5-The Prophet is Born
one day, while travelling north, one of the arab tribes from mecca met a hermit in the desert. some of the men stopped to speak with him. hermits were known to be wise and the arabs often asked their advice. the hermit asked where they had come from. when they replied that they were from mecca, he told them that allah would soon send a prophet, who would come from their people. they asked the name of this prophet and the hermit answered that his name would be muhammad and that he would guide them to a new way of life.
meanwhile in mecca, aminah, although saddened by the loss of her husband, felt especially well and strong as she awaited the birth of her baby. during this time she dreamt of many things. on one occasion it was as if a great light were shining out of her, and on another she heard a voice telling her that she would have a boy and that his name would be muhammad. she never forgot that voice but she told no one about it.
on monday, the twelfth day of rabi al-awwal in the year of the elephant, aminah gave birth to a son. allah sends man many signs when one of his chosen prophets is born and on that twelfth day of rabi al-awwal in the year 570 a.d, many such signs were seen. some were seen by jewish scholars who had read in their scriptures of a coming prophet. one of these learned men in yathrib, for instance, saw a brilliant new star he had never seen before as he studied the heavens that night. he called the people around him and,
pointing the star out to them, told them a prophet must have been born. that same night another jew was passing by the meeting place of the leaders of quraysh in mecca. he asked them if a baby boy had just been born and told them that if it were true, this would be the prophet of the arab nation.
aminah sent news of the birth to her father-in-law, 'abd al-muttalib, who was sitting near the ka'bah at the time. he was very happy and began at once to think of a name for the boy. an ordinary name would not do. six days came and went and still he had not decided. but on the seventh day, as he lay asleep near the ka'bah, 'abd al-muttalib dreamt that he should give the baby the unusual name of muhammad, just as aminah herself had dreamt. and the child was called muhammad (pbuh), which means 'the praised one'. when 'abd al-muttalib told the leaders of quraysh what he had named his grandson, many of them asked, 'why did you not choose the sort of name that is used by our people?' at once he replied, 'i want him to be praised by allah in the heavens and praised by men on earth.