As Muslims, we believe that guidance comes from Allah. No human being can guide another human being to Islam. Allah did not give this power to anyone. I can preach. I can give lecture. I can come up with the best possible argument. I can persuade for hours. I can write articles after articles. But I can’t guide a person to the straight path unless Allah wills so. Whomsoever Allah guides, none can misguide. Whomsoever Allah misguides, none can guide.
I read a weak hadith somewhere which describes an interesting conversation that took place between Prophet Muhammad (سلم و عليه الله صلى ), the Messenger of Allah, and the Shaytan, the sworn enemy of humankind (May Allah’s curse be upon him). The Shaytan swore by Allah and told Prophet Muhammad (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) that he would have not left a single believer on the face of this earth had Allah had given him the power to misguide people. He can’t take the belief from the heart of the believers unless they themselves willfully throw the belief away. Such is the enmity the Shaytan harbors in his heart against human beings. The Shaytan then swore by Allah and told Prophet Muhammad (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) that the Prophets of Allah similarly would have not left any disbelievers on the face of this earth except making their heart accepting Islamic monotheism, had Allah given them the power to guide people. Such is the concern each Prophet had for the eternal well being of human beings.
So, the gist is: the Prophets and the Messengers of Allah can only call people to Islam, warn them, and give them glad tidings; they can’t inject the belief in the heart of people, no matter how much they want to see them accept the truth and enter Jannah (Paradise) in the hereafter. Similarly, the Shaytan can only produce whisper and delusions in the heart of people; he can’t take out the belief from the heart of the believers, no matter how much he yearns to drag people to the Hell fire along with him.
This is precisely the reason why Prophet Noah (السلام عليه) failed to bring his son to Islam. This is the reason why Prophet Lot (السلام عليه) failed to bring his wife to Islam. This is the reason why Prophet Abraham (السلام عليه) failed to bring his father to Islam. And this is the reason why our Prophet, Muhammad (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) also failed to bring Abu Talib to Islam.
However, there is a difference between Abu Talib’s rejection of Islam and that of the other persons’ mentioned above. While all of them mocked, insulted, or arrogantly rejected the truth brought by their respective Prophet, Abu Talib unlike them helped Prophet Muhammad (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) in propagating the message of Islam. Yet unfortunately, he did not have the luck to board the ship of Islam.
Who is Abu Talib?
Abu Talib is uncle of the Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ).
When the grandfather of the Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) died when he was 8, and there were no one to look after him, Abu Talib looked after him.
Abu Talib loved his nephew. He loved him more than his own children.
When Abu Talib went to Syria, he took the Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) with him.
When a Christian priest identified Abu Talib’s nephew as the Prophet promised by the Prophet Jesus (السلام عليه), and warned Abu Talib that Jews may kill him, Abu Talib immediately suspended his business and brought his nephew back to Makkah safely.
When the Quraish of the Makkah would go on extreme in their attack on the Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ), Abu Talib would resist them and give our prophet the much needed protection.
When Abu Talib learned that his own son Ali was ashamed to see him because he had accepted Islam, Abu Talib said, “Oh my son! I will not scold or smack you for what you have done. I have full confidence that my nephew will never ever lead you astray.”
Such was Abu Talib’s love for his nephew. Such was his loyalty for his nephew. Such was his confidence on his nephew. Yet Abu Talib was the man who would leave this world without entering into the fold of Islam.
When Abu Talib was in the stupor of his death, the Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) was on his one side. On other side were the leaders of Quraish. The Quraish were saying, “O Abu Talib! You are our honored leader. We love you. We respect you. If you accept the religion of your poor nephew in the last moment of your life, you will be known as a coward among us forever.” The Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) said, “O my dear uncle! Just say La Ilaha Illallah, just say there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. You do not have to acknowledge my prophethood. If you just acknowledge the oneness of Allah, I will at least have the right to supplicate for your salvation before Allah on the Day of Judgment. Oh my dear uncle! Just say La Ilaha Illallah.” No matter how much the Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) yearned to see his beloved uncle leave this world in the state of imaan (conviction in the oneness of Allah), the wish of Allah was different. Abu Talib was too afraid that he will be labeled as a coward. He was too worried about what his buddies would say if he accepts the religion of his nephew. Eventually he didn’t accept Islam, and died in the state of denial.
The whole world fell apart for the Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ). The man who loved the Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) so much, the man who cared for his nephew so much, the man who was more affectionate to his nephew than he was towards his own children, the man who protected the prophet from the vile attacks of the disbelievers like a house protects it’s inhabitants from a storm for 42 years, himself died in a state of disbelief. Can we imagine a more painful experience than this? I can’t. The Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) remarked:
“By Allâh, I will persistently beg pardon for you till I am forbidden to do so (by Allâh)”.
Allah, the most high and the most glorious, then revealed in the Quran:
It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allâh’s forgiveness for the Mushrikûn (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh) even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire (because they died in a state of disbelief).” [Al-Qur’an 9:113]
Allah also revealed:
Verily! You (O Muhammad سلم و عليه الله صلى ) guide not whom you like.”[Al-Qur’an 28:56]
While we all feel and share that pain the Messenger of Allah (سلم و عليه الله صلى ) felt at Abu Talib’s dying on the state of denial, we also have many important lessons to take from this sad incident. I have listed three such lessons below:
Do not take imaan for granted
Undoubtedly the greatest blessing that we have received from Allah is our imaan. Yet, most often we, especially those who were born in a Muslim family and naturally raised as Muslims, take this most prized gift from Allah as granted. How many times do we thank Allah for the blessing of imaan? Or have we ever thanked Allah for the blessing of imaan? Have we ever thought for a moment how blessed we are because Allah has guided us to Islam? If you have not thanked Allah for the blessing of imaan, hasten to thank Him right now.
Imaan should make us humble
Blessings of Allah either make us arrogant or humble. Some people become humble when they attain success whereas some become arrogant. Muslims should always be humbled whenever he or she receives a blessing of Allah, because Allah can take the blessing away anytime He wants. That is why we should always be humbled for the blessing of imaan. It was purely Allah’s mercy that we now possess imaan. We do not know if we will able to die with it. At our moment of death, the Shaitan will wrestle to make us throw this imaan away. Until we cross the line of death with imaan, we can never feel safe about our imaan. Isn’t this concern enough to keep a Muslim humble, and make him always work on his or her imaan?
Do not abuse imaan, take care of it:
I have seen in my life that whenever someone buys a new luxurious car, he tries to take good care of it. He drives it carefully, washes it regularly, and maintains it properly. Even a small scratch in the car makes his heart ache. If the blessing of a car receives such a good treatment, what treatment a blessing that is simply incomparable with all other blessings of Allah deserve? But unfortunate is the fact that the greatest blessing of Allah often ends up receiving abuse instead of receiving the best possible treatment. When we lie, backbite, or watch inappropriate things, our imaan receives a blow. Indulging in sin is like abusing our imaan. And abusing imaan means we have failed to give the blessing of Allah the respect and treatment it deserves, a failure which in turn makes us ungrateful. Allah, however, is the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving. Despite our persistence in disobedience, He most often does not take our imaan away. He gives us chance. So, try your best to take good care of imaan by doing worshipping Allah as much as you can, let alone abusing it.
May Allah help us to take good care of our imaan, nourish it, and guard it until we cross the line of death.
(سلم و عليه الله صلى ) = May Allah’s peace and greetings be upon him
(السلام عليه) = Peace be upon him.