Why was the Prophet (pbuh) delivered to a wet-nurse? What were the extraordinary incidents that took place while the Prophet (pbuh) stayed with the wet-nurse?
Why was the Prophet (pbuh) delivered to a wet-nurse? What were the extraordinary incidents that took place while the Prophet (pbuh) stayed with the wet-nurse?
Submitted by on Tue, 06/03/2018 - 11:46
Dear Brother / Sister,
Mecca’s weather was hot and muggy. It did was not good for the children’s delicate nature and was not a favorable condition for a healthy upbringing. In the desert, the weather was nice, the water was sweet and clean, life was easy, and the climate was mild. Besides, some of the tribes that lived in the desert had a language and diction that was smooth and sharp. They maintained their nobility and practiced good conduct.
Based on this, the Qurayshi gentry and leading figures practiced the custom of handing their children over to the tribal women in the desert to be breastfed for a cost, so that their children could grow and be brought up under healthier conditions and to learn and speak a dialect of Arabic that was appropriate in its essential form. The child would remain with his/her wet nurse for 2-3 years, and sometimes even more.
For this reason, many tribes that lived in the uplands/prairies, Sa’d bin Bakr’s tribe in particular, would have a caravan of women go to Mecca a few times a year in which the women would take the newly-born infants with them to their homeland for the purpose of nourishment.
Among the tribes in the vicinity of Mecca, Sa’d bin Bakr’s tribe was the one that had acquired fame since it was distinguished for its honor, generosity, chivalry, humility, and speaking Arabic properly. For this reason, the leading figures of Quraysh mostly wanted to hand the custody of their children over to the women of this tribe.
The Arrival of the Women from Bani Bakr’s Tribe to Mecca
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) was being nourished by Lady Suwayba.
At that time, a strong drought was prevalent in the homeland of Sad’s sons although such a strong drought had not occurred till then. The drought resulted in a famine that left the tribal community poor and miserable. It was so bad that they had difficulty finding something to eat. Their camels and sheep had weakened and their milk had ceased.
During this year of intense famine and drought, the tribeswomen of the Bani Bakr had gone to Mecca in a crowded procession with the intention of finding a child to nourish and of obtaining a portion of their livelihood.
All of the women, with the exception of one extraordinary lady, had chosen a child who was appropriate for them. Strangely enough, none of them chose nor approached our Beloved Messenger (PBUH) because they thought they would not be able to obtain much money and help since he was an orphan.
There was only one woman who arrived late in Mecca. She was distinguished among her tribe for her decency, cleanliness, gentleness, and modesty. Due to their old and frail donkey, Halima and her husband had fallen behind the rest of the procession. When they entered Mecca, all of the newly-born Qurayshi children, with the exception of one very extraordinary infant, had been chosen by the women of the Bani Bakr tribe that were in the forefront. With the fate and wisdom of the Possessor of the Absolute Power, Halima could not find anyone in need of nourishment.
Her husband, Harith, was sad, too. All of their friends shared the children of the wealthy families among themselves. She was the only one who was left empty-handed and it was only because she arrived late.
This virtuous woman, who now had a pale and sad countenance and was unaware of the plan that Divine fate had drawn for her, wandered the streets of Mecca with despair and the distress of not being able to find an appropriate fitting child.
Incidentally, she encountered an old man with a friendly face and who, through his presence, summoned the respect of his surroundings. This individual was Abdulmuttalib, the grandfather of the Pride of the Universe (PBUH). They looked each other as if they had been looking to become the relief for their troubles. Then they began to engage in conversation:
Abdulmuttalib asked, “Where are you from?”
Halima: “I am a woman from the Bani Sa’d Tribe”
Abdulmuttalib: “What is your name?”
She answered, “Halima”.
“How wonderful! How wonderful! Fortune and gentleness are two traits that carry the beneficence of this world and the honor and glory of the afterlife” After he said this, Abdulmuttalib took a deep breath and followed with: "Oh, Halima! I have an orphaned child next to me. I offered him to the women of the Sons of Sa’d but they did not accept him. Come and be the wet nurse of this child. Maybe you will attain prosperity, wealth, and fortune for taking care of him”.
At first, Halima became hesitant upon hearing this unexpected offer. However, she did not want to return to her homeland empty-handed. For this reason, she overcame her hesitation and accepted the offer from within. Nevertheless, she did not want to disclose her answer without first asking and receiving permission from her husband. She immediately returned to her husband and after she explained everything to him she said,
“I was unable to find a child to nourish. I do not favor going back empty-handed among my friends. By Allah, I am going to take that orphan”.
Her husband, Harith, supported her view and said, “There is no harm in taking him. Perhaps Allah will endow us with prosperity and blessings thanks to him”.1
Upon this, they returned to Abdulmuttalib. Abdulmuttalib took Halima to Hazrat Amina’s modest home which the Beloved Prophet (PBUH) illuminated.
Halima went to our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) bedside. Our lovely Pride (PBUH) was wrapped in a white fabric made from wool and was sleeping soundly on a blanket of green yarn. The surrounding smelled like musk! Halima was in a state of amazement. She immediately warmed up to this child so much that she could not bear to wake him up!
The cloud of gloom and anguish had left Halima. She was so happy that it was as if she was walking on air. It was such a great bliss to have suddenly come across an infant of excessive beauty after squirming in the distress of not being able to find a child.
Halima could not resist anymore. She neared the Pride of the Universe’s (PBUH) bedside very closely and slightly lifted the corner of his blanket. With a mother’s love and compassion, she kissed his forehead and hands that smelled like roses and that were softer than cotton and as white as snow. At that moment, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) opened his eyes and replied to Halima’s kisses with a sweet smile. They got along with one another.
While one of them was in despair because of not being able to find a child, worn out, and downhearted, the other was a radiant orphan who had been rejected by the women. Fate had filled both of their worlds with happiness.
The First Abundance
Our lovely Pride (PBUH), who had captivated Halima’s heart, was now in her arms.
Yet, what was this? The breasts that had lacked milk for days were immediately filled with milk as soon as our Holy Prophet (PBUH) began to suck from them. Halima was surprised and her husband, Harith, was in a state of amazement.
Her right nipple was in our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) mouth and her left nipple was in the mouth of his new foster brother, Abdullah, who was Halima’s son. From then on, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would always drink from the right breast.
The Camel’s Breasts were filled with Milk
Halima was not willing to put the radiant orphan (PBUH) down from her lap for one second. They immediately bid their farewells to Abdulmuttalib and Hazrat Amina and departed from Mecca.
Teardrops were combined with Amina’s sadness. She had virtually become a cloud as she followed her radiant child.
That night, the Harith family had a peaceful sleep outside Mecca.
When the morning came, Harith ran to milk their camels. Every nipple he touched had become a fountain of milk. He called out to Halima in amazement:
“Oh Halima, know that you have taken a very holy and auspicious child!”
Halima affirmed her husband’s statement: “By Allah, I hope he is”2
Mecca was left behind.
Halima was riding on a female donkey and had the Pride of the Universe (PBUH) in her arms. What happened to the weak, frail donkey that had fallen behind her friends? Where did this speed and steadiness come from? It was as if she was not the same donkey that Halima rode on her way to Mecca. When she passed and left all the animals in the procession behind, Halima’s traveling companions were surprised and asked with astonishment,
“Oh, Abu Zuaib’s daughter, shame on you. Why do you not wait for us? Or is the donkey that you are riding not the same as the one that you rode when you first came?”
The donkey was the same donkey. The only difference was that there was someone else on her, and he was the Pride of the Universe (PBUH). The honor of carrying him (PBUH) had exhilarated that weak and frail animal.
“No, by Allah she is the same donkey; in fact, I’m not directing her. She is going steadily on her own. There is something strange about this”.3
It was a shame that nobody from the procession was able to discern the reason for this difference and from where it came. Yes, all of these occurrences were open proofs that this radiant-faced infant (PBUH) would embrace the future with his grandeur!
Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the Homeland of the Sons of Sa’d
Halima and her husband returned to their homeland after these peculiar occurrences. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) would now remain in the land of the Sons of Sa’d.
At that time, an intense drought and famine were prevalent in the area. The soil’s abundance had been cut-off, the wells and fountains did not have water, faces were pale, and the animals did not have the strength to stand on their feet.
However, the view suddenly changed when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) arrived. Before his arrival, the animals were not able to find any grasses to eat but now they were filled to repletion. Their breasts were overflowing with milk and like a fountain of mercy, they were pouring it continuously. There were no longer any pale faces in Halima’s home.
The other inhabitants of the area were still experiencing a famine and were continuing to suffer in a circle of hardship. Their animals were still frail, weak, and did not provide adequate milk.
It was as if those who did not accept our Holy Prophet (PBUH) for being an “orphan” were being punished by having to remain in deprivation.
The upland folk was about to burst from curiosity when they saw this situation before their eyes. They could not understand what they saw. They were blaming their shepherds and were scolding them:
“How do Halima’s sheep get full? As they walk, milk continuously drops from their nipples. Who knows where she is grazing her sheep? Why do you not go to the place where she goes and graze your sheep there!?”
The shepherds knew for certain that their employers were being unfair in blaming them. The place where Halima was grazing her sheep was no different from where they were grazing theirs. For this reason, the shepherds were disputing this, however their objections made no difference. This time, their employers added:
“Very well, how is it that while the sheep in your herd are having difficulty carrying themselves due to starvation, hers are being satiated and are returning with milk-filled breasts?”
Neither the shepherds nor their employers were able to find the answer to this question. All they could do was look at one another with wonder and bewilderment. However, there was a reason for this and at that time, nobody other than Hazrat Halima and her husband knew what it was. When the shepherds came and asked what the reason was, Halima gave them this answer:
“By Allah, this is not about pasture or grass. This work is one of the many secrets of the Lord. Everything began on our return from Mecca!”
Of course, the shepherds were not able to understand much from these words; thus, they were unable to get rid of their curiosity. This was the secret that the prairie folk were unable to conceive:
Since Halima had displayed generosity in accepting our Holy Prophet (PBUH), who is the most beloved to the Possessor of the Universe, Allah, her household was generously being endowed with gifts from His mercy.
Halima and her husband were very well aware of this and for that reason, they looked at this radiant infant in a different light. So to speak, they would protect him from a flying bird and the rising sun as they fluttered around him with great love and care.
The Upland was freed from the drought
The drought and famine that were prevalent in the land of the sons of Sa’d had still not ended. Every week, the upland folk continued to recite a prayer for rain in accordance with their own beliefs and customs. However, they returned sad and empty-handed each time.
It was a Friday. The entire tribal community went on top of a hill and took their milkless sheep and hungry camels along with them for the purpose of praying once more for rain. After they sacrificed their animals, they began to pray. They were begging and invoking the Lord of the universe to send rain. Even though they had been praying for hours, a single raindrop did not fall.
Our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) wet nurse, Halima and her husband, Harith, were also in the crowd. Halima would always protect the Pride of the Universe (PBUH), and for that reason, she did not bring him among the crowd and had left him at home with his foster brother, Unais.
The end of the prayer was reached. Everyone was hopeless, exhausted, and was preparing to leave. In the meantime, a woman, who was one of Halima’s neighbors, approached the priest upon the completion of his prayer, and said:
“Oh Priest, we prayed so much; however, we received no result. If there was someone favorable and auspicious among us, then maybe the Lord of the universe would accept our prayer”.
It was as if the priest was bothered by the old woman’s words and said,
“All we can do is pray to Him; however, we are not able to know His plan. Only He knows what is right and what is favorable”.
This time, the old woman shared her real intention:
“I know, what you have said is true; however, I meant to say something else. In our neighbor Halima’s home, there is child from Mecca. Ever since he came, Halima’s home has been overflowing with abundance. It appears like he is a very favorable and auspicious child”. Maybe his presence will bring us luck and the Lord of the universe may accept our prayer by granting us rain for his sake”.
At first, the priest was hesitant, but consented to the idea of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) being brought after the woman insisted. The old woman looked for Halima and once she found her, she explained the offer that she had made to the priest. Halima found this idea as being feasible since she was the one who saw what an auspicious and favorable child he was the most. She quickly ran home and once she arrived there, she hugged our Holy Prophet (PBUH). Afterwards, she bundled him and covered his face with a cloth to protect him from the impact of the burning sun. Then, the two went outside.
The sun was severely thrusting its flaming arrows towards the face of the Earth. It was as if blazing fire was rising from the ground. After leaving the house and having walked for a bit, Halima’s eyes noticed something strange. A cloud had been following them.
At first, she did not pay much attention and said “could be” to herself while she continued walking; however, this cloud did not leave. In fact, it had undertaken the duty of protecting them from the sun’s boiling heat by acting as an umbrella. Inevitably, she was overcome with wonder and was surprised, and on the one hand, she was happy. It was no longer necessary to cover the radiant infant’s face with a cloth. When she lifted the cover, his cute eyes looked at her very sweetly and it was as if his smile was saying, “That cloud is shading me”.
They continued their way underneath the cloud that acted as an umbrella, and mixed in with the crowd once they arrived at their destination. Although the priest had been initially uncomfortable when the request was made, he was now greeting the two with a smile because he had seen a cloud from afar shading Halima and her companion as soon as they had left their home.
The priest took our Holy Prophet (PBUH) from his wet nurse’s arms and shouted to the crowd:
“Oh, people! This is the child from Mecca that brings blessings to whichever household he is found in. Altogether, let us pray for the Lord of the Universe to deliver rain with the love and kindness that He has towards this favorable child."
Everyone opened their hands once more and their lips began to excitedly recite a new prayer.
Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) stood like a ball of light in the priest’s arms and while everyone was begging Allah the-Almighty, he was looking at the sky with hopefulness as his eyes emitted an intense light. The priest was captured by this radiant infant’s large and eminent black eyes that were incomparable in beauty and he forgot everything at once.
The final moments of the waiting period that persisted for months with sadness and longing were finally nearing. The tiny cloud above of Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was seen to have begun expanding and spreading across the horizon. In a short period, that tiny cloud abandoned its location in favor of becoming a huge cloud that covered the entire sky. Instantly, screams of happiness were combined with sounds of prayer. The coming of clouds meant that the arrival of rain was near, and a short while later, the area resonated with shrieks of happiness.
Yes, two weeks of deprivation was enough for the Sons of Sa’d to understand the nature of the warning. For the sake of this radiant infant, clear and sweet raindrops began to harmoniously fall from the trove of Allah Almighty upon their homeland. Supposedly, mercy had embodied the form of rain and was pouring on the face of the Earth as it bestowed hope upon the hopeless people. Because of the drought, the face of the Earth had cracked, but it displayed its happiness too by releasing a sweet fragrance.
This community still did not know the secret as to why their continuous prayers for months on end were not accepted until that day. It was a secret that would remain a secret. The cause of such mercy was just yet a baby in the eyes of the people. In reality, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) was the Prophet of all Prophets, was recognized as the Beloved of Allah by the angels and Allah Himself, and was the Sun of both realms.
The mercy that brought smiles to the homeland of Sad’s sons continued for a week with intervals in between. The soil was saturated all the way to its pith by the rain. The grass sprung up again, the trees sprouted young and fresh buds, crops grew tall, and the breasts of sheep began to be filled with milk.
Among the people, only a few understood the reason for the arrival of rain. They said,
“This child is very auspicious and beneficial” among themselves.
The weather was clear and nice in the pure and wide desert. It was a suitable condition for the children to have a prompt and healthy growth.
Our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) growth was different from that of the other children. He began to speak when he was eight months old, spoke smoothly and without error when he was nine months old, and was strong and robust enough to throw arrows like the other children when he was ten months old.
Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) stopped being breastfed when he reached two years of age. Until that time, Halima and the upland folk had been fully endowed with a rain of abundance, mercy, and bounty. Even at this age, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) possessed a far greater beauty, charm, and superior manner of conduct than his peers. He was earnest and dignified like a grown adult.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) is brought to His Mother
The season of returning the foster children had arrived. So, Halima, who had taken our Holy Prophet (PBUH) under her wing and who loved him much more than her own children, had a cloud of sadness pervade her heart since she was about to be separated from him. She was going to be far from his fragrance of roses that reminded her of heaven.
However, she had no choice other than to deliver him and that is what they did. They took the radiant Muhammad (PBUH), went to Mecca, and delivered him to his mother in the midst of heartfelt tears.
The foster mother’s world was filled with sorrow whereas the real mother’s world was filled with happiness. One of them was in bliss for being reunited with her child and the other was burning in the fiery pain of being separated from him. At that moment, it was as if an inspiration came to Halima’s heart and she pleadingly made the following offer with the fullest sincerity in her heart:
“Would you please allow my son to stay with me for a longer period of time? I am also afraid that he will come into contact with the Meccan plague”.4
This offer and wish was sincere. It was as if these sentences were spilt from the heart rather than her lips. Dear Mother Amina was unable to oppose this genuine and heartfelt appeal and consented to her beloved child staying in the homeland of the Sa’d’s for some more time.
Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) is in Sa’d’s Homeland once again
Halima had attained her desire. In the endless pleasure of having her wish accepted, she returned to her homeland together with our Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Pride of the Universe (PBUH) sometimes went with his foster brother, Abdullah, to graze the sheep. The sheep would respond to his sweet smiles by bleating. Our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) eyes always faced towards the skies. He would look up attentively and meaningfully as though he was going to discover something. It was as if he was waiting for a hand to reach down and take him to the high heavens.
In the meantime, a strange incident took place that did not go unnoticed: There was usually a cloud over our Holy Prophet (PBUH) that traveled over him and protected him from the sun. All eyes were now on him. His beauty was on everyone’s tongue while his sweet love was in everyone’s heart. His honesty, good manners, and earnestness were always talked about. His peers would compete for his amiable friendship. Our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) days would pass peacefully and happily in the upland of the Sons of Sa’d.
The slitting of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) Chest
It was a beautiful spring day and the mid-morning sun was emitting life everywhere. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) whose face was filled with noor (light), and his foster brother, Abdullah, were grazing their sheep in a meadow that was near their home. They sat on a carpet of grass as they were having a nice conversation underneath a tree. After a while, Abdullah fell asleep on the tree’s cool shadow while the Pride of the Universe (PBUH) thought about the Creator who encompassed the universe with incomparable beauty.
In the meantime, the sheep had dispersed far away. In order to have them turn back, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) walked away from Abdullah. After a while, he saw two men clothed in white garments. Both of them had smiling faces and were pleasant. One of them had a golden bowl that was filled with snow in his hand. They quietly approached the Holy Prophet (PBUH). They held him; they laid him on top of the standing grass that was like a Divine carpet. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) made no sound and no fuss. He knew that these pleasant people with clean and smiling faces would not hurt him.
In the meanwhile, Abdullah, who had fallen asleep on the tree’s cool shadow, was now awake. When he saw the scene, he immediately began to run home in a hurry. He explained what he saw to his parents. Out of their excitement and worry, Halima and her husband did not notice how they rushed out of the house, as they hastily ran towards the Holy Prophet (PBUH). They reached the Holy Prophet (PBUH)’s side; however, the situation was not as Abdullah had described since nobody could be seen. In an instant, the men fulfilled their appointed duty and left. The Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) face had gone pale, and he lightly smiled as he stood on his feet.
Halima and her husband who were in too great of a flap, asked:
“Sweetie, what happened to you?”
The Pride of the Universe (PBUH) narrated the following:
“Two people with white garments approached me. One of them had a golden bowl filled with snow in his hand. They held me, slit my chest, took out my heart, and slit my heart as well. From my heart, they took out a black blood clot and threw it aside. They left after they cleaned my heart and chest with that snow”.5
He would be given the duty of Prophethood after many years passed. One day, some of the Companions (Sahaba) had asked:
“Oh Messenger of Allah, could you describe yourself to us?”
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) answered: I am the supplication of my father, Ibrahim. I am the glad tidings of my brother, Isa (Jesus). I am my mother’s dream. When she was pregnant with me, she saw a noor that rose from itself and lightened the castles of Damascus”. After his answer, he explained the aforementioned situation in this way:
“I was nourished and brought up next to the sons of Sa’d bin Bakr. One day, I was grazing the sheep with my foster brother behind our home. In the meantime, two men in white garments approached me. One of them had a golden bowl filled with snow in his hand. They held me, slit my chest, took out my heart, and slit my heart as well. They took out a black blood clot from my heart and threw it aside. They cleaned my chest and heart with that snow”.6
In this phenomenon, our Beloved Messenger’s (PBUH) holy heart was widened with a soul and tranquility by the Divine Light and Allah Almighty. At the same time and from that day on, the nafs (soul) of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was filled with holy emotions. And with the testifying of Divine lights (noor), his nafs was cleaned from every type of apprehension and doubt. It should be remembered here that the heart should not be thought of as some piece of meat. It is a dominical subtle faculty, Latifa -Rabbaniyya. To become better enlightened on this topic, it is beneficial to look at Hazrat Badiuzzaman’s explanation of the heart:
"What is meant by the heart is not just a piece of meat like a pine cone. Instead, it is a dominical subtle faculty (Latifa Rabbaniyya), and the conscience, the purpose of feelings, intentions, and ideas, are its intellect. Therefore, an amenity has resulted from interpreting this piece of meat that contains the dominical subtle faculty: the dominical subtle faculty, the service that one does for his own spirituality, is like the service that is performed by the physical body. Yes, just as the One who has endowed this physical body with life is like a life-producing machine and this material life is extant because of His handiwork, the physical body reaches degradation when its material life is halted. He animates and illuminates the dominical subtle faculty with deeds and circumstances; and when the light of faith diminishes, its true essence will be left remaining like a lifeless and inanimate statue."7
It is understood that the faith, knowledge, wisdom, and compassion of the material heart are closely connected to spirituality. In the same way, the relation between material and spiritual cleanliness is extant. In this regard, the filling of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) heart with knowledge, wisdom, Divine light, and enlightenment after the cleansing of his material heart, should not be seen as unreasonable.8
1. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 1, p. 171-172; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 110-111.
2. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 1, p. 172; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 111; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 127.
3. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 1, p. 173; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 127.
4. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 1, p. 173; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 112; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 127.
5. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 1, p. 174; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 112; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 128.
6. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, a.g.e., V. 1, p. 175; Tabari,ibid, V. 2, p. 128.
7. Badiuzzaman Said Nursî, İşaratü’l-İ’caz, p. 79.
8. See M. Hamdi Yazır, Hak Dini Kur’an Dili, V. 8, 5911-5915.
Questions on Islam
- The Prophet is Taken to his Mother
- How old was the Prophet (pbuh) when he left his wet nurse? Did he meet his wet-nurse and foster sister after that?
- The Prophet is Given to a Foster Mother
- Halima (r.anha)
- How many years did the Prophet (pbuh) stay with his mother after he returned from Madinah; and did he visit his father's grave during this period?
- How did the splitting open of the chest of the Prophet (pbuh) take place and what does it mean?
- Who are the breastfeeders of the Prophet?
- What kind of torture was inflicted upon Hz. Abu Bakr by the polytheists?
- What kind of tortures and slanders were inflicted upon the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) by Qurayshi polytheists after he declared his prophethood openly and called people to accept Islam on Safa Hill?
- How did Abu Talib, who took the Prophet (pbuh) under his protection, and his wife, Fatima, treat the Prophet?