Lady Khadijah … The Unsung Heroine
Lady Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her), is a woman who we have many fruitful lessons to learn from her life. There are different aspects of her character that each need a multi-volume book to write, let alone a small article.
Her life was rich with moral lessons from which today's husbands and wives irrespective of their race, faith and geographical locations are in dire need to adopt and embrace.
Her life before adopting Islam was also an exemplar to follow and her lifestyle was of that kind women in the 21st century ought to imitate.
Her upright character made the people of her clan call her at-Tahirah, an Arabic adjective meaning the 'chaste' or the 'pure'. Her morals as a widow were much more admired by the men of her clan, and her business was the talk of the town.
Khadijah was a highly respectable business woman in her clan.
She was a very wealthy lady, and all the people of her clan were keen to marry her because of her family status and thriving business; a fact she was clever enough to realize, and hence she never succumbed to their material wishes.
In other words, she was wise enough to know her qualities and hence was better able to choose her suitable match away from any clannish pressure. Due to her inability as a single woman to travel long distances on her own in the desert trading in her properties, Khadijah used to hire men from her clan to trade in her business and to travel with her trading caravans to the Levant; purchasing and selling different commodities.
At that time, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was known for his honesty and truthfulness among the whole clan, and these good manners were the main reasons behind Khadijah's decision to hire him to trade in her business, and later on to choose him as a husband and a soul mate.
Indeed, the thriving business of lady Khadijah and her strategic planning in hiring the right man to trade in her business is an eternal lesson from which modern women ought to imitate in the course of their tired attempts in finding women champions from whose examples and rich experiences many lessons can be drawn.
The simplicity of Khadijah's example here is something that cannot pass unnoticed not only by Muslim women but by non-Muslims as well.
It began with business and ended up in marriage
Khadijah offered Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) a job to trade in her business on her behalf. Muhammad, on his part, showed remarkable success in his new job because of the transparency he adopted in his trading job with the business lady, and his experience in the field as a tradesman who successfully led many business trips to the Levant.
In her business trips, khajidah appointed Maysarah (one of her servants) as an assistant to Muhammad in his new job, and through talking to her servant; she was assured of Muhammad's transparency and honesty in handling her business.
It is no wonder after all to see Khadijah talking to her lady friend, Nafisah, about her interest in Muhammad. Nafisah went straight to the prophet and implicitly mentioned lady Khadijah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) got so interested and decided to ask for her hand in marriage.
Now, the prestigious and high-born lady is offering herself in marriage after she became pretty sure that this person she is proposing to marry will never think of her as a rich businesswoman, but as a woman worthy of company and warm marriage relationship.
It is an aspect of Khadijah's character worthy of contemplation and remembrance. It is a moral lesson for both non-Muslims and new Muslims to learn from and adopt in their daily lives.
Khadijah, very prestigious lady offering to marry a man who once used to trade in her business after she has tested his manners and character; what a moral lesson worthy of contemplation in today's life where marriages have turned into business deals and where real love is becoming rare.
Once she found her perfect match, Khadijah was not hesitant to offer herself and unfold her love in a dignified manner that, although was not quite common among her people, but still it was very respectable.
The happy couple, Muhammad and Khadijah, concluded the marriage ceremony and it was narrated that Muhammad offered Khadijah a dowry worthy of her respectable status in that time. The happy couple moved forward until a turning point in their lives took place.
Indeed, Muhammad-Khadijah's marriage here is a telling example on its own of how far Islam empowers women to select their suitable matches while being free from any family pressure and worn-out traditions that in many times stand as stumbling blocks in the face of happy marriages.
Here, Khadijah chose her 'mr. Right' on her own using sound criteria that although somewhat driven by human inclinations but yet has its undeniable and fair share of a marriage choice that is mainly based on reason and rationale.
Selecting her partner herself is an experience girls in 21st century can benefit from once they apply the same rules their head figure Khadijah once followed.
Khadijah: the first female Muslim
Soon after getting married, Muhammad was ordered by God to carry out his duty as a messenger to the whole of mankind.
It was in the cave Hira' that he received the first revelation. It might be out of context to mention the minute details of how and when Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) received the revelation, but what matters here is how his beloved wife Khadijah comforted and reassured him when he returned home after he received the first divine revelation.
Trembling of awe as a result of the revelation he received, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) returned home, and told his wife what happened. Hearing him, she comforted his soul with outstanding courage saying:
'By God, He will never forsake you. You extend ties of kinship, say the truth, help the weak, show generosity to guests, and strive hard to apply justice.'
We haven't witnessed a woman ever assuring her husband in the same way Khadijah did. She managed to reassure her husband in the right time and she instantly sought practical ways to achieve that by visiting her cousin Waraqah who had knowledge of the people of the book.
Later on, Waraqah appeased Muhammad's heart that this experience he witnessed is shared only by prophets and messengers of God. It has been reported that Khadijah was the first to proclaim her Islam.
She embraced Islam with no introduction or even a brief inquiry about the new religion. The word hesitation finds no place in her dictionary after she had witnessed her husband granted the honor of divine revelation directly from God.
It is really rare to trace back how she became a Muslimah, but a great number of Muslim historians state that she was the first member from among both men and women to declare faith in Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).
Others state that she was the first female to adopt Islam. This latter view is the most famous one and it is the one followed by the greatest majority of Muslims. Khadijah lived as a very loyal and supporting wife to her husband (i.e. Muhammad) for more than nine years after the beginning of the revelation. She supported the Islamic mission with her money and was a source of comfort for her husband.
She respected her husband's meditations before the revelations were sent to him, and later she supported him as a leader in his community.
It is through this attitude of Khadijah that modern women, irrespective of their faith, race, or location can draw fruitful lessons taking Khadijah's way of treatment to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as an exemplar.
Modern women, who at many times tend to start a perfect life, may yearn to have a luxurious lifestyle and once they face the hardship of reality, they may fail to face the first test. Hence, learning from the heroine figure of Khadijah is necessary. She stood behind her husband in his stressful moments, shared his sorrow before his happiness, bore his burden before enjoying the moments of ease together.
Muhammad's love to Khadijah
Khadijah's Islam alleviated Muhammad's suffering, and assured him the tranquility he was in need of at home. Khadijah played a great role in granting her husband the necessary courage he had to adopt in order to face both physical and psychological sufferings as a result of his divine mission.
It is a role today's modern wives ought to learn from Khadijah in order to help their husbands cope with modern challenges that threat the institution of family and threaten to target its very roots.
Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) remained loyal to Khadijah a long time after her death, and it has been reported that he called the year she died as the 'year of grief.'
He used to praise her a lot in the presence of his other wives to the extent that his wife 'Aishah said: "I have never felt jealous from any woman except Khadijah."
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to mention her qualities a lot saying: "She (Khadijah) believed in me while others rejected my call. She affirmed my truthfulness when people called me a liar. She spent her wealth to lighten the burden of my sorrow when others had forsaken me." (at-Tirmidhi) Muhammad even continued to honor her friends a long time after her death as a sign of showing gratitude to her.
The beloved wife passing away
According to some Muslim historians, Khadijah died during the month of Ramadan before the year of Muhammad's emigration to Madinah on the 'Year of Grief.'
Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was badly affected as a result of his wife's death and it has been reported that he said while seeing his beloved dying: "how heavy it is on myself to see such a scene."
He stayed many days in his home overwhelmed by sadness for the death of Khadijah, the loyal and obedient wife with whom he stayed twenty five years in love, dedication, patience, and commitment.
Finally, Khadijah's story of adopting Islam as a religion and as a way of life remains a new living story from which men and women will continue to have spiritual provision along the course of centuries.
Khadijah is a telling example by herself as a non-believing lady who lived by morals and principles, as a wife who stood by her husband in difficult times, as a believer who showed no hesitation to accept the truth, and as a supporter to her new belief with different forms of personal sacrifices. Her example is one worthy of contemplation and imitation by young women in our modern societies.