بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, Most Merciful Most Compassionate
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be upon His beloved Messenger and upon his family, his companions and those who follow them until the end of time.
Seerah: Part One -Pre-Prophecy
A thousand salutations upon you O Muhammad b. Abdullah b. Abdul Muttalib b. Hashim b. Abd Manaf b. Qussay b. Kilab b. Murra b. Ka`b b. Lu’ayy b. Ghalib b. Fihr b. Malik b. Nadr b. Kinana b. Khuzaimah b. Mudrikah b. Ilyas b. Mudar b. Nizar b. Mu’add b. Adnan
Indeed, one questions how to begin, how to even put pen to paper and write about your glorious life when so many more eloquent tongues and noble hands have sketched it out before. Yet we too must engage, must know, and must learn in order to embody, to practice and to love. And with the intentions of our righteous predecessors we begin, whilst asking your forgiveness for our mistakes and our lack in etiquette.
O Messenger of Allah, truly you are of the purest lineage. Allah, Most High, selected for you to be from the Arabs, and from them selected the Quraysh, and from them selected Banu Hashim. Indeed how they were ennobled by having you sent from amongst them!
You, the light of the universe! The beautiful luminous light! Your light which was passed from pure loins to pure wombs until it reached your blessed father, who on his way to marry your mother was proposed to by a woman who recognised the light in his blessed face! But the decree was that your mother was to be the noble Aminah bt. Wahb, to whom your light was transferred after their blessed union. She, the young and beautiful newlywed, carried you within her, and there was no treasure chest in the universe more valuable and priceless than her womb during that time!
O Messenger of Allah, truly you are an example to every person in every state, facing every calamity. The difficult trials you went through right from the start of your life are mirrored in few lives. Indeed it is the mark of those beloved by God and those brought near. You, O Messenger of Allah, were orphaned before you were even born.
But what a birth it was! On the 12th night of Rabi el Awwal; and how appropriate that your birth be in spring, the season when new things grow and life is given to the earth once more! You were born at an hour between the night and day, so that both should be pleased at being part of that tremendous and glorious event that brought glad tidings to the whole of existence! Indeed we wonder what the earth must have been like on that day. No doubt, hearts connected to the celestial and the divine must have felt the mercy pouring from the heavens, and the intense radiance that shone that night!
At your noble birth the palaces of Syria were made visible to your mother due to the immense light that lit up the heavens. Our mother Eve was present, as was Aasiya, the noble wife of the Pharaoh, and Mary, the pure and chaste. On that night, the great fire of Persia was extinguished, and the idols around the Kaba fell! So many great wonders were witnessed both in the heavens and upon earth.
Your blessed name ‘Muhammad’ was chosen by your grandfather for you are indeed the praiseworthy! For if the veils were to be lifted we would witness all of creation praising you! The inanimate and the animate, all in praise of your perfection!
It was the custom of the people of Makkah to send their newborns to the deserts to be brought up breathing clean air and learning the art of eloquent speaking. As the Bedouin women came to Makkah to search for newborns to take away, many turned their face from you thinking that an orphan child would not bring them the wealth they desired. But in reality, it was not that they did not choose you, but indeed you did not choose them!
Indeed you chose Halima to be your wet nurse. Blessed Halima! How poor she was when she came to Makkah. How her donkey could barely carry her, her she-camel produced no milk, and her breasts had dried so that her child wailed from hunger. But O Messenger of Allah, as she took you, the beautiful and perfect babe, so changed her whole destiny from that moment to all eternity. Her donkey found new strength, her she-camel produced milk so that she and her husband drank their fill and both her babes she carried drank their fill from her.
How rich became Halima of Banu Sa`ad! How her fortune changed! How everyday her flock would come back with bursting udders so that others would send their flock to graze with Halima’s flock. How the rain poured that year and the grass grew green in that blessed valley. How much did Halima and her husband love you, and how much your foster brother adored you! She was indeed your greatest wet-nurse; Halima, the one from whom you took Hilm, forbearance, a characteristic which would later be a recognised indication of your Prophecy!
There then came a day in that valley, when you were visited by Gabriel and Michael. They split your chest and cleansed you of a dark spot, they say! The spot which symbolised no evil, nor was it any fault in you! O most pure of all things pure! But rather they say, as you are Mercy for the Worlds, they removed from you any mercy you may have towards Iblis, the accursed.
How beautiful your countenance and your character!
Halima, fearing for you, took you hastily back to your mother recounting to her what happened. But the noble Aminah had no fear. With a calm serenity she declared that her son was protected and would have a great future. But she decided to keep you with her from then on, as indeed you took from the desert as others took, but in half the time! O Aminah, how great was your certainty, how firm was your belief in the destiny that lay ahead of your son!
When you were 6, your mother decided to travel with you to Yathrib to visit your father’s resting place. Upon return, along the way, you lost her at the tender age of 6. You came back to Madina with Barakah, the woman devoted to you throughout your life. She consoled you, so young a child you were to have lost both your parents!
You were then brought up under the caring eye of your noble grandfather Abdul Muttalib, who was head of the Quraysh. He let you play on his seat by the blessed House only reserved for him, as he too had full certainty in the great affair that lay ahead of you. May God Most High bless all your grandparents!
Alas, Abdul Muttalib too you also lost within two years. You were then taken care of by your father’s full brother Abu Talib, who himself was a poor man. But Abu Talib’s household was enriched by your presence! How close Abu Talib kept you recognising how blessed you were! He testified to the multiplicity of the food when you ate with them, and the numerous blessings they enjoyed by your simply being amongst them. O Messenger of God, a million salutations upon you!
At 12 you went on a trading journey with Abu Talib to the blessed land of Syria. Along the route to Bosra, you stopped at the monastery of Bahira. You rested under the blessed tree which shaded you, and the clouds that had been shading the caravan stopped above you. Bahira, who had never once before paid attention to the idolaters of Makkah could not help but notice the clouds following your caravan and thought within himself that there had to be a distinguished person amongst those people.
So Bahira invited the whole caravan to dine with him, and they went, leaving you, al-Amin, to take care of their belongings. Even as a young boy of 12 they trusted no other over you! But Bahira saw nothing of significance in the faces of his guests and enquired whether anyone had been left behind. They mentioned the young boy they had left, thinking him insignificant. But Bahira had invited everyone, and so you too were brought forth!
Bahira saw your beauty, your manners, your perfection and your grace and at once he saw for whom the clouds were shading the caravan that day! He asked you to swear by Lat and Uzzah, but those were names alien to you, for in One God was your faith, and to Him was to be your call! Bahira saw and kissed the seal of Prophecy, and told your uncle to safeguard you from enemies, for you had a great destiny!
O Messenger of God, how many foretold and awaited your coming! How many a book recorded the day you would come, how many a tongue narrated the beauty and perfection of your manners and speech so that even a solitary monk in a lone monastery kept watch for you, and recognised you!
O Messenger of God, you grew into a fine and handsome young man with many a friend and associate. Always eager to lend a helping hand, you thought to help your uncle financially by trading. When you were 25, hearing of your honesty and trading successes, the lovely and beautiful noblewoman Khadijah sent for you. She entrusted you with goods to trade in Syria on her behalf, and sent with you Maysarah her trusted servant. Maysarah observed you well. He witnessed the cloud that shaded you and other spectacular and wondrous signs that God made manifest to him! He saw how the profits were multi-fold those to be expected from such transactions. He saw your honesty and good countenance, and the impeccable character you displayed.
As you passed by the same tree under which you sat when you were 12, you sat down once again, only to be witnessed by another monk, Nestor. He beheld you as you sat under the blessed tree: a tree which will bear timeless testimony to who you are! The tree who witnessed you and the tree only Prophets sat beneath. This tree that is yet amongst us, to whom all lovers yearn to visit in order to be close to you, to seek from its blessings, for it sheltered your blessed being! It showed you love and affection by leaning its branches over you, and by doing so recognised your rank and worth in all the worlds! This is a tree, and how much is its worth over many of mankind who fail to recognise you! May God forgive us!
And how fortunate was Maysarah! He witnessed your light and beauty up close and was told by Nestor that only Prophets sat beneath that tree. And all this he narrated to his Lady Khadijah upon return!
Our Lady Khadijah, intelligent and wise! She knew that the affair Maysarah described was not ordinary, but an indication of the greatness that was to be bestowed upon you!
Khadijah’s confidante Nafisa, sensing interest, decided to try to facilitate a marriage between you! She spoke to you and to Khadijah, and with Abu Talib’s approval, you were thus married. And what a beautiful and blessed union!
How blessed was Our Lady Khadijah! The only woman to whom you were devoted until her parting from this world! The mother of your 6 children! You had Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kalthoom and al-Batool Fatimah az-Zahrah! Qasim and Abdullah! She was only woman, other than Mariyah, from whom you were blessed with children! Indeed you even took in Ali b. Abi Talib to assist your uncle and lighten his burden in poverty. Perhaps in the grander scale this was a means of repaying the balance for your own childhood in his home, since you O Messenger of Allah, could never be indebted to anyone. Indeed the whole universe in indebted to you!
When you were 34, the Quraysh rebuilt the Kaba and they could not decide who should have the honour of restoring the black stone! How would they settle such a dispute without bloodshed! Until one of them cried, we will leave the affair to the one who enters the holy precinct first tomorrow. And it was none other than you O Messenger of Allah. They shouted, it is al-Amin! We are happy with his verdict, whatever it may be! And with great wisdom and tact you asked for a cloth upon which the black stone was to be placed, and the 4 leaders each held a corner, raising it to the level of the House. And with your blessed hands, so fine, soft and smooth, you placed the stone back in its place! Indeed the stone from al-Jannah was more greatly ennobled by this encounter with you! A million salutations upon you!
As you neared 40, as our Lady A`isha later recounted, solitude was made beloved to you! You took to Hira, to worship Our Lord, Most High. Khadijah, the ever devoted and loving wife would prepare your provision, and indeed the needy folk still came to you for their affairs!
Indeed the seeking of solitude at Hira was a tradition of your grandfathers before you, and was a path to follow for those that came after you. For great openings only come to those who persevere and take the means God has provided. What a great example you left for us in every affair!
In the Ramadan prior to your 40th birthday the Quran was sent down to the lowest heaven. In the six months following you saw dreams and visions filled with truth, light and guidance. Indeed what you witnessed by night would become manifest by day, as clear as the breaking dawn!
Then at 40, whilst meditating one night, alone and in the worship and of your Lord, Gabriel came to visit you. How spectacular and unimaginable to us that an archangel should descend to earth once more, as had occurred to Messengers before!
When Gabriel came to you and commanded you to “Recite!” indeed it was not that you could not, but you asked thrice what is was that you were to recite!
Until, upon the third questioning, Gabriel declared:
“Recite in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from man from a clot. Recite and your Lord is most Generous, He who taught by the Pen. Taught man that which he did not know”
What an honour for Hira that the first revelation from the Divine should descend to the purest heart upon her! That Hira was chosen to be the location of this union between heaven and earth! Chosen, indeed, over every other place on earth!
You recited after Gabriel, heart pounding and mind in disarray. Indeed what had occurred was a tremendous occurrence! You wanted to leave the mountain to reach the comforting arms of your beloved wife Khadijah. And yet, as you descended from the mountain, all trees, plants, flowers, as they basked in the light of your prophecy, and as all animals, beasts, insects as they beheld your beauty, each cried in turn and in unison:
“Peace be upon you O Messenger of Allah!”