Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) in Makkah
Compiled by: Ahmad Ahmadi Birjandi
Over fourteen hundred years ago, a baby was born in Mecca on the 17th of Rabi‘ al-Awwal (April 25, 570 CE).
His father, ‘Abd Allah, died on the way back from Sham (Syria) in Yathrib (Medina), unable to meet his newly born son, Muhammad. ‘Abd Allah's wife, Amina, was the daughter of Wahb b. ‘Abd Manaf.
Based on a custom among the dignitaries of Mecca, Amina left his beloved son, Muhammad, with a wet nurse called Halima, to be reared on the vast expanse of the desert away from the corruptions of town.
The affectionate, pure-hearted Halima got highly attached to this lovely child whose presence in her tribe brought a source of blessing and abundance. Not for a single moment was she neglectful of taking care of him. Nobody knew that this orphan child, whom the other wet nurses had refused to look after, would one day become the Prophet of Mercy; his sublime name would be uttered by millions of Muslims throughout the world and from top of minarets, and become an honor to the world and its people.
When Muhammad was five, Halima took him back to Mecca as per his mother's insisting demand. Two years later, when Amina went to Medina to visit her parents and her husband's tomb, she took her beloved son with her. One month later, Amina and her son returned to Mecca, but on the way back she died at a place called Abwa’, and Muhammad who was now six years old, lost his mother too and his pure heart and delicate soul deeply felt the agonies of being orphaned.
Thereupon, a woman named Umm Ayman took this orphan boy, the withered newly-blown flower, back to Mecca with her. It was God's will that the boy be parted from his parents at the outset of his life having to taste the bitter and heart-rending sufferings of this world and be severely tested in the crucible of hardship so that in future he would be able to commiserate with the sufferings of mankind, and comprehend the way the underprivileged feel.
Since then, he was reared and looked after by his grandfather ‘Abd al-Muttalib who treated, with deep kindness, his noble grandson whose forehead was radiant with greatness. Two years later, on the demise of ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Muhammad was deprived of his grandfather as his guardian. ‘Abd al-Muttalib's great concern at the last moments of his life was about his grandson. Perforce, at the age of eight, Muhammad went to his uncle's house, Abu Talib (Ali's father), and lived under his guardianship.
Abu Talib protected and took care of his beloved nephew with utmost benevolence and kindness to the last moments of his life, i.e., for over forty years. Even in the most adverse and unpleasant events, when the nobles of Quraysh and black-hearted rebels had vilely associated to kill Muhammad, he made himself a shield of protection for him, as he was scared of nothing and took no heed of reproaches.
Muhammad's repose, grace, and thoughtful mien were fully recognized among his peers since adolescence. Abu Talib loved him to such an extent that he always wanted to be with him and caress him in order to remove the agony of being an orphan.
He was 12 when his uncle took him to Sham (Syria) on a business trip which at that time was common in Hijaz. On this trip, at a place called Busri, an area in Sham, Abu Talib visited a Christian monk called Buhayra. The latter, upon meeting Muhammad, assuredly found out the signs and cues he had read in the Holy Scriptures, that this boy would be the Prophet of the end of time.
In order to be further assured, the Christian monk asked him to swear on the Lat and Uzza – two of the idols of Mecca – to tell the truth in what he was asked about. Getting perturbed and agitated, Muhammad replied, “I am an enemy to the idols you just mentioned. Swear me on God.”
Buhayra was certain that he would be truly the great messenger of God, who believed in no one and nothing but the one God. So he strongly admonished Abu Talib to protect him against the evils of the enemies, especially the Jews since soon he would be assigned to a great mission to carry out. Muhammad passed through his days of adolescence and youth.
During this period of time, which for the common people is an age of pugnacity and indulgence in lustfulness and transient fads, for the young Muhammad was replete with purity, righteousness, and honesty. Truthfulness of words, honesty in manner, leniency, and patience were manifest in his behavior. He was aside from the corrupt milieu of Mecca and kept aloof from the impurity of idolatry to such an extent that everyone was amazed, and he was so trusted that he became renowned as “Muhammad the Trustworthy” (Muhammad al-Amin).
Since the very beginning of his youth, traces of grace, power, and bravery were evident in his countenance. At the age of fifteen, he took part in one of the battles of Quraysh with Hawazin clan, where he defended his uncles against arrows. This can reveal his spiritual and physical strength.
Later on, this bravery became more and more brilliantly evident in wars waged for Islam. Accordingly, ‘Ali (as), being himself one of the bravest in his time, has said about Muhammad (S): “Whenever things got hard on us at the battlefront, we would seek refuge in the Apostle of Allah, and none of us was closer to the enemy than he was.”1 However, he would always avoid useless and childish battles.
Arabia was the center of idolatry at that time. People or tribesmen used to carve idols out of woods, stones, or dates and worship them. The milieu in which Muhammad (S) lived was afflicted with promiscuity, obscenities, wine drinking, and war waging; in such an environment, however, Muhammad (S) was never indulged in any of such sins and impurities, and remained aloof from idols and idolatry. One day Abu Talib said to ‘Abbas, Muhammad (S)'s youngest uncle: “I have never heard Muhammad (S) tell a lie and I've never seen him play with other children in the lanes and alleys.”
It is amazing that amid so much indecency and the presence of corrupt women and men who were even proud of their indecent acts, and the prostitutes who used to put up flags on the roof of their houses, Muhammad (S) lived so decently and innocently that nobody – not even his enemies – could find the smallest fault with him. How can one read about his life history (sira) and demeanor from childhood through youth and old age, without humbling himself before his greatness and purity of soul and body?
A Remembrance of the Brave Youth Pledge (known as half Al-Fudhul)
In the past, a covenant called half al-fudhul was established among some tribes based on defending the rights of the oppressed and the poor, and its founders were the ones whose names were either “Fadhl” or one of its derivatives. The Pledge which was later made by a group of Quraysh followed the same goal.
One of the features of this pledge was to defend Mecca and its inhabitants against foreign enemies. However, if someone other than Meccans and their confederates were living in that city and were treated with cruelty, nobody would come to their help. It is related that one day a man from Bani Asad tribe came to Mecca to sell his merchandise. A man from Ben Sahm tribe, called ‘Asi b. Wa‘il, bought the goods without paying off the money.
The defrauded man sought assistance from the Quraysh, but nobody helped him. He was forced to climb up the Abu Qubays Mountain near Ka‘ba for help. His plea for justice affected a number of Qurayshi youth, who, perforce got together in the house of ‘Abd Allah, son of Jad‘an to do something for the poor man. In this house, where Muhammad (S) was also present, they took a pledge to allow no injustice on others.
As for the man, they took back the money for his goods and returned it to him. Thenceforth, the Holy Prophet (S) used to speak highly of this pledge. He said, “In ‘Abd Allah Jad‘an's house I witnessed a pledge which if I am called to even now (that I am appointed to Prophethood), I will accept it. That is, I am still faithful to my covenant.” (Furugh-i Abadiyyat, vol. 3, p. 152)
Muhammad (S) joined this covenant at the age of 20, but before that, as well as after that, he supported the poor, the helpless, orphans, and the women who had lost their husbands in wars, and did whatever he could for the deprived. His motive for joining this covenant was nothing but willingness to aid the poor and remove injustice from the oppressed.
Muhammad (SAWA)'s Marriage
As Muhammad (S)'s honesty spread around, a wealthy woman from the people of Mecca called Khadija, daughter of Khuwaylid, who had married twice before and possessed plenty of wealth with matchless chastity and piety dispatched Muhammad (S) on a business trip to Syria offering him a share of its benefits. Muhammad (S) accepted that contract.
Khadija sent her retainer, Maysara, along with Muhammad (S). When they returned from that lucrative trip, Maysara reported the trip in detail to Khadija, telling her anecdotes about Muhammad (S)'s honesty and truthfulness. What he related to Khadija about him included this: “When we arrived in Busri, Amin sat in the shade of a tree to rest. At this time, a monk in his prayer house noticed Amin. He came forward, asked me his name, and then said: 'The man who is sitting under the tree is the same prophet the tidings about whom I have read in Torah and Gospel'.”
Khadija became enchanted with Muhammad (S)'s honesty and truthfulness. Sometime later, she offered to get married to Muhammad (S). He accepted the proposal. At this time she was 40 and he was 25.
Khadija left all her wealth at Muhammad (S)'s disposal and gave her slaves up to him, who immediately freed them. It was his first step taken in a struggle against slavery. Muhammad (S) practically wanted to show that it is possible to live a simple life free from fleeting carnal desires and lust, and without any slaves and maids as well.
Khadija's house was a safe haven for the poor and the helpless before marriage, and remained exactly the same after marriage, since she would always be generous to the needy.
During the years of drought and famine, Halima, Muhammad (S)'s foster mother used to come to her foster son, who spread his mantle for her to sit on, would listen to her talk, and when she wanted to leave, he helped her in whatever way he could.
Once received the authority over Khadija's wealth, Muhammad al-Amin (S), instead of being entrapped in transient temptations, was engaged in charity matters and helping the poor. Most of his free time, he would go to the outskirts of Mecca and would spend hours in mountains and inside the cave of Hira’, contemplating on God's creation and wonders of the world and whispering lovingly to the Lord of the world. Several years passed in this way.
His beloved and faithful wife knew that whenever Muhammad (S) was not at home, he was in the cave of Hira’. This cave is located in a mountain north of Mecca where now longing pilgrims eagerly visit to enjoy the eye-refreshing effect of its soil.
This secluded place, being away from the tumult and idolatry and corruption of the city, was a witness to amorous whispers of Muhammad (S) especially in Ramadan, during which he would spend the whole month there. The cave and the black rocks have witnessed the descent of “Revelation” and the radiation of Divine Lights in the pure heart of the “Quraysh Beloved”. This is the same “illuminating mountain” (jabal al-nur) that is still diffusing light.