Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/24

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the qur′ân

ship of the town; and the custody of the Kaabah before alluded to.

ʿAbd Menâf left four sons, ʿAbd Shems, Hâshim, al Muttalib, and Nâufel. To Hâshim was entrusted the guardianship of the Kaabah and the right of supplying food to the pilgrims, together with the princedom of Mecca, while to the descendants of ʿAbd ed Dar was left only the office of supplying them with water.

Hâshim and his son ʿAbd al Muttalib filled the office with so much liberality that the wealth of the family, though considerable, was nearly all dissipated, and the rival family of Ommaiyeh, son of ʿAbd Shems, took over the more expensive offices with the prestige which they naturally carried. It was during the reign of ʿAbd al Muttalib that the invasion of Mecca by the Abyssinian army under Ashram the Abraha took place; they were however repulsed with great loss. This year was afterwards known as the 'Year of the Elephant,' from the fact of these animals having been employed against the holy city. ʿAbd al Muttalib's youngest son, Abd allah, married a kinswoman settled at Yathrib (Medînah), by whom he had one posthumous child Mohammed, the future prophet.

The exact date generally given of Mohammed’s birth is April 20, 571 A. D., but all that is absolutely certain is that he was born in the Year of the Elephant. All that the child inherited from his father was five camels and a slave girl.

According to the fashion of the country he was provided with a Bedawi wet nurse, one ʿHalîmah, who took him with her to the tents of her people and reared him amidst the invigorating surroundings of desert life.

At the age of six Mohammed lost his mother, Aminah.

The orphan was taken care of by his grandfather ʿAbd al Muttalib, who showed for him very great affection, and at his death, which happened two years later, left him to the guardianship of his son Abu Tâlib, afterwards one of the most prominent persons in Muslim history.

To support himself the young Mohammed was obliged