By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
"The Lord of mankind, Who has no partner,
"The Liberal Giver, the Initiator, the Resurrector.
"Whoever is under the sky and above it are rightfully His servants.”
The above words are English translation of flawless Arabic verses composed by a primordial monotheist of the progeny of Prophet Abraham who passed away from the mortal this day of Ramadhan, leaving behind a persecuted nephew whose name, along with testimony of the Oneness of the Almighty Creator, would soon be echoing throughout the world several times a day.
He was survived by three persecuted sons, of whom the youngest was destined to earn immortality as the Barometer to discern faith from hypocrisy, and whose worthy offspring would in the end times establish the global government of peace, prosperity and justice on a planet cleansed of oppression and corruption.
He was not a Prophet, but to him goes the credit for guarding and grooming for the benefit of humanity the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind, whose universal message continues to win adherents worldwide every passing day.
He was neither an Imam, but to him believers will forever remain indebted for raising up for their salvation the Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Momineen), the Fulcrum of Faith, the Leader of the Pious (Imam al-Muttaqeen), the Symbol of Justice, and the Epitome of Valour, whose appointment by God as the Prophet’s Vicegerent would perfect faith, complete Divine favours for mankind, and approve Islam as religion – to the despair of the faithless (Holy Qur’an 5:3)
Who was he, what was his mission, and what was the source of his authority?
The answers could only be provided by those whom he had brought up to be the pride of the entire creation, or by the Last and Final Heavenly Scripture, which is the undisputable source of authority.
For instance, to quote his nephew, whom he had taken under his care as an orphan of hardly eight years and guarded him for the next 44 years until his own death in the state of the socio-economic siege imposed by the infidels of Mecca for refusing to renounce Islam and monotheism:
"The Quraysh could not raise a hand against me until (my uncle) Abu Taleb died.”
So deeply was Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) shocked at the passing away of his uncle on the 7th of Ramadhan that historians have unanimously dubbed that year as "Aam al-Hozn” (Year of Grief), since on the 10th of the previous Ramadhan (before completion of a year), he had lost to the cold hands of death that other benefactor of Islam, his loving and loyal wife, Hazrat Khadija (SA).
As a matter of fact, it was the death of Abu Taleb at the age of over 72 that emboldened the infidels of Mecca to plot the assassination of the Prophet – a plot that failed, as God ordered the Prophet to migrate undetected to Medina, leaving on his bed his dear young cousin, Ali (AS), the valiant son of his beloved uncle, to frustrate the devilish hordes that hovered around the abode of Divine Revelation.
It was thus Divine Will that as the Hanif or the Primordial Muslim of the monotheist legacy of his ancestors, Abu Taleb should be the vital link between Abraham the Iconoclast and his grand descendent and heir Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
A narration in this regard says that the Trust of God, descending through Prophet Abraham’s firstborn son Prophet Ishmael and after accumulating the blessed insignias entrusted to the line of Prophet Abraham’s second son Prophet Isaac that ended with Prophet Jesus, came to the safe custody of Abu Taleb, the uncle and guardian of the Last and Greatest Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
To corroborate this fact, when Imam Ali (AS) was asked who was the last Testamentary Legatee (Wasi) before Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), he replied: "My father Abu Taleb (AS).”
In the book Usoul Kafi it is recorded in this regard that when a person asked the Prophet’s 7th Infallible Successor, Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS), whether Abu Taleb had Divine authority over Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), he said:
"No, that was not the case, but it means Abu Taleb was the repository of the trust given to the past prophets and he was the medium for their transfer to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), whose Divine mission he acknowledged.”
It would repetitive to refer to the ayahs 28 and 29 of Surah Ghaffer pertaining to the "Momin Aal-e Firoun” or the True Believer of Pharaoh’s clan who concealed his faith in the One and Only God in order to save Prophet Moses (AS).
Nor do time and space allow me to dwell more on the other merits of the Shaikh al-Bat-ha (Senior Statesman of Mecca), who through the marriage of his son, Imam Ali (AS), with the Prophet’s Immaculate Daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA), built such an unbreakable bond with his nephew that his grandsons, Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS), were hailed by the Prophet as Leaders of the Youth of Paradise.
In other words, to the chagrin of the malicious offspring of the pagans that had opposed him and his nephew, it is Abu Taleb who is the paternal progenitor of the 12 Infallible Imams or Divinely-Decreed Heirs of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) – and subsequently of all Saadats (plural of Seyyed or a descendant of the Prophet).
Imam Ali ar-Reza (AS) in reply to a letter from Abaan bin Mahmood whether Abu Taleb was a Muslim: "If you do not believe that Abu Taleb was a believer, your destination will be in the fire.”
No wonder, years later in Medina the Prophet remarked to his prominent companion Jaber ibn Abdullah al-Ansari, as recorded by both Shi’a and Sunni experts of Hadith:
"During my Me’raj (Ascension to the highest point in the heavens and back to Earth in the fraction of a night), I saw 4 lights. Allah said: "This is your grandfather Abdul-Muttaleb, this is your uncle Abu Taleb, this is your father Abdullah, and this is your mother Amena.”
To end this brief column, I would like to point out that Abu Taleb’s real name was Imran, a name that instantly takes our thoughts to Surah Aal-e Imran (Family of Imran) of the holy Qur’an, which derives says in its 33rd ayah:
"Indeed Allah chose Adam and Noah and the progeny of Abraham and the progeny of Imran above all the nations.”
As exegetes note, of the three important persons in history named Imran, the first was the father of Prophet Moses (AS), the second was the father of the Virgin Mary (SA) – the mother of Prophet Jesus (AS) – and the third was Abu Taleb. Since the first two Imrans did not leave any lasting lineage there is no doubt that the most famous family, whose blessings continue to grow is that of Abu Taleb, as is clear by ayah 61 of this very surah which refers to the triumph in debate (Mubahela) of the Ahl al-Bayt over the Christians of Najran that had come to Medina to illogically argue with Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) about the alleged divinity of Jesus (AS).