A TIME WITH HALIMAH
LIKE many other women in Mecca, Aminah decided to send her son away from the city for his early years to the desert where it was more healthy. Women from the desert used to come to Mecca to collect the new babies and they would then keep them until they developed into strong children, for which they were well paid by the parents.
Among the women who traveled to Mecca to fetch a new baby at the time Aminah’s son was born, was a Bedouin woman called Halimah. With her was her husband and baby son. They had always been very poor but this year things were harder than ever because there had been famine. The donkey that earned Halimah on the journey was so weak from hunger that he often stumbled. Halimah’s own baby son cried all the time because his mother could not feed him properly. Even their she-camel did not give them one drop of milk. Halimah did not know what to do. She thought to herself, ‘How can I possibly feed another baby when I haven’t got enough milk even for my own son?’ At last they reached Mecca. All the other women of the tribe to which Halimah belonged, the Bani Sa’d, found a child to take back with them, but not Halimah. The only baby left was Muhammad (pbuh). Usually the father paid the wet-nurse but Muhammad’s father was dead. So no one wanted to take him, even though he was from one of the noblest families of Quraysh.
Halimah did not want to take him either, but she did not want to be the only woman to go back to her tribe without a baby to bring up. She asked her husband whether she should take Muhammad (pbuh) or not. He advised her to do so, adding, ‘Perhaps Allah will bless us because of him.’ They started on the return journey and as soon as Halimah began to feed Muhammad (pbuh) her milk suddenly increased and she had enough for him as well as her baby son. When they were back home, everything began to change. The land became green, and the date trees, one of their main sources of food, gave lots of fruit. Even the sheep and their old she-camel began to give plenty of milk. Halimah and her husband knew that this good fortune had come because they had the new baby, Muhammad (pbuh), whom they had come to love as if he were their own son.
When Muhammad (pbuh) was two years old, Halimah took him back to his mother. She pleaded with Aminah, however, to let her keep him for a little longer, and to her great joy the mother agreed. During his time with Halimah’s family in the desert, Muhammad (pbuh) played with her children and together they would take the sheep out to graze. At other times, however, Halimah would often find him sitting alone.
It is said that on one occasion, two angels came to Muhammad (pbuh) and washed his heart with snow. In this way Allah made his heart pure for He intended Muhammad (pbuh) to be greater than any man ever born and to become the Seal of the Prophets.
In the Name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful
Did We not expand thy breast for thee.
And eased thee of thy burden.
Which weighed down thy back;
And exalted thy fame?
So truly with hardship comes ease,
Truly with hardship comes ease.
So when thou art relieved, still toil
And strive to please thy Lord.
When Halimah finally took Muhammad (pbuh) back to Aminah, he was a healthy, strong boy. Later he would look back with joy on the time he had spent with Halimah, and he always thought of himself as one of the Bani Sa’d.