Story No. 139 – Hazrat Muhammad’s (saw) Birth and Childhood (Hafta-E-Wahdat, Week of Unity)
Hafta-E-Wahdat, Week of Unity Hazrat Muhammad (saw) was born in the year 570 CE (fifty-three years before the Hijrah) in the town of Makkah, a mountain town in the high desert plateau of western Arabia. His name derives from the Arabic verb Hamada, meaning “to praise, to glorify.” He was the first and only son of Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abd Al-Muttalib and Hazrat Aminah bint Wahab. Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abd Al-Muttalib died before Hazrat Muhammad’s (saw) birth. The precise date of his birth is disputed among the historians, but Ayatullah Ruhullah Musawi al-Khomeini (ra), the founder of the Islamic revolution had declared the week between 12th and 17th Rabi al-Awwal as “Hafta-E-Wahdat” meaning “the week of unity amongst Muslims.” Muslims all over the world are urged to get together and celebrate (Eid-E-Milad un Nabi) the birth of Hazrat Muhammad (saw) for the whole week.
The year in which our Hazrat Muhammad (saw) was born is called as the Year of Elephant (Aam ul-Feel); it is because of that famous incidence in which the ruler of Yemen, Abraha tried to destroy Kaaba using his army of Elephants and a vast flock of small birds like swallows, carrying pebbles in their beaks darkened the sky and pelted them down upon the heads of Abraha’s army causing deep puncture like wounds killing many. It is also said that at the same time for the first time in Arabia, the diseases of typhoid and smallpox appeared, affecting the whole army. Abraha himself suffered from smallpox, and remained alive only until he reached Yemen and died there. This is the theme mentioned in Noble Qur’an, Chapter 105 ‘Feel’ (Elephant).
The tribe that Hazrat Muhammad (saw) came from was named “Quraish”. This tribe was one of the most influential tribes that governed Muslims centuries after Islam.
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) as Wonderful Baby (Eid-E-Milad un Nabi, Birth celebration)
Eid-E-Milad un Nabi, Birth celebrationHazrat Muhammad (saw) was born and his blessed birth gave rise to numerous wonderful incidents in the sky and on the earth, especially in the East, the cradle of civilization.
News of these events spread quickly and informed the people of an imminent, very significant incident. Since this newborn child was predestined to destroy the people’s old superstitious beliefs and customs and to lay new foundations for human progress and prosperity, from the very beginning he sounded the reveille.
It is narrated that on the day which our Hazrat Muhammad (saw) was born, the following incidents happened:
All the idols fell down.
The “Kasra Veranda” (a part of the palace of Iran’s King) shook and fourteen of its notches were damaged.
The “Saweh Lake” that people worshiped for years, dried up.
Water flowed in “Samaweh Desert”, where no one had seen water for many years.
The fire in the fire-temple of Persia was extinguished, which had been flaming for several years.
On that night, a light came out from “Hijaz” and spread to the east.
So the humiliated worshippers of that false, destructive object of worship, whose minds had been blocked by the obstacles of prejudice and false imitation and who thus could not reflect upon nature took notice of the truth and were attracted toward a totally different direction.
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) in the Storm of events
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) was just six years old when his mother, Hazrat Aminah bint Wahab, left Makkah for Medina to visit her relatives and probably to pay a respectful visit to her husband’s grave. He (saw) accompanied his mother on that trip. But after visiting her relatives and expressing love and loyalty to her husband at Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abd Al-Muttalib’s graveside, on her way back to Makkah, Hazrat Aminah bint Wahab passed away at a place named Abwa. Thus, Hazrat Muhammad (saw) had lost both his mother and father by that tender age when every child needs a father’s affections and a mother’s loving embrace.
A glimpse into Hazrat Muhammad’s (saw) character [Mawlid al-Nabi, Mawlid an Nabi]
Hazrat Muhammad’s (saw) characterJust as Hazrat Muhammad’s (saw) birth and the events that followed his blessed birth were extraordinary and suggestive of his majesty and supreme character, so his behaviour and manner of speaking in childhood also made him different from other children. Hazrat Abd Al-Muttalib, the chief of the Quraish tribe, did not treat his grandson like other children, but held him in great respect and reverence.
Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, Hazrat Muhammad’s (saw) uncle, used to say, ‘We have never heard any lies from Muhammad, nor have we seen him misconduct himself or make mischief. He never laughs unduly nor speaks idly and he is mostly alone’.
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) was seven years old when the Jews remarked, ‘In our Books we have read that the Prophet of Islam refrains from eating any food which is religiously prohibited or doubtful. Let’s try him’.
So they stole a hen and sent it to Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib. Not knowing that the hen had been stolen, all ate from the cooked hen but Hazrat Muhammad (saw), who avoided even tasting it. When they asked the reason for this avoidance of the food, he (saw) answered, ‘this food is forbidden by Allah (SWT), and Allah (SWT) protects me against anything that He has forbidden.’
Then the Jews took a hen from a neighbour, intending to pay for it later on, and sent it to Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib’s house. Again he (saw) avoided eating the hen, saying, ‘this food is doubtful and …’
Then the Jews said, ‘This child has an extraordinary character and a supreme position’.
Some scenes from Hazrat Muhammad’s (saw) childhood and youth
Hazrat Muhammad’s (saw) childhood and youthHazrat Muhammad (saw) went through the difficulties of orphanhood in his childhood with the support of his high-spirited grandfather, Hazrat Abd Al-Muttalib, and his affectionate uncle, Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib.
When Hazrat Muhammad (saw) became eight years old, Hazrat Abd Al-Muttalib passed away as well. This incident made Hazrat Muhammad (saw) very sad.
After that Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, the master of Quraish, accepted to look after him. Although Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib was not rich, he and his honorable wife Hazrat Fatima bint Asad [the mother of Hazrat Ali (as)], tried their best in looking after Hazrat Muhammad (saw).
It seems that the heart rendering pains of orphanhood must have severely tormented his pure delicate soul. It is logical to believe that these sufferings were necessary for the foundation of his supreme character and that such difficulties taught him how to resist the hardships of life and to bear the heavy responsibility later to be put on his blessed shoulders.
As time went on, Hazrat Muhammad (saw) grew up and his childhood gave place to youth, when instincts and potentials bloom. Hazrat Muhammad (saw) received affectionate care and attention from his uncle Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, who, due to his moral attitudes and in obedience to his father’s emphatic order, protected and supported him. In fact, Hazrat Muhammad (saw) represented three things to Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib: a son, a reminder of his brother, Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, and of his father, Hazrat Abd Al-Muttalib. So Hazrat Muhammad (saw) became a beloved member of Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib’s family, lived in his house, and was treated as his own son. To Hazrat Muhammad (saw), Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib was an affectionate father, a loyal uncle, and a compassionate preceptor. These two – uncle and nephew – were so fond of each other that their lives seemed to be intertwined. This very intense affection had caused Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib to refuse to ever part from him.
Hazrat Muhammad’s (saw) presence in his uncle’s house was not ordinary. Signs of his greatness could be seen everywhere. His entrance to their house brought bountiful blessings to the house of Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib. Hazrat Fatima bint Asad has said, “From the moment that Hazrat Muhammad (saw) entered our home, the tree, which had dried up for years, prospered and offered fruits.”
Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib narrates that they would hear Hazrat Muhammad (saw) praying at nights. Though it was against the custom of Arabs to remember Allah (SWT) while eating, the little Hazrat Muhammad (saw) would not start eating or drinking unless reciting the name of Allah (SWT). He would also end his meal by thanking Allah (SWT), the exalted.
Bahira’s Interview with Hazrat Muhammad (saw) [Eid e Milad un Nabi, Birth Anniversary]
Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib set out for Damascus (Syria) on business and took Hazrat Muhammad (saw) along when he (saw) was 12 years old. It was a massive caravan and a great number of people traveled along with a huge quantity of merchandise until they arrived in Syria and entered the city of Busra. In the vicinity of a monastery, they pitched a tent and took rest.
Bahira, a devout Christian monk, caught sight of it through his monastery’s window. He observed the caravan shaded by a little cloud that kept pace with it. Bahira came out of his monastery, stood in a corner and instructed his servant, ‘Go and tell them that today they are all my guests’.
All came to him but Hazrat Muhammad (saw), who was standing beside the property and equipment of the caravan. Seeing that the cloud had ceased to move, Bahira asked his guests, ‘are all the members of the caravan present here?’ They answered, ‘All but a youth who is the youngest’. Bahira said, ‘Tell him to come as well’. So he was asked to come to the monk’s room. The keen eyes of Bahira noticed that the cloud over his head moved with him. Taken by surprise, Bahira kept staring at the young boy. When the meal was over, the pious monk told him, ‘I have a question to ask you and you must swear by Lat and Al-Uzza to answer my question’.
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) said, ‘Those two you have asked me to swear by are the most detestable things to me’. Bahira said, ‘Swear by Allah to answer my question’.
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) said, ‘I always speak the truth and I have never told a lie; you ask your question’.
Bahira’s Interview with Hazrat Muhammad (saw)Bahira asked: “What do you like the most”?
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) answered: “Loneliness”.
Bahira asked: “What do you look the most at and what do you like to look at”?
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) said: “The sky and the stars within it”.
Bahira asked: “What do you think of”?
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) remained silent, but Bahira carefully glanced at his forehead.
Bahira asked: “When do you sleep and with what thoughts”?
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) stated: “When I fix my eyes upon the sky, I see the stars and I find them in my lap and myself above them”.
Bahira asked: “Do you see dream also”?
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) stated: “Whatever I see in dream, the same I see while I am awake.”
Bahira asked: “What do you dream of, as an example”?
Hazrat Muhammad (saw) kept quiet, Bahira also kept quiet.
After a while, Bahira asked: “May I take a look at the centre of your shoulders”?
Hazrat Muhammad (saw), while standing still, stated: “Come and see.”
Bahira stood up, came closer, and pulled the dress of Hazrat Muhammad (saw) off his shoulders. A mole appeared. Bahira took a look and said in a murmuring voice: “He is the very person”.
Bahira knelt down before him and started kissing his hands and feet, saying, ‘If I live till you start your divine mission, I will most faithfully aid you and fight your enemies. You are superior to all of Adam’s offspring…’.
Then Bahira asked, ‘whose son is this youth?’ The caravan members pointed to Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, saying, ‘His son’. Bahira said, ‘No. His father must be dead!’
Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib said, ‘You are right. He is my nephew’. Bahira then said, ‘This youth will have a brilliant, extraordinary future. If the Jews find out what I have realized about him, they will destroy him. Take great care lest the Jews should hurt him’.
Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib said, ‘What is he destined to do? What have the Jews to do with him?’ Bahira said, ‘He is predestined to become a Hazrat, and the angel of inspiration will come down and make divine revelations to him’. Hazrat Abu Talib ibn Abd Al-Muttalib said, ‘God will not leave him alone and will Himself protect him against the Jews and his malevolent enemies’.