To read the second part of this series, click on the following link: https://lubnah.me.ke/women-of-jannah-asiyah-bint-al-muzahim/
When we commonly say we want a marriage and companionship like that of the prophet peace be upon him and Khadija bint Khuwaylid, and write down #goals under any mention of them, do we really take time to reflect on the characters of these two very noble individuals?
Khadija bint khuwaylid was a pure Quraishi and was born from a very noble and wealthy family. Her tribe was the Banu Assad and her father was the representative of the tribe. Khadija had 3 brothers and 1 sister; Awwam, Hizam, Nawfal and Hala.
Interestingly, Khadija peace be upon her had a link to the prophet’s lineage. He was, Muhammad Ibn Abdillah Ibn Abdul Mutwalib Ibn Hashim Ibn Abdi Manaf Ibn Qusay Ibn Kilab. And she was Khadija bint Khuwaylid Ibn Asad Ibn Abdil Uzza Ibn Qusay Ibn Kilab. Therefore their link was Qusay Ibn Kilab who was the prophet’s 5th ancestor and Khadija’s fourth ancestor.
Also, Khadija’s cousin Barra was the grandmother of the prophet i.e. mother of his mother (Amina bint Wahhab). Interesting right? The Arabs especially those days were known for marrying within their own tribes and as such, it is no surprise that there are such links between the prophet and Khadija may peace be upon them.
Khadija is said to have been previously married twice before her marriage to the prophet peace be upon him. One was Hind Ibn Nabbash (Abu Hala) and another was Atiq ibn A’idh Al Makhzoum (also a Quraishi). Both were successful businessmen and she got to inherit the wealth after their death. There is a bit of confusion on whether both died leaving Khadija a widow or she was once divorced. There is quite some information missing especially about Khadija because she lived during the early Makkah period and not much was recorded. It is said that she had two children; Hind and Hala from her previous marriages, yet there isn’t much recorded about them either in the seera of the prophet peace be upon him. The assumption is that they either died early on or were not around, Allahu a3lam.
#A Blessed Union
From the very beginning, these two were very special individuals. Khadija was nicknamed as al-Tahira (The Pure One), Ameerat-Quraysh (Princess of Quraish) and Khadījah al-Kubra (Khadija The Great) even BEFORE Islam while Muhammad may peace be upon him was called Assadiqul Ameen (The Truthful and Trustworthy). Both of them were known for their exemplary and excellent mannerisms within the community. 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 afford.
Khadija was a very wealthy woman and a merchant. Many men had wanted to marry her, yet she rejected the proposals. She used to send caravans to Syria and Yemen. She would hire young men to do business transactions on her behalf for a certain percentage of the profits. At that time, the prophet had no particular job and was reported to have worked as a shepherd for Bani Sa’d and in Makkah for a wage. It is then that Abu Talib, the uncle of the prophet peace be upon him approached Khadija and suggested that she hires Muhammad to manage her caravan trade. Khadija then accepted and sent Muhammad to Syria with her servant, Maisarah.
When the prophet peace be upon him returned to Makkah, Khadijah noticed more profits than usual. She asked Maisarah concerning Muhammad and he praised him of good manners, honesty, faith and sincerity. This moved Khadija deeply and she spoke to her friend Nafisa about him, who thereafter approached the prophet and asked him what she thought about Khadija and marriage to her. The prophet accepted and discussed the matter with his uncles who then made a proposal to her uncle It is commonly said that at the time, Khadija was forty years old while the prophet was twenty five years old. However, in another narration, Khadija was just 28 years old, only 3 years older than the prophet peace be upon him.
Now within the 15 years of marriage between the Khadija and Muhammad peace be upon them, not even a single fight or argument is recorded between the two. In fact, their marriage was praised in the community and this was due to the impeccable personality of both husband and wife. Mind you, when the prophet married Khadija, he had nothing while she was one of the wealthiest people in Makkah. The prophet lived in HER house and she supported him financially and emotionally as well (as we’ll see in a bit). This is to remind us that it takes two to tango. When both husband and wife are of good character and strive for goodness, their marriage will succeed by the will of Allah. Of course it can never be perfect as theirs was, but we can always look up to them and learn from their outstanding behaviour and personalities.
#Emotional and psychological support
The start of divine inspiration was in the late 30’s of the prophet’s life. He used to have dreams which would become true the following day. He started going into seclusion in the cave of Hira where he would meditate, worship and contemplate the creation. He would carry with him food and go away for days on end. It is said that sometimes Khadija herself would go up to cave Hira to deliver food for him, which is really not an easy task especially considering if she indeed was 15 years older than the prophet. Khadija never stopped the prophet from taking these trips, nor did she question his behaviour or have doubts on him. She did not complain for his long time away, instead, she supported him whole-heartedly and even encouraged him on his spiritual journey. It is also said in other narrations that Khadija did sometimes join him at the cave and worshiped together. This is the utmost level of trust and loyalty any woman can have for her husband.
When Muhammad peace be upon him was about forty years old, the angel came to him while he was at cave Hira and asked him to read. The Prophet peace be upon him replied, “I do not know how to read.” The Prophet added, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it anymore. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, ‘Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists), created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (96.1, 96.2, 96.3) Then the prophet returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely.
Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwaylid and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” Khadija embraced Muhammad and covered him till his fear was over. Now the mind-blowing thing here (Sheikh Yasir Qadhi was discussing this so beautifully and in depth in his series; links are below) is that normally, walking down from a cave as from cave Hira to Khadija’s house, which is about two miles away, would be enough to make one calm down. However, the prophet was still cold and terrified and only calmed down while in the embrace of his wife. This is enough to show us how much support and love the prophet got from his wife.
After that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadija replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.” See, she doesn’t question his sanity. She doesn’t panic. She doesn’t tell him you should stop going to cave Hira for worship, instead she affirms him and reassures him that Allah would never disgrace him. Khadija had so much faith in God even before pillars of Imaan came about. And this just shows us how pure this woman was and how much emotional maturity she had.
Even after having affirmed him, Khadija went on to take Muhammad peace be upon him to his learned cousin Waraqa bin Naufal bin Asad bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzza, who, during the pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” The prophet then described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same one who keeps the secrets (angel Gabriel) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while. (You can find this narration in sahih Bukhari)
Khadija was the first to embrace Islam. The first to perform Wudhu and pray. Yahya ibn `Afeef is quoted saying that he once came, during the period of Jahiliyyah (before the advent of Islam), to Mecca to be hosted by ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, one of Muhammad’s uncles mentioned above. “When the sun started rising,” he said, “I saw a man who came out of a place not far from us, faced the Kaaba 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.” He expressed his amazement at that, saying to Abbas: “This is quite strange, O Abbas!”. “Is it, really?” retorted al-Abbas. “Do you know who he is?”, Abbas asked his guest who answered in the negative. “He is Muhammad ibn 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 Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, my nephew’s wife.” This incident is included in the books of both Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Al-Tirmidhi, each detailing it in his own Ṣaḥīḥ.
It is for her loyalty and deep faith that she has an elevated status and received greetings from Allah and Jibril. No other woman/wife during the time of the prophet ever got such a special recognition.
Abu Huraira reported that Gabriel came to Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) and said: “Allah’s Messenger, lo. Khadija is coming to you with a vessel of seasoned food or drink. When she comes to you, offer her greetings from her Lord, the Exalted and Glorious, and on my behalf and give her glad tidings of a palace of jewels in Paradise wherein there is no noise and no toil.” This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira through another chain of transmitters with a slight variation of wording. (Sahih Muslim 2432)
In another narration by Ali bin Abi Talib, may peace be upon him, that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The best of its women is Khadijah bint Khuwailid, and the best of its women is Mariam bint ‘Imran.”
#Loyalty till the last breath
Then came the time when the Quraish held a confederation hostile to Bani Hashim and Bani Al-Muttalib, all in an attempt to harm the prophet and the Muslims. They all took an oath not to have any business dealings with them nor any sort of inter-marriage, social relations, visits and even verbal contacts until the prophet was given up to them to be killed. This treaty was attached to the wall of Kaabah and thus the two tribes were boycotted. Banu Hashim and Banu Al Muttalib withdrew to a valley on the eastern outskirts of Makkah for a period of three years (7th year to 10th year of Prophet’s mission).It was such a deadly siege and food was very scarce. The Muslims faced great difficulties that they had to eat tree leaves and animal skins. They only survived by the will of Allah through the few non-muslims who still chose to be kind to them and send them food in secret. One of them is the nephew of Khadija, Hakim Ibn Hizam who would smuggle food to his aunt and was once found by Abu Jahl who tried to stop him as well. It was only when Al Bukhtari intervened, did Hakim manage to reach his destination. This was how tricky it was to even get someone to send them food. This was the hardest period for the two tribes and the Muslims.
After the three years, the boycott was dissolved and the two tribes returned to Makkah. During this entire period, Khadija stuck by the prophet and supported him with all that she had financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. She was without a doubt, the prophet’s biggest support system.
A few months after their return to Makkah (after the boycott), Abu Talib passed away, then Khadija followed. It is believed that the effects of the boycott had affected her immensely and eventually led to her death. It is said the gap between the two deaths was either 3 days or 3 months as per the different narrations. The losses were extremely huge for the prophet and he experienced grief so much so, that year was called ‘The Year of Grief’. These two people were the most important in his life and their departure affected the prophet greatly. Khadija was 65 years old when she died and in the other narration, she was 53 years while the prophet was 50 years old.
#A wife worth all the love
‘A’isha (peace be upon her) reported: Never did I feel jealous of the wives of Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) but in case of Khadija, although I did no, (have the privilege to) see her. She further added that whenever Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) slaughtered a sheep, he said: Send it to the companions of Khadija I annoyed him one day and said: (It is) Khadija only who always prevails upon your mind. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Her love had been nurtured in my heart by Allah Himself. (Sahih Muslim 2435 b) In another narration he would say: he would say, “Khadija was such-and-such, and from her I had children.”
Narrated ‘Aisha (peace be upon her) : Once Hala bint Khuwailid, Khadija’s sister, asked the permission of the Prophet (ﷺ) to enter. On that, the Prophet (ﷺ) remembered the way Khadija used to ask permission, and that upset him. He said, “O Allah! Hala!” So I became jealous and said, “What makes you remember an old woman amongst the old women of Quraish an old woman (with a teethless mouth) of red gums who died long ago, and in whose place Allah has given you somebody better than her?” (Sahih al-Bukhari) Then the prophet peace be upon him responded to her: “No, indeed; He has not compensated me with anyone 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.” After that Aisha said ‘I will never ever say something negative about Khadija’ and she never did.
Khadija may peace and blessings be upon her gave birth to 6 children: Al Qasim, Zainab, Ruqaiyah, Umm Kulthun, Fatimah and Abdullah (also called Taiyib and Tahir). All their sons died in their childhood and all the daughters apart from Fatimah, died during the lifetime of the prophet. All the daughters witnessed Islam, embraced it and emigrated to Madinah.
Once after the battle of Badr, Zaynab’s husband Abul ‘As bin Al Rabihadn’t yet accepted Islam and was one of the prisoners. Zaynab, the prophet’s daughter then sent some property to ransom her husband, one of which was a necklace of hers which Khadijah had before giving it to her when she married Abul ‘As. When the prophet saw the necklace he was really moved by Khadija’s memory and said to the sahabas: “If you consider that you should free her prisoner for her and return to her what belongs to her, (it will be well).” The prophet requested this to the sahaba because he didn’t want to seem like he was favouring his daughter. The sahaba said yes. The prophet made an agreement with Abul ‘As that he should let Zaynab come to him (in exchange for his release), and the Messenger of Allah sent Zayd ibn Harithah and a man of the Ansar and said: “Wait in the valley of Yajij till Zaynab passes you, then you should accompany her and bring her back.” (The narration can be found in Sunan Abi Dawud 2692). Abul ‘As did accept Islam eventually, several years later. He went to Madina after being separated from his wife that he still loved dearly, accepted Islam and resumed their marriage with Zaynab.
Khadija also had 8 grandchildren: From Fatima and Ali Bin Abi Talib: Hassan , Hussein, Muhsin, Umm Kulthum and Zaynab (named them after her sisters). From Zaynab and Abul ‘As: Umama and Ali. From Ruqayya and Uthman Ibn Affan: Abdullah. After death of Ruqayya, Uthman Ibn Affan married Umm Kulthum but had no children with her.
Khadija was the first wife of the prophet peace be upon him and he never married any other woman until after her death whereby he married Swadah bint Zam’ah.
There is definitely a lot we can learn from Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her, especially on her role as the most supportive and loving wife. May Allah guide us and make us among His most beloved. Ameen.
Note: This is just my small effort in trying to research on this topic in the best of my ability. Kindly pardon me for any mistakes and don’t hesitate to correct me if anything. Stay tuned for the next part of this series on the 4 women of Jannah!
Hadiths from https://sunnah.com/
The Superstars series by sheikh Omar Suleiman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKASMwUWV9c
Mothers of the Believers pt.3 | Khadija bint Khuwaylid (pt.1)| Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZZcZZGnS6M&t=420s
Mothers of the Believers pt.4 | Khadija bint Khuwaylid (pt.2)| Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRdYlrIwPT8
Mothers of the Believers pt.5 | Khadija bint Khuwaylid (pt.3)| Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXXL3HkX7N8
Islamic Guidance channel: Khadija Bint Al-Khuwaylid [RA]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2jVrAlv1x8
The Sealed Nectar by Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri