Prophet Muhammad (sa) is the ultimate role model for all Muslims, men and women, as we are all commanded by Allah (swt) in the Quran to follow the Messenger’s (sa) Sunnah. We look upon him as our guide. He possessed the best of manners, the noblest of character, and was the best husband to his wives. I am sure every Muslim woman wants her husband to emulate the example of the Prophet (sa), and to experience the deep love and tranquillity of married life just as the wives of the Prophet (sa) did. Yet we have to remember that marriage and love is a shared responsibility. If we want our husbands to resemble Prophet Muhammad (sa) in their conduct, we ourselves should also strive to be more like the Mothers of the Believers. Every one of these great women has a lesson we can learn from. If we want to become the best and most loving wives to our husbands, we should learn more about Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (rtaf), the first and the most beloved wife of the Prophet (sa).
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (rtaf) was born into a rich Makkan family. She inherited great wealth from her father, which she further multiplied by her successful business ventures. She used to send caravans with goods to neighbouring countries, and she would put trusted employees in charge of her merchandise. Having heard of the young man who was known in Makkah as al-Amin (the trustworthy), she decided to employ him. Khadijah (rtaf) sent with him her old and trusted slave, Maysarah, so that he could report to her about his dealings. The man she employed was no other than Muhammad (sa). Khadijah (rtaf) was so impressed by the success of his business trip, as well as by what Maysarah told her about him, that she became inclined to marry him.
Khadijah (rtaf) was certainly a woman of great affluence. She was known for her piety and beauty, and she had already rejected the marriage proposals of some men belonging to the best Quraysh families. Khadijah (rtaf) had already been married twice before, and was a mother to three children. She was about fifteen years older than the man she wished to marry. Despite her superior position, she had doubts whether or not Muhammad (sa), as yet unmarried, would accept her proposal. Yet her admiration for him grew, and her desire to marry him became so strong that she asked her friend, Nafisah bint Manbah, to enquire on her behalf.
Nafisah approached Muhammad (sa), and requested his permission to ask him a personal question. When he agreed, she asked why he had not yet married. He explained that he did not have the financial resources to do so. Then she asked him if he would be willing to marry a beautiful lady from a noble and wealthy family, who was inclined towards marrying him. He asked who the lady was, and finding out it was Khadijah (rtaf), he said that he was willing as long as she was willing to marry him. Soon the marriage ceremony was arranged by the families, and the Prophet (sa) moved in to live with Khadijah (rtaf), bringing her forty camels as Mahr. The Prophet’s (sa) wet nurse Halimah as-Sadiyyah was also invited for the wedding, and treated with great respect by the bride.
Through this beautiful story of Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) and Khadijah’s (rtaf) betrothal, we learn the first valuable love lesson: the true worth of a person is not in his wealth or social standing, but in the virtue of his/her character. Khadijah (rtaf) was able to see the beauty of Muhammad’s (sa) heart, and so she fell in love with him, regardless of his financial situation or status. She was a wealthy and privileged lady, yet she managed to build a harmonious relationship with her husband, based on respect and love.
Khadija (rtaf) was married to the Prophet (sa) for twenty five years until she passed away, three years before Hijrah. She bore him six children but their two sons did not survive infanthood. Losing a child is always a blow to the parents – a difficult test of their faith and their relationship – yet the love they shared survived these trials. Thus, when Prophet Muhammad (sa) was faced with the most difficult test, he knew it was Khadijah (rtaf) he could count on.
When Prophet Muhammad (sa) received his first revelation in the cave of Hira, he was confounded and scared; he did not truly comprehend what had happened even though he knew it was some great matter. It was such an overwhelming experience that he returned home shivering, and asked Khadijah (rtaf) to cover him and comfort him. It was her that he trusted and confided in, and it was she who believed in him from the very beginning. With her soothing words and great wisdom, she was able to convince her husband that Allah (swt) would protect him as he was a man of peace and reconciliation, known for his honesty and kindness. She then took him to see her cousin, Waraqah, who recognized in Muhammad (sa) the promised Messenger of Allah (sa), and told him that it was angel Jibril (as) whom he had met in the cave.
Here again we see the great love, respect, and trust that Khadijah had for her husband. She was ready to support him through the many upcoming difficulties as new Muslims were mistreated by the Makkans. One of the most challenging ordeals they experienced was the total political and economic boycott on the followers of Muhammad (sa), known as the siege of Shiab Abi Talib. The Muslims were left with no provisions, and were forced to withdraw to a valley called Shiab Abi Talib, where they faced starvation, often surviving by eating just leaves of trees. Khadijah (rtaf) bore all of this with courage and patience, not once losing faith in her husband’s mission.
Life for the Prophet (sa) and other believers in those early days was very hard, but Khadijah (rtaf) was for him the rock of support, the source of encouragement, and certainly the comfort of the heart. She spent all of her wealth supporting the cause of Islam. Born as one of the most privileged Makkan ladies, she became a victim of persecution aimed at all the believers. Yet she always remained an ideal wife and mother, bearing patiently everything that Allah (swt) had ordained. When she was dying at the age of sixty-five, she was consoled by her husband’s words, as he was telling her that it was by Allah’s (swt) command, and that the thing she was dreading would prove to be favourable for her.
The Prophet (sa) was heartbroken after losing his wife and his best companion. He would always remember her saying: “I have not yet found a better wife than her. She had faith in me when everyone, even my own family members and tribe, did not believe me, and accepted that I was truly a Prophet and a Messenger of Allah. She converted to Islam, and spent all her wealth and worldly goods to help me spread this faith, and this too at a time when the entire world seemed to have turned against me and persecuted me. And it is through her that Allah (swt) blessed me with children.” (Quoted in Great Women of Islam by Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar)
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (rtaf) is one of the women who were given the glad tidings of Jannah, and called one of the four best women of Paradise. May Allah (swt) let us all look upon her as a role model, and may He make our hearts as strong and loving as hers. Ameen.