The deaths of the two friends, Khadija and Abu Talib, shocked the Holy Prophet (saww). He called that year, A.D. 619, “The Year of Sorrow”. These two personalities were great benefactors of Islam and Mohammad (PBUH&HF). While Sayyidah Khadijah was the only true friend, companion and comforter in his life, Abu Talib had raised Mohammad (saww) himself and was his only guardian and protector.
The deaths of these two occurred after the end of the three year boycott of Mohammad (saww) and his clan. In this boycott the Meccans had openly revealed their hatred against the Prophet (saww) and his supporters, forcing them to retreat to a ravine in the outskirts of Mecca. During this boycott the conditions were such that continuous attempts were made at the life of the Prophet and food was so scarce that at times they were forced to survive by eating leaves.
During those three enduring years, all of the wealth of Sayyidah Khadija, the queen of Arabia, had been drained in secretly trying to feed the members of the clan and buying them essentials such as water and clothing. When she died, there was not enough money in the house to buy a shroud. She was given burial in a cloak of her husband. The Prophet never married another woman as long as Khadija lived, and after her death, Allah placed her in the rank of four perfect women in the Holy Quran. Khadija died on the 10th of Ramadan of the 10th year of the Proclamation of Islam. After the burial, the Apostle himself smoothed the earth on her grave.
The safety of the Prophet of Islam was also important during the boycott and Abu Talib took charge of that. It is said that at nights Abu Talib used to switch the Prophet’s bed with his own sons’ beds, so as to trick the enemies who were openly revolting against him. Abu Talib was a fervent believer in Islam, a fact which is doubted by some Muslims. His attachment, though, to Islam is pointed out by his consistency, and by the logic of facts. No man can love Muhammad and idolatry at the same time and if there is any one thing beyond any doubt in the history of Islam, it is Abu Talib’s love for Muhammad. Abu Talib and his wife, Fatima bint Asad, loved Muhammad more than they loved their own children. Both husband and wife were ready to sacrifice their sons for Muhammad. Such love could have only one source and that is trust in Muhammad and faith in Islam. Abu Talib’s wife, Fatima bint Asad, the foster-mother of Muhammad, was the second woman to accept Islam, the first being Khadija.
The year 619 turned out to be a year of sorrow for Muhammad Mustafa in more than one sense. The death of one’s loved ones is naturally a cause for sorrow but the Prophet was soon made conscious of the meaning of their death by a series of extraneous events. Khadija and Abu Talib died in the same year, Khadija had been a faithful supporter to the prophet and Islam, and he used to tell her of his troubles. With the death of Abu Talib, he lost strength in his personal life and a defense and protection against his tribe. Abu Talib died some three years before the Prophet migrated to Madina and it was then that the Quraysh began to treat him in an offensive way which they would not have dared to do in his uncle’s lifetime. The Prophet is reported to have said, “Quraysh never treated me thus while Abu Talib was alive”. Reference: A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims, By Sayed Ali Asgher Razwy.