrites think that the Prophet (a.s) has passed away! By Allah! He is not dead and is visiting Allah as did Mūsa ibn `Imran and returned after remaining away from his people after forty days. At that time too it was said that Mūsa was dead. By Allah! The Prophet (a.s) will return and cut the hands and feet of the persons who say that the Prophet (a.s) has died.”[1]

Again, the voice rose in a warning tone:

“One who says that the Prophet (a.s) is dead, I shall strike him with my sword. The Prophet (a.s) has been carried away to the Firmament!”[2]

p: 412

These sounds were coming from the mouth of `Umar who was adamant in saying that the Prophet (a.s) was alive and the rumor of his death has been spread by the hypocrites and thus he had put guard over the tongues of the people swinging around his sword. Ibn Kathir writes:

“`Umar stood up and started sermonizing and threatened the people who talked about the death of the Prophet (a.s) that he would cut them to pieces! He said that the Prophet (a.s) was lying unconscious and when he rose, he will kill people and cut their limbs. At this time `Amr ibn Za’idah was reciting the following Verse at the rear of the Mosque: ‘Muhammad (a.s) is a Prophet and many prophets have gone by afore him’!”[3]

The effect of this outrageous talk of `Umar was to affect the thinking of the people and to change their topic of discussion. Therefore, the saddened masses started looking at one another in surprise and whispering to one another whether the Prophet (a.s) had really died or was alive! Although the people who heard him were not willing to believe his words, they had no courage to ask him to go inside and see for himself whether the Prophet (a.s) was really dead or not. Everyone was dumbfounded and was looking at `Umar fencing around with his sword! He was sometimes saying that the Prophet (a.s) was lying unconscious, again he said that he has been raised to the Firmament and he said that like Mūsa ibn Harūn he had gone into hiding! Now, which version of his to accept and which to reject? There was total confusion among those who were standing around watching his fencing skills! What was the need of frightening the people with his martial skills with the sword? If the spirit had gone to the Firmament, as he said, then that was death! If according to `Umar the Prophet (a.s) had gone the way Mūsa went, then Mūsa had gone bodily and had returned with the Torah. The Prophet’s body was very much there and there was no purpose his going the way Mūsa (a.s) went. When Mūsa (a.s) went for forty days he left behind his brother and Vicegerent, Harūn (a.s). `Umar in his outrage was silent about this very important aspect of the comparison that he was making! The Holy Qur’an says:

p: 413

وَقَالَ مُوسَى لِأَخِيهِ هَارُونَ اخْلُفْنِي فِي قَوْمِي وَأَصْلِحْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ .

“Mūsa said to his brother Harūn: Take my place among my people, and act well and do not follow the way of the mischief-makers. (7:142)”

`Umar should have hinted at this aspect when he was drawing a comparison with what happened to Mūsa (a.s). But, perhaps, discreetly, he was avoiding hinting at this point in his talk!

Besides, he should have also clarified about who those hypocrites were who, according to him, spread rumors about the death of the Prophet (a.s). He knew that, naturally, the sad news emanated from the household of the Prophet (a.s) where the consorts of the Prophet (a.s), Fatimah al-Zahra’ (a.s), `Ali (a.s), Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (a.s), `Abdullah ibn `Abbas, al-Fadl ibn `Abbas, `Abdullah ibn Ja`far and others from Banū-Hashim were there. Were these the hypocrites whose limbs, according to `Umar, the Prophet (a.s) would return to cut away!

Certainly, there was confusion in the people about the demise of their beloved Prophet (a.s). This confusion would have persisted, but Abū-Bakr arrived from the place of Sakh in the environs of al-Madinah hearing about the demise of the Prophet (a.s) and heard `Umar ferociously denying to accept that the Prophet (a.s) was dead. He went inside, removed the cloth from the face of the Prophet (a.s), went out, and talked with `Umar for a while, and then addressed the people thus:

“One who worships Allah must know that Allah is immortal and those who worshipped Muhammad (a.s) should know that Muhammad (a.s) has expired. Then he recited this Verse, ‘Muhammad (a.s) is only a prophet of Allah. Before him, there were prophets who have gone. If he dies, or is assassinated, you will turn to infidelity. And those who turn back they cannot harm Allah in any way. And Allah will soon Reward the grateful.’”[4]

p: 414

When `Umar heard this Verse from the mouth of Abū-Bakr, he expressed surprise and said:

“Is it a Verse from the Holy Qur’an? I did not know that it is a Verse from the Qur’an. Then he added, ‘O people! This is Abū-Bakr who has ascendance over the Muslims! Owe allegiance to him! Owe allegiance to him!”[5]

`Umar who was insisting that the Prophet (a.s) was not dead a while ago accepts the fact hearing the Verse from the mouth of Abū-Bakr. Seeing this sudden change in his attitude, a doubt rises in the mind that whether `Umar really believed that the Prophet (a.s) was alive and not dead. If so, did he get the idea only after hearing that the Prophet (a.s) was no more? If his belief was such, while obstructing the Prophet’s call for pen and paper for writing his will, he could have said that wills are made only by mortal human beings and the Prophet (a.s) was immortal and he did not need to make a will! Instead of this, he said that the Prophet (a.s) was in a state of delirium and he might utter insensible words as his will! A while ago, he was an adamantly denying the Prophet’s death and now changed his stance and said:

“By Allah! I decided to say what I said because of this Verse:’ in the same way We have made you the Middle Ummah that you bear witness to the people and the Prophet (a.s) a witness over you!’ By Allah! I had the feeling that the prophet (a.s) will remain with his Ummah until the end to bear witness over them!”[6]

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Then he had seen the Prophet (a.s) struggling between life and death, and now he had seen that the Prophet (a.s) had no signs of life in his body. There were wails rising from the house and the people were expressing sadness over the demise.

This vehement denial of the death of the Prophet (a.s) and sudden face suggests to every right thinking person that there must have been some strategy behind his behavior. His sudden advocacy of people’s allegiance to Abū-Bakr instead of thinking of the last rites of their beloved Prophet (a.s) suggests that he was not so much concerned about the Prophet (a.s) than the matters of power and Caliphate. The truth is that `Umar was not so ignorant that he was not recognizing the fact of the demise of the Prophet (a.s). This was his well thought out political move.

To understand this political move we shall have to recapitulate on certain events. The history is witness that `Ali (a.s) was closely associated with the invitation to the faith of Islam from the very time of the annunciation of the Prophet (a.s) and was always ready to serve the cause. The Prophet (a.s) wished to propagate and protect Islam through him. This fact is evident from the events of Da`wat al-`Ashirah and the Ghadir Khumm. Most of the Companions, both the Muhajirūn and Ansar, were aware of the choice of the prophet (a.s) for his Vicegerent and Successor. Ibn Abil-Hadid writes:

“The majority of Muhajirūn and Ansar had no doubt that after the Prophet (a.s) `Ali (a.s) will be wali `Amr (the Vicegerent)”[7]

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It cannot also be denied that the Prophethood and caliphate in the same family was not acceptable to a particular group, and the reason was that they wanted to establish their own hegemony. Therefore, they started preparing their strategy from the living days of the Prophet (a.s) itself. They put impediments against any move that they found was going against their interests. The Prophet (a.s) asks for paper and pen from his deathbed, and they talk impertinently to avoid writing of the will by the Prophet (a.s). The Prophet (a.s) orders these persons to proceed on a Campaign under the command of Usamah ibn Zayd and they disobey the Prophet’s orders. One of the main perpetrators of this disobedience was the same `Umar who enacted the drama that the Prophet (a.s) had not demised when the ostensible reason for disobeying his command was that they were sure that he was going to demise and they wanted to be around to manipulate the Caliphate in their favor! Al-Buladhari writes:

“When the Prophet of Allah died, `Abbas said, ‘O `Ali! Come out! I shall owe allegiance to you in front of the people to ensure that none differs about you.’ But `Ali (a.s) refused and said, ‘who can differ (or deny) our Rights and who can overwhelm us?’ `Abbas said, ‘then you will see this will happen!’”[8]

`Umar was one of the persons who did not want the Prophethood and caliphate remaining with one family and feared that the initiative for the bay`ah might assume a practical shape. Therefore, he wanted to crush the movement before it raised its head. At that juncture, he could not think of any strategy and hence, to gain time by diverting the attention of the crowds, he played the ruse of the Prophet’s immortality and that the story of his death was a rumor spread by the hypocrites! As soon as Abū-Bakr arrived the entire drama was over and `Umar started seeking the people’s allegiance for his Caliphate! What was the need for asking for the people’s allegiance at that somber moment? Anyway, after his appeal for votes, it became evident that all his fencing with the sword and the words was merely to play to the galleries until his candidate for the Caliphate arrived on the scene and none else was proclaimed as the successor and Caliph to the Prophet (a.s). Therefore, the events of the Saqifah Banū-Sa`idah are witness to the fact that the group considered installation of their candidate as Caliph more urgent than attending to the last sickness of their beloved Prophet (a.s) and his last rites! They gave a political defeat to the Ansar and established their own hegemony!

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Footnote

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 442

[2] Tārīkh Abul-Fidā’, Vol 1, Page 156

[3] Al-Bidāyah wan-Nihāyah, Vol 5, Page 242

[4] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 443

[5] Al-Bidāyah wan-Nihāyah, Vol 5, Page 242

[6] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 450

[7] Sharh Nahj al-Balāghah by Ibn Abil-Hadīd, Vol 3, Page 8

[8] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 583

HOMAGE AND USE OF COERCION

HOMAGE AND USE OF COERCION

The efforts of Abū-Bakr, `Umar and Abū-`Ubaydah bore fruits and they succeeded in getting the Caliphate in their favor. When this campaign was over, they started from the Saqifah towards the Mosque. On the way, some other persons joined them. On such occasions, generally people come getting influenced by curiosity or the position of power the person has attained. On the way the persons they met were asked to shake hands with Abū-Bakr. Thus taking bay`ah, and announcing about the bay`ah this small group proceeded on its way. Al-Barra’ ibn `azib says:

“Whosoever they met on the way, they forced him to come along and for the bay`ah touched his hand with that of Abū-Bakr, whether he wished to do it or not.”[1]

When they arrived at the Mosque, they sent some couriers to catch hold of people and bring them for the bay`ah. Therefore, people were assembled at the Mosque where in one of the rooms the Prophet (a.s) was being given his final bath before burial. The process of the bay`ah proceeded with the slogans of Takbir. Buladhari writes:

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“Abū-Bakr was brought to the Mosque and the people did their bay`ah with him. `Abbas and `Ali (a.s) heard the sounds of Takbir from the Mosque when they had just completed the bath for the Prophet (a.s).”[2]

This is a very sad reflection of the unfaithfulness of the world that on the one side are the mortal remains of the Prophet of Islam (a.s) and on the other there is a crowd of persons come to take bay`ah at the hands of the new rulers. Only sometime ago the same people were sad in mourning. But now there is no tear in any eyes or any sign of mourning on their faces. This gives us an idea of the minds of the populace. In such a situation, they cannot be expected to think how the selection of the Caliph came about and whether it was legitimate or not. Was it done with the consent of the people or done with the opinion of selected few? Who were these selected few? Were there any other persons involved than the three who managed to go to the conclave of the Ansar? Were `Abbas, `Ali (a.s), Salman al-Farisi, Abū-Dharr, al-Miqdad, `Ammar, al-Zubayr, Khalid ibn Sa`id and the important persons of the Banū-Hashim consulted before making the selection of the Caliph? People were just flooding in as if they were coming out of curiosity. If anyone raised a little objection, he was silenced either by force or through promises of material benefit. Those who had some power behind them were avoided for the time being. Therefore, clashing with Sa`d ibn `Abadah was not thought discreet before establishing themselves in the reins of power. When the disposition was consolidated with the bay`ah of `Uthman, `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf, Sa`d ibn Abi-Waqqas, Banū-Umayyah and Banū-Zahrah, he was sent a message to come and owe his allegiance. His reply was:

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“By Allah! I shall not owe my allegiance until I throw the arrows from my quiver on you and battle with you along with the men of my Tribe!”[3]

Hearing this reply Abū-Bakr kept quiet but `Umar was furious and said that he will not rest until he took the bay`ah from the person. Bashir ibn Sa`d said at this point that if he has refused to owe allegiance, he would rather give his life than condescend to the demand! His family members too will prefer to die with him and they will not die until the tribe of Khazraj totally perished and Khazraj will not perish until a single person of the Aws lived. The most far-sighted thing would be to leave Sa`d ibn `Abadah to his own scruples. Therefore, they did not approach him thereafter. During the rule of Abū-Bakr, he lived in al-Madinah but kept no contact with the ruling clique. He neither participated with them in the prayers nor went with them for the Hajj. When `Umar came to power, he once met Sa`d on the way and told him if he was the same Sa`d. He replied in the affirmative and added that his stand was the same and unaltered as before! He said that he hated `Umar’s company as much as he hated before! `Umar asked him why he then did not leave al-Madinah for good? Sa`d now felt that `Umar might make an attempt on his life any time. Therefore, he left al-Madinah and moved away to Syria and after sometime became the victim of someone’s arrows at a place called Hawran. Ibn `Abd-Rabbih al-Andalusi writes:

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“`Umar sent one person to Syria and asked him to demand bay`ah from Sa`d. If he refused, seek Allah’s help against him. The person reached Syria and met Sa`d within the four walls of a house and invited him for the bay`ah. He replied that he would never give bay`ah to any Qarashi. The person said that in the case he would battle with him. Sa`d replied that he did not mind battling. The man said that he wanted to be out of what the entire Ummah had accepted. He replied that he preferred to be out of the bay`ah. The man took out an arrow and shot him dead.”[4]

The person who killed him is said to be Muhammad Ibn Maslamah or Mughirah Ibn Shu`bah but a rumor was spread that a Jinn had shot him with an arrow.

During the First Caliphate, Sa`d ibn `Abadah was neither troubled nor was treated with cruelty. But the operatives of the Caliphate immediately started efforts to obtain allegiance from `Ali (a.s) and did not abstain from any harsh method to obtain their objective. Therefore, he was spending the life of a recluse at home. A message inviting for the bay`ah came from the rulers. `Ali (a.s) and others who were at his house refused to abide by the invitation. `Umar, in a rage of anger came threatening to burn down the house of `Ali (a.s). Buladhari writes:

“Abū-Bakr sent a message to `Ali (a.s) seeking his bay`ah. But `Ali refused to comply, at which `Umar brought burning fire. Fatimah (a.s) saw `Umar and said, ‘O son of al-Khattab! Will you burn down the door along with me?’ `Umar replied, ‘Yes” ” [5]

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Al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam was present in the house of `Ali (a.s) at that time. Although he was Abū-Bakr’s son-in-law from the side of his mother Safiyyah bint `Abd al-Muttalib, he was related to the Banū-Hashim as well. When he saw `Umar trying to burn down the house in a rage, he came out angrily with his sword unsheathed. But Salamah ibn Ashyam snatched away the sword from his hand and arrested him disarmed. The historian al-Tabari writes:

“`Umar ibn al-Khattab came to the house of `Ali (a.s). At the house there were Talhah, al-Zubayr and a few Muhajirūn. `Umar called for them to come out for bay`ah. He swore by

Allah that he would set fire to burn all of them down. Al-Zubayr took out his sword and came out to fight. But he stumbled, the sword fell off his hand, the men overwhelmed him and he was arrested.”[6]

`Umar and his men somehow succeeded in taking `Ali (a.s) to Abū-Bakr for the bay`ah. Protesting against the demand, `Ali (a.s) said:

“I am more entitled to caliphate than you! I shall not do the bay`ah with you but you must owe allegiance to me! You snatched the caliphate from the Ansar with the plea that you were close relations of the Prophet (a.s). And now you are bent on snatching away the caliphate from the Ahl al-Bayt. Did not you make a claim with the Ansar that you were more deserving of the Caliphate than them on which basis they entrusted the leadership and Emirate to you? The reason that you gave to the Ansar for establishing your right, for the same reason I prove my right to you. We are more important for the Prophet (a.s) in his like and his death. If you have embraced the Faith, be just to us. Otherwise you are not unaware that you are committing an injustice!”[7]

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Abū-Bakr sat quietly but `Umar threatened that until he agreed for the bay`ah he would not be released. `Ali (a.s) replied that he was neither going to give any cognizance to his talk nor owe allegiance to any one Then bringing out the hidden secret, `Ali (a.s) said:

“Milk (the cow that is) the caliphate! You too have an equal share in that! By Allah! You are killing yourself for the caliphate of Abū-Bakr that tomorrow he leaves it behind for you!”[8]

On Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s) refusing to owe allegiance to Abū-Bakr they went to great lengths to force him into acquiescence. They threatened to burn down his house; they dragged him with a rope round his neck and threatened to assassinate him. The treatment meted out to `Ali (a.s) was so harsh that Mu`awiyah ibn Abi-Sufyan wrote a letter to Muhammad ibn Abi-Bakr in a very sarcastic manner:

“Those who were first to usurp `Ali’s right were your father, Abū-Bakr and al-Farūq. They demanded bay`ah from `Ali (a.s) but `Ali (a.s) delayed his acquiescence. On account of it the two inflicted on him mountains of difficulties and torture!”[9]

The procedure adopted for obtaining the bay`ah was absolutely illegitimate and unwarranted. In no law, it is permitted to force one’s will on others. If they had evidence that `Ali (a.s) was preparing from the time of the Prophet (a.s) to acquire a position of power, and if he had organized a group for such a purpose, there could have been some justification in adopting harsh measure to protect their own interests. But when there was no such evidence, it is surprising why Abū-Bakr and `Umar adopted very harsh measures to extract bay`ah from `Ali (a.s). How such measures could be called just and legitimate from no lesser persons than the first and the second Caliphs of Islam!

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`Ali’s refusal to give bay`ah was not just for sentimental reasons. But his denial was purely on principles. Even if the aggression had gone to the maximum extent, he would not have bowed down to the injustice inflicted in the name of democracy. There was no justification from the Shari`ah for such hegemony. Therefore,