Shaykh al-Islam Imam Shihab al-Din Ahmad Ibn Hajar al-Haytami al-Makki al-Shafi’i (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu) [d. 974H/1566] in his distinguished book “an-Ni’mat al-Kubra ala al-Aalam fi Mawlidi Sayyidi Waladi Aadam” quoted the following blessed sayings of the Khulafa al-Rashideen (The four rightly guided caliphs) concerning commemorating and celebrating the Mawlid an-Nabawi Sharif:
Hadrat Sayyiduna Abu Bakr as-Siddique (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu) says,
من أنفق درهما على قراءة مولد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان رفيقي في الجنة
“Whosoever spends one dirham on the birthday of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, will be with me in Jannah.”
Hadrat Sayyiduna ‘Umar al-Farooq (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu) says,
من عظم مولد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقد أحيا الإسلام
“Whosoever has respected the Mawlid Sharif of the Holy Prophet ﷺ it is as though he has revived the Deen.”
Hadrat Sayyiduna Uthman al-Ghani (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu) says,
من أنفق درهما على قراءة مولد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فكأنما شهد غزوة بدر وحنين
“Whosoever has spent one dirham on the Birthday of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, it is as though he was present in Battle of Badr and Hunayn.”
Hadrat Sayyiduna Mawla Ali al-Murtuda (Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anhu) says that,
من عظم مولد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وكان سببا لقراءته لا يخرج من الدنيا إلا بالإيمان ويدخل الجنة بغير حساب
“Whosoever respects the Mawlid Sharif and is a means of motivating a Milad function will take from this world the gift of Imaan and He will enter Jannah without any questioning.”
[An-Ne’matul Kubra, Pages 7/8, Published by Hakikat Kitabevi, Istanbul, Turkey]
Table of Contents
Birth of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
When the term was fulfilled and the moment of delivery approached, the holy house, the Kaba at Mecca all at once was seen to split in two. The Quraysh were appalled by this event, and everybody searched for an explanation. The Bani Hashim said, “This is on account of Abdullah, the son of Abdul-Muttalib’s death that this has happened”, while the Bani Zuhayr said, “This holy house has split asunder because the father of Amina, Wahb ibn Abdu Manaf has died, and he was one of the bravest men of Quraysh.”
While they were thus engaged in finding explanations for this inexplicable happening, they heard a voice coming from inside the Kaba that said, “Oh men of Quraysh! This holy house has not come apart on account of the death of any, but rather because the time of birth has drawn nigh for the Light of this world, the Glory of the world to come, the shining Lamp of Paradise, Muhammad bin Abdullah r to emerge from his mother’s womb. He is to be a great prophet, he will cleanse this holy house of the abominations and idols that are polluting my precincts, and he will make me pure and pristine once more with the light of true faith; I will become the Qibla of his entire nation and the annual pilgrimage will be held on my grounds. Know that it is in honor of his long desired advent that this edifice has cracked and split.”
The night that Muhammad ﷺ was born, Allah Almighty, Exalted be He, commanded the angels to open wide all the gates of Heaven and of Paradise; on that day the sun shone with more brilliance, and greater was its light than on other days, and the whole world was gladdened.
Abdullah bin Salam reports: On the night the Prophet ﷺ was born,
I was sitting together with a learned Jew. He raised his face to Heaven and spoke to me, “Ya Ibn Salam! This very night at Mecca the Arabian prophet, Muhammad ibn Abdullah r is to be born who will illuminate the world.”
I said to him, “What do these words of yours mean, how do you know such a thing?” He answered me, “I have been watching the skies, and I see now such a light as has not been seen since the world began. That is how I come to know of this event.”
I then entered a dark room, and I saw seventy candles burning in it so that it was brilliantly lit. I knew then that unusual things were happening. When I came to Mecca, I asked about that night, and I found that the Jewish scholar had told me the truth; it had indeed been the night in which the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ came into this world.
The Prophet’s ﷺ blessed mother, Amina, relates: “At the time I was ready to give birth there was no one with me, neither man nor woman attended me (for everyone, including Abdul-Muttalib, had gone to make Tawaf of the Kaba.) I was all alone in the house. Suddenly there was a terrifying noise and I felt great fear. Then a white bird alighted upon my breast and my fear left me, I became calm and no trace of pain or anxiety remained. Next I was handed a cup of sweet white sherbet, and when I drank of it, my heart filled with peace and joy and light. After this, I beheld a number of tall women approaching me, tall and slender as cypress trees, and of astounding beauty. I took them to be the daughters of Abdu Manaf. They came and sat around me in a circle, and I was mostly surprised and wondered how they had come to know of my condition and who had informed them.
While I was yet pondering this question in my heart, one of the ladies spoke and said, ‘I am Hawa, the wife of the Prophet Adam,’ and another one of them said, ‘I am Sarah, the wife of the Prophet Ibrahim.’ Yet another said, ‘I am Asiya, the wife of Fir’aun of Egypt’. And another said, ‘I am Maryam, the daughter of ‘Imran, the mother of ‘Isa.’ The others were introduced as the Huris of Paradise, all of whom had come to usher the Holy Prophet ﷺ into his earthly life and to welcome him with due veneration.
All the while the noises I had been hearing became stronger and louder and more fearful. Suddenly I perceived a white curtain being drawn from the skies down to the earth, so that I was veiled from the eyes of the Jinn. Then there was a flock of birds with beaks of green emerald and ruby red wings. These birds flew down and fluttered about me so closely that I could feel the beating of their wings upon my skin. They flew round and round me as if in Tawaf (circumambulation). The Lord Almighty then removed the veil from my eyes so that I beheld the whole world from east to west. Three flags I saw them bring down from Heaven: one they planted in the ground in the east, one in the west and one right atop the Kaba. In the heavens that were open to my eyes I beheld men bearing bejeweled vessels of gold, and they assisted at the birth of the blessed child, and I suffered neither pain nor trouble.
And when I looked again, I saw that the child was born circumcised, and that his umbilical cord was cut and he was wrapped in a piece of white silk. He touched the ground with his blessed head, lifted the forefinger of his right hand, and made humble supplication to Allah Almighty. I bent down to hear what he was saying, and these were the words I heard:
Ash-hadu an la ilaha ill’Allah wa inni Rasulullah; Allahu Akbar kabiran, wal-hamdu-lillahi kathiran, wa subhanallahi bukratan wa asilan. Allahumma, ummatiy, ummatiy…
There is a narration from Safiya, the daughter of Abdul-Muttalib:
“I was present the night the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was born. At the very moment of birth I saw a great light appear. During the night, I beheld six signs. The first was that the instant the holy child was born. He bent down his head and performed a prostration. The second, that he lifted up his blessed head and spoke clearly and distinctly these words: La ilaha illAllah, inni Rasulullah. The third, that a great light was manifested. The fourth, that when I wished to wash the child, I heard a voice speaking to me that said: ‘Oh Safiya, do not trouble yourself, we have already washed and cleansed him.’ The fifth sign was that he was born already circumcised, and his umbilical cord was cut. The sixth sign was when I looked for something with which to swaddle the child, I noticed upon his back a certain mark. Looking at it closely, I was able to read the words: ‘La ilaha illAllah, Muhammad ﷺRasulullah.”
Safiya also said, “When he prostrated himself, he spoke some words in secret. I bent my ear to his blessed lips to hear what he was saying, and I heard him say: ‘Ummatiy, ummatiy (my nation, my nation).’”
Now let us pause briefly to consider this point: this noble prophet of unequaled rank and highest station prayed to his Lord from the very moment he was born, entreating Him for our sake, for the sake of his nation, while we, who stand in dire need of his prayer and intercession in this world and the next are enveloped in heedlessness. We forsake the example of his radiant and honored Sunna (example) and are negligent in our observance of the Shari’a that we have the privilege of knowing. Day and night we are careless in the recital of Salawat (praises and prayers on the Holy Prophet ﷺ), being engulfed in our own sloth. How can we be worthy of such lofty intercession?
If we paused to consider this for a moment and reflected on the implications, we would realize that we are totally overcome by our heedlessness, whereas we should busy ourselves constantly with the application of the holy ways of the law, and try to make all our actions accord with the guidance it contains, and to tirelessly recite praises and prayers on the Holy Prophet . May Allah–Exalted be He–effect betterment for us all and improve our state, and grant us success and favor, for the sake of the prince among all the Divine Messengers. Amin.
To continue our narration: Amina the mother of the Holy Prophet ﷺ recounts: “I then beheld a white cloud in the sky moving towards me, and from it came as if the sounds of horses. This cloud descended and enveloped the little child Muhammad ﷺ and carried him away out of my sight. I heard a voice calling: ‘We are taking Muhammad ﷺ, to show him the whole world. We shall encircle it and dive into the depths of the oceans, so that all that lives in and under the earth may know of the advent of this noble being and shall have seen his face and learned of his arrival. Hereafter the world shall be filled with the light of faith; of unbelief and rebellion against the Lord Almighty nothing will remain.’ Thus I heard the voices speak to me.”
“After only a brief moment, that cloud alighted anew, and I saw my son Muhammad ﷺ again, wrapped now in a piece of green silk, dripping with milk. His face was radiant as the moon on her fourteenth night, and he exuded a fragrance sweeter than that of yellow musk. I then beheld three persons standing aside; one of them held in his hand a jug of silver, another held a bowl of green emerald, and the third held a piece of folded white silk. The latter unfolded this bit of silk and took from its folds a ring so bright it dazzled the eyes of the beholder.
“The first took the baby Muhammad ﷺ and washed him seven times from the silver jug; then the next person took a ring from the folds of silken cloth and impressed its bezel in a place between the baby’s shoulders. After that he wrapped it up again in the bit of silk. He then took the baby Muhammad ﷺ from me and held him under his wing for a whole hour,
all the while whispering many secrets into his ears. At last he kissed him upon both his eyes and said, ‘Tuba laka, ya Muhammad ﷺ, blissful tidings to you, oh Muhammad ﷺ, in all Allah’s creation, you are the most awesome and venerable of all that serve Him Almighty. Triumph and victory has been given to your companions and your nation. It is you who holds the keys to the castle of bliss.’”
It is related by Ibn Abbas: The night the Holy Prophet ﷺ was born, all the idols in the Kaba fell from their places and broke to pieces. At that time a voice was heard calling out from the unseen, and it said: “Woe and perdition on Quraysh, for the glorious and trusted Prophet ﷺ has come in truth, embellished with adornments from the loftiest gardens of Paradise. Lat and Uzza and all other idols are now finished and done for, Iblis himself is imprisoned.”
The Kaba itself was inwardly hung with golden lamps from Paradise, and all creatures of the heavens and the earth, the youths and the maidens from Paradise, all created beings other than mankind rejoiced and gave each other the glad tidings. “Oh Muhammad,” they wished, “may Allah make you happy and always pleased, for there is no creature born with greater honor than you, and none that is more excellent. Never have the angels celebrated the birth of any created being as they now celebrate your birth into this world!” Between Heaven and earth there were raised pillars of support, and all were made of precious stone, and not one of them was alike unto another.
It is reported by Ka’b-al-Akhbar: One of the miracles of that night was a fish that lived in the sea, and its name was Zalmusa. This fish had seventy heads and seventy tails, and a single scale on his back could have held seventy mountains and plains, the smallest of which would have been the size of Jabil Qubais (a hill in Mecca). Now you can picture the size of that tremendous fish! The night the Holy Prophet ﷺ was born, by the Will of Allah Almighty this fish was so convulsed with mighty emotion that he caused the seven seas to heave from enthusiasm, so that all the sea creatures were instantly informed of the arrival of the Holy Prophet ﷺ in the world of men.
The Holy Prophet’s ﷺ illustrious grandfather was at the Kaba when Amina gave birth, and she sent him word of the glad event, inviting him to come and see her newborn son. Abdul-Muttalib relates: “I was at the time within the building of the Kaba. There I witnessed how the walls of the building themselves began to shake and tremble with joy, calling out to each other: ‘The Lord Almighty has bestowed great honor on us that we might see the coming of the prophet who will cleanse us of the filth of these idols!’ I was amazed at hearing this, and I understood then that you must have given birth, and that these words heralded the importance of the child you had born.”
Amina reports: Later, when he looked upon my son Muhammad ﷺ, he said, “Praise be to the All-Powerful Lord that He has granted me such an auspicious grandchild!” and he praised him with a great many praises, while from the child’s blessed body such a beautiful scent issued forth that it filled the whole town of Mecca as if with the fragrance of musk and amber.
Voices of praise and rejoicing were heard throughout the town, even to the house of Abu Lahab, the Prophet’s ﷺ uncle. While he lay sleeping, voices from the unseen filled his room and the smell of musk and amber pervaded the air. From this he awoke, greatly perplexed. A slave girl, Thauba, was sleeping by his side. To her he turned to ask what she made of these strange sounds and voices. Thauba answered, “Good news and tidings of joy to you, oh Abu Lahab! Your brother Abdullah’s wife Amina has born a son. Muhammad ﷺ. From his blessed body issues this perfumed cloud and this wonderful fragrance. The sounds you hear are the voices of those who inhabit the regions between Heaven and earth, heralding the birth of this miraculous child.”
Abu Lahab was pleased at the good news she gave him and he said to her, “Ya Thauba, for that you have given me joyful tidings, I shall give you your freedom. Go to the house of the mother of Muhammad ﷺ and offer your services as a wet-nurse, for you too, are nursing a child, named Masruj.” So Thauba went and became the wet-nurse for Muhammad ﷺ. For seven days his mother Amina gave him milk, after that Thauba came and nursed him until he was given to Halima as-Sa’adia.
It is related that some people saw Abu Lahab in their dreams after he had died. When they asked him how he fared in the afterlife he replied, “Woe is me! Was I not the uncle of a great and distinguished prophet? Would that I had believed in him and become one of the blissful dwellers of Paradise gardens! Ah, but I chose to be his greatest enemy, persisting in error and disbelief, so that I am one of the damned of Hell.
However, there are two grants of mercy that I receive over and above all the other inmates of the Fire: from the night linking Sunday to Monday up to the following night, my punishment is alleviated; and when I place my two fingers in my mouth on that day, a cool drink of water issues forth from between my index and middle fingers that soothes my torment.”
That blessed night all idols in the entire world fell from their pedestals and shattered to bits, and Shaytan’s throne was overturned so that it hung downwards and he fell off it. The angels then caught hold of him and imprisoned him for forty days in the forty seas. Finally, he contrived his escape, and he came up to the Mount Abu Qubais and let out a mighty scream. Hearing him yell, all the devils and Ifrit came flying and gathered round, asking him, “What is it with you that you scream so loud?” He answered them, “Such a terrible destroyer has been sent down upon you as you have never known or seen before. What is more, against this plague there is no remedy.”
The devils were all shocked, and asked, “Who is it?” Shaytan replied, “It is the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, mighty and glorious, the son of Abdullah, son of Abdul-Muttalib who is born in Mecca tonight. He has the power to demolish all idols and defeat all unbelief in the whole wide world. He will bring the Light of Islam and spread the faith from east to west; no place will remain on earth where the call of Unity has not been heard, and the unbelievers will be smitten and abased. No trick and no deception will prevail against his influence. The scripture he will bring will watch over his nation, and his religion and law will remain valid and in place until the Day of Judgment, his followers being assured of the Lord’s forgiveness and grace.” So he said and let out another terrible scream.
In that blessed night the fires of the fire worshippers that had been continuously burning for a thousand years went out, and not a trace remained of heat or fire–their hearths became cold as ice, colder than the fiercest winter’s cold.
In the lands of Persia there flows a great stream, the Euphrates. In the region of Kasane there lies a place called Sawa by the banks of this great river, and formerly there lived in this town a large number of Christians and Jews. They had built their churches and monasteries there and were recognized and highly esteemed. Now the night the Holy Prophet ﷺ was born in Mecca, the whole river at Sawa suddenly ran dry, and the ground was cracked and arid when they awoke in the morning, as if there had never been a trace of water in this spot. Such a fierce heat arose in place of the water as if a fire had been burning there since uncounted days. Dust rose around the feet of the people as they walked about.
Now the king of the region was termed Khosroes, and the king in those days was Kaykubad Nushurevan. In that night, fourteen of his twenty-two palaces and domed mansions crumbled and fell, and there remained only eight standing. That night also his throne tumbled and fell, and the king himself had a terrifying dream. In the morning when he woke, he called for all his dream interpreters and diviners, and when they were assembled at his court, he asked them to tell him about the dream he had seen that night. He said to them, “I will not tell you what I dreamt, you will tell it to me. If you are not able to do this, what good is your interpretation to me? I will dismiss you all, if you fail me.”
They answered, “Oh King, not one of us can know about your dream, but there lives a man called Satih, no one but he can inform you of it.” This Satih lived in the land of Bahrain, and his name was really Rabi’ bin Rabi’a. He was generally called Satih, which means ‘plain, surface’, because he could only lie flat on his back, unable to even sit up, for he had not a bone in his body, excepting his skull. The reason for this was that he was born of two women, and the bones of man are created from the seed of the male.
This Satih lived in Bahrain, and he had been in the world for a very long time already, some said for thirty generations, and one generation consists of thirty years. Thus Satih knew and had seen a great many things and was known to be a wise man and a seer. He had read all the heavenly revealed scriptures, and was well versed in the art of divination and fortune telling. Once a year he would be carried out in grand procession upon a golden tray, and all the learned would gather round him and listen to his predictions for the coming year. Of these they took note and recorded them with care.
Now, King Nushurevan was one of the very chosen servants, for he was the just king whom the Holy Prophet ﷺ referred to when he said, “I came to this world in the time of one very just king.” Nushurevan decided to send an envoy to Bahrain to consult with this man Satih, and he chose as his messenger one Abdul-Massih. This man set out for Bahrain, and by the Almighty’s providence he arrived just on the day that Satih was carried out on the golden tray to do his predictions. When he met with him, he told Satih about the events in his country: about the fires of the fire-worshippers being extinguished and the waters by Sawa drying up; about the toppling and the ruin of the king’s palaces and domed mansions, and lastly about the dream the king had seen which he would tell to no one, but expected them to interpret for him.
To this Satih said, “The King Nushurevan has seen a frightful dream. In his dream he saw the approach of an army, riders of Arabian steeds and Hijin camels, filling the whole city of Mada’in. These riders then led all the camels they found out of the city.”
“And this is the meaning of these signs: in the town of Mecca al-Mukarrama the unlettered Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is born. He is descended from the line of Ibrahim Khalilullah, and he is to become the Seal of Prophets. In him all the signs and portents mentioned in the previous holy books, the Torah, the Injil and the Zabur will become manifest and revealed. From this day on all divinations and predictions will become invalid and unreal, for from now on the Jinn and Ifrit are prevented from eavesdropping on the heavenly council as they have been doing so far, spying out the secrets of the future, and unveiling them partially to the soothsayers of mankind.”
(Still, certain ones among them would yet attempt to fly up and steal some secret knowledge, but the angels will chase them away with heavenly missiles called ‘shihab’, which are shooting stars, as we see up to this very day.)
“So,” Satih continued, “the Lord of Knowledge has been manifested, and the meaning of King Nushurevan’s dream is this: the Arabian horses and Hijin camels signify his companions, the companions of the Prophet ﷺ whom the Almighty is about to send. The camels being led out of the city means that the companions of this Prophet ﷺ will come and take the city and expel them from within it.”
Next Satih explained to him, “The meaning of the eight domed mansions that did not crumble, is this: King Nushurevan will be succeeded by eight kings, then his kingdom will be conquered by the armies of Islam. The dying down of the fires of the fire worshippers and the drying up of the waters around Sawa signifies that the light which is with unbelievers will be taken from them and their fount will run dry. The prophet who is to come will fill the whole world with his light and become a messenger to all peoples, and these dreams and happenings are signs of his advent.”
When he had spoken these words, the seer Satih paused for a while and wept bitterly. He then said, “There remains only very little time for Satih to live, he will not live to see the coming of this light of a new age; so Satih weeps from longing, unfulfilled.”
The king’s emissary Abdul-Massih heard these words and took note of them; then he returned to his king, Nushurevan, and told him of what he had heard and seen.
There were a great many signs announcing the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As the light of Muhammad ﷺ was passed from father to son from the time of Sayyiduna Adam u, each time a woman conceived a prophet to be, this light would appear on her forehead and linger there until the child was born. So also the mother of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ experienced many strange and wonderful things during her pregnancy. She received revelations of the divine and angelic messages that would fill many books, and yet only a fraction would have been told, for these wonders are limitless.
The night of the Prophet’s ﷺ birth was such a great and holy night that for all those who were wakeful during that night it was as if they had been awake for the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr).
Therefore it is recommended to make special celebrations and to light the lights on the minarets. All the lands of Islam are to rejoice and engage in festivities, for every Muslim should be glad to remember the birth of the Prince of Prophet’s ﷺ with love and devotion. The blessed companions of the Prophet ﷺ made special celebrations and honors for the Prophet’s ﷺ children. The learned scholars have thought it in order to make special arrangements for the descendants of the Prophet ﷺ, by holding banquets in their honor, for the benefit of the poor and indigent, for widows, orphans and students (which is commendable on any other day as well.) For instance, a banquet could be held, a sermon read, Quran recited, a Mawlid held and the assembly treated to sweets or sherbet. All this is considered very meritorious, and our Lord rewards all our good deeds.
More Events Surrounding the Noble Birth of the Prophet
In the kingdom of the West, al-Maghrib there lived a king. In that country, kings were called Emir, and as all Arabs of that age, this king, too, worshipped idols. It so happened that this Emir had a daughter who was born with a disturbing handicap, so that the king was ashamed to let this child be seen in public. He had her locked away and confined to underground chambers of the palace, where she was looked after by slave girls and never seen outside the palace. At night she would scream and rave and make such terrible sounds that the windows were always kept tightly shut, so nobody would hear this dreadful noise.
Nevertheless, the Emir was very sad and dispirited on account of his daughter’s misery, and he tried with all his might and means to find help for her. He sacrificed to the idols, he fasted and prayed the whole night through, he lit candles in the temples, he vowed many a solemn vow, gave alms to the poor; he implored the idols to do something to heal his daughter and free her from this piteous condition–but what could the idols do?
One evening he retired with his wife to their apartments and they stepped out on their roof to look at the stars. Now this king had a small statue of an idol that he always carried around with him. As they were gazing at the night sky, it was as if the skies suddenly were rent asunder and a light shone forth, illumining all the world. They saw the trees and flowers of their garden even the stones bow down and prostrate themselves. “La ilaha ill’Allah, Muhammad-ur-Rasulullah”, everything was saying, and the king and queen witnessed it. They looked at one another and said, “Did you hear and see what I have heard and saw?” When they assured each other that they had both witnessed these strange things, the queen said, “This is exceedingly wondrous, let us ask the idol what this means.” They turned to look at it and they found it hanging upside down, its head to the ground and its feet up in the air, for it was at this very moment that the idols in the whole world were reversed in their places and smashed to bits.
Next they heard a voice issue from that figure: “Between Safa and Marwa a child is born, our unbelief is cast down and done for.”
The truth has come, and falsehood has vanished away, surely falsehood is ever certain to vanish. (The Night Journey, 81)
This voice caused them great consternation, for never had the idol spoken before this time, after all it was nothing but a stone, and this they knew well. But only now did they realize that this was no object to be worshipped, and together they called out, “Oh speaker whom we hear speaking from this dry stone, who is it?” Again the voice was heard, and it said, “It is Muhammad ﷺ, the Holy Prophet who has come to the world in the Last of Times; he is born this very night between the rocks of Safa and Marwa, at the holy house of the Lord, the Kaba, and it is for him that all eighteen thousand worlds were created, that the whole universe was called into being.” The king then asked, “Why is this idol of mine standing on its head?” The voice explained that it was happening to all idols this night, for their time was over and the Truth had come and all falsehood was revoked.
The Emir then said to his spouse, “Oh wife, we must go out and find this prophet and accept his creed, so that he will pray for us and cure our unfortunate child.” Before he had finished speaking, his wife turned around and said, “Oh, see here, this is our daughter!” The king turned to look, and there was his daughter standing behind him, a lovely young girl, without blame or blemish. The king was speechless with surprise, and when he could speak again, he said, “Oh my daughter! What is this? What has happened to you? Where have you left your chains, your ranting and raving, all the signs of your insanity? How is it you are no longer convulsed and tormented with pain, what has become of our hideous disease – how has it come about that you are entirely healed?”
The girl answered, “Oh my father, here I stand before you, just as I am and was meant to be. What happened to me is this: I had just fallen asleep when I beheld a person of radiant appearance enter my room. As soon as I espied him, I thought, ‘Oh you who are so bright and beautiful, have you no healing power with which to treat my sorry condition?’ This person then answered me and said, ‘I will teach you a prayer; if you recite this, you will be healed.’ ‘What prayer is this prayer,’ I asked, ‘and who are you?’ ‘I am an angel,’ he said, ‘and I have just come from visiting a newborn child, together with all the other angels. The prayer I have come to teach you is this: Oh Allah, for the sake of Your Holy prophet who is born this night, make this affliction, this pain and plague go away from me! Then you must blow upon your hand, and wipe your whole body with your hand. Continue praying and wiping yourself until no more disease remains upon you.’ Thereupon I awoke and looked about and saw that the whole room was filled with light; I remembered what the angel had said, so I did what he had told me. I prayed, then wiped my hands over my face and my whole body. My fetters fell off from me, my reason returned, I became whole and clean, and in this state I have come before you, oh my parents.”
Her father, the king, heard her story and said, “We must quickly set out and find this miraculous prophet at once.” So they each mounted a Hijin camel, taking only scanty provisions with them and set out, the three of them, telling no one of their destination. They didn’t even know themselves where they were bound, as the distance between the Maghrib and Mecca is vast, but they were so impressed by the miracle they had experienced that this never crossed their minds, they just left their kingdom behind and set out for far away Arabia. When they had gone some way, all at once a heavy sleepiness came over them that left them no choice. While they slept, the angel Jibra’il u came and took their camels’ halters, and folded the earth up underneath them. Before noon of the next day they reached Mecca, whereas it is a camel journey of eighty and more days from the Maghrib to Mecca.
Arriving at Mecca, they began to ask whether any child had been born the night before. Yes, they were told, Amina the daughter of Wahb had given birth to her child the night before, and they were shown the way to her house. They came to the house and asked to see the newborn baby, but they were told that the child’s grandfather had forbidden anyone to see the child, for it had many enemies. The unbelievers were still seeking to kill the child. The king and his family began to weep, and said, “We have left everything behind, our country, our lands, our kingdom, our palace–just to see this newborn child, and now you would deny us this favor! No, this we cannot accept, that we should go away without having seen him!” The mother finally relented and permitted them to come in and they spent an hour at her side. She uncovered her child’s face and the light on it reached to the heavens. For one whole hour they regarded the child’s unearthly beauty, kissed his hands and feet, until Amina said to them, “It is best that you leave now, for if his grandfather finds you here, he might be displeased that I have let in strangers.” So they turned to leave and as they were leaving the house, the Emir put his hand on his breast and said, “Let me gaze on him once more, only one more time, and I will be gone.”
At last they consented and let him in; he bent over the child, kissed his blessed feet, then let out one scream, before he fell senseless to the ground and expired.
For when he had perceived the first sign, his heart began to glow; then he saw the child once and longed to see him again. When he saw him the second time, his heart blazed with the fire of love and he surrendered his soul, which the angels carried off to Paradise without delay.
Muhammad bin Khatim’s Report
“There once lived a man in Egypt who every year on the night of the Prophet’s ﷺ birthday used to arrange a great festivity, and invite the poor and orphans and widows to his feast. There would be Quran readings, litanies of praise would be recited and Mawlids sung, and a banquet was prepared in honor of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
“This pious man had a neighbor who was from Ahl al-Kitab (People of the Book). Once his wife asked him, ‘I’ve been wondering what it means that our neighbor makes a great feast every year and invites all the destitute people he can find and treats them in such a magnificent way, what is the occasion?’ Her husband answered, ‘It is the night of the birth of their prophet which they always celebrate in gratitude and remembrance of the event.’
“That night this woman saw in her dream a person of very beautiful and light-filled aspect, he was awesome and his face radiant as the sun. He was surrounded by a great number of companions whose faces were like the morning star. All the shining people were headed for the house of the neighbor who always gave the feast. In her dream, the woman was irresistibly drawn to this beautiful appearance, and she asked one of the companions, ‘Who is this person, I have never seen anyone so sweet and full of love?’ The companion answered her, ‘This noble being is the Pride of Creation, the Prince of all mankind,
the Messenger of God, the Beloved of Allah, Muhammad ﷺ. All these companions have come to pay their respects and to show him honor.’
“The woman thought to herself, ‘I will ask this companion whether I can wait for him, whether I can approach him when he comes out and ask him my question.’ She asked the companion if she could address the Prophet ﷺ when he came out, and ask him her question. He replied, ‘No need to wait outside, just go on in. There is room enough, no one is going to prevent you from reaching his blessed presence. You may ask whatever you need to know, he will not turn you away, nor will he leave your questions unanswered.’
“The woman then went inside and beheld the blessed presence r, surrounded by his companions, may Allah be well pleased with them all. She then approached the Holy Prophet ﷺ and said, ‘Ya Muhammad!’ The Holy Prophet ﷺ turned towards her and answered, “Labbayk, I am here with you.” She then said, ‘How can it be that a great, much-honored personality such as you, the Prophet of Allah Almighty, deigns to speak to a plain and undistinguished person such as me, answering me with ‘Labbayk’, particularly as I am not even of your religion?’
“The Holy Prophet ﷺ then said to her, ‘No sooner had I seen your face that I knew that the Lord has singled you out for the guidance of Islam. He has honored you with the light of Islam, therefore I answered you with Labbayk.’ Again the woman said, ‘You are a noble prophet and surely you hold high and lofty stations in the Divine Presence; what can be the wisdom and secret of your appearance in a place and neighborhood such as ours?’
“Again the Holy Prophet ﷺ spoke to her, ‘Out of love for us the owner of this house has invited this gathering of people of good will and sound heart, from among the needy and indigent, as from among the readers and reciters of the Holy Quran. He has expended large sums of money in order to feed them all lavishly. He has shown largesse and generosity, therefore, by the leave of Allah Almighty, I too have come to visit him and have so entered his house. In recognition of my coming to this man’s house, the Lord has vouchsafed to all its visitors safety and freedom from tribulations for a whole year, and He showers blessings and all manner of favors upon all those present at this time.’
“The woman then said, ‘What would happen if I, too, entered your religion and prepared such a feast for you; would you consent to come to my house?’ The Holy Prophet ﷺ smiled and said, ‘Yes, I would come to your house also.’ The woman then said, ‘Hereby I renounce the religious creed I have clung to up till now, as it is obsolete, and I say: Ash-hadu an la ilaha illAllah, wa ash-hadu annaka Rasulullah’, and thus she entered the fold of Islam. Similarly she vowed to prepare a great feast and to expend a large amount in the way of Allah. In the morning when she woke from this dream, she found herself bathed in light, her heart radiant with the faith she had found, and she waited for further manifestation of divine guidance.
“When her husband had gone out that morning, she went before a judge to make official her conversion to Islam. She was ready to hold a great celebration in honor of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and declared that she was prepared to follow his guidance from that day on. At this very moment she saw her husband coming to her, asking her how many sheep and chickens she required to be slaughtered, and what else she might need.
“The woman was confused and could not understand, until he explained to her that he had seen the same dream as she had that night, and that he too had been granted the honor of entering into Islam. The Holy Prophet ﷺ had said to him, ‘You have no possessions of your own, so you may assist your wife in going out and buying what is needful for the Mawlid she intends to prepare; thus you will have the merit of the good deed.’ Hearing this, the woman was even happier than before, and they both made their new faith openly known.”
Therefore, if the mere presence of a pious neighbor who spends of his wealth for the love of the Prophet ﷺ is of such benefit to others who happen to live in the vicinity, if it is sufficient to bring to such a one the great favor of becoming Muslim and the mercy and guidance of Islam, how much more reward is coming to the person who hosts the Mawlid? How much unlimited favor will be bestowed on him! This story should serve as advice and as a reminder. May Allah Almighty guide us all to the love and veneration of His Holy Prophet ﷺ, and give all the Muslims who are yet to come their fair shares, Amin.
Allahumma salli wa sallim wa barik ‘alayh.
Halima as-Sa’adia, the Prophet’s Wet Nurse
After the Prophet’s ﷺ mother Amina had been with her infant for some time, all the while witnessing all manner of miraculous events and signs, the time came when, according to custom, the child was to be given to one of the Bedouin women of the desert, so that he be nursed and weaned in the clean air outside the heat of the crowded city. Bedouin women would come from afar to the town, from their distant mountain pastures and desert dwellings, to look for infants to take home and nurse for a fee. The children would stay with them for up to four years, then they were returned to their parents. The Holy Prophet ﷺ also had a wet-nurse, and her name was Halima as-Sa’adia, Halima of the tribe of Sa’ad who came from the Najd.
The year of the Prophet’s ﷺ birth had been a year of severe drought, and both men and animals suffered greatly, finding neither food nor drink. The animals gave no more milk, and many perished of thirst. When the time had come for the nursing women to go to town in search of suckling infants, her companions came to Halima to ask whether she would come with them to find a child, for she too was nursing a baby at the time. Halima was doubtful that she was able to make the journey, for her only donkey was so weak from deprivation that it could barely totter along. The other women had already departed by the time she made up her mind to make the journey after all, and she know longer could see them ahead of her on the road. When she finally did arrive in Mecca, she met up with the Bedouin women who already had found children to nurse, and who were well equipped with food and provisions, and were heading homewards.
Halima said to them, “So I have come too late, are there no more children left to be nursed?” They answered her, “So it is, there is no one left except this one baby which none of us wanted to accept. It is a fatherless child, and the family is not able to pay us our fees, so we left him there. Come back with us, and join us on the road.” “No,” said Halima, “I will go on, now that I have come this far, and I might as well have a look at that child nobody wanted.”
So while the other women set out on their homeward journey, Halima went to the place where people would come to look for nurses. There she met Abdul-Muttalib who asked her who she was. She replied, “I have come late, all my friends have gone home already while I am still hoping to find a nursling. They say there is one child left.” Abdul-Muttalib said, “Surely that can only be my grandson. His father has died, therefore we cannot afford to pay very much, so no one wanted to take him on, even though she would have been blessed eternally, had one of those women agreed.”
“Well, let me look at him,” said Halima, and she followed him to the house and beheld the sleeping child. She took him onto her lap and uncovered his face. He smiled at her and when he opened his eyes, their light flashed up to the heavens. Instantly she made up her mind. “Even if you give me nothing at all,” she said, “I will take this child with me and nurse it.” She uncovered her right breast and gave him to drink, and though she had only little milk, it was enough to satisfy the child. They gave her food and she ate; then she prepared to give him her left breast, but the child declined by raising his eyebrows, as if to say, “No, I will not drink this, another has the right to the milk of this breast.” Halima understood from this sign what he was saying. His mother Amina said to Halima, “Go and take my child and look after him well; it may be that you will see many wonders and strange things while he is with you, but whatever you see, let no one know about it, tell no one what you have witnessed, for he has many enemies who seek to harm him.”
They gave her what they could, and she took the infant in her arms. As she relates in her own words, “Even though I was so weak I could barely hold myself upright, I was so elated with joy when I held the child that I ran out like a lioness, back to my old donkey who was suddenly suffused with new strength and sped along like a Buraq. I even caught up with the caravan of my friends who already had gone ahead of me quite a while ago. They all wondered at the change that had come over me; whereas I was almost too weak to walk and my riding beast was ailing, now I came charging along like a lioness and my donkey had become as strong as a mule.”
“We are waiting here for the fortune tellers to arrive to tell us of these children’s destinies,” they told her, so she took her place in line and waited with them. When the chief diviner came he looked the crowd of people over, then he looked up at the sky. All at once he let out a yell and cried, “Quick, over here, we have found him, right here in our midst!” For in reality, the diviner was one of the unbelievers who had slipped into a disguise, as it was known that the women would be passing by this place. Everyone looked to see who it was, and the crowd grew restive. A general confusion took hold of it during which Halima fled unnoticed into the hills, with the child and the donkey. She paused when she thought herself alone and in safety, when suddenly she realized that she was surrounded by one hundred warriors, all armed with poisoned swords. “What shall I do now,” thought Halima and inwardly prayed while gazing at the child. She saw him raise his gaze to Heaven, as if giving a sign, and suddenly a sword came from above, and in no time they were all chopped to pieces.
Halima then continued on her homeward journey, and when at last she reached her house, she was extremely tired, so she fastened a cradle in a tree and laid the baby to sleep in it. Umm Habiba, a woman who was blind, came over and said to her, “Oh Halima, you have been to Mecca, haven’t you? How is it that you were able to purchase such fine and costly perfume, despite your poverty–how did you manage to do such a thing?” “No,” said Halima, it’s no perfume at all, this fine scent is coming from the child I took in charge and brought home with me, it is his fragrance you are smelling.” “Oh, do show me this wonderful child and let me fill my heart with his sweet scent,” said the blind woman.
Halima led her to the tree from which she had strung up the cradle, and when Umm Habiba sniffed his lovely scent, she cried out and said, “Ah, if only I had eyes with which to behold this child!” The child Muhammad ﷺ raised his hands from his cradle, and as she bent over him, he touched the blind eyes of Umm Habiba with both his index fingers. No sooner had he touched them, that her blindness left her eyes and she could see. “Halima,” she cried, “guard well the secret of this child, for now I can see with my own eyes!” From that day on she became a faithful servant to the household and helped with all the chores and duties around the house. She now knew this child was unlike all other children.
The whole time the holy child lived with her, she saw and heard many amazing things. She grew to love him exceedingly, more even than her own natural children. In time he began to speak, and his first words were these:
La ilaha ill’Allah, wahdahu la sharika lak; lahul-mulk wa lahul-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadir.
Halima’s children used to take the sheep and goats out to pasture and Muhammad ﷺ would go with them. But since the day he had come to them, wherever they took the flock, a strip of fresh green pasture would appear all around them, and the ground was always moist as if it had recently rained, whereas all around them it was the same barren desert as before. Her sheep and goats would return with bloated udders, and the household was blessed as never before.
The other villagers would wait to see where she would lead her goats, then they told the children to follow them so that they might also partake of this miraculous sustenance. One day, when Muhammad ﷺ had grown into a little boy, he asked Halima, “Mother, where do my brothers and sisters go every day? They go out every morning and I would like to go with them.” “Oh my son,” she said, “they go out with the sheep and goats every day and lead them to pasture.” “Please let me go along,” pleaded the child, until at last Halima tied a belt around his middle, gave him a stick to hold in his hand, strung a leather bag across his shoulder and sent him out with his brothers to herd the flock. They led him out with the other children to the edge of the fields and followed him with their eyes for as far as they could see. Their hearts and minds were uneasy from love and care and worry about him.
Around noon the children came running to the house, screaming that something had happened and told the parents to come right away. A great bird had swooped down, they said, and had taken their Quraysh-brother up into the air and deposited him atop a great boulder. Anxious and alarmed they ran to that place, where they found the child Muhammad ﷺ, on top of the rock, as the children had said. As they were looking, he sat up and rubbed his eyes, as if he had just woken from a deep sleep.
However, it was no bird that had taken him away, but the angel Jibra’il u who had been ordered to take him and to wash his heart. The traces of the operation were still visible as silken stitches upon his breast. This was the first operation on his heart; the second was to happen later, during his ascension to the heavens (Mi’raj). In every human heart there is a spot of black blood that is called the part of Shaytan, which consists of fear and evil suggestion. The angel had come to Muhammad ﷺ and told him that he must remove this spot, that it was not right for him, and he opened his heart and performed the operation.
The troubled parents took the boy home and resolved never to let him go out again with the other children. When they came home at nightfall, they told their parents of all the wonderful things they had seen and heard while their Quraysh-brother was out with them that day. All the rocks on the ground had given their greetings, they said, when he went by, saying, “as-salam alaykum, ya nabi-ullah”, and all the trees bent their boughs low as he passed, as if in prostration.
They had gone as far as a certain valley, where all of a sudden a terrible mountain lion had sprung out before them. The children had run off in fright, calling to Muhammad ﷺ to hide himself as well, but Muhammad ﷺ had not moved from his spot, he just stood and watched. “The lion came up to him,” they said, “and were afraid that this would be the end, that the lion would just devour him, but nothing of the sort happened. Instead, the lion kneeled down before him, bowing low, and began to lick his feet. It seemed to be telling him something, and then we saw it lift one of its paws, which we could tell was hurt, maybe broken.
The Quraysh-boy looked at the paw and set it straight, then he stroked it and it was healed. The lion then fell down at his feet again and kissed and licked them, and Muhammad ﷺ stroked its head, as if it were a great cat. Slowly the lion retreated, having expressed his gratitude and thanks, and when it was out of sight, we came out and saw that Muhammad ﷺ was unhurt. It was after this that the great bird swooped down and carried him away, it was then that we were afraid for him.”
Halima then said, “If his enemies hear of these strange and wonderful happenings, they will surely trace him to our tents and take him from us by force. We have no way to protect him then.” Therefore, they decided to take the boy back to his family in Mecca, even though it pained them to let him go, so dear had he grown to his foster family.
When Muhammad ﷺ was either two or four years old, according to varying narrations, his mother Amina suddenly fell ill and died. He was now completely orphaned and his grandfather, Abdul-Muttalib took him into his care. He took him along wherever he went, and never let him out of his sight. When Muhammad ﷺ was eight years old, Abdul-Muttalib fell ill and called for all his sons (ten in all, four of whom who were still living: Abu Lahab, Abu Talib, Hamza, Abbas), as well as for the dignitaries of Mecca, for Abdul-Muttalib was the head of the tribes of Mecca.
He said to them, “This is my bequest. It is clear to me that this is my final illness and that I will not rise from my sickbed again. My one worry is in whose care to leave Muhammad ﷺ, this fatherless child of your brother Abdullah.” Hamza spoke and said, “Oh my father, leave him with me, I shall look after him better than after my own soul.” But his father answered him, “Oh Hamza, you have no children of your own, hence you cannot know the value of a child.” After that Abu Lahab spoke up and said, “I will look after him, father.” Abdul-Muttalib said, “You already have too many children, you will not be able to look after him well.” Abbas was still a young man and unmarried, so Abu Talib offered to take him in. His father then said, “Now my soul is at rest, I give you this boy as a trust. Treat him with more care than you treat your own children, and for the sake of my memory, do nothing to undermine his noble nature, and if you wish to please me, show him the same honor and respect that you have always shown me.” He repeated this last wish several times until he passed away.
After his death, Abu Talib took the boy into his household and left nothing undone regarding his care and upbringing. He personally did not accept the faith of Islam during the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ, but he never failed to show him respect and honor, he always shielded him from his enemies and did everything in his power to protect him whenever he could.
After Abdul-Muttalib’s death, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ lived with his uncle Abu Talib until his marriage to his wife, Khadija. When Muhammad ﷺ had been with him for about a year, Abu Talib planned to travel to Sham on a business trip. Muhammad ﷺ was then nine years old, and he begged his uncle to take him along, but Abu Talib refused, saying, “Your are only a boy, stay here at home with my brother, Abbas while I am away.”
When the time of parting had come, Abu Talib was about to mount his camel, his whole household assembled round him, bidding him farewell. Among them stood also the boy Muhammad ﷺ, his nephew, and he wept bitterly. “Oh uncle,” he cried, “please take me with you!” Abu Talib’s heart burned when he heard the boy pleading, he relented and allowed Muhammad ﷺ to accompany him after all.
They traveled along until they came to the town of Basra, a town in the border region of Sham. Outside the settlement there was a hermitage where a Christian monk named Buhayra stayed. He was a very learned man who had read a great many books, and he had read about the signs of the prophet who was to come. At his place the caravan of Abu Talib stopped for the night. The next day they let the camels loose to pasture, while the men rested awhile. Everyone was pursuing his leisure, and the boy Muhammad ﷺ went to look at the loads and the bales of cloth they were carrying along.
Now the day was at its hottest, a scorching sun in a cloudless sky, however just above the boy’s head, a small fluffy white cloud appeared that shaded him and little else. The monk Buhayra happened to open the door of his hermitage and looked the sleeping men over. He saw Muhammad ﷺ moving about, went to him and asked him about himself. He asked him his father’s name and his mother’s name, and Muhammad ﷺ told him all he knew. The monk Buhayra found everything he had read in his books confirmed. He then asked the boy to remove his shirt, and on his back, between the shoulder blades, he found the sign he was looking for, the seal of prophethood.
He returned to Abu Talib and asked him how the boy Muhammad ﷺ was related to him. Abu Talib said, “He is my son.” Buhayra then said, “That cannot be, the boy’s father cannot be among the living.” Abu Talib then admitted that he was his deceased brother’s son. The monk then asked, “Where are you going with him?” Abu Talib answered that he was taking him to Sham, to the merchants and market places. Buhayra then said, “This boy is worth more than all the crowds of the city, for he is destined to become one of Allah’s Holy Prophets. We find revealed in the scriptures the description of his signs and marks. For seventy years I have been waiting for this prophet to appear. By God, do not take this boy to Sham, for the unbelievers will take him from you, since they dread his coming. But however much they try, they will not be able to kill him before his time, for I have read in my books that his death will be occasioned by his eating poisoned goat’s meat, and that he will die several years after having eaten it. Still, take him back to Mecca now.”
Abu Bakr was traveling in the same caravan with Abu Talib, and he sent Muhammad ﷺ back to Mecca with Abu Bakr and his slave Bilal. According to a different narration, Abu Talib himself gave up his trip and turned back towards Mecca.