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7. Muhammad as a youth and the trade journeys

Muhammad (pbuh) began to grow up in a steady family home with Abu Talib, his uncle. Muhammad tended sheep as a youngster and later when he was about 12 years old, he accompanied Abu Talib on a trade journey to Syria. In a place called Bushra a very interesting incident took place, which caused Abu Talib to return Muhammad to Makkah.

On their trade journey they met a monk by the name of Bahira. Bahira lived a simple life in a monastery. He had very simple provisions and lived a harsh life, surviving on the bare essentials of life. His diet was very simple and the clothes he wore were also coarse and well worn. He was looking outside and saw a caravan approaching. His residence were on the main caravan route and he regularly saw caravans passing by. They would be carrying different goods destined to be sold in the great markets of Syria.

He noticed that this caravan was different; there was something special about it. He decided to invite them to a meal and find out more. Bahira sent a message to the caravan that his hospitality was extended to all the members of the caravan. The caravan traders accepted the invitation and arrived at the monk’s place.

When they arrived, Bahira searched their faces looking for something. He said that I offered my hospitality to everyone did you leave anyone behind? They said that we left a young boy Muhammad to look after the camels. Bahira insisted that they send someone to get Muhammad and bring him to the entertainment. When Bahira saw the face of Muhammad he was delighted.

After the food, Bahira approached Abu Talib saying that Muhammad would be a great prophet one day. He said that when he had seen the caravan in the distance there was a cloud hanging over them, which was shading them from the great heat of the desert. When the caravan had stopped under a tree the cloud had also stopped above them.

Bahira said that he had seen the stones and the trees prostrating to Muhammad as Muhammad had been walking by. They only do this for a prophet of Allah. He looked at the Muhammad's back and noticed the seal of the prophet, which was an oval shape protruding just below Muhammad's shoulder blades. He said that this was one of the signs of a great prophet to come that was taught to them in their books.

Bahira said "This is the master of all humans, Allah will send him with a message which would be a mercy to all Humans". Bahira advised that Muhammad should be taken back to Makkah at once, if the Jews found out about Muhammad they would try to kill him. Abu Talib took the advice of this wise old monk and sent Muhammad back with some of the guides.

This was the last trade journey Abu Talib went on. He stayed and worked in Makkah and looked after his children. They would go to the markets and see the many sights and hear the poets. Muhammad did not go on any trade journeys for a while, instead he tended sheep on the outskirts of Makkah. This gave Muhammad time to think about the world around him and look into the beautiful sky night. He looked at the wonderful creation around him, with its complexity and beauty.

During the Prophets early life, when he was 15 years old, there was a war called the Fijar war, or the Sacrilegious war. The reason that it was called the Sacrilegious war was because it was fought in the holy months. In these months, all fighting was prohibited and was meant to be a time of peace. This war lasted for a number of years and a lot of human life was lost.

Muhammad himself did not fight in the war but collected arrows for his uncles in one of the battles. After the war had finished, the main tribes of Arabia got together to make a pact between them. This confederacy was designed to protect the weak and the destitute also bringing more justice to the Makkan society.

When the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was 20 years old he was getting many offers, from different people, to take trade caravans to different parts of the Arabian Peninsula. They wanted Muhammad to trade for them with the profit being shared between the two parties. There was one person who was unable to travel so Muhammad (PBUH) decided to lead the trade caravan for him.

In this trip Muhammad would get a share in the profit and in this case proved to be very good. This made him very sought after by other traders. There was many offers of marriage from different people but financially Muhammad was not in a position to accept. However after this trip he was in a better position to get married.

Muhammad still stayed in the household of Abu Talib. Muhammad had become very close with the family of Abu Talib who had shown great generosity and kindness to Muhammad in the past. Abu Talib had three sons: Jaffar who was four years old, Aqil who was thirteen and Talib who was similar in age to Muhammad.

One of the richer merchants was Khadija, a widow who was very successful in trade. She was not able to do trade herself so she hired men to do her bidding on her behalf. The reputation of Muhammad was such that he was given the title of Al-Amin (the trust worthy - the honest, the truthful). Khadija became interested in hiring Muhammad for a trade Journey.

Khadija soon sent word to Muhammad asking him if he would take a trade caravan to Syria. She would pay him a high fee, which was double that of which she had paid any other person. She also gave Muhammad the services of a young lad by the name of Maysarah who would look after him on the journey.

When Muhammad reached Basra, he was shading under a tree when a Monk saw him by the name of Nestor. Nestor asked Maysarah about the person sitting under the tree; Maysarah replied that it was Muhammad. Nestor said, that person is no other than a messenger of Allah.

Maysarah soon realised that he was in the company of a very special person. He said that he noticed that the heat was extreme when he saw a clear vision of two angels shading Muhammad from the heat of the day.

Muhammad later returned to Makkah and told Khadija about the journey. He told her about the stuff they had sold and about the goods they had bought in Syria. Khadija was able to sells these new goods for double the money Muhammad had paid for in Syria. She was very happy and pleased with Muhammad and his dealings on this trip.

Khadija was very pleased with Muhammad but was more pleased with his integrity, honesty and character. She now had more on her mind than just hiring him for trade journeys. She had many thoughts and ideas going through her mind but how would she approach Muhammad? What did she want from Muhammad? More next time inshallah.