Prophet Calls Closest Kindred to Islam, Supported by Imam Ali, Abu Talib (13)
Story Code : 458163
Historians said that after the first three years, a new phase began, which was serious and difficult. It was the stage of public call to Islam which the Prophet (pbuh) started with two steps. The first was the announcement in front of relatives and inviting them to believe in his message. The second was the announcement before public, including the tribe of Quraish, and inviting everyone to Islam.
First call: closest kindred
After three years of confidentiality, Allah Almighty ordered Prophet Mohammad to preach Islam to his closest kindred, including Banu Hashem (Hashemites) and Banu Abdulmttalib (sons of Abdulamuttalib - the Prophet's grandfather:
"And warn, [O Mohammad], your closest kindred," Al-Shuara (124).
Upon receiving the divine verse, Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) asked his cousin, Ali Bin Abi Talib (as), to prepare a meal in order to invite Banu Hashem and Banu Abdulmttalib to call them to Islam.
All the invited relatives, around 40 men, accepted the invitation, including his uncles Abu Talib, Hamza, Abbas, Abu Lahab and sons. And although the food was not sufficient for even one person, all 40 men were full after eating the blessed food prepared by Imam Ali (as).
"By the one who has my soul in His hands, one man of them was capable of eating everything I offered to all of them," Imam Ali (as) said in reference to that the prepared meal was sufficient for only one man, but God blessed the food so that they were all filled and, strangely enough, the food had not diminished at all.
When they finished eating, the Prophet wanted to speak and to call them to Islam, but his uncle Abu Lahab (translated as 'Father of Flame') interrupted him and said: "This is magic and charms," in reference to the food miracle. and then all of the invitees left the place.
On that day, the Prophet didn't say a comment. Perhaps he wanted them to realize the difference between a 'miracle' and 'magic', because if the sufficiency of the meal was a matter of magic, the guests would feel hungry after leaving the Prophet's house.
Imam Ali the first to shoulder responsibility
On the next day, the Prophet invited them again, and the same reception was repeated and all the forty men were filled.
Then Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said: "O sons of Abdulmuttalib. Allah (SWT) has assigned me to warn you of the painful torments of the wrongdoers and to give you the good news of His reward to the pious believers. Become Muslims and follow me to achieve salvation. Allah ordered me to prepare this meal for you just like Jesus the son of Mary did to his people, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you - then indeed Allah will punish him with a severe punishment. Be afraid of Allah and hear what I am telling you. I swear by Allah Almighty (SWT) that among all Arabs I do not know anyone who has brought his people anything better than what I have brought you. I have brought you prosperity and salvation both in this world and in the hereafter. The Gracious God has commanded me to call you all to worship Him and said: 'Warn your closest kindred'."
Then he went on and said: "Now which one of you is willing to help me with this task? Anybody who announces his readiness to help me will be my brother, my successor, and the executor of my will."
Nobody answered but Imam Ali (as) who was the youngest. He stood up and said, "O Prophet of Allah (SWT). I am your assistant. I am your supporter." Yet, the Prophet asked him to sit down, and then he repeated the same saying three times but no one except Imam Ali (as) replied to him.
Then Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) pointed to Imam Ali (as) and said, "He is my brother, my successor and the executor of my will among you. Listen to him and obey him."
Then Abu Talib looked at Abu Lahab and said: "I swear to Allah, we will support him and help him." Then he turned to the Prophet and said: "O son of my brother, if you want to invite to your Lord inform us, so that we go with you holding our weapons."
However, although most of those who attended the meeting did not respond to the Prophet's call, but the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) came out of it with a definite pledge from Abu Talib to support him.
Public Mission sheds light upon several points:
First, the Prophet (pbuh) was ordered to call on the closest kindred to Islam before calling other people because the reform should start from the inside; and if the Prophet was able to attract his relatives, their support would help the promotion of the divine religion.
Second, if we assumed that Prophet's relatives were neither to believe in his message nor to accept his call, yet calling them to Islam before other could at least convince them to defend Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) for kinship.
Third, by calling on his relatives, Prophet Mohammad could detect the level of support he would enjoy, and the willingness of his internal structure to endure and stand by his side. Thus, he could estimate positions and make decisions on that basis.
Fourth, choosing Imam Ali (as) to prepare the meal among other Hashemite relatives, despite his young age, proves that Ali Bin Abi Talib had actually a great mind and consciousness, and was enjoying the virtues and characteristics. Therefore, he was the only one who responded to the Prophet (pbuh) and assisted him later on. Thus, the Prophet considered him a brother, a guardian, a minister and the successor after him.
Fifth, the Prophet's saying at his house was the first declaration about the succession of Imam Ali after him. The announcement of Imam Ali as Khalifa at the beginning of the call to Islam and the beginning of the prophethood states that these two posts (The Prophet and the Imam) are not separated from each other, i.e. both constitute one base and nothing can separate them, and that the Imamate of Ali Bin Abi Talib (as) is an extension and continuation of the prophethood and the divine Mission.