It was customary for the Arabs in Makkah when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born that they sent their newborn children to some Bedouins where the young ones were breast-fed by wet nurses. They felt that spending the first few years in a desert environment ensured that the child would grow up physically and mentally strong. Indications suggest that Makkah suffered some infectious diseases, and its people felt that children would be spared such diseases in the desert’s open air. We have a detailed story of how the young Muhammad ended up with Haleemah, his Bedouin wet nurse. We need only mention that Haleemah and her family were most delighted to have him, feeling that the young child brought some subtle blessing into their life. Hence, after he was weaned, Haleemah begged Aminah, the Prophet’s mother, to allow her to keep him for some more time. This was agreed, and most probably Muhammad stayed with Haleemah until he was five years of age.

In normal cases, when a child spends the first few years of life with carers who are not of his own family, living away from his hometown, it is not expected that relations with such carers would be maintained into his adult life without an effort by both parties. Nor would it be expected that he would look at those days of his childhood with tenderness. Most of us remember very little of our early years. Besides, Haleemah and her people lived in the desert, while Muhammad (peace be upon him) spent the rest of his life in Makkah, except for his last ten years when he lived in Madinah. Yet we read that in his adult life, Muhammad showed genuine gratitude to those very people.