Hazrat Khadijah Al-Kubrara – The First of the Muslims
© Illustrations by Masood Tahir (Waqfe Nau), London, UK.
The lives of the Prophet Muhammadsa, his wives and the women of early Islam are often portrayed by numerous Western historians and scholars in negative light. This is largely based on inaccurate historical material or without consulting original sources. This misinformation has been disseminated in the media, magazines and news reports forming an adverse image of the women of early Islam to the world. The Review of Religions has commissioned a special series on the wives and female Companions of the Holy Prophetsa to present the true life stories of the noble women of early Islam. Our purpose is not to individually respond to such historians, but only to present the actual history and to let our readers make up their own minds, based on facts. We begin with Hazrat Khadijahra.
Translated by Murtaza Ahmad
“She believed in me when the whole world refuted me and she attested to my veracity when the whole world accused me of falsehood. She offered me compassion and loyalty with her wealth when everyone else had forsaken me.” (The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa).
Hazrat Khadijahra was the first to believe in Prophet Muhammadsa. Therein lay her principal virtue and merit and an attribute which the Prophet Muhammadsa always cherished. She would prove to be the Prophet’ssa steadfast ally at all times. She shared in all his troubles and difficulties, and was his constant support. At the age of 40, a widow and a wealthy businesswoman, Khadijahra married the Prophetsa when he was 25, in what proved to be a relationship of profound love, loyalty and friendship.
The Prophet Muhammadsa said, “Of all the women in Paradise, the most noble are Hazrat Khadijah bint Khwaildra, Hazrat Fatima-tul-Zohrara bint Muhammadsa, Hazrat Mariamra bint Imranas, and Hazrat Asiyara (wife of Pharoah).”
Hazrat Khadijahra belonged to a tribe of the Quraish Clan, the Banu Asad. Her father was Khuwalid bin Asad bin Abdul ‘Uzza, and her mother – Fatima bint Zaidah – belonged to the Luayy tribe. Khadijah’sra first husband was ‘Atiq bin ‘A’idh bin ‘Abdallah bin ‘Umar, a respectable figure from the Makhzum tribe. She bore a daughter named Hind. After Atiq died, Khadijahra married Abu Hala bin al-Nabbash. She bore him two children, Hindand Hala. Hind was nurtured under the care of the Holy Prophetsa. He passed away as a Muslim and usedtotake great pride in saying, “My parents, brothers and sisters are the most revered among all people. This is because my father is the Messenger of Allah, my mother is Hazrat Khadijahra, my brother is Qaasim bin Muhammadra and my sister is Fatima-tu-Zahrara.”
Hazrat Khadijahra was a very distinguished and affluent member of the Quraish, and was generally regarded as an exceptionally chaste, pure, and abstemious lady, and had the epithet of Tahira (meaning ‘pure’). She was a merchant and used to send her goods via the trade caravan to Syria.
Marriage to the Holy Prophetsa
Hazrat Khadijahra needed an honest person in her service, and she was informed of the integrity and the honour of Muhammadsa. Based on a suggestion by the Prophet’ssa uncle, Abu Talibra, she sent a message to Muhammadsa asking him to trade on her behalf in Syria, in exchange for twice the remuneration, namely four camels instead of the customary two. Preparing him for the undertaking, Abu Talibra said to Muhammadsa, “God Himself has arranged this means of living for you.” Muhammadsa agreed to trade in Syria on behalf of Hazrat Khadijahra and one of her slaves by the name of Maisrah was sent with him. The integrity and honesty of Muhammadsa brought such blessings that the Syria trip reaped four times the usual profit. Upon their return, the slave of Hazrat Khadijahra informed her of Muhammad’ssa honesty, integrity, and truthfulness. Moreover, upon receiving glad tidings from a meeting with a Christian priest named Rahib Nastoor, her esteem and respect for the Muhammadsa grew, thus resulting in their marriage.
Before the wedding itself, Hazrat Khadijahra sent her friend and confidant, Nafeesa, to meet with Muhammadsa, and to find out what he thought of the marriage She then put forth Hazrat Khadijah’sra proposal. Muhammadsa was pleased by the idea because of Hazrat Khadijah’sra reptuation for goodness. Since Hazrat Khadijah’sra father had been killed in the battle of Fajar, the marriage proceedings were overseen by Abu Talibra and Hazrat Khadijah’sra uncle, Umro. However Abu Talibra expressed his concern that Hazrat Khadijahra, coming from an affluent and dignified house, might not receive the approval of her uncle Umro. After consulting with Hazrat Khadijahra, Nafeesa arranged an event at the house of Hazrat Khadijahra, to which all the wealthy Quraish were invited. At the dinner, in front of the guests, permission for theNikah was sought from Hazrat Khadijah’sra uncle. Muhammadsa was twenty-five years old, and Hazrat Khadijahra was approximately forty. Despite the significant age difference, the marriage proved to be extremely successful.
At the time of the Nikah, Abu Talibra spoke about the blessings of being from the progeny of Hazrat Abrahamas, as well as being the guardians of the House of God. When he mentioned the financially weak position of his nephew (the Holy Prophetsa), he also spoke of his many admirable qualities. Hazrat Khadijah’sra cousin, Warqah bin Naufal, expressed his willingness to accept the Nikah on behalf of Hazrat Khadijahra at a sum of 400 dinars. Abu Talibra declared that it would be better if her uncle, Umro, also approved of this agreement. At this, Hazrat Khadijah’sra uncle said, “O leaders of the Quraish! I have settled the Nikah of Muhammadsa to Khadijahra.” Some traditions report that the Haq Mehar (dower money) of Hazrat Khadijahra from the Prophet Muhammadsa was twenty camels and 12 ounces of silver. Abu Talibra agreed to the terms and payment of the Haq Mehar, which Muhammadsa increased and then duly paid. The marriage was not only a great source of comfort and solace to Mohammadsa, but was also a great reassurance for Abu Talibra. He expressed his relief by saying, “May all Praise be for that Being who has removed from us our agony and worry.”
Hazrat Khadijahra and her mother, Fatima, were very happy at the occasion and ordered the maid servants to arrange for some small tambourines to be played to enliven the house. Muhammadsa offered lunch to the guests and then laid down to rest in the house of Hazrat Khadijahra.
Hazrat Khadhijah’sra relationship with the the Holy Prophetsa
In spite of the disparity between their economic position and age, the marriage proved to be extremely successful. This union was destined by the Will of God. Hazrat Khadijahra was mature and influential; she was to become the helper, the assistant, the supporter, and the shield of Muhammadsa. Enormous responsibility was to be bestowed upon him. To bear such a duty may have been too demanding a task for a younger woman.
Hazrat Khadijahra was married to Prophet Mohammedsa for 24 years, 5 months, and 8 days. Ibn Ishaq relates that whenever the Prophetsa would feel troubled by the accusations and abuse that were meted out against him by people, Hazrat Khadijahra would reassure him, allay his troubles, lighten his burden, and ease his difficulties by her attestation and acceptance of his claim. The secret of the success of this extraordinary marriage lay in the fact that its foundations were based on the virtuous disposition of both. In her proposal of marriage to Muhammadsa,Hazrat Khadijahra said that she was inclined towards him due to the beauty of his virtuous character. After marriage, their relationship grew stronger in love and trust. Hazrat Khadijahra allowed him independence from all kinds of financial worries, and sacrificed everything for the cause of his Prophethood. Hence, Prophet Muhammadsa is quoted to have once said, “Khadijahra aided me with her wealth at a time when no one else did.”
Once, Hazrat Khadijahra observed the Prophet Muhammad’ssa empathy for one of her slaves, Zaid bin Harisara, and the manner in which he appreciated and praised his services. As a result, she bequeathed him to the Prophetsa, and in turn, the Prophet Muhammadsa set him free. Hazrat Khadijahra noticed the love and devotion with which the Prophet Muhammadsa undertook his prayers, and always sought to support and assist the performance of his spiritual duties. She would take it upon herself to prepare his provisions when he would seek solitude in the cave of Hira to worship. In one incident, it is narrated that she set out towards the northern parts of Makkah with provisions in search of the Prophet Muhammadsa. On her way, the angel Gabrielas appeared before her and enquired about the Prophet Muhammadsa.Hazrat Khadijahra became anxious since an unknown man was asking about her husband. Upon meeting the Prophetsa, she related the earlier encounter, to which he replied:
“That was Gabrielas and he said to give Salam to you. He brings glad tidings of a resting place in paradise for you, a place where there shall be neither fatigue nor racket nor clamour.”
Another tradition relates that Gabrielas said, “Salam to Hazrat Khadijahra from her Lord.” The beauty of her response to these words bears witness to her wisdom and intelligence. She replied:
“Allah the Almighty is ‘Salam’ (meaning that He is the source of peace Himself, and peace pours forth from Him), and Salam to Gabrielas as well.”
The glad tidings concerning Hazrat Khadijah’sra abode in Paradise was a significant tribute to her character. She continuously provided the Prophetsa with encouragement. She also undertook the task of personally attending to the Prophet’ssa every need, despite having come from a wealthy family that could have provided her with servants. Allah has predestined a glasshouse of pearls and gems for Hazrat Khadijahra, a house mirroring her pure and sincere heart. She filled her home with peace and made it heavenly for the Prophetsa during her lifetime. For her reward, Almighty Allah sent forth a message of glad tidings and conveyed the message of her eternal abode in heaven. Just as she caused no fatigue to reach the Prophet Muhammadsa through her care and support, her eternal abode shall know no fatigue either.
After he received his first revelation in the cave of Hira, Hazrat Khadijahra alone gave the Prophet Muhammadsa succour and encouragement. On this occasion, an unknown person came and addressed the Holy Prophetsa during his meditation, which caused him to be overcome with fear and trepidation. He made his way home to Hazrat Khadijahra trembling, and asked his wife to cover him in a blanket. He was overwhelmed with anxiety and said, “Khadijahra! What is happening to me? Fear for my life is beginning to overtake me.” At this crucial juncture, Hazrat Khadijahra provided her husband with courage and solace; she held his noble and virtuous disposition as a testament to his character and reassured him with fullest conviction by declaring:
“Your life and your being would never be subjected to any fear or danger. Instead, glad tidings of a noble and august message have come to you. God will never abandon you because you treat your relatives well, you speak the truth, you lighten the burden of others, you offer them hospitality and help those stricken and in need. What can a man in possession of such a virtuous disposition have to fear?”
In addition to her reassuring words, she took him to her cousin Warqah bin Naufal, a Christian well-versed in Hebrew, and who possessed extensive knowledge of the Torah and the Gospels. Khadijahra addressed her cousin and asked him to listen to what Muhammadsa had to say. After listening to the Prophet Muhammadsa, Warqah bin Naufal said:
“This is the same angel that was sent down to Mosesas. Alas! I wish I were young and healthy in this age, when your people will oust you from this land.”
The Prophet Muhammadsa asked in astonishment, “Will my people oust one such as me (meaning bearer of good and servant to mankind)?” Warqah said, “Indeed! It has always been so in the past.” Thus it was Khadijahra who first believed in the Prophet Muhammadsa after his revelation. She also became a means of his attestation by encouraging him to meet with Warqah bin Naufal. Hazrat Khadijahra once asked the Prophet Muhammadsa about Warqah bin Naufal, “O Prophet of Allah! Although he believed in you after your first revelation, he died shortly afterwards.” The Prophet Muhammadsa replied, “Yes, I saw him in a dream of mine and he was clad in white. If he was of the inmates of the fire, then he would not have been dressed so.”
Personal Characteristics of Hazrat Khadijahra
Allah blessed Khadijahra with children from the Prophet Muhammadsa – four sons, Qasim, Tahir, Tayyab and Abdullah, and four daughters, Hazrat Zainabra, Hazrat Ruqayyara, Hazrat Umm-e-Kalsoomra and Hazrat Fatima-tul-Zohrara. It was Hazrat Khadijah’sra wish that her eldest daughter, Hazrat Zainabra, would marry her nephew, Abdul-Aas. During the battle of Badr, Abdul-Aas, son-in-law to the Prophetsa, was captured along with other non-Muslims from Makkah. At the time, Hazrat Zainabra was residing in Makkah. In exchange for the freedom of her husband, she offered the necklace her mother had given her at the time of her marriage as payment. Upon seeing and recognising the necklace, the Prophet Muhammadsa was stirred and overwhelmed with emotion. What an extraordinary moment it was to behold when his eyes shed tears at the memory of her kindness! He consulted his Companions over granting freedom to Abdul-Aas without payment. As a result, the necklace was returned to Hazrat Zainabra, and remained a keepsake memory of her noble mother Hazrat Khadijahra. However, Abdul-Aas was released on the terms that upon his return to Makkah, he would arrange safe passage for his Muslim wife, Hazrat Zainabra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammadsa, to Madinah.
Abdul-Aas, proved loyal and true to his word; upon his return to Makkah, according to his promise, he made arrangements for Hazrat Zainabra to be transported to Madinah, where the Prophetsa was residing. The Prophetsa never forgot the good deed done by his son-in-law. He used to say, “Abu-ul-Aas is a righteous man in that he fulfilled the promise that he made to me.” It was this very righteousness that enabled Abu-ul-Aas to accept Islam in the end.
All the male children borne by Hazrat Khadijahra passed away during her lifetime. Following the pure example of Prophet Muhammadsa, she too bore with great patience the trial and adversity of losing her children. Hazrat Qasim was not yet weaned when he passed away, yet Hazrat Khadijahra showed a great example of patience. Only once did she say to the Prophet Muhammadsa:
“O Prophet of Allah! The lactating days of Qasim were not yet over. If only Allah had permitted him a few more days, he would have finished his two years of lactation. Would it not have been wonderful and we would have spent some more time with our child.”
The Prophet Muhammadsa replied, “He will complete his lactating days in Paradise.” Hazrat Khadijahra replied, “If that was to be believed, it would ease the grief that I bear for Qasim.” The Prophet Muhammadsa said:
“If you wish, I shall pray to Allah that He may let you hear your son’s voice so that you may believe that he will indeed finish his lactating days in Paradise. Thus you may feel reassured.”
Hazrat Khadijahra answered with great alacrity and presence of mind by replying, “O Prophet of Allah! I believe what Allah and His messenger say and accept it to be the truth.”
After accepting Islam, Hazrat Khadijahra faced trials and adversities with respect to the breakup of her daughters’ marriages. Utba and Utaiba, sons of an uncle of the Prophet Muhammadsa, Abu Lahab, were married to Hazrat Ruqayyara and Hazrat Umm-e-Kalsoonra, respectively. After claiming prophethood, the opposition in Makkah grew, during which time the Quraish instigated the two sons to divorce the daughters of the Prophet Muhammadsa. As a result, both marriages were dissolved. Hazrat Khadijahra bore the pain of her daughters with great fortitude. No word of impatience or displeasure crossed her lips. Hazrat Khadijah’sra reaction to such trials bore testimony to her patience and to the magnitude of her faith. The strength of her belief and conviction enabled her to bear the increasing hardships alongside the Prophet Muhammadsa with great fortitude.
From the 7th of Nabawi, Hazrat Khadijahra spent three years in conditions of great difficulty with the Prophet Muhammadsa, as they were besieged and boycotted in Shi‘b-e-Abi-Talib. Although Hazrat Khadijahra came from a noble and wealthy family, she chose to bear grief and pain for the cause of Allah and His Messengersa. She chose a righteous path and stayed with the Prophet Muhammadsa until the day of her death.
The Holy Prophet’ssa High Regard for Hazrat Khadijahra
The Prophet Muhammadsa spoke highly of Hazrat Khadijah’sra characteristics saying, “Khadijahra is better and above all other women.” The Prophet Muhammadsa had great respect for the kindness of Hazrat Khadijahra. Hazrat ‘A’ishahra related that whenever an animal would be slaughtered, the Prophetsa would name all of Hazrat Khadijah’sra friends and say:
“Send a portion to that house, for she loved Hazrat Khadijahra dearly. Send a portion to that house, for she was a friend of Hazrat Khadijahra.”
Hazrat ‘A’ishahra said that she once asked the reason for this, to which the Prophet Muhammadsa replied, “Those who were dear to Khadijahra are dear to me too.” Hazrat ‘A’ishahra relates that once an old lady came to the house of the Prophetsa. The Prophetsa asked her, “Who are you?” She said, “I am from the neighbourhood of the Muzeena clan.”
After that, every time she came to visit, the Prophetsa would hold her high in esteem, and express happiness upon her visit. He would ask: “How are you? How is everything? How have you been doing since we last met?” Hazrat ‘A’ishahra says that she once asked the Prophetsa, “O Prophet of Allah! Why do you shower such care and attention over this old lady?” The Prophetsa replied:
“This old lady used to come to our house in Hazrat Khadijah’sra time, and loyalty is a part of faith too. Through this old lady, I reminisce about the time I spent with Hazrat Khadijahra.”
His manner was an expression of loyalty to Hazrat Khadijahra.
Hazrat ‘A’ishahra relates that Hazrat Khadijahra died three years before her marriage. Every time, before leaving the house, the Prophet Muhammadsa would reminisce fondly about Hazrat Khadijahra:
“I became weary of hearing of her all the time. For this reason I never felt any indignation against any of the wives except for Hazrat Khadijahra. The Prophetsa would say that Allah has given me glad tidings in a revelation of a resting place for her in Paradise. Once, Hazrat Khadijah’sra sister, Hala, came to our house and she asked permission to come in. Due the similarity between her voice and Hazrat Khadijah’sra voice, the Prophetsa recognised her beforehand and said, ‘Dear God! It is Hala who has come.’ At this exclamation, I felt a strong sense of indignation and said, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Why is it that of all the old women of Quraish, you keep mentioning only one, she who died a long time ago. Allah has blessed you with better wives than her since then. You mention Khadijahra as if there is no woman but her on earth.’ The Prophet Muhammadsa took amiss at these words and his face showed such signs of anger that I felt limp. I prayed to Allah that if his anger were to fade today, I would never again in my life say another word against Hazrat Khadijahra in my life. At that point, looking at my countenance, the Prophet Muhammadsa said to me, ‘O ‘A’ishahra! The truth of the matter is that no one can be better than Khadijahra. She believed in me when the whole world refuted me and she attested to my veracity when the whole world accused me of falsehood. She offered me compassion and loyalty with her wealth when everyone else had forsaken me. O ‘A’ishahra! What can I do? Love for her runs in my blood and is nestled in my heart.’”
And why should it not be so, for Allah Almighty sent His Salam to Hazrat Khadijahra. Hazrat Khadijahra died on the 4th of Nabawi, and the year was known as Aam-ul-Huzn: the year of common grief. Her death appeared to the Prophet Muhammadsa like a mountain of sorrow, for his foremost supporter and partner in life departed that year. Hazrat Khadijahra died three years prior to the migration to Madinah, and she was buried at Hujoon. At the time of her death, funeral rites were not officially instated. Hazrat Hakim bin Hizamra relates that:
“When our aunt, Hazrat Khadijahra, died, the funeral procession left and we buried her at a place called Hujoon.”
The Prophet Muhammadsa himself descended into the grave.
Let us give our Salam to this noble and grand woman, one to whom the Master and Creator of this Universe sent His Salam. Salam to you O Khadijah Al-Kubrara!
The series continues in the next Edition.
Hafiz Muzaffar Ahmad is an eminent scholar of the Holy Qur’an, Hadith and Islamic history. The ‘Hafiz’ in his name denotes that he has memorised the entire Holy Qur’an by heart. He has authored several books, including on the life of the Holy Prophetsa and his Companions. He is a regular panellist on the popular religious discussion programme ‘Rahe Huda,’ which broadcasts on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International (www.mta.tv).
- Musnad Ahmad, Vol.6, p.117 Qasira.
- Musnad Ahmad, Vol.1, p.293, 316
- Ma’rifatul-Sahaba Libni Naeem, Vol. 22, p.235, Wal Mu’jamul Kabir Tabrani, Vol.19, p.201.
- Al Mu’jamul Kabir Tabrani, Vol.22 p.448 and Majma Al-Zawa’id, Vol.9, p.350.
- Al-Tabakatul Kubra Libni Sa’d, Vol.1, p.131-132; Seeratul Halabiyyah Vol.1, p.224.
- Ibni Hishaam, Vol.1, p.416.
- Musnad Ahmad, Vol.6, p.118.
- Seerat Ibni Hisham, Vol.1, p.319.
- Bukhari Bad Al-Wahy wa Amlul Yaumi libni Sani, 240.
- Al-Tabrani Al Kabir, Vol.23, p.25, wa Majma Al-Zawa’id, Vol.9, p.228.
- Bukhari Badul Wahy.
- Kanzul Ummal, Vol.12, p.76.
- Abu Daud Kitabul Jihad Bab fi fidaail aseer bil maal.
- Bukhari Kitabun Nikah Baabushuroot fil-nikah.
- Sunan Ibni Majah Kitabul Janaa’iz bab ma jaa fisalaati al-ibni rasulillahsa.
- Al-Seeratun Nubuwwah libni Hishaam, Vol.2, p.296 and Al-Tabaqatul Kubra libni Sa’d, Vol.8, pp37.
- Musnad Ahmad, Vol.1, p.293.
- Al-Tabarani Al-Kabir, Vol.23, p.13 and Al-Isaabah fi Seerah Al-Sahaba Vol.8, p.62.
- Al Mustadrak lil-Hakim, Vol.1, p.15, Al-Tabarani Al-Kabir, Vol.23, p.23.
- Musnad Ahmad, Vol.6, p.117 Qasira.
- Al-Tabaqatul Kubra, Vol.8, p.18.
- Zawjatun Nabi Wa’alul Bayti, p.125, from Al Mutawalli Al Shaa’rawi Maktabatul ‘Asr, Beirut.