A Beautiful Story that will move you...
We do not Know precisely how the young Abyssinian girl ended up for sale in Makkah. We do not know her ‘roots’, who her mother was, or who her father or her ancestors were. There were many like her, boys and girls, Arabs and non-Arabs, who were captured and brought to the slave market of the city to be sold.
A terrible fait awaited some who ended up in the hands of cruel masters or mistresses who exploited their labour to the full and treated them with the utmost harshness.A few in that inhuman environment were rather more fortunate. They were taken into the homes of more gentle and caring people.
Barakah the young Abyssinian girl, was one of the most fortunate ones. She was saved by the most generous and kind Abdullah, the son of Abd al-Muttalib. She became the only servant in this household and when he was married, to the lady Aminah, she looked after her affairs as well.
Two weeks after the couple were married, according to Barakah, Abdullah’s father came to their house and instructed his son to go with a trading caravan that was leaving for Syria.Aminah was deeply distressed and cried:
“How strange! How strange! How can my husband go on a trading journey to Syria while I am yet a bride and traces of henna are still on my hands!”
‘Abdullah’s departure was heartbreaking. in her anguish,Aminah fainted.Soon after he left, Barakah said:
“When I saw Aminah unconscious, I shouted in distress and pain: ‘O my lady!’ Aminah opened her eyes and looked at me with tears streaming down her face. suppressing a groan she said: ‘Take me to bed, Barakah.’
“Aminah stayed bedridden for a long time. She spoke to no one. Nor she looked at any one visited her except ‘ Abd al-Muttalib, that noble and gentle old man.
“Two months after the departure of Abdullah,Aminah called me at dawn one morning and, her face beaming with joy, she said to me:
‘O Barakah! I have seen a strange dream.’
‘Something good , my lady,’ I said.
‘I saw lights coming from my abdomen lightening up the mountains, the hills and the valleys around Makkah.’
‘Do you feel pregnant,my lady?’
‘Yes, Barakah,’she replied. ‘But I do not feel discomfort as other women feel.’
‘You shall give birth to a blessed child who will bring goodness,’ I said,”
So long as Abdullah was away, Aminah remained sad and melancholic. Barakah stayed at her side trying to comfort her and make her cheerful by talking to her and relating stories. Aminah however became even more distressed when Abdal-Muttalib came and told her she had to leave her home and go to the mountains as other Makkans had done because of an impending attack on the city by the ruler of Yemen, someone called Abrahah.
Aminah told him that she was too grief-stricken and weak to leave for the mountains but insisted that Abrahah could never enter Makkah and destroy the Ka’bah because it was protected by the Lord.Abd al-Muttalib, became very agitated but there was no sign of fear on Aminah’s face.Her confidence that the Ka’bah would not be harmed was wee-founded.Abrahah’s army with an elephant in the vanguard was destroyed before it could enter Makkah.
Day and night, Barakah stayed beside Aminah.She said: “I slept at the foot of her bed and heard her groans at night as she called for her absent husband.Her moans would awaken me and I would try to comfort her and give her courage.”
The first part of the caravan from Syria returned and was joyously welcomed by the trading families of Makkah.Barakah went secretly to the house of Abd al-Muttalib to find abiut Abdullah but had no news of him.She went back to Aminah but did nit tell her what she had heard or seen in order not to distress her.The entire caravan eventually returned but not with Adullah.Later, Barakah was at Abd al-Muttalib’s house when news came from Yathrib that Abdullah had died.She said:
“I screamed when I heard the news.I don’t know what I did after that except that I ran to Aminah’s house shouting, lamenting for the the beloved one for whom we waited so long, lamenting for the beautiful youth of Makkah, for Abdullah, the pride of the Quraysh.
“When Aminah heard the painful news, she fainted and I stayed by her bedside while she was in a state of life and death. There was no one else but me in Aminah’s house. I nursed her and looked after her during the day and through the long nights till she gave birth to her child, “Muhammad”, on a night in which the heavens were resplendent with the light of God.”
When Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was born, Barakah (R.A) was the first one to hold him in her arms. His grandfather came and took him to the Ka’bah and with all Makkah, celebrated his birth.Barakah (R.A) stayed with Aminah while Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was sent to badiyah with the lady Halimah (R.A) who looked after him in the bracing atmosphere of the open desert. At the end of the five years, he was brought back to Makkah and Aminah received him with tenderness and love and Barakah(R.A) welcomed him “with joy, longing and admiration”.
When Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was six years old, his mother decided to visit the grave of her husband, Abdullah, in Yathrib. Both Barakah (R.A) and Abd al-Muttalib tried to dissuade her. Aminah however was determined. So one morning they set off – Aminah, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and Barakah (R.A) huddled together in a small hawdaj mounted on a camel, part of a huge caravan that was going to Syria. In order to shield the tender child from any pain and worry, Aminah did not tell Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that she was going to visit the grave of his father.
The caravan went at a brisk pace. Barakah(R.A) tried to console Aminah for her son’s sake and much of the time the boy Muhammad (Peace be upon him) slept with his (Peace be upon him) arms around Barakah’s (R.A) neck.The caravan took ten days to reach Yathrib. The boy Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was left with his maternal uncles of the Banu Najjar while Aminah went to visit the grave of Abdullah. Each day for a few weeks she stayed at the grave. She was consumed with grief.
On the way back to Makkah, Aminah became seriously ill with fever. Halfway between Yathrib and Makkah, at a place called al-Abwa, they stopped. Aminah’s health deteriorated rapidly. She was running a high temperature. The fever had got to her head and, in pitch darkness of the night, she called out to Barakah (R.A) in a choking voice.Baraka (R.A) related:
“She whispered in my ear: O Barakah (R.A), I shall depart from this world Shortly. I commend my son Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to your care. He lost his father while he was in my abdomen. Here he is now, losing his mother under his very eyes. Be a mother to him, Barakah (R.A) and don’t ever leave him.”
“My heart was shattered and I began to sob and wail. The child was distressed by my waling and began to weep. He threw himself into his mother’s arms and hold tightly into her neck. She gave one last moan and then was forever silent.”
Barakah(R.A) wept. She wept bitterly. With her own hands she dug a grave in the sand and buried Aminah, moistening the grave with whatever tears were left in her heart.Barakah returned to Makkah with the orphan child and placed him in the care of his grandfather. She stayed at his house to look after him. When Abd al-Muttalib died two years later, she went with the child to the house of his uncle Abu Talib and continued to look after his needs until he was grown and married to Khadijah (R.A). Barakah (R.A) then stayed with Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and Khadijah (R.A) in a house belonging to Khadijah (R.A).
“I never left him and he never left me,” she said.
One day Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace called out to her and said:
“Ya Ummah!” (He Peace be upon him always called her “Mother”.) “Now I am a married man, and you are still unmarried. What do you think if someone should come now ask to marry you?”
Barakah (R.A) looked at Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and said:
“I shall never leave you. Does a mother abandon her son?”
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) smiled and kissed her head. He looked at her wife Khadijah (R.A) and said to her:
“This is Barakah (R.A). This is my mother after my own mother. She is the rest of my family.”
Barakah (R.A) looked at Khadijah (R.A) who said to her:
“Barakah (R.A) you have sacrificed your youth for the sake of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), now he wants to pay back some of his obligations to you. For my sake and his, agree to be married before old age overtakes you.”
“Whom shall I marry, my lady?” asked Barakah (R.A).
“There is here now ‘Ubayd ibn Zayd (R.A) from the Khazraj tribe of Yathrib. He has come to us seeking your hand in marriage. For my sake, don’t refuse.”
Barakah (R.A) agreed. She married ‘Ubayd ibn Zayd (R.A) and went with him to Yathrib. There she gave birth to a son whom she called Ayman (R.A) and from that time onwards people called her Umm Ayman”, the mother of Ayman (R.A).Her marriage however did not last very long. Her husband died and she returned once more to Makkah to live with her “son” Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in the house of Khadijah (R.A). Living in the same household at the time were ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (R.A), Hind (Khadijah (R.A)’s daughter by her first husband), and Zayd ibn Harithah(R.A).