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alī ibn abu talib

Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib

Abū Ṭālib ibn ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib (549 – 619) was the head of the clan of Banu Hashim. He was married to Fatima bint Asad and was an uncle of Muhammad. His real name was Imran [عمران ] but he is better known as Abu Talib because he had a son named Talib.

Abu Talib raised and supported Muhammad while he was a young man.



Abu Talib had four sons

  1. Talib ibn Abi Talib
  2. Ja'far ibn Abi Talib
  3. Ali ibn Abi Talib
  4. Aqeel ibn Abi Talib

and two daughters:

  1. Fakhitah bint Abi Talib
  2. Jumanah bint Abi Talib (Umm Hani)

Pre-Islamic era

The son of Shaiba ibn Hashim and Fatimah bint Amr, Abu Talib was one of nine children. His brothers were:

Asad ibn Hashim (Ali's maternal grandfather) Abu Saifi ibn Hashim Nadla ibn Hashim Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim (Muhammad and Ali's paternal grandfather)

and his sisters were:

Ash-Shifa bint Hashim, Khalida bint Hashim, Da'ifa bint Hashim, Ruqayyah bint Hashim, Jannah bint Hashim,

A full brother of Muhammad's father 'Abdullah ibn 'Abdul Muttalib, who died before Muhammad's birth. He was a scion of the noble Banu Hashim clan. As such, he held high status and respect among the Makkans, and owned a prosperous trading caravan business.

After the death of Muhammad's mother Aminah bint Wahab, Muhammad was taken into the care of Abdul Muttalib (father to Abu Talib, grandfather to Muhammad). When Muhammad reached 8 years. old, Abu Talib inherited his care as well as chiefdom of Banu Hashim as a result of the death of Abdul Muttalib. Abu Talib treated Muhammad as his very own son, and raised the young Muhammad with overwhelming love. Once Muhammad grew older, he began to work for his uncle, and he took responsibility for Abu Talib's son Ali ibn Abu Talib. Ali was among the first to accept the call to Islam.

The business sense Muhammad displayed while working for Abu Talib was one of the catalyst for his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid's (a wealthy trades woman) interest in him.

Muhammad's era — 570-632

After Muhammad began preaching the message of Islam, members of the other Quraishite clans increasingly came to feel threatened by Muhammad. In attempts to quiet him, they would lean on Abu Talib to silence his nephew or control him. Despite these pressures, Abu Talib did nothing but support Muhammad and defended him from the other heads of the Quraish. Muhammad passed from Mecca to Medinah because he was forced to leave. He came to Medina at 622 ce and died 632 ce.


Abu Talib died in 619 or 623 , at around the same time as Muhammad's wife Khadijah. This year was known as the saddest year of the life of the prophet, the Year of Sorrow.

In Nur-ul-Absar, the author mentions the date of demise of Abu Talib to be the first of Zilqada shortly about 8 months and 21 days after the removal of economic sanctions which had lasted for three years. Abu Talib and the other Muslims lived in the bare mountains of Makkah for all those times of great hardship. In Mawaheb-ul-Ladnia, the age of Abu Talib at the time of his demise is mentioned to be 70. . Abu Talib's grave can be found in Jannatul Mualla cemetery in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

After the death of Abu Talib, Muhammad under the threat to his life, emigrated to Medina.


Sunni view

Some groups among the Sunni Muslims are of the view that Abu Talib never took the shahadah, even though he loved the Prophet Muhammad very much and protected him in his mission. He may have even believed in his heart, however he never took the shahadah because he did not want to give up his old ways.

He said in a poem, "I do know that the religion of Muhammad is better than all other religions of mankind; were it not for fear of blame or slander, you would find me accepting it completely."

A hadees was narrated by Naajiyah ibn Ka’b that ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I said to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), ‘Your old, misguided uncle has died (he was referring to his father Abu Taalib). Who will bury him?’ He said, ‘Go and bury your father.’ [I] said, ‘I will not bury him, for he died as a mushrik.’ He said, ‘Go and bury him, then do not do anything until you come to me.’ So I went and buried him, then I came to him with traces of dust and earth on me. He told me to wash myself, then he made du’aa’ for me in words that were more precious to me than everything on earth.”

(al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, by al-Albaani, no. 161)

Al-Bukhaari (3884) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called his paternal uncle Abu Taalib to Islam when he was dying, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I will pray for forgiveness for you so long as I am not forbidden to do so.” Then the following verses were revealed (interpretation of the meaning):

“It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allaah’s forgiveness for the Mushrikoon, even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire (because they died in a state of disbelief).”

[al-Tawbah 9:113]

“Verily, you (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like”

[al-Qasas 28:56]

Al-Haafiz said:

“So long as I am not forbidden to do so” means, so long as I am not forbidden to pray for forgiveness.

Shia view

All of the Shia Muslims and a majority of Sunni Muslims as well, hold Abu Talib in high esteem, and vigorously deny any claims that he did not die as a muslim, citing the fact that in addition to the protection of Muhammad, Abu Talib also recited the Nikah of the Prophet. If Abu Talib was a non-believer, the marriage would be void, which was not the case..

Shi'a scholars also believe that such false commentaries and statements were fabricated as a part of the smear campaign which the Omayyads and their allies waged against Imam Ali. Shi'as think that by fabricating such traditions they tried these to convince people that Abu Sufyan, father of Muawiyyah was better than Abu Talib, father of Imam Ali, claiming that Abu Sufyan died while he was a Muslim and Abu Talib died while he was a pagan.

Among the main refutations of his supposed disbelief is the counter argument to the hadith relating to verse [al-Tawbah 9:113]. Whilst some Sunnis have argued that the verse was revealed to confirm the disbelief of Abu Talib, Shias argue that a historical analysis easily dispels such a notion. It is well established that Abu Talib died before the Hijrah, and that the verse in question was revealed after the treaty of Hudaybiyyah, more than 7 years later, thus making it impossible for the verse to have been revealed about Abu Talib.

Another proof is offered that Abu Talib was also married to Fatima bint Asad (mother of Ali), she was muslim all her life, yet how could she be married to a mushrik husband?

See also



  • Book of History by Ibne Aseer (Arabic)
  • Book of History by Aasam Kufi (Arabic)
  • Usool e Kafi (Arabic)
  • Bahar ul Anwar (Arabic)

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