The Story Of The Nursing Of The Prophet
And The Splitting Open Of His Chest
Some reports say the Prophet’s father, ^Abdullah, died when the Prophet was two months old. Some said he died even before the Prophet was born. There are also other reports on the subject. Halimah as-Sa^diyyah was honored to be the wet-nurse of the Prophet and she told the following story:
I went to Makkah with other women from the tribe of Bani Sa^d Ibn Bakr. We were looking for infants whose parents wanted them wet-nursed. During the journey to Makkah, I was riding a female donkey off-white in color. It was a year of drought and we had nothing, only an old camel that hardly gave any milk. My own son’s hungry crying kept my husband and I awake at night because I did not have a drop of milk in my breasts to feed him.
When we arrived in Makkah, each one of us was offered the Prophet as a nursing son. We all refused at first because he was an orphan, and we depended on the generosity of the child’s father for our services. We used to say, “He is an orphan. How generous can his mother be?” Every woman in our group except for me managed to get a baby to nurse. I hated to return the only one empty handed. I told my husband I would go back and take that orphan, and I did. When I came back to where my animal was, my husband asked me, “Did you take him?” I told him I had because I could not find any other. He said, “May Allah endow His blessings on us.”
By Allah, as soon as I put him in my lap my breasts filled with milk. Both he and his brother (her own son) drank their fill. When my husband went out that night to check our old camel, he found her udder full of milk. We got all the milk we wanted from her. My husband and I drank our fill and slept soundly that night, as did our boys. My husband said, “O Halimah, I think you have put your hands on a blessed creation. Look how our sons sleep.”
We started heading back, and to everyone’s surprise my female donkey was energetic and in the lead. They asked me, “Is this the same donkey you rode on our trip here?” I said it was. My donkey remained in the lead until we reached the outskirts of where our tribe, Bani Sa^d Ibn Bakr, was camped, and it was a very dry land.
We all used to send our sheep out to graze with our shepherds. By Allah, my sheep would come back satiated; their udders full of milk, whereas the others’ sheep would come back hungry and dry. We had all the milk we wanted when none of the others had a drop of milk. The others told their shepherds to take their sheep to the same place Halimah’s shepherd takes hers to graze. They sent their sheep to graze in the same meadow with ours, but their sheep would still come back hungry and dry when ours came back satiated and full of milk.
The Prophet matured in a day what a child normally matures in a month and in a month what a child normally matures in a year. At one (1) year old, he was a very strong child.[ii] We went back to his mother, and I, or rather my husband, asked if she would allow us to keep him a while longer. We told her we were afraid for him to be exposed to the diseases of Makkah. In reality, we wanted to keep him with us because of the blessings we saw from having him. We kept on asking her until she agreed that we take him. We took him back and he stayed with us for two months. One day, he and his brother were attending to one of our animals behind the houses and his brother rushed back trembling. “Rescue my brother!” he said to his father and me. “Two men came, laid him down, and split his chest open!!” We were terrified and rushed out to him. When we reached him, we found him standing, very pale in color. His father and I embraced him and asked him about the matter. He said, “Two men in white clothing came to me, laid me down, and split open my abdomen. By Allah, I do not know what they have done.” We carried him back home. His father said, “O Halimah, I see this child has been inflicted with a matter. Let us take him back to his mother before any signs of that appear.” So, we took him back to his mother.
His mother wanted to know what brought us back so soon when we had been so persistent in wanting to take him away. I said that we had fulfilled our commitment and it would be better for her to keep him because now we feared for him. His mother knew this was not the real reason. She insisted we tell her what had happened, and we did. She said, “So this is why you feared for him.” Then, she reassured us, saying, “This child of mine has a special status. Let me tell you about him. I conceived and carried him, yet I felt I never had carried a lighter load or any greater blessing. When I delivered him, I saw a great light coming out of me, similar to a shooting star that illuminated the necks of the camels in Busrah. Contrary to most deliveries, he came out putting his hands on the ground and raising his head to the sky.” Then his mother told us, “Leave him here, and go attend to your business.”
The Hafidh al-Bayhaqiyy said (after attributing the story to Muslim), “It conforms to that which is known to the people who authored about the subject of raids. In his Sahih, Muslim also narrated from the route of Anas that he said, “The Messenger of Allah said:
<< أتيت وأنا فى أهلى، فانطلق بى إلى زمزم، فشرح صدرى ثم غسل بماء زمزم، ثم أتيت بطست من ذهب ممتلئة إيمانا وحكمة فحشى بـها صدرى – قال أنس: ورسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يرينا أثره – فعرج بى الملك إلى السماء الدنيا، فاستفتح الملك ... >>
This means : <<When I was with my parents, I was approached and taken to the Well of Zamzam. My chest was split open and washed with Zamzam water. The contents of a golden container full of belief and wisdom were stuffed inside my chest. (Anas said, “The Prophet would be pointing out the trace for us.”) The angel took me up to the lower sky and requested the gate be opened…>>” and Anas continued to mention the Hadith of the Mi^raj (the Ascension).
The Hafidh al-Bayhaqiyy in Dala’il An-Nubuwwah said after mentioning the hadith, “It is possible that this incident occurred twice; once when the Prophet was a child with Halimah, his wet nurse, and once when he was in Makkah after his Revelation on the night of the Mi^raj (Ascension).”
What supports these words is the saying of Ibn Hibban in his book, Al-Ihsan. He said, “The chest of the Prophet was split open when he was a lad playing with the boys. The clot was removed from him. When Allah willed for him to ascend to the skies, Allah sent Jibril to split his chest open a second time. He took his heart out, washed it and put it back in its place. It is not contradictory that this might have happened two times at two different locations.”
 Al-^Iraqi said the one (1) year is an error in Ibn Hibban’s narration and what is correct is two (2) years. For more detail, see endnote (ii)
[ii] Ibn Hibban in Al-Ihsan Bitartib Sahih Ibn Hibban said, after he mentioned the aforementioned story, “Wahb Ibn Jarir Ibn Hazim told us from the route of his father from the route of Muhammad Ibn Ishaq. We were told the same by Jahm Ibn Abi Jahm. ^Abdullah Ibn Muhammad told us, Ishaq Ibn Ibrahim told us Wahb Ibn Jarir told us the Hafidh al-^Iraqi said, after attributing the story to Ibn Hibban and reporting his words, “This is how Ziyad Ibn ^Abdullah al-Bakka’iyy narrated it from the route of Ibn Ishaq. ”—So he was explicit in stating that it was narrated, however, he was doubtful about the continuity of the chain (the ittisal). Likewise, he said, it was narrated to us by a ^ali chain of narration from the route of Muhammad Ibn ^Aliyy Ibn ^Abd al-^Aziz al-Qatrawaniyy; narrated to us by Muhammad Ibn Rabi^ah, by ^Abd al-Qawiyy Ibn ^Abd al-^Aziz Ibn al-Hasan al-Khal^iyy by ^Abdur-Rahman Ibn ^Umar an-Nahhas. We were told by ^Abdul Malik Ibn Hisham, by Ziyad Ibn ^Abdullah al-Bakka’iyy, by Muhammad Ibn Ishaq he said: Jahm Ibn Abu Jahm, the freed slave of al-Harith Ibn Hatib al-Jumahi, from the route of ^Abdullah Ibn Ja^far Ibn Abu Talib or from he who told him he said:
Halimah Bint Abu Dhu’ayb as-Sa^diyyah, the mother of the Messenger of Allah that wet-nursed him, narrated that she left her town with her husband, a young son of hers that she was nursing… and he mentioned the rest of the story using different terminology and he added: the Prophet kept on taking from the endowments and blessings that Allah provided for him until both of his years lapsed. He used to grow up vigorously unlike other children; by the time he became two years of age he was a very strong child. He said --‘both of his years,’-- which is correct. Likewise, the narration of al-Bayhaqiyy stipulates. The narration of Ibn Hibban of ‘one year’ is an error on the part of one of the narrators. This is the end of the words of al-^Iraqi.
Allah knows best.