Khadijah (RA): Her business and her proposal (Part 2)
This is the second in a series of articles on Khadija (ra). Her story will be followed by the stories of several other women from Islamic history for #womenofislamwednesday.
Written by: Sofiyya
Hollywood and social media are filled with unrealistic #relationshipgoals these days. Most love stories end with the man and woman walking down the aisle, embarking on marriage. According to Hollywood, love is what happens before marriage, and everything after the wedding day is either a comedy or a tragedy. But the love story of Khadijah and the Prophet Muhammad (s) is a different and more realistic example of love, because it stood the test of time.
Their story lasted through 25 years of war, poverty, childbirth, and prophecy. It’s a story of highs and lows, during which Khadijah stood by the Prophet’s (s) side, always supporting him. She was the first to accept Islam from him and his biggest help in spreading the new faith. Their love was unshakeable through it all, and even with the passing of Khadijah, Muhammad (s) didn’t stop loving her until the day he died. This article details how these two met and how their timeless marriage began.
My last article established that Khadijah (ra) was a respectable businesswoman known for her intelligence, kindness, and purity. She was widowed twice, but never sacrificed her dignity in either the bedroom or the business place. She rose to the top of the trade industry to provide for her family and built a reputation to be proud of. Khadijah (ra) oversaw many caravans for trade; however, she herself never travelled with the men. Instead, she sent Maysara, whom she highly trusted, to oversee the caravans’ transactions and keep an eye on her employees so he could tell her who among them was trustworthy.
One day, Muhammad’s uncle, Abu Talib, a distant relative to Khadijah, approached her to ask if she would be so kind as to give his 20-year-old nephew a job. Khadijah replied, “If you had requested this for the sake of a loathed stranger, I would have agreed. How can I refuse when it is for an honorable acquaintance?” Khadijah (ra) happily gave Muhammad (s) the job and put him in charge of her caravan from his very first trip, to Yemen. Let’s pause for a moment, and recognize that at this point, Khadijah was not only an employer but she was THE employer of Muhammad (s).
Maysara oversaw this trip and, as always, kept his eye on the new hire. When the caravan from Yemen returned, Muhammad (S) turned in profits to Khadijah (ra) that were beyond that of which she had ever gotten before. However, that fact was overshadowed by something else. Maysara came back with the most unusual stories about the new employee. “I saw strange happenings related to this young man,” said Maysara.
In the first story, Maysara said that he saw a cloud above Muhammad (s) that moved as he moved and stopped when he stopped, always staying above him and shading him in the heat. Maysara wanted to test if what he was seeing was true, so he challenged the young man to a race. All throughout the race, the cloud was above Muhammad’s (s) head.
In the second story, Maysara said that Muhammad (s) was sleeping under a tree when its branches suddenly leaned in to shade him. Maysara thought that maybe it was the wind, until a Rabbi who he had been trading with asked who that man under the tree was. Maysara replied that it was Muhammad ibn Abdullah (s), and he was a Meccan. The Rabbi shook his head and said that man is a prophet. Nobody sits under that tree unless he is a prophet.
In that time, when people were making trade in the market and giving prices, they used to swear to the different idols, just as today someone might say something like, “I swear to God, that’s the best price I can give you.” In the third story, Maysara reported that a Jewish man was bargaining with Muhammad (s) and he asked him, “Do you swear by Al-Latt and Al-Uzza? [the popular idols of the time].” Muhammad (s) replied angrily, “I never prayed to them, so how can I swear by them?” The Jewish man bought from Muhammad (s) and whispered in Maysara’s ear, “Stay close to this man. He is the prophet of the end of times.”
Khadijah (ra) was eager to learn more about the man whom she recently hired. This wasn’t the first time she had heard stories about a coming prophet; however, she couldn’t believe that this same man whom she hired could be worthy of such a fate. These stories perked her interest in Muhammad (s), and she began observing him. She routinely asked Maysara for updates on her new hire. Slowly, his good reputation to spread through the city, as he was nicknamed, Al Amin, the trustworthy. It became very evident that she was starting to have feelings for this man who had sparked everyone’s attention.
As all of us women do, Khadija (ra) confessed her feelings to her friend. She told her friend, Nafisah, that she had never seen a man so patient, generous, noble, honest, and trustworthy. She could tell there was greatness in his future. Nafisah was shocked, as Khadijah had turned down numerous proposals, many from rich businessmen. She never expected that Khadija would be interested in one of her own caravan employees. Nafisah told her that she would relay to him the message. After all, this is what girlfriends are for. Nafisah went to Muhammad (s) and told to him that a beautiful, honorable, well-mannered, and well-born woman was interested in his hand in marriage. “But I am poor and cannot support a family,” he replied. She told him that this was not an issue for Khadijah (ra), who had never met a man more decent or honest than him.
The marriage was readily accepted and agreed upon by both parties. Muhammad’s (s) uncles Abu Talib and Hamza ibn Abd-Al-Muttalib held a wedding feast to celebrate the union. At the time, Khadijah (ra) was 40 and Muhammad (s) was 25. Khadijah (ra) was the Prophet’s first wife. He would not marry again until after her death. They were married for 25 years, including 15 before the revelation came down. During these 15 years, they raised 11 children, three of whom were not their own. They were happy and supported each other. Khadija continued to be the businesswoman she was, running her caravans and trade for many years into their marriage.
One of the most applicable lessons here is what Khadijah (ra) was looking for what she liked in the husband that she chose. She liked that he was an honest, generous, patient man from a good family, whose character was well-liked and respected by all. She did not care that she made more money than him or what he looked like. She chose him based on his manners and character, and that is a major lesson for girls to emulate. We must focus on what truly matters. This also applies to parents looking for spouses for their children. Occupation, skin tone, and beauty should not be priorities. When Nafisah told Muhammad (s) that a woman was interested in marrying him, his first reaction was to say that he couldn’t afford it. He felt that his responsibility included providing for his family, and he didn’t want to go through with a marriage if he was not going to be able to be a good provider. This is a message to men of our time to plan ahead and think of the future. Marriage needs hard effort and stable finances. It’s about being able to meet commitments, especially when children come along.
Over a millennium ago, she was an older woman who married a younger man. She proposed to him, which shows how fearless she was. Most girls in our time don’t have the courage to propose to a man that they like. And it is important to note that she did it in a respectful and modest way. Their story lasted 25 years, and the Prophet Muhammad (s) professed his love for Khadijah (ra) for years after her death, even after he married again. His future wives all respected her, despite not knowing her, simply from the way he spoke of her. This was the sign of a great woman. Khadijah supported herself, her family, and her husband with no hesitation. She was much older and wiser about the world than he was at the point of their union, but it put no strain on their relationship. The Prophet was never threatened by her success, as he respected her and loved her for her personal drive. We should all respect her for her ambition and her strength. How many of us can say we are half of the woman she was? Perhaps, that’s a new #goal for us all to strive for.
WATCH THIS EPISODE ON THE STORYTIME WITH SOFIYYA YOUTUBE PAGE: RAMADAN 2016: Women in the Life of the Rasool (3) – Khadijah R.A. (Pt 2/5)
Ghadanfar, Mahmood Ahmad. Great Women of Islam. Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2001. Print.
Quṭb, Muḥammad ʻAlī. Women around the Messenger. Riyadh: International Islamic House, 2007. Print.