The life of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (may Allah be pleased with her) is a journey of notable wisdom, unlimited giving, and boundless love for Allah and His Messenger.
Khadijah had a previous marriage before she married the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). After her first husband died, she was free, conducting the affairs of her life and shouldering her huge responsibilities all by herself.
She was a wealthy woman who had wide commercial holdings. This is in addition to her being beautiful, very famous, and well-mannered. So, these qualities won her the accolade the pure woman.
All these qualities and qualifications made her attractive to many Quraishi men who wished to marry her. But it seemed that her first marriage experience made her refuse to agree to any of the proposals. Her preoccupation with her business and other obligations might also have been another reason for her refusal of these proposals. She remained unmarried until she got older and approached the age of forty.
The popularity of the name trustworthy given to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), who was a model of good conduct, reached her. What she heard from her servant, Maisarah, about Muhammad’s excellent manners in buying and selling, and how he made big profits when he accompanied them on their last business trip to Syria, created in her great interest. This led Khadijah to send someone to him to indirectly express her interest in marrying him.
The marriage took place, and both were delighted, because of the great manners they shared. Their hearts also shared the same feeling.
A Mother of Noble Offspring
With a compassionate smile and a truthful, assuring, and reinforcing word, she strengthened him in his mission to carry out the command of Allah and His order.
In the course of the years in which they lived together as husband and wife, the marriage was blessed with pleasant children. The first of them was Al-Qasim, from whose name the famous epithet of the Prophet, that is, Abu Al-Qasim, was derived. The two spouses were then blessed with `Abdullah, who was otherwise known as At-Tayyib and At-Tahir. But for some Divine wisdom, all of them died in their infancy. This was before Muhammad was commissioned as a Prophet.
After he was commissioned as a Prophet, he was blessed with the following girls in order: Zainab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthoom, and Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with them).
Supporter of the Messenger
The greatness of Khadijah vividly showed in its best and perfect form from the time her husband was commissioned as a Prophet until she died.
The Messenger of Allah was made to love seclusion and staying away from people and their materialistic world for the purpose of reflection and meditation. This seclusion led to the elevation of his soul and the purity of his feeling. He became prepared to receive the great news and the huge responsibility.
The Prophet used to visit the cave of Hiraa’ on the Mountain of Mercy (Jabal Ar-Rahmah). He would take with him his food and drink that his wife Khadijah had prepared for him. He would spend some days and nights there, particularly during the month of Ramadan, in seclusion.
One day, the Prophet returned home after the revelation was sent down to him for the first time, to convey the first Divine words to Khadijah.
It is here that the first signs of her greatness manifested. Yes! She instantly believed in him and accepted Islam without hesitation. This is the consensus of the historians and writers of the life history of the Prophet. She was the first believer ever of the Messenger of Allah.
There is, however, a question that may pop up here. Was her acceptance of Islam and her faith done just to follow her husband so that their relationship could continue, or was it done for noble and sublime reasons that transcended this materialistic and sentimental meaning?
To know the answer, let’s reflect on the situation when the Messenger of Allah returned home to his wife after receiving the first revelation. His heart was trembling, and he was saying, “Cover me; cover me.” She covered him until he was no longer terrified. After having informed her of his experience in the cave of Hiraa’, he told her, “I was afraid that something bad might happen to me” (Al-Bukhari).
But his wife’s response to this expression of fright was, “Nay! But receive the good tidings! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you, for by Allah, you keep good relations with your kith and kin; speak the truth; help the poor and the destitute; entertain your guests generously; and assist those who are stricken with calamities” (Al-Bukhari).
This statement was undoubtedly a sign of awareness, wisdom, maturity, and deep understanding of the situation. It was also an expression of support.
Khadijah then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn `Abdul `Uzzah, who, during the pre-Islamic period became Christian and would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight.
Khadijah said to Waraqah, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!”
Waraqah asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” Allah’s Messenger described whatever he had seen.
Waraqah said, “This is the same one who keeps the secrets [Angel Gabriel] —
whom Allah had sent to Moses” (Al-Bukhari).
The Islamic scholar Al-Haithami mentioned in his Mujamma` Az-Zawa’id thatone day the Messenger of Allah was sitting down with Khadijah and then he saw Angel Gabriel (peace be upon him) and told Khadijah of what he saw. She asked him to move closer to her. When he moved closer, she asked him if he still saw the person and he answered in the affirmative.
She then took off her headscarf and asked him if he still saw him. He answered in the negative. She then told him, “By Allah, this is a Noble Angel. By Allah he is not a devil [i.e., if he had been a devil, he would not have been ashamed of looking at them while she was bareheaded].”
Indeed, with decisive words and actions Khadijah calmed the Prophet and strengthened him. The great love she had for him transformed into what is greater: belief in Allah and His Messenger.
One day, the Prophet returned home afterAngel Gabrielhad taught him how to pray. He informed Khadijah of this, and she said, “Just teach me how he taught you.” So he taught her.
She then performed ablution as he did and she prayed along with him, and then said, “I testify that you are really the Messenger of Allah”
The Islamic scholar, Ibn Hajar, said in his book, Al-Isabah, “This is the most correct narration I came about concerning her Islam.”
Ibn Is-haq, another Islamic scholar, said, “Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) was the first person to believe in Allah and His Messenger and believe in all that he brought. Allah comforted His Messenger by that. The Prophet never heard any unpleasant thing from her whenever she talked to him.”
The ship of faith continued to weather the storms and waves of the age of ignorance and its darkness, while its great captain, Muhammad, directed the passengers with wisdom, patience, and reliance on Allah.
Whenever he sensed tiredness in himself, or sensed an aggression in the violent winds, he turned his eyes to the heavens, and then sought support from his companion and life partner. And what he got was a compassionate smile and a truthful, assuring, and reinforcing word. This strengthened him in his mission to carry out the command of Allah and His order.
Here is another aspect of greatness in the life of Khadijah. She had invested all her wealth in the cause of Allah. She generously and unlimitedly spent without making any mention of what she had spent, especially during the three-year blockade led by Quraishi infidels against Muslims in the mountain pass of Abu Talib.
She spared the Messenger of Allah the trouble of labor. All his occupation was calling to the way of Allah. Allah reminded him of this favor when He says,(Did He not find you destitute and enrich (you)?) (Ad-Duha 93:8)
She also showed kindness to weak and poor Muslims. She was very generous to them and was deservedly called the Mother of the Believers. She was the first Mother of the Believers in every sense.
Year of Grief
Khadijah came out of the mountain pass of Abu Talib physically weakened. She became sick, and her beloved husband and daughters cared for her, consoled her, and alleviated her suffering to the best of their ability. But as Allah would have it, no remedy or cure was able to heal her, and she finally surrendered her soul and left for the Highest Company.
She died amid the tears of her daughters and the sorrow of their great father, the noble Messenger, over his companion, life partner, and solid support. Her death was one of the saddest experiences of the Messenger of Allah, to the extent that the year of her death was called the year of grief.
Khadijah’s Multiple Rewards
The great aspects of Khadijah were adequately rewarded by the Lord of Majesty. Abu Hurairah narrated that Gabriel came to the Prophet and said, “O Allah’s Messenger! This is Khadijah coming to you with a dish having meat soup [or some food or drink]. When she reaches you, greet her on behalf of her Lord [i.e., Allah] and on my behalf, and give her the glad tidings of having a qasab [canes stud with jewels] palace in Paradise wherein there will be neither any noise nor any fatigue [trouble]” (Al-Bukhari).
Moreover, the Prophet said, “The best of the world’s women is Mary [during her lifetime], and the best of the world’s women is Khadijah [during her lifetime]” (Al-Bukhari).
This is part of her reward in Paradise. Moreover, she received noble Prophetic rewards, as her devoted husband frequently spoke of her and nostalgically remembered her days with him, expressing how much he missed her.
The following incident is a very delicate and indicative one. `A’ishah reported that Halah bint Khuwaylid (Khadijah’s sister) sought permission from Allah’s Messenger to see him, so he was reminded of Khadijah’s manner of asking leave to enter and was overwhelmed with emotions; he then said, “O Allah, it is Halah, daughter of Khuwaylid” (Muslim).
How great the Prophet’s devotion to his wife was. He still remembered the way his late wife — who died many years ago — used to ask for his leave!
`A’ishah said, “Never did I feel jealous of the wives of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), except for Khadijah, though I did not [have the privilege to] see her.”
She further added that whenever Allah’s Messenger slaughtered a sheep, he said, “Send it to the companions of Khadijah.” I annoyed him one day and said, “[It is] Khadijah [only who always prevails upon your mind].” Thereupon, Allah’s Messenger said, “Her love had been nurtured in my heart by Allah Himself” (Muslim).
Ibn Kathir in his book Al-Bedayah Wa An-Nehayah mentioned that `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said that one day the Messenger of Allah praised Khadijah, so `A’ishah grew very jealous and told him, “Was she not an old lady whom Allah has replaced for you with a better woman?”
He got angry and said, “No, by Allah! Allah did not replace her with any better woman. For she believed in me when people disbelieved; she consoled me with her wealth when people denied me their money; and Allah blessed me with children from her while I was denied children by other women.”
The sayings of the Prophet — beside being signs of deep love and devotion toward his late wife — were the result of the inevitable gap her death created in the household, in the real sense of the word. This is because seeing his daughters would remind him of their absent mother, and the atmosphere of sorrow and distress would remind him of the big heart that flourished with love, care, and faith.
By Muhammad `Ali Qutb