as we have said earlier, muhammad's uncle, abu talib, was poor and had many mouths to feed. it was necessary that he find for his nephew a higher paying job than herdsmanship. one day he heard that khadijah, daughter of khuwaylid, was hiring men of the quraysh tribe to work for her in her trade. khadijah was a tradeswoman of honor and great wealth. she used to hire men to bid and compete in the market on her behalf and rewarded them with a share of the profits. being of the tribe of banu asad and having married twice within the tribe of banu makhzum, she had become very rich. her father khuwaylid and other people whom she trusted used to help her administer her large wealth. she had turned down several noblemen of quraysh who asked for her hand, believing that they were after her wealth. bound to a life of solitude, she had given all her energy to the development of her business. when abu talib learned that she was preparing a caravan to send to al sham, he called his nephew, who was then twenty-five years of age, and said to him, "my nephew, i am a man devoid of wealth and possessions. the times have been hard on us. i have heard that khadijah has hired a man to do her trade for a remuneration of two young camels. we shall not accept for you a remuneration as little as that. do you wish that i talk to her in this regard?" muhammad answered, "let it be as you say my uncle." abu talib went to khadijah and said, "0 khadijah, would you hire muhammad? we have heard that you have hired a man for the remuneration of two young camels, but we would not accept for muhammad any less than four." khadijah answered: "had you asked this for an alien or a hateful man, i would have granted your request. how then can i turn you down when your request is in favor of a dear relative?" abu talib returned to muhammad and told him the news, adding, "that is a true grace from god."

muhammad in the employ of khadijah

on his first trip in the employ of khadijah, muhammad was accompanied by maysarah, her slave, who was also recommended to muhammad by his uncle. the caravan made its way to al sham, passing through wad! al zahran, madyan and thamud as well as those spots through which muhammad had passed once before with his uncle abu talib when he was twelve years old. this trip must have recalled to muhammad the memory of his first trip in that area. it furnished more grist for his thinking and contemplating as he came to know more of the doctrines and rituals of the people of al sham. when he arrived at busrah, he came into contact with syrian christianity and talked to the monks and priests, some of whom were nestorians. perhaps those very priests or some others discussed with him the religion of jesus which had by then divided itself into several sects and parties. muhammad's adeptness and loyalty enabled him to make great gains for khadijah-indeed more than anyone had done before! -and his loyalty and gentleness had won for him the love and admiration of the slave, maysarah. when the time came for them to return, muhammad bought on behalf of khadijah all that she had asked him to buy of the products of al sham.

when the caravan had returned to al zahran near makkah, maysarah said to muhammad, "run to khadijah, o muhammad, and bring to her the news of your success. she will reward you well." muhammad galloped on his camel toward the residence of his employer and arrived there about noon. khadijah happened to be in an upper story of her house, saw muhammad coming, and prepared to receive him. she listened to his report which he must have rendered in his very eloquent style about his trip, the successes he achieved in his trade, and the goods he had imported from al sham. she must have been well pleased with her new employee. later on, maysarah arrived and reported to her about muhammad, his gentle treatment of him and his loyalty to her that confirmed what she had already known of muhammad's virtue and superiority over the other youths of makkah. shortly, despite her forty years of age and the indifference with which she rejected the offers of the noblest of quraysh, her satisfaction with her employee was to turn into love. she desired to marry this youth whose eloquence and looks had made such a. profound impression upon her. according to one version, she intimated her desire to her sister, and according to another, to her friend nufaysah, daughter of munyah. nufaysah approached muhammad and said, "what prevents you from getting married?" muhammad answered; "i have no means with which to afford it." she said, "what if you were excused from providing such means and were called by a person of beauty, wealth, status and honor; what would be your response?" he answered, "who can such a person be?" she said, "khadijah." muhammad wondered, "how could that be?" he too had felt inclined toward khadijah but he never allowed himself to entertain the idea of marrying her. he knew of her rejection of the noblest and wealthiest men of quraysh. when, therefore, nufaysah reported to him in answer to his question, "i shall arrange it," he hastened to declare his acceptance. soon khadijah appointed the hour at which the uncles of muhammad could find her people at her home and thus arrange for the completion of the marriage. it was her uncle, `umar ibn asad, who gave her away as her father khuwaylid had died before the fijar war. this fact disproves the claim that khadijah's father did not agree to the marriage and that his daughter had given him wine in order to extract such agreement from him.

here a new page in the life of muhammad begins. it is the page of married and family life which had brought great happiness to him as well as to khadijah. it was also a page of fatherhood in which he was to suffer the loss of children even as muhammad had in his childhood suffered the loss of parents.

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