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  • Date :
  • 10/17/2005

Khadija

Wife of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

(565 A.D. - 623 A.D.)

 

Khadija Kubra daughter of Khuwaylid belonged to the clan ofBanu Hashimof the tribe of Banu Asad. She was a distant cousin of her husband the Messenger of Allah Muhammad bin Abdullah, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him and his progeny. 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 fromMecca 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., wasFatima daughter of Za'ida, 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 toSyria during the summer or toYemen during the winter, Khadija's caravan equaled 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), andal-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 whichArabia 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 Halah Hind bin 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 toa son who was named after his father Hind and who came to be one of the greatest 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 theBattle of the Camel in which he fought on the side of Imam Ali bin Abu Talib (pbuh), 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: 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) besidesFatima (pbuh). 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 bookThe Early History of Islam wherein he bases his conclusion on the contents of Sayyuti's famous workTarikh 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 bin Rabee'. She had accepted Islam before her husband, and she participated in the migration fromMecca 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 bin 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 inMedina 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 were a very small number of Christians and Jews inMecca, and a fairly large number of Jews inMedina. Waraqah bin 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. 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 therewaiting for the coming of a new Prophetfrom the seed of Abraham (pbuh) 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 torely on someoneelse 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 cousinMuhammad bin Abdullah (pbuh) who, by then, had earned the honoring titles of Sadiq(the truthful), andAmin (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 bin 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.

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 ofAntioch (Antakiya), Rome, and Egyptian Alexandria. Such dissensions and differences of theological viewpoints provided Muhammad (pbuh) withplenty 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 ofJerusalem 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 fromSalman Farsi who was one such adherent till he fell in captivity, sold in Mecca and freed to be one of the most renown and cherished companions 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 (pbuh), 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 ruledPersia from 632-651 A.D. andlost theBattle of Qadisiyyah to the Muslim forces in 636, thus ending the rule of the Sassanids. 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-Zanan, ended up marrying our Third Holy Imam Hosein bin Ali (pbuh), whereas her sister married the renowned scholar and acclaimedmuhaddith(traditionist) Muhammad son of the first Muslim caliph Abu Bakr. Shah-Zanan 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 Hosein (pbuh) produced our Fourth Holy Imam Ali bin Hosein (pbuh).

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 bin 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, "Suchmanners 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.

The trip's measure of success encouraged Khadija to employ Muhammad (pbuh) again on the winter trip to southern Arabia, i.e.Yemen. 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 themarriage 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 (pbuh).

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.

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 themas`a, the place where the pilgrims perform the seven circles during thehajj orumra. In that houseFatima (pbuh) 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 ofSaudi Arabia in 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 worldwide.

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 Sura 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 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 MostBountiful 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 bin 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 (pbuh) 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 himSadiq,Amin. Khadija did not hesitate to embrace Islam at all, knowing that her husband could not have put forth any false claim. Yahya bin Afeef is quoted saying that he once came, during the period ofjahiliyya(before the advent of Islam), toMecca to be hosted by Abbas bin Abdul-Muttalib, one of the Prophet's uncles.

"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 Abbas: "This is quite strange, O Abbas!"

"Is it, really?" retorted Abbas. "Do you know who he is?" Abbas asked his guest who answered in the negative. "He is Muhammad bin 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 Abbas said, "She is Khadija daughter of Khuwaylid, my nephew's wife."

This incident is included in the books of both Imam Ahmad and Tirmithi, each detailing it in his ownSahih. 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 (pbuh) and niece of Prophet Zachary and Ishba (Elizabeth), and Asiya daughter of Muzahim, wife of Pharaoh. Prophet Zackary, was the father of Yahya (John the Baptist), the latter being only a few months older than prophet Jesus (pbuh). 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."

Both Muslim and Bukhari indicate in their respectiveSahih books that among Khadija's merits was the fact that the Lord of Dignity ordered Gabriel, 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 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...

If you wish to research the life of this great lady, and if you do not have al-Majlisi's voluminous [110 Vol.] encyclopedia titledBihar al-Anwar, the best references are: al-Sayyuti'sTarikh al Khulafa, Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani'sAghani, Ibn Hisham's Seera, Muhammad ibn Ishaq'sSeerat Rasool-Allah, andTarikh al-rusul wal muluk by Abu Ja`far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (839-923 A.D.). Of all these books, only al-Tabari'sTarikhis being translated (by more than one translator and in several volumes) into English. One publisher of Tabari'sTarikhis 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.

Retrieved from:

http://al-islam.org/biographies/khadija.htm

Also see:

http://www.tebyan.net/english/Events/2005/09/Html/en-has84-1main.htm

http://www.tebyan.net/english/Events/2005/08/Html/en-840609-mohammad.htm

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