Thursday 26th of May 2022
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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.

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.

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.


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.

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]

[1] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol. 1, Page 15.


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:

With whomsoever he battled, he was victorious.[1]

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

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


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.[1]

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.

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).[2]

In another tradition, he said:

Do not talk ill of Mudar, he was Muslim![3]

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

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

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

[3] Tabaqāt ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 58.


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!

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.[1]

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


Ilyas ibn Muar

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:

Do not talk ill of Ilyas. He was a possessor of (strong) Faith.[1]

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.[2]

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.

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

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


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.[1]

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.[2]

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.

[1] Tārīkh al-Khamīs Vol 1, Page 150.

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


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.[1]

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![2]


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

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

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


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… .[1]

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:

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


The tribes of Quraysh trace their origin to Malik and do not go beyond him.[1]

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.

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).[2]

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.

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

[2] Al-Sīrah al-Halabiyyah, Page 16.


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:

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).[1]

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

[1] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 41.


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:

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.[1]

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

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


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.[1]

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

[1] Tabaqāt, Vol 1, Page 68.


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:

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.[1]

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

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


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!

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.[1]

`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.[1]

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.[3]

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

[1] Tārīkh al-Tabarī, Vol 2, Page 23.

[2] Tabaqāt Ibn Sa`d, Vol 1, Page 71.

[3] Tabaqāt Vol 1, Page 71.


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.[1]

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![2]

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 writs:

Qasi built al-Mash`ar al-Haram where lamps were lighted during the nights as beacons to guide the pilgrims.[3]

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).[4]

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

[1] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 52.

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

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

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



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.[1]

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.

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.[2]

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![3]

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

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

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

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


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.[1]

`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.[2]

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 sepaated from each other with the blow of a sword. At that time, it was predicted that the progeny of

[1] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 152.

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


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.

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.

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![1]

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

[1] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 60.


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:

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

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


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:

This was the first manifestation of hate and enmity that appeared between Hashim and Umayyah.[1]

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.[2]

[1] Ansāb al-Ashrāf, Vol 1, Page 61.

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


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.

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.[1]

`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

[1] Al-Ma`ārif, Page 33.


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.

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.[1]

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,

[1] Fihrist Ibn al-Nadīm, Page 13.


I have heard my father say that `Abd al-Muttalib was tall, handsome and good looking. Whoever looked at him started liking him.[1]

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,

After Banū-Jarham, the spring of Zamzam was lost deep in the ground until `Abd al-Muttalib could make it re-appear.[2]

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.

[1] Tārīkh al-Islām, Page 37.

[2] Al-Fā’iq, Vol 1, Page 146.


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:

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[1]

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


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!

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


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:

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.

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!

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![1]

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,

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![2]

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

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


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.

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:

By Allah! After this transient world, there is a Hereafter! There the virtuous will be rewarded and the evil punished![1]

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.[2]

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.[3]

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:

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

[2] Murūj al-Dhahab, Vol 1, Page 313.

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


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.[1]

`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:

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.[2]

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

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

[2] See the Holy Qur’ān, 9:19.

[3] Bihār al-Anwār, Vol 6, Page 38.


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.”

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.[1]

Both were unique in their disposition. Therefore, the patience and courage displayed by Ibrahim (a.s) in his readiness to sacrifice his beloved son,

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


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:

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.[1]

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

[1] Bihār al-Anwār, Vol 6, Page 39.


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:

Neither `Abd al-Muttalib nor did any of his sons eat the meat of these camels. [1]

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

[1] Tabaqāt, Vol 1, Page 89.


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!

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![1]

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:

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


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.”

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.[1]

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

[1] Al-`Iqd al-Farīd, Vol 1, Page 177

[2] Tabaqāt Ibn Saad, Vol 1, Page 118.


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.

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).[1]

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.[2]

[1] Tabaqāt, Vol 1, Page 118.

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


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!

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 Qurayh and from the Quraysh the Banū-Hashim and from them I was selected.[1]

`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.

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.


source : http://www.imfi.ir
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