6. Sad Partings

“Two men dressed in white came to me,” began Muhammad, “they lay me down and cut open my chest! Then they washed my heart and filled my chest with light.”

Haleema was very frightened. First some people try to kidnap him, then this! She and her husband discussed the matter and decided to take him back to his mother first thing in the morning.

That night was a sad night for Muhammad’s milk-parents. There was something special about this child, no doubt. They had enjoyed having him as a member of their family. They had felt the many blessings since they took him from his mother and grandfather. Now it seemed like his life was in danger. Haleema’s husband was afraid this last incident had harmed the child and he wanted to return him to his mother before any harm showed or became apparent.

When Amyna saw Haleema back with Muhammad, she was surprised.

“What brings you back so soon milk-mother, when you were so intent upon keeping him?” she asked. Haleema answered, “I did keep him for a while but then I brought him back to you as you wished.” Amyna said, “This is not like you. Tell me the truth,” insisting on knowing the reason. When Haleema told her about the opening of his chest, Amyna quickly reassured her that her son would come to no harm, and that he would be great one day. And so, Haleema, sadly took leave of Mecca.

Muhammad missed Haleema but was happy to be living with his mother. Time passed and he grew older; until one day when he was about six years old, his mother decided to take him to visit his uncles in Yathrib. The city of Yathrib was north of Mecca, and Baraka – the young servant – came along. There they met relatives. They stayed for a month in the house of al Nabigha, where Muhammad learned to swim in one of the wells. He enjoyed this new skill so well that he practiced it daily. Some Jewish men used to come and watch him. They seemed interested in him.

Shortly after they set off in the direction of Mecca to return home, Amyna got sick; and sadly, she died. It was almost the same place, and probably the same disease, that her husband Abdullah had died from nearly seven years ago. Who did young Barakah and younger Muhammad travel home with? Did she realize she was dying? Did she have any last words for him? Did he want to stay longer by her grave? We don’t know. What we do know is that about fifty years later, he visited her grave and cried so hard that those who were with him wept too.

Muhammad returned to Mecca with Baraka and she continued to care for him. But the sadness of losing his beloved mother was so great and nothing Baraka did could replace what he lost. His grandfather, Abdul-Muttalib, was the chief of Mecca. Everyone feared him and few people dared speak to him unless they had something important to say. But Abdul-Muttalib felt sorry for his fatherless, motherless grandchild. He took over caring for him and took a liking to Muhammad. 

Every afternoon people would bring out a mattress to the shade of the Kaba for Abdul-Muttalib to sit on. All his sons would sit around it, and not even his oldest son or closest friend dared to sit on it with him. Yet Muhammad, as a young boy, would sit on the mattress.

His uncles would try to pull him off but his grandfather would come and say, “Leave my son.” And he would pat his back and look lovingly at everything Muhammad did. He would say, “My son will be someone important.”

Abdul-Muttalib had a friend who was the bishop of Najran. One day as they sat in the northern side of the Kaba talking, the bishop said, “We find in our books that a prophet will come of the children of Ismaeel, and he will be born in this city.” The Bishop began to describe the awaited prophet, then he saw the child Muhammad. He looked at his eyes and his back and his feet. 

“This is the one!” he said, “Who is he to you?” 

“He is my son,” said Abdul-Muttalib.

But the bishop said, “What we know is that he should have no father.” Abdul-Muttalib then told his friend that he was his grandson and that his son, the child’s father, had died before he was born. After this incident, he told his son Abu Talib to keep an eye on Muhammad, and he told Baraka to watch him closely.

One day Abdul-Muttalib sent Muhammad after some camels of his, and he didn’t return. Abdul-Muttalib was very worried. He went around the Kaba, saying over and over again, “O God return my rider Muhammad. Return him to me and You will have done me a great favor!” Had something awful happened to him? he wondered.