Khadijah bint Khuwaylid – her very name evokes an image of strong, dignified femininity, of refined prestige and quiet power. She is remembered as a woman of strength, of compassion, of faith; the woman who was the first love of Prophet’s life, and who remained in his heart long after her death.
Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) was born fifteen years before the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (PBUH), to a family of high status in the Qurayshi echelons of Makkan society.
Her father was not only a tribal leader of standing, but a well-established businessman whose merchant company flourished.
Khuwaylid, the father of Khadijah, was unique in that he scorned many of the terrible behaviors common in Makkan society, such as that of burying infant daughters alive. Instead, he invested in his daughter by raising her to be well-educated, intelligent, business-smart, and to be an individual of strong ethics and personal conviction.
These were the qualities that led her to not only be a brilliant businesswoman, but to be of those few individuals in Makkah who abhorred idol-worship and instead devoted their worship to Allah alone.
Once, a popular festival took place in the vicinity of the Ka’bah, and was attended by many of the women of Quraysh. Khadijah bint Khuwaylid was present, and took part in the festivities – but not in the worship of the idol Hubal. As the day wore on, an elderly Jewish man called out to the noblewomen: “O respectable women of Quraysh! A Messenger of God is due to arrive amongst you. Whoever of you has the opportunity to marry him, then do so!”
For a moment, there was stunned silence… and then the women erupted into laughter and mockery of this man who dared to disturb their event with his foolishness. Some, angered by their perception that he was insulting their idols, went so far as to hurl abuse and stones at him.
However, sitting amongst them all, refusing to take part in driving away the old man, was Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, silent and thoughtful, considering his words. It was truly a moment of fateful foreshadowing.
Khadijah was a woman of beauty, intelligence, and superior character. Known as ‘at-Taahirah’ – the Pure – she was highly sought after by the greatest men of Quraysh. She was married twice, and had children with both her husbands. After her second experience as a widow, she chose to focus her efforts on her business instead of marriage… or so she planned, anyway.
It was in her quest to hire employees to lead her merchant caravans that Khadijah bint Khuwaylid first came across Muhammad ibn Abdullah (PBUH). A handsome young man from a noble but impoverished family, he exuded an aura of dignity, power, and humility all at once.
For a man so young, he had also established a reputation of renown as as-Saadiq, al-Ameen (the Truthful, the Most Trustworthy). As a trader himself, he was scrupulously honest in every interaction and transaction, as Khadijah’s own servant Maysarah attested to on their very first business trip together.
With every positive experience and glowing report about Muhammad, Khadijah was filled with respect and admiration for him. Though she was significantly older than him, she was still a woman of beauty and young enough to consider marriage for a third time – and wise enough to recognize that though Muhammad had nothing to offer her financially, he brought with him something much more important.
Swiftly, marriage was proposed, accepted, and arranged… and thus began the first chapter of one of the most powerful stories of love and faith to ever be witnessed in history.
To be continued…