Episode 17: The Teenage Years
Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
The session concentrates on the adolescence of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in Makkah, which is recognised to be a challenging time from an iman perspective in anyone’s life. However, some incidents show how Allah protects his Messengers and Prophets from falling into any reprehensible behaviour, including the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
One incident related by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) mentions a time when he was a young boy. Together with other young boys, he was shifting rocks. To aid the task, some boys exposed themselves by removing their lower garment and used the sheet to carry the rocks. The boys encouraged the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to do the same. As soon as he did this, he felt a hard slap at the back of his head, but he did not see anyone behind him. Then he heard a voice telling him to put his clothes back on again.
The second incident reports a time when he was an older teenager, when there were renovations of the Kaba in progress. The high ranking members of the noble families were given preference to help in the task first. Thus, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had an early opportunity to help carry the materials for the reconstruction. His Uncle Abbas suggested adjusting his garments, which risked exposure of his body, so as to aid carrying the rocks. As the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) started to do this, Abbas narrates that he collapsed to the ground, with his eyes looking up towards the sky. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) then got up, asking for his clothing, and he immediately dressed appropriately again. On enquiry, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that he had been forbidden from walking around not properly clothed in public.
Abu Talib was in some financial difficulty and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) wanted to help him. Belonging to a noble family, it was not appropriate for him to do menial labour. The men of Quraysh were merchants, which was the most prestigious job in that culture. However, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was too young to do this and Abu Talib disliked that he travelled. He pursued the job of shepherding, which was regarded respectfully: it was deemed a job that imbued leadership qualities in a person e.g. patience, observation, responsibility and vigilance.
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was protected from the evil practices at the time, but was not completely sheltered i.e. he was aware of the happenings, but never felt inclined to participate in lewd behaviour or idol worship. One story recounts how he was encouraged to attend a social gathering, but on two occasions, he passed out before reaching the event. He did not wake up until the following morning, by which time everyone had left.