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Exemplary Women: KHADIJAH RA (Part 6)

We praise Him and send Durood upon His noble messenger.

 

I seek refuge in Allah from the outcast Shaytaan.

 

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

 

O, my Lord! Open for me my chest. Ease my task for me; And remove the impediment from my speech, so they may understand what I say

Her patience through trials

We spoke about the numerous trials Khadija RA faced with regard to her children. She witnessed the death of two of her sons and divorce of two of her daughters. She had married her daughter, Zainab to her sister’s son Abul Aas. By the grace of Allah her daughter had immediately accepted Islam. This is understandable as she was Prophet SAW and Khadijah‘s daughter. However her son in law did not accept Islam. Every believing woman can understand how it feels if her immediate family members are not practicing Muslims. We can multiply this agony and anguish 1000 times to describe what Khadija RA must have felt when she saw that her son-in-law was still a polytheist. Since this happened in the early days of Islam there was no law forbidding the marriage of a Muslim woman to a polytheist man or that her marriage could not continue if she was already married to one.

Every mother blessed with a daughter can relate to the pain she must’ve felt when her daughters Rukayya and Umme Kulsum were completing their iddah (period of waiting after divorce). Soon Allah showered his mercy on Rukayya as one of Mecca’s wealthiest, handsome, virtuous and most honoured Muslim man proposed for her. He had every quality that any mother could want in a son-in-law. He was a million times better than the unfortunate and unlucky man that divorced her. Who was he? None other than Usman bin Affan RA!

This is a lesson for all mothers not to feel too responsible, nervous and worried about your daughters. Allah has shaped our destiny. In our society there is so much stigma attached to a girl’s divorce that it feels like the end of the world. However, Islam has greatly reduced the social stigma surrounding it. We have already studied in Surah Baqarah how Allah’s mercy has lightened this burden. We should never lose hope during trials and difficulties as Allah is the one who has written our destiny. Don’t ever think that things always will remain the same. Is that possible? There’s always day after every night. Doesn’t the sun rise after setting each day? With darkness there is light. Always hope for good things and hold on to your faith.

As the poet says, “remain attached to the tree and have spring’s expectation.” Today if someone’s daughter gets divorced because of their faith all the resentment would be targeted at their faith –“What did my faith give me? What did I gain? I have always tried to live by my religion and this is what I get! My daughters get divorced. Couldn’t Allah let my sons live?” I seek refuge with Allah from this kind of behaviour. Sometimes even practicing Muslims lose their faith when faced with trials and hardships that were written in their destiny and destiny cannot be changed. “Neither did I find faith nor the embrace of my beloved. Now I don’t belong neither here nor there.” (Like the poet says that neither did I gain this world nor the hereafter.)

Hardships are a very big test in life and more so when they come as a result of doing righteousness deeds and staying stead fast on our faith. These hardships were meant to come our way. We wrongly assume that they came because of our faith. For a moment assume that Rukkaya and Umme Kulsum did not accept Islam. Would they still get divorced? Yes! It was written down by Allah. If we understand this our hardships will never make us have negative thoughts about Allah and we will not drift away from our faith.

The marriage of Usman RA and Rukayya must have brought great joy to the hearts of Prophet SAW and Hazrat Khadijah. Despite belonging to a noble family Usman RA did not have complete protection from the punishments and torture faced by the Muslims. The general rule in Mecca was that the slaves and the weak ones in society faced persecution.

Yasir, Summaya, Khabbab and Bilal RA were tortured while those from noble families like a Omar, Abu Bakr and Ali were comparatively safer. This is because their families protected them. However, there were a few exceptions like Usman RA’s paternal uncle. He would completely wrap him in a date fiber mat and place him near smoke till he was gasping for breath. We feel suffocated even if we wrap ourselves in a blanket!

Five years after the start of revelation, when things became intolerable, permission was granted to migrate to Abyssinia. Usman RA and Rukkaya were also part of this migration. When we think of migration we feel a sense of relief. We thank God that we have received salvation. The fact is that we can’t relate to the no-win situation they were facing at that time. They could not stay in Mecca because of the persecution. For them leaving Mecca was not the same as it is for us to go somewhere by bus, train or a plane. I have heard from my parents that around eighty or hundred years ago people stayed in one place for centuries. For example families who lived in Lahore, Dehli or Lucknow stayed in one city for centuries. Any person who got transferred from one city to another, for example from Dehli to Lucknow, would refuse the offer and resign from his job. Here we are talking about 1450 years ago when generations lived and died in one place. They wouldn’t move from that place.

The world was not a global village like it is today and they were going to a totally unknown destination. Everyone was unfamiliar as strange to them – people, food, language, culture and religion. Muslims had not been exposed to Christianity before. The weather and environment in Abyssinia was also very different from Mecca. Today when people migrate to other countries they find it extremely difficult to settle down despite all kinds of means of communication and luxuries. When children go abroad they miss their family so much that they even cry over the phone, even though today we can easily see and talk to each other. Also today no place in the world is unknown to us. Even if we have not visited the place in person we have other means through which we can see it. Also at that time it wasn’t like we are going now but will come back and meet everyone in a month. No way!

 

Khadijah RA must have bid farewell to Rukayya with such a heavy heart. Since this was not an ordinary journey, thoughts must’ve crossed Khadijah RA’s mind if she would ever meet her daughter again. This is exactly what happened. She never saw her daughter again after sending her off to Abyssinia. Rukayya’s son Abdullah was born in Abyssinia. Khadijah RA might have received news that Allah had blessed her with a grandson. We know that grandchildren are dearer to a person than one’s own children. Her heart must have longed to hold and kiss her grandson. However Khadija RA never got to meet her daughter and see her grandson.

Her Patience

Khadijah RA was the epitome of patience. She never uttered a word of displeasure. She never said: “I have put up with so much because of your mission. You get to be the messenger of Allah, what’s in it for me? What did I do wrong? What will I gain from this?” Women complain even when their husband gets a promotion even though a promotion brings so many benefits in terms of money and status. They constantly complain that “you’re always busy with work and never have time for me. You always neglect me.” So many complains!

Her Loyalty

What is Khadija RA getting here? She had no prior knowledge of her status with Allah. Allah did not give her good news in advance. Khadija RA didn’t ask Allah for assurance that she will be sent to paradise otherwise she will not do anything. She didn’t know. This is the personality of a woman. She is the embodiment of loyalty. A woman’s loyalty is one of her biggest strengths. It makes a man feel at peace, who in turns makes his wife feel at peace. Allah has taught us through our mother Khadijah RA not to complain and grumble all the time. Remember she was not young at this time and had already been married for 20 years. Usually after being married for so long there is less hardship and things are more settled in life. A person’s level of tolerance also goes down. When a person is young their nerves are strong and their body is energetic. However when you are approaching your fifties or sixties, it is obvious that you don’t have the energy you had in your twenties. One becomes more inclined towards a relaxed life.

Khadijah RA and Prophet SAW had at least six children and she had maybe two or three with her previous husbands. She never complained to the Prophet SAW “I am tired, enough is enough! How long is this going to last?” Not even once. From a reward point of view, men and women are equal in the sight of Allah. We should do righteous deeds and focus on our life after death and try to inculcate in ourselves the qualities that were found the mother of believers.

There is an incident that Jibreel AS met Khadija RA in human form. There are different traditions about angels coming in human forms and speaking to humans. There is a famous incident mentioned in Sahih Bukhari about a man from Bani Israel who met an angel in human form. The angel asked him where he was going. He replied “I’m going to meet my brother.” The angel asked if he has any work with him. The man replied: “No, I am going just to maintain ties of kinship for the sake of Allah.” On hearing this, the angel supplicated for him.

Even though this incident regarding Khadija RA is not authenticated by Sahih Muslim or Bukhari, it is possible that it did happen. Jibreel AS met Khadija RA in human form and enquired about Muhammad SAW. She was full of gratitude for Allah and praises for Prophet SAW.

Khadijah RA was going through lot of trials but the toughest one was yet to come. Around seven years after the start of revelation the polytheists of Mecca launched a complete social and economic boycott against the Muslims .The decision came after all the tactics including torture failed to weaken the Muslims. The polytheists severed all ties with Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib. No one would marry anyone from these tribes and no trade or business of any sort will be done with them. The boycott applied to both the Muslims and non Muslims of Banu Hashim and Banu Mutallib because the polytheists would tell them to hand over Muhammad SAW to them. We know that even though Abu Talib was not a Muslim, he supported his nephew. This was his tribal mentality and part of his traditions and values. So even though the polytheists of Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib did not agree with Prophet SAW’s message they continued to protect and defend him.

The Quraysh said they will finish off trade with everyone unless they hand over Prophet SAW. Banu Hashim and Banu Mutallib refused to do so and said we will face the boycott. Everyone from both the tribes except Abu Lahab was forced out of Mecca to a valley called Shib Abi Talib. The polytheists would not allow access to any kind of food. Everyone from both the tribes which included men, women and children were in besieged in Shib Abi Talib. Look at their hard hearted and ruthlessness! The same polytheists of Mecca who were known for their generosity made their own people beg for every drop of water. They were the ones who fed the travelers and anyone who came to perform Hajj and Umrah. The cries of children could be heard outside the valley but they felt no compassion. No kind of food was allowed to reach them.

Her faithfulness in times of social boycott

A point came that they started boiling leaves and skin of dead animals and drinking it. Can we imagine picking up the hide of a dead animal? They would boil it and kept chewing on it so it felt as they were eating something. Was Khadijah from Banu Hashim? No. Was Khadijah from Banu Muttalib? No. She belonged to Banu Asad. She could have easily stayed in Mecca as the sanctions did not apply to her but the thought probably did not even cross her mind to leave her husband in this state and stay at her house in Mecca. Her comfortable bed would have felt like a bed of thorns. This is love! Solace comes from sharing the pain of a loved one and leaving a loved one in pain turns solace into suffering.

The only concession came during the month of Hajj which is one of the four sacred months when all kinds of fighting is forbidden. Muslims would be allowed to come out of the valley. They invited the pilgrims to Islam and then returned back to the valley. There were some kindhearted people in Mecca who could not bear to hear the hungry cries of children anymore. In the middle of the night they would load camels with grains and would usher them towards the valley. They didn’t help them openly as they could not defy the tribal laws. Just like we can’t break the laws made by the government these people could not defy the unanimous decision made by the leaders of Mecca.

Khadija’s nephew Hakeem bin Hizam would also send supplies of grain to his aunt. From time to time Khadija RA would also send messages to him to send supplies that would last for some time. However soon these supplies would run out and people including Khadijah RA would be forced to eat grass. Imagine living in tents under the blazing sun of Mecca! If you have experienced the heat in Mecca you know what heat is! You can feel your skin burning. There was hardly any protection in the tents for these food and water starved people. The tents were not insulated neither did they have coolers like we do today. Often people complain about living in tents in Mina during Hajj even though there is every kind of facility available in them. Just try to imagine the flimsiness of the tents and intensity of hunger and thirst they were faced with. It is one thing to suffer yourself but another to see your loved ones in agony and pain and to hear the cries of small children. They endured everything but their Tawakkul (reliance and trust on Allah) and their Husne Zunn (positive opinion of Allah) never faltered. As a daughter, this is the lesson we should learn from our mother Khadijah RA.

It was not easy to earn the status given to the mother of believers. They were not ordinary women! Allah elevated them to the highest standards any woman could reach. This is what a woman should be like with respect to patience and tolerance. Not only is she patient herself but also provides support to others. I don’t know why we call women weak!

There are different versions regarding the time Muslims stayed in the valley. However according to most scholars around two to three years were spent in Shib Abi Talib. The boycott ended in the 10th year of Prophethood. A group of kindhearted polytheists of Mecca (non-Muslims can also have good qualities) got together and declared that they cannot let this injustice continue. They had never really accepted this agreement from the start. Around four or five pagans made a plan and went to Abu Jahal, who was the leader of this boycott. We are sure that Allah is dealing with Abu Jahal and he’s got what he deserved. The plan was that one by one all of them will speak against the unfair and cruel boycott. Abu Jahal said to them: “Who are you to talk like this!” As planned, voices were raised from all corners against the boycott. This put Abu Jahal on the back foot and he asked them what they wanted. They demanded an end to the boycott.

At this point Abu Talib came out of the valley and said that Prophet SAW had received revelation that insects had eaten the written agreement with all the terms of the boycott that had been hung in the Kaaba. Also the only thing that remained on the document were the words: “In your name, O Allah.” Abu Talib said that if Muhammad has spoken the truth then you will have to end the boycott. However if this is not true then we will return to the valley. Thus with the help of Allah and efforts of some people the boycott ended in the tenth year of prophethood.

Both the tribes returned to Mecca once again. By this time Abu Talib was a old man in his eighties and the siege had taken a toll on his body. Abu Talib died in Ramadan in the 10th year of Prophethood, approximately six months after the end of the boycott. Even though he had not accepted faith, he vehemently supported and defended his nephew. Abu Talib’s respect, dignity and honour were such that the polytheists were scared of him. This was the reason Prophet SAW was not fully exposed to their evil during his lifetime.

Her Death

Prophet SAW’s external protection ended with the death of Abu Talib. Allah had made Abu Talib the means of Prophet SAW’s protection in this world. His death emboldened the polytheists who then started physically attacking and persecuting the Prophet SAW. Two months and according to some traditions, only three days after Abu Talib’s death, Prophet SAW’s internal protection was also taken away. Khadijah RA also passed away!

Prophet SAW and Khadijah RA had spent 25 years, a quarter of a century together. She stood by him in the most difficult of circumstances. She felt unbearable anguish when hardships hit him. She was his strength when people hurt him. She had forsaken all her rights. What lesson do we learn? Every woman should have an objective in life higher than just focusing on her own self. She should work selflessly for the well-being and welfare of others. We cannot only focus on this worldly life. We need to work for our life after death. Like Khadija RA,we should also have a higher purpose in life.

Khadijah RA loved her husband more than her own life. A mere gesture from the Prophet SAW would be enough for Khadija to recognize his needs. She would then do her best to fulfill them. Khadijah RA was insightful, devoted and a loyal partner.

There is an incident narrated from the last days of her life. Prophet SAW and Khadijah RA obviously did not know that her death was imminent.

One day Jibreel AS came to Prophet SAW and said: “Khadija is coming with a bowl of food and drink for you. When she comes to you, give her greetings of peace from Allah and from me.” Prophet SAW conveyed this message to Khadija RA. Her deep understanding and intelligence can be seen from her reply. She replied: “Allah IS peace, to Jibreel AS peace, and to you O Prophet of Allah peace, with the mercy and blessings of Allah.”

Her understanding of Allah SWT

According to scholars this reply reflects her intellectual level. If we had been in her place we would have just fallen unconscious. After coming to our senses we would have said walaikumsalam Allah! This is the reply one usually gives when greeted with salam.  However, Khadija RA replied that Allah is Himself salam. It was like how can I reply with salam as He is the one who protects us. How can we send peace on Him? Since we can’t harm in any way he doesn’t need any peace from us. She replied to Jibreel AS in third person as she couldn’t see him and directly to Prophet SAW as he was present there.

Khadijah’s understanding of Allah was more than many companions. She had true recognition of Allah. She understood the status of Allah and knew how to address him. We seek refuge with Allah from saying she knew everything about Him.

An incident occurred in Medina or maybe in late Meccan period, when some of the companions said “Salam (peace) be upon Allah from his slaves” after saying Tashahudd in Salah. Prophet SAW forbade them from saying this and said “Allah is Himself salam”.

Instead Prophet SAW taught them:

“All the compliments are for Allah and all the prayers and all the good things (are for Allah). Peace be on you, O Prophet, and Allah’s mercy and blessings (are on you).”

The point to learn from this story is that Khadija’s deep understanding of Islam was more than most companions. Women like to compete with men. If we apply ourselves towards understanding our religion then we can also have the same or better level of comprehension of our faith. Let’s come back to the incident of Jibreel AS who gave Khadija RA good news of a palace in paradise where there will be neither any noise nor any fatigue.

According to a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari, Jibreel AS said to Prophet SAW

“to give glad tidings that she will have a palace in paradise made of Qasab (hollow pearls) wherein there will be neither any noise nor any fatigue.”

Her reward of Paradise

She had listened to so much noise in her life – people abusing Prophet SAW ridiculing and taunting him. She had patiently suffered and listened a lot. She exhausted herself in this life and now she was being given the good news of a place in paradise where there is no noise and fatigue. The most excellent reward awaited her in paradise. In a narration in Nisai, Prophet SAW said:

“The best women of the women of Paradise are Khadija bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muhammad, Maryam bint Imran, and Aasiyah bint Muzahim (the wife of the Pharaoh).”

Khadijah RA was the first in so many things: she was first wife, his first love, the first woman who bore him children. He didn’t have children with anyone except a son from Maria. However he also passed away. She was the first woman to believe in Prophet SAW, the first to do ablution and pray. The only woman on whom Allah and Jibreel AS sent greetings of peace. Later we will see that Jibreel AS sent greetings to Hazrat Ayesha too. She was the first to whom revelation was read to by Prophet SAW. She was the first person to spend on Prophet SAW after his Prophethood. Khadijah RA had handed over all her wealth to Prophet SAW. When Prophet SAW was young his grandfather and uncle had spent on him as he was an orphan. In this way she was the first person and woman to spend on him AFTER Prophethood.

Her Burial

There was no Islamic ruling regarding burial at the time Khadijah RA died. The method of washing and shrouding the body, funeral prayer and burial had not been ordained in the late Meccan period. Therefore her burial was done according to the prevalent practice of that time. She is buried in Jannat al Mualla cemetery in Mecca which was known as Hajun at that time. Once the grave was dug, Prophet SAW himself descended into it. Just like Khadija held him during times of distress, he picked her up in his arms and laid her down in her grave.

According to Ammar bin Yasir, Prophet SAW would be so sad and depressed after Khadija RA’s death that they feared that he would die. Some narrations also tell us that the companions would hear the sound of his crying. We know that Prophet SAW didn’t cry with sound. Also we might think that he cried very easily and frequently. No, this was not his practice. We only find a few occasions in his life when Prophet SAW cried with tears. The companions would be surprised to see his tears. When Prophet SAW’s tears flowed at the death of his son, the companions said “Even you, O messenger of Allah.” This shows that he never cried publicly or with sound. So imagine how he must have wept remembering Khadijah RA.

Years passed by and Allah gave Prophet SAW beautiful, young, righteous and intelligent wives from honourable families who loved him deeply. However, hardly a day might have passed in his life when he did not miss Khadijah RA.                                                                                        

May Allah shower infinite blessings on her!

In conclusion, all praises are due to Allah who is the Lord of the worlds.

Glory is to You, O Allah, and praise is to You. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but You. I seek Your forgiveness and repent to You.

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