Barakah

BarakahBarakah

We do not know precisely how the young Abyssinian girl ended up for sale in Makkah. We do not know her ‘roots’, who her mother was, or her father or her ancestors. There were many like her, boys and girls, Arabs and non-Arabs, who were captured and brought to the slave market of the city to be sold.

A terrible fate awaited some who ended up in the hands of cruel masters or mistresses who exploited their labor to the full and treated them with the utmost harsh ness.

A few in that inhuman environment were rather more fortunate. They were taken into the homes of more gentle and caring people.

Barakah, the young Abyssinian girl, was one of the more fortunate ones. She was saved by the generous and kind Abdullah, the son of Abd al-Muttalib. ‘She became the only servant in his household and when he was married, to the lady Aminah, she looked after her affairs as well.

Two weeks after the couple were married, according to Barakah, Abdullah’s father came to their house and instructed his son to go with a trading caravan that was leaving for Syria. Aminah was deeply distressed and cried:

“How strange! How strange! How can my husband go on a trading journey to Syria while I am yet a bride and the traces of henna are still on my hands.”

Abdullah’s departure was heartbreaking. In her anguish, Aminah fainted. Soon after he left, Barakah said: “When I saw Aminah unconscious, I shouted in distress and pain: ‘O my lady!’ Aminah opened her eyes and looked at me with tears streaming down her face. Suppressing a groan she said: “Take me to bed, Barakah.”

“Aminah stayed bedridden for a long time. She spoke to no one. Neither did she look at anyone who visited her except Abd al-Muttalib, that noble and gentle old man. “Two months after the departure of Abdullah, Aminah called me at dawn one morning and, her face beaming with joy, she said to me:

“O Barakah! I have seen a strange dream.” “Something good, my lady,” I said.

“I saw lights coming from my abdomen lighting up the

mountains, the hills and the valleys around Makkah.” “Do you feel pregnant, my lady?”

“Yes, Barakah,” she replied. “But I do not feel any discomfort as other women feel.” “You shall give birth to a blessed child who will bring goodness,” I said.

So long as Abdullah was away, Aminah remained sad and melancholic. Barakah stayed at her side trying to comfort her and make her cheerful by talking to her and relating stories. Aminah however became even more distressed when Abd al-Muttalib came and told her she had to leave her home and go to the mountains as other Makkans had done because of an impending attack on the city by the ruler of Yemen, someone called Abrahah. Aminah told him that she was too grief-striken and weak to leave for the mountains but insisted that Abrahah could never enter Makkah and destroy the Kabah because it was protected by the Lord. Abd al-Muttalib became very agitated but there was no sign of fear on Aminah’s face. Her confidence that the Kabah would not be harmed was well-founded. Abrahah’s army with an elephant in the vanguard was destroyed before it could enter Makkah.

Day and night, Barakah stayed beside Aminah. She said: “I slept at the foot of her bed and heard her groans at night as she called for her absent husband. Her moans would awaken me and I would try to comfort her and give her courage.”

The first part of the caravan from Syria returned and was joyously welcomed by the trading families of Makkah. Barakah went secretly to the house of Abd al-Muttalib to find out about Abdullah but had no news of him. She went back to Aminah but did not tell her what she had seen or heard in order not to distress her. The entire caravan eventually returned but not with Abdullah.

Later, Barakah was at Abd al-Muttalib’s house when news came from Yathrib that Abdullah had died. She said: “I screamed when I heard the news. I don’t know what I did after that except that I ran to Aminah’s house shouting, lamenting for the absent one who would never return, lamenting for the beloved one for whom we waited so long, lamenting for the most beautiful youth of Makkah, for Abdullah, the pride of the Quraysh.

“When Aminah heard the painful news, she fainted and I stayed by her bedside while she was in a state between life and death. There was no one else but me in Aminah’s house. I nursed her and looked after her during the day and through the long nights until she gave birth to her child, “Muhammad”, on a night in which the heavens were resplendent with the light of God.”

Page 1 of 4 | Next page