The Prophet's Foster SiblingsRahile Kızılkaya
What are the names of the foster brothers and sisters of the Prophet Muhammad?
Answer by Rahile Kızılkaya │Researcher, Marmara University Faculty of Divinity:
Prophet Muhammad’s Wet Nurses
There were three women who suckled the Prophet Muhammad in his infancy. Let us mention them in order:
The handmaiden of Abu Lahab, Lady Suwayba suckled the Prophet together with her own son Masruh. Previously wetnurse to the Prophet’s uncle Hamza, she later also breastfed the Prophet’s Companion Abu Salama. This occurred before the days when God’s Messenger went to his foster mother Halima Sa’diya.
During the period where the Prophet remained in Makka, he would visit Lady Suwayba, inquire after her and provide assistance to her. He continued this concern following his Emigration to Madina and used to send her clothing. Lady Suwayba passed away during the days when the Prophet returned from the battle of Khaybar. Her son Masruh died before his mother.
Halima, daughter of Abi Dhuayb, belonged to the Sad Bedouin tribe. Her husband was Harith ibn Abdil ’Uzza. She breastfed the Prophet along with her son Abdullah. She also had two daughters, Shayma and Unaysa. As they were older than their brother Abdullah, they would assist their mother in the care of the Prophet.
Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, remained with Halima Sa’diya until the age of four. This esteemed woman came to visit the Prophet after his marriage to Khadija. The Prophet’s wife Khadija immediately presented Halima with forty sheep and one camel before her departure, upon her mentioning the drought and famine in her homeland. Halima Sa’diya’s lies buried in the Jannat al-Baqi cemetery in the city of Madina.
Barakah, or Umm Ayman, also suckled the Prophet Muhammad in his infancy. An Abyssinian slave girl bought up in the household of Abdullah and Amina, Umm Ayman was bequeathed to the Prophet. The Prophet emancipated her when he married Khadija. God’s Messenger would describe her as “my mother after my own mother.”
When the Prophet once said, "Should one of you desire to marry a woman from the people of Paradise, let him marry Umm Ayman," Zayd ibn Harith came forward and married her. Usama Zayd and Umm Ayman were blessed with a son whom they named Usama.
The Prophet’s Foster Siblings
The names of the Prophet Muhammad’s foster siblings were as follows:
Hamza, Abu Salama ibn Abdil Asad al-Mahzumi, Abdullah ibn Jahsh, Masruh, Abu Sufyan, Shayma bint Harith, Abdullah ibn Harith, Unaysa bint Harith.
Hamza: One of the uncles of God’s Messenger, Hamza was breastfed by Lady Suwayba before the Prophet.
Abu Salama ibn Abdil Asad al-Mahzumi: Breastfed by Lady Suwayba, Abu Salama was one of the first Companions to accept Islam.
Abdullah ibn Jahsh: Also breastfed by lady Suwayba.
Masruh: Son of Abu Lahab’s handmaiden lady Suwayba. His mother breasfed him during the same period as the Prophet.
Abu Sufyan: The Abu Sufyan in question is not the father of the Prophet’s wife Umm Habiba, but Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s paternal cousin.
Unaysa bint Harith: Daughter of Harith ibn Abdul ‘Uzza and Halima Sa’diya.
Abdullah ibn Harith: Son of Harith ibn Abdil ‘Uzza and the Prophet’s wetnurse Halima Sa’diya. He was nourished with his mother's milk during the same period as the Prophet.
Shayma bint Harith: Member of the Banu Sad ibn Bakr clan of the Hawazin tribe. Her real name was Huzafa with Shayma being a nickname. She became renowned through the name Shayma, meaning ‘to have a beauty spot.’ Her father’s name was Harith ibn Abdil ‘Uzza and her mother was the Prophet’s wetnurse Halima Sa’diya.
Shayma was older than the Prophet. While living in the same house as God’s Messenger during her childhood, she spent a lot of her time at his service. She would feed him, embrace him with love and mercy, hold him by the hand and take him for walks.
During the Hunayn campaign which took place between the Hawazin tribe and the Muslims and which the Prophet himself participated in, there were severe clashes and a significant amount of goods and property were taken as spoils. Many people were taken as prisoners of war. The Prophet Muhammad’s foster sister Shayma was among those taken prisoner.
To those who treated her harshly while she was being taken prisoner Shyama said, wanting to quell the situation: “Know that, by God, I am the milk-sister of your Prophet.” For many years had passed since. They separated her from among the other prisoners and took her to the Prophet. When she arrived in his blessed presence she said, “O God’s Messenger! I am your foster-sister,” to which he asked, “What is your sign and proof?” In response, Shayma said, “O Prophet of God, You had bitten me in your childhood. Here is the scar!” She then began to recount all her memories of that day.
When the Prophet saw the scar he remembered and recognized his foster sibling. He spread out his cloak and invited her to sit with him. He approached with great affection and tenderness. A great many years had passed and his childhood memories were now flashing before his very eyes. He was very emotional and tears welled up in his eyes. He immediately inquired about her mother Halima and father Harith.
When Shayma told the Prophet that both had passed away, he became very sorrowful. The Prophet Muhammad did all that he possibly could to please her and make her feel welcome. Addressing her, the Prophet said:
“If you so wish, you may live with me in affection and honor and I will be at your service, or I will give you provision and you can go back to your people.” Shayma replied that she wanted to embrace Islam but wished to return to her tribe. Before Shayma took leave of the Prophet he gave her a handsome gift and told her he would give her more later on upon his return from Ta'if.
Shayma reminded the Prophet about a poem that she used to recite to him while she played with him as a child:
“O our Lord! Keep Muhammad alive for us, so that I may see him become an adolescent, then a leader. Allow me to see the suppression of his enemies and those who are envious of him, and give him an everlasting glory!”