The Parents of the Prophet (s.a.w.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from Shaykh ‘Ali Juma’ah, on the parents of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  There are those who say that the parents of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) are polytheists, mushrikin, and that they are in hell fire.  Love of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) is amongst the greatest acts by which one draws near Allah (s.w.t.).  It is enough to cite by way of review, the hadits of the Prophet (s.a.w.), “By the One in Whose Hand Lies my soul, none of you truly believes until I become more beloved to them than their parents, offspring, and all of humanity.”  This love is also counter to the feeling of wanting to harm and insult the object or person of one’s love.  Therefore, there is no doubt that negative talk regarding the parents of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) hurts him as Allah (s.w.t.) has Stated:

… but those who molest the Prophet will have a grievous penalty. (Surah at-Tawbah:61)

And also:

Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger ― Allah has Cursed them in this world and in the Hereafter, and has Prepared for them a humiliating Punishment. (Surah al-Ahzab:57)

Allah (s.w.t.) has Forbidden us clearly from hurting and insulting the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and has Reminded us in this by mentioning the story of the Israelites and their relationship with Moses (a.s.):

O ye who Believe!  Be ye not like those who vexed and insulted Moses but Allah Cleared him of the (calumnies) they had uttered: and he was honourable in Allah’s Sight. (Surah al-Ahzab:69)

Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) stated, “We do not say anything that is displeasing to Allah and His Messenger and we do not violate his noble state and insult him with words that he would find negative.”

The parents of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his grandparents, even if there is a sound tradition indicating that they engaged in something that outwardly resembles polytheism, are not polytheists since they were not recipients of a Messenger from Allah (s.w.t.).  The scholars of Sunni Islam, in their entirety, are in agreement that those who engaged in polytheism and changed the laws of Divine Monotheism between Messengers are not Punished in the Hellfire.  The proof text regarding this issue is in the Statements of Allah (s.w.t.):

… nor would We Visit with Our Wrath until We had Sent a Messenger (to give warning). (Surah al-Isra’:15)

(The messengers were Sent) thus, for thy Lord would not destroy, for their wrong-doing men's habitations whilst their occupants were unwarned. (Surah al-An’am:131)

Never did We destroy a population but had its warners ― (Surah ash-Shu’ara:208)

Proofs cannot be levied except when a Messenger was Sent to a certain people.  This is the creed of the true faith, the people of the sunnah, that Allah (s.w.t.), out of His Mercy and Generosity, does not Punish anyone until He Sends them a Messenger.  One might say, perhaps, that the parents of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) were given a Messenger, then they apostatised after firm proofs were established to them.  However, such a claim is not supported by texts, in fact there are many texts that refute this claim:

But We had not given them books which they could study, nor sent Messengers to them before thee as Warners. (Surah Saba:44)

… Yet (art thou Sent) as a Mercy from thy Lord, to give warning to a people to whom no warner had come before thee: in order that they may receive admonition. (Surah al-Qaswasw:46)

Nor was thy Lord the one to destroy a population until He had sent to its Center a messenger, rehearsing to them Our Signs: nor are We going to destroy a population except when its members practise iniquity. (Surah al-Qaswasw:59)

These texts prove that the parents of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) are not amongst those who are punished in the Hellfire.  Not because they are his parents, but because they are from the people of the period between Messengers which we have defined above.

Imam ash-Shathibi (r.a.) wrote, “It has become amongst His Sunnah that He does not take anyone to account for their bad deeds until a Messenger has been Sent to them.  If firm proofs have been established and delivered, then whoever desires, let them believe and whoever rejects, let them reject, and to each is an appropriate Reward.”

And then there is this verse:

… nor would We Visit with Our Wrath until We had Sent a messenger (to give warning). (Surah al-Isra’:15)

Imam al-Qasimi (r.a.) has said regarding the exegesis of the verse, “Otherwise it would not be right, rather it would be impossible according to our habits and customs which are based on clear wisdoms that we would punish a people before a Messenger be Sent to them to guide them to truth and to keep them away from darkness so that the proofs can be established for them without excuse.”

Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) stated, “Both the Qur'an and the sunnah have demonstrated that no one is taken to account for their misdeeds except after a message from Allah has been Sent.  So whoever does not receive a Message is not punished at all, and whoever receives a Message in total without the details they are not punished except if they deny that which has been demonstrated clearly from the Message.”

As to those texts that specifically reflect the state of the parents of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) as being one free of punishment is the Statement of Allah (s.w.t.):

And thy movements among those who prostrate themselves. (Surah ash-Shu’ara:219)

ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) said regarding this verse, “Meaning through the progeny of the children of Adam, Noah, Abraham until you were delivered into this world as a prophet.”

It is also on the authority of Watsila ibn al-Asqa’ (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Allah has Chosen from the children of Abraham, Ishmael, and He has Chosen from the children of Ishmael, Bani Kinana, and He has Chosen from the children of Bani Kinana, Quraysh, and He has Chosen from Quraysh, Bani Hashim, and He has Chosen me from Bani Hashim.”  On the authority of ‘Abbas (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Allah Created Creation and Made me from the best of them, from the best generation then He Chose the tribes and made me from the best tribe, then He Chose the families and made me from the best of families.  I am the best of them and from the best family.”

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), therefore, described himself and his lineage as being pure and the best, and these are two traits that are counter to disbelief and polytheism as Allah (s.w.t.) has stated regarding the polytheists:

… Truly the pagans are unclean ... (Surah at-Tawbah:28)

There are those who unfortunately hold an opposing view, citing two singularly transmitted hadits to support their claim.  The first is that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “I asked Allah that I seek Forgiveness for my mother and He Refused, and He Permitted me to visit her grave.”

And there is the second where a man asked. “O Messenger of Allah, where is your father?”

And the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) replied, “In the Hellfire.”   When the man left, he called him back and said, “My father and yours are both in the hell fire.”

As for the first text, there is nothing that stipulates that the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) mother is in the Hellfire as lack of Permission for seeking forgiveness for her does not indicate that she was a polytheist.  If this were the case, he would not have been given Permission to visit her grave, as it is not permissible to visit the graves of the polytheists.

As for the second text, it is possible that the Prophet meant his uncle, not his father, as Abu Thalib (r.a.) died after the commissioning of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and he did not become a Muslim.  It is commonly known that the Arabs call their uncles “father” as is found in the Qur’an when Abraham (a.s.) refers to his uncle as such by saying:

Lo!  Abraham said to his father, Azar, “Takest thou idols for gods? ...” (Surah al-An’am:74)

The father of Abraham was Tarih or Tarikh, as is mentioned by Hafizh ibn Katsir (r.a.) and others of the great Qur’anic exegetes.

If these explanations still do not satisfy our detractors and they hold to their claim that one should understand these texts prima facie, even though this understanding does not aid them in the first text, and if we hold the second text to mean that the parents of the Prophet (s.a.w.) are not saved from Hellfire, then we are still obliged to reject the two texts as they contradict clear Qur’anic verses as has already been discussed.

This is a well known principle as has been stated by Khathib al-Baghdadi (r.a.), “If reliable narrators narrate a text with a linked chain of transmission, it is reject based in certain conditions: if it contradicts a verse from the Qur’an or a diffusely congruent hadits.  If this is the case, then know that the text in question has no basis or it has been abrogated.”

This principle has been applied elsewhere.  For example, the following text: “Allah Created the earth on Saturday, and Created in it mountains on Sunday, and Created trees on Monday, and Created minerals on Tuesday, and Created light on Wednesday, and Created the animals on Thursday, and Created Adam in the afternoon on Friday, and Created the rest of creation in the final hour of Friday during the time between afternoon and evening.”  This has been rejected, as Hafizh ibn Katsir (r.a.) said, since it contradicts Allah’s (s.w.t.) Statement:

Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who Created the Heavens and the Earth in six Days … (Surah al-A’araf:54)

Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) has done the same thing with the statement of ‘Aishah (r.a.), “The prayer became obligatory on us two by two at home and while travelling.  The prayer of the traveller remained the same and it increased at home,” even though this text is agreed upon.

Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) said regarding it, “The prima facie meaning of the text is that the two units of prayer during travelling is the original prayer, not a dispensation in shortening, and the prayer at home is elongated.  However, this contradicts the text of the Qur’an and the consensus of the Muslims in it being named a ‘shortened prayer’, and whenever a singular text contradicts the text of the Qur’an or the consensus of the Muslims it is obligatory to leave its prima facie meaning.”

Let the detractors take either of these explanations: either a deeper explanation of the mentioned texts which is preferable as it does not entail leaving a text, or rejecting them since they contradict both the text of the Qur'an and the consensus of the Muslims.  In either case it should be clear that the parents of the Prophet (s.a.w.) are Saved from the Hellfire, as is all of his grandparents.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Grant us love of him, a sound knowledge of his rank, and our final prayer is all praise is due to Allah (s.w.t.).  Allah (s.w.t.) is Most High and All-Knowledgeable.


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