The Birth of Muhammad ﷺ: Pre-Prophethood [Seerah Ep 5]

September 5th, 2023
The Birth of Muhammad ﷺ

Muhammad ﷺ was born into the clan of Hashim, one of the most distinguished family groups in Makkah. His great-grandfather had been the first merchant to engage in the independent trade with Syria and Yemen and the clan had the privilege of providing the pilgrims with water during the hajj, one of the most important offices in the city. Muhammad ﷺ’s father, ‘Abdullah, died before he was born and his mother Aminah was in such straitened circumstances that, it was said, the only bedouin woman who was willing to be his wet nurse came from one of the poorest tribes in Arabia.

Prior to his birth Aminah was conscious of a light within her, and one day it shone forth from her so intensely that she could see the castles of Bosra in Syria, later recipients to the light of Islam. Upon his birth the Prophet’s mother immediately sent someone to inform his grandfather ‘Abd al Muttalib of the good news. Happily he came, and carrying the new-born to the Ka‘bah, the old man prayed to Allah and thanked Him. ‘Abd al Muttalib named the baby Muhammad- the praised one, a name, although known, not then common amongst the Arabs. The baby was circumcised on the seventh day and a feast was held as was the custom of the Arabs. The people were surprised at the choice of name and enquired as to the reason why Abd al Muttalib had not chosen a name of his kinsfolk as was common practice. He replied, ‘because I wanted Allah to praise him in heaven and His creatures to praise him on earth.’

End of 570 CE

Lessons and Wisdom

The prophet’s father had died even before his birth and so he was born an orphan. He lived with his mother’s family until he was six years old, and would have experienced nomadic life at its harshest. Shortly after he was brought back to Mecca, his mother died. This double bereavement made a deep impression on Muhammad ﷺ, his guardianship would then be passed on to his grandfather and thereafter his uncle. The fact that Muhammad ﷺ grew up without a stable, long-term guardianship flies in the face of those who accuse him of being influenced and indoctrinated from a young age to become a leader; seeking power in the land.

The pregnancy of Aminah was easy and passed without any of the difficulties that other women commonly faced. While pregnant she saw a dream in which she was told that she was carrying the master of the nation and to name the baby Muhammad and, when he was born, to supplicate with the words, ‘I consign you to the protection of the Unique from the evil of every envier.’

Many historians have noted that the entire genealogy of the prophet was one of valid marriages, not one of his ancestors was born of fornication. The Prophet once remarked that “Allah produced me from a true marriage, not from fornication,” and that, “I was passed through the best generations of the children of adam, generation after generation, until I reached the generation in which I came.” He also said, “Allah chose Kinanah from amongst the descendants of Ismail, He chose the Quraysh from amongst the descendants of Kinanah, from the Quraysh he chose Banu Hashim, and me from Banu Hashim.”

Muhammad ﷺ was also known by other names such as Ahmad, al-Mahi, al-Hashir, Al-Aqib and al-Khatim.

The purpose behind studying Seerah (biography of the Prophet)

The biography of the Prophet is known to many and taught throughout the world in both secular and Islamic circles. However, people differ in their intent and aim when approaching the biography of Muhammad ﷺ. Some show an almost romantic interest into the stories found in his life, seeking to increase in their love of this noble man and take away religious reinforcement. Others approach the Seerah in a more academic manner, dissecting each event from the perspective of both content and mode of historical transmission.

The prime aim of studying the biography of the Prophet is to contextualize ones belief and understanding of the various branches of faith into the character and behaviour of one man-Muhammad ﷺ. It is a process of piecing together the various parts of Islam that one has learnt about into a whole embodiment of character and conduct.

To conclude, the study of his life is to seek to embody the reality of faith; as a complete whole, as seen in its exemplar- Muhammad ﷺ.

Polemical rebuttals particular to this year

This part of the timeline seeks to address some of the most commonly held criticisms and attacks levelled at the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

A series of short articles critically analysing these polemics begins from 595 CE and continues later in the following two eras: Makkan and Madinan Eras

Edicts and Rulings

We know very little about Muhammad ﷺ’s early life. The Qur’an gives us the most authoritative account of his experience before he received revelation when he was forty years old in the chapter ad-Duha:

Did He not find you orphaned and shelter you
Did He not find you wandering and guide you?
Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you?

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