by Abul hasan ‘Ali Nadwi
Thuwaybah, a bondwoman of the Prophet’s uncle Abu Lahab, suckled him momentarily for a few days while ‘Abdul Muttalib continued to look for awet-nurse to nurture his favorite grandson. It was customary in Mecca to place the suckling babies under the care of a desert tribeswoman, where the child grows up in the free, chivalrous air away from the cramp, contaminating atmosphere of the city, and learns the wholesome ways of the Bedouins. Those were the days when the chaste, unaffected and natural expression of the desert people was considered as the finest model of grace and elegance of the Arabic language. Together with the milk of a bedouin woman, the babies drank the fluent language that flew across the desert.
The people from the tribe of Bani S’ad were known for the gracefulness of their speech. Halima S’adiya, a member of this tribe, ultimately came to have the precious baby under her wings. This was a year of famine wherein Bani S’ad had been rendered miserable. The tribe came to Mecca to look for children to be suckled, but no woman to whom the Apostle of God was offered, agreed to take the child because none expected a goodly return for nurturing or nursing an infant whose father was already dead. They said, “An orphan! What will his mother and grandfather give in return?” At first, Halima also declined the offer but suddenly she felt a craving for the baby. She had also failed to get a charge for her and, therefore, before going back home, she returned and finally took the baby back with her. Halima found before long that her household was blessed with luck, her breast overflowed with milk, the udders of her she-camel were full and everything seemed to bring forth happiness. The women of Halima’s tribe now spread the rumor, “Halima, you have certainly got a blessed child.” They began to feel envious of her.
Halima weaned the baby until he was two years old, for it is customary upon the foster-children to return to their families at such an age. Besides, the boy was also growing up faster than the other children, and by the time he was two, he was already a well-grown child. Thus, Halima brought the Apostle of God back to Amina but begged her to be allowed to keep the boy for some extended time as he had brought her luck. Amina agreed and allowed Halima to take Muhammad (Peace be upon him) back with her.1
Some months after his return to Bani S’ad, two angels seized the Apostle of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), opened up his chest and extracted a black drop from it. Then they thoroughly cleaned his heart and healed the wound
after putting his heart back in its place.2
The Apostle of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) looked after the sheep with his foster-brothers in the unfathomable or boundless wilderness of the desert, far away from the pretensions, hypocrisy, pomp and pride of the city, where his thoughts became clear like the desert air. His life was simple like the sand and he learnt to endure the hardships and dangers of the wildness.
And with the people of Bani S’ad, his ears became accustomed to the rhetoric and eloquence of the pure and classical language of the Bedouins. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) often used to tell his companions: “I am the most Arab of you all for I am of Quraysh origin, and I was suckled among Bani S’ad b. Bakr.”