It was the custom of the city-dwelling Arabs to send their infants away from the diseases and polluted air of the city to the outskirts. They believed that the children raised in villages were strong and healthy. Being away from the city that witnesses regular visitors from foreign countries, it was believed that the children will speak the pure language free from dialects and accents. Every season, Bedouin women will come and collect infants from the rich Arabs in hopes of pay and food provisions. Prophet’s grandfather, Abd al-Mutalib was in search of a woman who would nurse baby Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and raise him to be a healthy and strong boy.
While today we send our children to elite schools and west, the rich Arabs would send their children to the villages away from the shallow lifestyle of the city. It has been seen many times children studying in the elite schools and west lose their moral character at an early age. Their language, their conduct, their dressing differs from that of a righteous Muslims. These children grow up distant from their roots and eventually break away from their families.
The Arabs would send their infants away so that they could acquire better communication skills. It teaches us that a child’s language skills begin to develop from infancy. Therefore parents must be extra vigilant of how they speak with their babies. Instead of baby talk, help them develop strong communication skills.
According to WebMd: All through the first year, you can do a lot to encourage your baby’s communication skills. And it’s easy. All you need to do is smile, talk, and read to your baby. Why focus on communicating with your baby? Because early speech and language are associated with success in developing reading, writing, and interpersonal skills, both later in childhood and later in life.
Infancy is a great opportunity for the parents to teach their children any language. Want them to learn Arabic but don’t know the language yourself? Play a CD of Saheeh Bukhari in Arabic near them. Even if you do not understand it, the baby will pick the language. Look for similar videos on YouTube. Teach them your mother tongue; many Pakistani children feel embarrassed to speak correct Urdu; more attention is paid on English while the local language is treated as an orphan. One should know both their mother tongue and the universal language to communicate effectively. Encourage them to learn the regional languages. For example, if you live in the Sindh province (Pakistan), do your children know the Sindhi language? What if you live in Punjab, do they know how to speak Punjabi? Learning more than one language strengthens our brain cells and improves our speech.
Be cautious of what you read to your children. Goodword Books has several Islamic books for children. Buy a pack of Stories of the Prophets and read to them. For book reviews of Islamic children literature check this blog.
Articulation is an art that only a few people know. It is what distinguishes us from other creations. Unable to express ourselves clearly leads to weak social connections and hampers our learning. No matter what your age, you can always improve your communication skills. Purdue OWL is an excellent website for those interested in improving their writing skills. If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given you the ability to read, speak, and write use it in the most excellent way. We owe it to our younger generation to teach them only that which is the best.
Reading, writing, and speaking comes with practice; do not expect to have excellent communication skills overnight. Put in the effort and you will see the results.
Giving an account of the incident Lady Haleema said, “I arrived at Makkah along with other women from Banu Sa’ad looking for babies to suckle. It was a year of famine. I arrived on a dark grey jennet worn out from riding. With us, I had a boy of our own and an old camel which, I swear, didn’t give a drop of milk. That entire night, we could not sleep at all. There was no milk in my breast or in our camel to feed my boy with. We did, however, have hopes of rain and relief. So on, I went on that old jennet of mine which lagged behind the caravan because of its weakness and its thirst, much to their annoyance.
So, we arrived in Makkah and, I swear, I don’t know of any one woman who was not offered the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). However, everyone refused him when they were informed that he was an orphan. We said, ‘What good could his mother do for us? What we want is some help from the boy’s father; what could his mother do for us?’ Every single one of my women companions found a baby to nurse except me.
Having found no one except him and being assembled to leave, I said to my husband, ‘By Allah, I hate to go back among my companions without having a baby to nurse. I’ll take the orphan child.’”
Her husband, Harith replied that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala might bless them through the orphan child.
The Blessedness on the Family of Haleema
And so it happened! Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala blessed the family for taking an orphan child under their care.
Lady Haleema said, “No sooner had I taken him and brought him back to my caravan that my breast welcomed him, giving him all the milk he wanted. He drank till he was satisfied and his foster brother (Haleema’s son) drank his fill too. My husband then went over to the old camel of ours and to his surprise, she was full. He milked her and we both drank till we were satisfied. We then spent a fine night together.”
The next morning Harith commented that perhaps they have taken a blessed boy. He invoked Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for further blessings and prepared to return to his hometown.
On the return trip, the same jennet that lagged behind was now heading the caravan. It was going so fast that no other donkey could keep up with its pace. The caravan members wondered if this was same donkey that Haleema and her family had brought with them to Makkah.
This was the year of famine, but when Haleema and her husband would send their goats out for grazing they would return with filled udders. They would drink to their fill though no other person around them had even a drop of milk. The other shepherds would follow the goats of Haleema and Harith, but their goats never gave any milk. Haleema said, “Allah continued to bless us, and we recognized it.”
The family lived a blessed life until Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam turned two and it was the end of term for suckling. Baby Muhammad was now a sturdy and healthy little boy.
(The names of the Prophet’s foster siblings were: ‘Abdullah, Unaysa and Shayma.)
Baby Muhammad at the Age of Two
Haleema would bi-annually take baby Muhammad (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to Makkah to meet his mother and family. Now that the suckling term was over, it was time to return him. However, witnessing the miraculous blessings of rearing baby Muhammad (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), Haleema did not want to give up the child. She wanted the child to remain with her for a little while more, so that they could reap further rewards.
She requested Lady Aminah, the mother of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stating that the contaminated air of Makkah might harm the bay. Aminah agreed and permitted Haleema to keep the baby for another two years. Imagine this was a new mother who lost her husband before the birth of their first child and just for the sake of her child’s well-being keeps him away from herself.
While today new mothers want to visit their parents’ place every other day, Lady Aminah lived without her baby for two years and would meet him after every six months. This sacrifice was only for the sake of her child’s excellent upbringing. She did not want her child to be disturbed by changing his place of residence every other week.
Dr. Farhat Hashmi recalls her time when she had to leave her daughters with her parents for her Ph.D degree. She was raised in a home where her father encouraged her to become a female scholar. He had noticed that our society has many male scholars but there is a dearth of women scholars. We have limited the women to rearing children and cooking dishes. He motivated her to not waste her talent and thank Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala by pursuing what she was good at. When she was leaving for the U.K. she feared her children’s upbringing. Her father assured her that he will raise his granddaughters with the same love and tarbiyah as he raised his own. Dr. Farhat Hashmi recalls had her father not said those words she might have never pursued her Islamic education. She credits her parents for the excellent upbringing of her children.
As mothers, it is our responsibility to raise our children. If you leave your children with the maid or a stranger then be prepared for turbulence in the future. You have no idea what your maid, or babysitter will teach your child; what kind of language they will use, and what they will watch on the television and the Internet. A mother was made to be free from financial obligations so that she could commit to her children for at least the first seven years of their lives. If the mother leaves her children to pursue her ambitions, she must ensure that the person she leaves her children with is “known” and a person of high moral character.
Also , women should not unnecessarily treat their parents, siblings or in-laws as a volunteer babysitter. Ensure their availability and willingness before dropping off your children with them.
Haleema returned home with the blessed little orphan hoping for the favors of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to continue.