Islam is a beautiful religion, perfect in its entirety and one that is established on numerous elements that serve all the needs and purposes of an individual. While we are witnessing the 15th Century since Islam originated and it’s calling and message spread across the World, it is indispensable that we highlight the memorable historical figures that battled their way through unimaginable obstacles and sacrificed their whole materialistic lifestyle for the sake of Allah.
Time and time again, same names are being circulated when it comes to narrating stories of the Forerunners (those who hastened to accept the call to Islam or Al Sabigoon). Moreover, oftentimes this group of Sahabas (Companions of the Prophet, May Allah bless them all) only get acknowledged for solely an event or incident that stood out from the rest. The reality is their whole stories, from the life to conversion to Islam to fighting along the Prophet (peace be upon Him) are omitted in the chapters of the Seerah and are not looked as essential.
Therefore, in this Ramadan series, we are releasing report articles that recount the biographies of these notable Islamic Figures of its very beginning and the Golden Days. The aim is to educate this Muslim generation with inspiring stories from the Forerunners of Islam that would subliminally allow us to appreciate this blessing of a religion and value it at its true worth
We will be starting with the first person to embrace Islam and the wife of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) Khadijah Binth khuwaylid.
Birth and Name:
She was born in the year 576 in Mecca and was given the name Khadijah which was an exceptionally unique name at the time and she is said to be the only one bearing that name in the Meccan society. The literal meaning of her name is “premature” in the Arabic language, hence, clearly referring to the circumstances of her birth. Some historians translate the meaning of her name as “the one who is ahead of her time” in association with her character which was highly distinguished from the rest of the community in every way.
Growing up, due to her status among the tribe, she was called the “Princess of Quraish”. Her femininity and modesty earned her the title as “The Pure One”. After her conversion to Islam, she was nicknamed “Khadija the Great” and “the Mother of Islam”, obviously a testimonial to her great sacrifices in the hardest days of Islam alongside her husband and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).
Due to the high status of her social class and the well refined mannerism, she was greatly respected in the society. She was from a wealthy family with a wealth that no other woman possessed in Mecca. Since, her father was also a merchant, prosperity runs in the family and was handed down from one generation to the next. Even at the very beginning of her youth, she was already a successful business woman and the historians suggest that the size of her caravan was the size of all the remaining caravans of Mecca combined.
On account of her growing affluence, she was approached by countless men asking her hand in marriage. Among them are some familiar names such as Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahl (Abul Hakam bin Hisham) who are considered to be the most dominant leaders of Quraish.
She had married twice before the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) and had children from both of them. She was widowed for the second time approximately at the age of 25 and completely focused her energy and attention on ways to flourish her business.
She is described as a tall woman who was naturally beautiful even at her forties. Modest and elegance go hand in hand with her name. Furthermore, she was highly intelligent and remarkably hard working. There are numerous stories that emphasizes her kindness and helpful nature. She was extremely generous and frequently helped the poor in Mecca to get married by providing them with the necessities.
It is told that there is a bright green flag like object on her house that makes it standout even from afar. It was there not to publicly display her fine wealth or as a symbol of somewhat royalty, but as a mark that would help anyone in need to notice her household without much difficulty and come ask for help and assistance.
Even after years and years of trading and hiring people to manage the caravan, Khadijah r.a was still disappointed with the dishonesty of them that kept repeating. She was looking for an honest man to hire for the season to travel with her caravan to Syria. Therefore, upon a suggestion from one of her friends, she hired Muhammad the Prophet Peace be upon Him.
Unlike the past years’ profit, this time she was able to attain double the amount of her usual earnings, which proved the sincerity and honesty of the Prophet Peace be upon Him. Of course, the Prophet’s, moral virtues and uprightness did not come as a whole surprise as he was already referred as the “the truthful and the trustworthy one” among his people.
Few months later, one of her friends Nafisa indicated that she gets married to Muhammad SAW. After much consideration and with the blessing and approval of their families, the marriage of Khadija r.a and Muhammad SAW took place. She was 40 years old at that time while the Prophet was 25 years old.
This marriage lasted for 25 years until her death. 6 children were born and 2 of the boys (Qasim and Abdullah) only lived in through their infancy. Zainab, Umm Kulthum, Ruqayyah and Fatimah are the girls. The messenger did not marry another woman while he was married to her in adoration and respect towards her. It is worth mentioning that back in that time, polygamy marriages were the societal norm and the Prophet’s decision not to take another wife while he was married to her is a huge tell of the special place he has given for her in his heart.
Conversion to Islam:
In the 15th year of their marriage, the Prophet was received with his first revelation. It was an appalling experience and she was the only one who was there to comfort him. She was the first to believe in him with no questions and completely devoted her effort towards her husband’s mission and spent on it with all her money. As soon as the Prophet was faced with extreme criticism and hardship, she was right there beside him all that time. She lost her status among the people since Islam was made out to be a fabricated lie. The constant oppression and torture were unimaginable, especially to someone who has lived her whole life in luxury. Yet, she chose Islam above everything and never left the side of the Prophet.
During the three years of the infamous Meccan Boycott of the Hashemites, Khadijah r.a also suffered terribly along with everyone else. They were deprived of food and drink to the point that they had to only rely on dessert grass for their daily diet. Even on those days where they were somehow blessed with a reasonable amount of food, Khadijah r.a would pass it on to the elderly or the children who were in a dire need of it. She instead settled for a diet of grass. Now, this is a woman who spent her whole life as a royal princess eating the finest food and wearing the best of clothes. She was patient for the tests of this world and put Islam and the message of her husband first.
By the time the boycott was over, she was 65 years of age and her health has deteriorated awfully. Soon afterwards, she passed away in the 10th year of prophethood. Her death caused immeasurable grief to the Prophet SAW as he did not just lose his wife but with her death, he lost his most loyal supporter and the one who always comforted her. The devastation was so immense that the year of her death was named as the Year of Sorrow.
Life of the Prophet after her departure:
Even though she was no longer there, the Prophet SAW never stopped loving her. It is narrated that not a single day passed after her death that the Prophet would not mention her name, including the day of Badr and the battle of Uhud. The Messenger of Allah’s evident admiration for his late wife led to evoke some jealousy by his later wives.
One day while the Prophet was with Aisha r.a he kept talking and reminiscing some memories of her to the point that Aisha r.a could no longer contain her disappointment. She asked: “Why do you constantly praise her when she was just an old Qureshi woman, while Allah has granted you (a wife) better than her?” she narrated that with her question his whole complexion changed and she knew immediately that she has crossed a line. He replied to her with the following statement: “No Ayesha! Allah never gave me a better wife than Khadija. She believed in me at a time when other people denied me. She put all her wealth at my service when other people withheld theirs from me. And what’s more, Allah gave me children only through Khadija.”
In her last few days of her life, she was told by the Prophet that Allah SWT sends his salaam to her, and like wise Angel Gabriel and send her the glad tidings that she will have a brocade palace in Paradise. Most described it as a palace made of pearls and this is because she has spent all her wealth and fine jewelry in the name of Allah.
Here concludes this biography of one of the finest women that history has witnessed and one of the four that is known to have perfected her faith. Even in such rural times, where women did not have much life outside their domestic duties, Khadijah r.a was an exemplary woman and her story is still relevant and beyond inspiring to women of this generation after 14 centuries.
May Allah bless her and reward her with infinite goodness and allow us to make an example out of her life, faith and the many sacrifices of her. Ameen.
Notes taken from lecture by Omar Suleiman, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRBTQKlfC78
Written By: Fathimath Muhammad, Media Coordinator, SIA
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