THE ORPHAN IN OUR MIDST
Traditions delightfully relate how Hadrat Haleemah Radiyallaahu Anhaa and the whole of her household were favoured by successive strokes of good fortune while the baby Muhammad Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam lived under her care.
Before this, hard times had fallen on Hadrat Haleemah Radiyallaahu Anha and her family and she needed to do something to change the situation. At that time it was customary for the women of her village to go out into the cities and seek infants to foster with the hope of earning handsomely. Of course for this it was crucial that only infants from wealthy families were chosen. This was her last resort in seeking a turn around to her poverty stricken situation. Hadrat Haleemah Radiyallaahu Anha along with her husband set out from her village in the company of some women of her clan in quest of children to suckle. She herself narrates her experience:
“It was a year of drought and famine and we had nothing to eat. I rode on a brown she-ass. We also had with us an old she-camel. By Allah we could not get even a drop of milk from her because of her old age. Our nights were turned into days as we could not have a wink of sleep for our child kept crying on account of the pangs of hunger gnawing him. There was not enough milk in my breast and even the she-camel had nothing to feed him. We used to constantly pray for rain and immediate relief but to no real avail. At length we reached Makkatul Mukarramaah looking for children to suckle. Amongst the children available was the Messenger of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam. Many women on hearing that this child was an orphan did not even give a second thought before turning him down. After all, what monetary gain would there be there from fostering an orphan child? We had fixed our eyes on the rewards that we would get from the child's father considering our plight. An orphan! What are his grandfather and mother likely to do? Wouldn’t taking him just mean worsening our situation? So we spurned him because of that. Every woman who came with me got a suckling apart from myself. I still had not found a child to take back home. When the time came for us to depart for the village, I said to my husband: "By Allah, I do not like to go back along with the other women without any baby. I should go to that orphan and I must take him." He said, "There is no harm in doing so and perhaps Allah might bless us through him." So I went and took him because there was simply no other alternative left for me but to take him. When I lifted him in my arms and returned to my place I put him on my breast and to my great surprise, I found enough milk in it. He drank to his heart's content, and so did his foster brother and then both of them went to sleep although my baby had not been able to sleep the previous night. My husband then went to the she-camel to milk it and, to his astonishment, he found plenty of milk in it. He milked it and we drank to our fill, and enjoyed a sound sleep during the night. The next morning, my husband said: "By Allah Haleemah, you must understand that you have indeed been able to get a blessed child." And I replied: "By the grace of Allah, I hope so."
The tradition is explicit on the point that Hadrat Haleemah Radiyallaahu Anha’s return journey and her subsequent life, as long as the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam stayed with her, was encircled with a halo of good fortune. The donkey that she rode when she came to Makkatul Mukarramah was lean and almost floundered; no sooner than she had taken the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam in her care, it recovered so much speed, much to the amazement of her fellow travellers, that it left them far behind. By the time they reached the encampments in the country of the clan of Sa'd, they found the scales of fortune turned in their favour. The barren land sprouted forth luxuriant grass and beasts came back to them satisfied and full of milk. The Messenger of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam stayed with Hadrat Haleemah Radiyallaahu Anha for two years until he was weaned. Hadrat Haleemah Radiyallaahu Anha further narrates:
“We then took him back to his mother requesting her earnestly to have him stay with us so that we could benefit by the good fortune and blessings he had brought us. We persisted in our request which was initially not acceded to. We then substantiated this, by our anxiety and concern over the child catching a certain infection peculiar to Makkatul Mukarramaah at that time. At last, we were granted our wish and the Messenger of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam stayed with us until he was four or five years of age. Once he reached the age it was time for him to return to his mother. We were deeply saddened by his departure for he had turned our lives around from poverty to prosperity but we had no other option.
Today swept and swayed by the tides of disbelief, materialism, immorality and so many other ‘isms’ the Deen of Allah Ta’ala is fast becoming an orphan. No one really cares about looking after and preserving it anymore for they see no real benefit in doing so. Wealth, power, honour and dignity, even though it is fleeting and superficial, is best gotten from the glitz and glamour of the world. Islam cannot offer this, is the wide perception sadly even by many a Muslim.
The experience of Hadrat Haleemah Radiyallaahu Anhu should serve as sufficient proof of the power of Deen.
We may not have the physical Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam in our lives anymore but his legacy and teachings still remain with us. Living his life and legacy has the same power of bringing fortune to our lives again and driving away ill fortune just like how it did to the life of Bibi Haleemah Radiyallaahu Anhaa. This fact has been proven time and time over again.
And just like Hadrat Haleemah Radiyallaahu Anha who did not see gain in taking care of an orphan child but was pleasantly surprised we too can experience the same when we take in the life and teachings of our beloved Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam in our ‘care’- the surprise awaits us too!