My notes from Lesson 3 on Qurrah al-Abṣār fī Sīrah al-Mushaffaʿ al-Mukhtār

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم والحمد لله العلي العظيم وصلى الله على البي الكريم وعلى آله الطاهرين والطيبين وسلم

These are some notes I took on Lesson 3 from Shaykh Hamza’s lecture series that I blogged about. I would recommend watching the lectures, though; there is a lot of great material I did not note down. To see the Arabic lines download Shaykh Hamza’s translation. Please point out any errors or typos.

Lesson 3

Chapter Concerning the Death of the Prophet’s Father and His Wet Nurses

42. Now for a description of the death of the Chosen One’s father

And an enumeration of his the Prophet’s wet nurses.

A ظئر or a مرضع is a wet nurse.

43. ʿAbd Allāh died while the Prophet was in utero,

And what honor the clan of Hudhayl obtained,

44. As a result of their daughter the Saʿdiyyah

Being among the Best of Creation’s mothers-in-milk.

45. How many clear signs Ḥalīmah saw from him;

Among them was the excessive flow of her sheep’s milk;

ʿAbd Allāh died of a fever during a journey. Banū Saʿd is honored for all of time due to Ḥalīmah رضي عنها being the wet nurse of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.

The aristocrats of the Quraysh sent their children to grow up in the desert because they believed the air was better there (and it was a kind of Spartan environment), as well as for the superiority of the Bedouin’s pure Arabic. There was a type of marketplace where the Qurayshī women with their babies would make deals with Bedouin women who would take the babies to raise. This highlights the level of trust in the society at the time; even if someone was a relative stranger you would know their tribe and clan, and their tribe would be responsible for them. The Arabs would hate to bring shame upon their tribe. Āminah was at this point part of the Hashemite clan by marriage, but Banū Hāshim was going through hard times. Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم was considered a yatīm, an orphan, because he had lost his father. Sayyidah Ḥalīmah رضي الله تعالى عنها relates that all of the babies were taken except for Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and she did not find a baby that day, and told her husband Abū Kabshah that she did not want to return to the desert without a baby, and wanted to take the orphan Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم. She took the baby, who was wrapped in a green blanket, from Āminah, and immediately felt the milk in her breasts begin to flow. Her donkey, which was the slowest on the way there, was the fastest and most energetic on the way back. Everything was aware of his presence صلى الله عليه وسلم. When they got back at night, Abū Kabshah milked the sheep and their udders were full. It was the first time they went to bed with full stomachs for a long time. He told Ḥalīmah that she had brought a blessed soul (نسمة مباركة) into their house. When they sent the animals to graze, they would come back with their udders full, despite the drought. The others in Banū Saʿd used to tell their shepherds to follow the animals of Abū Kabshah. Something little with barakah is much better and more satisfying than much without barakah.

46. Also, the noblest of humanity’s chest was split

When his age reached two years and two months.

47. It was split again at the outset of his prophetic mission

And before the Night Ascent, according to narrations transmitted.

All of the prophets had their hearts washed, in the same bowl according to some riwāyāt, and according to some it was Jewish Ark of the Covenant. The heart of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was washed three times as described in these lines. صلى الله عليه وسلم At this age he would be walking and possibly talking. He was playing with his milk-brothers and sisters. Two angels appeared and the other children fled; they split his chest, took his heart, and washed it in a bowl of ice with zamzam water. (One can see the similarities to open-heart surgery here.) Some Ṣaḥābah said that you could see the very fine line on his chest عليه الصلاة والسلام where it had been split.

48. How many blessings Thuwaybah gained 

After becoming a wet nurse; as did Barakah,

49. Who became his nanny. Then, after the death of his mother, 

He entered the guardianship of his grandfather and thereafter of his paternal uncle.

50. His mother died and left him when he was just four years old, 

And his grandfather when he was eight, so comprehend well.

51. He then traveled with his uncle to Syria,

After he had entered his thirteenth year.

52. His uncle sent him back, out of fear of the Yahūd,

Some being devious and disbelieving folk.

Thuwaybah was the freed slave of Abū Lahab mentioned earlier. A Muslim should know when all these events occurred in the life of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.

Sayyidunā Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم wanted to go on the trip with his uncle, even though Abū Ṭālib did not want to take him out of concern for him. There are many well-known stories about this trip. At Buṣrah on the border of Syria and Arabia they met Baḥīrah (or Buḥayrah in another riwāyah), a Nestorian monk. He knew that Sayyidunā Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم was going to be the prophet based on certain signs (the tree, the cloud that shaded him, etc). He invited the Qurayshī party to a banquet (which he had never done in the past, even though they passed by him often), and they left Sayyidunā Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم to watch the animals until Baḥīrah requested that he be brought too. He asked after his father and Abū Ṭālib said that he was (a proof that uncle and father are the same in Arabic[1]); Baḥīrah said that the father should be dead so Abū Ṭālib clarified that he was the uncle. Baḥīrah asked Sayyidunā Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم some questions and asked to see his back, and saw the seal of prophethood (khātam al-nabūwah). Baḥīrah told Abū Ṭālib not to take him into Palestine out of fear of the Jews there who might know who he was (it was a time of great animosity between Jews and Christians). The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم therefore went back and did not go past Buṣrah.

53. He later returned to Syria with Maysarah,

All the while in the bounty of the Merciful.

54. The angels shaded him during the trip,

From the worst of the heat at midday.

55. When he returned to Mecca at the outset

Of his twenty-sixth year, he entered into marriage,

56. With Lady Khadījah, after forty years

Of her life had passed by.

57. The best of women, all of them, 

She resided with him for twenty-

58. Four years, and all of his children he was granted 

From her, except for one, with certainty.

Maysarah was the servant of Sayyidah Khadījah رضي الله تعالى عنها when Sayyidunā Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم became her agent. Khadījah had never made as much money as on the trips where he was her agent, due to his barakah. Upon their return Maysarah told her stories from the trip, such as the clouds covering them, etc. Sayyidah Khadījah was also aware of some of these signs because of her cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal. She asked for his hand in marriage. She had been married twice before; one of her husbands had died and the other marriage had ended in a divorce. She was noted for her beauty. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم had previously tried to marry a woman but could not due to his financial situation. Sayyidah Khadījah was around forty years old; she may have been in her late thirties. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was twenty five or twenty six years old. He remained married to her until her death when she was in her sixties. His only child not from her was Ibrāhīm رضي الله عنه who was from Sayyidah Mārīyah al-Qibṭīyah رضي عنها.

59. When he was thirty-five years of age, he witnessed

The restoration of the Kaaba, and he himself placed the cornerstone

60. With his own blessed and pure hand.

May the Creator of the cosmos’ blessings be upon him.

The Quraysh rebuilt the Kaʿbah but did not have enough money to fund the project, because they had made a condition that only pure money be used (not from a prostitute or ribā, etc). Therefore, they built it smaller and differently than it had been previously. When you go up against the Kaʿbah today, or inside the ḥijr of Ismāʿīl, you are technically inside of the Kaʿbah (and must take that into account during ṭawāf). When they had finished building, they only had the ḥajr al-aswad left to complete it, and they started arguing along tribal lines over who should have the honor. They decided they would let the first person who walks in would decide for them. This person was Sayyidunā Muḥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and they all said that they were content with al-Amīn. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم had them put the stone in a blanket and all pick up the blanket together, which is from his amazing ḥikmah, and placed the stone with his own hands صلى الله عليه وسلم. (Sayyidunā ʿUmar رضي الله عنه famously said to the stone that it does not harm nor benefit and that he would not kiss it if the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم had not kissed it, and he was saying this from the point of view of ḥaqīqah (reality); Sayyidunā ʿAlī كرم الله وجهه responded to that by saying that it does indeed harm and benefit, and he was saying this from the point of view of the Sharīʿah—that means (asbāb) do indeed have effects in this world. The Black Stone is the right hand of God on the Earth according to a ḥadīth related by Imam Aḥmad (يمين الله في الأرض); so kissing it is a metaphorical kissing of God’s hand.)

Chapter Concerning the Beginning of His Prophetic Mission صلى الله عليه وسلم

61. Now we turn to the elucidation of the beginning of the Guiding Prophet’s mission,

Benedictions of the Creator of all the servants upon him.

62. The angel Gabriel arrived at the cave of Ḥirā’

After forty lunar years of the Prophet’s life had passed;

63. This was a Monday, in which the angel came with the surah, “The Clinging Clot”;

May God, the splitter of the dawn, bless the Prophet always.

64. He arose and began to call both men and jinn to

Understanding the Lord of the worlds’ essential Unity.

He began to have true, clear dreams (رؤية صالحة) even in his late thirties. At forty, he wanted to go up Jabal al-Nūr to Ghār al-Ḥirā’. This was actually a practice of his forefathers. Historically, one could see the Kaʿbah from that cave. He used to empty himself out from the shirk around him (تحنث) in the cave. During this period, at the age of forty, in Ramaḍān, Jibrīl عليه السلام came to him. Some of the people of ishārah said the squeezing of Jibrīl was the last (spiritual) emptying out or purifying to prepare him for his mission. (There are three stages on the path: first, takhlīyah تخلية, the emptying out of everything other than Allah تعالى; second, taḥlīyah تحلية, the adornment with the qualities that God desires for human beings; and tajlīyah تجلية, when the meanings begin to become revealed to the person.) The most popular opinion says that Sūrah al-ʿAlaq is the first sūrah to be revealed. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was in shock from seeing the angel, and almost went down the hill which is quite steep. He was in a state of trauma (and in this state, one should be wrapped up), but was present enough to tell Khadījah to wrap him up. He was concerned that it was a jinn or something not right, but Khadījah allayed his concerns. (It should be noted that this experience of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is consistent with the Law of Discernment for a divine experience in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian tradition.) Waraqah ibn Nawfal immediately recognizes that it was Nāmūs (Greek nomos law), i.e. Jibrīl, that came to Sayyidunā Mūsā عليه السلام. Waraqah ibn Nawfal رضي الله عنه is a Muslim according to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.

65. He was supported by God with miracles

That incapacitated humanity’s ability to enumerate them, 

66. Which were like rain in their benefit and copiousness; indeed, they were like the sun 

In its brilliance and height coupled with radiant beauty.

67. Despite all that, the evildoers laid down sanctions against him,

As the sound historical accounts have informed us.

68. He was capable of wreaking havoc upon them, 

Had he wished. Instead, he generously gave them respite

69. So that God might guide those He willed, 

And that their children might find salvation as well.

It was troubling to the elite of Makkah that he was calling them to tawḥīd since they did not expect him to have a big impact on the society, being an orphan and because of the state of Banū Hāshim.

Ka'bah


[1] This relates to the father of Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm عليه السلام who was a muwaḥḥid and not a mushrik. Āzār the idol-maker was his uncle. Also, Sayyidunā Ibrāhīm and Sayyidunā Ismāʿīl are referred to as Sayyidunā Yaʿqūb’s fathers, even though Ismāʿīl is really an uncle to him عليهم السلام.

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