The Prophet is with Abu Talib, his uncle

The Beloved Prophet is eight years old...

He is under the protection of Abu Talib, his uncle, who was appointed as a guardian by his grandfather.

Abu Talib was an immensely compassionate person; nevertheless, he was quite poor. He did not have any possessions other than his few camels whose beneficial milk was distributed around Mecca. Abu Talib had a crowded family and as a result, he was in great distress.

Despite all of this, he was loved and respected by the Qurayshis for his honest and proper (morally upright) way of living. Hazrat Ali spoke of his father’s condition in this way:

“My father was one of the leading figures of the Quraysh despite having been poor. However, although he was poor, no one was considered to have been exalted in the tribe before him”.

Abu Talib and his manner of living were distant from the ugliness and wickedness of the Age of Ignorance. Like his father, Abdulmuttalib, he never consumed alcohol although the polytheist Qurayshis would drink it freely as if it were water. Abu Talib had the qualities to take care of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) in every circumstance.

At the same time, Abu Talib carried out the duties that were passed onto him by his brother, Zubayr, such as encasing the Kaaba and providing water to the pilgrims. However, after three seasons of Hajj, he understood that with his tight budget, he could not carry out these duties, which required great expenses to be made. Thus, he had to transfer these duties over to his brother, Hazrat Abbas. Hazrat Abbas continued these services until the Kaaba was conquered; Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) left these duties to the same people after he conquered the Kaaba.

Abu Talib was deeply connected to our Holy Prophet (PBUH) as his father had been. He showed the utmost attention to our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) upbringing. He would never separate his nephew from his side, would take him wherever he went, would have him sit next to him, and would talk to him as a friend.

They would not sit at the dinner table without him. When the table was set and when our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was not seen, Abu Talib would say, “Where is Muhammad? Call him to the table”. Everyone would be full yet the food would still increase at whichever table our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was found. Many times, at tables where our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was not present, the food would quickly finish before anyone got full. (1)

Besides, ever since that time, our Beloved Prophet (PBUH) would eat very little. He was always serious and would always respect the food. Unlike other children who would pounce on the food as soon as the table was set, he would not put anything in his mouth until the adults began eating. In fact, his uncle would sometimes set up a separate table for him so that our Holy Prophet (PBUH) would not be bothered by other children. (2)

Like in his adulthood, our Beloved Master (PBUH) would never complain about hunger or thirst during this age (his childhood). His nanny, Umm Ayman, described this property of his as follows:

“I have never seen our Holy Prophet (PBUH) complain about being hungry or thirsty during his childhood. He would drink a sip of Zamzam in the morning. Whenever we would want to feed him, he would say, “I do not want anything. I am full”. (3)

Every morning, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) would open his eyes that were full with happiness and life, with a pristine countenance that shone bright. (4)

The Prophet attends the prayer for rain with his uncle!

Makkah and its neighborhood was undergoing a severe drought and famine. The ground was dry and cracked due to lack of water.

The Qurayshis applied to Abu Talib and said, “O Abu Talib! Our children and animals started to die due to drought and famine! Please pray for rain for us.”

Abu Talib did not reject their offer. However, he would not go alone. He was going to take Muhammad, his nephew, with him because he had seen in many events that Muhammad attracted blessings and grants. 

Abu Talib went to the Kaaba with his nephew, the Sun of Bliss. He leaned against the holy Kaaba, opened his hands to the Sultan of the Universe and started to beg. Muhammad (pbuh) was holding the covering of the Kaaba and he was pointing to the sky with one finger. 

...After a while, the sea of mercy of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, started move; rain started to pour down over Makkah and the people of Makkah. They could hardly enter their houses. The valleys were full of water. They became very happy. 

Yes, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) had been appointed to bring material and spiritual mercy and blessing to the humanity and to make the world a happy and prosperous place. He had the traces of that lofty and great duty beginning from his childhood!

The love of Fatima, the wife of Abu Talib, toward the Prophet

The love and compassion of Fatima, the wife of Abu Talib, toward the Prophet was endless. She loved him as one of her own children and would show the utmost attention to his upbringing. In fact, she would not pay attention to her own children until she had fed him and had made sure that he was full. In this way, she was trying to have him not feel the pain of being an orphan.

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) never neglected showing Lady Fatima love and respect. He never forgot the kindness that she had shown him throughout his entire life. When she died, he expressed his love for her by saying “Today my mother passed away”.  Afterwards, he made her a shroud by taking off his shirt and wrapping her with it, and he then descended with her to her grave and he lay there for some time.

This particular action had not escaped from the eyes of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) companions. When they asked him for the reason, he provided the response:

“After Abu Talib, there was no woman who had shown me as much kindness as this dear woman had. I made my shirt a shroud for her so that she could wear a dress from Paradise in the Hereafter and I had lain there with her so she could like and be accustomed to the grave” (5)

The great Prophet (pbuh), who never forgot the favors done to him no matter who did them and who returned those favors to them manyfold...

Our Holy Prophet’s noble and exceptional trait greatly influenced people to convert to Islam, as it can be seen in the various stages of his life.

THE PROPHET HERDS SHEEP

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was in the tenth year of his blissful life.

During this time, he told his uncle, Abu Talib, whose custody he was under, that he wanted to herd Abu Talib’s sheep. At first, his uncle, who loved him wholeheartedly, did not consent. However, he eventually accepted on account of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) persistence and intense desire. However, this time, his wife, Lady Fatima, ardently opposed. How could their hearts consent to leaving our Holy Prophet (PBUH), whom they loved more than their own children, under the scorching sun?

Nevertheless, the Master of the Universe (PBUH) was determined. For this reason, he was able to obtain Lady Fatima’s consent.

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) began to take the sheep and goats to the valleys and hills where they would graze during the morning.

In this way, he was able to help his uncle, even if it was in a very small way, to save money since it was no longer necessary to hire a shepherd. He also acquired the chance of deeply contemplating on the existence of the ground and skies in solitary. In the fields, he would watch the sublime scenery which Allah revived at every moment; thus, his soul would experience an incomparable pleasure and attain deep enlightenment from viewing these sights. At the same time, this duty, which he had taken upon himself, allowed him the opportunity to keep him away from the lies, fraud, deceit, and hypocrisy of the corrupt society in which he lived. 

After the duty of Prophethood had been given to our Master (PBUH), who spent his holy life herding sheep, he went to the fields with his companions (Sahaba). They started to pick the fruit of the siwak tree in a place called Marr az-Zahran. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) said to his companions amid his smiles that soothed hearts:

“Among this wild fruit, choose the black kind since it is the most delicious.”

The companions were amazed and curious.  They asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah! Only a shepherd would know the good and bad types of this fruit. Did you herd sheep?”

Once again, the Master of the Universe (PBUH) replied amid his smiles that soothed hearts, “There is no prophet who has not herded sheep.” (6)

One day, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) reminisced to his companions a sweet memory in his life:

“Prophet Moses (AS) was sent as a prophet; he herded sheep. Prophet David (AS) was sent as a prophet; he herded sheep. I too was sent as a prophet and would herd my family’s sheep in Jiyad (a place that is at the bottom part of Mecca).” (7)

It can be seen that at ten years old, our Holy Prophet (PBUH), who is described as the one “who possesses the highest ethics” in the Quran, did not favor being without work due to his diligence and benevolence and did not deem it appropriate to be a burden on someone else.

It is possible to find the traces of one-year experience of herding sheep in these holy words, which can cover several books of commentary and interpretation.

“You all are shepherds. You are responsible for those whom you guard. A state chieftain is responsible for those who are under his rule. An individual is obliged to protect and take care of his children and is responsible for them. A woman is responsible for her husband’s home. A servant is a watchman and is responsible for his employer’s goods. An individual is the watchman of his father’s goods and is responsible for them. You are all responsible for those who are under your command.” (8)

He is withheld from taking part in entertainment

The Master of the Universe, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who was under the special protection of God Almighty, narrated an event that happened to him at the time when he was herding the sheep of his uncle. It was as follows:

“A couple of times I wanted to do some things which the people of the Era of Ignorance would do. However, God Almighty kept me from doing them. From that time on, I never intended to do something of which God Almighty would disapprove until the time I was selected as a prophet. As for the thing I meant to do, it was like this: One night, I and some youth from Quraish were herding our sheep up the hill at Mecca. I proposed my friend if he could take care of my sheep so that I like my other friends, might join the night entertainments where people told tales. My friend answered that he could do that for me. Then I came to Mecca.

When I saw the first house of Mecca, I heard the voice of people having fun screaming. I asked someone what it was about. He answered that some man was getting married to some girl and that was their wedding. I then sat somewhere near the wedding and began to watch it. Then I fell asleep and could wake up only with the first lights of the sun. When I turned back to my friend, he asked me what I did. I told him I did nothing and told him all about the night before.

One night, I asked again my friend for permission to leave, which he agreed. When I walked all the way and came to Mecca, I saw again, what I had seen before. I knelt down and started to watch it. Then I fell asleep. I could wake up only at daybreak. As soon as I woke up, I turned back to my friend and told him what I had seen.

After that I never attempted to do such things till I became a prophet.” (9)

[1] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 120.

[2] Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 1, p. 119.,

[3] Qadi Iyad, ash-Shifa, V. 1, p. 729-730.

[4] Qadi Iyad, ibid, V. 1, p. 730.,

[5] Suhayli, Rawdu’l-Unf, V. 1, p. 112; Ibn Abdi’l-Barr, al-Istiab, V. 1, p. 369-370.

[6] Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 125-126; Bukhari, Sahih. V. 2, p. 247-248; Muslim, Sahih, V. 6, p. 125; Ibn Majah, Sunan, V. I2, p. 727.

[7] Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 1, p. 126.

[8] Muslim, Sahih, V. 6, p. 8.

[9] Tabari, Tarikh, V. 1, p. 196.

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