birth and upbringing
khadijah bint khuwailid ibn asad ibn `abdul `uzza (kusai ibn kilab), a quraishite woman from the clan of asad, was born in 68 before hijra (the prophet's immigration) i.e., 556 ac. she was brought up to a noble and leading family. she was blessed with good qualities. she was famous for being a chaste and sensible woman with firm determination. during the pre-islamic period, she was called at-tahirah (the pure).
as a wealthy merchant, khadijah used to hire some people to speculate in her money. hearing about prophet muhammad's honesty and noble character, she offered to hire him to be in charge of her business journey to the levant and sent her servant maysarah with him. he (peace be upon him) accepted her offer and soon khadijah's profits doubled. her servant maysarah used to tell her about prophet muhammad's exemplary character. admiring prophet muhammad's noble character, khadijah proposed to him (peace be upon him) to get married to him. the prophet (peace be upon him) agreed. khadijah called in her uncle amr ibn as`ad ibn `abdul `uzza who soon came and marriage was concluded. at that time khadijah was forty years old while muhammad (peace be upon him) was twenty five years old.
khadijah (may allah be pleased with her) was prophet muhammad’s first wife and his most beloved wife. he did not marry another woman in her lifetime. she bore him two sons and four daughters. she bore him al-qasim – part of the prophet's nickname abu al-qasim i.e. father of al-qasim-, abdullah, ruqayyah, zaynab, umm kulthoum and fatimah.
when allah (the almighty) sent prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) with the message of islam, khadijah (may allah be pleased with her) was the first person to believe in allah and his messenger. of all men and women, khadijah was the first to embrace islam. she as well as prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) used to pray in secret till the period of public calling to islam.
prophet muhammad (pbuh) underwent much suffering and faced utter disbelief from the polytheists of quraish and it was khadijah (may allah be pleased with her) who used to relieve his suffering and console him.
when allah (the almighty) sent the archangel gabriel with revelation to prophet muhammad (peace be upon him), he said to muhammad: "read in the name of your lord! who created…" muhammad then rushed to khadijah with his heart beating severely with fear. he said: "cover me! cover me!" she covered him till his fear was over. then he said: “o khadijah, what is wrong with me? i am afraid something bad may happen to me.” khadijah 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."
after that khadijah took him to her cousin waraqah ibn nawfal ibn asad, who converted to christianity in the pre-islamic period and who used to write in arabic. he used to put the gospel from hebrew into arabic as much as allah willed him to write. he was an old man who lost his eyesight. khadijah said to waraqah, "o my cousin! listen to the story of your fellow man." waraqa asked, "o my fellowman! what have you seen?" then prophet muhammad described what he had seen. waraqah said, "this is the same one (archangel gabriel) who keeps the secrets, and whom allah had sent to moses."
her place in the prophet's heart
khadijah was a sensible, noble, pious, chaste, and generous woman. she was given glad tidings of entering paradise. allah (the almighty) ordered his messenger muhammad (peace be upon him) to give her glad tidings of having a palace in paradise which is built from jewels with neither noise nor toil in it.
of all prophet muhammad's wives, khadijah had a special place in his heart. `aishah said: "i did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the prophet (peace be upon him) as much as i did of khadijah though i did not see her, but the prophet (peace be upon him) used to mention her very often, and when ever he slaughtered a sheep, he would cut its parts and send them to the women friends of khadijah. once when i said to him, "(you treat khadijah in such a way) as if there is no woman on earth except khadijah," he would say, "khadijah was such-and-such, and from her i had children."
`aishah (may allah be pleased with her) said that allah's messenger (peace be upon him) praised khadijah every time he remembered her before he would leave the house. one day he (peace be upon him) praised khadijah, then `aishah felt so jealous and said: "why do you remember an old woman, dead long ago, while allah has given you a better one in her stead?" the prophet (peace be upon him) got very angry and told her that allah had not given him a better one in her stead as she (khadijah) was the only person to believe in him when all people disbelieved, the only person to believe him when all people belied him, and the only one to bear him children when all his wives did not bear him children. upon hearing this, a'ishah decided never to speak bad of khadijah again.
khadijah, the faithful supporter for allah's messenger in his pursuit of promulgating islam, died three years before hijra (the prophet's immigration from mecca to madinah). she was sixty five years old then. allah's messenger interred her in the grave with his own hands. khadijah's death was a big disaster to allah's messenger (peace be upon him) which, however, he faced with patience and total surrender to the will of allah (the almighty).