Abu Jahl

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Abu Jahl
Enmity with Islam and the Prophet (s)
Full Name'Amr b. Hisham b. Mughira al-Makhzumi
TeknonymAbu l-hakam
EpithetAbu Jahl
LineageBani makhzum
Well-known RelativesIkrima b. Abi Jahl (son)
Place of BirthMecca
Place of ResidenceMecca
EraEarly Islam

ʿAmr b. Hishām b. Mughīra l-Makhzūmī (Arabic: عمرو بن هشام بن مغيرة المخزومي), known as Abu Jahl (Arabic: أبو جَهل), (d. 2/624), was an antagonist of the Prophet (s) and Islam in Mecca. His attempts against Islam and Muslims included plotting the Prophet’s murder, imposing tortures against those who converted to Islam, preventing Quranic verses from being heard by people, insulting the Prophet (s), trying to cut the relation between the Quraysh and Banu Hashim, and preparing the ground for the Battle of Badr. Quranic exegetes have talked about him under about thirty verses of the Quran.

Abu Jahl played a crucial role in the initiation of the Battle of Badr. He was killed in this battle as part of the polytheist army.

Lineage, Kunya, and Title

'Amr b. Hisham b. Mughira was an antagonist and enemy of the Prophet (s).[1] His father, Hisham b. Mughira was from the Banu Makhzum clan, whose death was the origin of the Quraysh calendar.[2] His mother, Asma' bt. Mukhriba b. al-Jandal al-Hanzali from Banu Tamim.[3] For this reason, he is also called Ibn Hanzaliyya.[4]

Abu Jahl’s kunya was Abu l-Hakam, but the Prophet (s) called him "Abu Jahl"[5] (literally: father of ignorance) because of his ignorance and hostility toward Islam.[6] Moreover, there is a hadith from the Prophet (s) to the effect that Abu Jahl was the pharaoh of the Islamic nation.[7]

'Ikrima b. Abi Jahl was his son, who also showed hostility toward the Prophet (s), but after the Conquest of Mecca, he converted to Islam.[8]

Opposition to Islam

Abu Jahl was hostile toward the Prophet (s) and blasphemed[9] and insulted him in one way or another.[10] Moreover, Abu Jahl and his hostilities toward Islam and the Prophet (s) are said to be occasions of the revelation of certain Quranic verses.[11] In the Encyclopedia of the Quran, 32 Quranic verses are mentioned, which exegetes believe are about him.[12] He made efforts to prevent the spread of Islam, including:

Preventing Quranic Verses from Being Heard by People

In his exegesis of the verse, "The faithless say, 'Do not listen to this Quran and hoot it down so that you may prevail [over the Apostle],'"[13] Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Qurtubi quotes Ibn 'Abbas as saying that whenever the Prophet (s) recited the Quran, Abu Jahl asked people to shout so that the Prophet (s) could not be heard.[14]

Plotting the Prophet’s Murder

According to 'Abd al-Malik b. Hisham, polytheists of Mecca gathered in Dar al-Nadwa to decide about how to deal with the Prophet (s). Everyone made their suggestion. Abu Jahl suggested that the Prophet (s) be killed, but all tribes had to collaborate in his murder so that Banu Hashim could not fight all tribes and would rest content with his blood money. His suggestion was accepted. In Laylat al-Mabit, a person from each tribe participated to actualize the plot. Abu Jahl was among them and encouraged others, but the machination was frustrated since the Prophet (s) had left his house and Imam 'Ali (a) slept in his bed.[15] Abu Jahl had become a member of Dar al-Nudwa at the age of thirty, whereas members of Dar al-Nudwa, except for Banu Qusayy, were required to be at least forty years old.[16]

Tormenting and Threatening Newly Converted Muslims

Abu Jahl prevented people from conversion to Islam.[17] When someone converted to Islam, he threatened or tortured him until he gave up on Islam.[18] Bilal b. Rabah[19], Yasir b. 'Amir, and Sumayya bt. Khabbat, among others, were tortured by him because they had embraced Islam and supported the Prophet (s). Sumayya was martyred under his tortures.[20] Moreover, he returned his maternal brother 'Ayyash b. Abu Rabiʿa, who had departed toward Medina to join Muslim migrants, from Quba to Mecca, where he imprisoned him.[21] According to historical accounts, Abu Jahl had various plots in dealing with newly converted Muslims. If the convert had a social position, he humiliated and insulted him; if he was a merchant, he threatened to boycott his business and destroy his capital, and if he was impoverished, he tortured and persecuted him.[22]

Furthermore, Abu Jahl tried to cut the relationship between the Quraysh and Banu Hashim.[23] He prevented provisions from being supplied to Banu Hashim in the Valley of Abu Talib.[24]

Initiation of the Battle of Badr

According to historical sources, Abu Jahl played a crucial role in the initiation of the Battle of Badr. Before the outbreak of this war, the Prophet (s) cursed him and Zama'a b. al-Aswad for their insistence on the war.[25] In 2/624, a caravan from the Quraysh, headed by Abu Sufyan, was threatened by Muslims. He asked the Quraysh for help, and then Abu Jahl left Mecca along with an army to support him. Although the caravan could go on its path, Abu Jahl insisted that the army of Mecca had to move toward the wells of Badr,[26] where the Battle of Badr occurred between them and the Muslim army. The Meccan army was defeated by Muslims, and Abu Jahl, along with a number of senior figures of the Quraysh were killed.[27] Abu Jahl was killed in the hands of Ma'adh b. 'Amr and the sons of 'Afra'. He was beheaded by 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud.[28]


  1. Ibn Isḥāq, Al-Sīyar wa al-maghāzī, p. 145
  2. Ibn Ḥabīb Baghdādī, Al-Muḥabbar, p. 139.
  3. Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīrat al-Nabī, vol. 1, p. 623.
  4. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.1, p. 291.
  5. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.1, p. 125.
  6. Ibn Durayd, Kitāb al-ishtiqāq, p. 148.
  7. Ibn Isḥāq, Al-Sīyar wa al-maghāzī, p. 210.
  8. Ibn al-Jawzī, Al-Muntaẓam, vol. 4, p. 155-156.
  9. Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīrat al-Nabī, vol. 1, p. 98 and 299.
  10. Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīrat al-Nabī, vol. 1, p. 291.
  11. Wāḥidī, Asbāb al-nuzūl al-Qurʾān, p. 487; Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, vol. 22, p. 99.
  12. ʾaʿlām-i Qurʾān, vol. 1, p. 381-391.
  13. وَقَالَ الَّذِینَ کفَرُ‌وا لَا تَسْمَعُوا لِهَٰذَا الْقُرْ‌آنِ وَالْغَوْا فِیهِ لَعَلَّکمْ تَغْلِبُونَ
  14. Qurṭubī, Tafsīr al-Qurtubī, vol. 15, p. 356.
  15. Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīrat al-Nabī, vol. 1, p. 482-483.
  16. Ibn Durayd, al-ishtiqāq, p. 155.
  17. Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīrat al-Nabī, vol. 1, p. 320.
  18. Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīrat al-Nabī, vol. 1, p. 320.
  19. Ibn Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, vol. 1, p. 263.
  20. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, Al-Istīʿāb, vol. 4, p. 1865.
  21. Ibn Saʿd, Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 4, p. 96.
  22. Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīrat al-Nabī, vol. 1, p. 279.
  23. Ibn Hishām, Al-Sīrat al-Nabī, vol. 1, p. 353-354.
  24. Ibn Isḥāq, Al-Sīyar wa al-maghāzī, p. 161
  25. Wāqidī, Al-Maghāzī, vol. 1, p. 46.
  26. Wāqidī,Al-Maghāzī, vol. 1, p. 37.
  27. Wāqidī, Al-Maghāzī, vol. 1, p. 89-91.
  28. Wāqidī, Al-Maghāzī, vol. 1, p. 91.


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