Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the Master of Prophets, was born in the Bani Hashim area of Makkah on Monday morning, the ninth of Rabi`ul-Awwal, the same year of the Elephant incident, and forty years into the reign of Kisra (Khosru Nushirwan),i.e.,the twentieth or twenty-second of April,571 C.E.,according to the scholar Muhammad Sulaiman Al-Mansurpuri, and the astronomer Mahmud Pasha.
Ibn Sa`d reported that Muhammad’s mother said: “When he was born, there was a light that issued out of my pudendum and lit the palaces of Syria.’’ Ahmad and Ad-Darimi reported something similar to this. It was reported that significant signs accompanied his birth: fourteen balconies of Kisra’s palace collapsed, the Magians’ sacred fire went out and some churches on Lake Sawa sank down and collapsed. This was recorded by AtTabari, Al-Baihaqi and others, but none of the chains of narration are confirmed. His mother immediately sent someone to inform his grandfather `Abdul-Muttalib of the happy event. Happily he came to her, carried the infant to the Ka`bah, prayed to Allah and thanked Him. `Abdul-Muttalib called the infant Muhammad, a name not common among the Arabs. He circumcised him on the seventh day as was the custom of the Arabs.
The first woman who suckled him after his mother was Thuwaibah, the freed slave of Abu Lahab, with her son, Masruh. She had suckled Hamzah bin `Abdul-Muttalib before and later Abu Salamah bin `Abdul-Asad AlMakhzumi.
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. Thereby they would develop a strong body and acquire the pure speech and manners of the bedouins, who were noted both for chastity of their language and for being free from the vices which usually develop in inactive societies.
The Prophet was later entrusted to Halimah bint Abi Dhuaib from Bani Sa`d bin Bakr. Her husband was Al-Harith bin `Abdul-`Uzza called Abi Kabshah, from the same tribe.
Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had several foster brothers and sisters, `Abdullah bin Al-Harith, Aneesah bint Al-Harith, Hudhafah or Judhamah bint Al-Harith (known as Ash-Shayma’), and she used to take care of the Prophet, and Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith bin `Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s cousin. Hamzah bin `Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s uncle, was suckled by the same two wet nurses, Thuwaibah and As-Sa`diyah, who suckled the Prophet.
There are delightful traditions relating how Halimah and her entire household were favored by successive strokes of good fortune while Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) lived under her care as an infant. Ibn Ishaq states that Halimah narrated that she, along with her husband and a suckling infant, set out from her village in the company of some women from Banu Sa`d bin Bakr in quest of children to suckle.
It was a year of drought and famine and we had nothing to eat. I rode on a brown mule. 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 because 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 among us accepted when Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was 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 were his grandfather and mother likely to do? So we refused to accept him because of that.
Every woman who came with me got a suckling infant and when we were about to depart, I said to my husband: “By Allah, I do not like to go back along with the other women without any infant. I should go to that orphan and I must take him.’’ He said, “There is no harm in doing so and perhaps Allah 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 went 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 Allah! O Halimah, you must understand that you have got a blessed child.’’ And I replied: “By the grace of Allah, I hope so.’’
The tradition is clear on the point that Halimah’s return journey and her subsequent life, as long as the Prophet stayed with her, was encircled with a halo of good fortune. The donkey that she rode when she came to Makkah was lean and almost lame; it recovered speed much to the amazement of Halimah’s fellow travellers. By the time they reached the encampments of the Bani Sa’d clan in the country, they found the scales of fortune turned in their favor. The barren land sprouted luxuriant grass and the animals went out to pasture and came back to them satisfied and full of milk. Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stayed with Halimah for two years until he was weaned as Halimah said:
“We then took him back to his mother earnestly requesting her to have him stay with us so that we may benefit from the good fortune and blessings he brought us. We persisted in our request, expressing our anxiety over the child catching a certain infection peculiar to Makkah. At last, we were granted our wish and the Prophet stayed with us until we returned with him.’’
The Prophet stayed with them until he was about four or five years old.Then, as related by Anas in Sahih Muslim, Gabriel came down, opened his chest 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 went running to his mother, i.e., his nurse, and said: “Verily, Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has been murdered.’’ They all rushed towards him and found him to be alright and that only his face was pale.
And Anas said, “I have seen the mark that was left on his chest.”
Back to His Passionate Mother
After this event, Halimah was worried about the boy and returned him to his mother with whom he stayed until he was six.
In respect of the memory of her late husband, Aminah decided to visit his grave in Yathrib (Madinah). She set out to cover a journey of 500 kilometers with her orphan boy, her father-in-law `Abdul-Muttalib, and a woman servant Umm Aiman. She spent a month there and then made her way back to Makkah. On the route, she suffered a severe illness and died in Abwa on the road between Makkah and Madinah.
To His Compassionate Grandfather
`Abdul-Muttalib brought the boy to Makkah. He had warm emotions towards the boy, his orphan grandson, whose recent calamity (his mother’s death) added to the pain of his past bereavement. `Abdul-Muttalib was more compassionate and loving with his grandson than with his own children. He never left the boy fall prey to loneliness, but always preferred him to his own children. Ibn Hisham reported: A mattress was put in the shade of the Ka`bah for `Abdul-Muttalib. His children used to sit around that mattress in deference to their father, but Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to sit on it. His uncles would try to take him back, but if `Abdul-Muttalib was present, he would say: “Leave my grandson. I swear by Allah that this boy will hold a significant position.’’ He used to seat the boy on his mattress, pat his back and was always pleased with what the boy did.
When Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was eight years, two months and ten days old, his grandfather `Abdul-Muttalib passed away in Makkah. The charge of the Prophet now passed on to his uncle Abu Talib, who was the full-brother of the Prophet’s father.
Abu Talib took on the responsibility of his nephew in the best way. He placed him with his own children and preferred him to them. He singled the boy out with great respect and held him in high esteem. Abu Talib remained thus for forty years, cherishing his nephew and extending all possible protection and support to him.
His relations with the others were determined in the light of the treatment they showed to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Ibn `Asakir reported on the authority of Jalhamah bin `Arfutah who said: “I came to Makkah when it was a rainless year, so the Quraish said: ‘O Abu Talib, the valley has become leafless and the children are hungry, let us go and pray for rainfall.’
Abu Talib went to the Ka`bah with a young boy who was as beautiful as the sun, and a black cloud was over his head. Abu Talib and the boy stood by the wall of the Ka`bah and prayed for rain.
Immediately clouds from all directions gathered and rain fell heavily and caused springs to flow and plants to grow in the town and the country.
Bahirah, the Monk
When Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was twelve years old — and they say plus two months and ten days -he went with his uncle Abu Talib on a trade journey to Syria.
When they reached Busra (which was a part of Syria, in the vicinity of Hawran under the Roman domain), there was a monk named Bahirah (they say his name was Georges), who came out to meet them. Although he had not met them before, he easily recognized the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said while taking his hand: “This is the master of all humans. Allah will send him with a Message which will be a mercy to all beings.’’ Abu Talib asked: “How do you know that?’’ He replied: “When you appeared from the direction of `Aqabah, all the stones and trees prostrated themselves, which they never do except for a Prophet. I can also recognize him by the seal of Prophethood which is below his shoulder, like an apple. We have found this in our books.’’ He also asked Abu Talib to send the boy back to Makkah and not to take him to Syria for fear of the Romans and Jews. Abu Talib obeyed and sent him back to Makkah with some of his male servants.
The `Sacrilegious’ Wars
When he (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was twenty years of age, the `sacrilegious’ wars — which continued with varying fortunes and considerable loss of human life for a number of years — broke out between tribes; the Quraish and Banu Kinanah were on one side and Qais `Ailan tribe on the other. It was thus called because the inviolable was made violable, the prohibited months being included. Harb bin Umaiyah, on account of his outstanding position and honorable lineage, used to be the leader of Quraish and their allies. In one of those battles, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) assisted his uncles. His efforts were confined to picking up the arrows of the enemy as they fell, and handing them over to his uncles.
At the conclusion of these wars during the sacred month of Dhul-Qa`dah, when peace was restored, people felt the need to form a confederacy at Makkah for suppressing violence and injustice, and protecting the rights of the weak and the poor.
Representatives of Banu Hashim, Banu Al-Muttalib, Asad bin `Abdul`Uzza, Zahrah bin Kilab and Taim bin Murrah were called to meet in the house of an honorable elderly man called `Abdullah bin Jad`an At-Taimy to enter into a confederacy that would provide for the above-mentioned items. Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) shortly after he had been honored with the ministry of Prophethood, witnessed this league and commented on it, with very positive words: “I witnessed a confederacy in the house of `Abdullah bin Jad’an. It was more appealing to me than herds of cattle. Even now in the period of Islam, I would respond positively to attending such a meeting if I were invited.’’
In fact, the spirit of this confederacy and the course of considerations therein marked a complete departure from the pre-Islamic tribal pride.
The story that led to its convention says that a man from the Zubaid clan came as a merchant to Makkah where he sold some commodities to Al-`As bin Wa’il As-Sahmi. The latter avoided paying for the goods. The trader sought help from some of his allies from the Quraish but they paid no heed to his earnest pleas. He then went to a mountaintop and began, at the top of his voice, to recite verses of complaint giving an account of the injustices he had sustained. Az-Zubair bin `Abdul-Muttalib made inquiries into the matter. Consequently, the parties to the aforesaid confederacy convened their meeting and managed to force money for the man from Zubaid out of Al-`As bin Wa’il.
Muhammad’s (SAW) Early Occupation
Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had no particular job at his early youth, but it was reported that he worked as a shepherd for Bani Sa`d and in Makkah for a wage.
At the age of 25, he went to Syria as a merchant for Khadijah(May Allah be Pleased with her). Ibn Ishaq reported that Khadijah(May Allah be Pleased with her), daughter of Khuwailid was a businesswoman of great honor and fortune. She used to employ men to do her business for a certain percentage of the profits.
The Quraish were merchants, so when Khadijah(May Allah be Pleased with her)was informed of Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), his truthful words, great honesty and kind manners, she sent for him. She offered him money to go to Syria and do business for her, and she would give him a higher rate than the others. She would also send her servant, Maisarah, with him. He agreed and went with her servant to Syria for trade.
His Marriage to Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her)
When he returned to Makkah, Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her) noticed greater profits and blessings in her business than usual. Her servant also told her of Muhammad’s good manners, honesty, deep thought, sincerity and faith. Upon realizing this, she developed a wish for marriage. Earlier, many prominent men had asked for her hand in marriage but she had always refused their advances. She disclosed her wish to her friend Nafisah, daughter of Muniyah, who immediately went to Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to inform him.
He agreed and requested his uncles to go to Khadijah’s uncle to discuss the matter. Subsequently, they were married. The marriage agreement was witnessed by Bani Hashim and the chiefs of Mudar. This took place after the Prophet’s return from Syria. He gave her twenty camels as a dowry. At the time she was forty years old and was considered the best of women in lineage, fortune and wisdom. She was the first woman Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) married. He did not get married to any other until she passed away.
With the exception of Ibrahim, Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her)bore all of his children: Al-Qasim, Zainab, Ruqaiyah, Umm Kulthum, Fatimah and `Abdullah who was also called Taiyyib and Tahir. All his sons died in their childhood and all the daughters except Fatimah died during his lifetime. Fatimah died six months after his death. All his daughters witnessed Islam, embraced it, and emigrated to Madinah.
Rebuilding Al-Ka`bah and the Arbitration Issue
When Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was thirty-five, the Quraish started rebuilding Al-Ka`bah. This was because it was a low building of white stones no more than nine arm’s length, from the days of Ismael (May peace be upon him!). It was also roofless leaving thieves with easy access to the treasures inside. It was also exposed to the wearing forces of nature that weakened and cracked its walls, since it was built so long ago. Five years before the advent of Prophethood, there was a great flood in Makkah that swept towards AlKa`bah and almost demolished it. The Quraish were obliged to rebuild it to safeguard its sanctity and position. The chiefs of the Quraish decided to only use lawful money in rebuilding Al-Ka`bah, so all money derived from immoral means, usury or unjust practice was excluded. At first, they were too fearful to knock down the wall, but Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah AlMukhzumi began the task. Seeing that he was unharmed, others participated in demolishing the walls until they reached the foundation laid by Ibrahim. When they started rebuilding its walls, they divided the work among the tribes such that each tribe was responsible for rebuilding a part of it. The different tribes collected stones and started work.
The man who laid the stones was a Roman mason called Baqum. The work went on in harmony until the time came to restore the sacred Black Stone to its proper place. Strife broke out among the chiefs, and lasted for four or five days, each contesting for the honor of placing the stone in its position. Daggers were on the point of being drawn and great bloodshed seemed imminent. Luckily, the oldest among the chiefs, Abu Umaiyah bin Mughirah Al-Makhzumi made a proposal that was accepted by all. He said: “Let him, who enters the Sanctuary first of all, decide on the point.’’ It was then Allah’s Will that the Messenger of Allah should be the first to enter the Masjid. On seeing him, all the people present, cried with one voice: ‘‘AlAmeen (the trustworthy) has come. We are content to abide by his decision.’’ They informed him of their objective. He asked for a mantle, and spread it on the ground placing the stone in its center. He then asked the representatives of the different clans among them to lift the stone all together. When it reached the proper place, Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) laid it in the original position with his own hands. This is how a very tense situation was eased and a grave danger averted by the wisdom of the Prophet.
The Quraish ran out of the lawful money they had collected, so they eliminated an area covering six arm’s length on the northern side of AlKa`bah which is called Al-Hijr or Al-Hateem. They raised its door from the level ground to let in only the people whom they wished. When the structure was fifteen arm-lengths high, they erected the roof which rested on six columns.
When the construction of Al-Ka`bah was complete, it assumed a square form about fifteen meters high. The side with the Black Stone and the one opposite were ten meters long each. The Black Stone was 1.50 meters from the circumambulation level ground. The two other sides were twelve meters long each. The door was two meters high from the level ground. A building structure 0.25 meter high and 0.30 meter wide on the average surrounded Al-Ka`bah. It was called Ash-Shadherwan, originally an integral part of the Sacred Sanctuary, but the Quraish left it out.
A Summary of Muhammad’s Biography Before Commissioning of the Prophethood
In his youth, Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was a combination of the best social attributes. He was an exemplary man with a weighty mind and faultless insight. He was favored with intelligence, originality of thought and accurate means leading to his goals. His periods of long silence helped his habit of meditation and deep investigation into the truth. His vivid mind and pure nature were instrumental in assimilating and comprehending ways of life and people, from the point of view of the individual and community. He shunned superstitious practices but took an active part in constructive and useful dealings; otherwise, he would have taken a route to his self-adopted seclusion. He kept himself aloof from drinking wine, eating meat slaughtered on stone altars, or attending the festivals of the idolaters. He held the idols in extreme aversion and disgust. He could never tolerate someone swearing by Al-Lat and Al-’Uzza.
Allah’s guidance and care, no doubts, detached him from all repulsive or evil practices. Even when he tried to follow his desire to enjoy some worldly pleasures or follow some unrespectable traditions, Allah’s providence intervened to control any slip on his part. Ibn Al-Athir reported Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as saying: “I have never tried to do anything the people of ignorance did except for two times. Every time Allah intervened and checked me from doing so and I never did that again. Once I told my fellow-shepherd to take care of my sheep when we were in the upper part of Makkah. I wanted to go down to Makkah and entertain myself as the young men did. I went down to the first house in Makkah where I heard music. I entered and asked: `What is this?’ Someone answered: `It is a wedding party.’ I sat down and listened but soon went into a deep sleep. I was awakened by the heat of the sun. I went back to my fellow-shepherd and told him what happened to me. I never tried it again.’’
Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Jabir bin `Abdullah that he said: “While the people were rebuilding Al-Ka`bah, the Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went with `Abbas to carry some stones. `Abbas said: `Put your loincloth round your neck to protect you from the stones.’ (As he did that) the Prophet fell to the ground and his eyes turned skyward. Later on, he woke up and called: `My loincloth…my loincloth.’ He wrapped himself in his loincloth.’’ In another report: “His loins were never seen afterwards.’’
The Prophet was distinguished among his people for his modesty, virtuous behavior and graceful manners. He proved himself to be the ideal of manhood, and to possess a spotless character. He was the most obliging to his compatriots, the most honest in his speech and the mildest in temper. He was the most gentle-hearted, chaste and hospitable. He always impressed people by his virtuous words and expressions. He was the most truthful and the best to keep a covenant.
His fellow-citizens, by common consent, gave him the title of Al-Ameen (the trustworthy). The Mother of Believers, Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her), once said: “He maintains ties of kinship, helps the poor and the needy, he entertains the guests and stands with the oppressed for truth.’’