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
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
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.”
Continue reading “Barakah”