Although ‘Abd al-Muttalib had many sons, not all of them were real brothers. They had different mothers. Prophet’s father ‘Abdullah and Abu Talib, however, were real siblings. Abu Talib loved his younger brother ‘Abdullah a lot. It is he who pleaded to his father to not slaughter ‘Abdullah, as we read previously.
Being Raised by Other than One’s Parents
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala summarizes the entire life of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in the few ayaat of Surah ad-Duha. He says, “…And your Lord has not forsaken you (O Muhammad), nor has He detested (you). And the Hereafter is better for you than the first (life). And your Lord is going to give you, and you will be satisfied. Did He not find you an orphan and give (you) refuge? And He found you lost and guided (you). And He found you poor and made (you) self-sufficient. So, as for the orphan, do not oppress (him). And as for the petitioner, do not repel (him). But as for the favor of your Lord, report (it).” (93: 3-11)
Known as the antidote of depression, look at the ayaat. Look at how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala comforts His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and after him every orphan child and the aching hearts.
Losing your parents and being raised by someone else is not a smooth journey. You have no idea how your guardians are going to treat you or how their children will behave with you. In such a situation, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gives us an assurance that the next life is going to be better. Things might appear bleak at the moment, but if Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has placed us in this situation then definitely He has a plan. And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is indeed the Best of Planners. Perhaps, we could not have been raised in the similar way in our parents’ house. Their unconditional love and kindness could have spoiled us. By separating us from them, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala wants us to grow and become independent. “For indeed, with hardship (will be) ease. Indeed, with hardship (will be) ease.” [ash-Sharh 94: 5-6] Whenever you feel constricted know that ease is right around the corner. This is Allah’s subhanahu wa ta’ala promise to you.
If people remind you of your pitiful state, don’t pay heed to them. Sometimes, those who are raised under the loving shelter of their parents are later deprived in their lives. And those who were taken away from their parents’ laps at a young age are blessed. Trust Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in His plans and be confident. It is on us how we look at our lives. Believe that one day Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will remove this hardship.
In the Care of Uncle Abu Talib
Uncle’s care was no different than that of the nurse, the mother or the grandfather. Despite having many children of his own and little means, Abu Talib did not consider his orphaned nephew a burden. A promise that he made to his father, Abu Talib remained by the side of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for as long as he lived. He refused to abandon the religion of his forefathers and embrace Islam, but did not deny Muhammad’s Prophethood or abandon his nephew despite their religious differences. He loved the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam too much just like everybody else loved him.
Abu Talib had great affection for his nephew. He would instruct his children to not eat unless little Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was present at the food spread. They would let him eat first because they had observed when they ate together everyone felt satisfied. But when they ate alone or without Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam there meal was deprived of its blessing. The food was insufficient and everyone felt dissatisfied.
Abu Talib’s wife Fatimah bint Asad cooperated with her husband in the upbringing of his orphaned nephew. Never once did the woman complain of rearing an extra child when they themselves had their hands full and little resources. In fact, it was she who saw the distinctiveness of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and had instructed her children to not start the meal until he joined them.
We learn that we need to open up our hearts and homes to the orphans and weak. Sharing our blessings does not deprive us of our joys, rather it’s a mean for enjoying more favors of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. While every Muslim knows of the kindness of Abu Talib toward his nephew, we should also remember a man cannot do much if his wife does not cooperate. Had Fatimah bint Asad radhiAllahu ‘anha refused to welcome Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Abu Talib could not have attended to his responsibilities of kinship.
We also learn that Abu Talib and his family were complacent with their little means. They did not complain to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala of their poverty. In a hadeeth the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said (paraphrased): The worst people of my Ummah would be those nurtured in blessings. They will ask for a variety of food and clothes; and will be unconscious of their speech. Because of the abundance of blessings they would not be complacent over anything. They will ask for one thing after another.
Isn’t this how we have become today? Our main concerns are: what to cook, what to eat and what to wear. Ramadan which comes to cleanse us of our distractions, is spent in trying out new recipes, new eateries and running to the shopping mall for ‘Eid clothing. We can look at our past Ramadans and see how much we were occupied with worship and how busy we were in kitchen, iftaar parties and in shopping.
It does not mean that one should not eat good food or look presentable, rather what it means is that food and clothing should not be our main concern. These are perishable things. Let us focus more on the life and pleasures of the next world. Do not consider yourself deprived if you are unable to eat a certain type of food, buy new clothing every season or go for vacations to a foreign country. Rather, we should all worry about the state of our heart and the condition of our emaan [faith].
Do you know, although Abu Talib died as an idolater, Fatimah bint Asad radhiAllahu ‘anha embraced Islam and died as a Muslim? She cooperated with her husband in the worldly matters, but did not leave her religion in his hands. She was an independent thinker and chose for herself what she believed to be true. Many women wait for their husbands to guide them in religion, if today women are competing in all professional fields along the side of men then there is no reason why they have to depend on their husbands to tell them a Qur’anic ayah or a hadeeth. There are many on-site and online religious classes available exclusively for women that women should and are encouraged to attend.