Seerah episode 35: Two Uncles with Different Responses – Abu Talib and Abu Lahab

— After news was out in the open about the new religion, the Prophet (saw) began preaching publicly

  • In the public gatherings, many people didn’t speak up in defense of the Prophet, but no one spoke against him either
    • They were hesitant to attack the Prophet because they had no dirt on him. The Prophet was the man of the highest caliber; he was honest & trustworthy, so there’s nothing bad to be said about him
    • The Prophet’s uncle, Abu Lahab, on the other hand, was very irrational. No one supported his attacks against the Prophet; they’d walk away usually

— What the Prophet was presenting to his people was a complete shift in ideology, theology, lifestyle, morals, ethics, & character

  • The Prophet still consistently kept calling people toward Allah
    • He’d go to the town squares, marketplaces, anywhere public to talk about Allah’s message & open with the line, “O people. Say, ‘La ilaha illalllah,’ (tuflihuu) and you will find success.”
  • He’d go at season of Hajj while all of Arabia were gathered together for festivities
    • He’d call people – free people & slaves, rich & poor, weak & powerful – no one got priority, they were all called upon

— Very powerful & wealthy people from the leaders of Quraysh, who were insistent upon their shirk (idol-worship), would oppose the Prophet & oppress anyone who would dare to follow the Prophet, particularly the weaker followers

  • The most severe in opposition against the Prophet & his followers was Abu Lahab

— Abu Lahab’s birth name was Abdul Uzza, named after one of the major 3 idols that used to be worshipped in Makkah

  • He’s called Abu Lahab because of his complexion. He’s light in complexion, but his cheeks were very red. He was also a very intense individual; when he’d speak, his face would get red
    • Lahab is a burning coal, an ember. He was called Lahab because there was fire in his face – red cheeks
  • He’s very wealthy & a business leader. He was not a civil leader, like Abu Talib. He committed most of his energy in the business area; that’s how he leveraged his power & influence
  • Abu Lahab’s wife is named Arwa Ummu Jamil bint Harb. She  was the sister of Abu Sufyan, who is a political leader of Quraysh
    • She was an influential woman, due to her familial collections through her husband, brother, & father
  • Abu Lahab & his wife Arwa made it their life mission to oppose the Prophet & Islam
    • Abu Lahab would publically slander the Prophet to humiliate him
    • Arwa would throw trash on doorstep of Prophet (Abu Lahab was a neighbor of the Prophet, some say, they live just next door). When she’d see the Prophet in public, she’d pick up dirt & throw it at him at Prophet. This is so that the dress of the Prophet is soiled and he’s not fit to meet people.

— A man named Rabi’a, who later accepted Islam, remembered seeing the Prophet in his days of Jahiliyah

  • Rabi’a saw the Prophet in the marketplace. The Quraysh wouldn’t let the Prophet preach in Makkah, so to protect his Sahaba from harm, the Prophet would go to the outerline of the marketplaces to preach
  • Rabi’a recalls the Prophet urging people to accept monotheism & let go of idol worshipping. The people gathered around to listen to him
  • Behind the Prophet, a man with a fair complexion & flaming cheeks would run behind the Prophet & scream, “This man has abandoned the religion of our forefathers. This man is a liar. Do not let this man deceive you. He wants to remove you from the worship of Uzza and Ellaat.” What Abu Lahab was doing was so bizarre that people are more interested with what he was doing. In a way, it made people want to find out what he was so against. So they were drawn to what the Prophet was saying. So, where he wanted to shoo people away from the Prophet, it actually made people come closer.

— Abu Lahab constantly harassed the Prophet

  • Abu Lahab would also throw dirt at the Prophet
  • He would also follow the Prophet all over the marketplace & carry a sack of stones. The Prophet would engage in an intelligent conversation with someone, giving dawah & explaining the Qur’an, when Abu Lahab would take the stones & throw them at the back of the head of the Prophet
    • Abu Lahab would scream & interrupt the Prophet’s conversations with people; “Don’t listen to him! I know him! He’s my nephew. I know him better than you do. He’s crazy, he’s a liar, and he’s a magician. Don’t listen to him!”
  • Abu Lahab would follow around the Prophet all day long like this. He had become such a circus act that people were actually distracted by him. People would be curious, “Who is this crazy old man? Who is this lunatic?”
    • He would disrupt both public & private gatherings wherever the Prophet was giving da’wah

— Abu Lahab’s wife also escalated her harassment of the Prophet

  • She would throw trash on the doorstep of the Prophet’s house & she would also throw trash at the Prophet
  • She would also make up poetry against the Prophet:
    • Mudhamaman Qalayna – We are tired of him (mudhamam)
    • Wa Deenahu Abayna – And his religion we have rejected
    • Wa 7ukmahu 3asayna – And his rule we will always disobey

o Mudhamaman Qalayna – We are tired of him (mudhamam)
o Wa Deenahu Abayna – And his religion we have rejected
o Wa 7ukmahu 3asayna – And his rule we will always disobey

— There are 2 different sequences mentioned in the narration

— First sequence (popular version)

  • The Prophet would go about his business. He kept ignoring Abu Lahab
  • Allah revealed Surah Lahab (111:1-5)
    • “May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he. His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained. He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame. And his wife [as well] – the carrier of firewood. Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber (like a shackle made of fire)”
  • The Prophet recited this surah to his scribe. Word gets out of this surah. Abu Lahab & his wife hears about this surah, & they are enraged

— Second sequence

  • At this time, Ummu Khultum and Ruqqaiyah, daughters of Prophet, were betrothed to the two sons of Abu Lahab, Uthba & Utayba
    • Furious, Abu Lahab tells his sons, “You will go immediately to Muhammad, and you will break it off with his daughters. You will humiliate him.”
    • One of the sons went to the Prophet & said it’s over, and he left (he was better than his brother, he just broke the engagement)
    • The other son came to the Prophet, grabbed & ripped Prophet’s shirt, spit on him, & said, “Keep your daughter. I’m done.”
  • *Note: Listen from 30:30 – 36:25.  Some things from this podcast simply cannot be transcribed & capture the emotion behind the words. You need to hear it directly from Shaykh Abdul to truly sympathize with the Rasul (saw) and to have the Seerah have a greater impact on you. It’s just 6 minutes, so take some time to listen to that specific section if not the whole episode.

— Now, let’s talk about Abu Talib. The Prophet was close to Abu Talib since birth

  • The father of the Prophet, Abdullah, was extremely close to his older brother Abu Talib. That’s why Abu Talib had a lot of love for the only child of his brother who passed away very young
    • When both the Prophet’s mother Aminah and grandfather Abdul Mutallib pass away, Abu Talib raises Muhammad from the age of 8. Abu Talib also took over his father Abdul Mutallib’s custodian duties of the Haram
  • Even though Abu Talib didn’t understand the message that the Prophet was preaching, he threw his whole weight & support behind his nephew
    • In the 3rd of the gatherings in which the Prophet hosted a feast for Banu Hashim, which Abu Lahab would interrupt the Prophet at the end of it, Abu Talib spoke up in defense of the Prophet

— This was part of the reason why Abu Lahab was so infuriated. While Abu Lahab was the most economically influential person in Makkah, the most civically & socially influential person (as well as the de facto leader of Banu Hashim) was Abu Talib

  • Abu Talib was also the custodian of the Haram; he took care of the pilgrims to the Ka’bah. At the end of the day, Abu Talib’s contribution to society was more visible & more influential amongst Banu Hashim, Quraysh, & all of Arabia
  • Abu Talib’s face & name is the one that all Arabs knew, so when he publically declared his support for his nephew, Abu Lahab felt very threatened. That’s why Abu Lahab was very aggressive in his opposition to the Prophet
  • Abu Talib always showered the Prophet with affection. Muhammad was the most beloved of Allah’s creations to Abu Talib. He would always do right by his nephew & defend him. Abu Talib was loyal to the Prophet & he would always oppose the people who would oppose the Prophet
    • Even though Abu Talib still believed in the religion of the mushrikoon, he still defended the Prophet

— Abu Talib one day saw his own son Ali (ra) praying with his cousin Muhammad & Khadijah

  • Ali was very nervous about his father’s reaction, but Abu Talib approved, knowing that his nephew Muhammad was a good man. “Son, Muhammad is a good man. He’s honest. I raised him like my own, & I trusted him to raise you. You try to follow him & be like him. I may not understand your new religion, but I understand & know of his honesty. He’s a man of great integrity, so you follow him.”
  • Abu Talib supported the Islam of his son Ali

— The Prophet didn’t take the support of Abu Talib for granted. The Prophet appreciated it & expressed to Abu Talib that he never intended to be a burden to his uncle

— Akil bin Abi Talib, who later accepted Islam, narrated, “Quraysh came to my father Abu Talib.”

  • The Quraysh said, “This nephew of yours is causing a lot of nuisance to us. He’s at the marketplaces, he’s at the Haram. He’s causing a lot of trouble. Tell him to stop.”
  • Abu Talib said, “Ya Akil, go & get your cousin Muhammad.”

— Akil brings Muhammad to Abu Talib. It was the hottest part of the day when the Prophet arrived at Abu Talib’s home

  • Abu Talib tells the Prophet, “These cousins of yours say you cause them a lot of harm & difficulty. So please stop troubling them.”
  • The Prophet looked up at the sky. “Do you see this sun? I am not capable of going to this sun and bringing you back a flame from this sun.”
    • Meaning: I’m no more capable of stopping my preaching to you than I am capable of going to the sun & bringing a flame back to you
  • Abu Talib responded, “I swear by God, this nephew of mine has never lied, so go from here.”

— Another narration says that when the Quraysh brought their complaints to Abu Talib about Muhammad & Abu Talib asked his nephew to stop the troublemaking, the Prophet said, “O my dear beloved uncle. If the sun was put in my right hand, and the moon was put in my left hand, I would not stop preaching the true message of God until Allah has made His message apparent in the Earth or until I die trying to do so.”

  • The Prophet then teared up & turns to leave Abu Talib’s house. Ulama discussed the reason of his tears.
    • One opinion says that the Prophet was troubled by the thought that Abu Talib had turned his back on his nephew – the man who had had his back & supported Muhammad
    • Another opinion says that he was bothered by the fact that his uncle is an old man and he’s being badgered by others about his preaching. The Prophet was hurt just by the thought that his uncle was hurt. The Prophet, who had such a strong tie to Abu Talib, wished that he did not bring so much difficulty to his uncle
  • Abu Talib sees the Prophet saddened, & says, “Dear beloved nephew! You keep doing what you have to do. You do whatever it is that you want to do, because I will never leave your side. I will never stop defending you.”
    • He then recites some poetry: “Wallahi, all of them, if they get together, will not harm you unless I am laid to rest in my grave. You keep doing what you believe in doing. Be proud of what you do, and know that you bring people happiness. I know you have called me to believe in what you say. I know that you only want what’s good for me. You have spoken the truth and you have always been truthful. You have presented a way of life to me and I have no doubt that this is the best life that can be found on Earth. But if it wasn’t for my weakness – for people insulting you – I would have accepted your message. But I will continue to support you. You keep doing what you have to do.”

Link to the next episode


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s