I. Stories from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (arranged chronologically)
Muhammad’s early years
Muhammad grows up
Muhammad and the angel’s message
Muhammad is saved by a spider and a dove
Qaswa the camel chooses the site of the first mosque
Muhammad’s wonderful night journey
II. Stories illustrating the kindness of the Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr, his successor
Muhammad and the hungry stranger
Muhammad and the thirsty camel
Muhammad and the ants
Muhammad and the sleeping kitten
Abu Bakr sets Bilal free
I. Stories from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (arranged chronologically)
Muslims consider Muhammad (570 - 632 CE) to be the last and the greatest of all the prophets of Islam. Other Muslim prophets include Adam, Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Dawud (David), Sulayman (Solomon), and Isa (Jesus). It is customary for Muslims to say ‘Salla-llahu Alaihi Wasallam’ (meaning ‘Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him’) every time Muhammad’s name is mentioned, and to say ‘Alaihi Salaam’ (meaning ‘Peace be upon him’) every time one of the other prophet’s name is spoken. In exploring stories about Muhammad, teachers need to be aware of two areas of sensitivity:
Muhammad should never be referred to as the ‘founder’ of Islam, or the one that ‘started’ Islam. Muslims believe that Allah was the sole founder of Islam.
Many Muslims would be offended if children were asked to draw pictures of Muhammad. In Islam, representational art is generally discouraged.
1. Muhammad’s early years What sort of an animal do you think I am? I live in the hot sandy desert. I can go for days without drinking. I have got a big hump on my back!
That’s right! I am a camel! I am a camel that once lived in the far away land of Arabia.
Now the land of Arabia is very hot and very dry. It has sandy deserts that stretch as far as the eye can see, and further still. It has rocky mountains that reach high into the deep blue sky. And Arabia has villages and towns and cities.
One city in Arabia is very special. It is called Makkah. Today Makkah is full of big buildings and cars. But hundreds of years ago, when I was alive, the buildings in Makkah were mostly small and square-shaped, like boxes, and people rode on camels like me. That is what the city of Makkah was like when a little boy called Muhammad was born there.
As for myself, I didn’t live in the city of Makkah. Not at first anyway. I lived in the desert with the Bedouin people. The Bedouins looked after flocks of sheep and herds of goats. They lived in tents because they were always travelling to find pools of water and fresh grass for their animals. The Bedouins lived with sandstorms, scorching sun and cold dark nights under the stars. They were strong and brave and kind. They would take care of anyone, even an enemy. And it was the Bedouins who took care of little Muhammad.
Do you remember what I told you about Muhammad? He was born in the city of Makkah. Sadly Muhammad’s father, who was a man called Abdullah, died before Muhammad was born. In those days, many people living in Makkah paid the Bedouin people to care for their babies, and this is what happened to Muhammad. His mother, Aminah, gave money to the Bedouin people to look after her little boy.
And that is how I got to know Muhammad. Because I was a young camel myself, and not very big, the little boy seemed to like me. He was frightened of some of the grown-up camels, but he wasn’t at all frightened of me. He would often come over to me when I was tied up under the palm trees. He would look up at me and laugh. When he learned to speak, he would talk to me in the Arabic language. Sometimes he would reach up to stroke my hairy coat with his hand. Then the grown-ups would get worried. They would come over and take him away from me, and I would hear him crying because he wanted to stay with me.
Muhammad did not cry very often. Most of the time he was very happy, and his happiness seemed to spread to other people. He was gentle and kind, and all those that knew him loved him. I loved him too.
As Muhammad grew older, he had to take his turn looking after the sheep and goats.
I will never forget what happened on one particular day. I was tied up as usual under the palm trees when I saw something very strange. I could see Muhammad all alone with the sheep and the goats. Suddenly two strangers were standing beside him. They appeared from nowhere. The two strangers were dressed all in white and they seemed to shine with light. The strangers gently laid Muhammad on the ground. They opened his chest, removed a black spot from his heart and closed his chest again. Then they simply disappeared.
I couldn’t believe my eyes! Had I really seen the two strangers, dressed all in white, take a black spot from Muhammad’s heart? Or had I imagined the whole thing?
I was now big enough to carry Muhammad on my back. There were plenty of other camels, but I was Muhammad’s special camel and he always wanted to ride on me.
And so it was, when the time came for Muhammad to leave the Bedouin people and go back to his mother in the city of Makkah, that he rode upon my back. Aminah, Muhammad’s mother, was so glad to see her young son again. How he had grown! And how well he could talk! But how sad I felt, for I knew that I would never see Muhammad again.
Then my sadness turned to joy. The name of the Bedouin woman who had looked after Muhammad was Halimah. She had come with us to Makkah. Halimah told Muhammad’s mother that he could keep me as his very own camel. I could stay with Muhammad after all!
And then Halimah told Muhammad’s mother that she too had seen the strangers dressed in white: the ones that had taken the black spot from Muhammad’s heart. So I hadn’t imagined it! Someone else had seen it!
Muhammad’s mother, Aminah, listened to Halimah’s story in astonishment. When Halimah had finished, Aminah asked her who she thought the strangers were. Halimah said she did not know.
After Halimah had left, I could see Aminah thinking hard. Who were the two strangers dressed all in white, and what was the black spot they had taken from Muhammad’s heart?
If I could have talked to Aminah I would have told her what I was thinking. I was sure that the strangers were angels sent by God to take all the badness and evil out of Muhammad’s heart . With all the wickedness taken out, Muhammad’s heart would be full of goodness.
As I watched Muhammad playing happily with his mother, I had the feeling that he would grow up to become a very special person indeed. And I could tell that Aminah, his mother, thought so too.
2. Muhammad grows up
Do you enjoy stories? I love stories, and so does my young master, Muhammad. Muhammad’s grandfather was called Abd al-Muttalib, and he told the most wonderful stories.
But before I tell you more about Abd al-Muttalib and Muhammad, I had better tell you a little bit about myself. I am not a person at all. I am a camel. That’s right, a camel with a hump and a superior expression that seems to say, “I know everything that there is to be known”.
In the hot desert land of Arabia, where I live, the people believe that God has 100 names. 99 are known to human beings and the 100th name (which is much the most important name) is known only to God. Some people say that the camel has such a superior expression because the camel also knows the 100th name of God; but I can tell you that isn’t true!
Let me tell you about my master Muhammad and his grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib. Muhammad lived with Abd al-Muttalib because his father, Abdullah, had died before he was born and his mother, Aminah, had died when he was only six years old. Sadly, that was not the last death of a loved one that Muhammad was to know.
Now although Muhammad’s grandfather was old, he was a very important man. He lived in the city of Makkah and he was the chief of a big family. He was the keeper of the well of Zam Zam and he also looked after a special square-shaped building called the Ka’aba. Lots of people used to come and visit the well and the Ka’aba.
Abd al-Muttalib was a wonderful story teller. At night, when the sun had gone down and the air was cold, we would sit outside around a fire. I would kneel down and Muhammad would sit with his back resting against my hump wrapped in his grandfather’s great coat. With millions of stars twinkling in the clear night sky, we would stay up late into the night listening enthralled to Abd al-Muttalib’s wonderful stories. He told tales of princes and princesses, of magicians and genies, of golden cities and far away lands, of magic lamps and carpets that could fly, of horses with wings and other mysterious creatures …
Muhammad and I were very happy living with Abd al-Muttalib, but our days of happiness were soon to end. Muhammad’s father and mother had both died and now his grandfather died too. There was only one person left who could look after Muhammad, and that was his uncle, Abu Talib.
Life was very different with Abu Talib, and to begin with Muhammad was very sad. He still had me, his camel, to keep him company, but he missed his father and his mother and his grandfather and he felt very lonely.
Abu Talib loved Muhammad and he took good care of him. But Abu Talib was no story teller or dreamer. He was a merchant and a trader. He spent all his days and nights worrying about what to buy and what to sell. He was always thinking about how he could make more money for himself. He travelled all over Arabia buying and selling dates and raisins, sweet smelling oils and perfumes, rolls of cloth and animal skins.
Abu Talib had lots and lots of camels. He needed them to carry all the things that he wanted to buy and sell. The camels, with their heavy loads, would walk one behind another in single-file. When camels follow each other in this way it is called a caravan. Each camel was tied to the one in front, and if I was lucky I would be allowed to lead all the others. Of course, I never used to carry a heavy load. I was Muhammad’s camel and I would carry my young master. He was always very kind to me and I loved him very much.
When Muhammad was twelve years old, his uncle got ready to go on a long journey. He was planning to take a camel caravan all the way to the land of Syria and Muhammad desperately wanted to go. He pleaded and pleaded with Abu Talib and at last his uncle agreed that Muhammad could go. Soon we were on our way. The journey lasted many weeks. We travelled across vast sandy deserts, past high rocky mountains and through strange towns.
At last the caravan came to the land of Syria. As we entered the city of Bosra (with me leading all the other camels) we heard a sound we had never heard before. It was the sound of bells. The bells were being rung to tell Christians that it was time to say their prayers to Jesus and God. Muhammad was fascinated by the sound, and he brought the whole caravan to a halt so that he could stop and listen.
As we listened to the bells an extraordinary thing happened. One moment I was standing in the blazing hot sun with Muhammad on my back. The next moment I was standing in the shade. That was better! Muhammad and I were much cooler now. But why were all the other camels still in bright sunlight?
I looked up, and to my amazement I saw that a palm tree was bending right over so that its leaves and branches could shade Muhammad from the sun. Then I saw a man coming towards us. He came right up to me and looked up at Muhammad who was still sitting on my back.
The man spoke, “I am a holy man and my name is Bahira. I am a Christian and I spend my time praying to Jesus and God. I was praying in the little room where I live when a picture came into my mind. I saw a caravan led by a camel that looked just like this one.”
When he said this, Bahira pointed at me! Then he went on, “I saw a boy riding on the camel. Above the boy’s head was a little cloud. The cloud moved with the boy, keeping him in the shade at all times.”
Then Bahira looked straight up at Muhammad and said, “You are the boy that I saw in my mind! There isn’t a cloud above your head, but look how the tree is bending over to give you its shade. This is God’s way of showing that you are a very special person. You will grow up to be a man that is good and kind, honest and trustworthy. You will tell people about God. You will be a great leader and many people will follow you.”
I listened to Bahira in amazement as he told everyone about what a wonderful and important person Muhammad would grow up to be. And to think that of all the camels in the world, I was lucky enough to be the one to carry him on my back and to have him as my friend!
Bahira invited everyone from the caravan to a feast. Even the camels had plenty to eat and drink! Afterwards he and Muhammad had a very long talk. Then I heard Bahira speaking these words to Abu Talib, Muhammad’s uncle, “Go back to your own land of Arabia, and keep Muhammad safe.”
And so we returned to Makkah, where Muhammad grew up safely in his uncle’s care.
As Muhammad grew older, he became known for his honesty and his ability to work hard. People called him ‘al-Amin’, which means ‘the one who can be trusted’. He was gentle and kind and he made friends with everyone he met, warming them all with his wonderful smile.
And the words of Bahira came true, for when Muhammad grew into a man he became a great leader and God’s messenger in the world. I know, because I was there.
3. Muhammad and the angel’s message Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the actual word of Allah, revealed to Muhammad, the last and greatest of the prophets, by the angel Jibril (Gabriel). The first revelation took place in the year 610 CE, when Muhammad was 40. The Qur’an is always treated with the utmost reverence and respect. Many Muslim children learn to recite it by heart, an achievement which earns them the title of Hafiz. Many of the people and stories that are found in the Bible also appear (in different versions) in the Qur’an. An English translation (from Arabic) of the first words revealed to Muhammad reads:
“Read, in the name of your Lord, who created,
Created man from a clot of blood.
Read, for your Lord is bountiful,
Who taught by the pen,
Taught man what he knew not.”
Have you got a favourite, special book?
Here is a story about a man called Muhammad. He brought the words of a very special book to the world, and he was told these words in a very special way.
Muhammad lived a long time ago, in the far distant land of Arabia. He lived with his wife in a busy, bustling city called Makkah. Muhammad sometimes liked to get away from the noisy, crowded city. There were times when he needed to be somewhere very still and very quiet, where he could be completely on his own.
We all feel like that sometimes, don’t we?
Muhammad had a special place where he went to be alone. It was a cave. Here Muhammad could think quiet thoughts and pray to God.
Muhammad’s cave was near the top of a mountain called the Mount of Light. This wasn’t the sort of mountain that is covered with tall fir trees and snow. It rose up out of the hot desert and the sun burned down brightly on its rocky slopes.
One night Muhammad sat in the cave watching the sun go down. The sky was filled with beautiful colours: reds and yellows and oranges. As it grew dark, Muhammad lay down, wrapped his cloak around him and fell asleep.
While he was asleep, a messenger came to visit him. This was no ordinary messenger. It was one of God’s special angels. It was Gabriel, the angel God sent when the message was really important.
Have you heard the story about how God sent the angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she would have a very special baby called Jesus? Well, now God was sending Gabriel to Muhammad with another important message.
God’s message for Muhammad was written on a scroll. Gabriel held out the scroll and told Muhammad to read it. Muhammad had never learned to read or write, and so he couldn’t read the words on the scroll.
For a second time, the angel Gabriel ordered Muhammad to read the words on the scroll. Muhammad still could not read them. But when Gabriel commanded Muhammad to read the words for the third time, something very wonderful and mysterious happened.
Muhammad started to say the words on the scroll, and he knew that the words he was speaking had come straight from God. He knew that he would always remember these words. It was as though the words had been written on his heart.
Muhammad suddenly felt very afraid. He ran out of the cave, but as he clambered down the mountain-side he heard a voice from above, “Muhammad! You are the messenger of God and I am Gabriel.”
Muhammad looked up. There, towering above him, was Gabriel. The great figure of the angel filled the entire sky. Whichever way Muhammad looked, there was Gabriel.
Muhammad ran as fast as his legs would carry him, all the way back to the city of Makkah.
When Muhammad told his wife and friends about the messages from God they wrote the words down. In those days, they didn’t have paper, so they wrote on other things: stones, leaves, bits of bone and bits of leather. All the bits of writing were put together to make a book called the Qur’an. It became the most precious and the most special book of all to people who are Muslims, because they believe it contains the very words of God.
Wasn’t it a good thing that Muhammad listened to the angel after all?
4. Muhammad is saved by a spider and a dove When Muhammad started to preach about his revelations from Allah, he ran into conflict with the most powerful people in Makkah. He urged the Makkans to turn away from their worship of many tribal gods and to unite in the worship of Allah alone; but opposition grew. People who listened to Muhammad were persecuted, and Muhammad himself began to fear for his life. Eventually, Muhammad and his followers were forced to flee from Makkah to Madinah (an event known as the Hijrah). The story which follows is told about Muhammad’s escape with Abu Bakr. The year was 622 CE, and Muslims date their calendar from this point in their history. I wonder whether you like playing hide-and-seek? Where do you like to hide? How do you feel when you hear the person looking for you calling, “I’m coming! Ready or not!”? When you hear the footsteps coming nearer and nearer, you have to keep really still and really quiet, don’t you?
A man called Abu Bakr knew just how that felt, but he was not playing a game. He and his friend Muhammad, who was a very special person, were hiding because they were being chased and their lives were in danger.
All this happened a long time ago in a hot country called Arabia. In those days the people of Arabia believed in many different gods. Muhammad said that there was only one God, and because of this he made many enemies. Some of his enemies chased Abu Bakr and Muhammad across the desert and into some rocky mountains.
It was getting dark and they were hiding in a cave. They could hear their enemies getting nearer and nearer. Abu Bakr was getting more and more afraid and his knees began to shake. Then they heard a voice near the entrance of the cave. Surely they would be discovered?
Now Abu Bakr’s whole body began to shake, he shook from his head to his toes! “Don’t worry,” said Muhammad in a calm voice. “We are not alone. God is taking care of us.” But poor Abu Bakr could not help being afraid.
Then he heard the voice again, right at the entrance of the cave. “No-one can possibly be hiding in this cave,” the voice said. “Look, the entrance is covered with a spider’s web and a dove is sitting in its nest in a nearby tree. No-one could have gone into this cave without breaking the spider’s web and disturbing the dove.”
Abu Bakr could hardly believe his ears! He waited and waited until the voices and footsteps had disappeared into the distance. Then he tiptoed out to peep.
Sure enough the spider had come along after he had and Muhammad had gone into the cave and it had covered the entrance with its web. The dove had built a nest in the branches of the tree close by to look as though she had always been there. The enemies had been tricked by the spider and the dove, and Abu Bakr and Muhammad were safe.
Next time you are playing hide-and-seek and you hear “I’m coming! Ready or not!”, you might remember the story about Muhammad, Abu Bakr, the spider and the dove.
5. Qaswa the camel chooses the site of the first mosque
In the accounts of Muhammad’s childhood given earlier (see 1, and 2, above), the narrative is related from the point of view of Muhammad’s camel purely as a story-telling device. However, the following story is authentic. According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad really did allow Qaswa, his camel to choose the location of the first mosque.
My name is Qaswa the camel. Have you ever heard of me? I am a very famous camel indeed. I once lived in the hot desert sands of Arabia. Today, if you were to ask anyone in Arabia, “Who was Qaswa?”, they would reply, “Qaswa was a camel that belonged to Muhammad, the greatest of all God’s messengers in the world. Qaswa was Muhammad’s favourite camel, and she went everywhere with him.”
Lots of stories are told about me and Muhammad. My master loved me very much, and we had many adventures together. The best story about me is the one I am going to tell you now. The story is about how I was given a very special job to do.
My master Muhammad was a very good man, but he had many enemies. He had to leave the city of Makkah to go and live in the city of Madinah (on the way he escaped from his enemies by hiding in a cave – see the previous story in this collection, entitled ‘Muhammad, the Spider and the Dove’).
When Muhammad arrived in Madinah, he decided to put up a building where people could come and say their prayers to God. But he didn’t know where to build it. All the people of Madinah came out of their houses and crowded around. They were all shouting out suggestions about where the place of prayer could be built. Muhammad spoke to the crowd, “Let Qaswa, my faithful camel choose where the place of prayer is to be built!”
Can you believe it? It was so embarrassing! Everyone looked at me! I started to walk, and do you know what? Everyone followed me!
Well, I had an important decision to make, and I wasn’t going to rush. I walked all around the city of Madinah with everyone following me. First of all we walked around the north part of the city, then the west and then the south. There were some nice places to build a place of prayer, but nowhere felt just right.
And then we came to the east part of the city. I led everyone into an open space with a wall all around it. This seemed to be the perfect place. I sat down on the ground and everyone cheered!
It didn’t take long to build the place of prayer. Everyone in Madinah helped. I carried loads of bricks, and Muhammad my master helped with the building work.
When the building was finished, Muhammad announced that it would be called a mosque. The word ‘mosque’ means a place where people bow down to worship God.
Today there are mosques all over the world, but this was the very first one, and I, Qaswa the camel, had chosen where it was to be built. What an honour!
Muhammad knew that the people would need a signal to tell them when it was time to gather at the mosque to pray. At first a bell was used, but then God sent a message in a dream. God’s message was that a man should call the people to prayer. A person with a good strong voice was needed.
Muhammad knew just the person: an African man called Bilal, who had once been a slave. Bilal had a voice that was both beautiful and powerful. He climbed up to the top of the mosque and used these words to call the people to prayer:
“God is most great.
There is only One God.
Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Come to prayer!
Come to success!
God is most great.
There is only One God.”
Beside every mosque, there usually stands a tall tower called a minaret. The words that Bilal used are called out five times every day from the top of the minaret to call people to prayer.
As well as minarets, mosques often have big domes on top. I like to think that when people see a mosque, the shape reminds them of a camel sitting down. The dome reminds them of the camel’s hump, and the minaret reminds them of the camel’s tall neck. I know this isn’t the real reason why mosques are built with domes and minarets; but if you ever see a mosque, either a picture of one, or, if you are lucky, a real one, perhaps you will be reminded of me: Qaswa the camel, who had the honour of choosing where the very first mosque was to be built!
6. Muhammad’s wonderful night journey
The stories of al-Isra (Muhammad’s night journey to Jerusalem) and al-Miraj (his subsequent ascent through the seven heavens and beyond) are highly significant for Muslims. In some versions, Muhammad leads the people in worship in al-Aqsa mosque rather than among the ruins of the temple. The city of Jerusalem is dominated by a beautiful Islamic building called the Dome of the Rock. This building, with its distinctive golden dome, was built at the end of the 7th century CE to contain the great rock from which Buraq leaped into the seven heavens. In India, Buraq is depicted as having the face of a woman and the tail of a peacock, but there is no basis for this in traditional accounts, in which the Buraq is described as an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule. You all know what it feels like to be tired, don’t you? You yawn and your body feels all heavy. You feel that you just can’t do anymore. You have just got to get some sleep. Your head flops down and off you go into a very, very deep sleep. Grown-ups sometimes feel that way too!
I’m going to tell you about what happened to a man called Muhammad when he fell asleep. When you hear the story, you may think that Muhammad was dreaming, but Muhammad was sure it really happened.
Muhammad was a very special man who lived a long time ago in the hot desert land of Arabia. Many people believe that he was God’s messenger in the world.
Muhammad lived in a city called Makkah. Every day he went around the city helping those that needed help, and talking to people about God. By the end of the day he felt very, very tired. All he wanted to do was lie down and go to sleep.
At the end of one particularly tiring day, Muhammad went into his room, lay down, and, almost before you could blink, he fell sound asleep. In his sleep, he seemed to hear a voice calling his name, “Muhammad!” called the voice, “Muhammad! Muhammad!”
The voice grew louder and louder until, in the end, Muhammad woke up and looked around. Can you guess what he saw?
There before him was a dazzling sight. It was an angel: a special angel whose name was Gabriel (see also ‘Muhammad and the Angel’s Message’ above). I expect you can imagine what the angel must have looked like, standing there in full splendour.
Muhammad sat up and stared at the angel. Gabriel seemed to be beckoning with his hand as though he wanted Muhammad to follow him. So Muhammad got up straight away and started to follow Gabriel. They went outside into the garden, and there another amazing sight reached his eyes. No, it was not another angel. There stood an extraordinary creature. In fact, it was the most marvellous beast that Muhammad had ever seen.
At first, Muhammad thought that he was looking at a dazzling white horse, but, as he looked more closely, he realised that the creature was too small to be a horse, but too big to be a donkey. The creature had wings that stretched out on either side of its body like the wings of an eagle.
“This must be a very special animal indeed,” thought Muhammad. “Surely this creature can run faster and fly higher than anything else in the world.”
Muhammad couldn’t help but wonder what the name of this amazing, horse-like creature was. But, before he had time to ask, the angel turned to him and said, “This is Buraq, which means lightning. She is going to take you on a special journey. Climb up onto her back and let her take you where she will.”
No sooner had Muhammad climbed onto Buraq’s back, than the creature’s great wings began to beat. Suddenly he realised that they were flying! Far below he could see the lights of campfires in the desert. They flew higher and higher into the night sky. The angel Gabriel flew alongside Buraq. Before long, they had left Makkah far behind them. And then Muhammad saw another city below them. So this was where they were going!
The angel Gabriel whispered into Buraq’s ear, and they began to descend back down to earth. Buraq landed softly right in the middle of the city. Before them stood the ruins of a huge building, and among the stones a crowd of people had gathered. Gabriel spoke to Muhammad, “We have come to the city of Jerusalem, the city that Jesus once knew. A great temple once stood here. These people have gathered in the remains of the temple. They are waiting for you to lead them in their prayers to God.”
So Muhammad led the people in their prayers. And after the prayers were finished, he climbed once more onto Buraq. With one bound Buraq jumped onto the top of a huge rock, and from there she took an enormous leap into the sky.
This time, Buraq leaped so high that Muhammad found himself flying through the seven heavens of God’s creation. In each heaven Muhammad met people who in their lives had shown their goodness and their love of God. He met Adam, the first man ever to live. He met Moses, who led his people from slavery to freedom. And he met Jesus, who taught us to love one other.
Some people say that Muhammad went even further: that he passed beyond the seventh heaven and found himself in the presence of God.
At the end of this extraordinary night, Buraq carried Muhammad all the way back to Makkah. Gabriel led Muhammad back into his room. He lay down and fell asleep once more. When he woke up, he spent a long time thinking about all the strange and wonderful things that had happened to him during the night.
II. Stories illustrating the kindness of the Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr, his successor
Muhammad and the hungry stranger
“Grumble, rumble, rumble, grumble”: the poor hungry man could hear his stomach rumbling and grumbling. He was so very hungry. He had not had anything to eat for so very long.
“I know,” he thought to himself. “I will go to the mosque where people are praying and thinking about their God. Someone there will surely help me.”
The mosque was a big, beautiful building. The people inside were saying prayers and thinking quiet thoughts when the poor hungry man went in.
“That man looks kind,” thought the poor hungry man, “I’ll ask him for some food”. The man he chose to ask was indeed a very kind and very special man. He was called Muhammad, and many people believe that he was God’s special messenger in the world.
Muhammad tried to help. He asked another man to go to his own house to fetch some food, but the answer came back, “No, I’m sorry there is no food.” “Grumble, rumble” went the hungry man’s tummy.
Muhammad asked a second man for food and a bed for the hungry man, but the answer came back, “No, I’m sorry there is no food and no spare room.” “Grumble rumble” went the hungry man’s tummy.
Muhammad asked a third man, and this time the answer came back, “Yes, I think I can help. My wife and I have some food and a room where this man can sleep.”
The kind stranger took the poor hungry man home with him. He whispered to his wife about what had happened. “But what can we do?” his wife whispered back. “There is hardly enough food for our children to eat, let alone you and me! And now we have an extra mouth to feed as well!”
“Muhammad asked me to help this poor hungry man,” said the kind stranger, “And so we shall. But we mustn’t let him think we haven’t got enough food for him. If he realises that we do not have enough food to share he will feel guilty and he may not accept it.”
So the kind man thought and thought about what he could do. “I know!” he whispered. “When the children are in bed we will turn out the lights and serve the food in the dark. We will say that we have to keep the lights out in order not to wake the children. We will pretend that we are eating, but really we will give all our food to the poor hungry man.”
And this is exactly what they did. They sat down in darkness and while the poor hungry man ate, they pretended to eat too. The hungry man’s stomach stopped grumbling and rumbling. He had a good meal and a good sleep. The next day he said, “Thank you” to the kind stranger and his wife and went on his way.
When Muhammad saw the kind stranger later in the day, he said “Thank you” too, and he told the man that God was very pleased with him for being so kind.
Mohammad and the thirsty camel It was a hot dusty day in the town of Madinah. There was very little shade, so most people stayed in their houses trying to keep cool.
There were a few shady places outside. In one part of the town there was a garden, and in the middle of the garden stood a fountain. Some men were sitting around the fountain in the shade of some tall palm trees. This was normally a peaceful spot, but near to where the men were sitting there was a camel, and it was making a terrible noise.
Why do you think the camel was making such a din? The poor animal was tied to a post in the blazing sun. It was very hot and very thirsty. It could hear the tinkling sound of the fountain and it could see the water sparkling in the sunlight. If only it could have a drink!
Just then the men at the fountain were joined by a stranger. He looked round at the men resting in the shade, and then he walked over to the camel. He was very annoyed at what he saw.
He went back over to the men. “Who does this camel belong to?” he asked. “It’s mine,” replied one of the men.
The stranger looked at the man and spoke sternly to him, “You should be ashamed of yourself for treating this creature so badly. You made sure that you were cool and refreshed, but you left your camel tied in the hot sun with nothing at all to drink. When we use creatures to help us in our work we have to look after them. We should treat them as we would like others to treat us.”
The man now realised how unkind he had been and felt sorry for the camel. He led the hot creature to the fountain and let it drink the cool water. Then he allowed it to rest in the shade. The stranger smiled and walked away.
“Who was that?”, asked the owner of the camel. “His name is Muhammad,” replied one of the other men. “He is a good man, and some say that he is the messenger of God.”
Muhammad and the ants Have you ever been camping? Have you ever sat around a camp fire?
Hundreds of years ago,a man called Muhammad was travelling across the Arabian desert. Muhammad was a good man and he had many followers. Some people said that he was God’s messenger in the world.
At the end of a long hot day, Muhammad and his followers stopped to pitch their tents. Muhammad walked around the camp making sure that everything was ready for the night.
One of the men lit a fire to keep himself warm. Muhammad walked over to the fire and noticed that there was an ant hill nearby. Some of the ants came out of the ant hill and started walking towards the fire. The ants were attracted by the light and the warmth of the fire.
Muhammad became worried. If the ants came any closer to the fire, there was a danger that they would be burned. They were only tiny little ants, but they were still God’s creatures.
Muhammad spoke to the man who had made the fire, “Quick! Put out the fire!”
The man used a blanket to beat out the flames. But he was puzzled. Why had Muhammad told him to put out the fire? He looked round, and for the first time he noticed the ants. Now he knew why Muhammad had wanted him to put out the fire! Muhammad showed kindness to all living creatures, and he did not want the ants to be harmed.
From that night on, whenever the man lit a fire, he always made sure that it would not hurt any creature, however small.
Muhammad and the sleeping kitten
Have you ever been suddenly woken when you are in a deep sleep? It’s not very nice, is it! It feels really horrible. Here is a story about a little kitten who was enjoying a deep restful sleep. The story tells of how a very famous man called Muhammad stopped the kitten from being suddenly woken up.
Once upon a time, in the far distant land of Arabia, there lived a good and thoughtful man called Muhammad. Muhammad was always kind to animals, and he was a great lover of cats. Often he would sit stroking a cat on his lap. His favourite cat was a little kitten called Muezza.
Every day, Muhammad would pray to God. When he prayed, he always wore a special robe. One day, at prayer time, Muhammad went to put on his robe. Guess what! There lay the robe, and on top of one of the sleeves lay Muezza the kitten. Muezza was curled up fast asleep. Now I am sure most people would simply have pushed the kitten off, but not Muhammad. Rather than disturb the sleeping kitten, he cut off the sleeve of the robe. That’s right! So that Muezza could carry on sleeping in peace, Muhammad cut off the sleeve and put on the robe with one sleeve missing!
It is also said that when Muhammad stroked the cat three times, the cat gained special powers! Muhammad gave the cat seven lives and the ability to land on all four feet at all times, even when falling from an upside down position. Muhammad taught people to treat cats well. He said that a cat is a creature to be looked after and loved.
Abu Bakr sets Bilal free Long ago, in a hot desert land called Arabia, there lived two men. The two men lived in the city of Makkah, and they were both very, very rich. One was called Abu Bakr, and the other was called Umaiya.
Abu Bakr was good and kind, but Umaiya was mean and cruel. Abu Bakr spent his money helping others, but Umaiya kept all his money to himself. He owned houses and land and lots and lots of camels. He also owned slaves, and the slaves had to work very hard for their cruel master.
Umaiya used to pray to statues. He believed that the statues were gods, and if he prayed to them they would help him to become even richer.
Now at that time in the city of Makkah there lived a man called Muhammad. Muhammad said that statues were not real gods. There was only One true God, and everyone should stop praying to statues and worship the One God instead. Muhammad called the One God, Allah.
You remember that Umaiya owned many slaves. One of his slaves was an African man called Bilal. One day Umaiya heard Bilal praying to Allah - the One God that Muhammad had talked about. This made Umaiya very angry. He wanted all his slaves to be like him and to worship statues. How dare one of his slaves worship a different God!
Umaiya told Bilal to stop praying to Allah, but Bilal took no notice. He just carried on saying his prayers. This made Umaiya furious. He ordered some of his other slaves to tie Bilal’s hands and feet to pegs in the ground so that he was stretched out in the hot sun. Then he lifted a huge rock onto Bilal’s chest. Even though he was in great pain and very very thirsty, Bilal kept on saying, “There is only One God. There is only One God.”
Every day after that Umaiya gave orders for Bilal to be tied down in the sun with a large rock on his chest. But still Bilal continued to say, “There is only One God. There is only One God,” even though he was becoming weaker and weaker.
Now you may remember that at the start of this story, two rich men were mentioned. There was the cruel Umaiya, but also there was Abu Bakr, who was good and kind. It is at this point that Abu Bakr enters the story.
One day, Abu Bakr was passing by when he saw Bilal stretched out on the ground. Although Bilal was very weak, he still managed to croak, “There is only One God. There is only One God.”
Like Bilal, Abu Bakr believed in the One God. In fact, it was Abu Bakr that had told Bilal about the One God in the first place! He was horrified to see how cruelly Bilal was being treated. He decided to try to rescue Bilal. He spoke angrily to Umaiya, “No one, not even a slave, deserves to be treated like this.”
“Bilal is my slave,” replied Umaiyah. “I will do whatever I like with him. If he stops believing in the One God, then I will release him.”
“I told Bilal about the One God,” said Abu Bakr. “I believe in the One God. I also believe in the words of Muhammad, who tells us that we should always act with love and kindness.”
“So it was you that filled his head with all this stupid nonsense! Why don’t you show some love and kindness yourself? Go on: buy Bilal from me!”
And that is exactly what Abu Bakr did. It cost him many camels and lots of gold, but it was worth it to set Bilal free.
And what did Bilal do with his freedom? He became one of the most famous followers of Muhammad, the messenger of Allah, the One God.
And what happened to Abu Bakr? After Muhammad’s death he became the leader of all those who followed Muhammad’s teachings: the people who are called Muslims.