» His Biography » In Makkah » The Birth
ABDALLAH AND AMINA
Abdul Muttalib, chieftain of the Quraysh, had ten sons who were all worthy and outstanding, but Abdullah was the noblest and most prominent among them. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, p. 108) Abdul Muttalib wedded him to Amina, the daughter of Wahb Ibn Abdu Munaf, who was the leading man of Bani Zuhra. She (Amina) was the most excellent woman among the Quraysh in birth and stature at that time. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, p. 110)
Muhammad peace be upon him was born after the death of his father. Before his birth, Amina witnessed many an omen foretelling a great future for her son. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, p. 158)
BIRTH OF THE PROPHET peace be upon him
The Prophet peace be upon him was born on Monday, the 12th of Rab'i-ul Awwal (1) in the year of the Elephant. Certainly, it was the most auspicious day in the history of mankind.
Thus, Muhammad peace be upon him was the son of Abdullah Ibn Abdul Muttalib, Ibn Hashim, Ibn Abdul Munaf, Ibn Qusayy, Ibn Kilab, Ibn Murra, Ibn Kab Ibn Luayy, Ibn Ghalib, Ibn Fihr, Ibn Malik, Ibn al-Nadr, Ibn Kinana, Ibn Khusayma, Ibn Mudrika, Ibn Ilyas, Ibn Mudar Ibn Nizar Ibn Maadd, Ibn Adnan.
The parentage of Adnan is further traced to Ismail Ibn Ibrahim peace be upon him(2) by Arab genealogists. After the birth of Muhammad peace be upon him Amina sent someone to inform his grandfather. He came, looked at the baby lovingly and took him to the Kaba where he praised Allah and prayed for the infant. Abdul Muttalib then gave him the name Muhammad, which means, He who is praised. The Arabs were surprised at the unfamiliar name (3) given to the newborn babe by Abdul Muttalib. (Ibn Hisham, pp. 159-60)
THE SUCKLING PERIOD
Thuwaybah, a bondwoman of the Prophets uncle Abu Lahab, suckled him momentarily for a few days while Abdul Muttalib continued to look for a wet-nurse to nurture his favorite grandson. It was customary in Mecca to place the suckling babies under the care of a desert tribeswoman, where the child grows up in the free, chivalrous air away from the cramp, contaminating atmosphere of the city, and learn the wholesome ways of the Bedouins. Those were the days when the chaste, unaffected and natural expression of the desert people was considered as the finest model of grace and elegance of the Arabic language. Together with the milk of a bedouin woman, the babies imbibed the fluent language that flew across the desert.
The people from the tribe of Bani Sad were known for the gracefulness of their speech. Halima Sadiya, a member of this tribe, ultimately came to have the precious baby under her wings. This was a year of famine wherein Bani Sad had been rendered miserable. The tribe came to Mecca to look for children to be suckled, but no woman to whom the Prophet of God peace be upon him was offered, agreed to take the child because none expected a goodly return for nurturing or nursing an infant whose father was already dead. They said, An orphan! What will his mother and grandfather give in return? At first, Halima also declined the offer but suddenly she felt a craving for the baby. She had also failed to get a charge for her and, therefore, before going back home, she returned and finally took the baby back with her. Halima found before long that her household was blest with luck, her breast overflowed with milk, the udders of her she-camel were full and everything seemed to bring forth happiness. The women of Halimas tribe now spread out the rumor: Halima, you have certainly got a blessed child. They began to feel envious of her already.
Halima weaned the baby when he was two years old, for it is customary upon the foster-children to return to their respective families at such an age. Besides, the boy was also developing faster than the other children, and by the time he was two, he was already a well-grown child. Thus, Halima brought the Prophet of God peace be upon him back to Amina but begged her to be allowed to keep the boy for some extended time as he had brought her luck. Amina agreed and allowed Halima to take Muhammad peace be upon him back with her. (4)
Some months after his return to Bani Sad, two angels seized the Prophet of God peace be upon him, opened up his chest and extracted a black drop from it. Then they thoroughly cleaned his heart and healed the wound after putting his heart back in its place. (5)
The Prophet of God peace be upon him tended the lambs with his foster-brothers in the boundless wilderness of the desert, far away from the pretensions, hypocrisy, pomp and pride of the city, rendering his thoughts dry and clear like the desert air. His life was as simple as the sand and he learnt to endure with the hardships and dangers of the wilderness. And with the people of Bani Sad, his ears became accustomed to the rhetorics and eloquence of the pure and classical language of the Bedouins. The Prophet often used to tell his companions: I am the most Arab of you all for I am of Quraysh origin and I was suckled among Bani Sad Ibn Bakr. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, 167).
DEATH OF AMINA AND ABDUL MUTTALIB
When the Prophet peace be upon him was six years old, his mother took him to Yathrib to pay a visit to her father. She also wanted to call on the grave of her late husband, (6) but while on her way back to Mecca, she died at a place called Abwa. (7) The Prophet must have felt lonely and sorrowful at the death of his mother in the middle of his journey. Incidents of such nature had been a common fixture in his life since birth, perhaps as a divine dispensation for his upbringing in a particular way, one which is reminiscent of the great role that he has to play in the future. Finally, the Abyssinian bondwoman, Umm Ayman Barkah, brought him to his grandfather in Mecca. Abdul Muttalib loved the Prophet peace be upon him so dearly, making him the apple of his eye and never allowed him to be distant from his sight. He would make the Prophet peace be upon him sit beside him on his bed in the shade of the Kaba and caress him to show his affection.
After reaching eight years of age, Abdul Muttalib also passed away. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, pp. 168-9) The Prophet was now left behind, alone and abandoned. He had never seen his father, and would have had no recollection of him, but the death of the adoring grandfather must have been too depressing and inconsolable to bear.
ABU TALIB BECOMES THE GUARDIAN
Following the death Of Abdul Muttalib, Abu Talib took the Prophet peace be upon him under his care for he and Abdullah, the Prophets father, were brothers by the same mother. Abdul Muttalib had also been insisting upon Abu Talib to take care of the Prophet peace be upon him himself. Accordingly, Abu Talib took the Prophet peace be upon him under his protection and even treated him with more care and affection than his own two sons, Ali Jafar and Aqil. ( Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, p. 179).
Once, when the Prophet peace be upon him was nine years old, (As related by authentic Traditions) Abu Talib planned to go on a merchant caravan to Syria. Knowing this, the Prophet peace be upon him approached his uncle, and nestling close to him, insisted on accompanying him in the journey. Abu Talib was moved and agreed to take Muhammed peace be upon him with him to Syria. When the caravan reached Busra in Syria, it broke the journey for a short stay and while there, they met a monk by the name of Buhaira who lived in his cell. He came out against his practice, to welcome the merchants and made a great feast for them. The caravan found favor with Buhaira, so they say, because of something that he had seen while he was in his cell. When Buhaira saw Muhammad peace be upon him, he observed in him the signs of the Prophethood that he had known and advised Abu Talib: Return to your home with this youth and guard him from the Jews; for great dignity awaits your nephew. Abu Talib immediately took the Prophet peace be upon him back to Mecca by virtue of Buhairas advice. (8)
Heavenly Host had made special arrangements for broadening the mind of the holy Prophet and had taken particular care to shut off the faults and failures of the pagan past from him. Since early youth, the reserved and unassuming young man was known for his gentle disposition and grave purity of life as well as for his candidness, honesty and integrity and his stern sense of duty. His was the straight and narrow path and none could find the slightest fault with him. The faircharacter and honorable bearing of the Prophet peace be upon him won for him, in the pinnacle of his youth, the title of Al-Amin, meaning the Trusty, from his fellow populace.(Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, p. 183)
Evil were the ways of young men in Mecca, and no misconduct brought anybody into jeopardy or accountability. But God helped His Prophet abandon the pleasures of life familiar to everybody in there. Such that on the contrary, he was rather kind to his kinsmen, alleviated the sufferings of others and spared or minimized expenses to meet their needs. Moreover, he entertained guests, was ever willing to join hands with anybody who had a noble and virtuous task(9) and prefered to earn his livelihood by toiling hard for it even if it meant living a simple life to the point of austerity.
When the Prophet peace be upon him was around fourteen or fifteen years of age, the sacrilegious war, known as the Harb-ul-Fijar, broke out between the Quraysh and the tribe of Qays. The Prophet peace be upon him was present at this event such that he picked up the arrows that the enemy had shot and gave them back to the Qurayshite fighters. This was to mark his first experience of military operations. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, 186)
Now that the Prophet peace be upon him was coming into grips of his own life, he turned his attention to scouting a means of livelihood. Like other lads of his age, he took a shot at the tendering of sheep and goats. It was not deemed a disgraceful occupation in those days, rather, it helped one to be watchful, alert and quick, kind and considerate besides allowing an opportunity to inhale the freedom of Arabian air and the power of its sand. More than that, it had been the convention of all the prophets of old which complied with his future prophetic task. The Prophet after all used to say: Verily, there has been no prophet who has not tended the flocks of goats. On being asked again whether he had also performed the work of a shepherd, the Prophet peace be upon him affirmed. Yes I did.
The Prophet peace be upon him was not completely new to the job for in his childhood days he used to accompany his foster-brothers in tending their flocks and herds. The reports in the Saheeh show that the Prophet peace be upon him used to watch the goats upon the neighbouring hills and valleys for a meager payment from their owners.(10)
MARRIAGE WITH KHADIJAH (Allah be pleased with her)
The Prophet married Khadijah (Allah be pleased with her) when he was twenty-five years of age. Khadijah (Allah be pleased with her), daughter of Khuwaylid, was noble and intelligent, wealthy and was respected for the quality and integrity of her heart. A widow whose age was then forty years, (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, pp. 189-90) her late husband was Abu Hala. She carried out on their business and like other merchants of Mecca she also used to hire men to transport her merchandise outside the country on a profit-sharing scheme. Khadijah (Allah be pleased with her) had an experience of the Prophets truthfulness, trustworthiness and honorable character and had also heard about the strange events that had taken place when the Prophet peace be upon him traded her merchandise to Syria. Although Khadijah (Allah be pleased with her) had turned down several offers for her hand by some of` the eminent chiefs of the Quraysh, she expressed her desire to marry the Prophet Peace be upon him). Hamza, an uncle of the Prophet peace be upon him, conveyed the message to him for which he readily agreed. Abu Talib recited the wedding sermon and the Prophet peace be upon him, united in wedlock with Khadija, commenced his marital career. All the offsprings of the Prophet Peace be upon him) except Ibrahim who died in infancy, were born to Khadijah (Allah be pleased with her). (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, p.190 and other biographies of the Prophet).
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE KABA
In his thirty-fifth year, the Prophet peace be upon him made a difficult decision about a matter that provoked the Quraysh and threatened to plunge them into another sacrilegious war. The Quraysh wished to rebuild the Kabah and furnish it with roofs, for it was made of loose stones, and its walls were only a little higher than a mans height. So, the walls were demolished and the work of reconstruction was taken up, but when it was time to rebuild the Kabah as far as the position of the Black Stone was concerned, the question arose as to who should place the sacred relic into its place. Every tribe claimed the honor, an imminent collision was bound to happen. The grounds that led to wars of attrition during the early days of paganism in Arabia were nothing but inferior or insignificant when compared to the grave issue that was made as the focal point of honor on this occasion.
Banu Abdul Dar brought a bowl full of blood; then they and Banu Adiy pledged themselves to fight unto death by thrusting their hands into the blood. The conflict appeared to be the starting point of a furious struggle which might have swallowed up the whole of Arabia in another of their oft-recurring wars. The dilemma continued for a few days until it was agreed that whosoever is the first man to enter the gate of the mosque would be made as the umpire of the matter under dispute. And so the first man to enter came, but he was no other then the Prophet of God peace be upon him. This is Muhammad, they said as soon as they saw him coming, and further added: He is trustworthy and we will abide by his decision.
The Prophet asked them to bring a cloth, took the Black Stone and put it inside the fabric, then afterwards asked each tribe to take hold of an end of the material and then simultaneously raise it to the required height. When the people lifted the stone in such manner, the Prophet peace be upon him placed it in its position with his own hands, and the building went on above it. (Ibn isham, Vol. I, pp. 192-197)
The wisdom displayed by the Prophet peace be upon him on this occasion, one which saved the Quraysh from measuring the might of their swords with that of the others, strikingly illustrates his sound judgement apart from divulging sparks of his genius. The sagacity of the Prophet peace be upon him foretold how bloodshed is taken as a divine harbinger of peace. The incident foreshadowed the signs of` the Prophets peace be upon him prudence, profoundness of his teachings, his thoughtfulness, cool temper and the spirit of his friendliness and altruism; in fact the cardinal virtues of one who was to become the Mercy for the Worlds. These were the qualities through which the Prophet peace be upon him transformed a people, unruly and ferocious, continuously at war amongst each other, into a closely-knit fraternity by proving and submitting himself as a Merciful Prophet before them.
It was during this period that the Quraysh came to agree upon one of the noblest covenants made in which the Prophet peace be upon him played a prominent part. It so happened that a man from Zabid (A town in Yemen) came to sell his merchandise in Mecca. One of the Quraysh chieftains in the person of Al-As Ibn Wayel purchased the whole of it but paid nothing in return. Because of this, Zabid approached several influential Quraysh leaders but none of them agreed to confront Al-As Ibn Wayel. Having been turned down by those that he had previously asked for help, Zabid called upon the people of Mecca exhorting every bold and fair-minded young man to come to his rescue. At last, many of them, moved by embarrassment, assembled in the house of Abdallah Ibn Jadan who entertained everyone that came to his house. Thereafter, they formed a pact, in the name of Allah, for repression of acts of lawlessness and restoration of justice to the weak and the oppressed within the walls of Mecca. The covenant was called Hilful-Fudul wherein all its members finally approached Al-As Ibn Wayel and forced him to return the merchandise of Zabid. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, pp.257-59).
The Prophet had been one of the prominent movers of the pact and he always made it a point to express his satisfaction over the execution of this agreement. Once he remarked: I had a hand in making such an arrangement in the house of Abdullah Ibn Jadan to which if I were invited again to help even after the advent of Islam, I would have undoubtedly participated once more. Thru such Hiful Fudul, they had agreed to restore upon everyone what is due of him and to protect the weak from the exploits and manipulations of the oppressors.
A MYSTIFYING UNREST
Muhammad peace be upon him was now approaching his fortieth year. He felt a mystifying internal unrest, yet he did not know the rationale behind it. He was himself not aware what the inexplicable confusion meant to him; nordid the idea that God was about to honor him with revelation and prophethood ever crossed his mind. This was how the Prophet peace be upon him felt, as has been attested by God in the Quran:
And thus We have inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our Command. Thou knewest not what the Scripture was,nor what the Faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of our bondmen. And Lo! thou verily dost guide unto a right path.
At another place, the inability of the Prophet peace be upon him to know the reason for his internal unrest has been demonstrated in these words:
Thou hast no hope that the Scripture would be inspired in thee; but it is a mercy from thy Lord, so never be a helper to the disbelievers.
It pleased the Will of God, All-wise and All-knowing, that His Prophet should remain a stranger to the arts of reading and writing. His contemporaries could thus never accuse him of himself editing the divine revelations. This, too, has been subverted by the Quran to settle the matter as evidenced by the following verse:
And thou (O Muhammad) was not a reader of any Scripture before it, nor didst thou write it with thy right hand, for then might those have doubted, who follow falsehood.
[Qur'aan 29: 48]
That is why the Quran calls him an 'unlettered prophet' peace be upon him.
"Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the gospel (which are) with themHe commands them for Al- Maruf (monotheism & all that Islam has ordained) and forbids them from Al- Munkar (disbelief & all that Islam forbids)
The Lessons And Examples Can Be Taking From This Period As Follows:
Whenever the caller or social reformer is considered noble by his people, they will be more apt to listen to him as this is their natural reaction with respect to preachers and reformers, than if they are from an obscure section of society or from people of ignoble birth. But if the reformer or caller comes from a lineage they cannot dispute as being noble, or whose family's social status is undeniably high, then they will find nothing to contend against him. And so, they resort to lies, excuses, and rationalizations to keep themselves and the rest from listening to his message and his speeches. That is why the first question that Hiraql (Heraclius) asked Abu Sufyan, when the latter handed him the messengers letter inviting him and his people to accept Islam was, "How is his lineage among you?" Abu Sufyan answered him, while he was still a polytheist, "He is from the most noble lineage among us." When Hiraql finished his interrogations replete with their respective answers from Abu Sufyan, he started to explain why he had asked these questions about Muhammad, Allah's Messenger peace be upon him. Hiraql told him, "I asked you what his lineage was among you, and you stated that he is from the most noble one, because Allah does not choose a Prophet except from the noblest of his people with the noblest ancestry." It is true that Islam does not value noble pre digree in the face of one's actions but that does not prevent the one who combines together the nobility of lineage as that of deeds from being more honorable, having a higher status, and being more successful. An authentic Hadeeth, which says that, The best of you in the time of ignorance are the best of you in Islam, if they but understand ably supports this assertion.
It is the tribulation of the caller, who is orphaned and who lived thru hardships in his youth, which makes him more sensitive to noble human causes. Such experience makes him more sympathetic with the plight of the orphans, the poor and the oppressed. It mobilizes him to fight for the rights of these people who belong to the lower echelons of society and incessantly galvanizes him to be good and merciful towards them. Every caller needs to have a great deal of noble human feelings otherwise known as compassion, which makes him commiserate with the state of the weak and oppressed. Nothing of such sort molded him better than treading in his own life most of the pains and angst felt by the poor, orphaned and the needy.
Living as close as possible to the tenets of human nature and as far as possible from complex life results in the clarity of intellect, strength of mind, body and soul, as well as accuracy in thought and speech for the caller. This is why Allah chose the Arabs to deliver the message of Islam. What Allah did was not out of jest or chance. It was because they were more pure in their souls, more sound in their thinking, upright in their manners and more tolerant of the hardship of wars for the sake of Allah and the spreading of His message to all corners of the world.
No one can assume full credit to the distinction of the caller to Islam except for sharp and intelligent people, because the dumb and those with average intelligence are far from qualified for intellectual, social reform or spiritual leadership. This is because it is natural that the ignorant, those who dawdle and are shaky in their thinking, and those who hold strange and hollow opinions cannot truly qualify for leadership in any aspect of life. Even if by chance or special circumstance, someone like this makes it to a position of leadership, he will not last long and will fall into the pits of despair. His people will desert him once his actions reveal his stupidity, oddity and chaotic thinking.
It is a must for the reformer to depend on his own personal effort for his livelihood or thrive on a noble and dignified source of income rather than cash in on one which involves begging, disgraceful behavior or derogatory means. The truthful, noble reformers keep themselves from living on the charity or gifts of people. There would be no honor for them in the souls of their people after they humiliate themselves by begging and asking, even if it is not done openly. If we see someone who claims to call others to guidance while he is getting richer from the wealth of the people by the use of different schemes, then we can be sure that he is humiliating his own soul. What then will be his position in the feelings and eyes of his own people and neighbors? How can anyone who accepts for himself this kind of humiliation call people to the best manners, to fight evil and corruption and to revive in the nation the spirit of honor, dignity and righteousness when he himself is wanting of such qualities?
The upright nature and good behavior of the caller during his youth and life leads to his success in calling people to Allah, reforming manners and fighting abominations since there will be no one who could accuse him of any ill behavior even before he started the call. We have seen many people who started the call of reformation, especially that of character, but the major reason people turned away was because of the indelible imprint left by the questionable integrity and bad behavior of the caller's past. This tarnished past will make people doubt his truthfulness. They will think that he is hiding behind the movement for self-interest, or they will accuse him of starting the reform only after he had fulfilled all of his desires, lusts and pleasures in life. And now he is in a position or at an age which gives him little or no hope of continuing his quest and hunt for property, wealth, fame or honor which he had formerly pursued. But the caller who was righteous in his youth will continue to keep his head igh and his heart will always remain pure. While his enemies always find a way to accuse his near or distant past, they will not be able to use the past as a weapon to ruin his integrity or to persuade the people to disregard his call. It is true that Allah accepts the repentance of the one who returns to Him with truthfulness and sincerity and that Allah will erase his past with his recent good deeds. But that is for someone other than the person who is hoping for the success of his call while his behavior is upright and his good reputation having remained intact.
The experiences that the caller gains by traveling, socially immersing with the crowds, learning about their customs, conditions, and problems have a great deal of effect on the success of his message. Those who live with the people only through their books and writings, without actually living with them, are people who are failures in their call or reform movement. People do not respond to such callers because they are ignorant to their predicament and problems. Whoever wants to reform the religious people must commingle with them in their mosques, join them at their gatherings, and blend with them in their communities. Whoever wants to reform the laborers and the farmers has to live with them in their villages and factories, and dine with them in their homes. He must speak with them on their own terms. If someone wants to reform the businessmen, one has to mix with them in their markets, shops, factories, clubs and gatherings. Whoever wants to reform the political sector has to mix with the politicians, get to know their organizations, listen to their speeches, read their programs and plans and get to know the environment within which they live. He must also educate himself about the culture of the people he is dealing with. He needs to know in which direction the people are headed for in order to determine how to approach them in such a way as not to frighten the populace. The caller needs to adopt a method instrumental in reforming the people, a method acceptable to the general public so that there will be no uprising against him due to hatred or emotional upheaval. Confronted with such a fact, it is imperative that the caller needs to experience life and gain knowledge of the people's affairs which will help him in fulfilling Allah's words, as Allah thru the Quran says;
"Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation".
[Qur'aan 16: 125]
And how magnificent is the reported saying: "Speak to the people according to their mental ability. Do you want them to reject Allah and His message?" (Recorded by Al-Bukhaari.)
It is incumbent upon the caller to contemplate every now and then, so that he may allow his spirit to relate to Allah and his soul to purify itself from the filth of the bad manners of the crowded, busy life around him. This seclusion will motivate him to take account of his progress. It will allow him to see if he failed in doing good or fell short in his choice of procedure or methodology. The same introspection serves as a gauge to determine whether he has diverted from his direction, strayed from the way of wisdom, or was so engrossed in discussions and arguments that he forgot about remembering Allah, feeling the tranquility of His company, remembering the hereafter with its reward or punishment, and death with its hardships and pains. For this reason, the tahajjud or late night prayer was obligatory upon the Prophet peace be upon him and is recommended for others. The ones who should do their best to perform this optional prayer are the callers to His way and His Paradise. These times of seclusion, invocation and imploration of Allah during the night are a pleasure which no one can enjoy except those whom Allah honors. Ibrahim ibn Adham used to say after his nightly invoking and worship, "We are involved in such a pleasure that if the kings were to know about it, they would compete us for it." Allah's saying is sufficient enough for our motivation. Directing his speech to Allah's Messenger peace be upon him, Allah said:
"O you wrapped up in your raiment! Keep vigil the night long, save a little-a half thereof, or abate a little thereof or add (a little) thereto- and recite the Quran in measure, for We shall charge you with a word of weight. Lo! the vigil of the night is (a time) when impression is more keen and speech more certain"