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In the previous story, we told how Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib, had been chosen to be sacrificed to Allah, but had been spared by the sacrifice of one hundred camels. After the sacrifice of the camels had been accepted by Allah, Abdul Muttalib decided to find a wife for Abdullah. Aminah was chosen to be Abdullah’s wife.

Shortly after their marriage, Abdullah went with a caravan to trade in Palestine and Syria. On the way home he stopped in Yathrib to visit family members who lived there. He was taken fatally ill during his visit. Aminah was deeply grieved over the death of her husband. Her only consolation was the knowledge that she was carrying his unborn child. Sometime later her son, Muhammad , was born.

It was the custom of the great families of Arab towns to send their sons, soon after birth, to spend time in the desert with nomadic tribes. Not only was the desert air healthier for the boys’ bodies but the desert environment was also good for the boys’ spiritual and mental development, far from the corrupting influences of city life. Boys often stayed up to eight years with their foster families in the desert. Members of the nomadic tribes came periodically to Makkah to find babies to nurse and raise in the desert. One highly regarded tribe was that of Bani Saad. Haleema and her husband Harith were members of that tribe. There had been a drought at the time of Muhammad’s birth. Haleema and her husband had lost nearly everything. Haleema set out for Makkah on an old donkey which was so weak that it could hardly keep up with the others in the group. She and her husband also had an old camel which was so poorly fed that it didn’t provide any milk for them. As a result, Haleema was undernourished and could not produce enough milk to feed her newborn son, who cried with hunger every night.

When they reached Makkah, no one wanted to give their baby to Haleema because she was too weak and poor. At the same time, nobody wanted to take the baby Muhammad to nurse because he was an orphan and his mother was not rich. At last the only woman of Bani-Saad who had not found a baby to nurse was Haleema; and the only boy who did not have a nurse was Muhammad . So she agreed to take the baby. There was an instantaneous change in the fortunes of Haleema and Harith. When she put the baby to her breasts to feed, there was more than enough milk to satisfy him and her own baby too. The camel suddenly produced large quantities of milk for the woman and her husband, so that they were no longer hungry. On the journey home, her donkey carried her so quickly that the others had to shout to her to slow down. When they reached home, their flocks of sheep remained well-fed and produced large quantities of milk, while the sheep of their neighbors were hungry and would not produce a drop of milk. While the baby stayed with them, they continued to experience the special favors of Allah.

Haleema returned Muhammad to his mother when he was two years old. But since there were some dangerous illnesses circulating around Makkah at that time, Aminah returned Muhammad to Haleema to keep for a while longer.

Insha Allah, in the next story we shall continue telling of the boyhood of Muhammad .


Published: April 1993

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Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756