On the untimely demise of young Muhammad’s mother the honour of looking after him fell rather exclusively to the lot of his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib. He undertook that responsibility with great affection and dedication. Unfortunately, however poor Muhammad (pbuh) had not yet recovered from the trauma of his loving mother’s death when his noble grandfather also breathed his least. The young boy was hardly eight then. His infancy was punctuated by a rapid succession of tearful tragedies. When he joined his grandfather’s funeral procession torrential tears trickled down his innocent cheeks. The lovely little boy presented a pathetic picture of grief and depression.
After the death of the great old man one of his sons and little Muhammad’s uncle, Abu Talib, undertook to look after his orphan nephew. Accordingly he began to discharge his obligations with utmost affection and fortitude. He showered more affection and love over the young boy than even his own children.
Shepherding and Human Guidance
The first regular vocation that young Muhammad (pbuh) chanced to learn was herdsmanship. He had made initial ventures into this noble field even while residing the desert home of his foster mother. Subsequently he got further experience of herding the goats of his family and some other Makkans as well.
In later life he always referred to this exciting and instructive early experience as one of the Divine bounties. He used to say: “Herdsmanship is an essential pre-requisite for Prophethood. The office of the Prophet is unattainable without prior experience of herdsmanship. I have also herded the goats of my family.”
The life of a shepherd is full of fascinating experiences. It is simply exciting and enchanting. Driving his herd as he sets forth towards open environments he gets vast and varied opportunities of observing nature and reflecting on life during various shepherding exercises. Sprawling greenery, lofty trees and mysterious shrubs with a canopy of the blue sky overhead present an ideal physical setting not available in any other profession. The refreshing setting stimulates creative thinking and constructive behaviour. The process of tending the cattle, managing their food and their security and safe return calls for high level of originality and insight.
Such meaningful shepherding schedules generate vital developmental They provide the much-needed food for the body and soul of a perceiving shepherd. In more exceptional and more creative cases such dynamic incentives get widened in their scope. The shepherd feels intrigued to extend the sphere of his experiences and exercises to cover larger and larger segments of the needy humanity. The original process of pasturing the cattle then assumes newer and vaster dimensions. If thoughtfully engineered such trends transform themselves into tending and guiding people to really-purposeful destiny. Wholesome panaceas to safeguard mankind against all ills and evils begin to flow from the fertile imagination of such a conscientious shepherd. That
is how a great shepherd’s professional experiences eventually prepare him for the wonderous office of human guidance under the Divine scheme of things.
When that vital stage arrives and the resultant transformation of human life takes shape the shepherd stands out as a real blessing and a real saviour of all civilization and culture.
The Shepherd and the Story-Tellers
Prophet Muhammad’s life is full of an unending chain of creative ideas and constructive deeds. Makkah’s merry-making life style had failed to influence his blessed body and sacred soul. At that time story telling was a common pastime in the Arabian peninsula. e groups of professional story-tellers had sprung up in Makkah as well. After day’s labour mirthful crowds would assemble at popular public places. Seasoned story-tellers would then start chains of fascinating tales and annecdotes. Such an all-engaging activity often continued throughout the night. Keen listeners enjoyed those spicy folk tales in rapt attention and with unfading gusto.
Once during early years young Muhammad (pbuh) had also cherished strong desires to attend one such nightly story-telling session. As he went in search of the same he got distracted on the way by the hullabaloo of a noisy marriage function. Accordingly, he stopped to enjoy that colourful event. But the moment he entered the wedding house a curious state of prolonged sleep spell overtook him rather all of a sudden.