Abdul Mutalib, the Prophets (SAW) grandfather vowed that if he had 10 sons then he would sacrifice 1 for the sake of Allah (SWT). As years went by he had 11 sons and he realized that he should fulfill his vow but he was not sure which son to sacrifice. Therefore, he decided to draw lots and the name of Abdullah (Prophet’s father) came out.However, the people did not agree that he should sacrifice Abdullah just because of a vow. Then some people of makkah advise Abdul Mutalib to go to a sooth sayer in Taif.I want to know what happened next?
Allah (SWT) says in the beginning of the third paragraph-
“THOSE ARE THE MESSENGERS SOME OF WHOM WE HAVE GIVEN EXCELLENCE OVER SOME OTHERS.”
This verse means that some Prophets are higher in rank than other prophets. However, we learn in a hadith that the Prophet (SAW) said-
“DO NOT SEEK PREFERANCE AMONGSTS PROPHETS” and in another hadith, “DO NOT GIVE ME PREFERANCE OVER MUSA.In other words, the above two narrations forbid giving preference of one prophet over another.
What is the explanation to this apparent contradiction?
In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful
When ‘Abdul-Muttalib had ten sons and they reached maturity, he disclosed to them his vow. Their names were written on arrows and given to the guardian of their goddess, Hubal. The arrows were shuffled and the arrow with Abdullah’s name was drawn.
Abdul-Muttalib then took Abdullah to the Kabah to slaughter him. His uncles, however, tried to persuade him from completing his vow. He then sought their advice as regards to his vow and it was suggested that he summon a spiritualist to judge.
It was ordered that arrows should be drawn with respect to Abdullah as well as ten camels. It was further instructed that drawing the lots should be repeated with ten more camels every time the arrow showed Abdullah. The procedure was repeated until the number of camels amounted to one hundred. At this point the arrow showed the camels. As a result they were all slaughtered instead of his son Abdullah.
Unfortunately, I am unable to provide sources for the above, however it has been stated in Rahmatul lilalameen that the Prophet (SAW) once said: "I am the offspring of the slaughtered two," meaning Ismail and Abdullah.
Many answers have been given to this seeming contradiction between the Ayah and the Ahadith mentioned above.
(1) The Prophet’s (SAW) sayings were before he was informed by revelation from Allah (SWT) of the excellence of some prophets above others and of him being the leader of mankind.
(2) The Prophet’s (SAW) sayings are based on humbleness and modesty.
(3) The prohibition is to stop individuals from having heated discussions and arguments in which they start saying that one prophet is better than another such prophet.
(4) The prohibition is in relation to the Prophethood since all prophets are equal in that respect.
(5) The saying was “general” (Aam) and the revelation was “specific” (khas). No prophet has excellence above another except by which Allah (SWT) has mentioned in the Quran. (Tafsir-e- Qurtubi, Vol 3. P250-252)
Allah knows best.
Darul Ifta, Birmingham.