Our noble master Muhammad sallalaho alayhi wasallam was born in Makkah in the year 570 C.E in what was referred to as the ‘Year of The Elephant’ in the month of Rabi ul awal which is the third month in the Islamic Calendar. This year was given its title of ‘Year Of The Elephant’ as it corresponded with the failed attempt of an African King named Abraha who attempted to destroy the Kaaba with an army of Elephants, we all know what his fate was as Allah has mentioned it in surah Al Fil:
- Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the men of the Elephant?
- Did He not cause their device to be ruined.
- And He sent against them flocks of birds.
- Striking them against stones of baked clay.
- And thus made them like broken straw eaten up.
Rasoolullah’s father sayyidinah Abdullah radiyallo anho had passed away approximately 6 months before he was born and his mother Aminah radiyallo anha also passed away whilst Rasoolullah was at the tender age of 6. The baby was named ‘Muhammad’ by his (paternal) grandfather Abdul Muttalib and was named ‘Ahmad’ by his mother. ‘Muhammad’ means ‘He who is praised the most by Allah’ and ‘Ahmad’ means ‘one who praises Allah the most.’
Aminah radiyallo anha mentions miraculous events which occured when she gave birth to our master sallalaho alayhi wasallam. Imam Suyuti mentions in Khasais e Kubrah that Aminah says ‘on the night he was born, a light lit up in my home and illuminated the east and west.’ She continues ‘nobody had such as easy (pain free) pregnancy as i had.’
Hafidh Ibn Kathir also mentions some miracles of Rasoolullah’s birth, some include that:
- when Rasoolullah came out of the womb and was placed on the floor he immediately went into sajdah.
- Rasoolullah was born without an umbilical cord and he had already been circumcised
- normally a new born baby is in need of a bath whereas there was not a single spec of dirt on the mubarak body of Muhammad sallalaho alayhi wsallam
It was a custom of the Arabs that when a child is born they are entrusted into the care of a wet-nurse and stay with her in the rural village areas for the first few years of their lives. Halimah Saadiyah Radiyallo Anha was honored to be the wet-nurse of Rasoolullah sallalaho alayhi wasallam and she told the following story:
I went to Makkah with other women from the tribe of Bani Sad Ibn Bakr. We were looking for infants whose parents wanted them wet-nursed. During the journey to Makkah, I was riding a female donkey off-white in color. It was a year of drought and we had nothing, only an old camel that hardly gave any milk. My own son’s hungry crying kept my husband and I awake at night because I did not have a drop of milk in my breasts to feed him.
When we arrived in Makkah, each one of us was offered the Prophet as a nursing son. We all refused at first because he was an orphan, and we depended on the generosity of the child’s father for our services. We used to say, “He is an orphan. How generous can his mother be?” Every woman in our group except for me managed to get a baby to nurse. I hated to return the only one empty handed. I told my husband I would go back and take that orphan, and I did. When I came back to where my animal was, my husband asked me, “Did you take him?” I told him I had because I could not find any other. He said, “May Allah endow His blessings on us.”
By Allah, as soon as I put him in my lap my breasts filled with milk. Both he and his brother (her own son) drank their fill. When my husband went out that night to check our old camel, he found her udder full of milk. We got all the milk we wanted from her. My husband and I drank our fill and slept soundly that night, as did our boys. My husband said, “O Halimah, I think you have put your hands on a blessed creation. Look how our sons sleep.”
We started heading back, and to everyone’s surprise my female donkey was energetic and in the lead. They asked me, “Is this the same donkey you rode on our trip here?” I said it was. My donkey remained in the lead until we reached the outskirts of where our tribe, Bani Sad Ibn Bakr, was camped, and it was a very dry land.
We all used to send our sheep out to graze with our shepherds. By Allah, my sheep would come back satiated; their udders full of milk, whereas the others’ sheep would come back hungry and dry. We had all the milk we wanted when none of the others had a drop of milk. The others told their shepherds to take their sheep to the same place Halimah’s shepherd takes hers to graze. They sent their sheep to graze in the same meadow with ours, but their sheep would still come back hungry and dry when ours came back satiated and full of milk.
Rasoolullah sallalaho alayhi wasallam matured in a day what a child normally matures in a month and in a month what a child normally matures in a year. At one year old, he was a very strong child. We went back to his mother, and I, or rather my husband, asked if she would allow us to keep him a while longer. We told her we were afraid for him to be exposed to the diseases of Makkah. In reality, we wanted to keep him with us because of the blessings we saw from having him. We kept on asking her until she agreed that we take him. We took him back and he stayed with us for two months. One day, he and his brother were attending to one of our animals behind the houses and his brother rushed back trembling. “Rescue my brother!” he said to his father and me. “Two men came, laid him down, and split his chest open!!” We were terrified and rushed out to him. When we reached him, we found him standing, very pale in color. His father and I embraced him and asked him about the matter. He said, “Two men in white clothing came to me, laid me down, and split open my abdomen. By Allah, I do not know what they have done.” We carried him back home. His father said, “O Halimah, I see this child has been inflicted with a matter. Let us take him back to his mother before any signs of that appear.” So, we took him back to his mother.
(note- The majority opinion is that the splitting of the chest happened on 4 different occasions, the first when Rasoolullah sallalaho alayhi wasallam was a young child in the care of Halimah as is mentioned above, a second time when he was 10 years of age, a third on the night of Laylat ul Qadr/when he received prophethood and a fourth on the occasions of Israa wa Miraj. Hafidh ibn Hajr Al Asqalani has mentioned a fifth occasion however it is much disputed, and Allah knows best).
Halimah’s story continues ‘His mother wanted to know what brought us back so soon when we had been so persistent in wanting to take him away. I said that we had fulfilled our commitment and it would be better for her to keep him because now we feared for him. His mother knew this was not the real reason. She insisted we tell her what had happened, and we did. She said, “So this is why you feared for him.” Then, she reassured us, saying, “This child of mine has a special status. Let me tell you about him. I conceived and carried him, yet I felt I never had carried a lighter load or any greater blessing. When I delivered him, I saw a great light coming out of me, similar to a shooting star that illuminated the necks of the camels in Busrah. Contrary to most deliveries, he came out putting his hands on the ground and raising his head to the sky.” Then his mother told us, “Leave him here, and go attend to your business.”
Subhanallah what barakah Rasoolullah sallalaho alayhi wasallam brought into the life of Halimah radiyallo anha. Miracles had even begun prior to prophethood. One incident comes to mind in which Rasoolullah sallalaho alayhi wasallam in his childhood was travelling with his uncle Abu Talib en route to Syria for business, on the way they passed by a monastary and a monk named Buhayrah came running out and approached them. He said to Abu Talib ‘this child is no ordinary child.’ Those travelling with Abu Talib were all in a state of confusion, and Buhayra continued ‘I noticed that with you he rested under a particular tree which only prophets have sat under, I notice that this particular cloud is following him everywhere to provide shade from the sun.’ He (Buhayra) then paused and stood behind Rasoolullah and gently pulled back his collar and glanced downwards at his back and as he expected he saw the mark of prophethood inbetween his mubarak shoulder blades. Buhayra then stated ‘this is the prophet which has been mentioned in the past scriptures!’
On one occasion Abaas radiyallo anho once told Rasoolullah sallalaho alayhi wasallam ‘from when you were a baby I always knew that there was something special about you’ Rasoolullah sallalahl alayhi wasallam asked ‘oh my uncle how did you know this?’ Abaas radiyallo anho replied ‘one night you were lying down in your cradle looking towards the sky and whichever direction your finger pointed towards the moon would also move in that direction’
To conclude I would like to mention that an important point to note is that Rasoolullah’s mother Aminah passed away when he was 6 years old, which means that the first incident of the splitting of the chest occurred when he was younger than 6 and the angels cleansed Rasoolullah’s mubarak heart from the aspirations of shaytan at a young age of less than 6. My respected ustadh Shaykh Bilal Patel mentions that an important point to note is that the mubarak heart of the master of both the worlds was cleansed of shaytan’s aspirations at a young age and one lesson from this is that parents have a responsibility of giving their children tarbiyyah at this same young age rather then waiting until children reach their teens. If the mubarak heart of the best of mankind was washed when he was a child in the early days then what do you think is the condition of our children who are being brought up in this hostile and evil environment? Subhanallah what is our condition today? do our children at the age of 6 receive that attention and effort from us or are we neglecting our duties of giving them proper Islamic tarbiyyah?
may Allah enable us to act upon this, ameen
(this piece has been checked and proof read by Moulana Riaz Ahmad Bhana who is a graduate from Darul Uloom Zakariyya in South Africa)