The story of the Breastfeeding of the
Prophet sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam
Praise be to Allah the Lord of the worlds, to Him belongs the Everlastingness and the befitting attributes. May Allah raise the rank and increase the honor of our great Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam and protect his Muslim nation from that which he fears for it.
It was the habit of the Arab women to breast-feed other than their own children. It is important to know that when a woman breast-feeds a child a certain amount of milk she becomes his foster mother and her children would become siblings of that breast fed child.
The story of how Halimah became the breast-feeding mother to the prophet is ironic and as told by Halimah as-Sa^diyah herself: “It was the year of draught when I traveled to Makkah with other women from the tribe of Sa^d seeking to breast-feed babies. I was riding a donkey. Our camel hardly produced any milk, and my child kept us awake crying out of hunger. Even my breast hardly had any milk for my child. We had nothing but hope. We reached Makkah. When the breast-feeders learnt that baby Muhammad was an orphan, none of the women accepted to take him in to breast-feed. The breast-feeders were hoping for the financial generosity of the child’s father and Muhammad was an orphan. Each of us thought that his mother would not be as helpful. We kept refusing to take Muhammad, until all of the other women found children to breast feed except me. Hating to return empty handed, I told my husband that I will take that orphan Muhammad.
I swear by Allah, the moment I put him on my lap, my breast became full with milk. He took my breast for as much as he needed and my child did the same. That night my husband went out to check on our camel, and to his surprise its udder was full of milk. Soon we were both full and satisfied. My husband looked at me and said: ” I swear by Allah, you have picked a blessed soul.””
Halimah raised the Prophet until he was 2 years and 2 months old, then she returned him to his mother. The Prophet’s growth was unlike any other person’s. He used to grow in one day as much as a regular child would grow in a whole month. He would grow in one month as much as a regular child would grow in a whole year.
One day while the Prophet was playing with his brothers (sons of Halimah) behind the house, an extraordinary thing happened. The Prophet’s brother ran terrified to his parents and said:”Help my brother, two men came to him and opened his stomach.” Halimah and her husband ran out to the Prophet. They found him standing with a pale face. Halimah hugged him and so did her husband who asked: “What’s with you son?!!” The Prophet replied that two men wearing white clothes came to him, laid him down and opened his abdomen, but he did not know what they did.
The fact is that those two men were the angels Jibril and Mika’il who came in the shape of men. It was said that they opened his abdomen and washed it with Zamzam water, hail water, and snow water. Then they stitched it by the Will of Allah and stamped him on his back between his shoulders with an oval mark (khatam) signifying he would be the last prophet.
Even as a growing child, Prophet Muhammad displayed particular habits. If he ever wanted to urinate or defecate, he would go so far where no houses are in sight. When he used to go through the valleys and the mountain every tree and stone he would pass by would say: “Peace be upon you O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet would look left and right, but he would not see anyone.
After Halimah returned the Prophet to his mother ‘Aminah, he stayed with his mother till the age of five. ‘Aminah then took him to see his uncles in al-Madinah. She stayed there one month. On her way back she died leaving the Prophet to be raised by his grandfather ^Abdul Mutalib. It was said that when the Prophet’s mother died his grandfather hugged him and showed feelings towards the Prophet that he never showed towards his own son.
When his grandfather ^Abdul-Mutalib was dying, he recommended to the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib to take care of the Prophet. The Prophet’s uncle used to love Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam very much, and he used to favor him over his own children.