Khadija, the Wife of Prophet Muhammad

Although the society in which Khadija was born was a terribly male chauvinistic one, Khadija earned two titles: Ameerat-Quraysh, Princess of Quraysh, and al-Tahira, the Pure One, due to her impeccable personality and virtuous character, not to mention her honorable descent. She used to feed and clothe the poor, assist her relatives financially, and even provide for the marriage of those of her kin who could not otherwise have had means to marry.

Introduction:

If you wish to research the life of this great lady, and if you do not have al-Majlisi’s
voluminous [110 Vol.] encyclopedia titled Bihar al-Anwar, the best references
are: al-Sayyuti’s Tarikh al Khulafa, Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani’s Aghani, Ibn
Hisham’s Seera, Muhammad ibn Ishaq’s Seerat Rasool-Allah, and Tarikh al-rusul
wal muluk by Abu Ja`far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (839-923 A.D.). Of all
these books, only al-Tabari’s Tarikh is being translated (by more than one
translator and in several volumes) into English. One publisher of Tabari’s
Tarikh is the press of the State University of New York (SUNY). This article has
utilized a number of Arabic and English references, and it is written especially
for those who appreciate history, our great teacher, be they Muslims or
non-Muslims, and who aspire to learn from it.

"Islam did not rise except through Ali’s sword and Khadija’s wealth," a saying
goes. Khadija al-Kubra daughter of Khuwaylid ibn (son of) Asad ibn Abdul-`Uzza
ibn Qusayy belonged to the clan of Banu Hashim of the tribe of Banu Asad. She
was a distant cousin of her husband the Messenger of Allah Muhammad ibn Abdullah
ibn Abdul-Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn Abd Manaf ibn Qusayy, Allah’s peace and
blessings be upon him and his progeny. Qusayy, then, is the ancestor of all
clans belonging to Quraysh. According to some historians, Quraysh’s real name
was Fahr, and he was son of Malik son of Madar son of Kananah son of Khuzaimah
son of Mudrikah son of Ilyas son of Mazar son of Nazar son of Ma`ad son of Adnan
son of Isma`eel (Ishmael) son of Ibrahim (Abraham) son of Sam son of Noah, peace
and blessings of Allah be upon the prophets from among his ancestors. According
to a number of sources, Khadija was born in 565 A.D. and died one year before
the Hijra (migration of the Holy Prophet and his followers from Mecca to Medina)
in 623 A.D. at the age of 58, but some historians say that she lived to be 65.
Khadija’s mother, who died around 575 A.D., was Fatima daughter of Za’ida ibn
al-Asam of Banu `Amir ibn Luayy ibn Ghalib, also a distant relative of Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh). Khadija’s father, who died around 585 A.D., belonged to the Abd
al-`Uzza clan of the tribe of Quraysh and, like many other Qurayshis, was a
merchant, a successful businessman whose vast wealth and business talents were
inherited by Khadija and whom the latter succeeded in faring with the family’s
vast wealth. It is said that when Quraysh’s trade caravans gathered to embark
upon their lengthy and arduous journey either to Syria during the summer or to
Yemen during the winter, Khadija’s caravan equalled the caravans of all other
traders of Quraysh put together.

Although the society in which Khadija was born was a terribly male chauvinistic
one, Khadija earned two titles: Ameerat-Quraysh, Princess of Quraysh, and al-Tahira,
the Pure One, due to her impeccable personality and virtuous character, not to
mention her honorable descent. She used to feed and clothe the poor, assist her
relatives financially, and even provide for the marriage of those of her kin who
could not otherwise have had means to marry.

By 585 A.D., Khadija was left an orphan. Despite that, and after having married
twice- and twice lost her husband to the ravaging wars with which Arabia was
afflicted- she had no mind to marry a third time though she was sought for
marriage by many honorable and highly respected men of the Arabian peninsula
throughout which she was quite famous due to her business dealings. She simply
hated the thought of being widowed for a third time. Her first husband was Abu
(father of) Halah Hind ibn Zarah who belonged to Banu `Adiyy, and the second was
Ateeq ibn `Aaith. Both men belonged to Banu Makhzoom. By her first husband, she
gave birth to a son who was named after his father Hind and who came to be one
of the greatest sahabah (companions of the Holy Prophet). He participated in
both battles of Badr and Uhud, and he is also famous for describing the
Prophet’s physique; he was martyred during the Battle of the Camel in which he
fought on the side of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as), although some historians say
that he died in Basrah. All biography accounts describe Hind as an outspoken
orator, a man of righteousness and generosity, and one who took extreme caution
while quoting the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Besides him, Khadija gave birth by
Abu Halah to two other sons: al-Tahir, and, of course, Halah, who is not very
well known to historians despite the fact that his father is nicknamed after
him.

Who were Khadija’s children by her second husband? This is another controversy
that revolves round the other daughters or step-daughters of the Prophet (pbuh)
besides Fatima (as). These daughters, chronologically arranged, are: Zainab,
Ruqayya, and Ummu Kulthoom. Some historians say that these were Khadija’s
daughters by her second husband, whereas others insist they were her daughters
by Muhammad (pbuh). The first view is held by Sayyid Safdar Husayn in his book
The Early History of Islam wherein he bases his conclusion on the contents of
al-Sayyuti’s famous work Tarikh al-khulafa wal muluk (history of the caliphs and
kings). We hope some of our Muslim sisters who read this text will be tempted to
research this subject. Here is a brief account of Khadija’s daughters:

Zainab, their oldest, was born before the prophetic mission and was married to
Abul-`As ibn al-Rabee`. She had accepted Islam before her husband, and she
participated in the migration from Mecca to Medina. She died early in 8 A.H. and
was buried in Jannatul Baqee` where her grave can still be seen defying the
passage of time. Ruqayya and Ummu Kulthoom married two of Abu Lahab’s sons. Abu
Lahab, one of the Prophet’s uncles, stubbornly and openly rejected his nephew’s
preaching; therefore, he was condemned in the Mecci Chapter 111 of the Holy
Qur’an, a chapter named after him. Having come to know about such a
condemnation, he became furious and said to his sons, "There shall be no kinship
between you and me unless you part with these daughters of Muhammad," whereupon
they divorced them instantly. Ruqayya married the third caliph `Uthman ibn `Affan
and migrated with him to Ethiopia in 615 A.D., five years after the inception of
the prophetic mission, accompanied by no more than nine others. That was the
first of two such migrations. After coming back home, she died in Medina in 2
A.H. and was buried at Jannatul Baqee`. `Uthman then married her sister Ummu
Kulthoom in Rabi` al-Awwal of the next (third) Hijri year. Ummu Kulthoom lived
with her husband for about six years before dying in 9 A.H., leaving no
children.

One particular quality in Khadija was quite interesting, probably more so than
any of her other qualities mentioned above: she, unlike her people, never
believed in nor worshipped idols. There was a very small number of Christians
and Jews in Mecca, and a fairly large number of Jews in Medina. Waraqah ibn
Nawfal, one of Khadija’s cousins, had embraced Christianity and was a pious monk
who believed in the Unity of the Almighty, just as all early Christians did,
that is, before the concept of the Trinity crept into the Christian faith,
widening the theological differences among the believers in Christ (as). He
reportedly had translated the Bible from Hebrew into Arabic. His likes could be
counted on the fingers of one hand during those days in the entire populous
metropolis of Mecca, or Becca, or Ummul-Qura (the mother town), a major
commercial center at the crossroads of trade caravans linking Arabia with India,
Persia, China, and Byzantium, a city that had its own Red Sea port at Shu`ayba.
Most importantly, Mecca housed the Ka`ba, the cubic "House of God" which has
always been sought for pilgrimage and which used to be circled by naked
polytheist "pilgrims" who kept their idols, numbering 360 small and big, male
and female, inside it and on its roof-top. Among those idols was one for Abraham
and another for Ishmael, each carrying divine arrows in his hands. Hubal, a huge
idol in the shape of a man, was given as a gift by the Moabites of Syria to the
tribesmen of Khuza`ah, and it was Mecca’s chief idol. Two other idols of
significance were those of the Lat, a grey granite image which was the deity of
Thaqif in nearby Taif, and the Uzza, also a block of granite about twenty feet
long. These were regarded as the wives of the Almighty… Each tribe had its own
idol, and the wealthy bought and kept a number of idols at home. The institute
of pilgrimage was already there; it simply was not being observed properly, and
so was the belief in Allah Whom the Arabs regarded as their Supreme deity.
Besides Paganism, other "religions" in Arabia included star worship and
fetishism.

The Jews of Medina had migrated from Palestine and settled there waiting for the
coming of a new Prophet from the seed of Abraham (as) in whom they said they
intended to believe and to be the foremost in following, something which
unfortunately did not materialize; on the contrary, they joined ranks with the
Pagans to fight the spread of Islam. Only a handful of them embraced Islam,
including one man who was a neighbor of Muhammad (pbuh); he lived in the same
alley in Mecca where Khadija’s house stood; his wife, also Jewish, used to
collect dry thorny bushes from the desert just to throw them in the Prophet’s
way.

Since Khadija did not travel with her trade caravans, she had always had to rely
on someone else to act as her agent to trade on her behalf and to receive an
agreed upon commission in return. In 595 A.D., Khadija needed an agent to trade
in her merchandise going to Syria, and it was then that a number of agents whom
she knew before and trusted, as well as some of her own relatives, particularly
Abu Talib, suggested to her to employ her distant cousin Muhammad ibn Abdullah (pbuh)
who, by then, had earned the honoring titles of al-Sadiq, the truthful, and al-Amin,
the trustworthy. Muhammad (pbuh) did not have any practical business experience,
but he had twice accompanied his uncle Abu Talib on his trade trips and keenly
observed how he traded, bartered, bought and sold and conducted business; after
all, the people of Quraysh were famous for their involvement in trade more than
in any other profession. It was not uncommon to hire an agent who did not have a
prior experience; so, Khadija decided to give Muhammad (pbuh) a chance. He was
only 25 years old. Khadija sent Muhammad (pbuh) word through Khazimah ibn Hakim,
one of her relatives, offering him twice as much commission as she usually
offered her agents to trade on her behalf. She also gave him one of her
servants, Maysarah, who was young, brilliant, and talented, to assist him and be
his bookkeeper. She also trusted Maysarah’s account regarding her new employee’s
conduct, an account which was most glaring, indeed one which encouraged her to
abandon her insistence never to marry again.

Before embarking upon his first trip as a businessman representing Khadija,
Muhammad (pbuh) met with his uncles for last minute briefings and consultations,
then he set out on the desert road passing through Wadi al-Qura, Midian, and
Diyar Thamud, places with which he was familiar because of having been there at
the age of twelve in the company of his uncle Abu Talib. He continued the
lengthy journey till he reached Busra (or Bostra) on the highway to the ancient
city of Damascus after about a month. It was then the capital of Hawran, one of
the southeastern portions of the province of Damascus situated north of the
Balqa’. To scholars of classic literature, Hawran is known by its Greek name
Auranitis, and it is described in detail by Yaqut al-Hamawi, Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani,
and others. Arab trade caravans used to go there quite often and even beyond it
to Damascus and Gaza, and few made it all the way to Mediterranean shores to
unload their precious cargoes of Chinese paper and silk textiles bound for
Europe.

What items did Muhammad (pbuh) carry with him to Busra, and what items did he
buy from there? Meccans were not known to be skilled craftsmen, nor did they
excel in any profession besides trade, but young Muhammad (pbuh) might have
carried with him a cargo of hides, raisins, perfumes, dried dates, light weight
woven items, probably silver bars, and most likely some herbs. He bought what he
was instructed by his employer to buy: these items may have included
manufactured goods, clothes, a few luxury items to sell to wealthy Meccans, and
maybe some household goods. Gold and silver currency accepted in Mecca included
Roman, Persian, and Indian coins, for Arabs during those times, including those
who were much more sophisticated than the ones among whom Muhammad (pbuh) grew
up such as the Arabs of the southern part of Arabia (Yemen, Hadramout, etc.),
did not have a currency of their own; so, barter was more common than cash. The
first Arab Islamic currency, by the way, was struck in Damascus by the Umayyad
ruler Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (697-698 A.D.) in 78 A.H., 36 years after the
establishment of the Umayyad dynasty (661-750).

The time Muhammad (pbuh) stayed in Busra was no more than a couple of months
during which he met many Christians and Jews and noticed the theological
differences among the major Christian sects that led to the disassociation of
the Copts, the Syrian (Chaldean) Nestorian, and the Armenian Christians from the
main churches of Antioch (Antakiya), Rome, and Egyptian Alexandria. Such
dissensions and differences of theological viewpoints provided Muhammad (pbuh)
with plenty of food for thought; he contemplated upon them a great deal. He was
seen once by Nestor the monk sitting in the shade of a tree as caravans entered
the outskirts of Busra, not far from the monk’s small monastery. "Who is the man
beneath that tree?" inquired Nestor of Maysarah. "A man of Quraysh," Maysarah
answered, adding, "of the people [the Hashemites] who have guardianship of the
Sanctuary." "None other than a Prophet is sitting beneath that tree," said
Nestor who had observed some of the signs indicative of Prophethood: two angels
(or, according to other reports, two small clouds) were shading Muhammad (pbuh)
from the oppressive heat of the sun. "Is there a glow, a slight redness, around
his eyes that never parts with him?" Nestor asked Maysarah. When the latter
answered in the affirmative, Nestor said, "He most surely is the very last
Prophet; congratulations to whoever believes in him."

One of Muhammad’s observations when he was in that Syrian city was the
historical fact that a feud was brewing between the Persian and Roman empires,
each vying for hegemony over Arabia’s fertile crescent. Indeed, such an
observation was quite accurate, for after only a few years, a war broke out
between the then mightiest nations on earth that ended with the Romans losing
it, as the Holy Qur’an tells us in Chapter 30 (The Romans), which was revealed
in 7 A.H./615-16 A.D., only a few months after the fall of Jerusalem to the
Persians, just to win in a successive one. Only four years prior to that date,
the Persians had scored a sweeping victory over the Christians, spreading their
control over Aleppo, Antioch, and even Damascus. Muhammad (pbuh) was concerned
about either of these two empires extending its control over the land inhabited
by Muhammad’s Pagan fiercely independent Pagan people. The loss of Jerusalem,
birthplace of Christ Jesus son of Mary (as), was a heavy blow to the prestige of
Christianity. Most Persians were then following Zoroastrianism, a creed
introduced in the 6th century before Christ by Zoroaster (628-551 B.C.), also
known as Zarathustra, whose adherents are described as worshippers of the
"pyre," the holy fire. "Persia," hence, meant "the land of the worshippers of
the pyre, the sacred fire." Modern day Iran used to be known as "Aryana," land
of the Aryan nations and tribes. Not only Iranians, but also Kurds, and even
Germans, prided in being Aryans, (Caucasian) Nordics or speakers of an
Indo-European dialect. Some Persians had converted to Christianity as we know
from Salman al-Farisi who was one such adherent till he fell in captivity, sold
in Mecca and freed to be one of the most renown and cherished sahabis and
narrators of hadith in Islamic history, so much so that the Prophet of Islam (pbuh)
said, "Salman is one of us, we Ahl al-Bayt (People of the Household of
Prophethood)."

The war referred to above was between the then Byzantine (Eastern Roman) emperor
Heraclius (575 – 641 A.D.) and the Persian king Khusrau (Khosrow) Parwiz (Parviz)
or Chosroes II (d. 628 A.D.). It was one of many wars in which those mighty
nations were embroiled and which continued for many centuries. Yet the hands of
Divine Providence were already busy paving the path for Islam: the collision
between both empires paved the way for the ultimate destruction of the ancient
Persian empire and in Islam setting root in that important part of the world.
Moreover, Muhammad’s (and, naturally, Khadija’s) offspring came to marry ladies
who were born and raised at Persian as well as Roman palaces. Imam Husain ibn
Ali ibn Abu Talib (as), Muhammad’s grandson and our Third Holy Imam, married the
daughter of the last Persian emperor Jazdagird (Yazdegerd) III son of Shahryar
and grandson of this same Khusrau II. Jazdagerd ruled Persia from 632-651 A.D.
and lost the Battle of Qadisiyyah to the Muslim forces in 636, thus ending the
rule of the Sassanians. Having been defeated, he fled for Media in northwestern
Iran, homeland of Persian Mede tribesmen, and from there to Merv, an ancient
Central Asian city near modern day Mary in Turkmenistan (until very recently one
of the republics of the Soviet Union), where he was killed by a miller. The
slain emperor left two daughters who, during their attempt to escape, following
the murder of their father, were caught and sold as slaves. One of them, Shah-Zenan,
ended up marrying our Third Holy Imam Husain ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib (as), whereas
her sister married the renown scholar and acclaimed muhaddith (traditionist)
Muhammad son of the first Muslim caliph Abu Bakr. Shah-Zenan was awarded a royal
treatment and was given a new name in her own Persian mother tongue: Shahr Banu,
which means "mistress of the ladies of the city." The marriage between her and
Imam Husain (as) produced our Fourth Holy Imam (Zainul-Abidin, or al-Sajjad) Ali
ibn al-Husain ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib (as).

The profits Khadija reaped from that trip were twice as much as she had
anticipated. Maysarah was more fascinated by Muhammad (pbuh) than by anything
related to the trip. Muhammad (pbuh), on the other hand, brought back his
impressions about what he had seen and heard, impressions which he related to
his mistress. You see, those trade caravans were the only links contemporary
Arabs had with their outside world: they brought them the news of what was going
on beyond their drought-ridden and famine-stricken desert and sand dunes.

Waraqah ibn Nawfal, like Bahirah, the monk who had seen and spoken to Muhammad (pbuh)
when Muhammad (pbuh) was a lad, adhered to the Nestorian Christian sect. He
heard the accounts about the personality and conduct of young Muhammad (pbuh)
from both his cousin Khadija and her servant Maysarah, an account which caused
him to meditate for a good while and think about what he had heard. Raising his
head, he said to Khadija, "Such manners are fit only for the messengers of God.
Who knows? Maybe this young man is destined to be one of them." This statement
was confirmed a few years later, and Waraqah was the very first man who
identified Muhammad (pbuh) as the Messenger of Allah immediately after Muhammad
(pbuh) received the first revelation at Hira cave.

The trip’s measure of success encouraged Khadija to employ Muhammad (pbuh) again
on the winter trip to southern Arabia, i.e. Yemen, the land that introduced the
coffee beans to the rest of the world, the land where the renown Ma’rib
irrigation dam was engineered, the land of Saba’ and the renown Balqees, the
Arabian Queen of Sheba (Saba’) of Himyar, who married King Solomon (Sulayman the
wise, peace be upon him), in 975 B.C. (after the completion of the construction
of the famous Solomon’s Temple [1]), the land of natives skilled in gold, silver
and other metal handicrafts, not to mention their ingenuity in the textile
industry and domestic furniture…, and it may even be the land that gave Arabic
its first written script which, as some believe, was modelled after written
Amheric, then the official language in Ethiopia and its colonies. Yemen, at that
time, was being ruled by an Ethiopian regent. This time Khadija offered Muhammad
(pbuh) three times the usual commission. Unfortunately, historians do not tell
us much about this second trip except that it was equally profitable to both
employer and employee. Some historians do not mention this trip at all.

Khadija was by then convinced that she had finally found a man who was worthy of
her, so much so that she initiated the marriage proposal herself. Muhammad (pbuh)
sat to detail all the business transactions in which he became involved on her
behalf, but the wealthy and beautiful lady of Quraysh was thinking more about
her distant cousin than about those transactions. She simply fell in love with
Muhammad (pbuh) just as the daughter of the Arabian prophet Shu`ayb had fallen
in love with then fugitive prophet Moses (as). Muhammad (pbuh) was of medium
stature, inclined to slimness, with a large head, broad shoulders and the rest
of his body perfectly proportioned. His hair and beard were thick and black, not
altogether straight but slightly curled. His hair reached midway between the
lobes of his ears and shoulders, and his beard was of a length to match. He had
a noble breadth of forehead and the ovals of his large eyes were wide, with
exceptionally long lashes and extensive brows, slightly arched but not joined.
His eyes were said to have been black, but other accounts say they were brown,
or light brown. His nose was aquiline and his mouth was finely shaped. Although
he let his beard grow, he never allowed the hair of his moustache to protrude
over his upper lip. His skin was white but tanned by the sun. And there was a
light on his face, a glow, the same light that had shone from his father, but it
was more, much more powerful, and it was especially apparent on his broad
forehead and in his eyes which were remarkably luminous.

By the time he was gone, Khadija sought the advice of a friend of hers named
Nufaysa daughter of Umayyah. The latter offered to approach him on her behalf
and, if possible, arrange a marriage between them. Nufaysa came to Muhammad (pbuh)
and asked him why he had not married yet. "I have no means to marry," he
answered. "But if you were given the means," she said, "and if you were bidden
to an alliance where there is beauty and wealth and nobility and abundance,
would you not then consent?" "Who is she?!" he excitedly inquired. "Khadija,"
said Nufaysa. "And how could such a marriage be mine?!" he asked. "Leave that to
me!" was her answer. "For my part," he said, "I am willing." Nufaysa returned
with these glad tidings to Khadija who then sent word to Muhammad (pbuh) asking
him to come to her. When he came, she said to him:

O son of my uncle! I love you for your kinship with me, and for that you are
ever in the center, not being a partisan among the people for this or for that.
And I love you for your trustworthiness, and for the beauty of your character
and the truth of your speech.

Then she offered herself in marriage to him, and they agreed that he should
speak to his uncles and she would speak to her uncle `Amr son of Asad, since her
father had died. It was Hamzah, despite being relatively young, whom the
Hashemites delegated to represent them on this marriage occasion, since he was
most closely related to them through the clan of Asad; his sister Safiyya had
just married Khadija’s brother `Awwam. It was Abu Talib, Muhammad’s uncle, who
delivered the marriage sermon saying,

All praise is due to Allah Who has made us the progeny of Ibrahim (Abraham), the
seed of Isma`eel (Ishmael), the descendants of Ma`ad, the substance of Mudar,
and Who made us the custodians of His House and the servants of its sacred
precincts, making for us a House sought for pilgrimage and a shrine of security,
and He also gave us authority over the people. This nephew of mine Muhammad (pbuh)
cannot be compared with any other man: if you compare his wealth with that of
others, you will not find him a man of wealth, for wealth is a vanishing shadow
and a fickle thing. Muhammad (pbuh) is a man whose lineage you all know, and he
has sought Khadija daughter of Khuwaylid for marriage, offering her
such-and-such of the dower of my own wealth.

Nawfal then stood and said,

All praise is due to Allah Who has made us just as you have mentioned and
preferred us over those whom you have indicated, for we, indeed, are the masters
of Arabs and their leaders, and you all are worthy of this (bond of marriage).
The tribe (Quraysh) does not deny any of your merits, nor does anyone else
dispute your lofty status and prestige. And we, furthermore, wish to be joined
to your rope; so, bear witness to my words, O people of Quraysh! I have given
Khadija daughter of Khuwaylid in marriage to Muhammad ibn Abdullah for the dower
of four hundred dinars.

Then Nawfal paused, whereupon Abu Talib said to him, "I wished her uncle had
joined you (in making this statement)." Hearing that, Khadija’s uncle stood and
said, "Bear witness, O men of Quraysh, that I have given Khadija daughter of
Khuwaylid in marriage to Muhammad ibn Abdullah."

These details and more are recorded in Ibn Hisham’s Seera. After his marriage,
Muhammad (pbuh) moved from his uncle’s house to live with his wife in her house
which stood at the smiths’ market, an alley branching out of metropolitan
Mecca’s long main bazaar, behind the mas`a, the place where the pilgrims perform
the seven circles during the hajj or `umra. In that house Fatima (as) was born
and the revelation descended upon the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) many times. This
house, as well as the one in which the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) was born (which
stood approximately 50 meters northwards), were both demolished by the ignorant
and fanatical Wahhabi rulers of Saudi Arabia last year (1413 A.H./1993 A.D.) and
turned into public bathrooms. The grave sites of many family members and
companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) were all demolished by the same Wahhabis
in 1343 A.H./1924 A.D. against the wish and despite the denunciation of the
adherents of all other Muslim sects and schools of thought world-wide.

The marriage was a very happy one, and it produced a lady who was one of the
four perfect women in all the history of mankind: Fatima daughter of Muhammad (pbuh).
Before her, Qasim and Abdullah were born, but they both died at infancy.

By the time Khadija got married, she was quite a wealthy lady, so wealthy that
she felt no need to keep trading and increasing her wealth; instead, she decided
to retire and enjoy a comfortable life with her husband who, on his part,
preferred an ascetic life to that of money making. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh)
had no desire to accumulate wealth; that was not the purpose for which he, peace
and blessings of Allah upon him and his progeny, was created. He was created to
be savior of mankind from the darkness of ignorance, idol worship, polytheism,
misery, poverty, injustice, oppression, and immorality. He very much loved to
meditate, though his meditation deepened his grief at seeing his society sunk so
low in immorality, lawlessness, and the absence of any sort of protection for
those who were weak and oppressed. Khadija’s period of happiness lasted no more
than 15 years after which her husband, now the Messenger of Allah (pbuh),
started his mission to invite people to the Oneness of God, to equality between
men and women, and to an end to the evils of the day. Muhammad (pbuh) was forty
years old when the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to him. They
were the first verses of Surat al-Alaq (chapter 96), and they were revealed
during the month of Ramadan 13 years before the Hijra, at the cave of Hira in
Jabal al-Noor (the mountain of light), his favorite place for isolation and
meditation, a place which is now visited by many pilgrims. Muhammad (pbuh) went
back home heavy-hearted, profoundly perplexed, deeply impressed by the sight of
arch-angel Gabriel and by the depth of meaning implied in those beautiful words:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Proclaim (or read)! In the Name of your Lord and Cherisher who created
(everything). (He) created man of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. Proclaim!
And your Lord is the Most Bountiful Who taught (the use of) the pen, Who taught
man that which he knew not… (Qur’an, 96:1-5)

He felt feverish, so he asked to be wrapped and, once he felt better, he
narrated what he had seen and heard to his faithful and supportive wife. "By
Allah," Khadija said, "Allah shall never subject you to any indignity…, for
you always maintain your ties with those of your kin, and you are always
generous in giving; you are diligent, and you seek what others regard as
unattainable; you cool the eyes of your guest, and you lend your support to
those who seek justice and redress. Stay firm, O cousin, for by Allah I know
that He will not deal with you except most beautifully, and I testify that you
are the awaited Prophet in this nation, and your time, if Allah wills, has
come." After a short while, Khadija told her husband about the prediction of the
Syrian monk Buhayra regarding Muhammad’s Prophethood, and about her dialogue
with both her servant Maysarah, who had informed her of what Bahirah (or
Buhayrah) had said, and with her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal. She then accompanied
her husband to Waraqah’s house to narrate the whole incident. "Let me hear it in
your own words," Nawfal said to Muhammad (pbuh), adding, "O noble master!"
Having heard the Prophet’s words, Nawfal took his time to select his words very
carefully; he said, "By Allah, this is the prediction which had been conveyed to
Moses (as) and with which the Children of Israel are familiar! [Moses] had said:
`O how I wish I could be present when Muhammad (pbuh) is delegated with
Prophethood to support his mission and to assist him!’"

It was only natural for Khadija to receive her share of the harassment meted to
him by none other than those who, not long ago, used to call him al-Sadiq, al-Amin.
Khadija did not hesitate to embrace Islam at all, knowing that her husband could
not have put forth any false claim. Yahya ibn `Afeef is quoted saying that he
once came, during the period of jahiliyya (before the advent of Islam), to Mecca
to be hosted by al-Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib, one of the Prophet’s uncles
mentioned above. "When the sun started rising," says he, "I saw a man who came
out of a place not far from us, faced the Ka`ba and started performing his
prayers. He hardly started before being joined by a young boy who stood on his
right side, then by a woman who stood behind them. When he bowed down, the young
boy and the woman bowed, and when he stood up straight, they, too, did likewise.
When he prostrated, they, too, prostrated." Then he expressed his amazement at
that, saying to al-Abbas: "This is quite strange, O Abbas!" "Is it, really?"
retorted al-Abbas. "Do you know who he is?" al-Abbas asked his guest who
answered in the negative. "He is Muhammad ibn Abdullah, my nephew. Do you know
who the young boy is?" asked he again. "No, indeed," answered the guest. "He is
Ali son of Abu Talib. Do you know who the woman is?" The answer came again in
the negative, to which al-Abbas said, "She is Khadija daughter of Khuwaylid, my
nephew’s wife." This incident is included in the books of both Imam Ahmad and
al-Tirmithi, each detailing it in his own Sahih. And she bore patiently in the
face of persecution to which her revered husband and his small band of believers
were exposed at the hands of the polytheists and aristocrats of Quraysh,
sacrificing her vast wealth to promote Islam, seeking Allah’s Pleasure.

Among Khadija’s merits was her being one of the four most perfect of all women
of mankind, the other three being: Fatima daughter of Muhammad (pbuh), Maryam
bint `Umran (Mary daughter of Amram), mother of Christ (as) and niece of prophet
Zakariyya and Ishba (Elizabeth), and `Asiya daughter of Muzahim, wife of
Pharaoh. Prophet Zakariyya, as the reader knows, was the father of Yahya (John
the Baptist), the latter being only a few months older than prophet Jesus (as).
The Prophet of Islam (pbuh) used to talk about Khadija quite often after her
demise, so much so that his youngest wife, `Ayesha daughter of Abu Bakr, felt
extremely jealous and said to him, "… But she was only an old woman with red
eyes, and Allah has compensated you with a better and younger wife (meaning
herself)." This caused him (pbuh) to be very indignant, and he said, "No,
indeed; He has not compensated me with someone better than her. She believed in
me when all others disbelieved; she held me truthful when others called me a
liar; she sheltered me when others abandoned me; she comforted me when others
shunned me; and Allah granted me children by her while depriving me of children
by other women." Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Hatim, al-Dulabi, al-Tabari, and
many others, all quote `Ayesha saying: "One day, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)
mentioned Khadija affectionately, so I was carried away by jealousy and said
about her what I should not have said. It was then that his face changed color
in a way I never saw it change except when he (pbuh) was receiving revelation,
so I realized what I had done and felt overwhelmed by regret to the extent that
I could not help uttering these words: `O Lord! If You remove the anger of Your
Messenger right now, I pledge not to ever speak ill of her as long as I live.’
Having seen that, he forgave me and narrated to me some of her merits." Both
Muslim and Bukhari indicate in their respective Sahih books that among Khadija’s
merits was the fact that the Lord of Dignity ordered Jibraeel (Gabriel), peace
be upon him, to convey His regards to her. Gabriel said to Muhammad (pbuh): "O
Muhammad! Khadija is bringing you a bowl of food; when she comes to you, tell
her that her Lord greets her, and convey my greeting, too, to her." When he (pbuh)
did so, she said: "Allah is the Peace, and He is the source of all peace, and
upon Gabriel be peace." Khadija died of an attack of fever on the tenth or
eleventh day of the month of Ramadan, ten years after the start of the Prophetic
mission (in the year 619 A.D.), 24 years after her marriage with Muhammad (pbuh),
and she was buried at Hajun in the outskirts of Mecca. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh)
dug her grave and buried her… Funeral prayers (salat al janaza) had not yet
been mandated in Islam. It is reported that by the time she died, her entire
wealth had already been spent to promote Islam; she left not a single gold dinar
nor a single silver dirham, nor anything more or less…

O soul that are at rest! Return to your Lord,
well-pleased (with Him),well-pleasing (Him),
so enter among My servants, and enter into My garden.
(Qur’an, 89:27-30)

Notes:

[1] This temple was built by Solomon (Prophet Sulayman) to express his gratitude
for what the Almighty had granted him. Solomon had in advance obtained his
Lord’s permission to erect it. A glimpse of its grandeur is described in the
Holy Qur’an in 27:44: "It was said to her (to Balqees, the Queen of Sheba):
Enter the palace; but when she saw it, she deemed it to be a great expanse of
water," that is, its marble floors shone like glass, reflecting her image as
water does. This temple was later ordered by Solomon to be demolished in its
entirety, and the claim of the Jews that the al-Aqsa mosque is built on its very
foundations is false. The Jews plot to demolish the al-Aqsa mosque in order to
rebuild Solomon’s Temple. Jews intend to do so at the right time, when they
realize that the Muslims of the world, because of the weakness and hypocrisy of
their rulers, are too weak to stand between them and the achievement of their
most vile goals, and when the "Christian" West will be ready, more than now, to
help them achieve their objectives. The West has been supporting the Jews
against the Muslims, and there will never be any reversal to this trend… We
are Allah’s, and to Him shall we return…

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