One of the historic incidents that occurred in the holy month of Ramadan was the demise of his holiness, Abu Talib (peace be upon Him). As per the view of Sheikh Mufeed, Abu Talib, the lone supporter and guardian of the holy Prophet (peace be upon Him) died on the seventh of Ramadan, in the tenth year of Be’that (three years prior to Hijrah – the migration).
It was this honourable elderly person, who did not fear the cooperation and conspiracies of Quraysh, their deceitful plots, threats, breaking of relations, attacks and oppressions executed against him. Till he was alive, he supported the Holy Prophet (peace be upon Him) with purest of intentions and said to him:
"اذھب یابن اخی، فقل ما احببت فواللہ لا اسلّمک لشی ءٍ ابدا"
“Go, my nephew! And say what you like. By God, I will never surrender you to them in return for anything”.
He also recited:
و اللہ لن یصلوا الیک بجمعھم حتی اوسّدُ فی التراب دفینا
فامض لامرک ما علیک غضاضۃ ابشر و قرَّ بذاک منہ عیونا
و عرضت دینا قد علمت (عرفت) بانّہ من خیر ادیان البریۃ دینا
“By God, they will not lay their hands on you with all their might until I lay my head on the pillow of earth and be buried. So spread your religion and execute your command because there is no fear upon you. Glad tidings to you and your eyes which brightened with it; I know that the religion you have brought is the best of all religions for mankind”.
It was this nobleman who said amidst one of his poems that:
الم تعلموا انّا وجدنا محمداً رسولا کموسی خُطَّ فی اوّل الکتب
و انَّ علیہ فی العباد محبۃ و لا حیفَ فی من خصہ اللہُ بالحبِّ
“Don’t you know that we found Mohammad (peace be upon him) as a Messenger like Moses (peace be upon Him), whose name has been mentioned in the ancient heavenly books? Indeed, he is the loved one among the servants and one whom Allah chooses for His love has no deviation and error”.
He also said:
انَّ علیاً و جعفرا ثقتی عند ملمِّ الزمان و النوب
لا تخذلا وانصرا ابن عمکما اخی لامی من بینھم و ابی
واللہ لا اخذل النّبی و لا یخذلہ من بنیِّ ذو حسب
“Ali and Jafar are my reliable ones in the times of mishaps and uncertain incidents. (He advices his sons and says) Do not leave his holiness alone and disgraced; support your uncle’s son; (and reminds this point that) his father among all other brothers was my brother from the same father and mother, we had the same parents. By God, I will never cease to support the Prophet (peace be upon Him) and will not leave him humiliated and helpless. Moreover, none of my sons – these men of great lineage and attributes – will not leave him disgraced and alone.”
It is narrated from Imam Baqir (peace be upon Him) that he said:
“If you place the faith of Abu Talib on one side of a measuring scale and the faith of this entire creation on the other, the faith of Abu Talib will be heavier”.
He held such a lofty position that the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) wept for him in his affliction and grieved immensely. He anointed his (Abu Talib’s) right forehead four times and his left forehead thrice, then said, ‘O uncle! You nurtured me in my childhood, guarded me in my orphanage and supported me when I grew up. May Allah give you the best reward in return for the support you extended towards me! Prophet (peace be upon Him) walked in front of his corpse and said repeatedly: You exhibited kind treatment towards your relatives and received the best reward’.
In the book “Seera e Bani Hisham”, it is narrated from Mohammad bin Ishaq that after the demise of Abu Talib (peace be upon Him), the people of Quraysh created such difficulties for the Prophet (peace be upon Him) which they did not dare to create in the life of Abu Talib (peace be upon Him). It is reported from Prophet (peace be upon Him) that he said:
"ما نالت منی قریش شیئاً اکرھہ حتی مات ابو طالب"
“Quraysh did not harm me with anything against which I averted, until the demise of Abu Talib (peace be upon Him)”.
The year of the demise of Prophet’s two beloved supporters, Abu Talib (peace be upon Him) and Lady Khadija (peace be upon Her), was named the “Year of Sorrow”.
Brief Account of Abu Talib’s Virtues
As we know, Abdul Muttalib passed away after eight years from the birth of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him).
When he witnessed himself on the verge of death, he called his son Abu Talib, who was from the same mother as his another son Abdullah, the dignified father of our great Prophet (peace be upon Him), and advised him regarding the guardianship and assistance of his beloved grandson Mohammad (peace be upon Him). He said, ‘help him with your tongue, wealth and hands; very soon he will become the head of this tribe’. He took oath and promise from Abu Talib regarding this issue.
With ultimate loyalty, care and love, Abu Talib fulfilled the responsibility of Prophet’s guardianship and support for forty two years.
He served and helped Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon Him) like a loving father and his wife, Fatima binte Asad, like a caring and kindhearted mother. They loved him more than their own children and treated him in a better way.
Yaqubi says: Fatima binte Asad, the honorable wife of Abu Talib, used to nurse the Prophet and upon her demise, his holiness said, ‘Today, my mother has passed away’. Then he covered her corpse with his own cloak as a shroud. When her grave was dug and they reached the place of burial, the holy Prophet (peace be upon Him) dug it and took out the mud with his own hands. Then he lied down on that place and invoked Allah with the following supplication:
"اللہ الذی یحیی و یمیت و ھو حیّ لا یموت اغفر لاُمّی فاطمۃ بنتَ اسد و لقِّنھا حجتھا، و وسّع علیھا مدخلھا، بحقِّ نبیِّک محمدٍ و الانبیاء الذین من قبلی فانک ارحم الراحمین"
“Allah is the one who gives life and puts to death, He is someone who is Alive and never dies. O’ Allah, for the sake of Your Prophet, Mohammad (peace be upon Him), and the prophets that preceded me, forgive my mother Fatima binte Asad (a lady who loved and cared for me like a mother) and inculcate the correct proofs and faiths to her; and broaden her abode of rest in the purgatory; indeed You are the most Merciful”.
His holiness was asked about the reason behind such kindness which was not seen for anyone else previously, he said, ‘I covered her with my cloak so that she can be covered by the cloaks of heaven; I lied down in her grave so that the narrowness of the grave lightens for her; because after Abu Talib, she was the most noblest among Allah’s creations with me’.
According to the tradition of Yaqubi, it was said to his holiness, ‘O’ Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) Your grief for Fatima has intensified.’ His holiness said:
"انھا کانت امّی ان کانت لتجیع صبیانھا و تشبعنی، و تشعثھم و تدھننی، و کانت امّی"
“Indeed she was my mother. She left her children hungry but fed me, kept them unkempt but applied fragrance on me; yes, she was my mother”.
Abu Talib was the chief of Bat’ha, the senior among Quraysh, the head of Mecca and the Qibla of the tribe. He possessed all the moral virtues. Everyone respected him and praised his personality as well as his moral values.
"و کان ابو طالب شیخاً جسیماً وسیماً، علیہ بھاء الملوک و وقار الحکماء"
“Abu Talib (may Allah have mercy upon him) was a corpulent, handsome and well-postured man on whose face one could witness the elegance and beauty of kings, and the dignity of sages”.
Ak’tham bin Saifi, a renowned sage of Arab, was asked: From whom did you learn wisdom, directorship, commandership and leadership? He said, ‘from the friend of knowledge and literature, the chief of Arabs and non-Arabs, Abu Talib the son of Abdul Muttalib.’
Certainly, it is obligatory upon the entire nation of Islam to understand the value of the family of Abu Talib and always remember the painstaking services provided by him in the support of the Prophet (peace be upon Him), for the religion and for the elevation of the flag of monotheism (Tawheed).
No other family has served Islam and the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon Him) as much as his family and the services of anyone else have not been as beneficial and valuable as the services of his family for the religion of Islam. When everyone had left the Prophet (peace be upon Him) alone and the life of Islam and Prophet (peace be upon Him) could be saved from all dangers only by means sacrificing of lives, it was this family who supported the Prophet (peace be upon Him), in all the difficulties and hardships, such that anything better than that was not possible.
A family whose member the Prophet (peace be upon Him) remained for years and in which a peaceful environment, filled with loyalty and grace, piety and virtue, dignity and truth, enveloped the divine Messenger (peace be upon Him).
Indeed, the right of Abu Talib, his honorable wife – Fatima – the third woman who accepted Islam, his warrior son Jafar e Tayyar (who migrated to Abyssinia for the sake of Islam) and all his other beloved and respectable sons, the unique champions of battles, the great victors and the renowned chiefs of Islam, upon the religion of Islam is much more than anyone else.
In the history of the supporters of Prophet (peace be upon Him), we do not find anyone except Abu Talib (peace be upon Him) who has served his holiness for a period of forty two years both in his solitude and in public, and in the meantime, who has been his greatest friend and supporter.
Especially after his prophet-hood, Abu Talib backed the holy Prophet (peace be upon Him) with unprecedented steadfastness and extended his support for him. If Abu Talib wouldn’t have supported his holiness and if he would’ve left him alone, or God forbid, if he would’ve stood against his holiness in his opposition by denying his apostleship and mocking him, then certainly, the religion of Islam would’ve either faced defeat in the initial stage itself or at least seen a great setback in its progress.
Similarly, in the battle of the trench (Khandaq), if Imam Ali (peace be upon Him) – the son of Abu Talib – wouldn’t have gone to the battlefield and fought against Amr bin Abdawud – that great warrior and brave fighter- and if he didn’t have removed him from the path of Islam, then predicting the future of Islam would’ve become extremely difficult for us.
Consider the case that if Abu Talib (peace be upon Him) would have withdrawn his support for the Prophet (peace be upon Him) and handed him over to the enemies, or if he would stand against him in his opposition and express hostility towards him, the prediction of Islam’s fate would be farfetched. At least in this circumstance, the difficulties and hardships as well as obstacles and hindrances would’ve increased a hundred times for the Prophet (peace be upon Him) and the beloved Prophet would be entangled in much severe oppressions and pressures.
According to the testimony of history, the support extended by Abu Talib opened the way of progress for the new religion. It can be said: The impact of his support for the aid of Prophet’s religion is not lesser than the sacrifice of the martyrs of Badr and Uhad, and even his brother Hamza. Rather, we can understand by contemplating and deeply studying history that the support of Abu Talib was more effective than the heroic bravery of these martyrs in the path of safeguarding the religion.
The enemies of this new religion feared the support extended by Abu Talib towards the Prophet (peace be upon Him) and considered Abu Talib as the only great obstacle for them to execute their anti-Islamic plots.
Abu Talib and his family meant everything to Muhammad (peace be upon him). He himself was among the true believers, supporters and guardians of Mohammad (peace be upon Him); his wife and daughter “Umm e Hani”, and his sons – Ali and Jafar – were the friends, warriors, protectors and nation of Mohammad (peace be upon Him).
Ibn e Abil Hadeed says: I read in the Amali of Abu Jafar bin Habib that at times, when Abu Talib saw the holy Prophet (peace be upon Him), he began weeping and said: When I see him, I begin to think of my brother. It is because he (Abdullah) was his brother from the same father and mother and he loved him a lot. He also narrates that: Many a times Abu Talib (peace be upon Him) used to fear the ascertaining of Prophet’s place of sleep and shifted him from one bed to another making his own son Ali (peace be upon Him) sleep in the place of Prophet (peace be upon Him). (He made his sons the sacrifice of Prophet).
One night, Ali (peace be upon Him) said: ‘Father! I will be killed.
Abu Talib said:
اصبرن یا بنیَّ! فالصبر احجی کل حیّ مصیرہ لشعوب
قدر اللہ و البلاء شدید لفداء الحبیب و ابن الحبیب
لفداء الاغر ذی الحسب الثاقب و الباع والکریم النجیب
ان تصبک المنون فالنبل تبری فمصیب منھا و غیر مصیب
کل حی و ان تملی بعمر آخذ من مذاقھا بنصیب
“Be patient O’ son! Patience is logical and the return of every living being is towards death. Allah (s.w.t.) examines by means of forbearance and this exam is difficult. If death comes to you for becoming a sacrifice in the path of a friend and the son of a friend – a noble person who belonged to a virtuous, generous, honorable and pure family- thus arrows are cut, some reach their target and some don’t; at the end, every living being, who might have lived a sweet life, will get his share from death.”
Ali (peace be upon Him) replied to his father:
ا تامرنی باصبر فی نصر احمد واللہ ما قلت الذی قلت جازعا
و لکننی احببت ان تری نصرتی و تعلم انّی لم ازل لک طائعا
ساسعی لوجہ اللہ فی نصر احمد نبی الھدی المحمود طفلا و یافعاً
“Do you command me to be patient in support of Ahmad? By God, if I said something, it was not out of fear or sadness; instead, I wanted you to witness my support and know that I am always obedient to you. Very soon, for Allah, I will strive in the path of Ahmad, because he is the Prophet of guidance and is praised since his childhood and youth”.
In these couplets, Ali (peace be upon Him) declared in front of his father the effort and endeavor he exhibited in the support of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon Him) and reminded him that his words are not out of impatience and fear of sacrificing his life in the path of Prophet (peace be upon Him); but he wanted to make his father aware of the level of his support and wanted him to know that till the verge of death, he is prepared for safeguarding the life of Prophet (peace be upon Him) and is always obedient to him.
In short, it must be said that the love and care of Abu Talib (peace be upon Him) for Prophet (peace be upon Him) was much greater than the boundaries of description; so much that he loved him more than his own sons and honored him.
According to the narration of Ibn e Abil Hadeed, the poetry “Lamiya”, which is as famous as the poetry “Qifanbak”, depicts the determination and steadfastness of Abu Talib (peace be upon Him) shown in the support of Prophet (peace be upon Him) and his love and devotion for his holiness for performing all sorts of sacrifice in the path of his assistance.
In the end, just as Ibn e Abil Hadeed has said in his poetry, it can be said: If Abu Talib (peace be upon Him) and his son Ali (peace be upon Him) weren’t there, this religion wouldn’t have established.
Abu Talib (peace be upon Him) in Mecca and Ali (peace be upon Him) in Medina extended their supports for Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon Him). Abu Talib assisted Prophet in the initial stage and took the responsibility of his guardianship and Ali helped the work began by Abu Talib in the path of the support of divine religion reach its final stage. Hence, it is not surprising to witness Prophet (peace be upon Him) in the state of extreme grief and sorrow at the demise of Abu Talib.
His loss broke the stand of Muslims and left it shelter-less. One of the causes of Prophet’s migration was his death itself; because with his demise, Muslims and Prophet (peace be upon Him) himself lost their unique supporter which emboldened their enemies.
 Refer to: Mufeed, Masar ush-Shia. With regard to the demise of Abu Talib (peace be upon Him), other views also exist between the historians and narrators. In order to gain further information, refer to: Ibn e Sa’d, At Tabaqaat ul-Kubra, v. 1, p. 100; Ibn e Qutayba Dinwari, Al Ma’arif, p. 132; Ibn e Khashab Baghdadi, Al Muhbar, p. 11; Ibn e Abdul Bir, Al Iste’aab, v. 1, p. 37 – 38; Tusi, Misbahul Mutahajjid, p. 812; Ibn e Shahr Ashob, Manaqib e Aal e Abi Talib, v. 1, p. 150; Ibn e Jauzi, Al Muntazim, v. 3, p. 7; Ibn e Aseer e Jazri, Al Kamil fit Tarikh, v. 2, p. 90; Ibn e Kaseer, As Seeraun Nabawiya, v. 2, p. 122; Majlisi, Biharul Anwar, v. 19, p. 14, 20 – 21; v. 35, p. 82.
 Ibn e Hisham, As Siratun Nabawiya, v. 1, p. 266; Tabri, Tarikh, v. 2, p. 67; Salihi Shami, Subul ul Huda war Rishad, v. 2, p. 327.
 Karachaki, Kanzul Fawa’ed, p. 79; Bihaqi, Dalail un Nubuwwa, v. 2, p. 188; Zahabi, Tarikh ul Islam, v. 1, p. 150; Ibn e Kaseer, Al Bidaya wan Nihaya, v. 3, p. 42.
 Fatal Nishaburi, Radatul Wa’izeen, p. 140 – 141; Majlisi, Bihar ul Anwar, v. 35, p. 121.
 Ibn e Abil Hadeed, Sharh e Nehjul Balagha, v. 14, p. 68; Majlisi, Bihar ul Anwar, v. 35, p. 156 – 157.
 Yaqubi, Tarikh, v. 2, p. 35.
 Ibn e Hisham, As Siratun Nabawiya, v. 1, p. 416.
 Maqrizi, Imta ul Ismaa’, v. 1, p. 45.
 Balazri, Ansab ul Ashraaf, v. 1, p. 92; Yaqubi, Tarikh, v. 2, p. 13; Tabri, Tarikh, v. 2, p. 166.
 Yaqubi, Tarikh, v. 2, p. 14.
 Khwarizmi, Al Manaqib, p. 47; Allama Hilli, Kashf ul Yaqeen, p. 193; Ibn e Sibagh Maliki, Al Fusool ul Muhimma, v. 1, p. 177 – 178; Majlisi, Bihar ul Anwar, v. 35, p. 179.
 Haythami, Majma’uz Zawaid, v. 9, p. 257; Ibn e Sibagh Maliki, Al Fusool ul Muhimma, v. 1, p. 178; Majlisi, Bihar ul Anwar, v. 35, p. 179.
 Yaqubi, Tarikh, v. 2, p. 14.
 Mohaddis e Qummi, Al Kuniya wal Alqaab, v. 1, p. 108 – 109.
 Majlisi, Bihar ul Anwar, v. 35, p. 135 ; Mohaddis e Qummi, Al Kuniya wal Alqaab, v. 1, p. 108 – 109; Namazi Shahrudi, Mustadrikat e Ilm e Rejaal ul Hadith, v. 1, p. 522.
 Ibn e Abil Hadeed, Sharh e Nehjul Balagha, v. 14, p. 64.
 Ibne Abil Hadeed, Sharh e Nehjul Balagha, v. 14, p. 78 – 79.