The Early Life of Muhammad

From "The Spread of Islam" by S. Beck

Muhammad in Mecca

In 570 after a Kinana man defiled a cathedral in San'a that had been built to draw pilgrims away from Mecca, the Abyssinian ruler of Yemen, Abraha, attacked Mecca with an army. According to tradition the elephant at the head of that army refused to march on the holy city. That year Muhammad was born in Mecca, where his paternal grandfather 'Abd al-Muttalib had the honored position of providing water from the Zamzam well for the pilgrims to the Ka'ba, founded according to tradition by the Hebrew patriarch Abraham. Muhammad was the first child of his father 'Abd Allah, who died before his wife Amina had her child. 'Abd Allah left his son five camels, a flock of goats, and the slave-girl Baraka. Since Mecca was considered unhealthy for infants, his mother Amina took the baby out into the desert, where he was nursed by a Bedouin named Halima for two years until he was weaned. Thus Muhammad first learned the Arabic language of the Bani Sa'd. His foster brother saw two men in white put their hands into the heart of the child; concerned that he might be possessed by an evil spirit, Halima returned Muhammad to his mother at Mecca.

When he was six, Muhammad and the slave girl Baraka accompanied Amina on a visit to Medina; but on the return journey Muhammad's mother became ill and died. Baraka brought the boy back to his grandfather in Mecca; but two years later 'Abd al-Muttalib also died at the age of 80. Muhammad was then raised by his uncle Abu Talib and his wife Fatima. Later the prophet said that Fatima would have let her own children starve rather than him. 'Abd al-Muttalib's youngest son al 'Abbas took charge of the Zamzam well.

Muhammad spent his youth mostly pasturing sheep and goats. He once went on a caravan to Bostra in Syria and was noted by the Christian hermit Bahira. In Mecca a sacrilegious war occurred after a treacherous murder. In the earlier battles Muhammad was too young to fight, but he gathered enemy arrows and gave them to his Quraysh uncles to shoot back. In the last battle when he was about twenty, Muhammad did shoot arrows for the Hashim clan at the enemy and was praised for his valor. When a Sahmi refused to pay his debt to a Yemeni merchant, the Quraysh joined the Kinana and others in taking an oath at the Ka'ba to fight oppression for the sake of justice, and Muhammad swore with them; the Sahmi was compelled to pay the debt.

Muhammad began traveling for merchants, and he wished to marry his cousin; but his uncle Abu Talib informed him that she was promised to a poet of better means. Known for being trustworthy and honest, Muhammad was asked by the wealthy widow Khadija to sell her merchandise in Bostra. She doubled her money, and Muhammad was well paid. Although she was 40, Khadija proposed marriage to the 25-year-old Muhammad; he accepted and gave her a dowry of twenty camels. She was the mother of all his children except Ibrahim. Their sons died in infancy, but their four daughters would become Muslims. On his wedding day Muhammad freed his slave Baraka so that she could marry a man of Yathrib, and Khadija gave Muhammad her 15-year-old slave boy Zayd. When Zayd's father and uncle came to ransom him, Muhammad offered the youth his free choice. Zayd decided to live with Muhammad, who adopted him as his son and made him his heir. During a famine Muhammad adopted Abu Talib's son 'Ali when he was about five. When Muhammad was about 35, he was asked to mediate a dispute over which tribe should lift the sacred black meteorite when the Ka'ba temple was being rebuilt. The trusted sage suggested that each clan take hold of a garment and lift it together.



SocietyVs said…
"sacred black meteorite "

I git's to get me one of those to march around - lol.

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