Seerah episode 12: Halimah’s Blessings

— Out of Muhammad’s (saw) 3 milkmothers (not including his mother Aminah), 2 of them were black – Baraqah (aka Ummu Aymen) & Thuwayba. This shows how Allah arranged those people that people looked down upon to become someone who are very close to our Prophet.

  • Baraqah was so dear to Prophet that he’d call her “Ya Um” or introduce her as his mother
  • The Quraysh had such a superiority complex that they’d look down on other Arabs & people. Allah divinely arranged for two African women to be milkmothers of the Prophet, to serve as a model for the ummah

— Tradition of the time for the high class families of Quraysh in Makkah was that young kids would be sent away to live outside city life – away from the pollution & danger of the city

  • Makkah at the time had high infant mortality due to a disease spreading
  • Thus, kids would be sent away with wet nurses to the countryside grow away from the pollution & other what-have-yous of city life
  • In order to earn some money, women from the less ffortunate areas would come to Makkah & would go to families with young children & ask to raise them.
  • Makkah was a trade center. People came from far & wide to do business. The mixing of different cultures affected the purity of the language of the Quraysh. So they would send their children to the countryside to learn the pure language.
  • Qurayshi families didn’t want their children to grow up with their version of mixture of Arab language and other language, so they were willing to send their kids away to learn the pure form of Arabic from these women
  • These women would keep the kids for a minimum of 2 years
    • During that time, these women would bring the kids back to visit them sometimes, or the families themselves would go to the countryside to visit their kids

— Halima al-Sa’diya bint Abu Dhuayb (actual name Abdullah bin Hadith), of the tribe of Banu Sa’ad, was another milkmother of the Prophet

  • Halimah was married to Al Hadith bin Abdul Uzza from Banu Sa’ad. Their children:
    • Son named Abdullah
    • Daughter named Unaisa
    • Daughter named Khudafa (whose actual name was probably Judama)
      • Nickname was Shaima

— It was year of drought in Banu Sa’ad area

  • Because the drought was so severe (plants & animals dying), many of the women of Banu Sa’ad decide to go to Makkah to help out their families
  • About 10 women ride out on a long journey Makkah
    • They traveled on mules or donkeys – camels are actually uncomfortable to ride on
    • Halimah, her husband al-Hadith & their infant son, Abdullah, traveled on this journey together, while their two daughters were left behind
  • Halimah’s family was one of the poorest families in the area
    • The mule Halimah was riding was very weak & moving slowly. The camel that al-Hadith was riding was a she-camel. They brought her for the camel’s milk for the journey, but due to the drought & lack of grazing area, the animals couldn’t produce any milk.
    • Due to lack of food, Halimah couldn’t produce breast-milk to feed her son, Abdullah.
  • The other families that had been traveling with them had gone on because they were faster than her. Halimah’s family had been left behind.
    • They continued to push forward though.

— On the night before they reached Makkah, their situation had been so severe that the baby couldn’t stop crying due to hunger. They all stayed up all night long. Still, they arrive in Makkah in their dire condition.

  • They arrive in Makkah to find that all of the women have received babies & payment from the wealthy families in Makkah.
    • Halimah is the only one who was left without a baby to take in.
    • Halimah made rounds to look for any babies & got rejected in every home, but every single family tell her that there’s one baby that no one’s picked up yet – the grandson of Abdul Mutallib, little Muhammad
    • Halimah says, “When every single home would tell me about this baby, I’d think to myself, ‘I don’t want this baby.’
      • All the women of Banu Sa’ad who arrived before told Halimah that even they wouldn’t take this baby – because the baby is an orphan.
      • Sure, the baby comes from a good family, but Abdul Mutallib has to take care of Makkah & his whole extended family. So it’s unsure as to how dependable Aminah can be for money. One of the benefit of taking the children of the wealthy families is that they can have a filial relationship with the parents. So that they can have someone to rely on. But with Abdul Mutallib a very busy man, they are not sure if they can have face-time with him.
        • No one was motivated enough to take in Muhammad

— After she made all the rounds, Halimah realized there’s only one baby left – our Prophet Muhammad.

  • She goes to her husband & says there’s nothing to take.
    • Halimah said to him, “Even if we might not get any money out of this, we’ll at least save some face. At least I wouldn’t come home unemployed, empty-handed since all the other women had gotten a baby.”
    • Al Hadith replied, “You never know. God can provide some blessing in that child for us. So go pick up that child if you want to.”

— Usually, when the wet nurse would come to pick up the baby, the family would ask her to nurse the baby in front of them (as a form of interview) so they were assured that the child was comfortable with the woman

  • Remember that for two days, Halimah hadn’t been able to feed her son properly. She was so hungry herself that she couldn’t produce any milk for her baby.
    • But as soon as Halimah picked up baby Muhammad & started nursing, she was able to feed him. She fed him to his fill.
  • She was very surprised by this because her own baby Abdullah had been crying all night from lack of milk. She set down Muhammad after he finished, and then fed Abdullah to his fill
    • She knew that Muhammad was someone special by now. Halimah eagerly asked for the child now.
    • Aminah reluctantly agrees

— Halimah & her husband pack up & set up to leave. Before getting Muhammad, Halimah pleads to the women that came with her to wait for her family. Because this time, she doesn’t want to be left behind as when we set out to Makkah. She gets Muhammad & the family sets on the journey back.

  • Now the mule that they rode on is perfectly fine, she’s walking fast now
  • At night, when camping, al-Hadith asks his wife if she’s hungry. She says, “Yes, but why bother? The camel won’t milk; we’ve tried for several days.”
    • But al-Hadith goes to try anyway, & he milks the she-camel. Bowl is completely filled
    • Both wife & husband drank to their fill
    • Halimah was able to nurse both babies. They were all able to sleep very well
    • Halimah recalls that was the most peaceful sleep she’s ever had

— The entire area of Banu Sa’ad was stricken with drought, but the land that Al Hadith owned was the worst.

  • Halimah & al-Hadith’s livestock was dying due to lack of grazing areas.
    • It was difficult to negotiate with other landowners to allow Halimah & al-Hadith’s herd to graze on the neighbors’ because they’d want the animals for themselves.
    • Slowly, Halimah’s livestock herd was thinning in number & size.
  • But when they got back, before you know it, their land is the greenest in the region. Their goats, sheep, & cows ate to their fill & gave an abundance of milk. Soon enough, they were able to start a milk business
    • Their neighbors’ lands were still barren. They’d look over to Al Hadith’s land & wonder how he could be so successful during this drought.
    • Some of the wealthier tribe leaders would hire shepherds to take care of their livestock. They would scold the shepherds, “Why is my flock dying? Why aren’t they giving milk? Look at al-Hadith’s animals. Why are they able to give so much milk? You must be doing something wrong.”

— The aggression wasn’t subtle. The other women who brought kids from Makkah used to look at Halimah with pity before because she used to be the miskeena of the group (broke husband, dried-up land, dying animals). Now the women tell Halimah, “You’ve acquired a huge blessing.”

  • Halimah & al-Hadith’s land was flourishing. Their livestock gave plenty of food, thus the family was able to do very well themselves.

— Halimah & al-Hadith are able to determine that Muhammad is the reason that they now have so many blessings in their life. They now know that this is not a normal boy.

  • They’ve also noticed that Muhammad had a noor in his face. He just had this appealing look in his face. He had a magnetic quality about him; people would come over & just sit & hold him.
  • As he grew to a toddler, Muhammad didn’t look like an average 2 year old. He seemed taller, stronger, & more intelligent than average 2 year old.
  • He was also very calm & serene. He didn’t throw hissy fits

— Because Halimah knew that Muhammad was a very special child & that he was the source of all their new blessings, Halimah instructed her eldest daughter Shaima, “Listen, your brothers, Abdullah & Muhammad, are little kids who run around & do crazy things, but I want you to always keep an eye on Muhammad. He’s your responsibility. Be a good older sister to him.”

— One day, Halimah sees no children in the house

  • The sun was at its peak. During this time of day, the animals would all find & huddle up underneath the shade under the wall of the house or under the trees. They would rest until it cooled down before going out in the open.
  • Halimah looks out, & sees her daughter Shaima sitting with Muhammad outside in the middle of the grass, out in the open in the glaring heat. Muhammad is just lying on the grass & Shaima’s sitting. They’re both just chillin’.
  • Halimah is angry. She put her daughter in charge of Muhammad but they’re both out in the open, not even in the shade.
    Halimah rushes out there, furious, yelling, “it’s so hot, don’t sit under the sun! Get back inside!” She scolds Shaima, “You should know better! What are you doing?! You’re going to get sick! He’s just a little boy! You should know better!”
  • Shaima says, “No, Mom, everything’s okay. I’ve been watching little brother. One thing I noticed about him was that, he walks around in the noontime without a bother. I wondered how he can walk around during this heat without any discomfort. I looked up & see that there’s always a cloud over him casting a shade on him. As he moves, the cloud & the shade also move. It’s always there. So he just comes out here & just chills. So I sit next to him to get some of the shade too.”

— When Muhammad reaches 2, Halimah brings Muhammad back to Makkah. That’s typically the age when the women bring the children back to their families.

  • Halimah recalls that she did not want to give up the child, not just because of all the blessings (since they were living it up), but she had formed an attachment with the child
  • Aminah’s very happy to be reunited with her son.
  • Halimah asks, “Did you consider sending him away for more time?” Aminah says, “No, absolutely not. We’re good.”
  • Halimah’s anxious. But it just so happens, there have been a lot of recent cases of little babies getting sick from disease & dying. Halimah remembers this, so she tells Aminah about all these kids dying in Makkah
  • Halimah says, “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to Muhammad. He’s my son too. Let me take him back for a bit longer, where it’s clean & safe & away from all this mess.”
    • She’s able to convince Aminah & bring Muhammad back to Banu Sa’ad, for about a year & a half more.

— During that year & a half, a big incident occurred

  • Angel Jibril (as) comes & splits Muhammad’s chest & cleanses his heart, which will be talked about in the next session.


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