Halimah - The Wet Nurse
Adapted from: Mahjubah, February 1987 pg.11

In the history of Islam, many women have made themselves known in the history books due to their courage, valor and inspiring faith. Some of them have earned renown because of their brave deeds and exemplary Islamic behavior. However some have had honour bestowed upon them solely through the grace of Almighty Allah, who saw fit to single them out with a divine reward.

One such personality was Halimah, a great lady from the respectable Arab tribe of Bani Sadi. Halimah was divinely chosen from among many pure and honorable women to be the wet nurse of the seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (SAW). The noble mother of Muhammad died shortly after the birth of the Prophet, which left him a young infant, without the benefits of being suckled and nursed by a mother. Muhammad's father at that time was on a journey and so he was left in the custody of his grandfather Abdul Mutaleb. His grandfather was searching Makkah to find a mother to nurse the young hungry infant.

Divine destiny intervened at that time since Halimah and a group of other women were travelling to Makkah. A very severe famine and drought in the region of the Bani Sa'di had forced the women, all mothers with nursing infants, to travel to Makkah seeking jobs as wet nurses. Halimah herself related the amazing story of how she came to be chosen as the wet nurse to feed the infant who was to become the most noble Messenger of Allah, seal of the Prophets.

We were travelling towards Makkah on donkeys and camels hoping to find jobs nursing suckling infants. The drought and famine had left us all hungry and poverty stricken. Our farms had become barren and our animals sick and worthless. I was riding on a very slow tired donkey, cradling an infant of my own who had to go to sleep hungry at nights since my milk was not enough to satisfy him. I hoped that maybe if I found a job as a wet nurse our poverty may slightly alleviated.

When we arrived in Makkah, Abdul Mutaleb had asked the women to take Muhammad but no one accepted because since he was an orphan they thought they wouldn't be paid well enough. However his grandfather didn't give up and continued to ask other women if they would accept the infant Muhammad. I decided to offer my help to Abdul Mutaleb and I told him I was able to accept his infant. He asked me who I was and I told him, "I am Halimah from the tribe of Bani Sa'di. He smiled and said, "You are from a tribe which is renowned for being fortunate (saadar) and your name is Halimah, which means patient. These qualities are rewarded in this world and the next."

He agreed to give me Muhammad and took me to the home of Aminah the mother of Muhammad. As soon as I laid eyes on the baby I fell in love with his beautiful, yet strangely noble face. I took hold of him and cradled him in my arms. Without any encouragement he immediately took to my breast and began feeding. However no matter what I did he wouldn't take milk from my right breast.

He always only fed from the left one and in this way I was able to feed my own infant from my right breast.

I took Muhammad back with me to my own home, and amazingly my breasts became so full of milk that I was able to feed both my own child and Muhammad. I felt a strange sense of elation while nursing Muhammad. Despite being weak and undernourished, with hardly enough milk to fill one small child, I was suddenly producing enough milk to satiate two hungry infants. But the divine benefits bestowed on us didn't stop there. From the moment we brought the child Muhammad into our home we were bestowed with successive fortune. Our sheep and camels became fat and healthy, our farm flourished. We were miraculously spared any disease, which befell the animals of our neighbors. Nursing and caring for Muhammad was so pleasurable that I soon regarded him with just as much love and affection as my own children.

When Muhammad reached five years of age, he asked me one morning where his brothers went every day. I told him that they took the sheep to graze in the nearby hills. Muhammad insisted that he accompany his brothers that morning, so I allowed him to go. After a while one of my sons returned saying "They have taken Muhammad"

Quickly I went to the hills and I found Muhammad alone, but it seemed that a dazzling light engulfed him. I suddenly embraced him and asked what had happened. He calmly answered "Mother Halimah -don't worry, God is with me."

Halimeh experienced so many other strangely divine incidents during Muhammad's childhood that left her no doubt about the uniqueness of the orphan divine fate had led her to choose to bring up. She herself was of course of a special purity that Almighty Allah selected her to nurse his seal of the Prophets. Her efforts and troubles in lovingly bringing up Muhammad will no doubt be rewarded in the next world.