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November 13, 2007, 1:33 am
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'Year of the Elephant'. In that year Allah had saved the Ka'bah and he
would soon bring forth a Prophet from among Quraysh. In the Name of
Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful: "Hasn't thou not seen how thy
Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant? Did He not bring their
stratagem to naught, And send against them swarms of flying creatures,
Which pelted them with stones of baked clay, And made them like green
crops devoured (by cattle)? (Koran cv.1-5)
The Prophet Is Born
One day, while travelling north, one of the Arab tribes from Mecca met
a hermit in the desert. Some of the men stopped to speak with him.
Hermits were known to be wise and the Arabs often asked their advice.
The hermit asked where they had come from. When they replied that they
were from Mecca, he told them that Allah would soon send a prophet,
who would come from their people. They asked the name of this prophet
and the hermit answered that his name would be Muhammad and that he
would guide them to a new way of life.
Meanwhile in Mecca, Aminah, although saddened by the loss of her
husband, felt especially well and strong as she awaited the birth of
her baby. During this time she dreamt of many things. On one occasion
it was as if a great light were shining out of her, and on another she
heard a voice telling her that she would have a boy and that his name
would be Muhammad. She never forgot that voice but she told no one
On Monday, the twelfth day of Rabi al-Awwal in the Year of the
Elephant, Aminah gave birth to a son. Allah sends man many signs when
one of His chosen Prophets is born and on that twelfth day of Rabi al-
Awwal in the year 570 A.D, many such signs were seen. Some were seen
by Jewish scholars who had read in their scriptures of a coming
Prophet. One of these learned men in Yathrib, for instance, saw a
brilliant new star he had never seen before as he studied the heavens
that night. He called the people around him and,
pointing the star out to them, told them a Prophet must have been
born. That same night another Jew was passing by the meeting place of
the leaders of Quraysh in Mecca. He asked them if a baby boy had just
been born and told them that if it were true, this would be the
Prophet of the Arab nation.
Aminah sent news of the birth to her father-in-law, 'Abd al-Muttalib,
who was sitting near the Ka'bah at the time. He was very happy and
began at once to think of a name for the boy. An ordinary name would
not do. Six days came and went and still he had not decided. But on
the seventh day, as he lay asleep near the Ka'bah, 'Abd al-Muttalib
dreamt that he should give the baby the unusual name of Muhammad, just
as Aminah herself had dreamt. And the child was called Muhammad
(pbuh), which means 'the Praised One'. When 'Abd al-Muttalib told the
leaders of Quraysh what he had named his grandson, many of them asked,
'Why did you not choose the sort of name that is used by our people?'
At once he replied, 'I want him to be praised by Allah in the heavens
and praised by men on earth
A Time With Halimah
Like many other women in Mecca, Aminah decided to send her son away
from the city for his early years to the desert where it was more
healthy. Women from the desert used to come to Mecca to collect the
new babies and they would then keep them until they developed into
strong children, for which they were well paid by the parents.
Among the women who traveled to Mecca to fetch a new baby at the time
Aminah's son was born, was a Bedouin woman called Halimah. With her
was her husband and baby son. They had always been very poor but this
year things were harder than ever because there had been famine. The
donkey that earned Halimah on the journey was so weak from hunger that
he often stumbled. Halimah's own baby son cried all the time because
his mother could not feed him properly. Even their she-camel did not
give them one drop of milk. Halimah did not know what to do.