بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ وَ الصَّلوٰةُ وَ السَّلَامُ عَلىٰ اَطْيَبِ خَلْقِ اللهِ نَسَبًا وَ حَسَبًا وَ صَهْرًا , سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَ عَلىٰ آلِهِ وَ صَحْبِهِ وَ بَارِكْ وَ سَلِّمْ
In a marketplace dominated by the criminally corrupt leaders of a city rampant with Jahiliyyah (Ignorance), the doors of deceit open daily to the traders and clients of the Makkan marketplace. Some were there to survive, others simply for greed. Amidst the elite host of deceitfully successful tradesmen, there stood the trade counter of one honest and noble woman that strove to earn for her family, and her community. This was the case of Sayyidah Khadijah bint Khuwaylid رضی الله عنها. Her intelligence and business acumen led her to be one of the wealthiest traders in Makkah. Being a woman amidst a male-dominated market did not stop her from achieving such heights, as she continued to successfully trade with accuracy and precision.
Who was Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها?
Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها was of noble descent, sharing her ancestry with the Prophet ﷺ. She was the daughter of Khuwaylid ibn Asad, the leader of the Banu Asad faction of Quraysh. When she was a young girl, she had married a man by the name Abu Haala Hind ibn Zurarah At-Taymi, and became a mother to two sons. After some time, her husband Abu Haala passed away, and as she grew older, she married Ateeq ibn Aabid Al-Makhzoumi, and gave birth to a baby girl.
Her father was a celebrated leader, whilst her husband was extremely wealthy. She started being known as the princess of Quraysh. She was a woman of immense beauty, nobility, intellect, modesty and purity. She was amongst the few who were averse to idolatry and the practices of Jahiliyyah. Her older cousin – Waraqah ibn Nawfal – studied the scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths and affirmed his belief in them. Through the conclusion of his studies, he was in sincere anticipation of the final Prophet foretold as a beacon of guidance and rectification for the world at large.
Life began to change for her when her father was killed during the Harb Al-Fujjar (The Sacrilegious War), and her then husband – Ateeq – passed away shortly before that. She was left without a father, as a widowed, single-mother raising her children alone amidst the increasingly darkening society of Makkah. Allah سبحانه و تعالی had blessed her heart with immense strength, and trained her to remain calm, composed, and determined in the face of challenges. Using the wealth left-over by her deceased husband, she began providing for herself and her children by venturing into trade, in a market that was increasingly exploitive of every new trader, and even more exploitive of women.
A Decade in Trade
Now over ten years had passed – and Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها – had achieved great success through her perseverance and dedication. She had become one of the wealthiest, most-successful entrepreneurs in Makkah without ever-compromising her honesty, her dignity, her modesty or her children. In an industry filled with corrupt and exploitive men, she guarded her chastity to such an extent that she became known – throughout Makkah – as Al-Taahirah (The Pure Lady). She successfully operated her business from the comfort of her home. She conducted her dealings via a young apprentice – Maysarah – who was like a nephew to her, preventing any opportunity for corrupt men to even speak to her without her consent.
Yet, after all these years of success, she did not allow greed to consume her. She always placed her family, her children and her community first. No amount of wealth and business acumen removed her loving, motherly-nature towards her children. The more she earned, the more she gave back to the poor and needy, even marking the door of her home as a safe-haven for all those in need. She empowered the young-girls of her community, even paying for their needs and sponsoring their marriages, so every girl could have a wholesome wedding.
She was known for the radiance of her beauty, the warmth of her love, the nobility of her lineage, the excess of her wealth and the dignity of her repute. Many great leaders and men of stature wished to marry her and sent proposals. The likes of Abul Hakam ibn Al-Hisham (aka the infamous Abu Jahl), Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’ait and Abu Sufyaan RA were amongst the most-reputable men in Makkah, all of whom had proposed to her and were rejected. Her heart desired more than the material repute these men possessed. Neither their wealth, nor their status appealed to her. Allah سبحانه و تعالی protected her, for neither of these men were greater than the one her heart was destined for…
The Struggle for Honesty
One of her biggest struggles – even after all these years – was finding upright tradesmen to carry out her business-ventures outside of Makkah, those who possessed both honesty and proficiency in trade. Thus, it was a matter of time before she came to know of a newly-initiated trader that was incredibly successful and known as Al-Saadiq Al-Ameen (The Truthful & Trustworthy).
As Abu Taalib began facing financial difficulty and economic constraints, the Prophet ﷺ continued trading to support his uncle and aunt, and provided for his household as best as he could. Within a short-space of time, his honest yet successful venture into business granted him a rare and unique reputation. Thus, it was a matter of unstoppable fate that Sayyidah Khadijah RA earnestly sought the opportunity to hire this honourable young man that was a breath of fresh air amidst the smug market of Makkah. She sought to hire Muhammad ﷺ to carry out an official business envoy and trade on her behalf in the lands of Shaam. She displayed her keen determination to hire him by offering to pay him an even higher wage than normal.
The Prophet ﷺ trades on behalf of Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها
As the agreements were finalised, Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها dispatched her trusted employee – Maysarah – to accompany Muhammad ﷺ on this business trip. Throughout their travels, Maysarah could not help but admire his amazing companion. Maysarah was awe-struck watching the Prophet ﷺ work, watching him trade, seeing his refined nature, his moral-principles, his gentle character and his noble conduct amongst deceitful and quarrelsome traders. Maysarah enjoyed his ﷺ wholesome company and selfless nature, whether on road, on trade, on break or on lunch. He was seeing the man behind the revered reputation they had heard about.
During the journey Maysarah also witnessed wonderous incidents that occurred with the Prophet ﷺ; whether it was the reaction of Nasturah – a Syrian monk – upon seeing him ﷺ, or the solitary cloud that constantly hovered above him ﷺ, shading him from the scorching sun. Maysarah could not contain the flame that ignited within his heart, for he was mesmerised by Muhammad ﷺ. (Ibn Saa’d, Ibn Ishaaq)
A Yearning Heart
During her days in Makkah, Sayyidah Khadijah RA was slowly feeling a longing developing in her heart, a yearning for something she could not understand, nor express in words. Though she had been unmarried for a number of years, she knew the wish of her heart was more than the need for companionship. The long line of great, handsome and reputable men waiting for her hand made no difference to her. Her heart wished for something greater, for someone greater.
Amidst a serene night in Makkah, Sayyidah Khadijah RA was attending a banquet with her friends. During this peaceful evening, the crowd of women were suddenly startled by a man screaming in fear and anguish. The man was a traveller from amongst the people of Abrahamic scripture, and had been informed through the astronomers, rabbis, scholars and the interpreters of signs, that the final Prophet had emerged in this very land they were passing through.
Startled and frightened, the women began pelting the man out of their gathering. The man began frantically repeating: “The Prophet is soon to emerge in your city! The Final Prophet is soon to emerge in your city!”. Whilst the rest of the women mocked his statement as the mumblings of a mad-man, there remained the one single heart of Al-Taahirah, that became ignited with a flame, as she prayed to become the wife of the Final Prophet of Allah. Allah سبحانه و تعالی endowed in her heart, the perception that his Final Prophet was indeed to emerge, and she now understood the longing she was experiencing in her heart. (Zurqani)
Al-Taahirah Meets Al-Ameen ﷺ
As their journey came to a conclusion, Maysarah and Our Master Muhammad ﷺ were on their way back, moments away from entering Makkah. As the afternoon sun reached its peak, Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها was in the upper floors of her home. As her eyes fell upon the lofty view of Makkah from her upper floor, she witnessed the glorious sight of the sun’s beaming rays glistening against the thick glossy hair of the Prophet ﷺ – which would bounce off his broad shoulders – as he majestically entered Makkah riding on his camel. She was instantly in awe whilst witnessing him being miraculously shaded amidst the scorching heat. (Ibn Saa’d, Ibn Ishaaq, Abu Nu’aym)
She was overwhelmed by the purity, innocence, sincerity, honesty and the indescribable light that emanated from his radiant face. Before she knew it, Maysarah was approaching her home with the Prophet ﷺ, impatiently waiting to run in and tell her all about the trip. Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها walked down to see to Maysarah, who could not contain himself whilst recalling how amazing Muhammad ﷺ was in every aspect. He could barely take a breath from the rush of words rolling off his tongue, with sheer excitement and admiration of this pure being. He momentarily accounted for the great success of their trade and the profits that had multiplied before returning back to how amazing his companion was. He continued until he said the shattering statement, that this wonderful man possessed the quality of a Prophet! These words arose the heart of Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها as her heart was in awe. She rushed to ensure that Maysarah gave double the agreed payment to the Prophet ﷺ as a token of her appreciation. (Ibn Saa’d, Ibn Ishaaq)
A Heart Captivated
As the rush of this moment came to calm, Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها found herself deep in thought. After hearing and witnessing the accounts of the journey, she felt convinced that there could be none other than him ﷺ, that possessed the worthiness of a Prophet. She recalled the statement of the traveller from the banquet and felt there was no other man in the whole city that aspired the notion of being a man of God, except Muhammad ﷺ. (Zurqani)
She thus went to her cousin Waraqah, whose seniority and knowledge put him in a fatherly-position to her. As one of the only individuals who was well-versed in the nature of the One True God, and the succession of His Prophets, she confided in him and mentioned what she had heard and witnessed. Waraqah affirmed that this Ummah is patiently waiting to be graced by a Prophet whose advent is imminent, and if what she says is true, this man certainly possesses the soul of a Prophet! (Uyoon Al-Athar)
These words furthered her realisation that Muhammad ﷺ was an exceptional man, unlike anyone she had ever known. Unlike youthful-tales and romanticised novels, she felt something pure and unique in her heart for this extraordinary being. She was indeed captivated by something that was more than just skin-deep, but rather something that was unique about the purity of his character.
إنِّي قَدْ رَغِبْتُ فِيكَ لِقَرَابَتِكَ، وَسِطَتِكَ فِي قَوْمِكَ وَأَمَانَتِكَ وَحُسْنِ خُلُقِكَ، وَصِدْقِ حَدِيثِكَ
“Indeed, I am captivated towards you due to our close relativity, and your honourable repute amongst your people, your trustworthiness, the excellence of your character, and the integrity of your speech.” (Ibn Hisham, Bayhaqi)
Nafeesah – A Trusted Friend
She thus called her close friend Nafeesah, who was like a sister to her. She expressed all that was in her heart to her intimate friend – who took it upon herself to ease her heart amidst this elation. Nafeesah approached the Prophet ﷺ and first enquired as to his marital status. She approached this in an intelligent manner by asking him why he had not yet married? He ﷺ humbly replied: “I do not have the means to marry”. Relieved by this response, she had ascertained his availability and thus proceeded to the second enquiry, what does he ﷺ perceive about her friend Khadijah رضی الله عنها? For this she began by first anonymously asking in regards a woman who matched her description. She said: “But if you had the means, would you accept the proposal of one who possessed beauty, wealth, nobility and compatibility?” The Prophet ﷺ ingeniously replied by asking the question “Then who is she?”. Nafeesah realised she was outsmarted and answered by directly saying “Khadijah”.
Hearing her name, the Prophet ﷺ replied: “And how might I attain that?”, a response that brought great joy to Nafeesah who gladly replied: “Leave that to me….” (Ibn Saa’d)
Nafeesah rushed to tell her friend the amazing news of what transpired. As Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها heard the delightful response, her heart became enlightened. She calmly thought through her decision and after some time, she sent an official proposal to the Prophet ﷺ for marriage.
She did not share his ﷺ youth, nor he her wealth, but their hearts were connected and binded by the purity of their souls.
وَٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتُ لِلطَّيِّبِينَ وَٱلطَّيِّبُونَ لِلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ
“…and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity…” (Surah Al-Noor 24:26)
Upon the Prophet’s ﷺ interest in the proposal, they both discussed their intent with their elders. Though both their parents had passed away, the Prophet ﷺ and Sayyidah Khadijah RA honourably approached the parental-figures in their lives, from amongst their uncles, seeking their advice and counsel. The uncle of the Prophet ﷺ thus agreed the marriage with Amr ibn Asad Al-Makhzoumi – the uncle of Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها whom she had approached. With the blessing of their parental figures, the preparations for their marriage started taking shape.
A Blessed Wedding
On the day of their blessed wedding, the Prophet ﷺ set out towards the residence of Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها with his uncles Abu Taalib, Hamzah and other respected elders.
As the families gathered together, Abu Taalib then stood and initiated the wedding with the following Khutbah (Sermon):
محمد بن عبد الله، لا يوزن برجل إلا جح به، فإن كان في المال قل، فإن المال ظل زائل، وأمر حائل، ومحمد ممن قد عرفتم قرابته، وقد خطب خديجة بنت خويلد وبذل لها ما آجله
“Muhammad is a young man who, if weighed against any other youngster from the Quraysh, Muhammad will outweigh the other in nobility, eminence, intellect and graciousness. He may be lacking in wealth but wealth is after all a passing shadow and a trust to be ultimately surrendered. He is interested in getting married to Khadijah bint Khuwaylid and she also cherishes the same interest.” (Bayhaqi, Rawd Al-Anf)
Upon this, the respective uncle of Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها, as well as her cousin Waraqah responded with a similar gesture as they gave the hand of Sayyidah Khadijah RA into the marriage of Muhammad ﷺ
The Prophet ﷺ was now married – at the age of twenty-five – to Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها who was approximately forty-years of age. Whilst it undoubtedly must have been painful to see the absence of his parents, The Prophet ﷺ shared this emotional moment with his beautiful mothers, Sayyidah Umm Ayman رضی الله عنها, and also Sayyidah Haleemah رضی الله عنها
When Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها met with them, she saw the love and joy they bought to the heart of the Prophet ﷺ. Seeing this, her heart burst out of love for them, and she rushed to shower the likes of Sayyidah Haleemah RA with a great wealth of gifts. Seeing this only increased love for her in the heart of the Prophet ﷺ. (Suhayli, Rawd Al-Anf, Zurqani)
As their wedding day came to a close, the beautiful new bride and groom departed towards the house of Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها, which would now become their new home. The Prophet ﷺ was about to experience something truly emotional; returning to a ‘home’ he could call his own…
A New Chapter
From the moment his blessed mother closed her eyes at Abwa – when he ﷺ was only six years old – the Prophet ﷺ had spent the last nineteen years passing through hands of guardianship. But now, his marriage to Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها opened up a new chapter, one that was not simply about finding a spouse, or companion. The Prophet ﷺ now had a place to call home, and a loving family to come home to. A home that not only gave shelter, but gave love, care and a sense of belonging. Sayyidah Khadijah ra was the key to initiating the next chapters of his blessed life. From this moment onwards, her love would be so powerful, and her companionship so pivotal, that the Prophet ﷺ would describe it akin to the nourishment of life itself:
إِنِّي قَدْ رُزِقْتُ حُبَّهَا
“I was nourished by her love”
May Allah سبحانه و تالی bless our mother Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها, for all the love, support and sacrifices she gave for Our Beloved Prophet ﷺ, and may Allah سبحانه وتعالی grant us all a lasting companionship like theirs…
Join us tomorrow as we continue in the blessed Seerah with our next article: “The Prophetic ﷺ Household“