Chapter One : the Holy Prophet’s Ancestors

Muhammad's Lineage

The Holy Prophet’s ancestors up to the twentieth before his father included: Abd al-Muttalib, `Abd Manaf, Qusay, Kilab, Murrah, Ka`b, Lu’ay, Ghalib, Fihr, Malik, al-Nazr, Kinanah, Khuzaymah, Mudrikah, Ilyas, Muzar, Nizar, Ma`ad, and `Andan.[^1] However, there is no agreement concerning his other ancestors up to Prophet Ishmael, Prophet Abraham’s son.

[^2] It is narrated that when the Holy Prophet enumerated his ancestors, he refused to call any other ancestor prior to `Adnan,[^3] and recommended others to do so.[^4] Regarding the work of genealogists concerning his lineage and the names of his other ancestors between `Adnan and Isma`il, the Holy Prophet used to say, “Genealogists lied.”[^5]

The Arab tribes are divided into Qahtani and `Adnani groups. Quraysh, due to its relation with `Adnan (the Holy Prophet's twentieth ancestor) belongs to `Adnan. All clans whose lineage leads to al-Nazr ibn Kinanah are called qurayshi, since Quraysh was their nickname.[^6] The tribe of Quraysh is of different branches,[^7] such as Banu-Makhzum, Banu-Zuhrah, Banu-Umayyah, Banu-Sahm, Banu-Asad and Banu-Hashim[^8] to which the Holy Prophet belongs.

`Abd al-Muttalib’s Personality

Among the Holy Prophet’s ancestors, we have a lot of information about `Abd al-Muttalib, the first ancestor, since he lived at a time close to the Islamic era. `Abd al-Muttalib was a beloved, generous, wise and unique personality.[^9]

He, like all great divine personalities, was the chief of his time. Despite his long life, he never took on the corrupt traits prevalent in the society of Mecca. In those days, nobody in Mecca believed in the Resurrection; and even if this belief existed, it was not strong. Not only did `Abd al-Muttalib believe in the Resurrection but also emphasized the chastisement of that Day; he used to remark:

“There is a world after this one in which good-wishers will get their rewards and evildoers their punishment.”[^10]

Although a tribal dogmatism prevailed in the Arabian Peninsula in those dark days and everybody defended the rights of his relatives without considering justice, `Abd al-Muttalib was not such a person. He put a lot of pressure on one of his relatives, called Harb ibn Umayyah, to pay the blood money of a Jew who had been killed under instigation and persuasion.[^11] He used to encourage his children to stay away from the nasty deeds of this world and engage themselves in good deeds.[^12]

`Abd al-Muttalib believed in a number of traditions which were approved of in Islam; among them we may refer to the prohibition of drinking wine, the prohibition of adultery, the punishment of adulterers; the cutting of the thief's hand, the banishment of ill-named Meccan women, the prohibition of burying daughters alive, the prohibition of marriage with intimates, the prohibition of being naked in circumambulating the Kaaba, carrying out one's vows and obligations, the observance of the sacred months, and finally engaging in mutual cursing (mubahalah).[^13] It is narrated that `Abd al-Muttalib was the evidence of God and Abu-talib God's Representative.[^14]

The Household of Monotheism

Prophet Muhammad's household was a household of monotheism. According to the beliefs of researchers who believed in Imamate, Prophet Muhammad's father and his ancestors from Adam to `Abdullah were all monotheists. There was no atheist among them—a fact asserted by many Qur'anic verses and narrations. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said, “God led me from the clean men's loin into the clean women's wombs and put me into your world and never let me be mingled with the corruptions of the Ignorance Era.”[^15]

We know that no dirt is worse than atheism or disbelief. If ever there were an atheist or disbeliever among the progeny or progenitors of anybody, he would not be considered clean. The Twelver Imamiyyah scholars believe that Abu-talib and aminah bint (daughter of) Wahab—the Holy Prophet’s mother—were monotheists.[^16] In this regard, Imam `Ali (a.s) has stated:

“I swear to God that my father and ancestors, `Abd al-Muttalib, Hashim and `Abd Manaf, did not believe in any form of idolatory. They were true followers of Prophet Abraham’s religion and used to perform prayers to God at the Kaaba.”[^17]

Chapter Two : The Holy Prophet’s Childhood and Adolescence

The Birth

The Arabs at the Ignorance Era did not have any constant historical starting point; rather, they considered some significant local events, such as the death of a distinguished man or a bloody war between two tribes as a temporary historical point of reference.[^18] No such historical point existed among all Arab tribes either. Rather, each tribe used a specific historical point of reference of its own.[^19]

When the army of elephants, under the leadership of Abrahah, the Ethiopian commander, came to Mecca to destroy God's House,[^20] it was severely defeated through God's hidden power. This event overpassed all other events and that year became the historical point of reference for many years to come.[^21] On that same year, Prophet Muhammad (s) was born in Mecca.[^22] This event, with regards to some pieces of evidence such as the emigration (Hegira) in 622 AD and the Holy Prophet’s demise in 632 AD at the age of 60-63 years must have occurred in the years 569-570 AD.[^23]

Infancy and Childhood

When Prophet Muhammad (s) became two years old,[^24] his father, `Abdullah, on his mercantile journey from Damascus, passed away in Yathrib, where he was buried.[^25] Referring to the orphanage of the Holy Prophet, the Holy Qur'an states:

Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter; and find you lost (i.e. unrecognized by men) and guide them to you; and find you in want and make you to be free from want? (93:6-8)

aminah's infant was breast-fed by his mother for the first days of his birth;[^26] he was then breastfed by Thuwaybah, a female servant freed by Abu-Lahab.[^27] According to Arab customs,[^28] he was submitted to a nurse, named Halimah al-Sa`diyyah, from the tribe of Banu-Sa`d ibn Bakr who used to live in the desert.[^29] Halimah breastfed the Holy Prophet[^30] for two years, cared for him for five years and finally submitted him to his family.[^31]

Most probably, they put the keeping of the Holy Prophet in the hands of a desert-dwelling nurse because his wanted him to nourish in the clean air of the desert and to stay away from the disease of cholera epidemic in Mecca.[^32] Another reason was that they wanted him to learn the eloquent Arabic from the nomadic tribes. Some historians have referred to this factor.[^33] Attesting this fact, the Holy Prophet is reported to have said, “I am more eloquent than all of you because I am both a Qurayshite and have been breastfed among the tribe of Banu-Sa`d ibn Bakr.”[^34]

Concerning the adoption of Halimah as the special nurse for Muhammad (s), there are some accounts in historical documents to the effect that since Muhammad (s) was an orphan, nobody would accept to take care of him. This was because a nurse would receive some money from the child's parents and such a means was not available to Muhammad (s). Halimah had to accept him since there was no other option for her to be busy.[^35] Lack of acceptance of Muhammad (s) on the part of nurses due to his orphanage does not seem accurate for the following reasons:

As we have already said, `Abdullah passed away several months after Muhammad's birth; thus, at that time, he was not yet an orphan.

Due to `Abd al-Muttalib's privileges in Mecca and because of his high socio-economic status, nurses and caretakers would not refrain from taking care of him; rather, they were extremely zealous to take care of such a family.

This topic has not been discussed in many historical documents.[^36]

His Mother’s Demise and `Abd al-Muttalib's Guardianship

Upon receiving her child from Halimah, aminah, together with her child and Umm-Ayman, `Abdullah's bondwoman, made a journey to Yathrib with a caravan in order to pay a visit to his maternal uncles.[^37] After a stay of one month in Yathrib and on her way back to Mecca, she passed away at a house called Abwa, where she was buried. At that time, Muhammad (s) was six years old.[^38] Umm-Ayman took him to Mecca with the caravan and submitted him to `Abd al-Muttalib[^39] who then resumed Muhammad's guardianship and took good care of him as long as he was alive. He used to say, “Muhammad will definitely have a high status.”[^40]

`Abd al-Muttalib’s Demise and Abu-talib's Guardianship

When Muhammad (s) was eight years old, `Abd al-Muttalib died and Abu-talib, his full uncle, resumed his guardianship.[^41] From then on, Abu-talib, a generous and respectful dignitary, became Muhammad's guardian[^42] although he was extremely poor.[^43] He was a man of high self-esteem among Quraysh.[^44] He was fond of THE Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) whom he loved more than his children.[^45]

Abu-talib's wife, Fatimah bint Asad, had a significant role in the education of Muhammad (s). She did her best in this regard. She loved him like a genuine mother and preferred him to her own children. Never did Muhammad (s) forget her care; he always referred to her as his genuine and natural mother.[^46]

Journey to Damascus and the Monk's Prediction

On his journey to Damascus for trade, Abu-talib accompanied Muhammad with him according to his request while he was 8, 9, 12 or 13 years of age, according to different documents. When the caravan reached Busr,[^47] they rested next to a hermitage in which there was a monk, called Bahira, who was a well-known Christian priest.

Among the crowd, the monk paid a special attention to Muhammad in whom he could see some signs of the expected Prophet. Talking with Muhammad (s) for a short time and asking him some questions, the monk predicted his prophethood and advised Abu-talib to take good care of and protect him against the Jews' danger molestations.[^48] However, the following points should be taken into consideration concerning this event:

(1) This event is referred to in some historical records briefly; while in others, it is dealt with in more details. The essence of the event is not doubtful, because in several verses of the Holy Qur'an, the predictions of previous Prophets about Prophet Muhammad have been stated.[^49]

(2) The signs that the religious scholars had about Muhammad (s) were of two kinds: indicative of his personal life and body features (for instance, his orphanage, facial features and his name) and others related to his family background (such as his being an Arab and his marriage).One of the most distinguished signs on his body was a speckle (birthmark) between his shoulders, which is called the Prophet's speckle or the Prophet’s seal.[^50]

(3) Bahira's prediction was only new to the people of the caravan because Abu-talib and Muhammad's other close relatives had already been aware of his bright future.[^51]

Historical Distortions by the Christians

Some Orientalists have distorted the event of Muhammad's encounter with Bahira, claiming that during this visit, Muhammad learned the teachings of the Torah and the Gospel.[^52] Will Durant, rather subtly, refers to this event:

“When Muhammad was twelve years old, his uncle Abu-talib took him with a caravan to Busr, a city in Damascus. He probably learned some aspects of Judaism and Christianity during this journey.”[^53]

To answer these irrational claims and distortions, the following points should be considered:

(1) Historians unanimously acknowledge that Muhammad (s) was illiterate.

(2) At that time, he was less than thirteen years old.

(3) The interval between this visit and his prophethood was a long time.

(4) His meeting with Bahira was rather short; it included the monk’s questions and Muhammad's replies. How would it be possible to imagine that an illiterate boy within a short period of time could have learned the aspects of Judaism and Christianity so well that he could have presented it as a complete religion at the age of forty?

(5) Had Muhammad (s) learnt anything from the monk, the aggressive and excuse-seeking Quraysh would have used it against him. However, there is no sign of this aggression against him in the history of Islam. Quoting Quraysh's accusations and answering them, the Qur'an does not make any reference to such an event.

(6) If such a thing were correct, how come those people on the caravan did not refer to it?

p(7) If such an account were correct, why did Christian natives of Damascus not claim at that time that they had been Muhammad's instructors?

(8) If this claim were correct, Islamic teachings would be the same as those of the Torah and the Gospel. However, these teachings are not only contradictory, but also most of the Jewish and Christian ideas and teachings of the Torah and the Gospel have been rejected by the Holy Qur'an.[^54] Once, `Umar ibn al-Khattab asked the Holy Prophet to let him write down the narrations which he had heard from the Jews. The Holy Prophet remarked, “Are you confused in your own religion like the Jews and the Christians? I have brought you this holy and luminous religion. If Moses were alive, he would follow my way now.”[^55]

In Medina, where a great number of Jews used to live, Muhammad (s) used to show his disagreements in many religious plans and orders with the Jews[^56] so much so that they used to say “This man wants to disagree with us in all of our programs.”[^57]

Constan Virgil Giorgio, a Christian who desired to spread lies against Islam, has narrated the event with so many distortions and illogical details that his account is not only contrary to any standard of thinking but also in disharmony with the claims of the Christians themselves. He writes:

“Ibn Husham, an Arab narrator, writes: Contrary to people's beliefs, Bahira was not Christian; he was Manichean, a follower of a man called Mani who claimed prophethood at the time of the Sasanids. Bahram I, the Sasanid King, ordered him to be crucified across the entrance of Gondi Shapur in Khuzestan in 276 AD. Mani and his followers, including Bahira, believed that God is not in the monopoly of a specific nation; rather, he belonged to men all over the world. This is because all the world nations belong to Him and God will send a prophet to a nation to speak with the people in their own language whenever He wishes so.”[^58]

By the name Ibn Husham, the writer most probably refers to `Abd al-Malik ibn Husham (213 AH), the author of the famous book al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, one of the significant documents of the history of Islam. However, there is neither any mention of the word Manichean relating to this issue in Ibn Husham's book nor in any older Islamic sources. This man is introduced as either Christian or even rarely Jew. Now the question is: How did Giorgio get this information?

Furthermore, Manichaeism did not have any follower in Damascus; the center for Manichaeism was Iran. In the word of a scholar, Manichaeism is ascribed to Bahira for purpose of establishing that Islam has imitated the uniqueness of God and the universalism of Islam from Manichaeism. During the last centuries, Islam has been confronted with similar issues.

It is not important for the accusers to ascribe the most advanced form of thoughts to the weakened religions because these old religions do not have genuine followers to be proud of. Islam stands so high that the world of Christianity even centuries after the Crusade campaigns, still worries about the expansion of Islam and tries helplessly to de-emphasize Islam's glories.[^59]