By: Professor Boless Salama
Between al-Qateef1 and me there is a connection. The cause of it is the epic of (Eid al-Ghadeer), which I have written about Imam Abul Hassan (Ali), and this book is about the father of Imam Ali. I have talked in the epic about the virtue of Abu Talib, the notable sheikh of Quraysh,2 who secured the Prophet (S) against his enemies and now I am just to preface this book with a swift word talking about the book itself.
The author began his book with showing the crimes of the Umayyads and refuting the accusations they ascribed to the Prophet's family. Neither he failed nor became his pen confused. And it was no wonder because whoever took the side of Abu Turab3 would be powerful.
The son of the castle of al-Qateef knew that he was in a fort, against which the enemies were so active but they always were the weak and the fort was steadfast along the time.
It was, well known that the author arranged the accusations in a skilled way and he exaggerated them in order to show their atrocity and to show the ugliness of the lies fabricated against the Prophet's family. In spite of his rush, the enthusiasm of the youth and the leap of his pen, nothing escaped him to follow the sayings of the great historians and the masters of Hadith and eloquence.
I think that the preface “At the threshold” was the defending-attacking front. The author thought to gather the fabricated lies, which collapsed easily and to show the opponent as band of Negro pigmies to let the greatness of Imam Ali shine like the light when the clouds dispelled.
As for the chapter following the preface, which was called “A house”, the author repeated in it well-known sayings. He was not to be blamed for that because he wanted to pave the way for showing the personality of Imam Ali. He brought this personality out as the axis of Quraysh and it was really so.
How nice it would be if he used a language better than the elegant style he used in describing the different scenes of the life of the man (Abu Talib). His eloquence didn’t ripen yet like most of the rising youth, but this branch, which grew on a large tree that gave much to the Arabic language, promised to give ripe fruits in the near future inshallah.
The author did well when he showed the personality of Sayyid al-Bat~ha’ ibn Shaybatul Hamd4 and cleared it, then he spread it throughout the chapters of the book and so the virtue of the guardian of the Prophet (S) grew side by side with the growth of the Prophet himself. The orphan (Muhammad) lived under the wing of his uncle (Abu Talib) when child and young. When the sun of the orphan shone, the uncle walked in its light. He was so loyal to his nephew; the son of Abdullah. He strived to sacrifice his money, his sons and himself for the Prophet (S).
In order to be fair to the author, we had to acknowledge that he was so skilled in his analysis. What confirmed this was his choosing and analysis of the verses said by Abu Talib that proved his faith, although he (the author) criticized the poets, whom the poetic license led them to say what they did not want. He pleaded with a saying of one of them: (They may find something beautiful even though it isn’t).
But the virtue of the poetry appeared in what he chose of the verses of the father of Abu Turab in the chapter of “Ash-Shi’b and as-Saheefa”5 where Abu Talib said:
They hope we give up but they will get nothing,
We strike and stab with our sharp swords.
… To the last of his verses, in which the firm faith, the burning heart and the furious sword mixed together.
Our friend did not miss the scientific classification in his book. You would see him detailing the evidences of Abu Talib’s virtue during his life, when he was about to die and when he was dead. Then the author talked about what happened after his death. He proved the witness of the Prophet, Imam Ali and the Prophet’s family about the faith of Abu Talib.
I thought that if the author had become a lawyer, he would have been among the leading group. He had good qualities of comparing and concluding. He could easily move from the premises to the conclusions and this would make him successful.
After all I am not to study and analyze because this is the job of the readers and the critics but just to preface a word about the book. The author could arrive at the aim he approached to; he researched, analyzed, refuted and defended.
The many advantages of the book might intercede for the few defects occurred in the wording but the form would not affect the essence. In this book there were many pearls and a few shells.
I think that in saying my opinion about the book I am nearer to fair severity than to flattering. Yes, between me and al-Qateef there is friendship but the truth is worthier to be said.
- 1. A place in the Arabia.
- 2. Quraysh was the greatest tribe of the Arabia at that time.
- 3. One of Imam Ali’s Peace upon Him surnames.
- 4. Sayyid al-Bat~ha’ was a surname of Abu Talib. (Ibn) means the son of. Shaybatul Hamd was a surname of Abdul Muttalib; Abu Talib’s father and the Prophet’s grandfather.
- 5. Shi’b means a mountain pass and saheefa means a book, a charter or a covenant, which usually written on a leaf or a piece of leather.