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Al-Amin

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Al-Amīn (literally: the Trustee) is a title of the Prophet Muhammad (s), with which he was known years before his rise to prophethood. "Al-Amin" is a trusted person who is certainly not going to cheat or betray. According to historical sources, polytheists of the Quraysh never accused Muhammad of lying, although they denied his prophethood. One of the characteristics of the Prophet (a) for which he was known as "al-Amin" was his reliability in keeping valuable things with which he was trusted. Hadiths from the Shiite Imams (a) emphasize on the Prophet's being al-Amin, and in some ziyara-texts, he is greeted as "peace be upon God's trustee [al-Amin] for His messengers."

Definition

Al-Amin is a title of the Prophet Muhammad (s), with which he was known years before his bi'tha. "Al-Amin" is someone who can be trusted and who is certainly not going to cheat or betray.[1] In his book, al-Tabaqat al-kubra, Ibn Sa'd says: "as perfect as his good characteristics were, the Prophet (s) was not called in Mecca except as al-Amin." This goes back to the time when the Prophet (s) was 25 years old, which shows that he was known as "al-Amin" years before his rise to prophethood.[2] Moreover, according to a report quoted by al-Tabari, before the Prophet (s) received the revelation, he was known as "al-Amin" (trustee).[3] Ibn 'Abbas is quoted as saying that polytheists of the Quraysh knew the Messenger of God as "al-Amin" and knew that he would never lie. Notwithstanding this, they denied his claim to prophethood.[4] Enemies of the Prophet (s) admitted that he was "al-Amin" as it is reported that Abu Jahl admitted this.[5] According to these reports, the reason why they denied the Prophet (s) was not that they did not trust his words. Instead, their denial was grounded in family and tribal rivalries.[6]

As a Trusted Depositor

One characteristic of the Prophet (s) that led people to refer to him as "al-Amin" was that people lodged things to him in trust. There are numerous reports in historical sources that he was a depositor. For example, when (prior to his bi'tha) the Prophet (s) had commercial transactions with the capital of Lady Khadija and successfully returned from his commercial trip, she told him: "O cousin, I am proud of you for your honorable lineage, kinship, truthfulness, praiseworthy morals, and trustfulness among people and your own tribe." It was after this that Khadija proposed marriage to the Prophet (s).[7]

The Prophet was a trusted depositor to whom people lodged their valuable things in trust. When the Prophet was forced to leave Mecca and surreptitiously migrate to Medina, he recommended 'Ali (a) to migrate from Mecca to Medina only after he returns things people had trusted him with to their owners.[8] According to another report, in the Battle of Khaybar, Muslims were short in food. In the meanwhile, a shepherd who worked for Jews went to the Prophet (s), and converted to Islam after a conversation with the Prophet (s). He then told the Prophet (s) that the Jews had trusted him with their sheep, and asked him what he should do then that he had converted to Islam. In spite of the need Muslims had for food, he asked the shepherd to take the sheep to the Jews' fort and return them to their owners.[9]

Trusted with the Revelation

Prophethood is a trust of God, and the Prophet's (s) rise to prophethood is a clear indicative of his being "al-Amin." In hadiths from the Imams (a), it is emphasized that the Prophet (s) was al-Amin.[10] According to Nahj al-balagha, Imam 'Ali (a) said, "God sent Muhammad (s) to warn the world and serve as a trustee for the revelation."[11] In Tafsir al-Qummi, the Quranic verse, "one who is obeyed and is al-Amin as well," the word, 'al-Amin', is interpreted as the Prophet's (s) trustfulness. Imam al-Sadiq (a) is quoted as interpreting this verse as "his command being enforced by God and being trusted in the day of resurrection."[12] Also, in some ziyara-texts transmitted from the Imams (a), the Prophet (s) is referred to as "God's trustee on His messengers."[13]

Abu Talib, the Prophet's (s) uncle, is reported as addressing the Prophet (s) as God's Trustee (Amin Allah):

"You are trusted; God's trustee who has never lied, and you are [a] truthful [person] who has never acted upon his whims and has never said pointless things."[14]

Notes

  1. Dihkhuda, Lughatnāma, vol. 3, p. 3408
  2. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 156
  3. Ṭabarī, Ṭārīkh Ṭabarī, vol. 2, p. 290
  4. Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf, vol. 2, p. 18
  5. Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf, vol. 2, p. 18
  6. Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf, vol. 2, p. 18
  7. Ṭabarī, Ṭārīkh Ṭabarī, vol. 2, p. 281
  8. Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 1, p. 53
  9. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrat al-nabawīyya, vol. 2, p. 344
  10. Faraj Allāhī, "Amānatdārī-yi Payāmbar-i (s) raḥmat", p. 31
  11. Sharīf al-Raḍī, Nahj al-balāgha, p. 68
  12. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 2, p. 409
  13. Ibn Qūlawayh, Kāmil al-zīyārāt, p. 201
  14. Ibn Shahrāshūb, Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib, vol. 1, p. 56

References

  • Dihkhuda, ʿAlī Akbar. Lughatnāma. Tehran: Dānishgāh-i Tehran, 1377 Sh.
  • Faraj Allāhī, Faraj Allāh. "Amānatdārī-yi Payāmbar-i (s) raḥmat". Darshāyī az maktab-i Islām, no. 673, 1396.
  • Ibn Hishām, ʿAbd al-Malik b. Ayyūb. Al-Sīrat al-nabawīyya. Beirut: Dār al-Maʿrifa, nd.
  • Ibn Qūlawayh, Jaʿfar b. Muḥammad. Kāmil al-zīyārāt. Najaf: Dār al-Murtaḍawīyya, 1356 Sh.
  • Ibn Saʿd, Muḥammad. Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā. Beirut: Dār Ṣadir, nd.
  • Ibn Shahrāshūb, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī. Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib. Qom: ʿAllāma, 1379 Sh.
  • Mufīd, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad. Al-Irshād fī maʿfirat ḥujaj Allāh ʿala l-ʿibād. Qom: Kungira-yi Shaykh Mufīd, 1413 AH.
  • Qummī, ʿAlī b. Ibrāhīm. Tafsīr al-Qummī. Qom: Dār al-Kitāb, 1367 Sh.
  • Sharīf al-Raḍī, Muḥammad b. Ḥusayn. Nahj al-balāgha. Ed. Ṣubḥī Ṣāliḥ. Qom: Hijrat, 1414 AH.
  • Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr. Ṭārīkh Ṭabarī. Beirut: Dār al-Turāth, 1387 AH.
  • Zamakhsharī, Maḥmūd. Al-Kashshāf ʿan haqāʾiq ghawāmiḍ al-tanzīl. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿArabī, 1407 AH.