The custom of breastfeeding babies by women who weren’t their biological mothers and of allowing these very women to take their breastfed children to the desert was regarded as signs of nobility and high status among the Arabs of the pre-Isla mic era.
That year Haleemah came from the desert all the way to Makkah in the company of some women from the clan of Banoo Sa'd, hoping to find babies to nurse. Each woman except Haleemah succeeded in finding a child to nurse...
Haleemah said, "There wasn’t any woman among us who wasn’t offered the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and as soon as a woman was told that he was an orphan she would reject him. We would say, 'What is his mother going to give us?' For, we only expected recompense from the baby's father. By Allah, each of my friends was able to get a nursling except me. When I did not succeed in getting any (baby) for myself, I told my husband, al-Haarith ibn 'Abdul-'Uzza,
'By Allah, I would not like to be the only one from among my friends who’ll go back home without a nursling. I am going to take that orphan boy.'
My husband said,
'You can go and take him. Perhaps, Allah will bless us through him.'
I went and took the boy. By Allah, I only took him because I couldn’t find any other."
Haleemah continued: "As soon as I took him and brought him to my riding animal, I breast-fed him as much as Allah would permit and he drank until he was satiated. His (foster-) brother (her own son who was of the same age as the Prophet) also drank until he was satiated. My husband then went to our old camel and milked her and both of us drank until we were satiated. We then passed a good night.
In the morning, my husband said to me,
"Haleemah, by Allah, I can see that you have accepted a blessed child. Can't you observe the blessings we have been witnessing since we took him, and (how) Allah has continued to increase us in blessing?!"
We set out to begin the journey back to our village. By Allah, my donkey was so fast that none of my friends could catch up with it. Surprised at this, they said, "Daughter of Abu Dhu'ayb! Was this not your donkey on which you set out with us?!" I said,
"Yes, by Allah, it is!"
They then said, "By Allah, there is something about her!" They were alluding to the change in the donkey which was clearly visible.
When we arrived in the land of Banu Sa'd - and before that, I did not know a land more barren than our land - my sheep would graze and come home satisfied and full of milk. We would milk as much as we wanted, and none of our neighbors were able to have even one drop of milk from their own sheep. Their sheep would go out grazing and would return home with empty stomachs. They would then tell their shepherds, "You should be more vigilant regarding where you graze the sheep." But still their sheep would come back with empty stomachs while mine would come home satisfied, and we would milk them as much as we wanted. In this way Allah continued to shower us with blessings which we could clearly perceive.
Different From Other Children
When the boy, Muhammad (peace be upon him), reached the age of two, we noticed how he was growing up in a way different from other kids. By Allah, he had hardly reached the age of two when he already had strong skin. As the time had come to take him back to his mother, we decided to begin our journey back to Makkah. We were so sad and grieved over having to return Muhammad, as he was the blessing of our household. After his mother saw him, we requested her,
"Please let our son stay with us for another year as we fear the epidemic of Makkah for him."
In this way we continued pleading to her until she agreed.
A Strange Incident
Two or three months after we had brought him back from Makkah, an incidence occurred. He and his foster brother were in the back-yard with our sheep when his brother hurriedly came to us and said:
"That Qurayshi brother of mines was visited by two men clad in white garments. They laid him on his back and opened his belly."
His foster father and I rushed to him. We found him standing with a change of color in his face. His foster father embraced him and said: "My son, what happened to you?" He said, "Two men in white garments came to me. They laid me down and opened my belly. They removed something out and took it away. They then returned it as it was." We took him back home. His father said:
"Haleemah, I fear that my son has been touched by (the Jinn). So, let us take him back to his family before what we fear appears."
"So we took him to his mother. When she saw us, she exclaimed,
'What brought you back, foster parents?! You were taking excellent care of him!' We said,
'By Allah, nothing has happened. It is only that Allah has helped us pay our debts and we fear that some harm or unforeseen things might happen to him. That is why we brought him back.'
But his mother did not believe us. She insisted that we tell her the truth and when we told her what had happened, she said,
'So you fear that he might be touched by Satan?! No, by Allah! Satan will never be able to find his way to him. By Allah, there is something great about this son of mine. Shall I tell you something about him?'
We said, 'Yes.' She said,
'When I was pregnant with him, I never felt like I was carrying anything that was lighter than him. I saw in my dream that a light came out of me which illuminated the palaces of Syria. And when I gave birth to him, his delivery was different from that of other babies… So, leave him alone.'"
This is how Lady Haleemah had to part from her beloved son Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) later on in his life mentioned these incidents of his childhood to the Companions. A number of his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) in this way narrated events of his childhood.
At the end of the Battle of Hunayn, when the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) received goods and captives as spoils of war, a delegation from Hawaazin who had already embraced Islaam came to him at a place called Ji'raanah, They said:
"Messenger of Allah, we are a tribal people who had been touched with an affliction that is not unknown to you. Please grant us favor, Allah will grant you favor."
Among the captives was Halima’s daughter, who was the Prophet’s foster sister, by the name of Shaymaa'. Shaymaa’ came to her foster brother Muhammad, asking him to set her free. She reminded him of how when he was a child he would bite his sister Shaymaa’s back. When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) heard this, he laid down his garment for her and made her sit down beside him.
The spokesman of the delegation, Zuhayr ibn Sard then stood up and said:
"Messenger of Allah, your aunts and foster mothers who took care of you are among the captives that are inside the enclosures. If we had nursed Ibn Abi Shammar or Nu'man ibn Mundhir and then what happened to us from your part had happened to us from theirs, we would definitely hope in their reciprocal kindness and sympathy. And you are the best of those nursed by any foster mother."
He then recited a poetic passage in which he implored the Prophet (peace be upon him) to do favor to his foster people.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) then said, "As for that which is for me and the children of 'Abdul-Muttalib, it is all for Allah and for you." The Ansaar (the Helpers) then also said,
"Whatever belongs to us is for Allah and His Messenger!"
Indeed that day was a day of reciprocal kindness as the Prophet (peace be upon him) showed them how kind, caring, gentle and loving of a son and brother he was. Surely, the sons and brothers of today have alot to learn from our Prophet (peace be upon him).
May Allah Almighty bless our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and may He be pleased with his foster-mother Haleemah. Aameen!