We know from our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that he was a shepherd at some time in his life. Our Prophet said that every prophet tended sheep. Being a shepherd helped to prepare the prophets for the great task of caring for and guiding people. By the time Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was 25 years old, he was known in Makkah by the name of ”al-Amin” (The trustworthy), because of his good traits.
Abu Talib was suffering from being quite poor. Hence, when an opportunity came for his nephew to make some money through trade, Abu Talib encouraged him to pursue it even though he feared for his safety. Trading was a point of pride for the people of Quraysh. Abu Talib said, ”O nephew, l am a man with no money. We had bad years and we have no money or trade. The caravan of your people is about to leave to the Sham area. Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid is hiring men from your people to trade for her. If you go to her and let her know you are available she will prefer you over others because of what she has heard about your integrity. I dislike your going to the Sham area and l fear for your safety from the Jews.”
The Messenger of God told his uncle that Khadijah might send after him. Abu Talib said, ”I worry that she may hire someone else.”
Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid was a trading woman with a high status. She became wealthy from her business of sending her goods to ash-Sham to sell and buy other goods to bring back to Makkah to sell. She used to hire men, give them money to invest, and share the profits with them. Khadijah knew of the dialogue between Muhammad ﷺ and his uncle. She already knew of the truthfulness, trustworthiness, and good manners of the Prophet. She said, ”I did not know that he was interested in this.”
She sent after him. She said to him, ”I received the news about your truthfulness, trustworthiness, and good manners. I will pay you double what l pay any other man of your people.” The Prophet agreed and told his uncle. Abu Talib said, ”This is sustenance that God gave to you.”
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ set out with Khadijah’s servant Maysarah until they reached the market of Busra in the Sham area. The uncle of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ told those involved to take care of Muhammad ﷺ . Muhammad, peace be upon him, went under the shade of a tree close to the hut of a monk who knew Maysarah. The monk who was called Nastura asked, ”Who is this under the tree?”
Maysarah told him, ”A man from Quraysh of Makkah.”
The monk told him that the one under that tree is a Prophet. Then he asked Maysarah, ”Does he have some redness in his eyes?”
Maysarah said, ”Yes, it never leaves him.”
The monk said, ”He is the last Prophet. I wish l would be alive when he is ordered to leave his city.”
Nastura knew this sign from the teachings of Prophet Jesus عليه السلام. Maysarah understood the words of Nastura. In the market of Busra, the Messenger of God sold his goods and bought goods. He had a dispute between him and a man. The man swore by al-Lat and al-^Uzza, two idols. The Messenger of God said, ”I never swear by them.”
The man said, ”This is true.”
Then he told Maysarah privately, ”This is a Prophet: our clergy find his description in their books.”
Maysarah understood these words. Then everyone in the caravan left, heading back to Makkah.
During their trip, Maysarah noticed that a cloud was always above the Prophet ﷺ
shading him from the sun. Maysarah loved the Messenger of God and accompanied him as if he was the Messenger’s slave. They returned to Makkah and arrived at noon time. Khadijah was with some women and saw him riding in with a cloud shading him. She showed that to her friends who were surprised. The Messenger of God told her about the profits that they had made and she was happy. Then Maysarah told her about the monk, the man in the marketplace, and how Muhammad ﷺ was shaded. The Messenger of God gave Khadijah her goods. She profited twice as much as usual and she paid him twice as much as she had mentioned earlier. She was a very honourable and intelligent woman of Quraysh. Every man desired to marry her if he could. One of Lady Khadijah’s friends gave our Prophet a hint that Lady Khadijah would accept a marriage proposal from him.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ went to Lady Khadijah’s uncle with his uncle Hamzah and proposed to her. The Prophet was twenty-five and she was forty. Although they were not of the same age, they loved each other dearly and had a very happy marriage. After his marriage to Lady Khadijah, the young man Muhammad ﷺ had comfort that was new to him. Although Khadijah was at an age when many women stop having children, she gave birth to six children with her husband. The first boy, named al-Qasim, died very young. This was one of the many hardships that Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and Lady Khadijah bore with beautiful patience. They had four daughters: Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum, and Fatimah. All of these children were born before Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, received the Revelation. It is said that their last child was a boy named ^Abdullah, who was born after our Prophet received the Revelation when Lady Khadijah, may God raise her exalted rank, was past the age of fifty-five.
^Abdullah was also called at-Tayyib and at-Tahir. This son also died young which made some evil people mock our Prophet that he had no sons. They claimed that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم would be forgotten due to having no sons to carry his name.
Before receiving the Revelation, the Prophet gave two of his daughters in marriage. At the time when our Prophet received the Revelation, Fatimah, was still young and unmarried living at home with her beloved parents. Also, in the household were ^Aliyy, the son of Abu Talib, Zayd ibn Harithah, and Barakah. All of these people became great Muslims and dear Companions of our beloved Prophet ﷺ .
All of these Companions have interesting stories. Lady Fatimah, may God bless her greatly, became the best woman of her time. She was the only daughter of our Prophet to outlive him: she died six months after his death. Fatimah was a woman of great faith. As a young girl she saw her father hurt so much by the blasphemers. She helped her blessed father in her own way and was very dear to him. Fatimah grew up to give birth to the beloved grandsons of our Prophet through her marriage with her second paternal cousin, ^Aliyy ibn Abi Talib.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ wanted to help his uncle, Abu Talib, who had helped him when he was a young orphan. He offered to care for ^ Aliyy to help ease Abu Talib with his financial responsibilities. Al-^Abbas, the brother of Abu Talib took in his brother’s other son Ja^far. Abu Talib kept his son ^Aqil with him. Hence, ^Aliyy had the great blessing of being raised by the best of creation!
^Aliyy was only ten years old when the Revelation came to his cousin, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Zayd ibn Harithah was a slave of Lady Khadijah. She gave him to our Prophet who later set him free. Although Zayd became free, he loved Muhammad ﷺ so much that he wanted to stay living with him. Even when the true father of Zayd found that his son was alive, Zayd preferred to live with Muhammad ﷺ , rather than go with his real father. Seeing that, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ adopted Zayd. He was thus called Zayd ibn Muhammad (Zayd, the son of Muhammad) until God made adoption prohibited. He then was again called ”Zayd ibn Harithah.”
Barakah was, as was said earlier, the slave of our Prophet’s father. She was a woman from east Africa. Our Prophet ﷺ set her free. She continued to stay with the Prophet’s household and enjoyed the great blessing of seeing the last Prophet ﷺ , grow up and become the greatest teacher of mankind. She continued to live close to the Prophet ﷺ , even after the extent that he endowed an extraordinary event on her. When the hijrah (the immigration from Makkah to Al Madinah) became an obligation on the Muslims, Barakah had to make that trip from Makkah to al Madinah by herself. En-route to al Madinah, she had no water left; she became very thirsty. A short time later, she heard the flapping of wings and saw a pitcher of water. Barakah drank from that water after which she never felt thirsty again. She married Zayd ibn Harithah and they had a son, Usamah, who was also very dear to our Prophet, peace be upon him.