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23 October 2020

The Noble Lineage of the Prophet (saw)

Faisal Nazir
The Noble Lineage of the Prophet (saw)

The Prophet (saw) said, ‘Indeed, Allah selected Kinanah from amongst the descendants of (the Prophet) Isma‘il [as], He selected Quraish amongst Kinanah, He selected Bani Hashim amongst the Quraish, and He selected me from (the tribe of) Bani Hashim’. [Muslim]

The Messenger of Allah (saw) also indicated the purity of his lineage and stated, ‘I was born in wedlock and I was not the result of the act of fornication. Starting with Adam [as], up until my father and mother gave birth to me, I have not been touched by any of the acts of fornication from the Age of Ignorance’. [Tabarani] 

Many of us know about the life and stories of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw), but not much about his noble lineage, which can be traced back to Prophet Isma’il (as) and Prophet Ibrahim (as). In sha’ Allah this article will discuss the Prophet’s (saw) great-grandfather, grandfather and father and relate some significant stories from their lives.

Great-grandfather: ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd Manaf:

‘Amr ibn ‘Abd Manaf was the Prophet’s (saw) noble great-grandfather, but he is more commonly known by his nickname, Hashim. He earned this nickname after a time of famine when he was at the forefront of feeding the Makkans and pilgrims to the Ka’bah. He used to crumble bread into a meat broth (Tharid) and distribute it to the starving. 

The name ‘Hashim’ literally means ‘one who crumbles bread’ - thus, because ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd Manaf established the tradition of providing the hungry with bread crumbled in broth, his nickname became Hashim. [The Sealed Nectar]

One other narration reported that the word ‘Hashim’ comes from the Arabic root word ‘Hashm’, which means to save the starving, again referring to his actions during the famine in Makkah.

Hashim was also the first person to initiate the Quraish’s two trade journeys: in the winter, they would travel south to Yemen, and in the summer, they would travel north to Shaam. This later became the established practice of the Quraish, and Allah mentions it in Surah Quraish:

‘For the accustomed security of the Quraysh, their accustomed security [in] the caravan of winter and summer, let them worship the Lord of this House, Who has fed them, [saving them] from hunger and made them safe, [saving them] from fear. [Qur'an, 106:1-4]

Thus, in addition to caring for them during the famine, Hashim also contributed to the prosperity of the Quraish. Ibn Jarir (rh) comments on Surah Al-Feel and Surah Quraish, both of which mention how Allah protected the Quraish and the city of Makkah, saying, ‘It is as though He is saying, “You should be amazed at the uniting (or taming) of the Quraish and My favour upon them in that”’. [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

Hashim had four sons: Asad, Abu Saifi, Nadlah and ‘Abdul-Muttalib, who later became the grandfather of the Prophet (saw). [Ibn Hisham] 

Hashim passed away in Gaza, Palestine, where the Sayed al-Hashim Masjid currently stands in the ad-Darraj Quarter of the Old City. Thus, historically, Gaza was also called ‘Gazzatu Hashim’ which means ‘Hashim’s Gaza’. He passed away in the year 497 C.E, 74 years before the birth of the Prophet (saw).  

Grandfather: Abdul-Muttalib: 

Hashim had passed away while his wife, Salma bint ‘Amr, was pregnant, and she later gave birth to Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s (saw) grandfather, in Yathrib (the old name of Madinah). Hashim’s brother, Al-Muttalib, convinced Salma to send her son to live with him in Makkah, so he could ‘restore his father’s authority and live in the vicinity of the Sacred House’. [Ibn Hisham]

The name ‘Abdul-Muttalib means ‘servant of al-Muttalib’. According to narrations, when people saw Al-Muttalib coming to Makkah with a young boy, they assumed the boy was his servant and called him Abdul-Muttalib, and this became his nickname, though his real name was Shaibah al-Hamd. He got the name Shaibah because at birth he had a streak of white hair on his black hair.

As well as caring for his orphaned son, Al-Muttalib also took over Hashim’s duty of providing food to the pilgrims. When Al-Muttalib passed away in Yemen, Abdul-Muttalib took charge of giving the pilgrims bread, continuing this honourable tradition.

Feeding the hungry is also an essential part of Islam. The blessed act of feeding those in need is one of four deeds which will allow you to enter Jannah in peace:

As well as continuing his father’s tradition, ‘Abdul-Muttalib is also known for the prominent role he played in the Story of the Elephant, which took place in Muharram in the year the Prophet (saw) was born, 571 C.E. 

We’ll write about this story in more detail in a later blog, so stay tuned! Briefly, what happened is this:

Abdul-Muttalib’s camels were captured by the Abyssinian viceroy Abrahah, who also had plans to attack the Ka‘bah. After ‘Abdul-Mutallib confronted him on his way to Makkah, Abrahah laughed at his concern for his camels, telling him that he’s on his way to destroy the Ka’bah to which ‘Abdul-Muttalib replied:

Despite Abrahah’s huge army, which included elephants, ‘Abdul-Muttalib convinced his people not to defend the Ka‘bah. Instead, he instructed them to leave Makkah and pray to Allah to defend His House. And of course, Allah (swt) did not allow Abrahah to attack the Sacred Ka‘bah!

This year later became known as the Year of the Elephant, and was a sign of the Prophet’s (saw) birth. 

Father: ‘Abdullah:

In total, ‘Abdul-Muttalib had ten sons and six daughters. ‘Abdullah, the Prophet’s (saw) father, was known to be the smartest, most chaste, and most loved son of ‘Abdul-Mutallib. 

‘Abdulllah married Aminah bint Wahb, the blessed mother of the Prophet (saw) who was the daughter of the chief of Bani Zahrah. This shows that the Prophet (saw) had strong ancestral lineages from both parents’ tribes, which was vital in protecting him against the oppression he faced during his Prophethood.

Soon after their marriage, ‘Abdullah passed away. Some narrations say he went to buy dates in Madinah and passed away there. Other narrations say that he went to Syria on a trade journey and passed away in Madinah on his journey back. His death came two months before the birth of the Prophet (saw), leaving him to be born as an orphan. [Ibn Hisham]

Ultimately, although the Prophet (saw) had a noble lineage, he was born as an orphan. This is important because Allah could have sent His most beautiful and blessed creation as anything to this Dunya. He could have been extremely rich or he could have been a king. However, he (saw) was sent as an orphan, who was cared for by his grandfather and his uncle rather than his father.

Thus, caring for orphans was a cause particularly dear to the Prophet (saw): 

The Prophet (saw) said, ‘ I and the one who cares for an orphan will be together in Paradise like this’, and he (saw) held his two fingers together to illustrate. [Bukhari]

Sponsoring orphans is thus the perfect way to draw closer to the Prophet (saw). If you can’t give towards orphans every month, you can still give a one-off donation to the Orphans Fund, so be sure to take advantage of those rewards!

We hope you enjoyed this article about the Prophet’s (saw) noble lineage! We’d like to end with the du‘a of the Prophet Ibrahim (as), who prayed for the coming of the Messenger of Allah (saw):

‘Our Lord, and send among them a messenger [The Prophet Muhammad (saw)] from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise’. [The Noble Qur’an, 2:129]

As it is Rabi al-Awwal, many of us may feel even more conscious of the immense favour of Allah in sending us a Noble Messenger (saw) with the beautiful religion of Islam. We can only praise Allah for making us a part of the best Ummah and we pray He draws us close to Allah and His Prophet (saw), Ameen.


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Established in 1993, Muslim Hands is an aid agency and NGO helping those affected by poverty, conflict and natural disaster in over 20 countries worldwide.