Seerah Episode 56. The Death of Abu Talib

— Authentic books of Seerah say there was about 35 days between the passing of Khadijah and Abu Talib (some debate on who passed away first)

  • Khadijah passed away in Ramadan
  • Abu Talib passed away in Rajab or Shawwal (before or after Ramadan)

— The Prophet was 8 years old when Abu Talib took him under his guardianship

  • 8-year-old Muhammad lost closest thing to a father he had – Abdul Mutallib. He lost his father, mother, & grandfather, & also has no biological siblings
  • Then Abu Talib stepped in, to honor dying wishes of his father to take care of Muhammad
    • In time, Prophet & Abu Talib grew very attached to each other

— Abu Talib was the closest to a parent that the Prophet had in his life. Abu Talib was not just some random uncle, but he was a man who raised, clothed, & fed Muhammad

  • When Muhammad was 16, he wanted to financially help out Abu Talib, so he asked his uncle for permission to start working
  • When Muhammad got his first chance to do major-league business (with Khadijah), which required traveling, he asked Abu Talib for permission
  • When Khadijah’s relative approached Muhammad for marriage proposal, Muhammad asked Abu Talib, “What do you think?”
  • When the Prophet started preaching about Islam, Abu Talib threw full support behind his nephew, even though he himself was not accepting Islam

— Abu Talib was around in his 80s & was terminally ill

  • When the Quraysh leaders realize that Abu Talib is on his deathbed, they all go to him as a delegation to visit Abu Talib
    • Abu Sufyan, Utbah, Umayyah bin Khalaf, Shayba, Abu Jahl, & all the team leaders of Quraysh, who are also the head of opposition against the Prophet go to Abu Talib
  • When they approach Abu Talib, the Quraysh leaders told him, “Ya Aba Talib, you know your position amongst us (we respect you as the top leader of Quraysh). You also understand what your physical condition is. We fear the worst for you (you’re going to die). You also know very clearly where we stand in regards to the Message of your nephew, so please call him. He respects you & we respect you. You negotiate something with him between us, since you’re the neutral party between us. We have some terms for Muhammad. We’re here to compromise & meet in the middle. So what do you say? If he leaves our religion alone, we’ll leave him & his religion alone.”

— Abu Talib called for the Prophet & told him, “My beloved nephew, these are the dignitaries of your people. They gathered here for you, so they will give you something & in exchange you give them something.”

  • The Prophet replied, “Yes, absolutely.”
    • The Prophet never negotiated in terms of tawhid. There should never be any compromise of tawhid, but the Prophet was always respectful
    • He didn’t yell NO & slam the door behind him
  • Instead, the Prophet respectfully told the Quraysh leaders, “You’ve come to speak, and I’ve also come to speak. I want nothing more than to be able to put our beef  & grudge aside. But you have to understand, there are some things I cannot compromise on.”
    • Such is the sunnah of the Prophet

— The Prophet said, “Sure, let’s talk. One word. I’m making only one request. If you can give this to me, if you can meet me in the middle on one term, just one condition, then you will rule over all the Arabs & even the non-Arabs will come to you & follow you.”

  • Abu Jahl said, “Absolutely, by your father (expression for “most definitely”). If you’re talking about ruling over Arabs & even non-Arab kingdoms, then I’ll agree to 10 things.”
  • The Prophet said, “Just accept the fact that no one is worthy of worship except for Allah. And you leave everything else that you worship other than Allah. That’s my condition. Tawhid is my one condition. I’m willing to sit here & work everything else out.”
  • The Quraysh leaders all clapped their hands. It’s a sign of displeasure (like a face palm)
    • “Here he goes again.”
    • “Muhammad, you want us to trade all of our idols for your one God? We don’t understand you.”
  • Some leaders turn to each other & said to one another, “Look, this guy’s not really here to compromise. So just go & let’s keep doing what you’re doing & let him do what he’s doing. We’ll see who comes out on top of things”
    • Then the Quraysh leaders all disperse from Abu Talib’s home

— The Prophet was sitting there

  • Abu Talib said, “I swear to God, beloved nephew, I don’t think you asked them for a lot. You were willing to discuss everything & anything. You just wanted one condition.”
  • The Prophet now thought this was the opportunity. He said, “Beloved uncle, if you don’t think I was asking them for a lot, then you should say it. La ilaha illallah. I’ll vouch for you on the Day of Judgment.”
  • Abu Talib replied, “Yabna akhi (son of my brother), if I wasn’t afraid what these people would do to you & your family members after I was gone, and if I didn’t think the Quraysh would assume that I just did it to escape death, then I would definitely say it. But I will not say it. The only reason I would say it would be simply to please you, but I won’t.”
  • The Prophet acknowledged that he tried

— A few days later, the Prophet received word that Abu Talib is gravely ill & is basically breathing his last

  • The Prophet ran to his uncle’s house to be at his side when Abu Talib takes his dying breath
    • Abu Jahl & other leaders also get word of Abu Talib dying, & they got there before the Prophet made it there
    • The Prophet sat down by Abu Talib’s head, & held his uncle’s hand with tears in his eyes
  • Abu Talib is the Prophet’s whole family from the age of 8. Even after the Prophet was a grown man with children of his own, Abu Talib never left his nephew’s side. Abu Talib always threw his support behind his nephew in his Prophethood

— The Prophet leaned in close to his 80-year old-uncle, who was struggling to even breathe, & the Prophet said, “Dear uncle, say la ilaha illallah. Just one phrase. Just say it once. I will fight on your behalf in front of Allah. I will argue on your behalf to Allah. I will represent you in front of Allah. Please, just once.”

  • Before Abu Jahl headed toward Abu Talib’s house with 3 other men, he addressed the Quraysh, “Hamza & Umar ibn al-Khattab, two influential figures of Makkah have already accepted Islam. Abu Talib would be a loss that we can’t afford. We can’t have Abu Talib going over to his nephew’s side. We have to make sure we don’t lose him.”
  • Abu Jahl saw the Prophet & Abu Talib in this emotional state, with the Prophet telling his uncle,  “I will FIGHT in front of Allah for you, please just say it once.”
    • When Abu Jahl saw this, he started screaming & shouting, “YA ABA TALIB, are you trying to leave the religion of your father? You’re going to leave it now?!” He kept yelling this.
    • Umayyah bin Khalaf, Abdullah ibn Umayyah, & others also started chiming in & screaming, & repeating Abu Jahl’s words. They were heckling the Prophet
  • Finally, Abu Talib looked over at Prophet. He said, “Ala-deeni Abdul Mutallib. Upon the religion of Abdul Mutallib.” Then he breathes his last
  • While still holding his uncle’s lifeless hand, the tear-stricken Prophet said, “As far as I’m concerned Uncle, I will continue to ask for forgiveness on your behalf until I am forbidden from doing so.”
    • Allah revealed the following ayah from Surat At-Tawbah:“It is not appropriate for the Prophet and those who believe in the Message of the Prophet that they seek forgiveness on behalf of those who have died with shirk, those who have died without imaan, even if they be close relatives.” [9:113]

— Some Sahaba who knew what Abu Talib meant to the Prophet were waiting outside Abu Talib’s home. The Prophet lost the father who raised him

  • When the Prophet came out of Abu Talib’s home, the Sahaba could see the devastation on his face
  • The Prophet was also second-guessing himself. “Could I have said something else? To convince him otherwise?”
  • That’s when Allah revealed the ayah from Surat Al-Qasas: “Indeed, O Muhammad, you do not give guidance to the ones whom you have loved, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the rightly guided.” [28:56]
    • This ayah is not reprimanding the Prophet. It is Allah consoling the Prophet. This is Allah comforting the Prophet – We know you’re hurting, but don’t beat yourself up because guidance wasn’t in your hands

— 10 years after Abu Talib’s death, there was an incident. The Prophet returned back to Makkah at the time of Conquest of Makkah. It was during Ramadan. It had been 10 years since Abu Talib’s death, but the pain was still fresh to the Prophet

  • The Prophet was sitting near the Ka’bah
    • Abu Bakr walked into the Haram. Abu Quhafa (father of Abu Bakr) was a very elderly blind man & he was holding his son’s hand. They were walking very slowly ino the masjid
  • When the Prophet saw his friend & his friend’s father, the Prophet stood up & approached them. He asked Abu Bakr, “Why didn’t you leave our elder at home? I would have gone to him if he needed to talk to me.”
  • Abu Bakr said, “No, no, he’s come to accept Islam. He has come to you.”
  • The Prophet asked them to sit down, took Abu Quhafa’s hand, & started to give him the Shahadah
    • The Prophet looked over at Abu Bakr, smiling at this beautiful moment that this elderly man is accepting Islam at this age. The Prophet was smiling at this moment, but Abu Bakr was crying

— The Prophet said, “Tears of joy, ya Aba Bakr? You’re so happy witnessing the Islam of your father that you break down like this?”

  • Abu Bakr said, “No, Rasul, these are tears of sadness.”
  • The Prophet is shocked. He said, “Your father accepted Islam at this age, & you cry out of sadness?”
  • Abu Bakr replied, “I can’t help but think how quickly I would trade places between my father & Abu Talib. I would  give up my father’s place right now sitting in the Haram, his hand in your hand reciting the Shahadah; I would give up my father’s place right now to Abu Talib. I’d do it in a heartbeat –switching places with my father & your uncle. I remember how much pain & agony you experienced at your uncle’s passing.”
    • Think of how severe the pain must have been for the Prophet at the passing of Abu Talib for Abu Bakr to feel so strongly about Abu Talib & talk about such sacrifice for Abu Talib

— Within 5-6 weeks, the Prophet had buried the 2 people who were the center of his universe

  • The death of Abu Talib was compounded by the aftermath. In the days after both Khadijah’s and Abu Talib’s passing, the Prophet didn’t leave his home as much. He was a bit quieter. He didn’t come out of his home a lot
    • The Prophet would come out of his home only every few days. He had kids who lost their mother
  • The Prophet’s pain was so profound, that when Abu Lahab heard how much his nephew was struggling, he went to his nephew’s home & asked, “What’s wrong? What’s going on with you?”
    • The Prophet said, “I’m trying to regroup. I’ve got kids who have lost their mother. I’m trying to put pieces back together.”
    • Abu Lahab was so moved by this sadness that he said, “Abu Talib used to keep people away from you & protect you. Now, I’ll take care of things.”

— Abu Lahab, who had always been so against the Prophet & constantly opposed his nephew, was moved by his nephew’s pain. The Prophet’s pain & grief must have been very visible & obvious for Abu Lahab to do a 180 degree turn & say, “I’ll take care of things.”

  • Abu Lahab went to the other leaders of Quraysh & said, “Everyone, stay away from my nephew.”
  • The Quraysh leaders were taken aback. They started whispering among themselves. “Did Abu Lahab accept Islam? That’s gonna be really bad for us.”
  • Some sons of Abu Lahab & leaders of Quryash confronted Abu Lahab, “You understand what’s going on? You’re putting your support behind Muhammad. Other tribes have heard that Quraysh has endorsed Muhammad’s religion, & now these tribes are getting ready to come here to accept Muhammad’s religion.”
    • After a few days passed of Abu Lahab seeing the Prophet in so much pain, Abu Lahab said, “No, I withdraw my support & protection from Muhammad. You can do whatever you need to do. We cannot let this religion spread.”

— A few days later, the Prophet left his home & tried to get back into routine. When he left his home, something that has never happened in the previous 11 years of Nubuwwah took place

  • A young thug from the streets of Makkah walked toward the Prophet. This young thug wouldn’t dare cross the Prophet on a regular day because the Prophet has Abu Talib’s protection
    • He reached down & scooped up a handful of dirt & threw it on the head of the Prophet. The thug taunted, “What are you gonna do? Your uncle ain’t here to protect you now.”
    • The Prophet is a 51 year old man, so think of the level of disrespect that the young teen showed the Prophet
    • Sometimes thugs like that boy would often shove the Prophet & mock him
  • The Prophet then went home. He got to his doorstep & saw that his entire doorstep is covered in garbage & filth
    • The Prophet rolled up his sleeves & moved those garbage aside so he can walk through
  • Other people comes out of their homes & watched this scene, smirking & laughing at the Prophet
    • The Prophet looked around & said, “What type of neighborly treatment is this, Quraysh? You don’t like me, you don’t like my message, that’s fine. But you’re Quraysh. You’re the sons & daughters of Hashim. You’re the caretakers of the Haram. What kind of treatment is this?”

— The Prophet then walked into his home with his hands dirty. His shirt is torn a little. He had dirt in his hair & face

  • His daughter Fatimah was a small girl at the time. She looked at her father & gasped, “Father, what happened to you? What is this?”
  • The Prophet sat down. Fatimah grabbed a bowl of water in it & took a small towel
    • As she washes her father’s face, Fatimah cries, “Why are they doing this?”
  • The Prophet said, “My beloved daughter. Don’t cry. Allah will not forsake your father. This religion that your father has come to preach will reach far and wide. Allah will protect your father. Don’t cry.”


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