Holy Prophet's Activities As A Young Boy - Our Prophet 2 - Birth To Revelation
Now, in his early youth, when the Prophet was you know a pre-teen or a teenager, what is something that he was normally occupied with? We have a number of narrations and hadiths that the Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi, before he got married, there were many times in which he would be a shepherd. He would have a flock to take care of and he would be a shepherd. In fact, not only him, but we have narrations that almost all prophets of God were shepherds.
We have a hadith from Imam as-Sadiq, 'alayhi as-salam in which he says, 'Ma ba'atha Allahu nabiyyan qat hatta yastar'eehi al-ghanam'- 'Every Prophet of God, whom God sent to humanity at one point in their life, God had them be shepherds.' Why? 'Wa yu'alimmuhu bi dhalika ra'yahu an-nas'-'Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is training his prophets to now lead the people.' Once you learn to lead your flock, that teaches you a lot of leadership skills, right?
Because when you have to lead a group of sheep, it is difficult, it is challenging. You learn patience, you learn how to organize them. If one of them is not following, it is slower, it is faster, you have to keep them all in one group. So, one of the ways in which Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala would teach his Prophets leadership skills, it would start with what? With the animals, with the sheep. And that really teaches you a lot of leadership skills.
Now, with our Messenger of God, obviously he did not need to develop any leadership skills. He was chosen by Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. He is the greatest human being of God, he was directly disciplined by God. In one hadith, the Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi, says, 'Addabani Rabbi'- 'God is the One who disciplined me, and taught me the skills that I have.' So, the Prophet does not really need to train himself over a flock of sheep for him to develop any leadership skills.
So, what was the philosophy then? Why did Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, according to these historical accounts, have his Messenger, at some points in his early life, be a shepherd? Two primary reasons.
Number one, to show his humble origins. That the Prophet is a man of humbleness, and that really teaches you humbleness. And not only that, but it shows clearly that you were not educated by some prestigious university, school, group or society. People knew that the Prophet in his youth, he was not going to school and studying, he was not learning how to read and write.
He would spend a lot of his time looking after his herd, being a shepherd. So where did he suddenly get the Qur'an from? That was an indication from God that the Prophet did not study under anyone. Because when a shepherd brings you a message, you are shocked. Where did he learn that from? Which school did he go to? Who raised him and educated him?
So, to show that humble origin and to make it clearer that the Holy Qur'an is the miracle of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. One reason could have been for the Prophet being a shepherd was this. To get that across. That is number one.
Number two, a shepherd spends a lot of time in the open field under the sky in quiet, beautiful environment that actually gives you a chance to meditate and reflect and worship God under the stars.
Just as the Prophet would do in Makkah after his marriage when he would go to the cave of Hira, right? He would go there. Why? Not to be secluded or isolate himself from society or be antisocial. No! But to meditate and prepare himself for that heavy message - for the Holy Qur'an, for the revelation from God.
So being a shepherd in your early stages of your life actually gives you the opportunity to spend some time away from your corrupt society, paganistic customs and traditions and to actually connect to your Lord under the open skies. That was a very good opportunity.
So, we believe that while there are some Muslims who say the Prophet needed those leadership skills, we do not accept that. We the followers of Ahl ul-Bayt, we say the Prophet was disciplined by God. He was chosen by God. He did not need to go and practice on a herd of sheep for him to develop leadership skills. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala endowed him with those skills, but he did so primarily for these two reasons to indicate his humble origins and number two to have that private time with Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala in an open desert under the sky under the stars.
So, we do have historical accounts that indicate the Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi, would spend a lot of time you know taking care of a herd especially the sheep that belonged to Bani Hashim. A lot of times the Prophet would go around Makkah and he would be the shepherd for that herd that belonged to his family, either to his uncle Abu Talib or his distant relatives from Bani Hashim.
So that is one of the things that we see the Prophet salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi being busy with.