The general mass has been confused by the shias whether the uncle of our Beloved Prophet SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam, Abu Talib recited the Shahadah or not. As the Shias say that he conducted the nikah of The Beloved Prophet SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam with Sayyidah Khadijah RadiAllahu Anha.
Can you please tell us with detail about the belief of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah about Abu Talib’s religion? And can we call Abu Talib as ‘Hazrat Abu Talib’ for respect?
May Allah Bless You In Abundance For The Answer. Jazak-Allah
All scholars agree that Abu Talib, the uncle of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, took care of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and dearly loved him more than his own children. However, although he was close to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, he did not accept Islam and thus died as a kafir. This is the belief of the majority of the scholars of the Ahl al-Sunnah and is proven from the verses of the Qur’an and authentic Ahadith.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Indeed it is not such that you can guide whomever you love, but Allah guides whomever He wills; and He well knows the people upon guidance.” [Qur’an 28:56]
It is the consensus of the exegetes [mufassireen] that this verse was revealed regarding Abu Talib. It is in Ma’alim al-Tanzeel (Tafsir al-Baghawi), “It was revealed regarding Abu Talib,” it is in Madarik al-Tanzeel (Tafsir al-Nasafi), “Zajjaj said that it is the consensus of the exegetes that this verse was revealed regarding Abu Talib.” Imam Nawawi in his Sharh Muslim wrote similar to this.
The Hadith mentions the reason of revelation of the aforementioned verse [28:56]. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to his uncle at the time of his death, ‘say there is none worthy of worship but Allah and I will bear testimony for you on the Day of Reckoning’. He (Abu Talib) said, ‘Were it not the fear of the Quraysh blaming me, saying that it was the anxiety of (approaching death) that induced me to do so, I would have certainly delighted your eyes.’ It was then that Allah revealed, ‘Indeed it is not such that you can guide whomever you love, but Allah guides whomever He wills.’ [Qur’an 28:56] [Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman]
In another verse of the Qur’an, Allah says:
“It is not for the Prophet and those who believe, to pray for the forgiveness of polytheists even if they were their relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are the people of hell.” [Qur’an 9:113]
It is stated in Tafsir al-Nasafi, “The Messenger of Allah intended to ask for the forgiveness of Abu Talib, so this verse was revealed that ‘it is not for the Prophet.’” Similarly, it is in Tafsir al-Jalalayn, “It was revealed because of the Messenger of Allah’s asking for forgiveness for his uncle, Abu Talib.”
The Hadith mentions the reason of revelation of both the aforesaid verses; Sa’eed bin al-Musaiyab narrated, “When Abu Talib was on his death bed, the Messenger of Allah came to him and found with him - Abu Jahl and Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya bin al-Mughira. The Messenger of Allah said, “O uncle! Say, none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, a sentence with which I will defend you before Allah.” On that Abu Jahl and Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya said to Abu Talib, “Will you now leave the religion of Abdul Muttalib?” The Messenger of Allah kept on inviting him to say that sentence while the other two kept on repeating their sentence before him till Abu Talib said as the last thing he said to them, “I am on the religion of ‘Abdul Muttalib,” and refused to say, None has the right to be worshipped except Allah. On that the Messenger of Allah said, “By Allah, I will keep on asking Allah’s forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden (by Allah) to do so.” So Allah revealed, “It is not for the Prophet and those who believe, to pray for the forgiveness of polytheists even if they were their relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are the people of hell.” [Qur’an 9:113] And then Allah specifically revealed about Abu Talib ‘Indeed it is not such that you can guide whomever you love, but Allah guides whomever He wills.’” [Qur’an 28:56] [Sahih Bukhari: Kitab al-Janaiz, Kitab al-Manaqib, Kitab al-Tafseer – Surah al-Bara’ah and Surah al-Qasas, Sahih Muslim: Kitab al-Iman, Sunan al-Nasa’i: Kitab al-Janaiz].
In another verse, Allah says:
“And they stop [others] from him (the Messenger of Allah) and run away from him; and they ruin none except themselves, and they do not have sense.” [Qur’an 6:26]
It is stated in Tafsir al-Baghawi, “Ibn Abbas and Maqatil said that this verse was revealed regarding Abu Talib. He would prohibit and prevent others from hurting the Prophet, yet he himself stayed far from bringing faith in the Prophet.” Similar is stated in al-Durr al-Manthur.
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri narrated, “A mention was made of his uncle, Abu Talib in front of the Messenger of Allah. He said, I anticipate that my intercession will benefit him on the Day of Resurrection that he will be placed in the shallow part of the Fire which will reach his ankles and his brain will boil.” [Sahih Bukhari: Kitab Manaqib al-Ansar, Sahih Muslim: Kitab al-Iman, Ahmad: Ann Abi Sa’eed al-Khudri].
Sayyiduna Ali narrated, “I said to the Messenger of Allah, O Messenger of Allah! Your uncle, the old and the misguided has died. The Messenger of Allah said, go and bury him.” [Nasb al-Rayah, Sunan Abu Daud, Ahmad, al-Sunan al-Kubra].
The version of Ibn Abi Shaybah is, Sayyiduna Ali narrated, “Your uncle, the old kafir has died, what is your view? (i.e. what should be done). The Messenger of Allah said, wash him and bury him.” [al-Musannaf li-Ibn Abi Shaybah]
The version of Imam Shafa’i adds after the words ‘wash him and bury him’, “I (Sayyiduna Ali) said, O Messenger of Allah! He died as a Mushrik [polytheist]. The Messenger of Allah said, go and bury him.” [Nasb al-Rayah]
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not object to Sayyiduna Ali when he used the terms ‘kafir,’ ‘Mushrik’ and ‘misguided’ for his own father, Abu Talib. Neither did the Messenger of Allah ﷺ order Sayyiduna Ali to conduct the Janazah prayer nor did the Messenger of Allah ﷺ conduct the Janazah prayer himself. If Abu Talib died as a Muslim, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would have ordered or conducted the Janazah prayer like he did for the wife of Abu Talib, Fatimah bint Asad, who left this world as a Muslim.
Al-Imam al-A’zam states in al-Fiqh al-Akbar, “His [the Messenger of Allah’s] uncle, Abu Talib died a kafir.”
When the Messenger of Allah ﷺ proclaimed Prophethood, four uncles were alive; Sayyiduna Hamzah, Sayyiduna Abbas, Abu Talib and Abu Lahb. The scholars agree that from them only the former two became Muslim, the latter two did not.
Shaykh Abdul Haq states in Madarij al-Nubuwwah, “Authentic narrations have established the kufr of Abu Talib.” Shaykh Abdul Haq also states in Sharh Safr al-Sa’adah, “The view of the scholars of Hadith and the Scholars of the Sunnah is that the Iman of Abu Talib is not proven. Authentic narrations mention that at the time of the death of Abu Talib, the Messenger of Allah came to him and presented Islam (i.e. asked him to accept Islam) however he did not accept.”
It is in Naseem al-Riyad, “Abu Talib died on kufr, and the false claim of some Rafdis that he became a Muslim is baseless.”
It is written in Mirqat Sharh Miskhat, “According to the Ahl al-Sunnah, Abu Talib is not a believer.”
Abu Talib leading the nikah of the Prophet ﷺ to Sayyidah Khadijah is not sufficient evidence to prove his Iman, especially when there are authentic narrations that oppose the Iman of Abu Talib. At the time of the nikah of the Prophet ﷺ with Sayyidah Khadijah, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was 25 years old. The Prophet ﷺ announced Prophethood at the age 40, thus the nikah to Sayyidah Khadija was conducted 15 years before the announcement of Prophethood. The rules of Islam were not in place, as Prophethood was not announced and the revelation of the Qur’an had not yet started. Hence, even if a kafir led the nikah, it was correct as it was not forbidden by Islam. In fact, even now, according to the Shari’at, if a kafir prays the Khutbah or conducts the Nikah, as long as the man and woman complete Ijab and Qabool, and there are a minimum of two witnesses present, the Nikah is complete.
If ‘Hazrat’ is used with the intention of praise or respect then he is mistaken, as it has been clarified that the correct opinion is that Abu Talib died a disbeliever.
Although a few have the opinion that Abu Talib died a believer, it is the correct and preferred opinion that he died a disbeliever according to the overwhelming majority of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah.
For more details, refer to the comprehensive treatise of Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza, Sharhu al-Matalib Fi Mabhathi Abi Talib.
And Allah knows best.
Muhammad Kalim (Preston, UK)
Verified by Mufti Zahid Hussain al-Qadri