An unknown story of Abdullah!

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Abdullah is an Arabic common male given name which means “Servant of God”. Prophet Muhammad’s father name also Abdullah who died in 21 ages before his son Muhammad born.

Marriage of Abdullah:

His father chose for him Aminah daughter of Wahb ibn ‘Abd Munaf who was the grandson of Zuhrah, the brother of his great-great-grandfather Qusayy ibn Kilāb. Wahb had been the chief of Banū Zuhrah as well as its eldest and noblest member but had died some time previously and Aminah became a ward of his brother Wuhaib, who had succeeded him as chief of the clan.

His father went with him to the quarter of Banū Zuhrah. There, he sought the residence of Wuhayb and went in to ask for the hand of Wahb’s daughter for his son. ‘Abdullāh’s father fixed his marriage with Aminah. It was said that a light shone out of his forehead and that this light was the promise of a Prophet as offspring. Many Arabian women approached ‘Abdullāh, who is reported to have been a handsome man, so that they might gain the honor of producing his offspring. However it is believed that, as decided by God, the light was destined to be transferred to Aminah through ‘Abdullāh after consummating the marriage. Abdullah’s father was the custodian of the Kaaba in Makkah. ‘Abdullah lived with Aminah among her relatives the first three days of the marriage. Afterwards, they moved together to the quarter of ‘Abdul-Muttalib.

Unknown story of Abdullah:

Abdullah (Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib) was son of Abd-al-Muttalib. Muttalib was leader of Quraysh tribe and excavated the ZamZam well. Muttalib took his favorite son Abdullah to sacrifice for Hubal who was top of gods in Arab areas. This story has been taken from Book-First Muslim by Lesley Hazleton. Prophet Muhammad knew this story since his childhood.

The grandfather was Abd al-Muttalib, the venerable leader of the ruling Quraysh tribe and a central figure in the short but spectacular lore of Mecca. As a young man, he had excavated the Zamzam well, a freshwater spring hard by the Kaaba sanctuary, which attracted pilgrims from all over Arabia. Rumors of the spring’s existence had existed for as long as anyone could remember. Some said that it had first been discovered by Hagar after she gave birth to Ishmael and that it had then been tapped by Abraham, only to be abandoned and filled in over the centuries, its location forgotten until Abd al-Muttalib rediscovered it. All sorts of miraculous things reportedly happened when he opened it up. By some accounts, a snake guarded the entrance so fiercely that nobody dared approach until a giant eagle swooped down to snatch it up into the sky. Others maintain that masses of treasure were found in the spring, from exquisitely wrought jewel studded swords to life-size gazelles made out of solid gold. But by far the most chilling account is one that will be hauntingly familiar to anyone who knows the biblical story of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son.

Since it was he who’d rediscovered Zamzam, Abd al-Muttalib claimed that the profitable monopoly on providing its water to pilgrims belonged to his clan, the Hashims, one of the four primary extended families banded together to form the Quraysh tribe. There were other springs in Mecca of course, but none so centrally located, none with such sweet water, and none with such a powerful legend. So it was hardly a surprise when the other Quraysh clan leaders challenged his claim to control its waters, thus questioning both his motives and his honor. What did come as a surprise was his response. He silenced his critics with a terrifying vow. If he had ten sons who survived into maturity to protect him and to uphold the honor of the Hashims, he swore, he would sacrifice one of them right there in the open precinct surrounding the Kaaba, beside the spring.

The vow cowed his critics into silence. The idea of human sacrifice was terrifying, all the more since it had surely come to an end with that ancestral legend of Abraham and Ishmael. Wasn’t that why the sole thing in the forbidden interior of the Kaaba was rumored to be the horns of the ram that had taken Ishmael’s place in that foundational act of sacrifice? Besides, there was no doubt that ten sons would be an extraordinary sign of divine favor. No matter how many wives a man had, the frequency of infant mortality and maternal death in childbirth made such filial riches all but impossible. Yet by the year 570, ten sons of Abd al-Muttalib had indeed survived. And according to ibn-Ishaq, quite magnificently. “There were none more prominent and stately than they, nor of more noble profile, with noses so long that the nose drank before the lips,” he would write, celebrating the feature so admired in a society that scorned snub noses, considering them as effeminate as the pale skin of Byzantine Greeks, referred to derisively as “yellow men.”

It was time for Abd al-Muttalib to fulfill his vow. A man’s word was his bond, and he had given his. He had no choice in the matter if he was to hold his head high. The only question was which son to sacrifice, and since this was an impossible choice for any father to make, the traditional way would decide for him. He would consult the totemic icon of the Quraysh tribe: the sacred stone of Hubal, which loomed alongside the Kaaba and acted as a kind of consecration stone. Oaths were made and deals sealed at its foot, vows of both friendship and vengeance solemnized in its shadow. And when hard decisions had to be made or intractable disputes settled, the stone served as an oracle. Approached the right way, Hubal expressed the will of God— of al-Lah, literally “the high one,” the great lord of the If he had ten sons who survived into maturity to protect him and to uphold the honor of the Hashims, he swore, he would sacrifice one of them right there in the open precinct surrounding the Kaaba, beside the spring.

The vow cowed his critics into silence. The idea of human sacrifice was terrifying, all the more since it had surely come to an end with that ancestral legend of Abraham and Ishmael. Wasn’t that why the sole thing in the forbidden interior of the Kaaba was rumored to be the horns of the ram that had taken Ishmael’s place in that foundational act of sacrifice? Besides, there was no doubt that ten sons would be an extraordinary sign of divine favor. No matter how many wives a man had, the frequency of infant mortality and maternal death in childbirth made such filial riches all but impossible. Yet by the year 570, ten sons of Abd al-Muttalib had indeed survived. And according to ibn-Ishaq, quite magnificently. “There were none more prominent and stately than they, nor of more noble profile, with noses so long that the nose drank before the lips,” he would write, celebrating the feature so admired in a society that scorned snub noses, considering them as effeminate as the pale skin of Byzantine Greeks, referred to derisively as “yellow men.”

It was time for Abd al-Muttalib to fulfill his vow. A man’s word was his bond, and he had given his. He had no choice in the matter if he was to hold his head high. The only question was which son to sacrifice, and since this was an impossible choice for any father to make, the traditional way would decide for him. He would consult the totemic icon of the Quraysh tribe: the sacred stone of Hubal, which loomed alongside the Kaaba and acted as a kind of consecration stone. Oaths were made and deals sealed at its foot, vows of both friendship and vengeance solemnized in its shadow. And when hard decisions had to be made or intractable disputes settled, the stone served as an oracle. Approached the right way, Hubal expressed the will of God— of al-Lah, literally “the high one,” the great lord of the sanctuary, who was so remote and mysterious that he could be consulted only through intermediaries.

Lest there be any doubt that these were matters of life and death, Hubal spoke through arrows. Each one would be inscribed with an option tailored to the specific occasion. If there was a question of when to act, for instance, three arrows might be used, marked “now,” “later,” or “never,” or with specific times such as “today,” “in seven days,” “in a month.” Invocations were then made and a sacrifice was offered—a goat or even a camel—and finally Hubal’s priestly custodian would bundle the arrows together, balance them on the ground pointing upward, and then, in much the same way as the ancient Chinese consulted the I Ching using yarrow stalks, let them fall. Whichever arrow fell pointing most directly at Hubal, the inscription on it would be the judgment.

This time there were ten arrows, each inscribed with the name of one of the ten sons. The whole city gathered to witness the ceremony, simultaneously excited and horrified by what was at stake. The murmur of anticipation swelled to a raucous clamor as the decisive moment neared, only to give way to abrupt silence as the custodian let the arrows fall. Everyone pressed in close, eager to be the first to hear which name was on the arrow pointing toward the huge stone, and when it was announced, a horrified gasp rippled back through the crowd. With the inevitability of Greek tragedy, the arrow pointing toward Hubal was the one marked with the name of Abd al-Muttalib’s youngest and favorite son, Abdullah.

If the father’s beard had not already been white with age, it would have turned white at that moment. But he had no choice. Not only was his own honor at stake, but so too was that of his clan, the Hashims. His other sons stood stock still as their father prepared to kill their brother. It was not for sons to question their father, after all, and besides, each may have been overwhelmed with relief that the choice had not fallen on him. If they still hoped for some sudden last- minute stay from Hubal, however, none came. They recovered their wits only when Abd al-Muttalib had already ordered Abdullah down on his knees in front of him and taken the knife in his hand. This may not have been what Hubal intended, they finally ventured. Its will might be more subtle than any of them was capable of grasping. Surely there could be nothing lost by consulting a kahin, one of the handful of priest-like seers—their title the Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew cohen—who could enter spirit trances and understand the mystery of their signs? And if so, who better than one of the most revered in all of Arabia?

The woman so famous that she was known simply as the kahina, the priestess, lived not in Mecca but in the oasis of Medina, two hundred miles to the north. The distance alone meant that Medina was to all intents and purposes another country, which was in itself an assurance of objectivity. The spirits that spoke through her were those of another people—not the Quraysh tribe but the Khazraj. Since only spirits could truly understand one another, hers might cast new light on Hubal’s judgment and thus free Abd al-Muttalib from his terrible vow. “If the kahina commands you to sacrifice Abdullah, you will do so,” the other sons persuaded him. “But if she commands something that offers relief, then you will be justified in accepting it.”

Father and sons saddled their fastest camels and were in Medina within seven days, bearing gifts for the kahina and her spirits. They watched anxiously as her eyes fluttered closed and she went into her trance; waited as her body trembled and shuddered with the force of the invisible encounter; held their breath as incomprehensible whispers and inhuman moans escaped her lips. Then there was the long, tense silence as she finally became still. Her eyes opened and slowly regained their focus on this world instead of another, and at last the faculty of human speech came back to her. Not with the expected words of wisdom, however, but with a strangely practical question: What was the customary amount Meccans paid in blood money, the compensation for taking a man’s life?

Ten camels, they replied, and she nodded as though she’d known it all along. “Go back to your country,” she said, “bring out the young man and ten camels in front of your sacred stone, and cast the arrows anew. If they fall a second time against the young man, then add ten more camels to your pledge and do it again. If they fall against him a third times, then add more camels and do it yet again. Keep adding camels in this manner until your god is satisfied and accepts the camels in lieu of the young man.”

They did as she had said, adding ten camels with every throw of the arrows against Abdullah. Time and again, the oracle ruled against him, finally accepting the substitution only when one hundred camels had been offered—an extraordinary number that had the whole city abuzz, not just with the news of Abdullah’s salvation, but with the idea that his life was worth ten times that of any other man.

That evening, Abd al-Muttalib celebrated. He had no need of a Freud to remind him of the deep connection between Eros and Thanatos, the life force and the death force, and moved instantly to mark his favorite son’s new lease on life by ensuring that it is passed on. Within hours of the camels’ being slaughtered, he presided over the wedding of Muhammad’s father and mother, Abdullah and Amina.

Some people would swear that there was a blaze of white light on Abdullah’s forehead as he went to his new bride that night, and that when he emerged in the morning, it was no longer there. Blaze of light or no, Muhammad was conceived either that night or on one of the following two, because three days later Abdullah left on a trade caravan to Damascus, only to die in Medina on the way back, ten days short of home. If anyone thought it an ironic turn of the spirit world that he should die near the kahina who had saved his life, none would comment on it. After all, arduous caravan treks over hundreds of miles of desert took a regular toll on human life. Accident, infection, scorpion sting, snakebite, disease—any of these and more were common on such journeys, so exactly what killed Abdullah is not recorded. All we are told is that he was buried in an unmarked grave, leaving his bride a widow and his only child an orphan in the womb.

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