Muhammad's Sons

the years passed while muhammad participated in the public life of makkah and found in khadijah, the loving woman who gave him many children, the best of all woman companions. she gave him two sons, al qasim and 'abdullah the last of whom was nicknamed al tahir and al tayyib-and four daughters, zaynab, ruqayyah, umm kulthum and fatimah. hardly anything is known of al qasim and `abdullah except that they died before the coming of islam, while still infants. undoubtedly their loss caused their parents great grief and affected them deeply. as their mother, khadijah must have received a permanent wound at their loss. she must have turned to her idols, inquisitively asking why the gods did not have mercy on her, and why they did not prevent her happiness from repeated shipwreck by the loss of her children. certainly, muhammad must have shared her grief and unhappiness. it is not difficult for us to imagine the depth of their tragedy in an age when daughters used to be buried alive and male descendants were sought after as the substance of life itself indeed more. sufficient proof of this grief is the fact that muhammad could not last long without a male heir. when he saw zayd ibn harithah offered for sale, he asked khadijah to buy him; no sooner was the new slave bought than muhammad manumitted and adopted him as a son. he was called zayd ibn muhammad, lived under his protection, and became one of his best followers and companions. there was yet more grief ahead for muhammad when his third son ibrahim passed away in the islamic period, after islam had prohibited the burial of live daughters and declared paradise to stand under the feet of mothers. it is not surprising, therefore, that muhammad's losses in his children should leave their deep mark upon his life and thought. he must, have been quite shocked when on each of these tragic occasions, khadijah turned to the idols of the ka'bah, and sacrificed to hubal, to al lat, al `uzza, and manat in the hope that these deities would intercede on her behalf and prevent the loss of her children. but muhammad must have then realized the vanity and futility of these hopes and efforts in his tragic bereavement and great sorrow.

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