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The Prophet’s Birth

The Prophet Muhammad, may Allah shower His blessings and peace upon him, was born in Makkah on Monday, the 9th of Rabi’ul Awwal [1] in the spring season in the Year of the Elephants (when Makkah Al-Mukarramah was attacked with an army comprising elephants) [2], corresponding to 22 April 571 CE, between the dawn and the sunrise. He was the only son of his parents. [3] His father had died before he was born. [4]

 

His grandfather, ‘Abdul Muttalib had himself experienced the pang of orphanhood. When he heard the news of the birth of his grandson, the orphan of his forty four year deceased son ‘Abdullah, he came home, took the newborn to Al-Haram, prayed for him there and brought him back. [5] On the seventh day he sacrificed an animal and invited the people of his tribe, the Quraysh, to a feast.

When the guests inquired of him the name of the child, Abdul Muttalib mentioned that he had named his grandson Muhammad (the Praised One). His tribesmen were surprised as this was quite an unusual name, not used in the society of the time. ‘Abdul Muttalib explained that he, in fact, wished his grandson to be known in the world as a person deserving genuine appreciation and acclaim. [6]

 

Babyhood Days

His mother Amena fed him her milk first. After two, three days Thuwayba, Abu Lahab’s maid, fed him her milk. [7] In those days the rich and the noble used to send their newborn babies to nearby villages to be raised among the Bedouin so that the children could acquire eloquence in the Arabic language and learn the traditional Arab values from them. A few days after the birth of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), some women from the Hawazin tribe came to Makkah in search of such babies. S’adiya Haleema was among them. By chance she could not get any such child to rear. The mother of the Prophet (pbuh) wanted her to take the Prophet (pbuh) and raise him under her care in her village. S’adiya Haleema, however, was not much interested at the beginning, as she did not expect any lucrative reward for taking care of an orphan. But at the same time she did not want to return without a child. So, ultimately, she accepted the request of Hazrat Amena and took Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with her. After two years she brought him back to Makkah to his mother. But as in those days an epidemic had spread in Makkah, Hazrat Amena asked her to keep the baby (pbuh) with her for some more time. Haleema did accordingly. [8]

 

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) loved S’adiya Haleema very much. When he was entrusted with prophethood, her husband Harith bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzzah visited him in Makkah and inquired him about his message. The Prophet (pbuh) told him that the day would come soon when he would show him that he told the truth. Harith accepted Islam. [9]

 

Death of mother and grandfather and security of Abu Talib

When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was six years old, his mother Amena took him to Madinah with her. She stayed there in the Najjar family, who were related to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from his paternal side. Umm Ayman, a maid and caretaker of the Prophet (pbuh), was with her. Hazrat Amena stayed there for a month. While returning to Makkah she breathed her last at a place called Abw. She was buried there. Umm Ayman brought Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to Makkah. [10]

 

After the death of Prophet Muhammad’s mother, his grandfather ‘Abdul Muttalib took him under his guardianship. He always kept him close. [11] When he died at the age of eighty-two, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was eight years old. [12] When his bier was being carried to the graveyard, the Prophet (pbuh) followed weeping out of love for his dead guardian. At the time of his death, Abdul Muttalib entrusted the responsibility of the Prophet’s guardianship to his son Abu Talib. Abu Talib loved the Prophet (pbuh) very dearly and preferred him even to his children. He used to take him to sleep in his bed with him and kept him in his company when he went out. [13]

 

When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was approximately ten, he used to take a herd of goats out in the field to graze. [14] This was, in fact, a prelude to his ultimate career as a caretaker of the world. During the days of prophethood he used to talk about his experience of this simple and interesting engagement. Once when the Prophet (pbuh) went to a forest with his Companions, they started picking berries and eating them. The Prophet instructed them to pick berries which were black in color saying that they were more tasteful. He added that he had learned it from his boyhood experience when he used to bring his herd there for grazing. [15]

 

Abu Talib was a trader. The Quraysh used to go to Syria once a year for trade. The Prophet (pbuh) was about twelve when Abu Talib planned to travel to Syria on a business trip. He did not wish to take Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with him for the fear of the hardships of the journey, or for some other reason. But when Abu Talib was about to leave, the Prophet (pbuh) grabbed him and held him tight out of love for him. Abu Talib did not like to disappoint his nephew and decided to take him along. [16]

 

Footnotes:

[1] Ibn Ishaque mentions 12 Rabiul Awwal as the Prophet’s date of birth (Ibn Hisham, vol. 1, p. 171) In authentic Traditions Monday has been specifically mentioned (Sahih Muslim, Kitabus Siyam).

[2] Seerat Ibn Hisham, vol. 1, p. 171. See also Imam Tirmizi, Sunan, Al-Manaqib.

[3] Qazi Sulayman Mansurpuri, Rahmatullil ‘Aalameen.

[4] Musannif ‘Abdur Razzaque, Vol. 5, p. 317. Mustadrak Haakim 2, 5, 6. Hakim stated it to be on the principles of Muslim, and Imam Zahabi has affirmed it.

[5] Seerat Ibn Hisham, 1: 160, Taabaqat Ibn S’ad, 1: 103, Tahzeeb Taareekhe Damishq, 1: 284.

[6] Tahzeeb Taareekhe Damishq, 1: 282; Al-Bidaya wan-Nihaya, 2: 264.

[7] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabun Nikah.

[8] Seeratun Nabi, Vol. 1, p. 172-73. The fosterage of Halimah Sadiyah is famous. The prophet’s biographers have mentioned it. The narrators of hadiths have also mentioned it like Hakim in Mustadrak-2:216, Imam Ahmad in Musnad-4:184, Darmi in Sunan-1:8, Tabrani in Mujam and Ibn Hibban in Mu’arid Azzam’an. The incident of the opening of the prophet’s chest during childhood of the prophet took place during his stay in Banu Sa’ad. Imam Muslim has mentioned it in his Sahih. Kitabul Eiman babul Asra bi Rasoolillah.

[9] Al-Asaaba, Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalaani, Vol. 1: 283.

[10] Seerat Ibne Hisham, 1: 551. Tabq’at Ibne S’ad, 1: 116, Dalaelun Nubuwa lil Bahiqi, 1: 188.

[11] Musannif Abdur Razzaque, 5:318.

[12] Dalaelun Nubuwah lil bahiqi, Vol. 2, p. 22. Asseeratun Nabawiyya liz Zahabi, pp. 25.

[13] Seeratun Nabi, Vol.1, p. 177.

[14] Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul Ejara.

[15] Tabqaat Ibn S’ad, Vol. 1, p.80.

[16] Sunan Tirmizi, Bab Al-Manaqib, Bab Ma Ja’a Fi Bad’a An-Nubuwwa.

 

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