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Journey to Damascus and the Monk's Prediction

Abd al-Mu§§alib’s Demise and Ab£-±¡lib's Guardianship

When Mu¦ammad (¥) was eight years old, `Abd al-Mu§§alib died and Ab£-±¡lib, his full uncle, resumed his guardianship.[1] From then on, Ab£-±¡lib, a generous and respectful dignitary, became Mu¦ammad's guardian[2] although he was extremely poor.[3] He was a man of high self-esteem among Quraysh.[4] He was fond of THE Holy Prophet Mu¦ammad (¥) whom he loved more than his children.[5]

Ab£-±¡lib's wife, F¡§imah bint Asad, had a significant role in the education of Mu¦ammad (¥). She did her best in this regard. She loved him like a genuine mother and preferred him to her own children. Never did Mu¦ammad (¥) forget her care; he always referred to her as his genuine and natural mother.[6]

Journey to Damascus and the Monk's Prediction

On his journey to Damascus for trade, Ab£-±¡lib accompanied Mu¦ammad with him according to his request while he was 8, 9, 12 or 13 years of age, according to different documents. When the caravan reached Bu¥r,[7] they rested next to a hermitage in which there was a monk, called Ba¦¢r¡, who was a well-known Christian priest. Among the crowd, the monk paid a special attention to Mu¦ammad in whom he could see some signs of the expected Prophet. Talking with Mu¦ammad (¥) for a short time and asking him some questions, the monk predicted his prophethood and advised Ab£-±¡lib to take good care of and protect him against the Jews' danger molestations.[8] However, the following points should be taken into consideration concerning this event:

(1) This event is referred to in some historical records briefly; while in others, it is dealt with in more details. The essence of the event is not doubtful, because in several verses of the Holy Qur'¡n, the predictions of previous Prophets about Prophet Mu¦ammad have been stated.[9]

(2) The signs that the religious scholars had about Mu¦ammad (¥) were of two kinds: indicative of his personal life and body features (for instance, his orphanage, facial features and his name) and others related to his family background (such as his being an Arab and his marriage).One of the most distinguished signs on his body was a speckle (birthmark) between his shoulders, which is called the Prophet's speckle or the Prophet’s seal.[10]

(3) Ba¦¢r¡'s prediction was only new to the people of the caravan because Ab£-±¡lib and Mu¦ammad's other close relatives had already been aware of his bright future.[11]

[1] Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, pp. 189; al-Majlis¢, op cit, pp. 406; ±abar¢, op cit, 2:194.

[2] T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢, pp. 1; Ibn Sa`d, op cit, 1:119; al-Majlis¢, op cit, pp. 407; al-Suhayl¢, al-Raw¤ al-Anif 1:193.

[3] T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢ 2:11; Jaw¡d `Al¢, al-Mufa¥¥al 4:82.

[4] Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, Shar¦ Nahj al-Bal¡ghah 15:219.

[5] Ibn Sa`d, op cit, 1:119; Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, op cit, 1:36; al-Majlis¢, op cit, pp. 407; `Abd al-Q¡dir Badr¡n, Tahdh¢b T¡r¢kh Dimashq 1:285.

[6] T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢ 2:11; Ibn Ab¢’l-°ad¢d, op cit, 1:14; U¥£l al-K¡f¢ 1:453.

[7] A village in °awr¡n, a province of Damascus. See Y¡q£t al-°amaw¢, Mu`jam al-Buld¡n 1:441.

[8] This issue is brought up by the following Muslim historians and narrators: Ibn Hush¡m, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:191-193; ±abar¢, T¡r¢kh al-Umam wa’l-Mul£k 2:195; Sunan al-Tirmidh¢ 5:90, h. 2620; Ibn Is¦¡q, al-Siyar wa’l-Magh¡z¢, pp. 73; Ibn Sa`d, Al-±abaq¡t al-Kubr¡ 1:121; Mas`£d¢, Mur£j al-Dhahab 2:286; ¯ad£q, Kam¡l al-D¢n 1:182-186; al-Bul¡dhar¢, Ans¡b al-Ashr¡f 1:96; al-Bayhaq¢, Dal¡'il al-Nubuwwah 1:195; ±abars¢, I`l¡m al-War¡, pp. 17-18; Ibn Shahr¡sh£b, Man¡qib 1:15; `Abd al-Q¡dir Badr¡n, Tahdh¢b T¡r¢kh Dimashq 1:270, 354; Ibn Kath¢r, S¢rat al-Nab¢ 1:243-249, al-Bid¡yah wa’l-Nih¡yah 2:229-230; al-S¢rah al-°alabiyyah 1:141; al-Majlis¢, Bi¦¡r al-Anw¡r 15:409.

[9] Qur’¡n 2:41, 42, 89, 146; 7:157; 6: 20; 61: 6.

[10] Ibn Hush¡m, op cit, 1:193; al-Bayhaq¢, op cit, pp. 195; Sunan al-Tirmidh¢ 5:590; `Abd al-Q¡dir Badr¡n, Tahdh¢b T¡r¢kh Dimashq 1:278; Ibn Kath¢r, al-S¢rah al-Nabawiyyah 1:245; ¯a¢¦ al-Bukh¡r¢ 5:28.

[11] T¡r¢kh al-Ya`q£b¢ 2:11; al-Bul¡dhar¢, Ans¡b al-Ashr¡f 1:81; U¥£l al-K¡f¢ 1:447.

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