“She believed in me when the whole world refuted me and she attested to my trueness when the whole world accused me of falsehood. She offered me compassion and loyalty with her wealth when everyone else had forsaken me.”[Prophet Muhammad (saws): Narrated by Masnad Ahmad]
Khadijah, the first wife of the Prophet (saws), is a figure of great inspiration to the Muslim women.
She was the first to believe in the message of Muhammad (saws).
She proved to be the Prophet’s (saws) steadfast ally at all times.
She shared in all his troubles and difficulties.
She was always the first to offer him cover and support.
She gave him love and advice whenever he needed it.
At the age of forty, a widow and a wealthy business-woman, Khadijah (ra) married the Prophet (saws) when he was twenty-five, in what proved to be a relationship of profound love, loyalty and friendship.
Khadijah (radhi Allahu anha) was born in Makkah in the year 556 CE. Khadijah (ra) belonged to a tribe of the Quraysh Clan, the Banu Asad. Her father was Khuwaylid bin Asad, and her mother – Fatima bint Zaidah – belonged to the Luayy tribe. Her father was a very popular leader among the tribe of Quraysh, and a very prosperous businessman who died while fighting in the famous battle of Fujjar. Khadijah (ra) thus grew up in the lap of luxury.
Khadijah’s (ra) first husband was ‘Atiq bin ‘A’idh, a respectable figure from the Makhzum tribe. She bore him a daughter named Hindah. After Atiq died, Khadijah married Abu Hala Malak ibn Nabash. She bore him two sons with the (usually feminine) names of Hind and Hala.
Khadijah (ra) was a very distinguished and affluent member of the Quraysh, and was generally regarded as an exceptionally chaste, pure, and abstemious lady. Due to all that, she was known by the by-names Ameerat-Quraysh (“Princess of Quraysh”), al-Tahira (“The Pure One”) and Khadijah Al-Kubra (Khadijah “the Great”).
Khadijah (ra) as a Business Woman
Khadijah (ra) was a wealthy, well-known and prosperous lady in Makkah. She was a merchant and used to send her goods via the trade caravans to Ash-Sham (Syria) and Yemen.
Khadijah (ra) inherited her business from her father. Her astuteness and business ability made her business one of the most widespread businesses among the Quraysh. It is said that when the Quraysh’s trade caravans gathered to embark upon their summer journey to Ash-Sham (Syria) or winter journey to Yemen, Khadijah’s caravan equaled the caravans of all other traders of the Quraysh put together. It is said that she fed and clothed the poor, assisted her relatives financially and provided marriage portions for poor relations.
Trade of the people of Makkah used to be based on travelling to Yemen and Ash-Sham (Syria). Khadijah (ra) did not travel with her trade caravans; she employed others to trade on her behalf for a commission. The Arab society at that time was a male-dominant society, so we can imagine how hard it would have been for a woman to run her business in such an environment. That’s why she had to hire men to do business for her. It was like companies hire “business managers” today.
Khadijah hires Muhammad (saws) as a Business Manager
In 595 CE, Khadijah (ra) needed an agent for a business trip to Syria. As we know that the society in Makkah was a very corrupt society in the times of jahiliyyah, she was most probably running into trouble with a lot of “business managers” who were not being honest, so she wanted to hire somebody who was trustworthy.
Khadijah (ra) had heard of the integrity, honesty and principled behavior Muhammad (saws).The experience that Muhammad (saws) held working with caravans in his uncle Abu Talib’s family business had earned him the honorific titles Al-Sadiq (“the Truthful”) and Al-Amin (“the Trustworthy” or “Honest”).
Khadijah hired Muhammad (saws), who was then 25 years old, making the deal that she would pay double her usual commission. [Ibn Sa’d’s Tabaqat al-Kabir] Khadijah sent him on a business trip to Ash-Sham and sent one of her servants, Maysarah, to accompany and assist him.
During the trip to Ash-Sham, Maysarah was impressed by the Prophet’s integrity, strength of character, adherence to principles, his amicable dealings and his business abilities.
On the way back from Syria, the Prophet (saws) lay down under a tree to rest for a while. Nestora, a Jewish monk who was known for his knowledge of religion and for his insight, saw him and asked Maysarah who he was. Maysarah told him all about Muhammad (saws) and his reputation for honesty and intelligence. Nestora informed Maysarah that this man would be elevated to Prophethood in the future. Nestora said:
“None but a prophet ever sat beneath this tree.”
It is also narrated that on the same trip, once while Maysarah was standing near Muhammad (saws) as he slept, he saw two angels standing above Muhammad creating a cloud to protect him from the heat and glare of the sun.
Khadijah becomes interested in Muhammad (saws)
Upon returning from Ash-Sham, Maysarah gave accounts of the honorable way that Muhammad had conducted his business, with the result that he brought back twice as much profit as Khadijah (ra) had expected. Maysarah also reported to Khadijah (ra) the accounts about the Jewish monk and the two angles providing shade over Muhammad (saws).
At this, Khadijah (ra) was deeply moved and impressed and became very interested in Muhammad (saws). She found herself attracted to Muhammad (saws) emotionally and thought to propose marriage to him.
One could imagine what she would have been thinking at that time. How could she express her thoughts to him? As Khadijah (ra) was a wealthy woman, many wealthy and noble men from Quraysh had already asked for her hand in marriage, but she had rejected all those proposals. How could she face those nobles of Quraysh whom she refused before? How would her tribe react? What would her family say? And most importantly, would her proposal be acceptable to this young, yet unmarried man of 25 years of age when she was a widowed woman of 40 years of age?
As she pondered over these questions and debated within herself, one night she had a dream in which the sun descended from the sky into her courtyard, fully illuminating her home.
Khadijah (ra) then consulted her cousin Warqah ibn Nawfal, a blind man known for his skill in interpreting dreams, and for his depth of knowledge, particularly of the Torah and the Injil. Warqah said that if what Maysarah had seen was true, then Muhammad (saws) was in fact the prophet of the people who was already expected.
Regarding her dream, Warqah told her not to be alarmed, as this was a very promising dream. The glorious sun she saw descending into her courtyard was an indication that the Prophet (saws) whose advent had been predicted in the Torah and the Injil was to grace her home.
After this meeting with Warqah, Khadijah (ra) became stronger in her desire to marry Muhammad (saws).
Marriage Proposal to Muhammad (saws)
Khadijah (ra) entrusted one of her very close friends named Nafisah bint Manbah to approach Muhammad and ask if he would consider marrying. The following conversation took place between the two:
Nafisah: “Oh Muhammad, what is preventing you from getting married?”
Muhammad: “I do not have enough money to get married!”
Nafisah: “If that was taken care of, then would you accept an invitation to wealth, beauty, repute, and partnership?”
Muhammad: “Who is she?”
Nafisah: “Khuwaylid’s daughter, Khadijah”
Muhammad: “But how can it be?”
Nafisah: “Everything will be taken care of.”
Muhammad: “In that case, I accept”.[Narrated in Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d]
Nafisah instantly went to Khadijah to tell her the good news. Khadijah’ was overjoyed.
After this, they consulted their respective uncles. Muhammad (saws) told his uncles, Abu Talib and Hamza, about his wish to marry Khadijah (ra). His uncles agreed to the marriage. Khadijah’s father had passed away in the Battle of Fujjar. For this reason, they approached her uncle, Amr bin Asad, to make a formal proposal to Khadijah (ra). Khadijah’s uncle Amr Ibn Asad accepted the proposal, and the two families began preparing for the wedding.
The Story of Khadija’s Necklace
During the battle of Badr, Abdul-Aas, son-in-law to the Prophet (saws) and husband of Zainab (ra), was captured along with other non-Muslims from Makkah. At the time, Zainab (ra) was residing in Makkah. In exchange for the freedom of her husband, she offered the necklace her mother had given her at the time of her marriage as payment.
Upon seeing and recognizing the necklace, the Prophet Muhammad (saws) was stirred and overwhelmed with emotion. What an extraordinary moment it was to behold when his eyes shed tears at the memory of her kindness!
He consulted his Companions over granting freedom to Abdul-Aas without payment. As a result, the necklace was returned to Zainab (ra), and remained a keepsake memory of her noble mother Khadijah (ra).
However, Abdul-Aas was released on the terms that upon his return to Makkah, he would arrange safe passage for his Muslim wife, Zainab (ra), the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (saws), to Madinah. [Abu Daud]
Abdul-Aas, proved loyal and true to his word. Upon his return to Makkah, according to his promise, he made arrangements for Zainab (ra) to be transported to Madinah, where the Prophet (saws) was residing.
The Prophet (saws) never forgot the good deed done by his son-in-law. He used to say, “Abu-ul-Aas is a righteous man in that he fulfilled the promise that he made to me.” [Bukhari] It was this very righteousness that enabled Abu-ul-Aas to accept Islam in the end.
‘A’ishah’s (ra) Feeling of Jealousy
‘A’ishah (ra) narrated:
“I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet (saws) as much as I did of Khadijah though I did not see her, but the Prophet (saws) used to mention her very often”. [Bukhari]
‘A’ishah (ra) relates that Khadijah died three years before her marriage. Every time, before leaving the house, the Prophet Muhammad (saws) would talk fondly about Khadijah (ra).
“I became weary of hearing of her all the time. For this reason I never felt any indignation against any of the wives except for Khadijah (ra). The Prophet (saws) would say that Allah has given me glad tidings in a revelation of a resting place for her in Paradise. Once, Khadijah’s sister, Hala, came to our house and she asked permission to come in. Due the similarity between her voice and Khadijah’s voice, the Prophet (saws) recognized her beforehand and said, ‘Dear God! It is Hala who has come.’ At this exclamation, I felt a strong sense of indignation and said,
‘O Prophet of Allah! Why is it that of all the old women of Quraish, you keep mentioning only one, she who died a long time ago? Allah has blessed you with better wives than her since then. You mention Khadijah as if there is no woman but her on earth.’
The Prophet Muhammad (saws) took amiss at these words and his face showed such signs of anger that I felt limp. I prayed to Allah that if his anger were to fade today, I would never again in my life say another word against Khadijah. At that point, looking at my countenance, the Prophet Muhammad (saws) said to me,
‘O ‘A’ishah! The truth of the matter is that no one can be better than Khadijah. She believed in me when the whole world refuted me and she attested to my trueness when the whole world accused me of falsehood. She offered me compassion and loyalty with her wealth when everyone else had forsaken me. O ‘A’ishah! What can I do? Love for her runs in my blood and is nestled in my heart.’” [Narrated by Masnad Ahmad]
I cannot find any love story more powerful, more spiritually uplifting, and more awe-inspiring than that of the Prophet Muhammad (saws) and Khadijah (ra). It is a shining example of what an ideal marriage is. If a Muslim ever claims that he loves his wife, he must gauge his actions with that of the Prophet (saws). If a Muslimah ever claims that she loves her husband, she must gauge her actions with that of Khadijah (ra)!
The history of Islam wouldn’t be the same without Khadijah (ra). Let us spread this beautiful love story of Khadijah (ra). Use the icons below or on the left-hand side to share this article on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
Remember, the Prophet (saws) said:
“Convey from me even if it be one ayah (verse), for it may be that the one being informed will comprehend better that the one listening (at present).” [Bukhari]
So let’s share this story all over the internet, insha Allah!
And in the end,
Let us give our Salam to this noble and grand woman, one to whom Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the Master and Creator of this Universe sent His Salam!
Salam to you O Khadijah, Ameerat-Quraysh (“Princess of Quraysh”)!
Salam to you O Khadijah al-Tahira (“The Pure One”)!
Salam to you O Khadijah al-Kubra (Khadijah “the Great”)!