The Prophet’s Early Years

Abdul Mutalib betrothed his youngest son, Abdullah, who was to be the Prophet’s (SAW) father, to Aminah in the year 570AD. Not long after the marriage took place, Abdullah left Aminah, who was then already pregnant with the Prophet (SAW) and traveled to Syria on a mercantile expedition.

While on his journey, Abdullah had fallen ill and was left behind in Medina by the group he was traveling with. Then, Abdullah passed away within a month of being left in Medina.

Aminah, who was yet to give birth to her child, was thus widowed after only a few months of marriage. Many sources go on to say that the child was then born on 20 April 570AD. When the Prophet’s (SAW) grandfather, Abdul Mutalib was informed of the birth, he visited Aminah and took the child with him to the Kaabah and gave thanks to Allah (SWT) . Gleaning from one of Aminah’s dreams, she named the child Muhammad, the name meaning ‘one greatly praised’.

It was not the custom of the upper class women in Mecca to nurse their children and thus, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was charged to one of ten ladies from Bani Sa’ad who arrived at Mecca and offered themselves as nurses. This lady was Halimah, and she had somewhat reluctantly took in the infant Muhammad (SAW) .

Still, she soon proved to be a gentle and loving foster-mother for the infant Muhammad (SAW) . When the Prophet (SAW) was two years of age, Halimah took him back home. Upon seeing the two-year-old Muhammad (SAW) , Aminah was extremely pleased with his healthy appearance. She then asked Halimah to take the Prophet (SAW) back again to the desert for she felt that the unhealthy air of Mecca might affect his health. Two years later, Halimah brought the boy Muhammad (SAW) back again to his mother, who again convinced her to take him back once more to her tribe in the deserts. Halimah, who adored the child Muhammad (SAW) , was happy that she got to care for him for so long. The next year, she finally returned him to the care of his mother and grandfather.

The Prophet (SAW) spent the sixth year of his life in Mecca with his mother, under the care of his grandfather.  Aminah then visited Medina to introduce the Prophet (SAW) to his father’s maternal relatives. Together with Aminah’s slave-girl, Um Aiman, they set out for Medina.

After a month of staying in Medina, Aminah decided to return to Mecca.  On the journey home, they reached Abwa, a spot somewhat halfway to Mecca and Aminah fell ill and died, and she was buried there. The child Muhammad (SAW) was carried back to Mecca by Um Aiman, who might have only been a girl but continued to be the Prophet’s (SAW) devoted and constant attendant.

The orphaned Muhammad (SAW) was now under the charge of his now eighty-year-old grandfather, Abdul Mutalib. Abdul Mutalib was very fond of the Prophet (SAW) as a child and doted on him. The Prophet (SAW) was still under the care of his nurse, but he would often run off to find Abdul Mutalib.

The Prophet (SAW) only got to enjoy the guardianship of Abdul Mutalib for two years, for his grandfather died at the age of eighty-two. The orphaned Muhammad (SAW) remembered both the death of his mother and his grandfather distinctly at his tender young age.

The deaths in the early years of the Prophet’s (SAW) life were not a series of coincidence with little significance. They were part of Allah’s (SWT) divine design, so that he might develop early the qualities of self-reliance, reflection and steadfastness. Though orphaned at a young age, the Prophet (SAW) was always well looked after, for he was under Allah’s (SWT) special care. The Prophet (SAW) was under His direct care even before birth; step-by-step his personality was developed and he was prepared for the great responsibility that Allah (SWT) had intended to place upon him.