early four thousand years ago, in the Sumerian town of Ur in the valley of the river Euphrates, lived a young man named Abraham. The people of Ur had once worshipped Allah 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 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 Allah!' 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. (Koran vi.77)
On another night Abraham 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
This is my Lord. (Koran vi.78)
But it was not long before the moon set as well. Then he said,
Unless my Lord guide me, I surely shall become one of the folk who are astray. (Koran vi.78)
Abraham 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 Allah 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. (Koran xxvi.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 their 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 Allah created you and what you make?' Abraham continued, ‘Do you worship instead of Allah that which cannot profit you at all, nor harm you?' (Koran xxxvii.9S--6) (Koran xxi.66)
Finally, Abraham warned them,
Serve Allah, and keep your duty unto Him; that is better for you if you did but know. You serve instead of Allah only idols, and you only invent a lie. Lo! Those whom you serve instead of Allah own no provision for you. So seek your provision from Allah, and serve Him, and give thanks unto Him, (for) unto Him you will be brought back. (Koran xxix. 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 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 Allah said:
O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham. (Koran xxi.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.’ ( Koran xix.43-7)
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 Allah and who worshipped statues? Abraham always had a sense that Allah cared for him and he felt Allah 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 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.
Some time later Allah promised Abraham another son, but this time the mother of the child would be his first wife, Sarah. This second son would be called lsaac. Allah also told Abraham that from his two sons-lshmael and lsaac-two nations and three religions would be founded and because of this he must take Hagar and lshmael away from Palestine to a new land. These events were an important part of Allah's plan, for the descendants of lshmael would form a nation from which would come a great Prophet, who would guide the people in the way of Allah. This was to be Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, p.b.u.h. From the descendants of Sarah's child, lsaac, would come Moses and Jesus.
So it was that Abraham, Hagar, and lshmael left Palestine. They traveled for many days until finally they reached the arid valley of Bacca (later to be called Mecca), which was on one of the great caravan routes. There was no water in the valley and although Hagar and lshmael only had a small supply of water left, Abraham left them there knowing Allah 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 Mecca.
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 Allah commanded them to rebuild the Ka'bah-the very first place where people had worshipped Allah.
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 Qubays.
Abraham and Ishmael worked hard to rebuild the Ka'bah and as they did so they prayed to Allah 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 raise 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.
(Koran ii. 127-9)
When the Ka'bah was completed, Allah commanded Abraham to call mankind to pilgrimage to His Holy House. Abraham wondered how anyone could hear his call. Allah said, 'You call and I will bring them.' This was how the pilgrimage to the Ka 'bah in Mecca was established and when Muslims make the pilgrimage today they continue to answer the age-old call of Abraham.
THE CHILDREN OF ISHMAEL
One of the duties of the leader of Quraysh was to look after those who
came on pilgrimage to the Ka'bah. 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 Allah 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 Allah, 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, Qusayy, one of the leaders of Quraysh, became ruler over Mecca. 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 Qusayy's death, his son ‘Abdu 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, Mecca grew rich and became a large and important centre of trade.
One summer Hashim went north to buy goods to sell in Yemen. On his way he
stopped in Yathrib to trade in the market and there he saw a beautiful woman.
She was Salma, the daughter of 'Amr ibn Zeid, who was from a much respected
family. Hashim proposed marriage to her and was accepted because he was an
honorable and distinguished man. In time, Salma gave birth to a beautiful son
and as some of his hair was white they called him Shaybah, which in Arabic means
'grey-haired'. Mother and son stayed in the cooler, healthier climate of
Yathrib, while Hashim returned to Mecca, but he would visit them each time he
took his caravan to the north. During one of these journeys, however, Hashim
became ill and died.
Shaybah, a handsome, intelligent boy, grew up in his uncle's house in Yathrib. He was proud of being the son of Hashim ibn 'Abdi Manaf, the head of Quraysh, guardian of the Ka'bah and protector of the pilgrims, even though he had not known his father, who had died while Shaybah was very young.
At Hashim's death his brother al-Muttalib took over his duties and responsibilities. He traveled to Yathrib to see his nephew, Shaybah, and decided that as the boy would one day inherit his father's place, the time had come for him to live in Mecca.
It was hard for Salma, Shaybah's mother, to let her son go with his uncle but she finally realized that it was for the best. Al-Muttalib returned to Mecca, entering the city at noon on his camel with Shaybah behind him. When the people of Mecca saw the boy they thought he was a slave and, pointing at him, called out' 'Abd al-Muttalib', 'Abd' being the Arabic for 'slave'. Al-Muttalib told them that Shaybah was not a slave but his nephew who had come to live with them. From that day on, however, Shaybah was always affectionately called 'Abd al-Muttalib.
On the death of al-Muttalib, who died in Yemen where he had gone to trade, 'Abd al-Muttalib took his place. He became the most respected member of his family, loved and admired by all. He was, however, unlike those Arabs who had given up the teachings of Abraham.
THE PROMISE AT ZAMZAM
The well of Zamzam, which disappeared when the Arabs placed idols at the Ka'bah, remained buried under the sand. Thus, for many years the people of Quraysh had to fetch their water from far away. One day 'Abd al-Muttalib was very tired from doing this and fell asleep next to the Ka 'bah. He had a dream in which he was told to dig up Zamzam. When he woke up he was puzzled because he did not know what Zamzam was, the well having disappeared many years before he was born. The next day he had the same dream, but this time he was told where to find the well.
'Abd al-Muttalib had one son at that time, and together they began to dig. The work was so difficult that 'Abd al-Muttalib made an oath to Allah that if one day he were to have ten sons to help him and stand by him; in return he would sacrifice one of them in Allah’s honor. After working for three days they finally found the well of Zamzam. Pilgrims have been drinking from it ever since.
The years passed by and 'Abd al-Muttalib did have ten sons. They grew into fine, strong men and the time came for him to keep his promise to Allah. He told his sons about the promise and they agreed that he had to sacrifice one of them. To see which one it would be, they decided to draw lots, which was the custom of Quraysh when deciding important matters. 'Abd al-Muttalib told each son to get an arrow and write his own name upon it and then to bring it to him. This they did, after which he took them to the Ka 'bah where there was a man whose special task it was to cast arrows and pick one from among them. This man solemnly proceeded to do this. On the arrow he chose was written the name of 'Abd Allah, the youngest and favorite son of 'Abd al-Muttalib. Even so, the father took his son near the Ka'bah and prepared to sacrifice him.
Many of the Quraysh leaders were present and they became very angry because 'Abd Allah was very young and much loved by everyone. They tried to think of a way to save his life. Someone suggested that the advice of a wise old woman who lived in Yathrib should be sought, and so 'Abd al-Muttalib took his son and went to see if she could decide what to do. Some of the Meccans went with them and when they got there the woman asked, 'What is the price of a man's life?'
They told her, 'Ten camels', for at that time if one man killed another, his family would have to give ten camels to the dead man's family in order to keep the peace among them. So the woman told them to go back to the Ka'bah and draw lots between 'Abd Allah and ten camels. If the camels were chosen, they were to be killed and the meat given to the poor. If 'Abd Allah was picked then ten more camels were to be added and the lots drawn again and again until they finally fell on the camels.
'Abd al-Muttalib returned to the Ka'bah with his son and the people of Mecca. There they started to draw lots between 'Abd Allah and the camels, starting with ten camels. 'Abd al-Muttalib prayed to Allah to spare his son and everyone waited in silence for the result. The choice fell on 'Abd Allah, so his father added ten more camels. Again the choice fell on 'Abd Allah, so they did the same thing again and again, adding ten camels each time. Finally they reached one hundred camels, and only then did the lot fall on the camels.
'Abd Allah was saved and everyone was very happy. 'Abd al-Muttalib, however, wanted to make sure that this was the true result so he repeated the draw three times and each time it fell on the camels. He then gave thanks to Allah that He had spared 'Abd Allah's life. The camels were sacrificed and there was enough food for the entire city, even the animals and birds.
'Abd Allah grew up to be a handsome young man and his father eventually chose Aminah, the daughter of Wahb, as a wife for him. It was a good match, for she was the finest of Quraysh women and 'Abd Allah the best of the men. He spent several months with his wife but then he had to leave her and travel with one of the caravans to trade with Syria. On his way back to Mecca from Syria 'Abd Allah became ill and had to stop off in Yathrib to recover. The caravan, however, continued on its way and arrived back in Mecca without him. On hearing of 'Abd Allah’s illness, 'Abd al-Muttalib sent another son, al-Harith, to bring 'Abd Allah back to Mecca, but he was too late. When he arrived in Yathrib 'Abd Allah was dead.
Aminah was heart-broken to lose her husband and the father of the child she would soon give birth to. Only Allah knew that this orphan child would one day be a great Prophet.
THE ELEPHANT REFUSES TO MOVE
ABRAHAH, who came from Abyssinia - a country in Africa - conquered Yemen and was made vice-regent there. Later, he noticed that at a certain time of the year large numbers of people would travel from all over Yemen and the rest of Arabia to Mecca. He asked the reason for this and was told that they were going on pilgrimage to the Ka 'bah.
Abrahah hated the idea of Mecca being more important than his own country, so he decided to build a church of colored marble, with doors of gold and ornaments of silver, and ordered the people to visit it instead of the Ka'bah. But no one obeyed him.
Abrahah became angry and decided to destroy the Ka'bah. He prepared a large army led by an elephant and set off towards Mecca. When the Meccans heard that he was coming they became very frightened. Abrahah's army was huge and they could not fight it. But how could they let him destroy the Holy Ka'bah? They went to ask the advice of their leader, 'Abd al-Muttalib.
When Abrahah arrived outside Mecca, 'Abd al-Muttalib went to meet him. Abrahah said, 'What do you want?'
Abrahah had taken 'Abd al-Muttalib's camels, which he had found grazing as he entered Mecca, so 'Abd al-Muttalib replied, 'I want my camels back.' Abrahah was very surprised and said, 'I have come to destroy your Holy Ka'bah, the holy place of your fathers, and you ask me about some camels?'
'Abd al-Muttalib replied calmly, 'The camels belong to me; the Ka'bah belongs to Allah and He will protect it. ‘Then he left Abrahah and went back to Quraysh and ordered them to leave Mecca and wait for their enemies in the mountains.
In the morning Abrahah prepared to enter the town. He put armor on his elephant and drew up his troops for battle. He intended to destroy the Ka'bah and then return to Yemen. At that moment, however, the elephant knelt down and refused to get up, mo matter how much the soldiers tried to get it to move by beating it. But when they turned its face in the direction of Yemen it immediately got up and started off. In fact, it did the same in any other direction, but as soon as they pointed it towards Mecca it knelt down again.
Suddenly, flocks of birds appeared from over the sea. Each bird carried three stones as small as peas and they dropped them on Abrahah’s army. The soldiers suddenly fell ill. Even Abrahah was hit by the stones and fled in fear with the rest of his army back to Yemen, where he later died. On seeing their enemy flee, the Arabs came down from the mountains to the Ka'bah and gave thanks to Allah.
After this, Quraysh gained great respect and became known as 'the people of Allah’, and the year in which these events took place, 570 A.D., was named the ‘Year of the Elephant'. In that year Allah had saved the Ka’bah and He would soon bring forth a Prophet from among Quraysh.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant?
Did He not bring their stratagem to naught, And. send against them swarms of flying creatures, Which pelted them with stones of baked clay, And made them like green crops devoured (by cattle)? (Koran CV. 1-5)
ONE day, while traveling north, one of the Arab tribes from Mecca met a hermit in the desert. Some of the men stopped to speak with him. Hermits were known to be wise and the Arabs often asked their advice.
The hermit asked where they had come from. When they replied that they were from Mecca, he told them that Allah would soon send a prophet, who would come from their people. They asked the name of this prophet and the hermit answered that his name would be Muhammad and that he would guide them to a new way of life.
Meanwhile in Mecca, Aminah, although saddened by the loss of her husband, felt especially well and strong as she awaited the birth of her baby. During this time she dreamt of many things. On one occasion it was as if a great light were shining out of her, and on another she heard a voice telling her that she would have a boy and that his name would be Muhammad. She never forgot that voice but she told no one about it.
On Monday, the twelfth day of Rabi al-Awwal in the Year of the Elephant, Aminah gave birth to a son. Allah sends man many signs when one of His chosen Prophets is born. And on that twelfth day of Rabi al-Awwal in the year 570 A.D., many such signs were seen. Some were seen by Jewish scholars who had read in their scriptures of a coming Prophet. One of these learned men in Yathrib, for instance, saw a brilliant new star he had never seen before as he studied the heavens that night. He called the people around him and, pointing the star out to them, told them a Prophet must have been born.
That same night another Jew was passing by the meeting place of the leaders of Quraysh in Mecca. He asked them if a baby boy had just been born and told them that if it were true, this would be the Prophet of the Arab nation.
Aminah sent news of the birth to her father-in-law, 'Abd al-Muttalib, who was sitting near the Ka'bah at the time. He was very happy and began at once to think of a name for the boy. An ordinary name would not do. Six days came and went and still he had not decided. But on the seventh day, as he lay asleep near the Ka'bah, 'Abd al-Muttalib dreamt that he should give the baby the unusual name of Muhammad, just as Aminah herself had dreamt. And so the child was called Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), which means 'the Praised One'.
When 'Abd al-Muttalib told the leaders of Quraysh what he had named his grandson, many of them asked, 'Why did you not choose the sort of name that is used by our people?'
At once he replied, 'I want him to be praised by Allah in the heavens and praised by men on earth.'
A TIME WITH HALIMAH
LIKE many other women in Mecca, Aminah decided to send her son away from the city for his early years to the desert where it was more healthy. Women from the desert used to come to Mecca to collect the new babies and they would then keep them until they developed into strong children, for which they were well paid by the parents.
Among the women who traveled to Mecca to fetch a new baby at the time Aminah's son was born, was a Bedouin woman called HaIimah. With her was her husband and baby son. They had always been very poor, but this year things were harder than ever because there had been famine. The donkey that carried Halimah on the journey was so weak from hunger that he often stumbled. Halimah's own baby son cried all the time because his mother could not feed him properly. Even their she-camel did not give them one drop of milk. Halimah did not know what to do. She thought to herself, 'How can I possibly feed another baby when I haven't got enough milk even for my own son?'
At last they reached Mecca. All the other women of the tribe to which Halimah belonged, the Bani Sa'd, found a child to take back with them, but not Halimah. The only baby left was Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). Usually the father paid the wet-nurse but Muhammad's father was dead. So no one wanted to take him, even though he was from one of the noblest families of Quraysh. Halimah did not want to take him either, but she did not want to be the only woman to go back to her tribe without a baby to bring up. She asked her husband whether she should take Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) or not. He advised her to do so, adding, 'Perhaps Allah will bless us because of him.'
They started on the return journey and as soon as Halimah began to feed Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) her milk suddenly increased and she had enough for him as well as her baby son. When they were back home, everything began to change. The land became green, and the date trees, one of their main sources of food, gave lots of fruit. Even the sheep and their old she-camel began to give plenty of milk. Halimah and her husband knew that this good fortune had come because they had the new baby, Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), whom they had come to love as if he were their own son.
When Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was two years old, Halimah took him back to his mother. She pleaded with Aminah, however, to let her keep him for a little longer and to her great joy the mother agreed.
During his time with Halimah’s family in the desert, Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) played with her children and together they would take the sheep out to graze. At other times, however, Halimah would often find him sitting alone.
It is said that on one occasion, two angels came to Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and washed his heart with snow. In this way Allah made his heart pure for He intended Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) to be greater than any man ever born and to become the Seal of the Prophets.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Did We not expand thy breast for thee And eased thee of thy burden Which weighed down thy back; And exalted thy fame? So truly with hardship comes ease, Truly with hardship comes ease. So when thou art relieved, still toil And strive to please thy Lord. (Koran xciv. 1-8)
When Halimah finally took Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) back to Aminah, he was a healthy, strong boy. Later he would look back with joy on the time he had spent with Halimah, and he always thought of himself as one of the Bani Sa'd.
THE ORPHAN’S CHILDHOOD
MUHAMMAD (p.b.u.h.) returned to live with his mother in Mecca 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 (p.b.u.h.) 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 Mecca, however, Aminah became ill and died. She was buried in the village at al-Abwa not far from Yathrib. Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) returned sadly to Mecca 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, 'Abd al-Muttalib, who loved him dearly and kept him by his side at all times.
It was the custom of 'Abd al-Muttalib to sit on a blanket near the Ka'bah. 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 (p.b.u.h.), which shows how close they were to each other. Many times 'Abd al-Muttalib was heard to say: 'This boy will be very important one day.'
Two years later 'Abd al-Muttalib became ill and Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) stayed by him constantly. 'Abd al-Muttalib told his son, Abu Talib, to adopt Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) after his death, which he did. Abu Talib had many children of his own, but Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) immediately became part of his family and the favorite child.
The time came for Quraysh to prepare a caravan to go to Syria. Abu Talib was going with them and he took Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) along. It was Muhammad's first journey to the north. After days of travel, the caravan arrived at a place near Syria where the Romans used to come to trade with the Arabs. Near this marketplace lived a monk called Bahira. His cell had been used by generations of monks before him and contained ancient manuscripts.
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 Meccans 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 (p.b.u.h.). 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 (p.b.u.h.) 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 (p.b.u.h.) 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 (p.b.u.h.). Abu Talib told him that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was his son. Bahira replied that this could not be so because the boy was destined to grow up an orphan, and he ordered Abu Talib to watch over Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) with great care.
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 (p.b.u.h.) went with some of the boys to a wedding in Mecca. 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 (p.b.u.h.) for something much more important.
The Prophet’s Marriage
By the time Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was twenty-five he was famous for his honesty. He was respected by everyone, even the elders of Mecca. The purity of his nature increased with the years. It seemed he had an inner knowledge that other people did not have. He believed in one God-Creator of the world and he worshipped Him with all his heart and with all his soul. Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was the finest of his people, the most kind, truthful and reliable person in Mecca. He was known among Quraysh as 'the trustworthy' (al-Amin) because of the good qualities Allah had given him. He spent many quiet hours in a cave in Mount Hira, not far from Mecca, thinking about Allah.
Among Quraysh was a respected and wealthy woman named Khadijah. She was involved in trade and on hearing of Muhammad's reputation, sent for him and asked him to take her goods and trade with them in Syria. Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) agreed and left for Syria with one of Khadijah's caravans. With him went her slave, Maysarah, and they spent a great deal of time talking together. Maysarah soon came to admire Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). He thought he was quite different from all the other men of Quraysh.
Two unusual events took place during this journey which puzzled Maysarah very much. The first happened when they stopped to rest near the lonely home of a monk. Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) sat under a tree while Maysarah was busy with some work. The monk came up to Maysarah and asked, 'Who is the man resting under the tree?'
'One of Quraysh, the people who guard the Ka’bah', said Maysarah.
'No one but a Prophet is sitting beneath this tree', replied the monk.
The second event occurred on the journey back to Mecca. It happened at noon, when the sun is at its hottest. Maysarah was riding behind Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and as the sun grew hotter he saw two angels appear above Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and shield him from the sun's harmful rays.
The trading was very successful and Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) made more profit for Khadijah than she had ever received before. When they arrived back in Mecca Maysarah told Khadijah everything about the trip and what he had noticed about Muhammad's character and behavior.
Khadijah was a widow in her forties and as well as being rich and highly respected she was also very beautiful. Many men wanted to marry her but none of them suited her. When she met Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), however, she thought he was very special. She sent a friend to ask Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) why he was not married. Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) said that it was because he had no money, to which the friend replied: 'Supposing a rich, beautiful and noble lady agreed to marry you?' Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) wanted to know who that could be. The friend told him it was Khadijah. Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was very happy, because he greatly respected Khadijah. He went with his uncles, Abu Talib and Hamzah, to Khadijah’s uncle, and asked his permission to marry her. The uncle gave his permission and soon after, Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and Khadijah were married.
Their marriage was a joyful one and Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and Khadijah were well suited. Their life together, however, was not without some sadness. They were blessed with six children, two sons and four daughters. Sadly their first born, a son called Qasim, died shortly before his second birthday, and their last child, also a son, only lived for a short time. Happily, their four daughters - Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthiim, and Fatimah - all survived.
For a few years Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) lived a calm and quiet life as a merchant in Mecca. His wisdom benefited many people. One such time was when Quraysh decided to rebuild the Ka’bah. It was a difficult decision for them because they had to knock it down before rebuilding it and the people were afraid that Allah might be angry with them for knocking down His sanctuary. At last one of the wise old men of Quraysh decided to begin, then everybody followed him.
They worked until they reached down to the first foundation that Abraham had built. As soon as they began to remove the stones of this foundation, however, the whole of Mecca began to shake. They were so afraid that they decided to leave these stones where they were and build on top of them. Each tribe brought stones and they built the Ka'bah up until they reached the place where the black stone was to be set. They then began to argue about who should have the honor of carrying the black stone and lifting it to its place in one of the corners of the Ka’bah. They almost came to blows but fortunately one of the men offered a solution. He suggested that they should be guided by the first person to enter the place of worship. They all agreed and as Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was the first to enter everyone was pleased, because they all trusted him.
They told him the cause of the argument and he asked them to bring a large cloak. They did as he asked, and after spreading the cloak on the ground. he placed the black stone in the centre of it. Then he asked a man from each tribe to hold one edge of the cloak and together to raise it to the height where the stone should be set. When this was done, he took the stone off the cloak and put it into place himself.
This story shows how all Quraysh respected and trusted Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and how, by his wisdom and good sense, he was able to keep the peace.