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A glimpse of the Prophet's life before Prophethood

Tuesday 28/04/2009

It is the Will of Allah The Almighty that He has chosen His Prophets and Messengers, may He exalt their mention, from among humans, and who were not, in any way, special, except for certain qualities He endowed them with, which were essential to properly assuming their distinctive responsibilities. Hence, like all of mankind, prophets fell ill and became hungry; they worked to earn their livelihood and acted human in every way.

Similarly, Prophet Muhammad,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), participated in nearly all activities practiced by his people. For instance, he,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), worked as a shepherd early on in life when his paternal uncle, Abu Taalib, who took custody of him after the demise of his grandfather, was financially unable to provide for his family. In order to help, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), would tend to the sheep of the people of Makkah, in return for a wage.
 
He,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), was not alone in this, as Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), said, "Allah did not send any prophet but he shepherded sheep." [Al-Bukhari] Perhaps, it was because this line of work that involves dealing with animals, imbues people with forbearance, mercy, kindness and humility – indispensible qualities of a Prophet.
 
Further, when the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), became an adult, he went with Abu Taalib on business trips to Ash-Shaam (the Levant) and neighboring regions. He,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), learned the art of trade in a short period of time, becoming a successful merchant, well known for his honesty and trustworthiness.
 
The people of Quraysh used to hire the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), to invest their money, as did Khadeejah, may Allah be pleased with her, before marrying the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), and starting a family with him.
 
Even in terms of active combat, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), participated in resisting against the tribe of Hawaazin when it attacked Makkah, attempting to sacrilege its holy places. As a fourteen-year-old, his role was restricted to collecting arrows and giving them to his paternal uncles. 
 
He,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), also participated in meetings held by his people to discuss important issues. For example, he partook in the alliance of Al-Fudhool, which was formed by some Makkan tribes, including Banu Haashim, Banu ‘Abd Al-Muttalib and Banu Asad; its purpose was offering protection and help to any wronged person against the wrongdoer, regardless of his status. The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), praised this union, saying: "I participated in forming an alliance in the house of ‘Abdullaah ibn Jud‘aan. Such a coalition is more valuable to me than the most precious of camels; if I were invited to create a similar alliance [even] now that Islam has reigned, I would accept." [Ahmad] 
 
When he was thirty-five years old, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), and his paternal uncle, Al-‘Abbaas ibn ‘Abd Al-Muttalib, contributed to the renovation of the Kabah, whose walls were crumbling due to flooding and rain, by moving the stones. 
 
Further, he,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), was even chosen by his people to arbitrate between the tribes who all wanted the sole honor of placing the Black Stone in its position. The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), suggested that the Black Stone be placed on a piece of cloth, whose edges be held by a designated member of each tribe, until they reach the Ka’bah, whence he would position it in himself. Thus, he diffused a potentially explosive situation.
 
However, the lifestyle of his people in Makkah and their sins of idol worship and intoxication, did make the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), uncomfortable. Therefore, he would spend much of his time in seclusion in the cave of Hiraa’, to worship Allah The Almighty and to ponder the secrets of the universe.
 
He,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), would stay in there, several days at a time, until he would run out of food. Then, he would return home for more provisions. The Messenger of Allah,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), “once stayed in the cave of Hiraa’ for a whole month, uninterrupted."[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
 
This seclusion helped him to attain spiritual purity and increase his love of his Creator. It also nurtured in him the qualities vital to conveying the message of Islam to all people in the future. And it was not long until, as he continued his seclusion, the Revelation descended on him at the age of forty. 

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