The Upbringing of the Prophet
The Upbringing of the Prophet
As was the custom in those days, babies of noble families were normally entrusted to the care of strong and healthy wet nurses, who not only gave suck but also taught their wards manners and etiquette. The young Muhammad (s.a.w.) was accordingly put under the care of a noble wet-nurse called Halima bint Hareth As-Saadiyah, who brought him up along with her own children; Abdullah, Eisa and daughter Shaima. (A deep affinity developed between the Prophet and his foster brothers and sister, and later in life they also accepted Islam.).
After four years Halima brought back the child to his mother and grandfather. Everyone was happy as the toddler started to grow up into a pretty, sober and intelligent boy, marked out from the rest of the children by his suave manners and loved and admired by all.
Mother and Grandfather Die :
At the age of six, his mother took him to Yathrib to visit her family. Umm Aiman their maid accompanied them on the journey. At Yathrib, the young boy saw the grave of his father, whom he had never seen in life. What a moving scene it may have been when mother and son, set eyes on Abdullah's grave!
After a short stay in Yathrib they started back, but on the way Amina became seriously ill. The party stopped to nurse her but her condition became worse and finally she breathed her last and was buried at a place called Abwa, situated between Mecca and Medina. The child was naturally sad at loosing his only surviving parent, at the tender age of 6. Now he was an orphan on both sides and alone in this wide world. But Almighty Allah is Great and Omnipresent and He alone decrees destinies. Umm Aiman escorted Muhammad (s.a.w.) to Abdul Muttalib, who was shocked on hearing news of his daughter-in-law's sudden death. The doting grandfather took upon himself the task of bringing-up the young orphan; never letting him feels the slightest discomfort. But there was yet another shock in store for Muhammad (s.a.w.), for when he reached the age of 8, he lost his loving grandfather too.
Abu Talib Assumes Guardianship :
Before his death, Abdul Muttalib instructed his son Abu Talib to see his orphaned grandson's upbringing. Accordingly, Abu Talib gladly assumed guardianship of his nephew and took young Muhammad (s.a.w.) under his roof. Abu Talib and his wife Fatimah bint Asad raised the orphan as their own child, never making him feel the slightest thought of being a destitute. They loved him dearly and he loved them in turn. In later years he was often heard saying that Fatimah bint-Asad, (the mother of Imam Ali) was like a mother to him.
The Prophet's Marriage
Muhammad (s.a.w.) grew up in his loving uncle's house, blossoming into a handsome youth of exceptionally good character, which marked him out from rest of the young Meccans. He soon began to assist Abu Talib in trade and commerce and once accompanied his uncle's trading caravan to Syria, ably revealing his talents and integrity. His honesty and reputation preceded him and sometime after his return to Mecca he took up a trading job with one of the wealthiest and noblest Quraishite women, Khadija bint Khuwailid. He accepted to work for Khadija and was entrusted with some money, with which he busied himself in commerce. He again traveled to Syria and made great profits for Khadija during the trip.
Naturally Khadija was pleased and soon came to admire Muhammad's (s.a.w.) intelligence and honesty. Eventually she offered her hand in marriage, which was accepted by him. This event took place in the month of Shawwaal. Muhammad (s.a.w.) thus married Khadija and they lived a harmonious life full of love, cooperation and sincerity, sharing each other's joys and sorrows. They formed a perfect husband and wife pair, the likeness of which is something rare in human history. When finally the Divine Message was revealed to Muhammad (s.a.w.), the devout Khadija at once believed in her husband without ever expressing the slightest doubt. She was the first among women to accept Islam and subsequently put all her vast wealth and property at the Prophet's disposal for the spread of truth and justice.
Khadija bint Khuwailid was from the Quraish tribe and was born and bred in Mecca. Even in the days of Jahiliyyah she was known among the Quraish women for her nobleness of character and virtue, that is why she was called by the Meccans as Tahera 'the pure'. She married Muhammad (s.a.w.), 15 years before revelation came to him from Allah. As long as she was alive the Prophet never took a second wife and even in later years of his life after numerous marriages, he used to cherish her loving memory and refer to her as the most beloved of his spouses. She endured with him hunger, poverty and calamities inflicted by the Meccan polytheists. She bore Muhammad (s.a.w.) many children, all of whom except for Fatima (a.s.) died in infancy, including son Qasim (Khadija bore the Prophet one more son named Taher, who also died in infancy. Later in life Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) had another son named Ibrahim through his Egyptian wife Maria Qibtia, who also died in infancy. Hence, the Prophet's progeny survives today through his daughter Fatima and her two sons Hasan and Husain who are the ancestors of all 'Seyyids' (descendants of the Prophet).), from whom the Prophet's Kunya (agnomen) 'Abul Qasim' is derived.
Finally in the tenth year of the Prophetic mission, shortly after the small Muslim community quarantined by the heathens in Shi'ab Abi Talib had come out of the valley, Khadija breathed her last. It was a great tragedy for the Prophet. The year is known as the Year of Grief in history because the Prophet suffered a further blow that year losing that other great benefactor, his uncle Abu Talib.
Truthful and Honest
Muhammad (s.a.w.), right from his childhood was known for his virtue and lofty conduct and was far removed from the prevalent vices of the day like idolatry, dishonesty, drinking, gambling, cowardice etc., which were the hallmarks of the Meccan society. His noble character stood him out as the most impeccable one-ever, to the point that his people called him as-Sadiq (the Truthful) and al-Amin (the Honest). They put their complete trust in him and always turned to him as an impartial judge in their frequent disputes.
He was a born believer whose heart was free from the filth of disbelief and polytheism. Never had the boy been near idols let alone worshipping them. The All-Knowing Allah, Who had singled out the child for the greatest task and blessings that lay ahead, had inspired Muhammad's (s.a.w.) young heart with His Greatness, Power and Majesty. His pristine purity was indicative of his future greatness, for how could people believe in him and put their trust in him if they see him prostrating before man-made objects and indulging in vices like any ordinary Arab of the day. Surely, none would have responded to his call to Islam, towards virtue and towards deliverance from oppression, and none would have believed him if they were not sure of vouchsafing his truthfulness and honesty.
Thus Divine providence was at work, right from the beginning in his case, grooming, inspiring and educating the young Muhammad (s.a.w.) and finally introducing him as a model of emulation and messenger for all of mankind.
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