Sunday, March 25, 2007

Genealogy and Background

  Genealogy and Background

Ben Al-Hussaini

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.

Prophet’s Geneology

He is Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul-Mutallib (Shaibah) bin Hashim, (‘Amr) bin ‘Abd Manaf ( Al-Mughirah) bin Qusay (Zaid) bin Kilab bin Murrah bin Ka’ab bin Luay bin Ghalib bin Fihr (Quraish and whose tribe was named after him) bin Malik bin Nadr ( Qais) bin Kinanah bin Khuzaimah bin Mudrikah (‘Amir) bin Elias bin Mudar bin Nizar bin Ma’ad bin ‘Adnan. [1]

‘Adnan bin Add bin Humaisi’ bin Salaman bin Aws bin Buz bin Qamwal bin Ubai bin ‘Awwam bin Nashid bin Haza bin Bildas bin Yadlaf bin Tabikh bin Jahim bin Nahish bin Makhi bin Aid bin ‘Abqar bin ‘Ubaid bin Ad-Da’a bin Hamdan bin Sanbir bin Yathrabi bin Yahzin bin Yahlan bin Ar’awi bin Aid bin Dehsan bin Aisar bin Afnad bin Aiham bin Muksar bin Nahith bin Zarih bin Sami bin Mazzi bin ‘Awdah bin ‘Aram bin Qaidar bin Ishmael son of Abraham. [2]

Beyond Abraham, Ibn Tarikh (Azar) bin Nahur bin Saru’ (or Sarugh) bin Ra’u bin Falikh bin ‘Abir bin Salikh bin Arfakhshad bin Sam bin Noah, bin Lamik bin Mutwashlakh bin Akhnukh (Enoch)- who was said to be Prophet Idris-bin Yarid bin Mahla’il bin Qainan bin Anushah bin Shith bin Adam [3]

How It All Began

Nearly four thousand years ago, in the Sumerian town of Ur in the valley of the river Euphrates lived a young man named Abraham (‘alaihissalam). The people of Ur had once worshipped Allāh but as time passed they forgot the true religion and started praying to idols, statues made of wood or clay and sometimes even of precious stones.

Even as a small child Abraham (‘alaihissalam) could not understand how his people, and especially his father, could make these images with their own hands, call them gods, and then worship them. He had always refused to join his people when they paid respect to these statues. Instead he would leave the town and sit alone, thinking about the heavens and the world about him. He was sure his people were doing wrong and so alone he searched for the right way.

 One clear night as he sat staring at the sky he saw a beautiful shining star, so beautiful that he cried out: 'This must be Allāh!' He looked at it in awe for some time, until suddenly it began to fade and then it disappeared. He turned away in disappointment saying:

“I love not things that set.”  (Al-An’am, 6:77)

 On another night Abraham (‘alaihissalam) was again looking at the sky and he saw the rising moon, so big and bright that he felt he could almost touch it. He thought to himself:

“This is my Lord.”  (Al-An’am, 6: 78)

But it was not long before the moon set as well. Then he said,

“Unless my Lord guides me, I surely shall become one of the folk who are astray.”  (Al-An’am, 6: 78)

Abraham (‘alaihissalam) then saw the beauty and splendor of the sunrise and decided that the sun must be the biggest and most powerful thing in the universe. But for the third time he was wrong, for the sun set at the end of the day. It was then that he realized that Allāh is the Most Powerful, the Creator of the stars, the moon, the sun, the earth and of all living things. Suddenly he felt himself totally at peace, because he knew that he had found the Truth. When he said unto his father and his folk:

What do you worship? They said: We worship idols, and are ever devoted to them. He said: Do they hear you when you cry? Or do they benefit or harm you? They said: Nay, but we found our fathers acting in this manner.   He said: See now that which you worship, you and your forefathers! Lo! They are (all) an enemy to me, except the Lord of the Worlds. Who created me, and He guides me, And Who feeds me and waters me. And when I sicken, then He heals me. And Who causes me to die, then gives me life (again) And Who, I ardently hope, will forgive me my sin on the Day of Judgment.  (Ash-Shuara, 26:.70-82)

One day, while all the townspeople were out, Abraham angrily smashed all the idols with his right hand except for one, which was very large. When the people returned they were furious. They remembered the things Abraham had said about the idols. They had him brought forth before everyone and demanded, ‘Is it you who did this to our gods, O Abraham?'  Abraham replied, ‘But this chief did it. Ask them, if they are able to speak 'The people exclaimed, ‘You know they do not speak.'  ‘Do you worship what you yourselves have carved when Allāh created you and what you are?'   Abraham continued, ‘Do you worship instead of Allāh that which cannot profit you at all, nor harm you?'  [Anbiya’21:51- 66)

Finally, Abraham (‘alaihissalam) warned them:

Serve Allāh, and keep your duty unto Him; that is better for you if you did but know. You serve instead of Allāh only idols, and you only invent a lie. Lo! Those whom you serve instead of Allāh own no provision for you. So seek your provision from Allāh, and serve Him, and give thanks unto Him, (for) unto Him you will be brought back.  (Al-Ankabut, 29: 16-17)

The people of Ur decided to give Abraham the worst punishment they could find: he was to be burnt to death. On the chosen day all the people gathered in' the centre of the city and even the King of Ur was there. Abraham (‘alaihissalam) was then placed inside a special building filled with wood. The wood was lit. Soon the fire became so strong that the people were pushed back by the flames. But Allāh said:

O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham.  (Al-Anbiyā’, 21: 69)

The people waited until the fire had completely died down, and it was then that they saw Abraham still sitting there as though nothing had happened! At that moment they were utterly confused. They were not, however, moved by the miracle that had just happened before their very eyes. Still Abraham tried to persuade his own dear father, who was named Azar, not to worship powerless, un-seeing, un-hearing statues. Abraham explained that special knowledge had come to him and implored his father, ‘So follow me and I will lead you on the right path. O my father! Don't serve the Devil.'  But Azar would not listen. He threatened his son with stoning if he continued to reject the gods of Ur.  He ordered Abraham to leave the city with these words: 'Depart from me a long while.'   Abraham said, 'Peace be upon you! I shall ask my Lord's forgiveness for you. Surely He was ever gracious to me.’   (Maryam, 19:43-47)

Imagine how terrible it must have been for him to leave his home, his family and all that he knew, and set out across the wilderness into the unknown. But at the same time, how could he have remained among people who did not believe in Allāh and who worshipped statues? Abraham always had a sense that Allāh cared for him and he felt Allāh near him as he traveled.

At last, after a long hard journey, he arrived at a place by the Mediterranean Sea, not far from Egypt. There he married a noble woman by the name of Sarah and settled in the land of Palestine.
Many years passed but Abraham (‘alaihissalam) and his wife were not blessed with any children. In the hope that there would be a child, and in keeping with tradition, Sarah suggested that Abraham should marry Hagar, her Egyptian handmaid. Soon after this took place, Hagar had a little boy named Ishmael.

Sometime later Allāh promised Abraham (‘alaihissalam) another son, but this time the mother of the child would be his first wife, Sarah. This second son would be called lsaac. Allāh also told Abraham that from his two sons - Ishmael and lsaac-two nations and three religions would be founded and because of this he must take Hagar and Ishmael away from Palestine to a new land.

These events were an important part of Allāh's plan, for the descendants of Ishmael would form a nation from which would come a great Prophet, who would guide the people in the way of Allāh. This was to be Muhammad, the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). From the descendants of Sarah's child, lsaac would emerge Moses and Jesus.

Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael left Palestine and they traveled for many days until finally they reached the arid valley of Bacca (later to be called Makkah), which was on one of the great caravan routes. There was no water in the valley and although Hagar and Ishmael only had a small supply of water left, Abraham left them there knowing Allāh would take care of them.

Soon all the water was gone. The child began to grow weak from thirst. There were two hills nearby, one called Safa and the other Marwah. Hagar went up one hill and looked into the distance to see if she could find any water, but found none. So she went to the other hill and did the same. She did this seven times. Then sadly she returned to her son, and to her great surprise and joy she found a spring of water bubbling out of the earth near him. This spring, near which the mother and child settled, was later called Zamzam. The area around it became a place of rest for the caravans traveling across the desert and in time grew into the famous trading city of Makkah.

From time to time Abraham traveled from Palestine to visit his family and he saw Ishmael grow into a strong young man. It was during one of these visits that Allāh commanded them to rebuild the Ka’abah-the very first place where people had worshipped Allāh.

They were told exactly where and how to build it. It was to be erected by the well of Zamzam and built in the shape of a cube. In its eastern corner was to be placed a black stone that had fallen to earth from heaven. An angel brought the stone to them from the nearby hill of Abu Qubais.

Abraham and Ishmael worked hard to rebuild the Ka’abah and as they did so they prayed to Allāh to send a Prophet from among their descendants.

And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): 'Our Lord! Receive this from us; Thou, only Thou, art the All-hearing, the All-knowing; Our Lord! And make us submissive unto Thee and of our seed a nation submissive unto Thee, and show us our ways of worship, and turn toward us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Relenting, the Merciful. Our Lord! And rise up in their midst a messenger from among them who shall recite unto them Thy revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall make them grow. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Mighty, Wise.  (Al-Baqarah,,2: 127-129)

When the Ka’abah was completed, Allāh commanded Abraham to call mankind to pilgrimage to His Holy House. Abraham wondered how anyone could hear his call. Allāh said, 'You call and I will bring them.'   This was how the pilgrimage to the Ka 'bah in Makkah was established and when Muslims make the pilgrimage today they continue to answer the age-old call of Abraham.

The Children of Ishmael

OVER the years Ishmael's children themselves had children. His descendants increased and formed tribes which spread out all over Arabia. One of these tribes was called Quraish. Its people never moved away from Makkah. and always lived near the Ka’abah.

One of the duties of the leader of Quraysh was to look after those who came on pilgrimage to the Ka’abah. The pilgrims would come from all over Arabia and it was a great honor to provide them with food and water.

 As time passed, however, the Arabs stopped worshipping Allāh directly and started bringing idols back with them from the different countries they visited. These idols were placed at the Ka 'bah, which was no longer regarded as the Sanctuary of Allāh, as Abraham had intended it. It was, however, still respected by the Arabs. Around this time the well of Zamzam disappeared beneath the sand.

Also at this time, Qusaiy, one of the leaders of Quraysh, became ruler over Makkah. He held the keys of the temple and had the right to give water to the pilgrims, to feed them, to take charge of meetings, and to hand out war banners before battle. It was also in his house that Quraysh settled their affairs.

After Qusaiy's death his son, ‘Abdul Manaf who had become famous during his father's lifetime, took over the leadership of Quraysh. After him came his son Hashim. It is said that Hashim was the first to begin the two great caravan journeys of Quraysh, one in the summer to Syria and the north, and one in the winter to Yemen and the south. As a result, Makkah grew rich and became a large and important centre of trade.

The Prophetic Family

The family of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is called the Hashimite family after his grandfather Hashim Ibn 'Abd Manaf. Let us now speak a little about Hashim and his descendants:

1- Hashim: He was the one responsible for providing   food and water to the pilgrims. This had been his charge when the sons of 'Abd Manaf and those of 'Abd Ad-Dar compromised on dividing the charges between them. Hashim was wealthy and honest. He was the first to offer the pilgrims sopped bread in broth. His first name was 'Amr but he was called Hashim because he had been in the practice of crumbling bread (for the pilgrims).

He was also the first man who started Quraish's two journeys of summer and winter. It was reported that he went to Syria as a merchant. In Al-Madinah, he married Salmah, the daughter of 'Amr from Bani 'Adi Ibn An-Najjar. He spent some time with her in Al-Madinah then he left for Syria again while she was pregnant. He died in Ghazza in Palestine in 497 CE. Later, his wife gave birth to 'Abdul Muttalib and named him Shaybah because of the white hair on his head, and brought him up in her father's house in Al-Madinah. None of his family in Makkah learned of his birth. Hashim had four sons: Asad, Abu Saifi, Nadla and 'Abdul Muttalib, and five daughters Ash-Shifa, Khalidah, Da'ifa, Ruqyah and Jannah.

2- 'Abdul Muttalib: After the death of Hashim, the charge of the pilgrims' food and water went to his brother, Al-Muttalib Ibn 'Abd Manaf (who was honest, generous and trustworthy). When 'Abdul Muttalib reached the age of boyhood, his uncle Al-Muttalib heard of him and went to Al-Madinah to fetch him. When he saw him, tears filled his eyes and rolled down his cheeks, he embraced him and took him on his camel. The boy, however, abstained from going with him to Makkah until he took his mother's consent. Al-Muttalib asked her to send the boy with him to Makkah, but she refused. He managed to convince her saying: "Your son is going to Makkah to restore his father's authority, and to live in the vicinity of the Sacred House."

There in Makkah, people wondered at seeing ‘Abdul Muttalib and they considered him the slave of Al-Muttalib. Al-Muttalib said: "He is my nephew, the son of my brother Hāshim." The boy was brought up in Al-Muttalib's house, but later on Al-Muttalib died in Bardman in Yemen, so 'Abdul Muttalib took over and managed to maintain his people's prestige and exceeded his grandfather in his honorable behavior, which earned him deep love and high esteem from the people of Makkah.

3- When Al-Muttalib died, Nawfal usurped ‘Abdul Muttalib’s charges, so the latter asked for help from the Quraish, but they abstained from extending any sort of support to either of them. Consequently, he wrote to his uncle of Bani An-Najjar (his mother's brothers) in Madinah to come to his aid. His uncle,Abu Sa’ad Ibn 'Adyy, the bother of his mother marched to Makkah as the head of eighty horsemen and camped in Abtah in Makkah. ‘Abdul Muttalib received the men and invited them to go to his house but Abu Sa’ad said: "Not before I meet Nawfal." He found Nawfal sitting with some old men of Quraish in the shade of Al-Ka’abah. Abu Sa’ad drew his sword and said: "I swear by Allāh that if you don't restore to my nephew what you have taken, I will kill you with this sword." Nawfal was thus forced to give up what he had usurped, and the notables of Quraish were made to witness to his words.

Abu Sa’ad then went to 'Abdul Muttalib's house where he stayed for three nights, made ‘Umrah (minor pilgrimage) and left back for Al-Madinah.

Later , Nawfal entered into alliance with Bani 'Abd Shams Ibn 'Abd Manaf against Bani Hāshim.

The tribe of Bani An-Najjāsupported 'Abdul Muttalib. Khuza’a from Bani Najjar said to Nawfal"He ('Abdul Muttalib) is our son as he is yours. We have more reasons to support him than you."'Abd Manaf's mother was one of them. They went into An-Nadwa House (a place they used to gather in to discuss serious matters) and entered into alliance with Bani Hāshim against Bani 'Abd Shams and Nawfal. It was an alliance that was later to constitute the main reason for the conquest of Makkah.

'Abdul-Muttalib witnessed two important events in his lifetime, namely digging the Zamzam well and the Elephant raid.

Digging the Well of Zamzam

The well of Zamzam originated for when Isma’il and his mother Hājar (Hagar) were overtaken by thirst, Allāh the Almighty caused a stream of water to flow in the empty desert. Hajar contained the flowing water by building a mound around it and it turned into a well. But at the time of leaving Makkah, the Jurhum tribe covered it with dust and so, for a long time it could not be traced.

When ‘Abdul Muttalib assumed the task of giving water to the pilgrims he started searching for it along with his elder son Harith, but their efforts proved fruitless. One day, ‘Abdul Muttalib saw the location of the well of Zamzam in his dream and started digging for it.

There were two idols, ‘Isaf and Na’ilah kept at that spot. The Quraish resented this disturbance and became hostile and ready to fight. Despite they were only two, father and son, they prevailed over them and continued digging the well. Due to the isolation, ‘Abdul Muttalib invoked Allāh the Almighty that in case He gave him ten sons, he would sacrifice one of his sons in the name of God. After a short period, the well appeared and he was also blessed with ten sons.

The Elephant Raid by Abrahah

The King of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) had captured Yemen for a very short period. During the lifetime of ‘Abdul Muttalib, Yemen was under the rule of the King of Abyssinia. In those days Abrahah Ashram was the governor of Yemen on behalf of the king. He built a temple in Yemen and persuaded the Arabs to perform Hajj at the temple of Yemen instead of the Ka'bah. However, he was not successful in his endeavor. In order to put him to disgrace, an Arab defecated in the temple to desecrate it. Abrahah grew so furious that he invaded Makkah with the intention of destroying the House of Allaah -- the Ka'bah. He used elephants in his attack, so the people of Makkah called them the People of the Elephant and the year came to be known as the Year of the Elephant.

When the Quraysh came to know of the attack, they were filled with fear, as they were no match for such a large and strong army. They jointly requested their chief, ‘Abdul-Muttalib to go to Abrahah and explore a way to avert the battle. When ‘Abdul-Muttalib presented himself to Abrahah, he was greatly impressed and held him in high esteem. ‘Abdul-Muttalib stated that Abrahah's army had captured 200 camels, which belonged to him. Thereupon Abrahah remarked that he took him to be a wise person but he obviously was mistaken. ‘Abdul Muttalib was aware that Abrahah had come with the sole purpose of demolishing the House of Allāh — the Ka’bah. However, intentionally ignoring the topic, he only spoke of his camels instead of saving the Ka’bah.

‘Abdul Muttalib said: “I am merely the owner of the camels, but this House also has an Owner and He will save it."

The answer enraged Abrahah and he burst out in anger saying he would see if the Lord of the House would save it. His army was destroyed and left like an empty field from which all the corn has been eaten up, and only the straw with stalks and stubble was left. The complete rout of Abrahah's forces after ‘Abdul Muttalib’s daring reply was a very significant event for Arabia, which put great fear of Allāh in their hearts.

After that fateful event, the rule of Yemen went out of the hands of the Abyssinian king and Sayf Ibn Dhi Yazin captured the country. ‘Abdul Muttalib took some nobles of Quraysh and went to congratulate Sayf on his victory. Sayf Ibn Dhi Yazin gave ‘Abdul Muttalib glad tidings that the last Prophet would be raised from his (‘Abdul-Muttalib's) offspring. This prophecy found wide currency and fame. All the members of the delegation thought that the last Prophet (Khatamal Nabi’) would be raised from their progeny. Each of them contacted the soothsayers and monks hoping for good news but returned disappointed.

‘Abdul Muttalib invoked God that in case he was granted ten sons, he would sacrifice one of them in the name of God. ‘Abdul-Muttalib had ten sonsAl-Hārith, Az-Zubayr, Abu Talib, 'Abdullāh, Hamzah, Abu Lahab, Ghidaq, Maqwam, Safar and Al-‘Abbās. He also had six daughters, who were Umm Al-Hakim, Barrah, 'Atikah, Safiyah, Arwa and Umayma.

‘Abdullāh was the father of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam); His mother was Fatimah, daughter of 'Amr Ibn 'A'idh Ibn 'Imran Ibn Makhzum Ibn Yaqdha Ibn Murrah.

'Abdullāh was the most handsome of ‘Abdul Muttalib's sons, the chastest and the most loved. He was also the son whom the divination arrows pointed at, to be slaughtered as a sacrifice to Al-Ka'bah. When ‘Abdul-Muttalib had ten sons and they reached maturity, he revealed to them his secret vow which they silently and obediently accepted. Their names were written on divination arrows and given to the guardian of their most beloved goddess, Hubal.

The arrows were shuffled and drawn. An arrow showed that it was ‘Abdullāh to be sacrificed. ‘Abdul Muttalib then took the boy to Al-Ka'bah with a razor to slaughter the boy. Quraysh, his uncles from Makhzūm tribe and his brother Abu Talib, however, tried to dissuade him from consummating his purpose. After much discussion they turned to Saja', a famous soothsayer. She pointed out that blood money for their (‘Abdul-Muttalib's) clan was ten camels. Thus, they should put ‘Abdullāh on one side and ten camels on the other and then draw the lots.

In case the camels were chosen they would be slaughtered, but if ‘Abdullāh was chosen they should add ten more camels and draw again. They should keep adding to the number of the camels until the camels were drawn. This exercise went on until the number of camels reached one hundred. ‘Abdul-Muttalib drew the lots twice more for his personal satisfaction, but each time it fill upon the camels. Hence, 100 camels were slaughtered and ‘Abdullāh was saved. Since that time, the blood money of a person who was killed was fixed at one hundred camels.

‘Abdul Muttalib chose Aminah, daughter of Wahab Ibn 'Abd Munāf Ibn Zahrah Ibn Kilāb, as a wife for his son, 'Abdullāh. In the light of this ancestral lineage, she stood eminent in respect of nobility of position and descent. Her father was the chief of Bani Zahrah, to whom great honor was attributed. They were married in Makkah, and soon after 'Abdullāh was sent by his father to buy dates in Madīnah where he died. According to another version, 'Abdullāh went to Syria on a trade journey and died in Al-Madīnah on his way back. He was buried in the house of An-Nabigha Al-Ju'di. He was twenty-five years old when he died. Most historians state that his death was two months before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Some others said that his death was two months after the Prophet's birth. When Aminah was informed of her husband's death, she composed a heart-rending elegy in his memory.

‘Abdullāh left very little wealth -- five camels, a small number of goats, a woman servant called Barakah Umm Ayman, who would later serve as the Prophet's nursemaid.

The Birth of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)

Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), the Sayyid of Prophets, was born in Makkah, Arabia, on Monday, 12 Rabi' Al-Awal (2August A.D. 570). According to the scholar Muhammad Sulaimân Al-Mansourpuri it was the same year of the Elephant Event, the forty years of the reign of Kisra (Khosru Nushirwan), i.e. on the twentieth or twenty second April, 571 A.D.

The mother of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is Aminah, who was the daughter of Wahb Ibn Abdu Manaf of the Zahrah family. His father, 'Abdullah, was the son of Abdul Muttalib by his wife Fatimah, daughter of 'Amr Ibn 'A'idh Ibn 'Imran Ibn Makhzum Ibn Yaqdha Ibn MurrahTheir genealogy has been traced to the noble house of Ishmael, the son of Prophet Abraham in about the fortieth descend.   His mother, Amīnah, was descended from Qusay’s brother

Ibn Sa‘ad reported that Muhammad’s mother said: "When he was born, there was a light that issued out of my pudendum (genital organs) and lit the palaces of Syria." Ahmad reported on the authority of ‘Arbadh Ibn Sariya something similar to this.

It was but controversially reported that significant precursors accompanied his birth: fourteen galleries of Kisra’s palace cracked and rolled down, the Magians’ sacred fire died down and some churches on Lake Sawa sank down and collapsed.

His mother immediately sent someone to inform his grandfather ‘Abdul Muttalib of the happy event. Happily he came to her, carried him to Al-Ka‘bah, prayed to Allāh and thanked Him. ‘Abdul Muttalib called the baby Muhammad, a name not then common among the Arabs.

The first woman who suckled him after his mother was Thuyebah, the freed slave of Abu Lahab, with her son, Masrouh. She had suckled Hamzah Ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib before, and later Abu Salamah Ibn ‘Abd Al-Asad Al-Makhzumi.


It was the general custom of the Arabs living in towns to send their children away to bedouin wet nurses so that they might grow up in the free and healthy surroundings of the desert whereby they would develop a robust frame and acquire the pure speech and manners of the bedouins, who were noted both for purity of their language and for being free from those vices which usually develop in sedentary societies.

It was customary to send the sons of Quraish into the desert to be suckled by a wet-nurse and spend their early childhood with a Bedouin tribe.  Apart from considerations of health, this represented a return to their roots, an opportunity to experience the freedom that accompanies the vastness of the desert.  Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was accepted by Halimah, and spent four or five years with this Bedouin family, tending the sheep as soon as he was old enough to walk, learning the ways of the desert.

Halīmah bint Abi Dhuaib was from Bani Sa‘ad Ibn Bakr. Her husband was Al-Harith Ibn ‘Abdul ‘Uzza called Abi Kabshah, from the same tribe.

Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) had several foster brothers and sisters, ‘Abdullah Ibn Al-Harith, Anīsah bint Al-Hārith, Hudhafah or Judhamah bint Al-Hārith (known as Ash-Shayma’), and she used to nurse the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and Abu Sufyan Ibn Al-Hārith Ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s cousin. Hamzah Ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s uncle, was suckled by the same two wet nurses, Thuyeba and Halīmah As-Sa‘diyah, who suckled the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

Traditions relate how Halīmah and the whole of her household were favoured by successive strokes of good fortune while the baby Muhammad lived under her care. Ibn Ishaq states that Halīmah narrated that she, along with her husband and a suckling babe, set out from her village in the company of some women of her clan in quest of children to suckle. She said:

It was a year of drought and famine and we had nothing to eat. I rode on a brown she-ass. We also had with us an old she-camel. By Allah we could not get even a drop of milk. We could not have a wink of sleep during the night for the child kept crying on account of hunger. There was not enough milk in my breast and even the she-camel had nothing to feed him. We used to constantly pray for rain and immediate relief. At length we reached Makkah looking for children to suckle. Not even a single woman amongst us accepted the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) offered to her. As soon as they were told that he was an orphan, they refused him. We had fixed our eyes on the reward that we would get from the child’s father. An orphan! What are his grandfather and mother likely to do? So we spurned him because of that. Every woman who came with me got a suckling and when we were about to depart, I said to my husband: "By Allâh, I do not like to go back along with the other women without any baby. I should go to that orphan and I must take him." He said, "There is no harm in doing so and perhaps Allaah might bless us through him." So I went and took him because there was simply no other alternative left for me but to take him. When I lifted him in my arms and returned to my place I put him on my breast and to my great surprise, I found enough milk in it. He drank to his heart’s content, and so did his foster brother and then both of them go to sleep although my baby had not been able to sleep the previous night. My husband then went to the she-camel to milk it and, to his astonishment; he found plenty of milk in it. He milked it and we drank to our fill, and enjoyed a sound sleep during the night. The next morning, my husband said: "By Allāh Halīmah, you must understand that you have been able to get a blessed child." And I replied: "By the grace of Allāh, I hope so."

The tradition is explicit on the point that Halīmah’s return journey and her subsequent life, as long as the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) stayed with her, were encircled with a halo of good fortune. The donkey that she rode when she came to Makkah was lean and almost foundered; it recovered speed much to the amazement of Halīmah’s fellow travellers. By the time they reached the encampments in the country of the clan of Sa‘ad, they found the scales of fortune turned in their favour. The barren land sprouted forth luxuriant grass and beasts came back to them satisfied and full of milk. Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) stayed with Halīmah for two years until he was weaned as Halīmah said:

We then took him back to his mother requesting her earnestly to have him stay with us and benefit by the good fortune and blessings he had brought us. We persisted in our request which we substantiated by our anxiety over the child catching a certain infection peculiar to Makkah. At last, we were granted our wish and the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) stayed with us until he was four or five years of age.

When, as related by Anas bin Malik (radiyallahu’anhu) in Sahih Muslim, Gabriel came down and ripped his chest open and took out the heart. He then extracted a blood-clot out of it and said: "That was the part of Satan in thee." And then he washed it with the water of Zamzam in a gold basin. After that the heart was joined together and restored to its place. The boys and playmates came running to his mother, i.e. his nurse, and said: "Verily, Muhammad has been murdered." They all rushed towards him and found him all right only his face was white.

After this event, Halīmah was worried about the boy and returned him to his mother with whom he stayed until he was six.

It was customary to send the sons of Quraish into the desert to be suckled by a wet-nurse and spend their early childhood with a Bedouin tribe.  Apart from considerations of health, this represented a return to their roots, an opportunity to experience the freedom that accompanies the vastness of the desert.  Prophet Muhammad(Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was accepted by Halimah, and spent four or five years with this Bedouin family, tending the sheep as soon as he was old enough to walk, learning the ways of the desert.

When he was six, not long after he had rejoined his mother, she took him on a visit to Yathrib, where his father had died, and she herself fell ill with one of the fevers prevalent in the oasis, dying on the journey home. Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) now came under the guardianship of his grandfather, Abdul Muttalibchief of the Hashimite clan.  When the boy was eight years old, Abdul Muttalib died, and thus he entered the care of the new Hashimite chieftain, his uncle Abu Talib.  Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) tended sheep, and when he reached the age of nine, he was taken by his uncle on the caravan journey to Syria so that he could learn the art of trade.

The Orphan’s Childhood

Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) returned to live with his mother in Makkah. when he was about three years old. Three years later Aminah decided to take her son to visit his uncles in Yathrib. She told her maid, Barakah, to prepare everything they would need for the long journey, and then they joined one of the caravans going there.

They stayed in Yathrib a month and Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) enjoyed the visit with his cousins. The climate there was very pleasant and he learned to swim and to fly a kite. On their way back to Makkah however, Aminah became ill and died. She was buried in the village at al-Abwa not far from Yathrib. Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) returned sadly to Makkah. with his mother's maid. He was now six years old and had lost both his father and mother. He was then adopted by his grandfather, 'Abdul Muttalib,who loved him dearly and kept him by his side at all times.

It was the custom of 'Abdul Muttalib to sit on a blanket near the Ka’abah. There he was always surrounded by people who had come to speak to him. No one was allowed to sit on the blanket with him, however, except his grandson Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), which shows how close they were to each other. Many times 'Abdul Muttalib was heard to say: 'This boy will be very important one day.'

Two years later 'Abdul Muttalib became ill and Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) stayed by him constantly. 'Abdul Muttalib told his son, Abu Talib, to adopt Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) after his death, which he did. Abu Talib had many children of his own, but Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) immediately became part of his family and the favorite child.

His cell had been used by generations of monks before him and contained ancient manuscripts. When Muhammad was twelve years old, he accompanied his Uncle Abu Talib bin Abdul Mutalib on a mercantile journey to Syria, and they proceeded as far as Busra. The journey lasted for some months.

The Bahira saw the caravan in the distance and was amazed to see that over it was a large white cloud. It was the only cloud in a clear blue sky and it appeared to be shading one of the travelers. The monk was even more surprised to see that the cloud seemed to follow the caravan but disappeared when the person it was shading sat down under a tree. Bahira knew from the scriptures that a prophet was expected to come after Jesus and it had been his wish to see this prophet before he died. Realizing that what he had just seen was a miracle, he began to think that his wish might, after all, come true.

 The monk sent an invitation to the Makkahans.  to come and eat with him. The Arabs were surprised because they often passed by and Bahira had never invited them before. When the group was all together for the meal, the monk said, 'Is this everyone?'

 'No', someone said, 'a boy was left watching the camels.'

Bahira insisted that the boy should join them. The boy was Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) When he arrived Bahira said nothing, but watched him all through the meal. He noticed many things about his appearance which fitted the description in the old manuscripts. Later on he took him aside and asked Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) many questions. He soon found out how he felt about the idols in the Ka 'bah. When Bahira tried to make him swear by them, as the Arabs used to do, Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, 'There is nothing in this world that I hate more'. They talked together about Allah, and about Muhammad's life and family. What was said made Bahira certain that this was indeed the Prophet who would follow Jesus.

Then the monk went to Abu Talib and asked him how he was related to Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) Abu Talib told him that Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was his son. Bahira replied that this could not be so because the boy was destined to grow up an orphan, and Bahira was related to have said to Abu Talib: 'Return with this boy and guard him against the hatred of the Jews, for a great career awaits your nephew."

There are many stories told about Muhammad's youth. Some tell of how he used to take the family's sheep to graze and was always kind to them. While they grazed he would sit thinking about the mysteries of nature. Unlike those around him, he never worshipped the idols and never swore by them. He also wondered why people were always struggling for power and money, and this saddened him and made him feel lonely, but he kept his feelings to himself. He was a quiet, thoughtful boy, and rarely played with other boys of his age.

On one occasion, however, Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) went with some of the boys to a wedding in Makkah. When he reached the house he heard the sounds of music and dancing but just as he was about to enter he suddenly felt tired and, sitting down, fell asleep. He didn't wake up until late the next morning and thus missed the celebrations. In this way Allah prevented him from doing anything foolish for He was keeping Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) for something much more important. 

After this journey, the youth of Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) seems to have been passed uneventfully, but all authorities agree in ascribing to him such correctness of manners and purity of morals as were rare among the people of Makkah. The fair character and the honorable bearing of the unobtrusive youth won the approbation of the citizens of Makkah, and by common consent he received the title of "Al Ameen," (The Faithful).

In his early years, Muhammad was not free from the cares of life. He had to watch the flocks of his uncle, who, like the rest of the Bani Hashim, had lost the greater part of his wealth.

From youth to manhood he led an almost solitary life. The lawlessness rife among the Makkahans, the sudden outbursts of causeless and bloody quarrels among the tribes frequenting the Fair of Okadh (The Arabian Olympia), and the immorality and skepticism of the Quraish, naturally caused feelings of pity and sorrow in the heart of the sensitive youth. Such scenes of social misery and religious degradation were characteristic of a depraved age.

His marriage to Khadijah

When Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was twenty five years old, he traveled once more to Syria as a factor of a noble and rich Quraishi widow named Khadijah; and, having proved himself faithful in the commercial interests of that lady, he was soon rewarded with her hand in marriage. This marriage proved fortunate and singularly happy. Khadijah was much the senior of her husband, but in spite of the disparity of age between them, the tenderest devotion on both sides existed. This marriage gave him the loving heart of a woman who was ever ready to console him in his despair and to keep alive within him the feeble, flickering flame of hope when no man believed in him and the world appeared gloomy in his eyes.

Until he reached thirty years of age, Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was almost a stranger to the outside world. Since the death of his grandfather, authority in Makkah was divided among the ten senators who constituted the governing body of the Arabian Commonwealth. There was no such accord among them as to ensure the safety of individual rights and property. Though family relations afforded some degree of protection to citizens, yet strangers were frequently exposed to persecution and oppression. In many cases they were robbed, not only of their goods, but even of their wives and daughters. At the instigation of the faithful Muhammad(Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), an old league called the Federation of Fudul, i.e., favors was revived with the object of repressing lawlessness and defending every weak individual - whether Makkahan or stranger, free or slave - against any wrong or oppression to which he might be the victim within the territories of Makkah .

When Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) reached thirty-five years, he settled by his judgment a grave dispute, which threatened to plunge the whole of Arabia into a fresh series of her oft-recurring wars. In rebuilding the Sacred House of the Ka'bah in A.D. 605, the question arose as to who should have the honor of raising the black stone, the most holy relic of that House, into its proper place. Each tribe claimed that honor. The senior citizen advised the disputants to accept for their arbitrator the first man to enter from a certain gate. The proposal was agreed upon, and the first man who entered the gate was Muhammad "Al-Ameen." His advice satisfied all the contending parties. He ordered the stone to be placed on a piece of cloth and each tribe to share the honor of lifting it up by taking hold of a part of the cloth. The stone was thus deposited in its place, and the rebuilding of the House was completed without further interruption.

It is related that, about this time, a certain Usman, Ibn Huwairith, supported by Byzantine gold, made an attempt to convert the territory of Hijaz into a Roman dependency, but the attempt failed, chiefly through the instrumentality of Muhammad.

These are nearly all the public acts related by historians in which Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) took part in the first fifteen years of his marriage to Khadijah. As for his private life he is described to have been ever helpful to the needy and the helpless. His uncle Abu Talib had fallen into distress through his endeavors to maintain the old position of his family. Muhammad, being rather rich at this time by his alliance with Khadijah, tried to discharge part of the debt of gratitude and obligation which he owed to his uncle by undertaking the bringing up and education of his son 'Ali. A year later he adopted 'Akil, another of his uncle's sons.

Khadijah bore Muhammad three sons and four daughters. All the males died in childhood, but in loving 'Ali he found much consolation.

About this time, Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) set a good example of kindness, which created a salutary effect upon his people. His wife Khadijah had made him a present of young slave named Zaid Ibn Harithah, who had been brought as a captive to Makkah and sold to Khadijah. When Harithah heard that Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) possessed Zaid, he came to Makkah and offered a large sum for his ransom. Whereupon Muhammd said: "Let Zaid come here, and if he chooses to go with you, takes him without ransom; but if it be his choice to stay with me, why should I not keep him?' Zaid, being brought into Muhammad's presence, declared that he would stay with his master, who treated him as if he was his only son. Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) no sooner heard this than he took Zaid by the hand and led him to the black stone of Ka'bah, where he publicly adopted him as his son, to which the father acquiesced and returned home well satisfied. Henceforward Zaid was called the son of Muhammad.

Muhammd (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was now approaching his fortieth year, and his mind was ever-engaged in profound contemplation and reflection. Before him lay his country, bleeding and torn by fratricidal wars and intolerable dissensions; his people, sunk in barbarism, addicted to the observation of rites and superstitions, were, with all their desert virtues, lawless and cruel. His two visits to Syria had opened to him a scene of unutterable moral and social desolation, rival creeds and sects tearing each other to pieces, carrying their hatred to the valleys and deserts of Hijaz, and rending the townships of Arabia with their quarrels and bitterness.

The Hunafa

The Makkans claimed their descent from Abraham through Ishmael, and their Sacred House, the Ka’abah, had been built by Abraham for the worship of the One God.  It was called the House of God, but the chief objects of worship were number of idols placed inside, sculptural depictions of deities they believed to be the daughters of God which acted as intercessors.  The few who felt disgust at this idolatry which had prevailed for centuries longed for the religion of Abraham.  Such seekers of the truth were known as Hunafa, a word originally meaning “those who turn away” from idol-worship.  These Hunafa did not form a community, but rather each sought the truth by the light of their own inner consciousness.  Muhammad son of Abdullah was one of these.

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.


[1] Ibn Hisham 1/1-2 and Tarikh At-Tabari 2/239-271
[2] Ibn Sa’ad 1/56-57, Tarikh At-Tabari 2/272
[3] Ibn Hisham 1/2-4, Tarikh At-Tabari 2/276. The sources differ over some of these names.

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