Ummul Mu’minin Sayyidah Khadijah

Ummul Mu’minin Sayyidah Khadijah


Undoubtedly, the most challenging position to have ever been held by a human was the position of nubuwwah. Along with bearing the excessive weight of revelation, the Prophets were faced with many challenges from those who opposed them. Thus Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The people who undergo the severest trials are the Prophets, followed by the best after them, and then those who are next best.”[1] From the galaxy of the Prophets, the paragon of Allah’s creation, Sayyidina Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam underwent the most difficulties in the path of Allah. We are told in a hadith:

ما اوذى احد ما اوذيت فى الله

No one was put through difficulty to the extent to which I was put through difficulty in (the path of) Allah.[2]


It is common knowledge that a person to whom daunting tasks are assigned needs support and backing from fellow humans, especially from those who make up his inner circle. How often do we not hear that so and so (the father, wife, etc.) was the secret behind a certain hero’s success? Therefore, it makes perfect sense that a nabi, especially the one who was about to undergo the greatest difficulty, was in need of a figure of support in his life. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, in His infinite wisdom, selected for this task none other than the Mother of the Faithful Sayyidah Khadijah bint Khuwaylid radiya Llahu ‘anha.


Her Life Prior to Islam — The Pure One

There is consensus among the historians that she belonged to a very noble and elite family. Suffice to say; from all the spouses of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, she was closest to him in lineage. Her father, Khuwaylid ibn Asad was from the royals of Quraysh. He was part of the delegation sent to congratulate the Arab king of Yemen upon his victory over the Ahbash.[3] She herself was well known amongst her people as a noble and pure woman. Zubair ibn Bakkar reports:

كانت تدعى فى الجاهلية الطاهرة

During the days of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islam), she was referred to as the pure one.


Al Tamimi states:

كانت تسمى سيدة نساء قريش

She was named, “The leader of the women of Quraysh.”[4]


As far as her marital life is concerned, she was first married to Abu Halah al Tamimi. She had a son from him whose name was Hind ibn Abi Halah. He later accepted Islam, participated in the battle of Badr and rendered a great service to the ummah by describing the physical features of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in the most apt manner. After Abu Halah passed away, she married ‘Atiq ibn ‘Abid, who also passed away.[5] Thus, she was widowed twice. Many of the prominent men of the Quraysh then sought her hand in marriage on account of her nobility, beauty, and wealth.[6] However, she rejected all of their offers, preferring to remain single and concentrate on her business. Since she was a woman, she would not go out on business trips herself. Rather, she would employ men from the Quraysh to do so on behalf of her, in lieu of a share of the profits.[7]


Al Tahirah Employs al Amin

The narrations of Ibn Sa’d, Ibn al Sakan and Abu Nu’aym relate, on the authority of Nafisah bint Munyah (a friend of Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha):


Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam reached the age of twenty-five, and he was not known by any other title in Makkah except al Amin (the trustworthy one), as a result of him reaching the epitome in good traits. Abu Talib said to him, “O my nephew, I am a man who has no wealth, and times are tough… Here is the caravan of your people, about to depart. Khadijah bint Khuwaylid sends men from your people in her caravan to trade on behalf of her and accrue profits for themselves. If you were to go to her and offer your services, she would seal the deal immediately and grant you preference over others on account of that which reached her regarding your pure nature…”

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was overtaken by his shyness and self-dignity, and replied, “(If that is the case), then maybe she will send someone to me (with the offer).” The conversation eventually reached Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha, who immediately sent someone to call him. She then said to him, “I felt it necessary to call you on account of that which I heard regarding your truthfulness in speech, your trustworthiness, and your excellent character. I will pay you double the amount that I pay the other men.”

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then accepted the offer and thereafter departed, accompanied by the slave of Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha, Maysarah, who she instructed:

لا تعص له امرا ولا تخالف له رايا

Do not disobey him in any matter and do not oppose his view.[8]


The Marriage Proposal

The Arabic proverb states:

ليس الخبر كالعيان

Narrative can never be equated to first-hand experience.


After hearing about all the virtues and merits of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from the rest of the people of Makkah, Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha was given the opportunity by Allah Ta’ala to witness it first-hand. Hence, it comes as no surprise that she was left greatly impressed, to the extent that she now went against her initial intention of staying single and turning down the noblemen of Quraysh; and instead opted to marry this embodiment of nobility salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Furthermore, she did not wait for him to propose. Doing away with meaningless customs, and with the motive of securing the best of spouses; she initiated the discussion on marriage, albeit through her acquaintance Nafisah. Ibn Sa’d reports from Nafisah:


I said, “O Muhammad, what holds you back from marriage?”

He replied, “I do not possess that by means of which I may marry.”

I asked, “If that is taken care of for you, and you are called towards wealth, beauty, nobility, and compatibility, will you not accept?”

Thereupon he asked, “And who is that?”

I replied, “Khadijah.”

He asked, “How is that possible for me,” to which I responded, “That is in my care.”

He responded, “In that case, I will do it.”[9]


The Marriage

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then spoke to his uncle, Abu Talib regarding marriage and narrated to him what had transpired. They agreed that he should marry her. Consequently, they approached her uncle, ‘Amr ibn Asad (as her father passed away) and put forward the proposal. The uncle gladly accepted it and married her off to him with the dowry being five hundred silver coins.[10] At the time of their marriage, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was twenty five years old[11] and Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha had reached the age of forty.[12]


Her Love and Reverence for Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam

Al Fakihi reports in Kitab Makkah from Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu:


Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was with Abu Talib when he sought permission to leave and go to Khadijah. Abu Talib granted him permission and sent a slave girl (Nab’ah) behind him.

He instructed her, “See what Khadijah says to him.”

Nab’ah recounts, “I saw something amazing, Khadijah barely heard him approaching and she already came to the door, held his hand and hugged him… ”[13]


Children from the Perfect Marriage

Six children were born out of this wedlock. The first amongst them was al Qasim (hence the agnomen of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Abu al Qasim), followed by his four daughters in the following order; Zainab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum, and Fatimah. Another son, who was named ‘Abdullah, was born after Zainab radiya Llahu ‘anha.


Zaid ibn Harithah

Zaid was among the slaves of Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha. When she observed the love that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had for him, she handed him over as a gift to him. Thus, she was the cause of Zaid becoming the adopted son of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as well as his early acceptance of Islam.[14]


Nubuwwah Begins — Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha is the Pillar of Support


» Comforting Him after a Worrying Dream

The first form of wahi (revelation) received by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was true dreams.[15] On one occasion, he saw that a panel from the roof of his house was removed and a ladder made of silver was placed in the exact spot. Thereafter, two men descended towards him. He attempted to call out for help, but he was unable to speak. Eventually, they removed his heart, praised the purity thereof, purified it even further and then replaced it.[16] Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam related this to Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha, who dispelled all possible worries by saying, “Be glad! Indeed Allah only does good to you. This is goodness, so be happy.”[17]


» The Cave of Hira’

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would go into seclusion for a number of days in the Cave of Hira’, (which is approximately three miles from the Haram). There, he would worship Allah for a number of days. Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha did not stand in his way or complain about this. Rather, she sought his pleasure by packing for him provisions that would last him until his return.[18] Sometimes, she would deliver this herself to him. If his absence happened to be unusually lengthy, she would send some of her servants to look for him.[19]


» The Meeting with Jibril ‘alayh al Salam

After the passing of some time, Jibril ‘alayh al Salam appeared before Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whilst he was in the cave of Hira’ and instructed him to recite. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam responded by saying that he could not recite. Thereafter, Jibril hugged him tightly and then instructed him once again to recite. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam responded in the same manner as the first time. Jibril hugged him tightly for a second time, and repeated his instruction. The response of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the same as the first two times. Thus, Jibril ‘alayh al Salam hugged him a third time and instructed, “Read in the name of your Rabb…”[20]

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was greatly shaken by this meeting and immediately rushed home to Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha. As he entered the house, he pleaded to her, “Cover me, Cover me!” Without any questions, she immediately complied with his plea. Once Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regained his composure, she asked him as to what had transpired, whereupon he narrated to her the details of his meeting. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also informed her that he feared for his life. Her response was:


كلا و الله لا يخزيك الله ابدا انك لتصل الرحم و تحمل الكل و تكسب المعدوم و تقرى الضيف و تعين على نوائب الحق

و فى رواية و تصدق الحديث و تؤدى الامانة

Never! By the oath of Allah, Allah will never put you to shame! You join ties, help the weak, give to the poor, serve the guest, and you help when natural calamities befall.


Another narration adds:

You speak the truth and you fulfil your trusts.[21]


Regarding her reaction, Ibn Hajar comments:


صدقته صلى الله عليه و سلم فى اول وهلة و من ثباتها فى الامر ما يدل على قوة يقينها ووفور عقلها و صحة عزمها

She believed him salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam immediately. Her firmness upon the matter indicates the strength of her conviction, profoundness of her intelligence, and the high level of her determination.[22]


» Waraqah ibn Nawfal

Thereafter, Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha took Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to visit her cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who was well versed with the divine scripture. After listening to the experience of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he comforted him by informing him that Jibril was the angel who would bring revelation to Nabi Musa ‘alayh al Salam as well.[23]


The First to Accept Islam

Ibn al Athir says:

خديحة اول خلق الله اسلم باجماع المسلمين لم يتقدمها رجل و لا امرأة

Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha was the first of Allah’s creation to accept Islam, according to the consensus of the Muslims. Neither did a man nor a woman precede her.[24]


Ibn Hisham says:


و امنت به خديجة بنت خويلد و صدقت بما جاءه من الله ووازرته على امره و كانت اول من امن بالله و رسوله و صدق بما جاء به فخفف الله بذلك عن نبيه صلى الله عليه و سلم لا يسمع شيئا مما يكرهه من رد عليه و تكذيب له فيحزنه ذلك الا فرج الله عنه بها اذا رجع اليها تثبته و تخفف عنه و تصدقه و تهون عليه امر الناس رحمها الله تعالى

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid had conviction in him, believed that which came to him from his Rabb and supported him. She was the first to believe in Allah and His Rasul. Allah lightened the difficulties of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam by means of her belief in him. He would not hear anything distasteful (such as; people rejecting him, belying him etc.) which would sadden him except that Allah would remove that sadness from him by means of Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha, when he would return to her. She would strengthen him, lighten (his matters), believe in him, and help him to overcome the inconvenience that people caused to him. May Allah have mercy upon her.[25]


She is Grieved Upon Her Daughters Divorce (along with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)

The polytheists of Makkah wished to inflict as much pain upon Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as they could. Hence, they approached his two sons-in-law, ‘Utbah and ‘Utaybah; and influenced them to divorce their wives, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. Both brothers divorced their wives. Thus Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha had to endure the pain of two of her daughters being divorced, only on account of their father being the Nabi of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.


She Relieves the Muslims During the Inhumane Boycott

When the persecution of the polytheists yielded them no results, and they saw Islam spreading despite all of their efforts, they adopted the idea of boycotting the Muslims. The boycott lasted for three years and it was certainly one of the most difficult periods endured by the Muslims. Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha was instrumental in easing the harsh effects of this boycott. Ibn Hisham says:


و بذلت رضى الله عنها مالها لتؤمن ما تستطيع من الطعام للمسلمين فى خلال سنوات المقاطعة

She spent her wealth in order to secure whatever food she could, for the Muslims during the years of the boycott.[26]


Her cousin, Hakim ibn Hizam (who accepted Islam after the conquest of Makkah) was the one who would discreetly bring the food to the Muslims.[27]


The Year of Sorrow

In the tenth year after Nubuwwah, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam lost his uncle Abu Talib. The sadness experienced by him due to this was twofold; the departure of a close relative who defended him on numerous occasions against the other leaders of the Quraysh, and the departure of his loving and caring uncle upon incorrect beliefs. Barely three months had passed before Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was afflicted with an even greater calamity, i.e. the demise of Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha, who passed away on the tenth of Ramadan in the same year. Thus, the year is referred to as ‘The Year of Sorrow’.[28] Her age at the time of her death was sixty five.[29]


Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Grief Upon Her Demise

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was grieved to such an extent that those around him began fearing that this grief might result in his death.[30] It is reported that Khawlah bint Hakim visited Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam after the demise of Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha, and the following conversation ensued:


يا رسول الله كأنى أراك دخلتك خلة لفقد خديجة قال أجل كانت ام العيال و ربة البيت…

Khawlah, “O Rasulullah, I see that you are uneasy since (you) lost Khadijah.”

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Yes. She was the mother of the family and the custodian of the house.”[31]


Some of Her Merits


» Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not Re-Marry as Long as She was Alive

‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha relates:

لم يتزوج النبى صلى الله عليه و سلم على خديجة حتى ماتت

Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not take a second wife with Khadijah as long as she was alive.[32]


» The Custodian of the House is Greeted by Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and Jibril ‘alayh al Salam, and Promised a House in Jannat

Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu reports:


أتى جبريل النبى صلى الله عليه و سلم فقال هذه خديجة قد اتت مهعا اناء فيه ادام او طعام او شراب فاذا هى اتتك فاقرأ عليها السلام من ربها عز و جل و منر و بشرها ببيت فى الجنة من قصب لا صخب ولا نصب

Jibril appeared before Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said to him, “This is Khadijah. She has arrived with a container in which there is gravy, food or drink. When she reaches you, convey to her greetings (of peace) from her exalted and glorified Rabb, and from me; and also give her glad-tidings of a house in Jannat made from jewels,[33] in which there will neither be noise, nor toil.”[34]


Al Suhayli comments regarding the mention of a house instead of the word “palace”:


لذكر البيت معنى لطيف؛ لأنها كانت ربة بيت قبل المبعث فصارت ربة بيت في الإسلام منفردة به، لم يكن على وجه الارض في أول يوم بعث فيه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بيت في الإسلام إلا بيتها، وهي فضيلة ما شاركها فيها غيرها

There is a fine reason why ‘a house’ was promised, i.e. she was the custodian of the house before nubuwwah as well as after nubuwwah. She alone had this privilege. There was no household immediately after the nubuwwah of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that accepted Islam, except hers. This is a merit which she shares with none.[35]


» The Intelligence and Knowledge of Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha

The narration of Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu regarding the above incident preserved for us her marvellous response. She replied:


ان الله هو السلام و على جبريل السلام و عليك السلام و رحمة الله

Indeed Allah Himself is al Salam, peace be upon Jibril and peace be upon you as well as the mercy of Allah.[36]


» Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Remembers Her Excessively and Honours Her Friends

‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha reports:


ما غرت على احد من نساء النبى صلى الله عليه و سلم ما غرت على خديجة و ما رأيتهاو لكن كان النبى صلى الله عليه و سلم يكثر ذكرها و ربما ذبح الشاة ثم يقطعها اعضاءا ثم يبعثها فى صدائق خديجة فربما قلت له كأنه لم يكن فى الدنيا امراة الا خديجة فيقول انها كانت و كانت و كان لى منها ولد

I was not envious of any of the wives of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, except Khadijah. I did not get to see her but Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would remember her excessively. At times he would slaughter a sheep, cut it up into portions, and send them to the friends of Khadijah. Once I said to him, “As if there was no woman in the world besides Khadijah!” He replied, “She was (an) extra-ordinary (person) and I had children from her.”[37]


» Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Shudders when He is Reminded About Her

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha reports:

استاذنت هالة بنت خوىلد اخت خديجة على رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم فعرف استاذان خديجة فارتاع لذلك

Halah bint Khuwaylid, the sister of Khadijah, sought permission (to enter). Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam recognised (this as) the way Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha would seek permission and thus shuddered.[38]


» Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Recounts Some of Her Outstanding Favours

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha reports that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to her:


قد امنت بى اذ كفر بى الناس و صدقتنى اذ كذبنى الناس وواستنى بماله اذ حرمنى الناس و رزقنى الله عز و جل اولادها اذ حرمنى اولاد النساء

She accepted me (my message) when people rejected me, believed me when people belied me, supported me with her wealth when people deprived me and Allah granted me her children when he kept me away from the children of other women.[39]


» Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Love for Her was Divine

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha narrates from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who said:


انى قد رزقت حبها

I was granted love for her.[40]


» She was the Best Woman of Her Time

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:


خير نسائها مريم بنت عمران و خير نسائها خديجة بنت خويلد

The best woman of her time was Maryam bint ‘Imran and the best woman of her time was Khadijah bint Khuwaylid.[41]


Is it not amazing that her virtues were preserved and related to the ummah primarily by the none other than the beloved of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Umm al Mu’minin Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha—who was referred to by Allah as ‘the chaste and pure one’? Hence, the unblemished beloved was chosen to narrate the virtues of the ‘pure one’, for whom Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was granted love. Indeed this is a beautiful manifestation of the wisdom of Allah!


May Allah be pleased with her and grant all her children (i.e. the entire ummah) the divine ability to develop genuine love for her and follow in her noble footsteps.

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[1] Al Tirmidhi

[2] Hilyat al Awliya’

[3] Akhbar Makkah by al Azraqi (quoted from Al Sayyidah Khadijah Sabbaqat al Khalq)

[4] Al Rawd al Unf (quoted from Al Sayyidah Khadijah)

[5] Siyar Alam al Nubala

[6] Subul al Huda wa al Rashad (quoted from al Sayyidah Khadijah)

[7] Al Sirah li Ibn Hisham (quoted from al Sayyidah Khadijah)

[8] Subul al Huda wa al Rashad (quoted from Al Sayyidah Khadijah)

[9] Subul al Huda wa al Rashad (quoted from Al Sayyidah Khadijah)

[10] Ibn Hisham

[11] Ibn Hisham

[12] Usd al Ghabah

[13] Fath al Bari (quoted from Al Sayyidah Khadijah)

[14] Al Isabah

[15] Al Bukhari

[16] It should be noted that this act (removing the heart of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for further purification) took place more than once.

[17] Al Khasa’s al Kubra (quoted from Al Sayyidah Khadijah)

[18] Al Bukhari

[19] Refer to Subul al Huda and al Sirah li Ibn Hisham (quoted from al Sayyidah Khadijahradiya Llahu ‘anha)

[20] Al Bukhari

[21] Al Bukhari

[22] Fath al Bari (quoted from al Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha)

[23] Al Bukhari

[24] Usd al Ghabah

[25] Al Sirah al Nabawiyyah. A similar statement is attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu in al Istiab.

[26] Al Sirah al Nabawiyyah

[27] ibid

[28] Refer to Subul al Huda wa al Rashad.

[29] Al Isabah

[30] Ibid

[31] Ibid

[32] Sahih Muslim

[33] Sharh al Nawawi

[34] Sahih Muslim

[35] Al Rawd al Unf (quoted from Sayyidah Khadijah)

[36] Al Nasa’i

[37] Al Bukhari

[38] Al Bukhari

[39] Musnad Ahmed

[40] Sahih Muslim

[41] Sahih Muslim

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