Prophet Muhammad (s) and the Christian priest Baheera

In The Name of Allah The Most Beneficient The Most Merciful

The Quraish traders usually made annual business trips to Syria and Yemen. Abu Talib being a chief of Quraish also participated in these tours. After the demise of his grandfather, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) came under the guardianship of his honourable uncle Abu Talib and consequently, also made one of these trips along with the latter. He was not more than 12-years-old when he participated in this excursion. The caravan had not yet reached its destination when an incident took place on the outskirts of a city called Busra near Damascus which affected the voyage of Abu Talib considerably. For many years, a Christian priest, albeit a monotheist, named Baheera had a monastery in Busra and was engrossed in it in worship. He had a great deal of information about the previous divine books. Basically, generations of Christian priests had lived in this monastery who appointed successors for following them after their death. They also handed down their books from one generation to another which were protected as invaluable heritage and was the source of their information and knowledge.

This year the caravan incidentally halted near the monastery. Surprisingly, Baheera came down from the monastery and invited them for dinner. A person from Quraish questioned, “O Baheera! By God, what you did today is indeed amazing. For years we have been passing by your monastery, but we have never seen you act in this manner.” Baheera retorted, “Yes, you’re right. But you are my guests. I like to honour you and to prepare food for you.” All of them gathered at the dining table but for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who, being the youngest, remained near the goods. When the Christian priest glanced at the guests, he could not find the person he was looking for. He queried, “O Quraish! Is someone from you not attending to my dinner?” They replied, “All are present except a youth who is tending to the goods.” He said, “No. All of you must come.” Somebody from the Quraish remarked, “We deserve to be reproached for not bringing along with ourselves the son of Abdullah Ibn Abdul Muttalib.” They went and brought the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to the dining table. The priest stared only at this youth.

He observed minutely at the actions, movements, height, built and forehead of this Quraish youth. After the dinner, when everybody left, Baheera asked, “Young man! I ask you for the sake of Laat and Uzza, answer all my questions.” The Holy Prophet (s.a.) replied, “Don’t ask me anything in the name of Laat and Uzza. Ask me in the name of the Lord. For, I hate these idols and bear enmity against them.” Baheera said, “Okay. Then for the sake of the Lord answer whatever I ask you.” The Holy Prophet (s.a.) replied, “Ask whatever you want to.” Baheera posed queries regarding his method of sleeping, being awake, lifestyle, etc. and to his amazement, found all the answers exactly in conformity with his expectation. Then, he looked up at the back of the shoulder of the Holy Prophet (s.a.) and saw the seal of Prophethood between the scapula. Thereafter, he turned to Abu Talib and asked, “How is this youth related to you ?”

Abu Talib replied, “He is my son.”

Baheera: “He is not your son because he should not have a father.”

Abu Talib: “Yes! He is my nephew, the son of my brother.”

Baheera: “What happened to his father?”

Abu Talib: “He expired when he (Muhammad) was in the womb of his mother.”

Baheera: “You’re right. Take your nephew to your city and be afraid and careful of the conspiracies of the Jews and their malice against him. By God, if the Jews see him and know and recognise what I do, he will be in danger. Your nephew will rise to a great status in the future.”

(Ibn Hisham, 1/180-183; Tabari, 2/277,278; al-Kaamil, 2/23, 24;Taarikh-e-Islam by Dhahabi, 2/28-30; Halabi, 1/130-132)

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