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The Conversation of Waraqah and Khadijah

4415 2008/06/01 2024/07/20

muhammad lapsed into perfect sleep while khadijah's eyes, full of compassion and hope, were pinned on him. she withdrew from his room pensive and restless at what she had just heard. she looked to the morrow hoping that her husband would become the prophet of this arab nation long lost in error. she wished her husband could bring his people to the religion of truth and blaze for them the path of goodness and virtue. but she was very apprehensive of that morrow, fearful for the good of her loving and faithful husband. she reviewed in her mind the events he had reported to her, and imagined the beautiful angel appearing to her husband across the sky after conveying to him the words of his lord. she tried to imagine the angel perched in the sky so that, following muhammad's description, wherever one looked one could not lose sight of him, and she recalled the holy words which muhammad recited to her after they had been carved on his memory. as she reviewed all this she may have at one moment smiled with hope and conviction and later frowned with fear for what might have befallen her husband. she could not bear her solitude long, and the alternation of sweet hope and bitter fear overpowered her. she therefore thought to divulge what she knew to someone sure of insight and wisdom who could give her some advice and good counsel.


the conversation of waraqah and khadijah

khadijah ran to her cousin waraqah ibn nawfal who, as we saw earlier, had already become a christian and had translated part of the evangel into arabic. when she finished telling him what muhammad had seen and heard and of her compassionate and hopeful response to her husband, waraqah broke into these words: "holy, holy! by him who dominates waraqah's soul, if your report is true, o khadijah, this must be the great spirit that spoke to moses. muhammad must be the prophet of this nation. tell him that he must be firm." khadijah returned home and found muhammad still asleep. for a while, she stared at him lovingly, faithfully, and hopefully. suddenly she noticed that he was shivering, breathing deeply and perspiring. as he opened his eyes, he heard the angel say, "o you who lie wrapped in your mantle. arise and warn. glorify your lord. purify yourself. shun uncleanliness. give not in order to have more in return. for the sake of your lord endure patiently." [qur'an, 73:1-7]. seeing him in this state, khadijah pleaded that he returns to his bed and resumes his rest. but muhammad sprang to his feet and said to her, "the time of slumber and rest is past, o khadijah. gabriel has commanded me to warn men and to call them to god and to his worship. but whom shall i call? and who will listen to me?" khadijah tried to appease and reassure him, to encourage him with predictions of success. she told him what she had heard from waraqah and declared to him her islam, i.e., her faith in his prophet hood.

it was natural for khadijah to be the first one to believe in muhammad. for many long years she had known him to be the examplar of truthfulness, fidelity, honesty, charity, and compassion. in his many retreats during the last few years, she had noticed how he had been constantly preoccupied with the search for the truth, with the truth alone; how he had sought that truth with his heart, mind, and spirit beyond the idolatrous superstitions of the people and their sacrifices, and beyond the deities that are capable of neither good nor evil but which the people venerated without avail. she had witnessed his great doubt and utter perplexity on his return from the cave of hira' after the first revelation. she asked him to tell her when the angel would come. when he did she seized muhammad and placed him on her left leg, then on her right leg, then in her lap, always asking him whether he was still seeing the angel and muhammad answering in the affirmative. she then uncovered herself and threw off her clothes and asked muhammad whether he still saw the angel, but the angel then disappeared. at this her doubt that the appearance was that of the devil rather than of the angel was dissolved once and for all.


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