Carrying baby Muhammad (pbuh) in her lap Haleema Saadia eventyally arrived at her ancestral village in the desert. The surrounding area being hit by a severe drought that year the shepherds experienced great difficulties in finding fodder for their herds. Consequently they were facing an acute milk shortage. Strange enough when Haleema’s goats returned home from the neighbouring pastures they overflowed with milk. When others milked their goats they seldom got any worthwhile yield. Haleema’s household had no such milk problem. Both the spouses as well as the children had plenty of the milk to drink.
All other shepherds of the desert village began to feel envious of Haleema’s wonderful goats. They would send their goats to the very pastures where Haleema’s goats grazed. But that wouldn’t make any difference. Their goats returned as unfed and as hungry as ever before. None would yield beyond a few drops of milk. Soon the rumour began to gain currency that there was something mysteriously-blissful in the bright baby that Haleema had adopted
Five Years in Desert
Haleema had a good-natured daughter, Sheema by name. She had developed a great liking for baby Muhammad (pbuh). It was she who looked after him most of the time. Twice every year Haleema would take the baby to Makkah. After showing him to her mother and near relatives she would return to her desert tent. At the age of two he was weaned off. He looked quite a bright, handsome baby. Haleema took him to his mother.
By now Haleema had been thoroughly convinced that the orphan baby whom none was willing to adopt was in fact a wonderful creature. She had developed intense affection for the sweet little fellow. In fact she intended to keep him with her for some more time. Accordingly, she expressed her desire before Amina. Endorsing her request Haleema said, “baby Muhammad has reacted nicely to the free environment of the desert. Makkah is currently in the grips of an epidemic. It would, therefore, be far better if you permit the Sweet baby to stay with me for some more time.”
Her pleading was so forceful and grounds so convincing that lady Amina agreed readily to part company with her loving son for some more time to come. So baby Muhammad (pbuh) returned with Haleema to spend some more days in the free and open atmosphere of the desert. As he grew up he often used to go out shepherding with his foster brothers. Besides this early training in shepherding young Muhammad also enjoyed the same experience during later life. For quite a few years he herded the goats of his tribe and of other Makkans. While shepherding he got ample opportunities to ponder over the purpose of human life and the meaning of the universe. He used to make proud references to those wonderful days and thanked God for his enriching experiences.
Little Muhammad (pbuh) Lost in Makkah
When little Muhammad was five Haleema thought it advisable to return him to his mother. Taking the child along she arrived at Makkah. Unfortunately, however, the boy got lost in the conjestion of Makkan streets. Haleema was terribly upset. She searched the child in all directions but failed to find him anywhere. Shocked and exhausted she rushed to chief Abdul Muttalib. With tears trickling down her eyes she reported the matter to him.
Abdul Muttalib was taken aback. Praying for a speedy recovery of the lost child he dashed to the Holy Kaabah. Hardly had he reached there when Varqa b. Naufal and another youth of the Quraish met him. They were carrying little Muhammad. They reported that they had found the child strolling about in the Makkan hills. Abdul Muttalib thanked them. Then he perched the child on his shoulder and started going round the Kaabah, praying all the time for health and safety of his grandson. After a while he sent the child to his mother.
Mother’s Death During Travel
Lady Amina was mighty pleased to greet his young son. Little Muhammad started living happily with his mother at their Makkan residence. A goodnatured lady. Umme Aiman, was engaged as a nurse to look after him. When he was about six his mother thought of taking him to Madina in order to introduce him to his maternal uncles as also to visit his father’s grave over there. So one fine morning the party composed of Muhammad (pbuh), his mother, grand-father Abdul Muttalib and nurse Umme Aiman set out towards Madina
They stayed at Madina for about a month. Little Muhammad (pbuh) was shown the house where his illustrious father had died while returning from Syria. The grief-stricken mother must have narrated him some events and episodes about his father’s life. Consequently young Muhammad appeared to have grown considerably conscious of his orphanhood. After a brief stay the party set out for Makkah. Unfortunately, how while still on the way Muhammad’s loving mother fell ill and breathed her last at village Abwa. She was buried in the same village.
What a terrible shock for little Muhammad (pbuh)! He was drenched in tears on the sudden demise of his caring mother. He had often seen her shedding tears in seclusion over the depressing death of his father. Now when she too departed leaving him all alone in the midst of a long journey the bitter burden of orphanhood loomed heavier than ever before over his innocent mind. He presented a pathetic picture of agony and anguish. Incessant tears rolled down his cheeks in torrents. Nurse Umme Aiman endeavoured hard to dry the copious tears of the non-plussed child. Consoling him all the way she managed to tow him back to their home in Makkah
Unforgettable Childhood Memories
During that traumatic journey little Muhammad’s stay at Madina was obviously very brief. However, many childhood experiences those days left their indelible impression on his fertile mind. Many years later when once he passed by Madina past memories and old affections seemed to have resurrected all of a sudden. He pointed towards a house and said, “that’s the house where my had stayed in”. Seeing a pond he cried with joy, “I learnt swimming here in this pond”. Raising his finger towards an open field he remarked gleefully, “this is the field where I used to play with little Aneesa”
Similarly loving memories of Haleema and Umme Aiman never faded in freshness. In later life whenever Haleema visited him he used to stand up in reverence. He would often embrace her shouting out gleefully: “my mother, my mother!” He would spread his mantle for her and would remain standing until she sat down. Indeed he would address her with such an over doze of honour and affection that the spectators felt amazed and envious.
Once drought caused famine in Makkah. Haleema visited the Prophet those days. He extended her all respects and courtesies. When she was about to leave he presented her a gift of a fine camel and four goats. At another occasion Haleema’s daughter Sheema was brought before him as a prisoner of war along with some others. He extended her extraordinary affection and courtesies. In compliance with Sheema’s wish he arranged her speedy repatriation to her tribe.