At age of 12 a Christian monk told to our prophet that he will become a prophet. Who was that monk?
A question asked to me by one of my christian friends
The name of this monk was بحيرا (Bohayra) in Arabic or Bahira in English/Latin. The story was mentioned in some hadith collection like Jami' at-Tirmdihi without quoting his name. Note that even this hadith has a weakness at it's end as at the time Abu Bakr (2-3 years younger than Muhammad) was not yet old enough to join a trading caravan and Bilal might even not yet be born (10-11 years younger than Muhammad) as both of them were younger than our Messenger (Peace be upon him). Imam ad-Dahahbi considered the story as a fabrication in his Tarikh al-Islam under the title "سفره مع عمه ـ إن صح" (His travel with his uncle if it was true" then he started rejecting the hadith and story on the whole and discussing its claims:
In the following I'm translating from Arabic language as these translations are of my own take them carefully!
وهو حديث منكر جدّاً؛ وأين كان أبو بكر - كان ابن عشر سنين، فإنه أصغر من رسول الله ، صلى الله عليه وسلم ، بسنتين ونصف؛ وأين كان بلال في هذا الوقت - فإنّ أبا بكر لم يشتره إلاّ بعد المبعث، ولم يكن ولد بعد؛
This is a hadith which is strongly rejected; Where was abu Bakr? He was of the age of ten years, as he was younger than the Messenger of Allah Allahs prayers and blessings be upon him by two years and half; And where was Bilal at the time as abu Bakr didn't buy him only after the appointment and he was not born yet!
وأيضاً، فإذا كان عليه غمامة تظلّه كيف يتصوّر أن يميل فيء الشجرة - لأنّ ظلّ الغمامة يعدم فيء الشجرة التي نزل تحتها، ولم نر النّبيّ ، صلى الله عليه وسلم ، ذكر أبا طالب قطّ بقول الرّاهب، ولا تذاكرته قريش، ولا حكته أولئك الأشياخ، مع توفّر هممهم ودواعيهم على حكاية مثل ذلك،
Furthermore if there was a cloud shading him how is it possible (to observe) for the shade of the tree to lean towards him? As the shade of the cloud would hide (eliminates) the shade of the tree which is under it.
And we never hear that the prophet Allahs prayers and blessings be upon him reminded abu Talib about what the monk told him nor did Quraish ever bring up this topic, nor did their elders while they had both the ability and reason to tell such stories.
فلو وقع لاشتهر بينهم أيّما اشتهار، ولبقي عنده ، صلى الله عليه وسلم ، حسّ من النّبوّة؛ ولما أنكر مجيء الوحي إليه، أوّلاً بغار حراء وأتى خديجة خائفاً على عقله
So if all this happened it would be a well known story. And at least a "touch of prophethood" would stay with Muhammad so that he wouldn't reject the revelation (the first encounter with Jibreel) in the cave of Hira' and fleeing to Khadija in fear for his mind.
Al-Hakim from Nishapur who actually considered the hadith as sahih (the narrator chain he could present) commented it saying "أظنه موضوعاً" I think it is fabricated.
Note that according to this thread (quoting an article of sheikh al-Albani) the name Bohayra was only quoted in a narration by a weak narrators like al-Waqidy and ibn Ishaq (without a narrator chain) while al-Masu'di quoted the name جرجيس Girgis.
See also this fatwa on: Did Mohammad (Peace be upon him) receive the quran from bohayra in Arabic. Which denies that Muhammad or Mohammad () received any teaching from this monk be he called Bohayra or with any other name.
And Allah knows best!