Abu Talib

Good article since 12 July 2018
Priority: a, Quality: a
From wikishia
Abu Talib
Father of Imam Ali (a)
Al-Hajun Cemetery, Mecca, also known as Abu Talib Cemetery, where Abu Talib is buried.
Al-Hajun Cemetery, Mecca, also known as Abu Talib Cemetery, where Abu Talib is buried.
Full NameAbd Manaf b. Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim
TeknonymAbu Talib
Religious AffiliationIslam
LineageBanu Hashim
Well-known RelativesThe Prophet (s) (nephew)Imam Ali (a) (son)Fatima bt. Asad (wife)
Birth35 years before Am al-Fil/c. 535
Place of BirthMecca
Place of ResidenceMecca
Death/MartyrdomRajab 26, 4 BH/March 19, 619
Burial PlaceAl-Hajun Cemetery, Mecca
EraEarly Islam
Notable rolesHead of Quraysh • guardian and supporter of the Prophet (a) • Siqayat al-Hajj

ʿAbd Manāf b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib b. Ḥāshim (Arabic: عَبد مَناف بن عَبدالمُطَّلِب بن هاشِم) (b. circa 535 CE - d. 4 BH/619) known as Abū Ṭālib (Arabic: اَبوطالِب), the father of Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and the uncle of Muhammad b. Abd Allah (s), was among the nobles of Mecca and the Tribe of Banu Hashim. After Abd al-Muttalib, his father, passed away, he took the guardianship of Muhammad (s), his nephew, and greatly supported him during his mission.

The faith of Abu Talib has been a subject of controversy between Shi'a and some Sunni scholars. There is historical and hadith evidence supporting that Abu Talib was a Muslim. In the poems of Abu Talib, there are many verses which show his belief in Islam and the prophethood of the Prophet (s).

He passed away on Rajab 26, 4 BH/March 19, 619 and was buried in Mecca beside the grave of his father, Abd al-Muttalib, in al-Hajun Cemetery.

Birth and Lineage

He was better known by his teknonym, Abu Talib[1] although his actual name was 'Abd Manaf. Ibn 'Inaba considers the reports that name him 'Imran unreliable.[citation needed]

Abu Talib was born 35 years before the Prophet (s) (around 535 CE). His father Abd al-Muttalib was the grandfather of the Prophet (s), all Arab tribes regarded him as a nobleman and the preacher of Prophet Ibrahim's (a) monotheism. His mother was Fatima, daughter of Amr b. A'idh al-Makhzumi[2] who was also the mother of Abd Allah, the father of the Prophet (s).[3]

Family tree of the Prophet (s)
400 CE
'Abd al-'Uzza
'Abd Manaf
430 CE
'Abd al-Dar
464 CE
'Abd Shams
'Abd al-Muttalib
497 CE
Khadija (a)
Abd Allah
b. 545 CE
Abu Talib
Muhammad (s)
b. 571 CE
'Ali (a)
b. 599 CE
Fatima (a)
'Abd Allah
Al-Hasan (a)
b. 625 CE
Al-Husayn (a)
b. 626 CE

Wife and Children

Abu Talib had four sons. His sons in the order of age were Talib, Aqil, Ja'far and Ali (a). He also had two daughters, Umm Hani (Fakhita) and Jumana.[4] Some sources mention an additional daughter named Rayta. The mother of all of his children was Fatima bt. Asad. It is also reported that he had another child called Tulayq, whose mother was named Alla.[5]

Social Position, Occupation, and Traits

Abu Talib had two jobs which included serving hajj pilgrims and giving water to them in Mecca.[6] He was a merchand and he traded perfume and wheat.[7]

According to a narration from Imam Ali (a) and the reports of historians, although Abu Talib was a needy person, he was a nobleman of Quraysh and dear to them. He was known for his sheer grandeur and wisdom.[8] Regarding his generosity, it is said that, on the day he gave food to the needy, no one else in Quraysh gave food.[9] He was the first person who initiated the rule of swearing the guardians of the murdered in pre-Islam Jahiliyya era, and later Islam endorsed it. (see: qusama)[10] Following his father's conduct, he also had forbidden wine to himself.[11]

Guardianship of the Prophet (s)

Following the order of his father, Abu Talib took the guardianship of Muhammad (s), his eight-year-old nephew.[12] Accordingly, Ibn Shahrashub says "on his deathbed, Abd al-Muttalib (a) called Abu Talib and told him, "O my son! You know about my love for Muhammad (s) well; now, how will you observe my will about him?" Abu Talib answered, "Do not advise me about Muhammad (s) since he is my nephew and my son!" When Abd al-Muttalib (a) passed away, Abu Talib always gave priority to Muhammad (s) over himself and his own family."[13]

Moreover, Ibn Sa'd wrote that Abu Talib paid special attention to Muhammad (s) and showed more love to him than his own children, he provided him with the best of food and laid him in a bed next to his and always tried to take him along with himself.[14] Whenever Abu Talib wanted to give food to his children, he told them, "Wait for my son (Muhammad (s)) to come!".[15]

Supporting the Prophet (s)

Historical reports explain Abu Talib's unreserved support for the Prophet (s) against the pressures and threats of Quraysh. Although Abu Talib was 75 years old at the beginning of the Prophet's (s) mission, he expressed his support for the Prophet (s) from the initial stage. During his meetings and talks with chiefs of Quraysh, he formally announced his support for the Prophet (s).[16]

Heads of Quraysh offered Abu Talib to exchange the Prophet (s) with Ammara b. al-Walid al-Makhzumi, a handsome, powerful young man. He criticized and rejected them.[17] His support for the Prophet (s) was to the extent that he and his wife became like real parents of the Prophet (s).[18] It is quoted from the Prophet (s), "Quraysh feared me until Abu Talib was alive."[19] Al-Shaykh al-Mufid narrated that when Abu Talib passed away, Jabra'il came to the Prophet (s) and told him, "Leave Mecca since you have no support in this city."[20]


His poems exceed 1000 verses, known as Diwan Abu Talib. His poems confirm his support and acknowledgement of the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (s). His most famous poem is an ode called Qasidat al-Lamiyya praising the Prophet (s).[21]


There are many disputes between Shi'a and Sunnis over Abu Talib's (a) faith. The Shi'a school of thought believes that Abu Talib was a Muslim according to hadiths narrated from the Ahl al-Bayt (a),[22] while Sunni historians say that Abu Talib did not formally accept Islam and died as a polytheist.


There are different reports on the day and month Abu Talib passed away, but according to al-Shaykh al-Tusi , he passed away on Rajab 26, 10th of bi'tha (Rajab 26, 4 BH/March 19, 619). After mentioning the date Lady Khadija (a) passed away, Yaqubi believes that Abu Talib passed away three days later at the age of 86 or 90.[23] Some have mentioned his demise happened on the 1st of Dhu l-Qa'da (June 20) or Shawwal (May 22).[24]

On the day Abu Talib passed away, the Prophet (s) asked Ali (a) to perform the ghusl of the dead for Abu Talib and enshroud him while he (s) was very sorrowful and cried and prayed to God for Abu Talib's (a) forgiveness.[25] When they arrived at the burial place of Abu Talib, the Prophet (s) said, "I ask God for your forgiveness in the manner that all Jinns and people wonder."[26] He was buried in Mecca beside the grave of his father Abd al-Muttalib (a) in al-Hajun cemetery.[27]

The Prophet (s) called that year "Am al-Huzn" (Year of Sorrow).[28]

See also


  1. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 2, p. 288; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 121.
  2. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 2; Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 111.
  3. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 93
  4. Ibn al-Jawzī, Tadhkirat al-khawāṣṣ, p. 158-167.
  5. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 121-122.
  6. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 13.
  7. Ibn Qutayba, al-Maʿārif, p. 575.
  8. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 111; Qummī, al-Kinā wa l-alqāb, vol. 1, p. 108-109.
  9. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 2, p. 288.
  10. Nasāʾī, Sunan al-Nasāʾī, vol. 8, p. 2-4.
  11. Ḥalabī, al-Sīra al-ḥalabīyya, vol. 1, p. 184.
  12. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 1, p. 116; Bayhaqī, Dalāʾil al-nubuwwa, vol. 2, p. 22.
  13. Ibn Shahrāshūb, Manāqib, vol. 1, p. 36.
  14. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 119.
  15. Ibn Shahrāshūb, Manāqib, vol. 1, p. 37.
  16. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 1, p. 172-173.
  17. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 327; Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 1, p. 267.
  18. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 14.
  19. Ibn kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 3, p. 164.
  20. Mufīd, Īmān Abī Ṭālib, p. 24.
  21. Mufīd, Īmān Abī Ṭālib, p. 18.
  22. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 4, p. 31; Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān, vol. 8, p. 164.
  23. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 1, p. 354.
  24. Maqrīzī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 1, p. 45.
  25. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 35, p. 163.
  26. Ibn Abī l-Ḥadīd, Sharḥ Nahj al-balāgha, vol. 14, p. 76.
  27. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 29.
  28. Maqrīzī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 1, p. 45.


  • Bayhaqī, Abū Bakr al-. Dalāʾil al-nubuwwa. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, 1405 AH.
  • Balādhurī, Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā al-. Ansāb al-ashrāf. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1420 AH.
  • Ḥalabī, ʿAlī b. Ibrāhīm al-. Al-Sīra al-ḥalabīyya. Beirut: Dār al-Maʿrifa, 1400 AH.
  • Ibn Abī l-Ḥadīd. Sharḥ Nahj al-balāgha. Edited by Muḥammad Abū l-Faḍl Ibrāhīm. [n.p]: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Kutub al-ʿArabīyya, 1378 AH.
  • Ibn al-Jawzī, Yūsuf. Tadhkirat al-khawāṣṣ. Qom: Majmaʿ-i Jahānī-yi Ahl al-Bayt, 1426 AH.
  • Ibn kathīr, Ismāʿīl b. ʿUmar. Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1408 AH.
  • Ibn Hishām, Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Malik. Al-Sīra al-nabawīyya. Edited by Muḥyī l-Dīn ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd. Cairo: Maktabat al-Ṣabīḥ, 1383 AH.
  • Ibn Qutayba, Muḥammad. Al-Maʿārif. Cairo: Dār al-Maʿārif, [n.d].
  • Ibn Saʿd, Muḥammad b. Manīʿ al-Baṣrī. Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā. Beirut: Dār al-Ṣādir, 1968.
  • Ibn Shahrāshūb, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī. Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib. Qom: Nashr-i ʿAllāma, 1379 AH.
  • Majlisī, Muḥammad Bāqir al-. Biḥār al-anwār. Second edition. Beirut: Muʾassisat al-Wafāʾ, 1403 AH.
  • Maqrīzī, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-. Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ. Edited by ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd al-Namīsī. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub, 1420 AH.
  • Mufīd, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-. Īmān Abī Ṭālib. Beirut: Dār al-Mufīd, 1414 AH.
  • Nisāʾī, Aḥmad b. Shuʿayb. Sunan al-Nisāʾī. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1348 AH.
  • Qummī, Shayk ʿAbbās. Al-Kinā wa l-alqāb. Tehran: Maktabat al-Ṣadr, [n.d].
  • Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-. Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk. Beirut: Muʾassisat al-Aʿlamī li-l-Maṭbūʿāt, 1403 AH.
  • Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Majmaʿ al-bayān. Beirut: Muʾassisat al-Aʿlamī, 1415 AH.
  • Ṭūsī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Al-Tibyān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Maktab al-Aʿlām al-Islāmī, 1409 AH.
  • Yaʿqūbī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī. Najaf: al-Maktaba al-Ḥaydarīyya, 1384 AH.