The Honourable Birth, Upbringing, Lineage, Names, Physical Description of Prophet Muhammad
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, to Him belong the endowments and proper commendations. May Allah increase the honour and raise the rank of our Master Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam and his kind Al and Companions and protect his nation from what he fears for it.
On the 12th of Rabi^ ul-‘Awwal of every year an honoured and glorified memory shines over the whole world, and is commemorated by the entire Muslim world. Every honest Muslim participates in celebrating such an honourable memory to praise Allah for the blessing and endowment of Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him.
This occasion is the Honourable Birth of Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam. How can one not celebrate a birth that has changed the face of history. This birth was one of the best gifts that one can ever receive. It is because of this Prophet may Allah raise his rank that we became Muslims. What is better than becoming a Muslim, remaining steadfast to Islam and dieing as a Muslim. We thank Allah for this birth and for making us among the followers of this great Prophet.
Only those who have darkness in their hearts deny the permissibility of celebrating such a birth, and forbid others from doing so. It is absolutely not unlawful (haram) to celebrate the birth of the Prophet sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, rather it is a rewardable deed. In fact it is the habit of hundreds of millions of Muslims all over Asia, Africa, Europe, India, Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, Yemen, Turkey, Pakistan, and America. Only those who do not love the Prophet say that such celebrations are unlawful (haram).
The Year of the Elephant:
Their lived once a king of both Yemen and Habashah who was a non-believer. His name was ‘Abrahah. When he realised that the people were visiting Makkah rather than his countries, and that good things were happening in Makkah, he decided to destroy the Ka^bah.*
* The Ka^bah is the cubic structure in the Holy Mosque of Makkah, originally built by Prophet ‘Adam peace be upon him in obedience to Allah.
‘Abrahah built a huge temple in order to divert the people from the Ka^bah. He tried to glorify this new temple by decorating it with lots of jewels and precious stones. After that, the king of Yemen and Habashah prepared a vast army with huge elephants led by his men. When the Arabian tribes heard about ‘Abrahah's plan to destroy the Ka^bah, they fought to the best of their abilities. The tribes however could not prevent the elephants or the army. The huge army kept going until they reached the borders of Makkah.
When ‘Abrahah was ready to destroy the Ka^bah, he directed his elephants towards it so that they would demolish it, the elephants refused to move and sat idly. They tried to force the elephants to move but they did not succeed. When they changed the direction of the elephants to south and away from the Ka^bah they obeyed. They tried the north, the elephants again obeyed. When they turned the elephants again towards the Ka^bah, it would not move an inch. The huge elephant refused to destroy the Ka^bah.
Allah then sent birds from the sea with rocks placed between their legs and in their beaks. Each and every rock had imprinted the name of the person it was going to strike. They dropped them on that army until they killed them all. Al-Qurtubiyy said that the army was of 60,000 soldiers. Due to this significant incident people named that year "The Year of the Elephant".
In that year Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam was born. He was born in a place called "Suqul-Layl" in Makkah. According to the Roman calendar it was during the 6th century.
His Mother and Father:
‘Aminah Bintu Wahb was the name of the Prophet's mother. Many good things happened to ‘Aminah during her pregnancy with the Prophet:
· She never felt the weight of the fetus, which resulted in an easy carriage.
· She dreamt of a star falling in her lap, and when she sought interpretation, they told her that she will give birth to the master and leader of the people.
· If she ever sought water from a well, the water itself would rise up to her out of honouring the fetus inside her.
· One time she said: "While I was half asleep, someone came to me and asked me if I felt pregnant. I answered that I did not. Then he told me that I am pregnant with the master and the Prophet of this nation." That incident assured ‘Aminah that she was pregnant.
· It was also said that when the Prophet's mother gave birth to him a light came out with him, illuminating what is between the East and West. The Prophet sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam landed on the ground resting on his hands, with his eyes opened and looking towards the sky.
^Abdullah Ibn ^Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet's father, did not live to see his son Muhammad. He died while ‘Aminah was still pregnant. His father did not get the opportunity to see the best and the last of all Prophets.
His Name and Lineage:
As for the name of the Prophet, many people do not realise how important it is to memorise his name and the name of his grandfathers. In Islam, it is considered an important issue to memorise the lineage of the Prophet up to 20 grandfathers.
He is Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, the son of ^Abdullah, the son of ^Abdul-Muttalib, the son of Hashim, the son of ^Abdu Manaf, the son of Qusayy, the son of Kilab, the son of Murrah, the son of Ka^b, the son of Lu’ayy, the son of Ghalib, the son of Fihr, the son of Malik, the son of an-Nadr, the son of Kinanah, the son of Khuzaymah, the son of Mudrikah, the son of Ilyas, the son of Mudar, the son of Nizar, the son of Ma^add, the son of ^Adnan, and after that his lineage goes back to Prophet Isma^il the son of Prophet Ibrahim peace be upon them.
On the Day of his Birth:
On the day Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam was born, the huge fire of the fire worshippers which had been lit for 1000 years to that day died out. The water of Lake Sawah dried out. Also, the palace of the arrogant dictator Kisra trembled, and 14 of its balconies fell to the ground.
It was the habit of the Arab women to breast-feed other than their own children. It is important to know that when a woman breast-feeds a child a certain amount of milk she becomes his foster mother and her children would become siblings of that breast fed child.
The story of how Halimah became the breast-feeding mother to the prophet is ironic and as told by Halimah as-Sa^diyyah herself: “It was the year of drought when I travelled to Makkah with other women from the tribe of Sa^d seeking to breast-feed babies. I was riding a donkey. Our camel hardly produced any milk, and my child kept us awake crying out of hunger. Even my breast hardly produced any milk for my child. We had nothing but hope. We reached the city of Makkah. When the breast-feeders realised that baby Muhammad was an orphan, none of the women accepted to breast-feed him. The breast-feeders were hoping for the financial generosity of the child's father and Muhammad was an orphan. Each of us thought that his mother would not be as helpful. We kept refusing to take Muhammad, until all of the other women found children to breast-feed except me. Hating to return empty handed, I told my husband that I will take that orphan Muhammad.
I swear by Allah, the moment I put him on my lap, my breast became full with milk. He took my breast for as much as he needed and my child did the same. That night my husband went out to check on our camel, and to his surprise its udder was full of milk. Soon we were both full and satisfied. My husband looked at me and said: " I swear by Allah, you have picked a blessed soul.””
Halimah raised the Prophet until he was 2 years and 2 months old, after which she returned him to his mother. The Prophet’s growth was unlike any other person’s. He used to grow in one day as much as a regular child would grow in a whole month. He would grow in one month as much as a regular child would grow in a whole year.
One day while the Prophet was playing with his brothers (sons of Halimah) behind the house, an extraordinary thing happened. The Prophet's brother ran terrified to his parents and said: "Help my brother, two men came to him and opened his stomach." Halimah and her husband ran out to the Prophet. They found him standing with a pale face. Halimah hugged him and so did her husband who asked: "What's with you son?!!" The Prophet replied that two men wearing white clothes came to him, laid him down and opened his abdomen, but he did not know what they did.
The fact is that those two men were the angels Jibril and Mika’il who came in the shape of men. It was said that they opened his abdomen and washed it with Zamzam water, hail water, and snow water. Then they stitched it by the Will of Allah and stamped him on his back between his shoulders with an oval mark, which was the seal of Prophethood.
Even as a growing child, Prophet Muhammad displayed particular habits. If he ever wanted to urinate or defecate, he would go so far where no houses are in sight. When he used to go through the valleys and the mountains every tree and stone he would pass by would say: "Peace be upon you O Messenger of Allah." The Prophet would look left and right, but he would not see anyone.
After Halimah returned the Prophet to his mother ‘Aminah, he stayed with her till the age of five. ‘Aminah then took him to see his uncles in al-Madinah. She stayed there for one month. On her way back she died leaving the Prophet to be raised by his grandfather ^Abdul Muttalib. It was said that when the Prophet's mother died his grandfather hugged him and showed feelings towards the Prophet that he never showed towards his own son.
When his grandfather ^Abdul-Muttalib was dying, he recommended to the Prophet's uncle Abu Talib to take care of the Prophet. The Prophet's uncle used to love Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam very much, and he used to favour him over his own children.
His First Wife Khadijah:
Prophet Muhammad stayed with his uncle Abu Talib and went out with him to trade caravans. When the Prophet became 25 years old, he was offered to marry lady Khadijah. She was the owner of some caravans and at that time the Prophet used to work for her. The Prophet accepted to marry Khadijah who became his first wife.
Lady Khadijah Bintu Khuwaylid was highly respected, honourable and a patient woman. She was the richest amongst her people. Lady Khadijah was presented with many suitors for marriage but she refused in spite of all generous offers she had.
Some of the Miracles of Prophet Muhammad:
- The Holy Qur'an
- The crying of the tree trunk
- The camel speaking and seeking refuge in him
- The speaking of the wolf and his testimony
- The water coming out from between his fingers
- Returning Qatadah's eye
- The testification of the tree and its speaking up
The Prophet was not extremely tall, nor was he short. He had a white complexion and black hair. The Prophet's hair was not straight rather it was slightly curly and long down to his shoulders. His aroma was nicer than the pure musk itself. He had a clear forehead, long eyelashes, broad shoulders and a firm stomach. The Prophet was fast in his walk, and it was narrated that seeing his face one would think that the sun is rising from it.
Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam immigrated to al-Madinah in compliance with the orders of Allah and he lived there for ten years after which he died at the age of sixty three. He was buried there in the chamber of his wife ^A’ishah, may Allah reward her greatly and raise her rank. Muslims all around the world believe that it is highly rewardable to visit him at his grave and send their salam (salutations) to him
What is called the “Old Testament” nowadays is not the Torah revealed to Moses. One proof, is that in the “Old Testament”, it is written that God created the heavens and Earth in six days, and then He rested on the seventh day. In reality, God never revealed to any Prophet that He rested. In the greatest verse of the Holy Qur’an (Suratul-Baqarah, 255), God refutes those who say this about Him. God mentions that neither slumber does seize Him, nor sleep. In another verse of the Qur’an, God mentions that He created the heavens and Earth in six days, and He was not overwhelmed by fatigue (Suratu Qaf, 38). Praise to God.
The Birth of Prophet Muhammad,
Blessings and peace be upon him
At the time when Prophet Muhammad was born, most of the people of Makkah were in a terrible state of worshipping idols. They believed that God was only one of many gods. The people of Makkah made many statues, and worshipped them unrightfully. They believed that the Ka^bah was a special house, but they put their ugly idols around the Ka^bah. The people used fortune-telling arrows in order to make decisions and went to fortune-telling people for advice.
People came from all around to visit the Ka^bah and worship the idols. They claimed to be making Hajj (Pilgrimage). However, what they called Hajj was changed from the Hajj performed by Prophet Ibrahim before them. They went around the Ka^bah naked while clapping and whistling. The Makkans got wealthy from the spending of the tribes who came to their city to worship unrightfully.
Some say that the Prophet was two months old when his father died, and others say that Aminah was still pregnant with the Prophet when ^Abdullah died. ^Abdullah left five camels, some goats, and a female slave called Barakah (also known as Umm Ayman).
Aminah narrated that she did not feel the weight of the pregnancy like other women do. During her pregnancy Aminah saw a dream (with her feeling in a state between waking and sleep). In this dream someone told her, “Do you know with whom you are pregnant? You are pregnant with the Master of this Nation and its Prophet.”
The birth of the Prophet was an easy one. It was on a Monday, on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabi^ul-Awwal. The Prophet’s birth was about 50 days after the incident of the Elephant attack of Abrahah.
It was narrated that the Prophet’s umbilical cord was already cut when he was born. Hence, no one had to do that cutting. Also it is said that the Prophet was born already circumcised.
Aminah sent a message to ^Abdul-Muttalib to tell him of the birth of his grandson, and to come. ^Abdul-Muttalib came and Aminah told him about wonderful dreams that she had while pregnant with the baby, and how easy the birth was. ^Abdul-Muttalib was very pleased and took the blessed baby to the Ka^bah. He went inside of the Ka^bah with the baby, thanking God for the birth of this special grandson. ^Abdul-Muttalib gave the baby the name Muhammad, meaning, “the one praised by many for his numerous good attributes”.
This was not a famous name at the time among the Arabs. Only seven children had received this name before and all of that had been recent. Those seven children had been named Muhammad because at that time, the Arabs were hearing that shortly a Prophet would be born named Muhammad. Those people hoped that their son would be that Prophet. So, they named their sons Muhammad, before the naming of our Prophet. Yet the name Ahmad, that is also a name of Prophet Muhammad, was never given to one before our Prophet. This is the name cited in the book of Prophet Jesus, the Injil, as well as the name Muhammad.
Ibnu Sayyidin-Nas and others narrated that when the Prophet was born fourteen balconies of the biggest palace of the king of Persia fell down. Also the fire that the Persians worshipped went out, even though it had not gone out for one thousand years.
The name for the title “king” in Persian is “Kisra”. This Kisra saw a dream about which he felt very uncomfortable. The Kisra gathered his advisors and consulted with them about the dream. The Kisra told his advisors that he saw in his dream camels guiding horses. These animals crossed the river of Tigris and from there they spread through his kingdom.
While Kisra was telling this dream, they got the news that the fire they worshipped had gone out. The Kisra got more disturbed. The religious head of the Kisra told him, “I saw the same dream this past night. I interpret it as follows: The Arabs will get out of their country and overcome the rulership of Persia. Those Arabs will rule our areas. This will take place after fourteen Persia kings rule, equal to the number of balconies that just fell from the palace.”
That Kisra thought to himself, “It will be a long time before fourteen kings pass. I don’t want to care about this now.”
After the birth of the Prophet, 10 Kisras succeeded one another in just four years. After those four years, four more Kisras reigned over a period of about 80 years. The Persian Empire then totally fell to the Muslims, under the rulership of Caliph ^Uthman, about 20 years after the death of Prophet Muhammad. Ever since then, that area has been a Muslim area until today.
When baby Muhammad was born, the news spread among the sons of ^Abdul-Muttalib that they got a new nephew. One of the sons of ^Abdul-Muttalib acquired the name “Abu Lahab”. Abu Lahab received the news of his new nephew from a slave woman he owned named Thuwaybah. Abu Lahab was so happy that he set that slave woman free that Monday. Later, when Muhammad became a Prophet, that same uncle became one of the worst of enemies.
The Nursing of Prophet Muhammad
First, Aminah nursed her son, Muhammad, for a short time. Then another woman nursed him. However, Lady Halimah was the main nursing mother of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. In those days in Makkah, women wanted their children nursed by Bedouins who lived outside of the city. They believed that their children would be healthier by being raised in the desert. Aminah wanted her son to have a good start. Therefore, she too desired to have him nursed outside Makkah.
The following is told by the nursing mother, Halimah, “I went with other women from Banu Sa^d searching for nursing babies in Makkah, riding a female donkey in a year of drought which left us with no food. My husband was with me on an old female camel that would not even give us a drop of milk. In addition, I had a son with me that would not let us sleep at night because of his crying and my breasts did not have what was enough for him.
When we reached Makkah, the Messenger of God was shown to every woman and every woman rejected him because he was an orphan. We all were seeking the reward from the father for nursing his child. Every one of my companions had a child to nurse except myself. I hated to return without having any child to nurse. I told my husband, ‘I swear by God I will return to that orphan and take him.’
When I returned, my husband said, ‘You did the right thing. May God bring goodness through this child.’ I swear by God, as soon as I put him in my lap, the milk started flowing out of my breasts. Muhammad and my son nursed until they were satisfied. My husband went to the female camel and found her udders full of milk. So, we milked as much as we wanted and my husband and I drank until we were satisfied. That night our children and we slept full of food, and with our thirst quenched. My husband said to me ‘O Halimah, I swear by God, I see that you have brought a blessed human. Our children have slept!’
We went out of Makkah. I swear by God, my female donkey ran ahead of the caravan and my companions said surprised, ‘Isn’t this your female donkey that you rode to Makkah?’ I said, ‘yes.’ I swear by God that she was ahead of them until we reached our camps.
We came to the most barren land. I swear by the One Who controls my soul, my lambs would go out in the morning with other peoples’ lambs, and in the afternoon my lambs would come back with full stomachs and udders while their lambs would return hungry and without milk. Then, we would drink whatever we desired of the milk and no one around would even have a drop of milk from his or her animals. The people would ask their shepherds, ‘Why don’t you graze your sheep where Halimah does?’ So, they would graze their animals wherever we grazed ours. Their animals would return hungry without milk and ours would return full of food and milk.
Muhammad became one year old and was a strong boy. We went to his mother and I told her, ‘We should keep him lest he would be inflicted with disease in Makkah.’ I did not want to give him up to his mother because of the blessings that we witnessed from him. We kept on talking with his mother until we convinced her to leave him with us.
One day my son came and told us, ‘Help my brother from Quraysh! Two men came and laid him down and cut open his chest.’ We ran fast and found Muhammad standing, with a changed color. We both embraced him. He told us, ‘Two men with white clothes came and laid me down and cut my chest open. I do not know what they did with me.’ My husband said, ‘O Halimah, this child is hurt and we need to return him to his family.’ [Halimah and her husband were worried that Muhammad became mentally sick].
When we got to his mother, she said, ‘Why did you bring him back when you were so insistent on keeping him with you?’ I said, ‘We have taken care of him and have done what we were obligated to do; then we feared for him.’ His mother said, ‘I swear by God, this is not the reason. Therefore, tell me what happened.’
When we told her what had happened she said, ‘You were worried about him? I swear by God, my son will have a great rank. Let me tell you about him. When I carried him, nothing was lighter or more blessed than he was. When I was pregnant with him I saw a dream that a strong light came out of my body. This light was so strong that it lit up the palaces in Busra [a city in ash-Sham. When I delivered him, he did not fall as other babies do. He fell with his hands on the ground, raising his head to the sky. Leave him with me and go back to your business.’”
Some Events in the Prophet's Early Life
Our Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was about five years old when he went back to live with his mother and grandfather. Aminah was very happy. Muhammad had many uncles, the sons of ^Abdul-Muttalib. His eldest uncle, Abu Talib, was very fond of him. His uncles Hamzah and al-^Abbas were about his own age. These two uncles later embraced Islam.
The dear mother of our Prophet, Aminah, died when the Prophet was five years old (and some said six years old). She had taken her son to Madinah, to the grave of his father. On the way back, she died and was buried in a place called Abwa’.
His grandfather ^Abdul-Muttalib then took charge of him. His grandfather was about 100 years old by that time, but he was still active. He took the little Muhammad with him where he went and gave him special attention.
^Abdul-Muttalib used to put a small rug next to the Ka^bah and sit on it. He did not want anyone to sit on it but him. ^Abdul-Muttalib’s own sons sat next to this carpet. They kept others from sitting on it. Due to all this, when the little grandson, Muhammad, came and sat on the carpet, his uncles tried to remove Muhammad as they did with the others. ^Abdul-Muttalib said, “Leave him. I feel that he will have a great status in the future.”
^Abdul-Muttalib died only about two years after Aminah (with some saying the Prophet was seven years old, and others saying eight). Due to the death of ^Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib (the son of ^Abdul-Muttalib) took on the care of the young Muhammad. Although he was poor, with a lot of children, Abu Talib made young Muhammad part of his household, putting him ahead of his own children.
The children of Abu Talib woke up with messy hair and mucus in their eyes. Abu Talib noticed that Muhammad, on the other hand, woke from sleep with his hair looking neat, as if it had been oiled with olive oil. As well, instead of having mucus, the eyes of Muhammad looked bright, as if some one had applied kohl to them.
Abu Talib noticed that whenever they ate together with young Muhammad present, the food was enough for all of them. They felt full. However, when they ate without Muhammad, the food did not satisfy them. Hence, when the family wanted to eat Abu Talib said, “Wait until my son (Muhammad) comes.” With Muhammad present, they got full and still had some food left at the end.
Abu Talib used to give the cup of milk first to Muhammad, because he noticed that when Muhammad was the first to drink, the milk would be enough for everyone. Due to all of this, Abu Talib declared, “This is a blessed child!”
Umm Ayman, the Prophet’s nanny, said, “As a child, the Prophet never said that he was hungry or thirsty like the other children do. He used to wake up and go drink from the well of Zamzam. After that, when we offered him food he would say ‘I am full’.”
There were no schools in Arabia at that time and few people of the city could read or write. Muhammad grew up not reading or writing, not because he was unable, but because he did not go to school for that knowledge. Despite not going to school, Muhammad spoke and knew the Arabic language flawlessly. Muhammad memorized his knowledge without the need to write it down.
When Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was twelve he went with Abu Talib, who was a merchant, towards Ash-Sham land (the area of Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria). A priest called Bahira saw Muhammad. He embraced him, and then offered him food. Then, he uncovered Muhammad’s back and looked for a mark between his shoulders, which he knew the last prophet would have. Bahira knew signs of the last prophet from the teachings of Prophet Jesus that had been preserved.
Bahira said to Abu Talib, ‘Your nephew has a very high status. Return with him to your hometown and guard him against the Jews, lest they notice the signs that I noticed’. Abu Talib hurriedly finished his trade and returned him to Makkah. After that he did not travel with him, fearing for him.
Remember, at that time, there were people who were Christians and people who were Jews. By that time, the Christians were not having the right belief about Prophet Jesus, saying that he was the son of God, and the Jews were not truly following Prophet Moses, because they denied the Prophethood of Jesus. At that time, the Jews still had the Torah, which was revealed to Moses.
In the Jewish scriptures, God revealed there would be a last Prophet, his description, and they should follow him when he came. The same news was in the scripture revealed to Jesus. However, by the time of Prophet Muhammad, this scripture had been perverted. Due to these facts, we hear many stories about how Christians and Jews had heard that a last prophet was to come, and they knew signs of how to recognize him.