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Exemplary Women: KHADIJAH RA (Part 1)


Today we are starting the topic of “Mothers of the Believers”. We will start with Khadijah (RA). May Allah shower infinite blessings on Prophet SAW, his children and his family. We are deeply indebted to them for passing on the Deen to us and had it not been for them, the Deen would not have reached us the way it did.

Allah made them help/support our Prophet SAW and whatever good deeds we do today, all its reward will go back to them. May Allah make us Sadqa-e-jariya for our real mothers who gave birth to us and our mothers (Mothers of the Believers) who brought the Deen to us.

رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسَانِي يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي

Let’s try to visualise the time period from which today’s personality under discussion belonged to. No divine revelation had been received for around 600 years. This is the time that had passed since the death of Prophet Jesus. No prophet had come to the world for approximately 570 years. Mankind was awaiting guidance but they were not aware of this themselves. However, people of knowledge knew. They were aware that the time for the coming of the last messenger is near.

Jewish and Christian scholars from different regions had set out towards Arabia. They came and settled in Yathrib, the old name of Madina. Why did they settle in Yathrib? Because according to their books this was the place where the last messenger would settle down. A small city and valley of date trees, a small settlement/city between mountains of lava. All the signs were present there. After searching for them they came and settled in Madina.

A small distance from Yathrib was Mecca al mukarramah, the city inhabited by Ibrahim Khalilullah. Approximately 2500 years had passed since Ibrahim, who built the Baitullah had left the world. He taught the lesson of Tawheed (monotheism) to his next generation but with the passage of time shirk (polytheism) had polluted/tainted the crystal-clear fountain of Tawheed.

The children of Ismail AS were looking after the house of Allah but could not protect the Deen of Allah. So, time had come for the sun of guidance to rise from the womb of Bibi Aminah. Even before prophets came to this world Allah would create people who would help them in their mission. Some of them would be from their own family: like Harun for Musa and Yahya for Jesus. In this way some supporters would be present beforehand and some would join them with the time. These supporters would be both men and women.

Allah says in the Quran:

“The believing men and believing women are allies/ friends of one another.”

 Before the birth of Prophet SAW there were some people who had distanced themselves from the worship of idols and they were called ‘hunafa’. We have read the word Hanif in the Quran. Hanif is the one who has come on the pure path of monotheism after leaving all other paths. Qur’an repeatedly calls Ibraheem AS ‘Hanif’ and that he was not amongst the Mushrikeen.

The message of Tawheed of Prophet Ibraheem still reverberated with some people, they still felt it. Their hearts had not become that blind and ears deaf that they could not hear the call and not recognise the truth. They were called ‘hunafa’. These hunafa did not worship idols, nor did they eat from the offerings made to idols and kept themselves away from shirk. Some of these hunafa that we are discussing had passed away before the Prophet-hood of Muhammad SAW while some lived to see and believe in him. These hunafa had the honour of reaching the highest degree of faith. They hold a great status. And amongst them were few who stood by the Prophet SAW in the most difficult times. They were the Blessed Companions who supported the Prophet SAW. With their sweat and blood, they nourished the tiny plant of Islam till it became a deep-rooted firm tree under whose shade Alhamdolillah we are finding peace today.

Every momin is indebted to these early sahabah for their favours. The first name in these forerunners is that of Khadija RA who had the honour of being the Prophet’s wife. For 25 years she was his life partner. The Prophet SAW lived for 13 years after her death and hardly a day passed when he didn’t miss her. In shaa Allah we will study this extraordinary personality and may Allah enable us to get guidance from her life and adopt the great qualities she had and understand what kind of woman pleases Allah.

What is the true nature on which Allah has created a woman? What qualities and strengths has He placed in her? The best representation and portrayal of these qualities is found in the Mothers of the Believers. They are the best role model!

Her Family

Let’s discuss her family first. Both her parents were from Quraysh. Her father’s name was Khuwaylid who was the son of Asad. Khadija belonged to the tribe of Banu Asad.

(We really want to say radi Allahu anha every time her name is taken but if we do that our flow would be disturbed. The respect and love we feel in our heart cannot be expressed in words so we will not be using it every time her name is taken. Allah is pleased with her which we will see later also. It is understood since we said in the beginning Alhamdolillah.)

Khadijah was from Banu Asad which was a small sub tribe of Quraysh. Khadijah’s paternal grandfather was Asad (father of Khuwaylid) who was son of Abdul Uzza who was the son of Qusay. Here at Qusay her genealogy meets that of Prophet Muhammad SAW. Basically, Prophet’s family and Khadija’s family branch off from Qusay. Her father’s name was Khuwaylid and mother was Fatima bint Zaidah. Khuwaylid had a brother Nawfal who was Khadija’s paternal uncle. Nawfal’s son was Warqah bin Nawfal.

Khuwaylid was the leader of the Banu Asad and a successful businessman. Not only did his tribesman respect him but because of his character and honesty he was highly respected and popular amongst the entire Quraysh. Khuwaylid was the leader of Banu Asad and Abdul Mutallib was the leader of Banu Hashim. Usually, people of status either compete against each other and become enemies or love each other a lot. Latter was the case with Khuwaylid and Abdul Mutallib. They were very close to each other because their manners and character were very similar. Both of them defended the Kaaba when Abrahah attacked it. We know that Abraha tried to attack the Kaaba in the ‘year of the elephant’ and Allah destroyed him and that he was from Ethiopia. So, people of Mecca obviously wouldn’t love people of Ethiopia who tried to attack the kaaba. So, what happened was that when Allah destroyed Abrahah a man named Saif bin abi yazan, Saif (which means sword) from Himyari tribe conquered Ethiopia and defeated the Ethiopians. At this point a delegation went from Mecca to congratulate them. Both Khuwaylid and Abdul Mutallib were part of it.

Since they were both highly respected, they were part of the delegation of dignitaries. After Ethiopia, Saif established his kingdom in Yemen which was under the control of Ethiopians. Some narrations relate that Saif called Abdul Mutallib near him during the meeting and told him some signs regarding the Prophet SAW. Saif bin abi Yazan knew that a prophet is about to come to Mecca. He said there will be a child born in your tribe and area, take special care of him and protect him from the Jews and convince your people to obey him. He even told Abdul Mutallib about the seal of prophethood. You will find a lot of narrations regarding this. The seal was between the Prophet’s shoulders. According to some narrations it was a raised piece of flesh in the shape of a pigeon’s egg and there were a bunch/ cluster of moles on it. This was a special characteristic which was mentioned in the Scriptures of the people of the book. He also mentioned that the seal of prophethood would be between his shoulders. He pointed out a lot of personal characteristics and qualities which would be present in the Prophet. Also that he would be an orphan. Abdul Mutallib said that all you say is present in my orphan grandson even the mole between his shoulders.

We only know this much about Khuwaylid and from this we can gauge the kind of personality and character he had. And in turn we can also imagine many of the qualities that Khadija must have inherited from her father.

Let’s come towards her siblings now. She had three brothers and one sister. The brothers were called Hizam, Awwam and Nawfal. One Nawfal was her uncle and one is her brother. So don’t get confused between the two. Sister’s name was Hala.

Hizam’s son Hakim bin Hizam is a famous name found in Seerah. Hizam was around 13 years older than the Prophet SAW (please keep in mind that Arabs did not keep records of birth and death so the ages are just an estimation and there is always room for addition or subtraction).

Hakim bin Hizam was the paternal nephew of Khadija. He was extraordinary because he is the only man in the world who was born inside the Kaaba. We cannot imagine this as today we only see huge crowds of people and the door of the Kaaba is not accessible and only opens once a year and even then, only a few people are allowed inside.

However, in its original form, the door of the Kaaba was not this high. It was fixed on the ground. And there were two doors: one to enter and one to exit. At that time there weren’t crowds of millions of people so some women went inside and one of them went into labour which was so severe that they didn’t even get a chance to come outside. So, Hakim bin Hizam is the man who was born inside the Baitullah.

Hakim bin Hizam had all the qualities that Arabs considered essential in a man. He was a very brave warrior and at the same time a poet and a very generous man. These kinds of people were called ‘Kaamil’. Usually those who write poetry are not brave, those who will pick up pens don’t pick up swords and those who pick up pens try to conquer only with their words. Those who pick up swords become hard-hearted. However, he was great with the sword and the pen and at the same time was very generous and soft-hearted and did not harm anyone.

He was a close friend of the Prophet SAW but did not accept Islam. But he also never took part in any battle against Islam. Not in Uhud, or Badr or Khandaq. At the time of Conquest of Mecca the Prophet SAW specifically mentioned a few names in a special dua asking Allah to open their hearts to Islam. Whose name do you think was included in the Prophet’s dua? Hakim bin Hizam! Allah answered his dua and Hizam accepted Islam and he took part in the battle of Hunayn with the Prophet SAW. It is said that he died during the time of Muawiyah RA. What do we learn from this? One can have the highest moral character but your heart might not open to Islam. These are Allah’s decisions and there is a time ordained for everything.

This was one brother Hizam. Another brother of Khadija was Awaam. Her extremely famous nephew Zubair bin Awaam was one of the Ashara e Mubashirah, ten who were promised paradise by the Prophet SAW in a hadith. Awaam was married to Safiya, the Prophet’s paternal aunt. Intermarriages were preferred and common in those days. We will see that there were hardly any two tribes who were not related through marriage. In this way another common bond was found between the families of Khadija and Prophet SAW. The other one was their common ancestors when their lineage met at Qusay and then Prophet SAW ‘s aunt got married to Khadijah’s brother. Both the brothers Hizam and Awaam and according to some narrations died in Harb al Fijar. This battle took place between the tribes of Quraysh and Huwazim. The Prophet SAW was a part of this battle but because of his young age did not take part in the actual fighting. He later told people that I was a part of this battle but only picked up arrows and handed it to my uncles.

Khadija’s third brother was Nawfal. Who was the other Nawfal? Khadija’s Uncle. Today we do not have this practice of giving a child the same name as someone in the previous generation. We like to give our children new names. They didn’t have this tradition. They constantly recycled their names. They would name their children after their ancestors: either grandparents or uncles and aunts. Her third brother Nawfal witnessed the advent of Islam. Quraysh loved him a lot and was known as the lion of Quraysh. Imagine what a brave warrior he must have been. However, he was a staunch opponent of Islam. The Muslims called him Satan of Quraysh. So, Quraysh themselves called him lion of Quraysh while Muslims called him Satan of Quraysh. This narration is found in Ibne Ishaq. Contrary to his father, Nawfal’s son Al Aswad was one of the early Muslims and he migrated towards Ethiopia.

Once Nawfal saw Abu Bakr and Talha bin abi Ubaidallah go somewhere. Keep in mind that Abu Bakr was from a very honourable family. Usually youth from prominent families were spared from the torture and persecution in Mecca. All the anger was targeted towards the weak Muslims which included male and female slaves. They would vent their anger on the likes of Khabbab, Bilal, Ammar, Summaya and Yasir radi allahu anhum.

Usually, they wouldn’t touch people like Omar RA and Abu Bakr RA. But Nawfal’s enmity was so strong that once he saw Abu Bakr going somewhere. Abu Bakr held a high position and made decisions of diyat and was an expert on inheritance laws so even in the pre-Islamic time he had a high status in Mecca.

So, he saw Abu Bakr and Abu Talha and jumped on them and tied them with a rope. After great difficulty and deliberation, people managed to free them. Because of being tied up together, people started calling Abu Bakr and Talha ‘Al Qarnain’ (ones that were tied together). Talha we know is also from the Ashara e Mubasharah (ten who were promised paradise) and Abu Bakr‘s status is unmatched.

During the Battle of Badr, Nawfal came with the army of the disbelievers and was killed by Hazrat Ali. These were the three brothers of Khadija. She also had one sister called Halah who accepted Islam. Khadijah married her eldest daughter Zainab to Hala’s son Abul Aas.
Abul Aas didn’t accept Islam immediately. He converted much later after the battle of Badr after a specific incident that led to his conversion.

Her Name and Early Life

Now let’s discuss her name. Her name is Khadija. Akhdajut daaba means an animal that gave birth to a premature baby. So, Khadijah means a premature girl sometimes a baby is delivered in the seventh or the eighth month (in our language we say Satwaasay or premature, in the same way, Arabs used to say akhdaja.)

We can understand this in our way by saying she was very advanced and like we say some people are ahead of their time. Allah knows best. The name Khadija was a unique one and not common amongst the Arabs.

Her Qualities

She was born in the most noble, honourable, and wealthy family of Quraysh. She lived a life of comfort, ease and affluence. Since her father was a leader, their household was one of great prestige. It’s common that the dignity and honour associated with the father’s rank get transferred/passed on automatically into the next generation.

In addition, she was educated in a time when literacy was rare. Men weren’t literate so women being educated was unimaginable. This tells us how advanced this family was. They didn’t have the typical mentality of oppressing women. Her father must have been a sensible, humane and broad-minded man. He greatly valued his daughter in a time when daughters were buried. However, this is a misconception that burying daughters was common in all the tribes. In reality, only a few tribes had this practice. Not only did Khuwaylid honour and respect his daughter but also educated her.

In addition to being blessed by Allah with immense natural beauty, she was also very elegant and well dressed. She had a great personality and had groomed herself very well. In short, Allah had given her every quality that could make a girl arrogant and self-absorbed. But together with this, Allah had graced her with exceptionally high moral values and very beautiful nature as He had destined her to be the wife of his beloved Prophet SAW.

At the time when the light of prophet-hood had not shone, she did not lie and even more surprisingly she did not backbite. Because of her pure and virtuous character, she earned the title of Tahira. According to some narrations she never worshiped idols even before Islam. This is quite understandable because no matter what society practices, a person whose inherent nature is pure will not go towards these irrational and illogical practices. A question mark will always come in their mind as to why such things are being done. So, it’s understandable that since she was so virtuous by nature, she would not have worshiped idols.

Another reason could be her cousin Warqah bin Nawfal’s (her cousin’s) influence on the family. According to some narrations Warqah had left idol worship and had left in search of the true religion and was also included in the hunafa. Either he had never worshiped idols or left it because of it being illogical. He saw Judaism and then Christianity and according to some narrations he accepted Christianity. Warqah was highly educated: he had translated the Torah from Hebrew to Arabic. According to some narrations, he later left Christianity also. After seeing the faults and confusion between the different sects of Christianity he distanced himself and wanted to worship just one God. Since the Deen of Islam had still not come, he didn’t know the actual acts of worship so he would worship God in a way that seemed right to him. So it could be that Waraqah had an influence on Khadija’s family. Some narrations state that there were some discussions on Waraqah getting married to Khadija but things did not proceed any further.

We repeatedly mention ‘narrations’ so please keep in mind that we won’t find an authentic chain in them. The same rule applies to the Seerah of the Prophet’s wives and the Seerah of the Prophet SAW. We won’t find hundred per cent authentic chains. These are just events and traditions.

Who knew the status and fame this lady would achieve? Nobody knew! So, the information spread through word of mouth. It was collected by 7the traditionists and compiled into Seerah. However, there won’t be any information that is hard to believe.

There was also a narration that Khadija saw a dream in which the sun is entering her house. According to Waraqah this dream meant that she would marry a very honourable man. There was humility, humbleness and gentleness in her nature.

In addition, she was extremely intelligent which will be evident later when we see the way she conducted business.

Her Marriages

Let’s move forward and discuss her marriage. Her first Nikkah was with Abu Halah bin Nabash Al Tamimi. The word Nabash has many meanings; one is ‘the one who earns’. She bore two sons with Abu Hala: Hind and Halah.

Hala died before the advent of Islam. According to a few weak narrations Khadija’s son Hind achieved the status of a companion. Khadijah’s husband Abu Halah belonged to the Banu Tamimi tribe. This was not a Qurayshi tribe of Mecca. They lived in the faraway area of Najd which is 500 miles away from Mecca. God only knows how Abu Halah came from 500 miles away to Mecca. Maybe he came for trade. Often people would come for trade and if they liked the place, they married a local woman and settled there. There were no border restrictions or nationality and passport issues. At that time the borders were porous and people moving from one place to another was not a big deal. So, they settled in Mecca.

When Abu Halah died none of his relatives were in Mecca. Who would travel 500 miles away to give them the news of his death? Therefore, when he died, he didn’t have any male heir in Mecca. Who was his heir and only relative? Only Khadija! So, when he died all his inheritance MIGHT have gone to Khadija, we are saying MIGHT as we don’t have any written proof of this. We are saying this by adding up the events. In pre-Islamic era women had no share in the inheritance, let alone a wife getting a share. The wife was a dispensable item for them.

Generally, women were not given a share in the inheritance then how did Khadija get all this wealth? We all know that she was a really rich woman. It is said that the wealth must have come from her father but she had three brothers! Her father might have given her some wealth but so much wealth couldn’t have come from him. Most of Khadijah’s wealth must have come from the inheritance left by her husband Abu Hala.

Then she had her second Nikah to Atiq bin Abid or Atiq bin Aiz according to some narrations. Allah knows best. He belonged to the Banu Makhzum tribe. After some time Atiq also died or they had a divorce. Allah knows best. Banu Makhzum was a very powerful tribe. We can understand their power by the fact that both Abu Jahal and Khalid bin Walid belonged to it. So, when Atiq died where do you think the inheritance went? Banu Makhzum would never leave the inheritance or let the wife get it so the inheritance must have gone to Banu Makhzum. This strengthens the assumption that Khadijah got her wealth from Abu Halah. According to some narrations Khadijah had one daughter from Atiq.

It is strange that Seerah is silent on Khadijah’s children. We know nothing about where the children went and there is no mention of them in the Prophet’s household. Or that they ever visited even if they were married or any mention of their spouses or their children. There is silence in Seerah except on Hind who got killed in the battle of the Camel whilst fighting from Hazrat Ali’s side.

In a weak narration in Tirmidhi Hussain (RA) says that I asked my maternal uncle Hind Abi Halah about the Prophet’s description and he related it. It’s a long narration. Obviously, maternal uncle would mean Hazrat Fatima’s brother. We know that Prophet SAW did not have a son so it would mean Hazrat Khadijah’s son who is the stepbrother of Fatima. He was talking about his step uncle! Women understand all these relationships. Not sure if men would understand.

Hazrat Khadijah’s kuniyat was Umme Hind because of Hind.

All this discussion about Hazrat Khadijah’s marriages and children is found in Sunni traditions. Shias do not accept this and say that Khadijah had never been married before. And her first marriage was to the Prophet SAW.

سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ، أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ، أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْكَ

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