The Biography of

Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam

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Lesson 3
A prophet is born

The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam's parents were of noble decent. Abdul Muttalib, a leader of the Quraish, had ten sons. All were outstanding young men but Abdullah was the noblest and most prominent amongst his brothers. Abdullah was the father of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. He married Amina, the mother of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. She was a woman of excellent status among the Quraish. (1)

The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam was born on Monday, the 12th of Rab'i-ul-Awwal in the year of the Elephant. This corresponds to the 20th April 571 C.E. according to the Gregorian calendar.

As his father had passed away before he was born, Amina sent a message to inform his grandfather. He came, looked at the baby lovingly and took him to the Ka'bah where he praised Allah and prayed for the baby. Abdul Muttalib gave him the name Muhammad - 'He who is praised'. The Arabs were surprised at the choice of such an unfamiliar name. (2)

Regarding his birth his mother remarked : "When he was born a light issued forth from me and lit the palaces of Syria." (3) A number of biographers mention that his birth was accompanied by a number of such miraculous signs :

a. A tremor was felt in Persia and fourteen galleries of Chosroes's royal palace cracked and fell to the ground.
b. The sacred flame of the Persians which had burnt for a thousand years was extinguished.
c. Some churches on Lake Sawa collapsed and sank. (Baihaqi)


Lessons to learn

  • An invitor or preacher who is of noble lineage has a greater impact on people due to the respect he commands. Even though Islam regards noble actions and character as the best of preachers, if these accompany noble lineage this increases the value and force of the message.
  • It is interesting to note that the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam was born from a legally compliant marriage and not from the customary illicit relationships which were so common amongst the pagan Arabs. This was the divine hand protecting him even before his birth.
  • Even though certain scholars have refuted the miraculous incidents that accompanied his birth, his message and influence certainly weakened and later destroyed the mighty Persian and Roman empires of his day. If these incidents are accepted as true then these were signs telling of a great prophet who would conquer the world with a divine message.



Suckling Period

Thuwaybah suckled him for a few days while Abdul Muttalib continued to look for a wet-nurse for his favourite grandson. It was customary in Makkah to place suckling babies in the care of a desert tribe, where the child grew up in the pure air away from the contaminated atmosphere of the city and learnt the wholesome ways of the Bedouins. The unadulterated speech and expression of the desert Arabs was considered as the finest model of grace and elegance of the Arabic language. Together with the milk of a Bedouin woman, the babies learnt the fluent language that the Bedouins were famous for. They also learnt the pure ways of the desert dwellers who were free from the vices which usually develop in sedentary societies. The Arabs kept this tradition alive for a long time. Even during the days of the Umayyads when the seat of government was moved to Damascus the wealthy princes were brought up in the country amongst the Bedouins. (4)

Halima Sa'diya, who belonged to the tribe of Banu Sa'd, was honoured with the task of caring for him. It was a year of famine for the Banu Sa'd. The tribe came to Makkah to look for children to be suckled. No woman was prepared to take Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam because they did not expect a worthwhile price for suckling a child whose father had already passed away. At first Halima also declined the offer but a strange craving for the baby overtook her. She finally took him into her care and found that before long her household was blessed with amazing blessings. Her breasts overflowed with milk, the udders of her she-camel were full and everything seemed to bring forth happiness. (5)

Halima weaned the baby when he was two years old as it was customary for the foster children to return to their families at that age. Thus, Halima brought the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam back to Amina but begged her to keep the boy for some time more as he had brought her good fortune. Amina agreed and Halima took Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam back with her. Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam tended the lambs with his foster brothers in the wilderness of the desert far away from the pomp and pride of the city. (6)

Some months after his return to the Banu Sa'd, two angels seized the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam and opened up his belly. They thoroughly washed his heart with Zamzam and finally put it back in place. When his playmates saw this they came running to Halima screaming : "Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam has been murdered." They all rushed out to see and found him to be fine.

The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam lived with Halima and the Banu Sa'd for approximately six years. He had great love and respect for his foster mother. After he had received prophethood she once came to see him. He embraced her exclaiming : "O my mother, O my mother!"



Lessons to learn

  • Life in the clean open air of the desert purified his thoughts and strengthened his mind and body.
  • How fortunate a woman was Halima not! Besides the material blessings that came to her because of his presence in her home, she was honoured as his foster mother. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam displayed the true Qura'nic spirit when he showed her respect during her old age.

Early life

When he was six years old his mother took him to Madinah to pay a visit to her father. She also wanted to visit the grave of her late husband, but while on her way back to Makkah, she passed away at a place called Abwa. An Abyssinian bondswoman, Umm Ayman Barkah, brought him to his grandfather in Makkah. Abdul Muttalib took him into his care and loved him dearly.

Abdul Muttalib also passed away when the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam reached the age of eight. After his death his uncle, Abu Talib, took him under his care and treated him with more care and affection than his very own sons.

Meeting with Bahira

Once, when he was twelve years old, Abu Talib planned to go in a merchant caravan to Syria and took the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam with him. At Busra in Syria, the caravan stopped for a short stay. Here there lived a monk called Bahira. Bahira saw the Quraishi caravan coming and noticed the trees and stones bowing down to a boy. According to some narrations, he also noticed a cloud shadowing the boy from the rays of the sun. He decided to host the caravan during their stay. When he saw the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam and questioned him, he recognised the signs of prophethood he had known from before and advised Abu Talib to return him to Makkah and guard him from the Jews. (7)

Certain Orientalists and European biographers have tried to prove that this brief meeting with Bahira was how the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam learnt the fundamentals of faith and built upon them to later devise the foundations of Islam. This is a pure figment of their imagination and is disproved by the following facts :

1. The incident mentioning the meeting with Bahira mentions nothing of teaching by the monk.
2. It is impossible to think that a twelve-year-old boy could have been chosen by a monk to preach a religion of the future.
3. The monk could never have predicted the future as accurately and precisely at this early stage.
4. It is not likely that a boy of twelve could develop such intricate laws and regulations of Islam thirty years after a brief meeting with a monk.

As a youth

The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam was protected from sin during his early years. He did not share in the activities of the youth of Makkah. He did not worship idols, attend idolatrous festivals, consume alcohol, gamble or speak evil. On a number of occasions Allah protected him from falling to the evil ways of the people of Makkah. On one occasion he fell into a strange deep sleep when he was about to attend a wedding function in Makkah. On another occasion he was helping to rebuild the Kabah and he placed his loincloth on his shoulders to protect his neck from the stones. As he did this he fell to the ground. Never did he expose his body again. (Bukhari)

In character, he was truthful, kind to his guests and friends and encouraged good. He was, in fact, an initiator of an association called the Hilful Fudhool which was formed to protect the weak from oppression.

As a means of income he tended to sheep and goats. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam himself mentioned : "I used to graze the sheep and goats of the Makkans on Qaraareet." Qaraareet is either the name of a place or the plural of qiraat meaning dirham, according to the scholars. (8)



Lessons to learn

  • His good character as a youth paved the way for becoming an invitor to the truth as nobody could point a finger at him saying that he had a bad name. When Allah chooses a person to invite to His message of truth He creates in him a dislike for sin and evil. His divine protection and guidance from an early age showed that the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam was destined for a career far above the vulgarities of story telling, wine, amusement and play.
  • His travels and dealings with people, his involvement in community affairs like the Hilful Fudhool made him a public figure. People listened to him because he was on their level. He understood their language, their systems, their train of thought and their values. He knew what annoyed them and how to control them. His involvement in this association showed his concern for the welfare of his society. He wanted to help the oppressed and less fortunate. This proved beneficial later when he propagated to these very same people the more important message of Islam.
  • His tending to sheep taught him the hard life and prepared him to handle the difficulties that he would later face. The fact that he was an orphan further strengthened his resolve. It is interesting to note that all the prophets at some time or other tended to sheep as part of their training to become leaders and teachers of men. Sheep are delicate creatures and caring for them teaches man to rule over others with kindness and mercy.



(1) Ibn Hisham

(2) Nadwi, Syed Ab al-Hasan Ali, As-Seerut An-Nabawiyyah, Lucknow, 2003, p. 100

(3) Ibn Hisham

(4) Naumani, Allama Shibli, Sirat-un-Nabi, New Delhi, Vol 1, p. 155

(5) Ibn Hisham

(6) Nadwi, Syed Ab al-Hasan Ali, Muhammad Rasulullah, Lucknow, 1982, p. 93

(7) Ibn Hisham

(8) Nadwi, Syed Ab al-Hasan Ali, Muhammad Rasulullah, Lucknow, 1982, p. 100-101



Dua After Meals

Meaning : All praise belongs to Allah who fed us, gave

us drink and made us Muslims. 


To lick the fingers and plate after eating is Sunnah. The barakah (blessings) of the meal may be in that portion of the food that has remained on the fingers or the plate.