The Blessed Tree: The Prophet’s Lineage-‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib

By Sheikh Idris Watts

‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib

His name was ‘Shaybah al-Ḥamd’ because he was born with a grey hair in the middle of his hair that hung at the sides of his ears. His parents saw this as a good omen that he would grow up to be a wise man. They added ‘al-Ḥamd’ to his name out of hope that people would give praise to him. Their hope was realised, as he was to become the one who Quraysh turned to in all their matters. It was also related that his name was ‘Āmir, but this is a weak position. He was known as Abū al-Baṭḥā’ or Abū al-Ḥārith. He abstained from wine and he was the first to take refuge in the cave of Ḥirā’[1]. He would ascend the mountain when the month of Ramaḍān entered. He would also feed the poor. He would also feed the birds and wild animals in the mountains and so he was famed for his generosity. The people would call him al-Fayyāḍ (Overpourer of Generosity). He was the first of Makkah to dye his hair black and then they followed him. He was nicknamed ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib because of an event in his childhood. Hashim had had three sons from different wives but none compared to Shaybah in terms of his qualities of leadership, good looks and eloquence that were noted by other people from Makkah when they travelled through Yathrib. His uncle Muṭṭalib was desperate to find someone in the family suitable for taking over the responsibilities of the Clan of Hāshim so he went to see for himself. He was struck by the boy. When he tried to convince Salmā[2] to give him the boy both mother and son refused. However, he managed to convince them that Shaybah would become the chief of Makkah if he was integrated into Makkahn life. He would not be accepted if he remained outside Makkah. However, he brought him back from his mother’s relatives, Banī Najjār, and Shaybah was walking behind him wearing tatty clothes.[3] Everyone in Makkah inquisitively asked who the boy was because of his state. Embarrassed, he said that he was his slave-boy. In another relation, they shouted out that he must be the slave of Muṭṭalib. On hearing this Muṭṭalib reprimanded them and said that he was the son of Hāshim. It is also related that his father Hāshim nicknamed him thus on his deathbed. He told his brother Muṭṭalib, “Go and bring your slave from Yathrib.” He said this out of endearment. He fell into dispute with his uncle Nawfal over estate, but was supported by his uncle and family in Yathrib and secured his rights. He took on the role of feeding and watering the pilgrims. He lived for 140 years.[4]

It is related that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said about him:

يبعث جدي عبد المطلب في زي الملوك و أبهة الأشراف
“My grandfather ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib will be raised in the robes of kings and the splendour of noblemen.”

[1] Related by Ibn Athīr
[2] Salmā was the daughter of ‘Amr b. Zabīd who was from the Tribe of ‘Adī b. an-Najjār al-Khazrajī. The Tribe of an-Najjār are maternal uncles of ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib.
[3] It is said that he was dressed in tatty attire because he had taken him suddenly without informing his mother or his informed her but took him immediately in fear she might change her mind.
[4] Some said 120

Picture: ZamZam TV

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