The Birth of the Prophet Muhammad:
Muhammad, son of `Abdullah, was born in Mecca, in the year of Elephant Event,* on Monday morning, the 12th Rabi` Al-Awwal, 570 A.D.1 `Abdullah means slave of God. His mother was ‘Aminah, daughter of Wahab the chief of his tribe Banu Zahrah. ‘Aminah was the noblest woman in Quraysh. `Aminah in Arabic refers to peace and security.2 During her pregnancy with Prophet Muhammad, she saw and felt many blessings and extraordinary incidents and miraculous happenings that assured her the uniqueness of her expected child.3
`Abdullah, father of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be up on him), died before his birth. After his birth, he was named Muhammad, which is an Arabic word that means the highly praised one. As well as, amongst his names was Ahmad, which is a superlative form of the Arabic root word ‘Hamd’ (praise). It also means “the highly praised one”.4
On the seventh day of his birth, a feast of `Aqiqah was held in his home by his grandfather and dignitaries of Quraysh were invited on this auspicious occasion. When they asked `Abdul Muttalib: “What have you named him?” He answered: “Muhammad”.5
Many miraculous events accompanied the birth of the Prophet Muhammad and his childhood as was mentioned by most of the historians. In the night therein Prophet Muhammad was conceived by his mother, all the idols of Mecca were thrown down on the ground. And when Prophet Muhammad was born the palace of Kisra (King of Persia) trembled and its fourteen chandeliers fell down. The flames of the fire-worshippers were extinguished for the first time, though that fire had been burning for more than a thousand years.6
In fact, those miraculous events were indications and signs that denoted that humanity was going to see unlimited mercy of Allah through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his sublime message.
It was a custom among the rich and noble families of Quraysh to send their infants to the Bedouin tribes whose women visited Mecca twice a year to get infants to foster them and suckle them on their breasts. A few days after the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, according to this custom he was given to Halimah Al-Sa`diyah. As soon as Halimah took the Prophet Muhammad, the blessings started coming down on her and her family, even her neighbors and relatives were blessed by the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad. Her donkey that she was returning on became more energetic and lively while it was weak and tired when she rode it to Mecca. When she reached her tent the she-camels, goats and sheep became full of milk, the days of drought and famine came to end and the rain was profuse everywhere and the arid land turned into green lawns. Not only this but the entire life of Halimah was changed, her poverty was changed into a fortune, her sorrow was transformed into a pleasure.6
Thus she fostered him for a few years then she brought him back to Mecca, but as an epidemic was spreading in the city of Mecca at that time, Prophet Muhammad was sent back to the desert where he lived for about six years.7
It was the practice of the nobles of Mecca to get their babies fostered in the tribes of desert so that their child’s physical structure could grow sounder. And they would able to learn the purest and most classical Arabic language, since they avoided the multi-cultural conditions of Mecca, which was usually crowded with different tribes, especially during the season of pilgrimage. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself told his companions: “I am the most perfect Arab of you all. I am of Quraysh, and I was suckled and brought up among the tribe of Banu Sa`d ibn Bakr.”8
When Prophet Muhammad was six years old, his mother ‘Amnah took him to Al-Madinah where she lived for about a month. On her way back to Mecca on reaching a village by the name of Al-Abwa’, she breathed her last and was buried there.9
`Abdul Muttalib now took the young orphan in his charge and always kept Muhammad with him. But `Abdul Muttalib also died when Prophet Muhammad was about eight years old.10
Muhammad felt his grandfather `Abdul Muttalib’s death grievously. Before his death, `Abdul Muttalib left Muhammad to the care of his son, Muhammad’s uncle, Abu Talib. `Abdul Muttalib had ten sons. Abu Talib was full brother of `Abdullah, father of Prophet Muhammad and loved Prophet Muhammad as he loved his own children. Later, when Prophet Muhammad was persecuted by the people of Mecca, this good and kindly uncle often served as a shield to his beloved nephew who had been subjected to different types of aggressions by his opponents.
At about the age of 10 or 12, Prophet Muhammad herded goats for some time. Unlike India, this was not held in disrepute by the Arabs, and was generally followed by the noble and rich families of Quraysh.
The scholars say that the wisdom behind herding the sheep and goat before the prophecy is to make the Prophets patient with their nation, because herding sheep needs patience and tolerance. Furthermore, it teaches how to save the goats and sheep from beasts. Thus they were prepared for their great mission of saving their nation from destruction.11
His Journey to Syria:
At the age of 12, Prophet Muhammad accompanied his uncle Abu Talib on the mercantile expedition to Syria. It was on this journey that he met the Christian Monk Bahira, who, on seeing Prophet Muhammad, said that he recognized in that young boy the future Prophet whose advent had been prophesied by the prophets that had preceded him.12
On several occasions, he had accompanied his uncle to Syria on business; he had gained reputation for honesty and fair dealing. He had kept his accounts clear, fulfilled his promises and had come to be known as a trustworthy, truthful and faithful person. People readily trusted their wares to his care and he undertook the responsibly on the usual consideration of sharing the profits.13
He had now attained the age of 25 and had taken his share in the public affairs of his time and had established creditable business relations. His fame for honesty and trustworthiness attracted the notice of a rich widow of Mecca named Khadijah. She was extremely rich and was known for her gentle nature and spotless character. She was aged 40 and had two sons and a daughter from her previous husband. Khadijah invited Prophet Muhammad to take her merchandise to Syria promising to pay him twice as much as she paid to anyone else. He accepted the terms. Three months after his return from this journey, she expressed that she wished to marry him. Prophet Muhammad gave his consent and the marriage was duly celebrated in the presence of his uncle and the elders of his family.
It is noteworthy that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never offered any worship to any idol, nor did he ever join any rites pertaining to the worship of any idol, or in any celebrations held in honor of any deity. He refused to partake of feasts of sacrifices offered to the idols. Indeed Allah had meant him for some higher purposes. The future Prophet of Islam could not step down below his level, and he who later divulged the profound secrets of Godhead, established true principles of an eternal religion, taught the simple ways of a beautiful morality, stood high above the crowd of men who lived the life of beasts.14
When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was in his forty, he often retired to a cave called Hira’, about three miles distant from Mecca, where he used to spend months in contemplation and prayer. Thus he (peace be upon him) was ready to bear the full weight of the message which had to be revealed to the world through him. Till at last, one fine morning, he met an angel who told him to “Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists).” (Al-`Alaq 96:1)
[*] The year wherein the Abyssinian king had attacked Ka`bah, however, the Ka`bah remained unharmed and the attackers were destroyed by Allah Almighty.
 Abul-Hasan An-Nadwi, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah, Volume1, 12th ed. (Damascus; Dar Ibn Kathirm, 1425 A.H), p. 157.
 Some Hindu scriptures had predicted the manifestation of a prophet namely ‘Kalki Avtar’ the last Messenger of Allah. In the ‘sacred’ book of Hindus the father’s name of ‘Kalki Avtar’ is mentioned as ‘Vishnu Bhagat’ and his mother’s name as ‘Somanib’, in Sanskrit, ‘Vishnu’ stands for Allah (Glory be to Him) and the literal meaning of ‘Bhagat’ is slave. ‘Vishnu Bhagat’ therefore, in the Arabic language will mean Allah’s slave or `Abdullah. While ‘Somanib’ in Sanskrit means peace and tranquility which in Arabic is denoted by the word ‘Aminah the mother of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). (See. Q.S. Khan, Kalki Avtar and Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, Urdu translation by Sayyid Anisuddin, Mumbai: Harmony and Welfare Publication, p. 4.
 The Vedas have prophesied about the coming of a sage whose name will be Narashangsa that indicates a person whose very name means ‘The Praised’. The Arabic word Muhammad means ‘The Praised’. (See. Q.S. Khan, Muhammad Sahab and Holy Narashansa, Mumbai: Harmony and Welfare Publication, p. 1.
 Ibn Kathir, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah, edited by Mustafa `Abdul Wahid, Volume 1 (Beirut: Dar al-Ma`arifah, 1976) p. 210.
 Ibid., p. 227.
 Abul-Hasan An-Nadwi, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah, Volume 1, 12th ed. (Damascus: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1425), p. 158.
 Shafi Ahmad, Prophet Muhammad (India: G.A. Natesan and Co. Madras) p. 10.
 Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah, ed. Mustafa As-Saqa, volume 1, (Cairo: Mustafa Albabi Al-Halabi, 1955), p. 167
 Ibn Kathir, As-Sirah An-Nabawiah, p. 241.
 Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar, Fath al–Bari, (Dar Ar-Rayyan, 1986) p. 516.
 Shafi Ahmad, Prophet Muhammad, p. 10.