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Sirat Rasoul Allah

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1- The Early Life of the Apostle of Allah

It is recorded that when the mother of the apostle of Allah became pregnant with him she had a vision, and a voice spoke to her, saying, ‘Thou art pregnant with the prince of this nation. When he is born on this earth, thou must say, “I place him under the protection of the only One, from the wickedness of every envious person.” And thou must name him Muhammad.’

While she was carrying the child in her womb she saw a light issue from her which illuminated even the castles of Busra in Syria . And Abdullah b. Abdul‑Muttalib, the father of the apostle, died while the child was yet unborn.

The apostle of Allah was born on a Monday, on the thirteenth (lay of the month of Rabi in the year of the Elephant [c‑ 570]* At the time of the apostle’s birth a Jew standing on the flat roof of a house in Medina called forth the Jewish people and when they assembled around him, saying, ‘Woe to you. What is the matter?’ he told them ‘This night the star has risen, under which the apostle is born.’

[*The year of an invasion by the Abyssinians, whose army was made memorable in Arabia by having an elephant in its train.}

When his mother was delivered of the apostle of Allah she sent the following message to his grandfather: ‘An infant is born to you; come and see him.’ He came and she informed him of what she had seen and heard during her pregnancy and the name she had been ordered to give the child. It is said that his grand­father took the boy into the Kaba [place of worship] and prayed to Allah and thanked Him for His gift; then he brought him again to his mother. Soon he hired for the boy a nurse, whose name was Halima.

Halima was the daughter of Abu Dhuayb of the Banu Sad tribe. The tradition concerning her is that she went forth with her husband and a little son whom she was suckling, with others of the women of the Banu Sad who were in search of children to nurse. She relates: ‘In a year of dearth, when nothing was left us, I went forth on a piebald she‑ass and we had with us a she‑camel which gave us not one drop of milk. We could not sleep the whole night, because the infant we had with us cried for hunger, there being nothing in my breasts to satisfy him nor anything in our camel to nourish him. We were, however, hoping for aid and deliverance; accordingly I continued the journey, riding on my she‑ass which was so weak that it lagged behind and the people complained.

‘At last, we arrived in Mecca to look for sucklings, and there was not a woman among us to whom the apostle of Allah was not offered. They all refused to take charge of him as soon as they were told that he was an orphan, because we expected benefits from the father of an infant but did not like orphans, thinking that a mother or a grandfather would do us but little good. Not a woman, however, remained who had not obtained a suckling except myself. When we assembled to depart, I said to my husband, “I am unwilling to return with my companions and not take a suckling. I shall go to that orphan and take it.” He replied, “Do so! Perhaps Allah will make it a blessing to us.” Then I went and took him just because I could find no other child.

“After that, I took him to my arms and offered him my breast he drank as much as he liked till he was satisfied, and his ‑brother did the same till he had enough. After that both of slept, whereas before we could not sleep for our child wailing. Then my husband approached our she‑camel, and lo! It was full. Accordingly I milked it, and we both drank until we were satisfied and filled, so that we had a good night. In the morning, my husband said, “By Allah, Halima, you have brought a blessed soul.” I replied “This is just what I hope for.” After that we departed. I mounted my she‑ass with the infant, but the animal ran so fast that the other donkeys were not able to keep up with it, and my companions asked, “0 daughter of Abu Dhuayb, is not this the same donkey on which you came?” I replied, “Yes. It is the very same”, and they exclaimed, “There is something the matter with it!” When we arrived at our habi­tation in the country of the Banu Sad ‑ a more sterile land than which I do not know on the earth of Allah ‑ our sheep met me in the evening, filled with milk so that we had only to milk and drink, whereas others could not milk a single drop. And those of those of our people who were present said to their shepherds, “Woe toyou! Pasture where the shepherd of the daughter of Abu Dhayb is pasturing.” Nevertheless their sheep returned in the morning hungry, without a drop of milk, and my sheep were filled with milk.

“In this manner we continued to receive from Allah increase benefits for two years; then I weaned the boy and he had become strong as no other boys had. We returned him to his mother, although we were anxious that he should remain with us since we had seen the blessing he brought. I asked his mother to leave him with us to grow fat, and told her that I feared the climate and disease in Mecca might harm him. We did not cease to importune her until she allowed us to take him back.

“It was not longer than a month after our return that his milk-broth­er came running to me and his father, saying, “Two men dressed in white garments have taken hold of my brother, and have thrown him on the ground. They ripped open his belly, and are squeezing him.” I and his foster‑father hastened out and found him standing apparently unharmed but with his coun­tenance quite altered. We questioned him, and he said, “Two men dressed in white garments came to me, who threw me down, opened my abdomen and searched in it for I know not what.” We returned with him to our tent, and his foster‑father said to me, “0 Halima! I fear something has happened to the boy. Carry him to his family ere the injury becomes apparent!”

‘Accordingly, we took him back to his mother, who asked, “What has brought you here, when you were so anxious that he should remain with you?” I replied, “Allah has caused my son to grow and I have done my duty, but I feared that something might befall him and therefore I have brought him back to you as you desired.” She said, “Such is not the case! Tell me the truth about it.” And she would not let me alone until I had told her everything. Then she asked, “Are you afraid that he is possessed by Satan?” and I replied, “Yes.” She said, “No, by Allah! Satan has no access to him, because something great is the matter with my son. Shall I tell you about it? While I was pregnant with him, I saw a light issuing from me and, by Allah, I could not have had a pregnancy which was easier or lighter than this. When he was born, he placed his hands on the ground and raised his head to heaven. Do not trouble yourself about him, and return home.” ‘

Later, the apostle of Allah himself described what had hap­pened. ‘Whilst I and my milk brother were pasturing some animals in the rear of our house, two men came to us dressed in white garments and bearing a golden platter full of snow. They took hold of me, opened my belly, extracted my heart, split it open and took out of it a black lump of blood which they threw away. Then they washed my heart and belly with snow, until they had purified them. Then one of them said to his companion, “Weigh him against one hundred of his people.” And he weighed me with them, but I proved heavier than they. Then he said, “Weigh him with one thousand of his people.” This he also did, and I was again found more heavy. After that he said, “Leave him; for if you were to weigh him against his whole nation, he would outweigh it.” ‘ Later, the apostle of Allah was in the habit of saying that there was not a prophet who had not pastured sheep.

According to their traditions, the people believe ‑ but Allah knows best ‑ that when his nurse brought him back to Mecca , she lost him amongst the crowd while she was taking him to his

family. She searched, but could not find him again, and she went his grandfather, Abdul‑Muttalib, and said, ‘I have arrived this night with Muhammad, but while I was in the upper part of the city he strayed from me, and I know not where he is.’ The grandfather of Muhammad stood up near the Kaba and prayed to Allah to restore the boy, and it is believed that he was found by two men of his own tribe who brought him to Abdul‑Muttalib with the words, ‘Here is your son. We found him in the upper of Mecca .’ Then his grandfather took him and, making him ride on his back, walked round the Kaba, recommending him to Allah and praying for him. After that he sent him to his mother, Amina.

The apostle of Allah and his mother and his grandfather were under the protection and keeping of Allah, and the boy grew a prosperous plant on account of the grace for which He had predestined him. When the apostle had attained his sixth year his mother Amina died in the place called Abwa, between Mecca and Medina , when she was returning to Mecca with him from a visit to his uncles. The apostle of Allah remained with his grandfather, Abdul‑Muttalib.

It was usual to place a bed for Abdul‑Muttalib in the shade of the Kaba, around which his sons sat until he arrived; none of his sons ventured to sit on the bed, from respect towards him. Once the apostle of Allah, who was a plump boy, came and sat on it, and they pushed him away. When Abdul‑Muttalib saw this, he said, ‘Let my son alone! By Allah, he will become something great.’ Then he made the boy sit down by his side on the bed, and allowed him to stroke his back with his hands, and whatever he did pleased Abdul‑Muttalib. But when the apostle of Allah had attained his eighth year his grandfather died.

AbduI‑Muttalib had been the acknowledged leader of the Quraysh tribe, guardians of the holy city of Mecca . When he died none of his many sons was influential enough to succeed him and leadership and influence began to pass to the descendants of his cousin, Umayya, who had long been envious of the power wielded by Abdul‑Muttalib.

After the death of his grandfather, the apostle of Allah lived with his uncle Abu Talib, to whose care Abdul‑Muttalib is believed to have entrusted him because Abu Talib and the father of the apostle were brothers by the same father and mother.

A soothsayer came once to Mecca to prophesy to the Quraysh and they brought their sons to him to hear his prophecies. Abu Talib visited this man, who looked at the apostle of Allah, but was then diverted from him. When the soothsayer was again at leisure, he asked for the boy and wanted to see him; but when Abu Talib perceived the man’s anxiety he took his nephew away. The soothsayer exclaimed, ‘Woe to you! Bring back the boy whom I have just seen; for, by Allah, he will have high dignity.’ But Abu Talib would not return.

On another occasion Abu Talib went with a caravan on a trading journey to Syria. When he was about to depart the apostle of Allah clung to him, and it is believed that Abu Talib was so touched by this that he exclaimed, ‘By Allah! I shall take him with me, and we shall never be separated from each other.’ Accordingly he took the boy with him.

Now, at Busra, in Syria , there was a monk named Bahira who was of the Christian faith. He had always lived in the same hermitage, which possessed a book ‑ for the instruction of the monks ‑ which was passed down and was always kept by the oldest among them. When the caravan encamped in the vicinity of Bahira’s hermitage ‑ and they had previously often passed by without his speaking or presenting himself to them ‑ he prepared a great deal of food for them, reputedly because of something he had seen whilst in his cell. It was said that, from his hermitage, he had seen the apostle of Allah in the caravan, and that as the caravan approached a cloud hung over the apostle of Allah. When the caravan arrived the people halted under a tree near the cell of the hermit, and he saw the cloud overshadow the tree, and the branches bent themselves over the apostle of Allah so protect him. When Bahira saw this he came down from his cell and ordered food to be prepared. When it was ready he sent the following message to the people of the caravan, ‘I have made a dinner for you, o ye Quraysh people. I should like you all to come, the small and the big, the bondmen and the free! One man among them replied, ‘By Allah, Bahira! There is something the matter with you today, because you have not acted thus with us before, though we passed often near you! What is the matter with you now? Bahira replied, ‘You have spoken the truth. But you are guests and I should like to honour you, and give a dinner to all of you.’ Accordingly they all assembled, but the apostle of Allah remained under the tree, because of his extreme youth, with the baggage of the people. When Bahira looked around and missed him, he said, ‘O, ye Quraysh people! Leave no one of you behind, deprived of my food.’ They replied, ‘No one who ought to come has remained behind, except a boy, and he is the youngest of the people and therefore has been left with our baggage.’ Bahira said, ‘Do not treat him in this way, but call him to dine with you,’ and one of the Quraysh exclaimed, ‘I swear by al-.Lat and by al‑Uzza that we are at fault for excluding the son of Abdullah from partaking with us of this dinner!” Then he went to him, brought him in his arms, and seated him among the people. When Bahira saw him he scrutinized him closely and examined him to find the signs lie sought.

When the people had finished eating and dispersed Bahira addressed the apostle of Allah as follows, ‘I adjure you by al‑Lat at‑Uzza; answer the questions I shall ask.’ (Bahira used these words because he had heard the Quraysh swearing by these two idols.) It is said that the apostle of Allah replied, ‘Do not ask me by a]‑Lat and by al‑Uzza; for, by Allah, I have never hated anything more intensely than these two.’ Bahira continued, I adjure you by Allah to answer what I shall ask’, and the apostle of Allah said, ‘Ask me what thou wilt.’ Accordingly he put to him various questions about his state during sleep, and his condition  and circumstances, to which the apostle of Allah gave replies which agreed with what Bahira expected of him. Then Bahira looked on his back and discovered the seal of prophecy between his shoulders.

After he had examined the boy, Bahira went to Abu Talib and asked, ‘What is this boy to you?’ He replied, ‘My son! Bahira rejoined, ‘He is not your son, nor is there any need for this boy to have a father living.’ Abu Talib said, ‘He is the son of my brother’, and Bahira asked, ‘What has become of his father?’ When Abu Talib replied, ‘He died whilst the boy’s mother was pregnant with him’, Bahira said, ‘You have spoken the truth. Return with your nephew to his country, and guard him from the Jews; for, by Allah, if they see him and know about him what I know, they will try to injure him, because something very great will happen to this nephew of yours. Therefore make haste to return with him to his country.’ Accordingly his uncle departed quickly with the apostle of Allah and took him to Mecca as soon as he had finished his trading in Syria.

According to the legend current among the people, three Christians or Jews named Zurayr, Tammam, and Daris, had the same information about the apostle of Allah as Bahira had. When they saw the boy during this same journey with his uncle Abu Talib, and contemplated doing him some harm, Bahira warned them against it and reminded them of God and of the description they would find in the scriptures; he said, too, that even if they persisted in their intention they could not carry it out. At last they understood and believed what he said, and they departed.

The apostle of Allah grew ‑ Allah protecting, keeping and guarding him from the abominations of idolatry, having pre­destined him to become His apostle and the recipient of His grace ‑ till he became the most excellent man of his people, the most agreeable in behaviour, the most noble in descent, the finest in neighbourly feeling, the greatest in meekness, and the most truthful in utterance; the greatest in fidelity, the furthest from wickedness and from acts which pollute; so exalted and noble that he was called among his people ‘the faithful’, because of the good qualities Allah had bestowed upon him.

The apostle of Allah later told how Allah had preserved him in his childhood and state of innocence, saying, ‘I was among Quraysh boys and we were carrying stones for some play. We were all naked, and every boy had placed his ezar [loincloth] around his neck to carry stones in it, and I had done the same. When I was thus moving about, some Being whom I did see struck me a fearful blow and exclaimed, “Bind on thy ezar “; accordinglyl I girded myself therewith, and thus carried the stones on my neck, I being the only one among my companions who wore his ezar.’

The War of the Wicked broke out when the apostle of Allah was twenty years old, and it was called Wicked because during the sacred month two tribes, the Kinana and the Qays Aylan, considered it right to do what was not right at such a time. The Quraysh, after the sacred month, went to the aid of their allies, the Kinana. The apostle of Allah was taken out by his uncles during one battle to witness the fight, and he afterwards said, “I was arrowing to my uncles, that is to say, I brought them the arrows, which the enemies had shot against them.’  

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