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November 11, 2007, 2:25 am
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Shaybah's mother, to let her son go with his uncle but she finally
realized that it was for the best. Al-Muttalib returned to Mecca,
entering the city at noon on his camel with Shaybah behind him. When
the people of Mecca saw the boy they thought he was a slave and,
pointing at him, called out 'Abd al-Muttalib', 'Abd' being the Arabic
Al-Muttalib told them that Shaybah was not a slave but his nephew who
had come to live with them. From that day on, however, Shaybah was
always affectionately called Abd al-Muttalib. On the death of al-
Muttalib, who died in Yemen where he had gone to trade, 'Abd al-
Muttalib took his place. He became the most respected member of his
family, loved and admired by all. He was, however, unlike those Arabs
who had given up the teachings of Abraham.
The Promise At Zamzam
The well of Zamzam, which disappeared when the Arabs placed idols at
the Ka'bah, remained buried under the sand.
The people of Quraysh, thus, had to fetch their water from far away
for many years. One day 'Abd al-Muttalib was very tired from doing
this and fell asleep next to the Ka'bah. He had a dream in which he
was told to dig up Zamzam. When he woke up he was puzzled because he
did not know what Zamzam was, the well having disappeared many years
before he was born. The next day he had the same dream, but this time
he was told where to find the well.
'Abd al-Muttalib had one son at that time, and together they began to
dig. The work was so difficult that 'Abd al-Muttalib made an oath to
Allah that if one day he were to have ten sons to help him and stand
by him, in return he would sacrifice one of them in Allah's honor.
After working for three days they finally found the well of Zamzam.
Pilgrims have been drinking from it ever since. The years passed by
and 'Abd al-Muttalib did have ten sons. They grew into fine, strong
men and the time came for him to keep his promise to Allah. He told
his sons about the promise and they agreed that he had to sacrifice
one of them To see which one it would be,
they decided to draw lots, which was the custom of Quraysh when
deciding important matters. 'Abd al-Muttalib told each son to get an
arrow and write his own name upon it and then to bring it to him. By
doing so, he took them to the Ka'bah where there was a man whose
special task was to cast arrows and pick one from among them. This man
solemnly proceeded to do this. On the chosen arrow, the name of 'Abd
Allah, the youngest and favorite son of 'Abd al-Muttalib, was written.
The father, therefore, took his son near the Ka'bah and prepared to
Many of the Quraysh leaders were present and they became very angry
because 'Abd Allah was very young and much loved by everyone. They
tried to think of a way to save his life. "Do not do so! Go to the
wise old woman of Yathrib and ask her for advice!", someone suggested.
'Abd al-Muttalib, thus, took his son and went to see what she could
Some of the Meccans went with them. "How much is the ransom in your
tribe?", the woman asked. They told her, 'Ten camels', for at that
time if one man killed another, his family would have to give ten
camels to the dead man's family in order to keep the peace among them.
So the woman told them to go back to the Ka'bah and draw lots between
'Abd Allah and ten camels. If the camels were chosen, they were to be
killed and the meat given to the poor. If 'Abd Allah was picked then
ten more camels were to be added and the lots drawn again and again
until they finally fell on the camels.
'Abd al-Muttalib returned to the Ka'bah with his son and the people of
Mecca. There they started to draw lots between 'Abd Allah and the
camels, starting with ten camels. 'Abd al-Muttalib prayed to Allah to
spare his son and everyone waited in silence for the result. The
choice fell on 'Abd Allah, so his father added ten more camels. Again
the choice fell on 'Abd Allah, so they did the same thing again and