Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf (rta)

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Abdur Rahman bin AufAbdur-Rahman Ibn Awf (rta) was among those ten fortunate Companions of the Prophet (sa), who were given the good news of being accepted in Paradise after their death. He was known for his truthfulness, sincerity and good knowledge of religious matters. Abdur-Rahman (rta) embraced Islam at the age of thirty, after being invited to do so by Abu Bakr (rta). Before becoming Muslim, his name was Abd Amr, and it was the Prophet (sa) himself who changed his name to Abdur-Rahman (rta).

Abdur-Rahman (rta) had the wonderful opportunity of migrating twice in the cause of Islam – to Abyssinia and to Madinah. When Abdur-Rahman (rta) arrived in Madinah, he had no money and no property. To make his adjustment in Madinah easier, the Prophet (sa) asked one of the richest men of Madinah, Sad Ibn Rabee Ansari (rta) to help Abdur-Rahman (rta). Sad Ibn Rabee Ansari (rta) was ready to give to Abdur-Rahman (rta) one of his two wives and one of his two big orchards; however, Abdur-Rahman’s (rta) self-respect did not allow him to accept this generous offer. He thanked Sad Ibn Rabee Ansari for his kindness, prayed to Allah (swt) to increase Sad’s wealth and simply asked him to show the way to the market, where he would earn his own living. He did not wish to be a burden on anyone – he knew that Allah (swt) would provide for him.

Ever since Abdur-Rahman (rta) began his own business in the market of Madinah, Allah (swt) blessed him with bounty beyond his most daring expectations. Whatever he touched seemed to bring him instant success.

Soon, Abdur-Rahman (rta) extended his activities also to agriculture. Once, the Prophet’s wife Aisha (rta) heard an unusual vibrating sound traveling through the city. Upon learning that the cause of this vibration was Abdur-Rahman’s (rta) seven hundred camels loaded with grains, Aisha (rta) recalled the Prophet (sa) saying that Abdur-Rahman (rta) would enter Paradise ‘leaping and jumping’ – with much ease. When somebody conveyed these words to Abdur-Rahman (rta), he overflowed with joy and dedicated his camels, his goods and his wealth to the welfare of the Muslim Ummah! Just like Allah (swt) gave to Abdur-Rahman (rta) out of His bounty, he also spent abundantly in charity for the sake of Allah (swt). Yet, despite all the prosperity and wealth that Abdur-Rahman (rta) gained, his heart was not at ease. He often used to weep out of fear that he would be deprived of blessings in the Hereafter because of the bounties Allah (swt) bestowed on him in this world.

Business and agriculture kept Abdur-Rahman (rta) busy; yet, he eagerly participated in the great battles for the cause of Allah (swt). After taking part in the battle of Badr, Abdur-Rahman (rta) went on in a mission sent to Doamatul Jandal area to conquer the tribe of Banu Kalb. Abdur-Rahman (rta) was appointed to lead the Muslim army. The Prophet (sa) himself placed on his head the turban of the general and gave him the flag of the Mujahideen. He ordered Abdur-Rahman (rta) to invite the tribe to follow the teachings of Islam. Only if they would refuse to do so, the Muslim army was to attack and fight them. The Prophet (sa) also strictly forbade harming women, children and the elderly of the tribe.

After arriving to Domatul Jandal, Abdur-Rahman (rta) spent three days explaining to the people of Banu Kalb the teachings of Islam. The chief of the tribe was very much impressed by the message of Allah (swt) and decided to enter the fold of Islam. Upon seeing the conversion of their leader, most of the tribes-people also became Muslims. Those, who did not want to accept Islam, could continue to live peacefully on condition that they would pay Jazyah tax to the Islamic government. Thus, Islam spread in this area in a peaceful manner. The chief of the tribe even gave his daughter to Abdur-Rahman (rta) in marriage.

Abdur-Rahman (rta) not only participated in the battles for the glory of Islam, but also generously supported the Mujahideen. Once, he gave to Mujahideen five hundred horses trained for military combat. On another occasion, his gift was fifteen hundred pure-bred Arab steeds. Just before his death, Abdur-Rahman (rta) bequeathed in his will four hundred Dinars to each survivor of the battle of Badr.

Abdur-Rahman (rta) also supported the Mujahideen for the battle of Tabook. The Muslim army was so poorly equipped for this battle that it became known as the penniless army. This time, Abdur-Rahman’s (rta) help consisted of bags full of silver – the most generous contribution made for this war. When the army set out for Tabook, Abdur-Rahman (rta) also himself was among the Mujahideen. Once, the Prophet (sa) was not present at the beginning of the prayer, so Abdur-Rahman (rta) began leading the prayer. When the Prophet (sa) arrived in the middle of the prayer, he joined the rows and prayed behind Abdur-Rahman (rta). What an honor it was for Abdur-Rahman (rta) to have the Prophet (sa) pray behind him!

When Caliph Umar Farooq (rta) was stabbed while leading the prayer, it was Abdur-Rahman (rta) who finished leading that prayer. Before his death, Caliph Umar (rta) selected a board of six honourable men, who were to continue running the affairs of the Muslim state and to select the next Caliph. Abdur-Rahman (rta) had the honour to be among these six noble Companions. When discussions arose about nominating the next Caliph, Abdur-Rahman (rta) suggested that the board of six should be narrowed down to three members to make the selection easier. Further in the selection process, Abdur-Rahman (rta) withdrew his name from the list of candidates and voted in favor of Uthman Ibn Affan (rta), who then became the next Caliph. He was the first one to swear his loyalty to the new Caliph.

Many people used to pray to Allah (swt) for Abdur-Rahman (rta). The Prophet (sa) himself prayed for the prosperity of Abdur-Rahman (rta) and gave him the wonderful news of being accepted in Paradise. The Prophet’s (sa) wife Aisha (rta) often used to ask Allah (swt) to give him to drink from the sweet waters of the stream of Salsabil in Paradise. He also received supplications from the other wives of the Prophet (sa), as he was the one who used to provide for their needs during Hajj.

Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf (rta) passed away during the caliphate of Uthman Ibn Affan. He was buried in Jannatul-Baqahi.

Adapted from “Commanders of the Muslim Army (Among the Companions of the Prophet (sa)” by Mahmood Ahmad Ghandafar.

Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta)

Ummul-MumineenName: Zaynab Bint Jahash

Kunniyat: Ummul-Hakam

Father: Jahash Bin Raab

Mother: Umayma Bint Abdul-Muttalib

Clan: Banu Hashim

Family: Asad Bin Khuzaymah

Tribe: Quraish

Birth: 590 CE

Death: 20 AH – 643 CE

If any woman has had to face controversy, scandal, slander and all manners of finger pointing, it is Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta). And if any woman has emerged from it all not only unscathed but with flying colours, it is Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta). And if any woman was chosen by Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sa) to be an agent of change in eradicating deep rooted customs of Jahiliyah and launching an Islamic social fabric, it is Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta).

Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta) was the Prophet’s (sa) first cousin, her mother Umayma being the daughter of Abdul-Muttalib. She came from one of the noblest families of the Quraish, and everyone expected her eventually to marry a man with the same high social status. However, the Prophet (sa) himself arranged her marriage to Zaid Bin Harith (rta), whose background was very different from Zaynab (rta).

Zaid (rta) was taken prisoner as a child during an inter-tribal war before Islam. He was sold as a slave to a nephew of Khadijah (rta), who gave Zaid (rta) to her as a gift. In turn, Khadijah (rta) gave him to the Prophet (sa), who later granted Zaid (rta) his freedom and adopted him as his own son.

When the Prophet (sa) asked for her hand on behalf of Zaid (rta), Zaynab (rta) and her family were shocked at the idea of her marrying a man, who for them was only a freed slave. The Prophet (sa) thought they would make a good couple, and that their marriage would demonstrate that it was not their ancestors but their standing in the sight of Allah (swt) that mattered.

A lesson we seem to have forgotten. Today, we are as socially stratified as the Arabs were in the days of Jahiliyah. Cross-social and cross-cultural marriages are frowned upon and just not acceptable. How often do we hear of a Sindhi marrying a Pathan?

Zaynab (rta) and Zaid (rta) got married when this Ayah was revealed in the Quran: “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any opinion in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error.” (Al-Ahzab 33:36)

The marriage, however, was not a success. Although both Zaynab (rta) and Zaid (rta) were the best of people, who loved Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa), they were very different and could not overcome their incompatibility.

Then Allah (swt) ordained His Messenger (sa) the task of eradicating a deep rooted social tradition – the adoption of children. An adopted child was considered exactly like a real son or daughter in rights and sanctities. This tradition affronts the basic principles of Islam; especially those concerning marriage, divorce and inheritance and some other cases.

“Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers: that is more just with Allah.” (Al-Ahzab 33:5)

“Muhammad (sa) is not the father of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets.” (Al-Ahzab 33:40)

Allah (swt) bid the Prophet (sa) to marry his cousin Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta), who was an ex-wife to Zaid (rta) – his adopted son.

“So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them).” (Al-Ahzab 33:37)

So he married the divorcee of his ‘adopted’ son to show that adoption does not really make the adopted child a real son and also to show that divorcees have a right to remarry. Tongues of the Kuffar to this day are dipped in venom, when they slander the Prophet (sa) regarding his marriage to Zaynab (rta). They stoop to the basest level of accusations. So we can well imagine how the hypocrites must have spread false propaganda at that time.

The marriage of Zaynab (rta) and the Prophet (sa) not only withstood all the hoopla but flourished in spite of it. Zaynab (rta) was fond of pointing out that her marriage had been arranged by Allah (swt) Himself!

But that did not mean she thought she was a ‘chosen one’ and became complacent about Allah (swt) or her actions. She was constantly immersed in worship.

It is related by Anas Ibn Malik (rta) that once the Prophet (sa) entered the mosque and found a rope hanging between two pillars, and so he said: “What is this?” He was told: “It is for Zaynab (rta). She prays, and when she loses concentration or feels tired, she holds onto it.” At this time, the Prophet said: “Untie it. Pray as long as you feel fresh, but when you lose concentration or become tired, you should stop.”

She was a giving woman. The Prophet (sa) said of her to his other wives: “She is the most generous among you.” It has been related by Aisha (rta) that the Prophet (sa) once said to his wives: “The one who has the longest hands among you will meet me again the soonest.” Aisha (rta) added: “They used to measure each other’s hands to see whose was longest, and it was the hand of Zaynab (rta) that was the longest, because she used to work by hand (tanning leather) and give away (what she earned) in charity.”

Zaynab (rta) was with the Prophet (sa) for six years, and lived for another nine years after his death, thus fulfilling the Prophet’s (sa) indication that she would be the first of his wives to die after him.

If ever a woman gave Ayesha (rta) cause for insecurity, it was Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta). There was a healthy rivalry between Zaynab (rta) and Ayesha (rta). However, Ayesha (rta) said of Zaynab (rta): “I have never seen a woman so pure as Zaynab, so God-fearing, so truthful, so attentive to family ties, so generous, so self-sacrificing in everyday life, so charitable and thus so close to Allah, the Exalted.”

The lessons we learn from this remarkable woman and her life are particularly relevant in today’s soap opera culture and hunger for scandals. How can we deal with personal trials with poise? Look at Zaynab (rta). No need to get hysterical at every finger raised in your direction. How do we manage a divorce with dignity? Look at Zaynab (rta). We don’t have to accuse either party of some major fault and get in a mud slinging match. How do we adjust to a major lifestyle change? Look at Zaynab (rta). Know your direction and stay true to your faith. How do we not get on cloud nine when Allah the Supreme honours us with His Glorious Limelight? Look at Zaynab (rta). Stay humble before Allah (swt) and steadfast in your devotion to Him.

Usamah Bin Zaid (rta)

Vol 4 - Issue 4 Usamah Bin ZaidThe birth of Usamah Bin Zaid (rta) was a great joy for the Prophet (sa), who had a very close connection with the child’s parents. Usamah’s mother Umm Aiman (rta) used to serve the Prophet’s (sa) mother. Usamah’s father Zaid Bin Harith (rta) had a very special place in the Prophet’s (sa) heart – he had declared Zaid Bin Harithah (rta) to be his adopted son.

Dark skinned and with typical African features, Usamah Bin Zaid (rta) was known for his virtuousness, intelligence, humility, fear of Allah (swt) and passion for Jihad. He loved the Prophet (sa) very dearly and was ready to sacrifice his life for the cause of Islam. It is due to these noble qualities that the Prophet (sa) proclaimed Usamah (rta) to be dearer to him than all other Companions.

When the call for the battle of Uhud was announced, Usamah (rta) set out to join the Muslim army. Unfortunately, he was not accepted into the rows of Mujahideen due to his very young age.

For the battle of Ahzab, Usamah (rta) once again set out for joining the Mujahideen. Remembering his bad luck at the time of the battle of Uhud, Usamah (rta) began walking on his toes in order to appear taller and older. The Prophet (sa) noticed this trick and, with a smile on his face, accepted Usamah (rta). Thus, the battle of Ahzab became the first Jihad for Usamah (rta), who was only fifteen years old at the time.

Usamah (rta) was not yet twenty years old, when the Prophet (sa) appointed him to be the commander of the Muslim army setting out for Syria to fight the Roman army. Many questioned this choice of the Prophet (sa) – the young and inexperienced Usamah (rta) was to lead such distinguished Companions as Abu Bakr (rta) and Umar Farooq (rta). It so happened that just before the army set out, the Prophet (sa) passed away. Although it was suggested to delay the army and even to change the commander, Abu Bakr (rta), the first Caliph, firmly insisted that the army would set out for Syria, as he did not want to go against the dying wish of the Prophet (sa).

Harqal, the emperor of Rome, was surprised to hear that even after the death of their Prophet (sa), the Muslims had not delayed the war. This determination and confidence scared Harqal’s soldiers. The Romans suffered great losses, while the Muslim army under Usamah’s (rta) leadership, returned home safe and sound.

Two years before the death of the Prophet (sa), Usamah (rta) was appointed the commander of a regiment for an expedition. After returning to Madinah with bright colours of victory, the Prophet (sa) asked Usamah (rta) to tell him about the battle. Usamah (rta) said that when the enemy began to flee, he followed one of them. As soon as Usamah (rta) had lifted his spear over the enemy, the soldier recited the Kalimah, declaring his faith in Allah (swt). Disregarding this, Usamah (rta) still killed the soldier. The Prophet (sa) was very grieved to hear this, as Usamah (rta) had no right to kill a man, who had professed faith in Allah (swt). After seeing the anger of the Prophet (sa), Usamah (rta) felt as if all the good deeds he had ever done in his life were wasted – he learned a lesson that he remembered for the rest of his life.

When disagreements arose among Muslims, and Ali (rta) opposed Amir Muawiya (rta), Usamah (rta) categorically refused to take part in fighting. He went into seclusion, saying that no Muslim would be the target of his sword. He remembered the lesson the Prophet (sa) had taught him – not to fight against anyone, who testified that none had the right to be worshipped but Allah (swt).

Caliph Umar (rta) used to distribute stipends from the treasury, considering the services and sacrifices each person had made for the cause of Islam. Once, the Caliph’s son Abdullah (rta) approached him to inquire, why Usamah (rta) was receiving five thousand Dinars, while he was getting only two thousand. Abdullah (rta) said that Usamah’s father (rta) was in a lower position than his, and also Usamah (rta) himself had taken part in fewer battles than Abdullah (rta). Hearing these words, Caliph Umar (rta) replied that Usamah’s father (rta) was dearer to the Prophet (sa) than his, and that Usamah (rta) himself was dearer to the Prophet (sa) than Abdullah. The Caliph (rta) said that it was his duty to keep in mind the preferences of the Prophet (sa).

Caliph Umar (rta) told Abdullah (rta) the story of Usamah’s father Zaid Bin Harithah (rta), who used to be a very special servant of the Prophet (sa). When after a long search Zaid’s father Harithah finally found his kidnapped and sold in slavery son with the Prophet (sa), he asked Zaid (rta) to return home. Even though the Prophet (sa) gave Zaid (rta) the freedom to decide what he wanted to do, Zaid (rta) refused to leave the Prophet (sa). Zaid (rta) said that he would rather be with the Prophet (sa) than to have a thousand freedoms. Deeply moved to hear these words, the Prophet (sa) took Zaid (rta) to the Kabah and, in front of the Quraish chiefs, declared Zaid (rta) to be his son. From that time on, Muslims began calling him Zaid Bin Muhammad. This tradition was stopped by a revelation from Allah (swt), according to which an adopted son should be called by the name of his real father.

In addition, Usamah’s mother Umm Aiman (rta) had a special place in the Prophet’s (sa) heart. She used to attend to the Prophet’s (sa) mother. As the Prophet (sa) was very young at the time when his mother passed away, Umm Aiman (rta) took up the responsibility of raising him. The Prophet (sa) used to say that Umm Aiman (rta) was like a mother to him. He considered her a member of his own family.

Usamah (rta) himself enjoyed a very exceptional love of the Prophet (sa). Often, the Prophet (sa) used to pass on to Usamah (rta) the gifts given to him. Once, the Chief of the Quraish gave to the Prophet (sa) a very expensive dress, which he had brought from Yemen – a royal robe specially made for the King of Yemen. The Prophet (sa) wore the robe only once and then passed it on to Usamah (rta).

Although the time he spent with the Prophet (sa) was not long, people still used to ask him about the Prophet’s (sa) opinions on certain matters. Due to Usamah’s (rta) special place in the Prophet’s (sa) heart and his own exceptional personal characteristics, he was very much respected within the Muslim Ummah.

Source: “Commanders of the Muslim Army (Among the Companions of the Prophet (sa)” by Mahmood Ahmad Ghandafar.

Ummul-Mumineen – Aisha (rta)

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Name: Aisha Bint Abi Bakr

Kunniyat: Umm Abdullah

Title: Siddiqa and Humaira

Father: Abdullah – Abi Bakr Ibn Abi Qahafa

Mother: Zainab – Umme Ruman Bint Aamer

Clan: Banu Tumaim

Tribe: Quraysh

Birth: 5th Shawwal AH – 615 CE

Death: 17th Ramadan, 58 AH – 681 CE

How does one begin to define the life and times of a daughter of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (rta) – the most eminent of Companions – and the wife of the most remarkable man of all times – the Messenger of Allah (sa)? Even among these stellar associations, she shines as an individual to reckon, which says volumes about her character and personality.

Even as a child, Aisha (rta) showed exceptional intelligence. She was about six years of age, when the Prophet (sa) saw her in her father’s house playing with some toys, including a toy-horse with wings. The Prophet (sa) asked her: “Aisha, do horses ever have wings?” Instead of feeling shy in the presence of this great man, Aisha (rta) confidently replied: “Yes, King’s Solomon’s horse did.”

Aisha (rta) was at various times a judge, a political activist and, after the death of her husband, an indispensable source of knowledge about the life and teachings of the Prophet (sa). Even such senior Companions as Umar (rta) frequently consulted her about matters, in which they were doubtful. Even Tabi’in, the great scholars of Ahadeeth and Fiqh, learned from her. A part of what they learnt has come down to us in the form of numerous traditions that are narrated on her authority.

She was strong-willed and fiercely feminist – but not a rebel without a cause. Hence, we see her defending women’s rights – even negating opinions of other Companions. On hearing some Companions narrate that if a woman, dog or donkey crosses in front of a person praying, the prayer gets disrupted, she got angry and said: “You did gross injustice in putting us together with dogs and donkeys. The Prophet (sa) would pray and I would lie in front of him; when he wanted to prostrate, I would gather my legs.”

When she felt some women deviating from the Islamic code of conduct, she said in no uncertain terms: “Had Allah’s Prophet (sa) known what the women were doing, he would have forbidden them from attending the Mosque.” (Bukhari) Her brand of feminism was firmly entrenched in Islamic teachings. She had no ego issues about standing behind a man in congregation or a chip on the shoulder about remaining in Purdah.

Syed Sulaiman Nadwee says: “ The greatest favour that Aisha (rta) has done to women is to demonstrate that a Muslim woman, living in Purdah, can actively participate in literary, religious, social and political activities and can work for the betterment of the community.”

Aisha (rta) did not simply teach and preach Islam – she lived it. She led a truly Muslim life of prayer, charity and struggle for truth and justice. The Prophet (sa) once gave her this advice: “Aisha, if you want to meet me (again in the life to come), then treat this world like a traveler’s meal and do not attend the gatherings of the rich and the powerful, and do not consider clothes old as long as they can be mended.” (Ibn Sa’ad)

During the Caliphate of Umar (rta) and afterwards, wealth began to pour into the hands of Muslims. A due share of it came to Aisha (rta), but she gave away almost all she received. Once Abd Allah Bin Zubayr sent her 100,000 dirhams, but by the end of the same day, she had given it all away. Ibn Sa’ad reports Urwa as saying that on one occasion he saw her distribute 70,000 dirhams and then get up shaking the front of her dress, as if she were clearing it of dust. Aisha (rta) also often kept Nafl (supererogatory) fast and rarely missed Hajj.

This is but a glimpse of an inspiring life!

Some people like to focus only on: “How old was she, when she got married?” or “What about the Battle of the Camel (Jamal)?”

The Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) marriage to Aisha (rta) was an exceptional one. Waheeda Carvello observes: “Here we have a man nearing the end of his life and a woman still near the beginning of hers. Aisha (rta) had a lively temperament and was quick to learn. She had a clear heart and an accurate memory.”

It is important, however, to dig deeper and to bring out the real significance of this union. The emphasis here is on education and the cultivation of the intellect, which every human is blessed with. We must remind ourselves that if knowledge is not related to and acquired through action, it cannot be used for reconstruction of society.

What we lack today is the application of knowledge. Most of us are educated – in some instances, very highly educated – but how well do we understand what we have learnt? And how many of us have the commitment and the strength to apply it? Let alone implement it? This is what made the marriage of Aisha (rta) to the Prophet (sa) so exceptional.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) encouraged intellectual growth and debate. Although Aisha (rta) was intelligent, she had a great deal to learn. The Prophet (sa) tutored her with love and understanding and enhanced her potential. Through this interaction with the Prophet (sa) and the other wives, she became very knowledgeable. Like any student, she would sometimes feel insecure regarding her progress, and the Prophet (sa) would always help her and assist her in improving herself. She was never short of words and was not afraid to question or debate in order to find out the truth. When she got older, she passed on the knowledge she had received from the Prophet (sa), and long after his death, she was a source of knowledge and wisdom for both women and men.

Aisha (rta) accompanied the Prophet (sa) on many expeditions. She participated with total courage and commitment in the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq and learned through these experiences. Through this kind of training, and as an active participant, she developed into a mature eloquent woman, who could fully participate in the affairs of the first Islamic state and be a beacon for all times to come.

The Battle of the Camel was an incident that caused Aisha (rta) tremendous grief. On remembering it, she would say: “I wish I was a stone, I wish I was a tree.”

The focal point of Aisha’s (rta) remarkable life is her commitment to the cause of Islam under all circumstances, her unfaltering devotion and love for her husband and her submission of her will and intellect to the will of Allah (swt).

Ummul-Mumineen – Khadijah (rta)

Ummul-MumineenPersonal details

Name: Khadijah Al-Kubra bint Khuwalid

Kunniyat: Umm e Hind

Title: Tahira

Father: Khuwaylid bin Asad

Mother: Fatima binte Zaida

Clan: Banu Hashim

Tribe: Quraish, Banu Asad

Birth: 555 AD

Death: Ramadan, 620 AD

When we look at Hazrat Khadijah (rta) beyond statistics, we see an extraordinary person.  She stands out in Islamic history not only for her loving support to her husband, but because her very existence continues to defy popular perceptions of women’s roles in Islam. She was not a woman, who was oppressed, submissive or subjugated.

She was born, when female infants were often buried alive and women were treated as a commodity. Allah (swt) gave her extraordinary character and superior business acumen. She became the richest merchant in the whole Makkah and was hailed as the Princess of Makkah and the Princess of the Quraish. Yet, she did not indulge in the frivolous decadence of Makkan high society. Her humanitarian efforts in aiding the poor, widows, orphans, the sick, and disabled earned her the title of Al-Tahira, the pure one.

Khadijah (rta) was wealthy and accomplished, but also twice widowed. She was 40 years old, when she married the future Prophet of Islam (sa), 15 years her junior. She recognized his trustworthiness and high moral standards and proposed to him herself. He accepted.

The marriage of Khadijah (rta) and Muhammad (sa) is a model for us. It was one of extraordinary love, commitment, and mutual respect. For 24 years Khadijah (rta) was the love of Prophet’s (sa) life as well as his strongest supporter and confidante. It is one of the greatest love stories of all times and a proof of Islam’s human essence.

When the Prophet (sa) received his first message from Allah (swt), he was troubled and anxious. Its impact was so nerve wrecking that he rushed home shivering. He said to Khadijah (rta): “Cover me, cover me!” She shielded him in her lap, listened to his account, and assured him of his Prophet (sa) hood. She recounted to him the excellence of his character as reason that Allah (swt) could not forsake him.

The fact that Allah (swt) placed a woman in this position and made her the vessel through which the Prophet (sa) was comforted and assured is the evidence of the role of women in the spread of Islam.

An African-American Muslim scholar Precious Rasheeda Muhammad says: “I am convinced that Khadijah (rta) was given such a conspicuous role in the advent of this religion, so that there could never be a mistake about Islam’s intention toward women and its deference for the depth of their intellect, the scope of their piety, and the possibilities for their humanity.”

Karen Armstrong writes: “Islam can be said to have come to birth in the arms of a loving woman.” She was the first woman to embrace Islam and bear witness to the Oneness of Allah (swt) and that Muhammad (sa) was His messenger.

Long after her death, Muhammad (sa) said of Khadijah (rta): “She believed in me, when all others disbelieved; she held me truthful, when others called me a liar; she sheltered me, when others abandoned me; she comforted me, when others shunned me; and Allah granted me children by her, while depriving me of children by other women.”

Despite her wealth and social position, Khadijah (rta) chose to look after her husband’s needs herself. She did not have any ego issues about caring for her family. She had six children with the Prophet (sa). She was also the first Ummul-Mumineen, a designation given in the Quran to all the wives of the Prophet (sa).

Such was the measure of her faith that she gave all she had for the cause of Islam. The woman, who had once owned herds of animals, priceless heirlooms, silver, gold, and so much more, was buried in one of the Prophet’s (sa) own garments, because there was not enough money left to buy her a shroud.

She never once let the believers down. When the growing community of new Muslims were ridiculed, tortured, deprived of their pay, and ostracized by their families, Khadijah (rta) used her resources to clothe, feed, and shelter them.

When the Prophet’s (sa) clan of Hashim and that of Al-Mutallib, who supported his right to proclaim Islam, were exiled for a number of years, Khadijah (rta) chose to accompany her husband. She is said to have never complained about the extreme weather conditions, poor shelter, and lack of food. Instead, she gave selflessly, providing food and water for the exiled community. Khadijah (rta) died shortly after the banishment ended, as a result of the strain these conditions had put on her aging body. She had been a cultivated woman accustomed to great comfort, and she wasn’t used to such deprivation.

The Prophet (sa) considered her one of the four most perfect women in all of human history along with Maryam (as), the mother of Isa (as), Asiya binte Imran, the wife of Pharoah, and Fatimah (rta) binte Muhammad (sa).

A woman of substance – Khadijah’s (rta) life is an inspiration for all women, who aspire to balance their careers and family life. We need to look up to her, examine her relationship with the Prophet (sa), and see, how we can apply her values in our lives.