Muhammad as Herdsman
muhammad's occupation as herdsman during the years of his youth provided him with plenty of leisure to ponder and to contemplate. he took care of his family and neighbors' herds. later, he used to recall these early days with joy, and say proudly that "god sent no prophet who was not a herdsman . . . moses was a herdsman; david was also a herdsman; i, too, was commissioned to prophet hood while i grazed my family's cattle at ajyad." the intelligent sensitive herdsman would surely find in the vastness of the atmosphere during the day and in the brilliance of the stars during the night fair enticement to thinking and contemplation. he would try to penetrate the skies, to seek an explanation for the manifestations of nature around him. if he were profound enough, his thoughts would bring him to realize that the world around him is not quite separate from the world within him. he would ponder the fact that he takes the atmosphere into his lungs that without it he would die. he would realize that the light of the sun revives him, that that of the moon guides him, and that he is not without relation to the heavenly bodies of the high and immense firmament. he would ponder the fact that these heavenly bodies are well ordered together in a precise system in which neither sun overtakes the moon nor night overtakes the day. if the security of this herd of animals demanded his complete and constant attention, if it were to be safeguarded against attack by the wolf and loss in the desert dunes, what supreme attention and what perseverence were needed to guard the order of the universe in all its detail! such speculative thought can indeed divert man from preoccupation with worldly cares and passions; it can pull him beyond their apparent persuasiveness and appeal. thus, in all his deeds, muhammad never allowed anything to detract from his reputation, but answered to every expectation to which his nickname "al amin" gave rise.
further evidence to this effect may be found in the reports muhammad made about this early period of his life. it is said that while he was a herdsman he had a companion whom he asked to take over his duties while he spent the night in town in some recreation as other youths were wont to do in those days. before he reached his destination, however, muhammad's attention was arrested by a wedding in one of the houses on the way. he stopped there to listen to the sounds emanating from the house and fell asleep. he came back to makkah on another occasion for the same purpose, and again on the way his attention was arrested by the sound of beautiful music. he sat down on the street to listen, and again fell asleep. the temptations of makkah had no power over the disciplined soul of muhammad whose prime concern was contemplation. this is not surprising. far lesser men than muhammad have also overcome these temptations. he led a life far removed from vice and immorality, and found his pleasures in immersing himself in thought and contemplation.