Muhammad: The Trader

The Dawn: The Trader

Thus respected and honoured, Muhammad lived a quiet life in the family of Abu Talib. He was never covetous. All through his life he showed no enthusiasm for the pursuit of riches. If left to himself, he would probably have preferred the quiet life. But he was always anxious to help his uncle who had the burden of a large family upon him. So whenever the Holy Prophet found any opportunity he cheerfully helped him.

The account given by Ibn Sa'd is as follows:

When his nephew was five-and-twenty years of age, Abu Talib addressed him in these words:

"I am, as you know, a man of scanty means, and truly the times are hard with me. Now there is a caravan of your own tribe about to start for Syria and Khadijah, daughter of Khuwaylid, is in need of the services of men of our tribe to take care of her merchandise. If you offer yourself for this enterprise, she would readily accept your services. "Muhammad (peace be on him) replied, "Be it as you say." Abu Talib went to her and inquired whether she would entrust this enterprise to his nephew. Khadijah, who had already heard of the honesty, trustworthiness and high moral character of Muhammad (peace be on him) lost no time in accepting this offer and said: "I would give him twice of what I would give to the other men of your tribe." (1)

So the matter was settled and Muhammad (peace be on him) undertook the journey. When the caravan was about to set out his uncle commanded him to the men of the company. Maysarah, the servant of Khadijah, likewise travelled along with Muhammad (peace be on him). The caravan took the usual route to Syria, the same which the Holy Prophet had traversed with his uncle known as Basra, on the road to Damascus, and he sat down to take rest under a shady tree. A Christian monk who lived near by, on seeing him, rushed to the spot and said: "Right from Jesus, the son of Mary, none ever sat here but a prophet." He then turned towards Maysarah and said: "Do these streaks of light always glisten in his eyes?" Maysarah replied in the affirmative. Upon this he remarked: "He is the Prophet and the last of the Apostles." (2)

The Holy Prophet was at that time busy in trade transactions. In the meanwhile there was an altercation with a customer. He asked him to swear by Lat and Uzza in support of his contention. "I have never done that," was the prompt reply. "When I happen to pass by their images, I purposely avoid them and take a different course." The man was struck at these words and said: "You are honest, and whatever you contend is absolutely true. By God, here is a man whose glory has been sung by our scholars, and foretold by our books." (3)

This is the full account that we find in the authentic records of Muhammad's (peace be on him) biographies. We do not find any trace of all those stories which have been deliberately fabricated by the western biographers of the Holy Prophet: that it was to his meeting a Nestorian monk that Muhammad (peace be upon him) owed his knowledge of Christian doctrines and wherefrom he imbibed his hatred of idolatry.

Like all other Prophets of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him) had a natural aversion to all those evil practices that we find in an idolatrous society. He was instinctively a monotheist and would under no circumstances invoke any other deity except Allah, the sole Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

At that time the concept of monotheism had lost much of its meaning. The way in which the dogma of Trinity was forced upon the people with the misleading and offensive zeal of Eutychian and Jacobite partisanship, and the gross form in which the worship of Mary (Mariolatry) was preached to the masses, could hardly make any appeal to Muhammad (peace be upon him) who had been, from the very beginning of his life, an ardent believer in One God.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) conducted business in Syria with such prudence and sense of duty that he returned from the trade expedition with an amount of profit larger than usual. Khadijah was so deeply impressed by the intelligence and integrity of Muhammad (peace be upon him) that she decided to marry him. The conversation that ensued between the maid-servant of Khadijah, who had been deputed to convey the message of marriage and the Prophet, clearly reveals that before this offer of marriage, Muhammad (peace be upon him) had absolutely no idea of this alliance.


1. Ibn Sa'd Vol. I, p. 129.

2. Ibid., p. 130.