Wednesday 22 May, 2024 |
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Exemplary Women: KHADIJAH RA (Part 2)

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 Marriages

We were talking about Hazrat Khadijah’s marriage.


According to some narrations, she was married twice. The first time she got widowed while the second time her husband either died or they got divorced. So, by the time Khadijah was around twenty-five she had already been married twice. She was either widowed twice or widowed once and divorced once. So now she was without a husband.


The great leaders of Mecca included Abu Sufyan and Abul Hakam who we call Abu Jahl. He had great wisdom and was a highly respected, honourable and popular man in his society. People had given him the title of Abul Hakam which means man of great wisdom. After his intense opposition of the Prophet SAW he got the title of Abu Jahl which stuck with him for life. The greatest leaders of Mecca namely Abu Sufyan, Abul Hakam and Uqba bin Abi Muit expressed their desire to marry Khadija. All of them sent marriage proposals but Khadija would not agree. She would spend some of her time worshipping in the Kaaba and sometimes exchanging views on current affairs with respected and intelligent women of society. She needed intellectual stimulation. This also reflects her intelligence.



We know that just like everything else, intellect also needs nourishment. And what is the nourishment of intellect? Knowledge! So, we need to keep providing it with knowledge. Also, intellectual discussions are very stimulating and increase our wisdom. Exchange of views and intellectual ideas also become a stimulus for our mind. Since Khadija was a very intelligent woman, she probably had a yearning to be part of an intellectual gathering. She would fulfil this longing by meeting like-minded women.


Here again, is a model for us to follow. We should also form a group in which we exchange views on an academic topic. In today’s terminology, we could say a WhatsApp group. We could make a WhatsApp group or have a book club. We should do it together: whether online or on-site. We should try that some kind of academic gathering should be a part of our life. We should not let our intellect weaken, die out or get corrupt. The fact is that everything needs nourishment and if you don’t feed it halal it will go towards haram so we must feed our minds with good things.


Imagine at that time 1450 years ago when men would not express their inclinations/opinions a woman was doing it. She was not very old, just a young woman of twenty-five. This is how she would engage with other intelligent women. Another thing we learn is that we should always keep good company. Try to socialise with those who are respected in society and not waste time with those who are not good in the sight of Allah.

Her Livelihood

She had also made arrangements for earning a livelihood. She had invested her money in trade. According to narrations Khadija had so much money that her caravan of goods would be the same as all the caravans of Quraysh put together. They would be equal in value. So, imagine how well well-equipped her caravan would be. The people of Mecca used to call her Princess of Quraysh. They loved and respected her so much that she was known as the leader /Queen of the women of Quraysh. There was a green silk cover on a specific part of her house probably some kind of a dome or structure. This was a symbol or a sign for the poor and destitute that they could ask for financial help at this door. This gives us an idea of her generosity. Her business was spread far and wide.


We read in Surah Quraysh:

“Since the Quraysh became accustomed to the journey of winter and summer…”


In the same way, she would conduct business in every season and the caravans would go to different regions namely Syria and Yemen. She had hired many slaves to conduct business for her. Being a woman, she couldn’t travel with the caravans. She would also employ a manager/ agent to supervise the slaves and look after the business and financial matters. She used to work with the agents under the rules of Modaraba. This is an instrument of Islamic banking that has a profit-sharing in it. It involves a sleeping partner and an active partner. One provides the capital and the other labour. Profit is then divided according to a pre-decided or a fixed percentage.


She dealt with the managers based on this principle. However, since deceit and greed are a part of human nature, she also experienced this with some of her managers. Sometime she would get cheated because she was a woman and also because she was very generous and soft natured. They would deceive Khadijah by hiding the amount of profit made and would also dishonestly take make money from the business. Thus, for a long time, she was looking for an honest person who was also capable, intelligent and trustworthy and would travel as a manager with her caravans.

How She met Prophet SAW

This was the time everyone in Mecca was talking about Prophet SAW’s pure/virtuous character. He was known As Sadiq (the truthful) and Al Amin (the trustworthy). It is not possible that Khadijah had not heard about his intelligence and integrity because Mecca was just a small town. Now let’s come towards how Khadija and Prophet SAW came into contact with each other. We find different narrations regarding this. We will look at them all. However, only Allah is aware of the truth.

Scholars have done their research but do not guarantee that these narrations are a hundred per cent accurate. They do not quote them like Bukhari and Muslim or the Holy Quran but we also can’t say that all the narrations are inaccurate or wrong. There is some truth in them. Now let’s look at the different narrations.

According to one narration, the Prophet SAW was part of Abu Talib’s household and that Abu Talib lived in poverty and had many children. We know that the Prophet SAW was under Abu Talib’s care so as soon as the Prophet SAW grew up, he tried to bear some of the financial burdens. Orphans usually mature very early. They fully realise that the people taking care of them are after all not their parents. When do we ever acknowledge what our parents do for us? We take it for granted that our parents feed us and take care of us. Orphans are very sensitive and they feel that those who take care of them are doing them a favour. And this was no ordinary person! This was Prophet SAW. So, imagine how self-respecting and sensitive he must have been! He wanted to share the burden and not be a burden. He would graze Abu Talib’s sheep and also the sheep belonging to the people of Mecca.

Prophet SAW himself told sahabah this when he came to Madina as most of them didn’t know this. He told the companions that he took care of sheep for Meccan people in return for a small amount of money. The companions were surprised to hear this. The Prophet SAW said that no prophet was sent that did not graze sheep. This is because when you become a shepherd you need to take the sheep away from civilisation and this gives the shepherd time to reflect as he is closer to nature. They learn how to manage and monitor the animals because in the future the role of the prophets is to guide humanity. This has been a part of Allah’s training that all prophets worked as shepherds.

So, Prophet SAW used to graze sheep belonging to Abu Talib and the people of Mecca. Included in these sheep were those that belonged to Hala. Who was Hala? She was Khadijah’s sister. It’s obvious that the Prophet SAW would somehow have some interaction with Hala if he grazed her sheep. Along with Prophet SAW there was another boy who took care of Hala’s sheep. The qualities of Prophet SAW’s character were becoming evident to Hala and we know that a person’s real character comes through when he’s entrusted with financial matters. Hala was impressed with Prophet SAW.

When Yusuf’s (AS) high moral character could not be concealed in jail then how could Prophet SAW’s character be hidden from Hala? The other boy who used to graze sheep with Prophet SAW said Muhammad let’s go and ask Hala for our payment. We say Prophet SAW but at that time no one including Prophet SAW himself knew that he was a prophet so everyone called him only Muhammad. Prophet SAW refused and told him to go and bring his payment as well as he feels embarrassed to ask. This was because of self-respect that he had.

It is said that Hala was aware of these things so she advised her sister to send Prophet SAW as manager of her trading caravan. It was Hala’s recommendation. According to other narrations, Abu Talib himself approached Khadija to employ his nephew. This sounds quite feasible too. In this way Prophet SAW came into direct contact with Khadija.

Prophet SAW along with Khadijah’s trusted slave Maysarah travelled with the trading goods to Busra. This is not Basra as that’s a different city. When the caravan returned all the goods had been sold for double the usual profit. Everyone including Maysarah was full of praise for Prophet SAW. Khadija who had rejected proposals of many important leaders started thinking about marriage to Prophet Muhammad SAW. She mentioned this to her friend Nafeesa.

Nafeesa was a very smart and intelligent lady and said that she would go and speak to Muhammad SAW herself.   Since everyone in Mecca knew each other Nafeesa went to meet Prophet SAW but did not disclose that she had come on Khadija’s behalf. She started making small talk with him and then brought up the subject of marriage. Do you have any intention of getting married and why don’t you get married? At this, the Prophet SAW said who will marry me? He said this because of his poverty and lack of financial resources. It hurts so much to think that the Prophet SAW is saying this about himself that who would marry him. Anyway, this is the humility that is found in the personality of prophets. They are never full of themselves. There is never a sense of entitlement and there is no ‘me, myself and I’.

So Nafeesa recommended Khadijah. She pretended as if this was her own idea. She asked the Prophet would you be willing to marry her. He replied would Khadija be willing to marry me? This confirmed that the Prophet SAW was also willing. Nafeesa said okay I will speak to her. In this way, she knew that both are willing. Things progressed and Hamza RA took the proposal of marriage. Who was Hamza? Prophet SAW’s paternal uncle.

Her Proposal

We know that Prophet SAW didn’t have a father and was an orphan by birth. In those days paternal uncle would take the place of the father after his death. This should hold true today also. The responsibility of orphan nieces and nephews comes on the paternal uncles. One of his uncles, Abu Talib had made Prophet SAW a part of his household and the other uncle Hamza also loved him a lot. Hamza was also the Prophet SAW’s foster brother (breastfed by the same woman) and since they were the same age they used to play together during their childhood. When Abdullah married Amina, at the same time Abdul Muttalib (Abdullah’s father) married Amina’s sister. According to some traditions she was Amina’s cousin. So, the father and son got married at the same time. Today we cannot imagine this and get scandalised. We would say wow he took his son’s ‘baraat’. We always find it necessary to use this word. Okay, forget baraat. People will say look at this father he went to get his son married and got married himself. Look what he did in this old age!


We make a huge mistake by projecting today’s society and conditions onto the society that existed 1450 years. We should not do this! The norm at that time was that there was no age fixed for the marriage. Please be very clear about this. You could get married whether you were ten or twelve or even eighty years old. We have heard about famous companion Amr bin Aas who led the conquest of Egypt. His son Abdullah bin Amr bin Aas RA was only twelve years younger than him. Marriages would take place and age was not an issue. People got married at eighty as well as at eight or nine.


Secondly, the age difference between husband and wife was also not an issue. It could be that the wife was ten or fifteen years older than the husband or at times the husband was fifty and the wife was only ten years old. This was the norm at the time and not a difficult or controversial thing to do. This topic has not come under discussion by anyone for the last 1400 years. Muslims never said anything. Even other religions which did not leave any stone unturned to spread false propaganda and defame Islam did not utter a word about age difference. They did not ask how marriages with huge age gaps were taking place. This is because this was the practice all over the world: amongst Christians, Jews, Chinese and in every civilisation and culture that existed at that time. This was the culture worldwide. Everything came under discussion but no one touched the topic of age difference.


This is happening now because we have set certain standards. The injustice that is being done is that a society that existed 1500 years ago is being judged according to today’s standards. We judge them by calling them wrong. This is our narrow mindedness. Since Abdullah and Abdul Muttalib got married at the same time their sons were also similar in age. Muhammad, son of Abdullah and Hamza son of Abdul Muttalib had a very small age difference. They were breastfed by the same lady and also used to play together.


Since Khadija’s father had passed away Hamza took Prophet SAW’s proposal of marriage to her paternal uncle, Amr bin Asad. This was because as mentioned before the paternal uncle was the guardian after the death of the father. Even though Khadijah had been married twice before and could have made her own decision it is highly recommended that a woman does not get married without her guardian. This was the case in pre-Islamic times (age of ignorance) and Islam kept this practice in place. This is to safeguard the rights of a woman so that no one should think she is unprotected and vulnerable.

Her Nikkah to Prophet SAW

Hamza went to her uncle Amr bin Asad. According to some narrations, Abu Talib performed the Nikah while others say that Warqah bin Nawfal did. The Mahr (dower) was fixed at twelve uqiyah. The value of uqiyah is around forty dirhams and one dirham would be a silver coin. So, twelve uqiyah would total around five hundred dirhams. This wasn’t a lot of money like millions or not a small amount like ten or fifteen rupees. It was an average amount, in fact very average leaning towards a small amount. So, Khadijah got married to Prophet SAW.


She knew he did not have a house. Where did he live? In Abu Talib’s house where there was already a lot of poverty. So, she offered her own house. Abu Talib sacrificed camels and invited the people of Mecca for a meal. Thus, As Sadiq (the Truthful) got married to At-Tahira (the pure). Both of them had unique names. The name Muhammad was as well as Khadija were both very distinct in Mecca.


They were also very similar in their character and disposition and both gained fame because of their character and personality. This is the reason they chose to become life partners. It was like they were saying to each other: I have drawn close to you because of your good character and because of the truth in your speech and I am marrying you because of your love for Allah! Allah knows best if they said it with their words or actions.


Later the Prophet SAW said the same thing in a Hadith that women should be married for four things: beauty, lineage, wealth and religion. And you should seek religion. What was seen here since Islam had not yet come as a religion? Good morals, which are essential when marrying someone. According to a Hadith if you are satisfied with a person’s religion and character then you should marry your daughter to him. These means don’t search too hard for degrees and wealth. Prophet SAW also said that if you don’t look for religion and character then this will lead to mischief and corruption in the world. I pray that parents who have daughters truly understand the things that should be given priority.

Her age at the Time of Marriage to Prophet SAW

Now let’s discuss the age of Khadijah at the time of her marriage to Prophet SAW.

For this, we need to look towards the sources of Seerah. Seerat Ibne Ishaq and Seerat Ibne Hisham are considered one of the most authentic and oldest books of Seerah. Ibne Ishaq was born in 85 A.H. and passed away in 150 A.H. Both these books are silent on the age of Khadijah. Another book called Tabqaat ibne Saad is written by Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Saad. His teacher was Waqidi. Ibne Saad was born in 168 A.H. Two narrations about Khadijah’s age are found in this book. However, the chain of narration is broken in both the narrations. This means that they are not 100% authentic.


Two different ages are mentioned in both the narrations. According to one, she was forty when she got married, which is commonly believed by everyone. In the other narration which is of equal authenticity, Khadijah’s age is said to be twenty-eight. According to a narration in Imam Bayhaqi’s “Dalail al Nubuwwah” (Signs of Prophethood) Khadijah’s age was around fifty when she died. We usually say she was sixty-five at the time of death. This makes sense if she got married at forty and was married for twenty-five years. But according to Imam Bayhaqi, she was around fifty-five years of age when she died. From all this, we understand that even though we commonly hear the figure of forty there is an alternate narration which quotes the figure of twenty-eight.


After reviewing all the facts and seeing that she bore Prophet SAW six children the figure of twenty-eight seems more plausible. What difference does it make whether she was twenty-eight or forty? No difference at all. And to say that how can one have a child after forty?

Everything happens according to Allah’s wisdom and He has power over everything. However, we can keep one thing in mind is that the narration mentioning Khadijah’s age at twenty-eight could be true and does make sense. Unlike today, when girls get married at the age of twenty or twenty-two, at that time marriage would take place as soon as the girls reached puberty which was around the age of ten or twelve.


If for example one of Khadijah’s marriages lasted ten years and the other five and we add up everything it seems quite probable that she was around twenty or thirty. Allah knows best and it makes no difference to us. Her age is what Allah wanted it to be.


One great benefit of this marriage was that Prophet SAW became free from the cares of earning a livelihood. There was no economic responsibility on him as Khadijah shared everything with him. One thing that is essential for a good relationship is that there should be no secrets between husband and wife. Also, there should be no this is yours and this is mine between them. This economic stability that came after the Prophet’s marriage to Khadija further elevated his status. The Prophet’s status which was already very high due to his character now became even more elevated because of his economic stability. Now he had more time to actively participate in issues facing society. This made him even more prominent. He was already highly respected because of his character, family and integrity. It was not an ordinary thing to be Abdul Muttalib’s grandson. The whole of Arabia knew him. Even later when people would come to Madina they would ask him if he was Abdul Muttalib’s grandson. This is how they recognised him.


Why was Abdul Muttalib famous? When the tribes of Banu Jurhum were leaving Mecca, they covered up and buried the Zamzam well. Due to this, the pilgrims who came for Hajj and Umrah had to face great difficulty since they had to now bring their water with them. After many years had passed Abdul Muttalib dreamt about the location of the well. There is a story about how he went and located well. The rediscovery of the Zamzam well was a huge service done by Abdul Muttalib for the people of Arabia. It created a lot of ease and convenience for them.


Another incident that made him famous was the attack of Abraha. Since Abdul Muttalib was a well-known personality he had gone and spoken to Abraha. There were no doubts about the family and the character of the Prophet SAW. The only thing that society saw lacking in his worldly affairs was financial stability which was also set right after his marriage to Khadijah.


Thereafter his status was further strengthened and elevated in the Meccan society.

Now he had the time to reflect on the state of the people. When a person is preoccupied with earning a living, he does not have time to contemplate on deep philosophical issues. Mental peace is needed to concentrate. Now Prophet SAW had time to reflect on the plight of the people: what are they doing? why are they worshipping idols? why do they treat slaves in this manner? why do they bury their daughters alive? what are their affairs like with their women? why do they fight so much? They would fight over water or if someone would race their horse. They were always ready to fight. Arabs had honour and pride but it was excessive. They would lose control over small issues.


Prophet SAW would contemplate on these issues. He was not at peace with these things and wanted to find a solution. However, he could not figure out how to start the reformation and what direction it should take.


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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