Lessons in Love from Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (rtaf)

8 lessons in loveProphet 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.

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The Prophet’s (sa) Marriages – Wisdom for Those Who Seek it

role modelMany will agree that the decision to marry is not an easy one. What kind of spouse to look for? How should the wedding be conducted? How to nurture the bond of marriage? – All of these are weighty considerations, especially for those, who seek Allah’s (swt) blessings for a successful and joyous marriage life. As in all instances, we can find the answers to true marital success from our Prophet’s (sa) life.

Our Prophet (sa) was married eleven times. The number itself makes many critics (including Muslims) to shy away from studying the example he sought to uphold through his marriages. His wives were bestowed the title of Ummul-Momineen (mothers of the believers) and truly played the role of the first ladies of the Muslim Ummah, supporting and advising their husband, bringing to him the grievances of people and educating the masses about the Deen.

Additionally, they lived with each other comfortably. They did have their differences but managed to avoid the types of soap operas created by lesser numbers of women living together, let alone sharing a single husband. Each of them gave their consent to marry him, and none of them sought to leave him – even when Allah (swt) promised to provide them with the bounties of this world, if they would divorce him.

Our Prophet’s (sa) first wife was Kadijah Bint Khawaylid (rta). She was a forty year old noblewoman and a respected entrepreneur, who had been a widowed mother and later a divorcee prior to her marriage to the Prophet (sa).Though fifteen years his senior, Khadijah (rta) was the Prophet’s (sa) most beloved wife and the mother of his six children. She witnessed the early days of the Prophet’s (sa) mission and was ‘the woman behind the man’- the first to accept Allah’s Messenger (sa) and support him through initial difficulties. After her death, the Prophet (sa) continued to make Dua for her and remembered her throughout his life.

Kadijah’s (rta) death left the Prophet’s two younger daughters in need of a woman’s motherly love. The widowed Saudah (rta) was requested to fill that void. Being a humored person, she soon created a comfortable and light atmosphere in the Prophet’s (sa) home and eventually was considered a mother figure by her co-wives.

Aisha’s (rta) history as the youngest of the Prophet’s wives is often under harsh scrutiny. Her marriage was a direct order by Allah (swt), which the Prophet (sa) received in his dreams. Dreams were a form of revelation also for other prophets, including Ibrahim (as), who was ordered to sacrifice his only son through a dream. Aisha (rta) was six years old, when her marriage was arranged – a feature allowed only to Allah’s Prophet (sa), but a blessing for his entire Ummah, as she became Islam’s foremost female scholar. Aisha (rta) was blessed with an inquisitive mind and incredible memory. Through her close relationship with the Prophet (sa), she would question him about all matters and would then memorize his every word. After the Prophet’s (sa) death, her home became the school, from which many future scholars emerged.

Through marriage with Aisha’s (rta) the Prophet (sa) formed strong family ties with her father Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta) (the first Caliph). Similarly his marriage to Hafsa (rta) did the same with her father Umar (rta) (the second Caliph). Interestingly, even the third and the fourth Caliphs (Usman (rta) and Ali (rta)) shared ties through marriage with the Prophet (sa), as his daughters were their wives.

We see the example of bringing families together by means of marriage also through the Prophet’s (sa) marriages to the war captives Safiyyah (rta) (a daughter of a prominent Jewish leader) and Jawayriyah (rta) from the tribe of Banu Mustaliq.

Zainab Bin Khazeemah (rta), also known as ‘mother of the needy’ for her generosity, and Umm Salamah (rta), an elderly wise woman and a renowned narrator of Ahadeeth, eventually joined the ranks of these blessed women. Their husbands were martyrs and Prophet’s (sa) marriages with them brought them and their children under his protection, thus encouraging the Ummah to help the widows.

Umm Habibah (rta) was Prophet’s (sa) cousin, and their marriage was a long distance one. She was in Abbassinyah, a widowed and destitute mother, when the Prophet (sa) heard of her situation and sent his proposal through a messenger to the King Negus. On her consent, Negus arranged the wedding and a wedding feast, gave her Mehr on the Prophet’s (sa) behalf and even had her transported to her husband. This wedding refutes the belief that the consummation of marriage is a prerequisite for Valima. It also refuted the once prevalent custom of not marrying one’s first cousin.

The story of the Prophet’s (sa) marriage to Zainab Bint Jahash (rta) is outlined within the Quran (Al-Ahzab) itself – as Allah (swt) Himself had the Nikah preformed in Jannah. She was a divorcee of the Prophet’s (sa) ‘adopted’ son, so this marriage broke down the custom of adoption. This marriage made many a tongue wag and, hence, helped to identify the hypocrites among the true followers of the Prophet (sa).

Since the prophets must face harder trials than their followers and observe more demanding religious rites, they have also been given some privileges for them alone. Such was the case of the Prophet’s (sa) marriage to Maimoona (rta), as stated by Allah (swt) in (Ahzab 33:50-52). She was very pious woman, who had been once divorced and later married and widowed. It was her ardent desire to be amongst the Um-ul-Momineen, even though she knew well the difficult lives they had. Allah (swt) accepted her earnest plea, and the Prophet (sa) accepted her proposal.

The Prophet (sa) treated his wives equally, spending one day with each of them, beginning with Umm Salama (rta) (the eldest) and ending with Aisha (rta) (the youngest). Each was allotted a night with him and lots were drawn to choose, who would accompany him on a journey. Though Aisha (rta) was his favourite, he treated them equally in all matters

Further study of the lives and personalities of the mothers of believers would reveal, why they were selected by Allah (swt) to uphold this special title. A question that ought to be considered by the ‘Muslim’ critics of the Prophet’s (sa) marriages should be: “If we accept him as the Prophet chosen by Allah (swt), may we question his actions and refuse to seek the wisdom within them?”

Ummul-Mumineen Sauda (rta)

Ummul-MumineenName: Sauda

Father: Zama bin Qays

Mother: Shamoos binte Qays

Clan: Quraish

Tribe: Aamer bin Lawee

Birth: Not known

Death: 22 Hijri

Sauda binte Zama binte Qays (rta) was the second wife of the Prophet (sa). The death of Khadija (rta) had left the Prophet (sa) grief stricken and lonely. Khawlah, (rta) wife of Uthman bin Mazoon (rta), suggested to the Prophet (sa) that he needed a companion to help him run his house and look after his children. She proposed the name of Sauda (rta).

Sauda (rta) and her first husband Sakrtan bin Umro were among the first converts to Islam. They were forced to migrate to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to escape persecution of the Makkans.

Sauda returned home after many years. Her husband had died, and she was now living with her aged father. She was middle-aged, rather plump, with a jolly, kindly disposition, and just the right person to take care of the Prophet’s (sa) household and family. So the Prophet (sa) agreed to send her a proposal. Khawla arranged the marriage, and Sauda (rta) came to the Prophet’s (sa) household on the 10th of Ramadan Nabawi.

Critics of Islam, who particularly target the Prophet’s (sa) personal life and character, have tried to suggest that Sauda (rta) was not treated well by him. As the Prophet’s (sa) Nikkah to Aisha (rta) followed immediately after his marriage to Sauda (rta), these hawks like to draw parallels in their relationships. The youthful Aisha (rta) is pitted against the elderly Sauda (rta), as if there was enmity and hostility between them. They try to sell a warped version of the truth that the Prophet (sa) cast Sauda (rta) aside in the favor of Aisha (rta) and threatened her with divorce. Hence, the poor old Sauda (rta) was cornered into giving her day with the Prophet (sa) to Aisha (rta)! Authentic sources present a completely different picture.

Ibn Kathir says: “There was great surprise in Makkah that the Prophet would choose to marry a widow, who was neither young nor beautiful. As Sauda aged, the Prophet became worried that she might be upset about having to compete with so many younger wives; therefore, he offered to divorce her. She said that she would give her night to Aisha (rta), of whom she was very fond, because she only wished to be the Prophet’s (sa) wife on the Day of Rising. She lived on until the end of Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s time. She and Aisha (rta) always remained very close.”

Aisha (rta) said: “Never did I find any woman more loving to me than Sauda bint Zama. I wished I could be exactly like her, who was passionate.” As she became old, she had made over her day (which she had to spend) with Allah’s Messenger (sa) to Aisha. She said: “I have made over my day with you to Aisha.” So Allah’s Messenger (sa) allotted two days to Aisha – her own day (when it was her turn) and that of Sauda. (Muslim)

The remarkable quality of women in wanting to please their husbands is unfathomable to most of us today, especially to those, who judge every selfless act in the cold light of their own business style relationships – I do this for you, so what is in it for me? And let’s not forget that Sauda’s (rta) husband was no ordinary person – he was the Prophet (sa). She willingly made sacrifices for the privilege of being Ummul-Mumineen and expected nothing in return in this life.

Such was her devotion to the Prophet’s (sa) word that according to Abu Huraira (rta), after his death, she never left her house for Hajj, as the Prophet (sa) had asked his wives not to leave their homes in the sermon of Hujjatul-Wida. Sauda (rta) and Zainab Binte Jahash (rta) practiced this verbatim.

Sauda (rta) made her husband laugh. Sometimes she would walk in such a peculiar way that the Prophet (sa) would be amused. Once, she told him: “Last night, I prayed behind you. You did such a long Ruku that I thought my nose would bleed, so I held my nose all the while.” The Prophet (sa) smiled on hearing this.

We see in her character a lovely combination of selflessness, obedience, and piety as well as endearing humor and simplicity. These are the traits every woman, especially a wife, should aspire for.