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the Holy Prophet’s Ancestors

the Holy Prophet’s Ancestors

the Holy Prophet’s Ancestors

Mu¦ammad's Lineage

The Holy Prophet’s ancestors up to the twentieth before his father included: Abd al-Mu§§alib, `Abd Man¡f, Qu¥ay, Kil¡b, Murrah, Ka`b, Lu’ay, Gh¡lib, Fihr, M¡lik, al-Na¤r, Kin¡nah, Khuzaymah, Mudrikah, Ily¡s, Mu¤ar, Niz¡r, Ma`ad, and `And¡n.[1] However, there is no agreement concerning his other ancestors up to Prophet Ishmael, Prophet Abraham’s son.[2] It is narrated that when the Holy Prophet enumerated his ancestors, he refused to call any other ancestor prior to `Adn¡n,[3] and recommended others to do so.[4] Regarding the work of genealogists concerning his lineage and the names of his other ancestors between `Adn¡n and Ism¡`¢l, the Holy Prophet used to say, “Genealogists lied.”[5]

The Arab tribes are divided into Qa¦§¡ni and `Adn¡ni groups. Quraysh, due to its relation with `Adn¡n (the Holy Prophet's twentieth ancestor) belongs to `Adn¡n. All clans whose lineage leads to al-Na¤r ibn Kin¡nah are called qurayshi, since Quraysh was their nickname.[6] The tribe of Quraysh is of different branches,[7] such as Ban£-Makhz£m, Ban£-Zuhrah, Ban£-Umayyah, Ban£-Sahm, Ban£-Asad and Ban£-H¡shim[8] to which the Holy Prophet belongs.

`Abd al-Mu§§alib’s Personality

Among the Holy Prophet’s ancestors, we have a lot of information about `Abd al-Mu§§alib, the first ancestor, since he lived at a time close to the Islamic era. `Abd al-Mu§§alib was a beloved, generous, wise and unique personality.[9] He, like all great divine personalities, was the chief of his time. Despite his long life, he never took on the corrupt traits prevalent in the society of Mecca. In those days, nobody in Mecca believed in the Resurrection; and even if this belief existed, it was not strong. Not only did `Abd al-Mu§§alib believe in the Resurrection but also emphasized the chastisement of that Day; he used to remark:

“There is a world after this one in which good-wishers will get their rewards and evildoers their punishment.”[10]

Although a tribal dogmatism prevailed in the Arabian Peninsula in those dark days and everybody defended the rights of his relatives without considering justice, `Abd al-Mu§§alib was not such a person. He put a lot of pressure on one of his relatives, called °arb ibn Umayyah, to pay the blood money of a Jew who had been killed under instigation and persuasion.[11] He used to encourage his children to stay away from the nasty deeds of this world and engage themselves in good deeds.[12]

`Abd al-Mu§§alib believed in a number of traditions which were approved of in Islam; among them we may refer to the prohibition of drinking wine, the prohibition of adultery, the punishment of adulterers; the cutting of the thief's hand, the banishment of ill-named Meccan women, the prohibition of burying daughters alive, the prohibition of marriage with intimates, the prohibition of being naked in circumambulating the Kaaba, carrying out one's vows and obligations, the observance of the sacred months, and finally engaging in mutual cursing (mub¡halah).[13] It is narrated that `Abd al-Mu§§alib was the evidence of God and Ab£-±¡lib God's Representative.[14]

The Household of Monotheism

Prophet Mu¦ammad's household was a household of monotheism. According to the beliefs of researchers who believed in Imamate, Prophet Mu¦ammad's father and his ancestors from Adam to `Abdull¡h were all monotheists. There was no atheist among them—a fact asserted by many Qur'¡nic verses and narrations. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said,

“God led me from the clean men's loin into the clean women's wombs and put me into your world and never let me be mingled with the corruptions of the Ignorance Era.”[15]

We know that no dirt is worse than atheism or disbelief. If ever there were an atheist or disbeliever among the progeny or progenitors of anybody, he would not be considered clean. The Twelver Im¡miyyah scholars believe that Ab£-±¡lib and ªminah bint (daughter of) Wahab—the Holy Prophet’s mother—were monotheists.[16] In this regard, Imam `Al¢ (a.s) has stated:

“I swear to God that my father and ancestors, `Abd al-Mu§§alib, H¡shim and `Abd Man¡f, did not believe in any form of idolatory. They were true followers of Prophet Abraham’s religion and used to perform prayers to God at the Kaaba.”[17]



[1] T¡r¢kh al-±abar¢ 2:191; Ibn al-Ath¢r, Usd al-Gh¡bah 1:13; ±abars¢, I`l¡m al-War¡, pp. 5-6.

[2] Ibn al-Ath¢r, op cit, pp. 13; al-Bayhaq¢, Dal¡'il al-Nubuwwah, pp. 118; Mas`£d¢, al-Tanb¢h wa’l-Ishr¡f, pp. 195-196; Ibn al-Ath¢r, al-K¡mil f¢’l-T¡r¢kh 2:33; Ibn `Anbah, `Umdat al-±¡lib, pp. 28.

[3] Ibn Sa`d, al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 1:56; Al-Kalb¢, Jamharat al-Nasab, pp. 17.

[4] Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, Man¡qib 1:155; ±abars¢, op cit, pp. 6; al-Majlis¢, Bi¦¡r al-Anw¡r 15:105.

[5] Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, op cit, pp. 155; Ibn `Anbah, op cit, p28.

[6] Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, op cit, pp. 154; Ibn `Anbah, op cit, pp. 26; ±abars¢, op cit, pp. 6; Ibn Qutaybah, al-Ma`¡rif, pp. 67; ±abars¢, Majma` al-Bay¡n 10:546; Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:96; Ibn `Abd-Rabbih, al-`Iqd al-Far¢d 3:312; Ibn Kath¢r, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:84; Mu¦ammad Am¢n al-Baghd¡d¢, Sab¡’ik al-Dhahab, pp. 62, Ibn W¡¤i¦, T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢ 1:204.

Some genealogists have considered the children of Fihr ibn M¡lik ibn Niz¡r as part of Quraysh. See Kalb¢, op cit, pp. 21; Ibn Sa`d, op cit, p55; Ibn Anbah, op cit, pp. 26; Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, pp. 96; Mu¦ammad Am¢n al-Baghd¡d¢, op cit, pp. 62; Ibn W¡¤i¦, op cit, pp. 204; Ibn °azm, Jamharat Ans¡b al-`Arab, pp. 12; °alab¢, al-S¢rah al-°alabiyyah 1:25-26.

There are some other statements regarding this issue. See al-S¢rah al-°alabiyyah 1:27.

[7] The Arab groups and tribes are given different names, such as sha`b, qab¢lah, `im¡rah, ba§n, fadkhdh and fa¥¢lah in accordance with their extension and size. For instance, Khuzaymah was a sha`b; Kin¡nah qab¢lah, Quraysh `im¡rah, Qu¥ay ba§n, H¡shim fakhdh, and `Abb¡s fa¥¢lah. See Ibn `Abd-Rabbih, al-`Iqd al-Far¢d 3:330; °usayn Mu'nis, the History of Quraysh.

On the basis of this typology, some researchers have attributed Quraysh to qab¢lah and some to `im¡rah. But the very nature of this typology is a suspect; some researchers would not accept it as such. See The History of Quraysh, pp. 215-216. Here, we will refer to Quraysh as a qab¢lah (tribe).

[8] Mas`£d¢ states that the tribe of Quraysh had twenty-five branches and he mentions them by names. See Mur£j al-Dhahab 2:269.

[9] °alab¢, op cit, pp. 6.

[10] op cit, p6; Shukr¢ al-ªl£s¢; Bul£gh al-Irab 1:324.

[11] °alab¢, op cit, pp. 6, al-ªl£s¢, op cit, pp. 323; Ibn al-Ath¢r, al-K¡mil f¢’l-T¡r¢kh 2:15, al-Bul¡dhar¢, Ans¡b al-Ashr¡f 1:73.

[12] °alab¢, op cit, pp. 7; Mas`£d¢, Mur£j al-Dhahab 2:109.

[13] al-ªl£s¢, op cit, pp. 324, Ibn W¡¤i¦, T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢ 2:7; al-S¢rah al-°alabiyyah 1:7; Shaykh al-¯ad£q, al-Khi¥¡l 2:312-313.

[14] ¯ad£q, al-I`tiq¡d¡t, pp. 135; al-Majlis¢, Bi¦¡r al-Anw¡r 15:117; U¥£l al-K¡f¢ 1:445.

Among the issues concerning `Abd al-Mu§§alib is his vow to sacrifice one of his children for God. The report on this vow, despite its fame, suffers some documental considerations and needs further clarifications. See `Al¢ Daw¡n¢, The History Of Islam From The Start To Hegira, pp. 54-59; Shaykh al-¯ad£q, Man-L¡-Ya¦¤uruh£’l-Faq¢h 3:89.

[15] ¯ad£q, op cit, pp. 135; al-Majlis¢, op cit, pp. 117; Muf¢d, Aw¡’il al-Maq¡l¡t, pp. 12; ±abars¢, Majma` al-Bay¡n 4:322.

Some researchers have interpreted this narration in the form of the cleanliness of the progenitor. See Sayyid H¡shim Ras£l¢ Ma¦all¡t¢, Some Lectures On The Analytic History Of Islam 1:64.

[16] Muf¢d, op cit, ¯ad£q, op cit.

Some Sunni distinguished scholars, such as al-Fakhr al-R¡z¢ and al-Suy£§¢, believe the same thing in this regard as the Twelver Sh¢`ah. See Bi¦¡r al-Anw¡r 15:118-122.

[17] ¯ad£q, Kam¡l al-D¢n, pp. 175; al-Ghad¢r 7:387.

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