The birth of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) and his early life

The Birth of Muhammad (pbuh) is blessing for the whole world.

The Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) was born on Monday 12th Rabi-ul-awal (571AD) which is approx. 20/22 of April. After he was born, Amina,his mother , sent word to his grandfather, Abdul-Muttalib of the joyous news. Abdul Mutallib was at the Kaaba, he rushed back to see his beloved newborn grandson.

Abdul-Muttalib tenderly held this newborn baby in his arms. He then took him to the Kaaba and prayed to Allah and thanked him for such a great blessing. He then named him Muhammad – the praised one, which was not a name common to the Arabs. Muhammad (pbuh)  was circumcised on the 7th day, which was the custom of the Arabs.

It was the general custom of the Arabs that their young children were sent to the desert to be brought up with the Bedouins. The tough desert life gave the child a good start in life and the language of the Bedouins was a much purer Arabic. For a few year, they grew up in this harsh but healthy desert life before returning to their parents.

The Prophet(pbuh) was entrusted to Halima Sadia. She was a poor wet nurse. She and her husband only had a donkey and old she-camel. She did not even have enough milk to feed the other child in her care. It was also the year of famine and drought so they would constantly pray for rain.

None of the other Bedouin wet nurses wanted to take the child Muhammad (pbuh)  because he was an orphan. When a child was returned to the family of the foster child, they would reward the wet nurse generously. They couldn’t expect to gain many riches from a child who was an orphan. Every woman got a child to bring up but Halima, who had arrived last and did not find a child to foster. She was ready to go back when she decided to return and collect the child Muhammad, even though he was an orphan.

As soon as she lifted Muhammad (pbuh), her fortunes turned right around and her life was filled with immense good fortune. Both Muhammad(pbuh) and the other foster child were fully fed, even though the previous night there was no milk for the other child. The old she camel, which had not given a drop of milk, was soon over flowing with milk. Halima was at the very back of the group of women but now was at the front of the group. This was indeed a great blessing for this poor Bedouin family.

Halima knew that she had a blessed child with all the miracles and blessings she was seeing with her own eyes. Halima’s herd of goats used to come home full, and over flowing with milk. The rest of the Bedouins’ goats used to come home scraggy and empty. They used to complain to the shepherd to take the sheep and goats to the same place that Halima takes her flock! There were many more signs about how her life was turned around.

After two years, Muhammad (pbuh) was returned to His mother Amina, but soon Amina was persuaded by Halima to return the baby back with them for another two years. At this time, Halima told Amina about the great blessings that she had received when Muhammad (pbuh) was in her care. There was also an illness in Makkah and the child would be protected from it.

A strange incident took place in the prophet’s childhood. Once both Muhammad (pbuh) and his foster brother were playing in the yard with the goats when the Angel Jibrael appeared to them. The Angel came, split open Muhammad(pbuh)’s chest, took out his heart, removed a blood clot and washed it in Zamzam. The angel then returned the heart to Muhammad(pbuh)’s body before going away. The angel said this was the part of shaytan in you.

His foster brother ran to Halima and said that Muhammad(pbuh) has been murdered. She rushed out and found Muhammad (pbuh) standing with a pale white face. She checked over his body and found that he was fine.

Very shortly she returned him to Amina, his mother. Amina found out from Halima about the events that had taken place. Amina assured Halima that Muhammad (pbuh) was not under the influence from any devil or jinn but even when she was expecting him she had seen great marvels and miracles. Muhammad (pbuh) was returned to the care of his mother Amina and continued to live with her and Barakah.

Barakah was a slave girl who had been purchased in the slave markets and given as a present to Abdullah. She lived in the household of Abdullah and Amina. When Abdullah passed away she looked after Amina and later took care of Muhammad(pbuh). She was dedicated to looking after Muhammad(pbuh) her whole life. She also loved him immensely and was with him throughout his sadness and joys. Muhammad (pbuh) also had great respect and love for this woman.

When Muhammad(pbuh) was six years old, he accompanied Amina and Bakarah on a trip to Yathrib. This was a chance for Muhammad (pbuh) to become acquainted with his uncles in Yathrib and also to see the grave of his father, whom he had never met. On his journey, Amina told Muhammad (pbuh) about his father and his uncles but when they got there, Amina became ill and also passed away. Muhammad(pbuh) and Bakarah both returned in tears and Abdul Mutallib began to look after this orphaned child.

This was the second tragedy to strike this six-year-old child. His father passed away before he was born and now his mother had also passed away! He came under the guardianship of his grandfather Abdul Mutallib. Abdul Mutallib had loved Abdullah so much and had been greatly saddened when Abdullah passed away. In Muhammad(pbuh) he could see the beauty and character of Abdullah and he loved Muhammad (pbuh) dearly. He had extra compassion for his orphaned grandchild, Muhammad(pbuh) than for his other grandchildren.

Abdul Muttalib loved Muhammad (pbuh), in fact some say he took compassion on Muhammad(pbuh) and loved him more than his own children. Abdul Muttalib thought that one day his grandchild Muhammad(pbuh) would be a very special and significant person. He saw Muhammad (pbuh) ‘s kind and generous character and there was a special noor inside of him, which he couldn’t explain.

Abdul Muttalib often took Muhammad (pbuh) to the Kaaba with him. When Abdul-Muttalib used to lie on the couch near the Kaaba, Muhammad (pbuh) was always near him sitting on the mattress. The rest of Abdul Muttalib’s children would sit on the floor around the couch.

Hence, Muhammad(pbuh) came under the care of this kind and generous old man, his grandfather. Although Muhammad(pbuh) had suffered so much tragedy in his life, he never felt that he wasn’t loved. His grandfather surrounded him with love and looked after him as if he was his own son.

However, this love would not last for long. Another great catastrophe was ready to strike. When Muhammad(pbuh) was eight years old, Abdul-Mutallib passed away and that episode in the young child’s life also ended. He was heart broken at the death of his grandfather but would soon find much love and happiness under the care of his uncle Abu Talib. Abu Talib was by no means rich but was a kind and generous fellow. He was respected by all the tribes that lived in Makkah.

Living with Abu Talib wasn’t a life of ease so he tended sheep on the outskirts of Makkah as a youngster. This proved him to be a responsible and honest person. All the prophets were shepherds before they were given prophethood. He did have a loving guardian and was offered much love and friendship by Abu Talib’s family. This he appreciated for the rest of his life.


The pre-Islamic period: Jahiliyah (The period of ignorance)

The pre-Islamic period: Jahiliyah (The period of ignorance)

Islam is the basic monotheistic faith proclaimed by prophets throughout history. The Qur’an does not present a new revelation but rather provide a complete, accurate, and therefore final record of the message.

Islam is the religion of all Prophets - Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad (peace be upon them all)

As the basis for a historical community and tradition of faith, however, Islam begins in Mecca with the life and work of Muhammad in the early seventh century.

The pre-Islamic period was the darkest age in human history. It was a time of ignorance and anarchy in the religious and social life in the world.

Pre - Islamic Arabia

The political, social and cultural life developed by the peoples of the ancient world was shattered by the barbarians. The social and religious order organized by Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism had disintegrated.

The people had forgotten the ideal of their religion. Morality had fallen at low ebb. Corruption, intolerance, persecution and wrangling of creeds and sects prevailed everywhere.

Greatest anarchy prevailed in the social life of the Arabs. There was no ideal morality or discipline in the society.

Corruption, vices superstition, unrestrained freedom and unrestricted enjoyment ruled supreme in the Arab society. Plurality of wives and husbands was the order of the day.

Evil was spread in the whole society.

Adultery was common among the pre-Islamic Arabs. Step sons could marry their step-mothers and even the brothers sometimes married their own sisters. Men and women could have full liberty with their opposites.

Human beings were sacrificed to propitiate gods. Fathers sometimes killed their children also for fear of poverty.

The position of the women was very degrading in the Arab society. They were treated as chattels and with contempt. The birth of a female child was considered as a great curse and she was often buried alive by the heartless father.

Women could not have any share of the property of the husbands or the fathers in a word, no status in the society. Slavery, in its worst form, prevailed in the Arab society; the master can even put his slave to death.

Slaves were deprived of even basic necessities of life.

Economically, pre-Islamic Arabian society was very much in the primitive stage the soil being barren; there was little of agriculture in the country.

Prior to the rise of Islam, worst anarchy and confusions prevailed in the religious life of the Arabs. There were some Jews and Christians in Arabia, but they had become corrupt and not hold any higher religious ideal to the Arabs.

Exception the Jew and Christians, the rest of the Arabs followed the most primitive form of religious belief. They were idol worshipers, adoring many gods and goddesses.

The above mentioned evils not only existed among Arabs but in most of the world civilizations at that time.

There were no basic human rights and the rich ruled the poor and imposed whatever laws they wanted. The world society was primarily divided into ruling class and the ruled.

People of Garden

In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful

People of Garden

People of Garden

Allah the Almighty says:

﴿إِنَّا بَلَوْنَـهُمْ كَمَا بَلَوْنَآ أَصْحَـبَ الْجَنَّةِ إِذْ أَقْسَمُواْ لَيَصْرِمُنَّهَا مُصْبِحِينَ – وَلاَ يَسْتَثْنُونَ – فَطَافَ عَلَيْهَا طَآئِفٌ مِّن رَّبِّكَ وَهُمْ نَآئِمُونَ – فَأَصْبَحَتْ كَالصَّرِيمِ – فَتَنَادَوْاْ مُصْبِحِينَ – أَنِ اغْدُواْ عَلَى حَرْثِكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَـرِمِينَ – فَانطَلَقُواْ وَهُمْ يَتَخَـفَتُونَ – أَن لاَّ يَدْخُلَنَّهَا الْيَوْمَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِّسْكِينٌ – وَغَدَوْاْ عَلَى حَرْدٍ قَـدِرِينَ – فَلَمَّا رَأَوْهَا قَالُواْ إِنَّا لَضَآلُّونَ بَلْ نَحْنُ مَحْرُومُونَ قَالَ أَوْسَطُهُمْ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ لَّكُمْ لَوْلاَ تُسَبِّحُونَ ﴾

قَالُواْ سُبْحَـنَ رَبّنَآ إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَـلِمِينَ- فَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ يَتَلَـوَمُونَ- قَالُواْ يوَيْلَنَآ إِنَّا كُنَّا طَـغِينَ- عَسَى رَبُّنَآ أَن يُبْدِلَنَا خَيْراً مّنْهَآ إِنَّآ إِلَى رَبّنَا رغِبُونَ- كَذَلِكَ الْعَذَابُ وَلَعَذَابُ الاْخِرَةِ أَكْبَرُ لَوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ-﴾

(Verily, We have tried them as We tried the people of the garden, when they swore to pluck the fruits of the (garden) in the morning. Without saying: Insha’Allah (If Allah wills). Then there passed by on the (garden) a visitation (fire) from your Lord at night and burnt it while they were asleep. So the (garden) became black by the morning, like a pitch dark night (in complete ruins). Then they called out one to another as soon as the morning broke. Saying: “Go to your tilth in the morning, if you would pluck the fruits.” So they departed, conversing in secret low tones (saying): No Miskin (poor man) shall enter upon you into it today. And they went in the morning with strong intention, thinking that they have power (to prevent the poor taking anything of the fruits therefrom). But when they saw the (garden), they said: “Verily, we have gone astray.” (Then they said): “Nay! Indeed we are deprived of (the fruits)!” The best among them said: “Did I not tell you: why say you not: Insha’ Allah (If Allah wills).” They said: “Glory to Our Lord! Verily, we have been Zalimun (wrong-doers).” Then they turned one against another, blaming. They said: “Woe to us! Verily, we were Taghun (transgressors and disobedient). We hope that our Lord will give us in exchange a better (garden) than this. Truly, we turn to our Lord (wishing for good that He may forgive our sins and reward us in the Hereafter). Such is the punishment (in this life), but truly the punishment of the Hereafter is greater if they but knew). (Al-Qur’an:68:17-33)

The People of Garden decided not to give charity from their produce

This is an example set by Allah the Almighty for the polytheists of Quraish as He favored them with sending the honorable and great Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him), but they belied him and rejected what he had brought them. Almighty Allah, says:

(أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ بَدَّلُواْ نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ كُفْرًا وَأَحَلُّواْ قَوْمَهُمْ دَارَ الْبَوَارِ – جَهَنَّمَ يَصْلَوْنَهَا وَبِئْسَ الْقَرَارُ)

(Have you not seen those who have changed the Blessings of Allah into disbelief (by denying Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his Message of Islam), and caused their people to dwell in the house of destruction? Hell, in which they will burn, -and what an evil place to settle in!). (Al-Qur’an-14:28,29)

Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: They are the polytheists of Quraish whom were likened to the people of the garden that contained various fruits and plants that were ripe and the time of their harvesting has come. Thus, He, Glory be His, says: {When they swore} secretly {to pluck the fruits of the (garden)} i.e. to harvest it; {in the morning} in order not to be seen by either a poor, or a needy and be forced to donate to or give them any of its fruits. So, they swore to this without saying “If Allah wills”. Consequently, Allah the Almighty disabled them and sent over their garden fire that burnt it and left nothing thereof. He, Glory be His, says: (Then, there passed by on the (garden) a visitation (fire) from your Lord at night and burnt it while they were asleep. So the (garden) became black by the morning, like a pitch dark night (in complete ruins)).

The garden burnt in the night

Allah the Almighty says: (Then they called out one to another as soon as the morning broke), i.e. they got up in the morning and they called out one to another saying: {Go to your tilth in the morning, if you would pluck the fruits}, i.e. go early to your garden and pluck the fruits before the poor and needy persons come to ask you for charity. The story goes: {So they departed, conversing in secret low tones}, i.e. talking one to another in low tones saying: {No Miskin (poor man) shall enter upon you into it today}, i.e. they agreed upon that and made mutual consultations thereto. The story goes on: {And they went in the morning with strong intention, thinking that they have power (to prevent the poor taking anything of the fruits there from)}, i.e. they went forth with seriousness, power and strong bad intention.

`Ikrimah and Ash-Shu`abi said: {And they went in the morning with strong intention}, i.e. rage and bad intention against the poor. {But when they saw the (garden)}, i.e. when they reached their garden and found what had happened to it, upon this {they said: Verily, we have gone astray}, i.e. we have lost our way to our own garden, then they said: {Nay! Indeed we are deprived of (the fruits)!}, i.e. we have been punished because of our bad intentions and were deprived of the blessing of our tilth.

And, {the best among them said} Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him), Mujahid and others said: He was the best and the most moderate and just one among them all. {Did I not tell you: why say you not: Insha’Allah (If Allah wills)}, it was said: To say a good word instead of what you have intended. {They said: “Glory to Our Lord! Verily, we have been Zalimun (wrong-doers).” Then they turned one against another, blaming. They said: “Woe to us! Verily, we were Taghun (transgressors and disobedient)}, they regretted and showed sorrow when both could do them nothing, and they confessed their sinful deed after they had been punished and all that went in vain.

They had bad intentions - Not to give charity

It was said: That they were brothers and they inherited that garden from their late father who used to give much and much in charity. But, when they possessed the garden they denied the acting of their late father and intended to deprive the poor of its fruits. Thereupon, Allah the Almighty punished them and gave them the severest of penalties. For this, Allah the Almighty commanded that charity must be taken out of fruits and it is preferably to be paid on the day of harvesting. He says:

(كُلُواْ مِن ثَمَرِهِ إِذَآ أَثْمَرَ وَءَاتُواْ حَقَّهُ يَوْمَ حَصَادِهِ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ)

{Eat of their fruit when they ripen, but pay the due thereof (its Zakah, according to Allah’s Orders l/lOth or 1/20th) on the day of its harvest}. (Al Qur’an:6:141)

Pay the due thereof (its Zakah, according to Allah's Orders l/lOth or 1/20th) on the day of its harvest

It was said: They were from the Yemen, from a town called “Darwan”. It was also said: They were from Abyssinia. Allah knows best!

Allah the Almighty says: {Such is the punishment}, i.e. like this We punish those who disobey Our Command and does not show kindness to the needy from among Our creatures. {But truly the punishment of the Hereafter is greater} than that of the present life {if they but knew}.

This story resembles Allah’s Saying:

﴿وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلاً قَرْيَةً كَانَتْ ءَامِنَةً مُّطْمَئِنَّةً يَأْتِيهَا رِزْقُهَا رَغَدًا مِّن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ فَكَفَرَتْ بِأَنْعُمِ اللَّهِ فَأَذَاقَهَا اللَّهُ لِبَاسَ الْجُوعِ وَالْخَوْفِ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَصْنَعُونَ – وَلَقَدْ جَآءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَخَذَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَهُمْ ظَـلِمُونَ ﴾

{And Allah puts forward the example of a township that dwelt secure and well-content: its provision coming to it in abundance from every place, but it (its people) denied the Favors of Allah (with ungratefulness). So Allah made it taste extreme of hunger (famine) and fear, because of that (evil, i.e. denying Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) which they (its people) used to do. And verily, there had come unto them a Messenger (Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) from among themselves, but they denied him, so the torment overtook them while they were Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers)}. (Al Qur’an:16:112,113)

It was said that this example was of the people of Mecca set for themselves and verily, there is no contradiction in this. Allah knows best!

Source: Tafsir Ibn Kathir

Story of Zam Zam water

Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka’ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque.
During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward.
Ishmael’s mother followed him saying, “O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?” She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?” He said, “Yes.” She said, “Then He will not neglect us,” and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka’ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
‘O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.’ (14.37)
Ishmael’s mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).
When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty.
She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody.
Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times.”
The Prophet said, “This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, ‘O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?”
And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it.”
The Prophet added, “May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael’s mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth.”
The Prophet further added, “Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.’
The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada’.
They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, ‘This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.’ They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water.
So, they all came (towards the water).” The Prophet added, “Ishmael’s mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, ‘Do you allow us to stay with you?” She replied, ‘Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.’ They agreed to that.” The Prophet further said, “Ishmael’s mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people.
So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.
After Ishmael’s mother had died, Abraham came after Ishmael’s marriage in order to see his family that he had left before, but he did not find Ishmael there. When he asked Ishmael’s wife about him, she replied, ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied, ‘We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,’ complaining to him.
He said, ‘When your husband returns, convey my salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).’ When Ishmael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife, ‘Has anyone visited you?’ She replied, ‘Yes, an old man of so-and-so description came and asked me about you and I informed him, and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.’
On that Ishmael said, ‘Did he advise you anything?’ She replied, ‘Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.’ Ishmael said, ‘It was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.’ So, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from amongst them (i.e. Jurhum).
Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ishmael. So he came to Ishmael’s wife and asked her about Ishmael. She said, ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Abraham asked her, ‘How are you getting on?’ asking her about their sustenance and living.
She replied, ‘We are prosperous and well-off (i.e. we have everything in abundance).’ Then she thanked Allah’ Abraham said, ‘What kind of food do you eat?’ She said. ‘Meat.’ He said, ‘What do you drink?’ She said, ‘Water.” He said, “O Allah! Bless their meat and water.”
The Prophet added, “At that time they did not have grain, and if they had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it.” The Prophet added, “If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Mecca.”
The Prophet added,” Then Abraham said Ishmael’s wife, “When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.’ When Ishmael came back, he asked his wife, ‘Did anyone call on you?’
She replied, ‘Yes, a good-looking old man came to me,’ so she praised him and added.’He asked about you, and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told him that we were in a good condition.’ Ishmael asked her, ‘Did he give you any piece of advice?’
She said, ‘Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.’ On that Ishmael said, ‘It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.’
Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished, and called on them afterwards. He saw Ishmael under a tree near Zamzam, sharpening his arrows. When he saw Abraham, he rose up to welcome him (and they greeted each other as a father does with his son or a son does with his father).
Abraham said, ‘O Ishmael! Allah has given me an order.’ Ishmael said, ‘Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.’ Abraham asked, ‘Will you help me?’ Ishmael said, ‘I will help you.’ Abraham said, Allah has ordered me to build a house here,’ pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it.”
The Prophet added, “Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e. the Ka’ba). Ishmael brought the stones and Abraham was building, and when the walls became high, Ishmael brought this stone and put it for Abraham who stood over it and carried on building, while Ishmael was handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, ‘O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.’ The Prophet added, “Then both of them went on building and going round the Ka’ba saying: O our Lord ! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” (2.127)
[Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583]

Army of Elephants:

The following incident is mentioned in Surah Feel and it happened during the period of the birth-year of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Abraha Al-Ashram was the governor of Yemen on behalf of the king of Ethiopia. He (Abrahah) thought to build a house (like the Kabah at Makkah) in Sana (the capital of Yemen) and call the Arabs to perform the pilgrimage there in Sana instead of the Kabah in Makkah, with the intention of diverting the trade and benefits from Makkah to Yemen.
He presented his idea to the king of Ethiopia who agreed to it. So the house (church) was built and he named it Al-Qullais; there was no church of its like at that time. Then a man from the Quraish tribe of Makkah came there and was infuriated by it, so he relieved his nature (stools and urine) in it, soiled its walls and went away.
When Abrahah Al-Ashram saw that, he could not control his anger and raised an army to invade Makkah and demolish the Kabah. He had in that army thirteen elephants and amongst them was an elephant called Mahmud which was the biggest of them. So that army proceeded and none amongst the Arab tribes that faced them (fought against them) but was killed and defeated, till it approached near Makkah.
 Then there took place negotiations between Abrahah Al-Ashram and the chief of Makkah (Abdul Muttalib bin Hashim, the grandfather of the Prophet), and it was concluded that Abrahah would restore the camels of Abdul Muttalib which he had taken away, and then he (Abrahah) would decide himself as regards the Kabah.
Abdul Muttalib ordered the men of Makkah to evacuate the city and go to the top of the mountains along with their wives and children in case some harm should come to them from the invading oppressors. Then that army moved towards Makkah till they reached valley Muhassir.
While the army was marching towards Makkah, in the middle of the valley, suddenly it was overtaken by flocks of birds, flocks after flocks, air-raiding that army with small stones slightly bigger than a lentil seed. There never fell a stone on a soldier except it dissolved his flesh and burst it into pieces.
So they perished with a total destruction. Abrahah Al-Ashram fled away while his flesh was bursting into pieces till he died on the way (back to Yemen). Such was the victory bestowed by Allah, (the All-Majestic, All-Powerful) to the people of Makkah and such was the protection provided by Him for His House (Kabah in Makkah).
Source: Extracted from Tafsir of Surah Feel (Surah 105) by Ibn Kathir as found in Translation of the Noble Quran by Muhammad Muhsin Khan.