Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid

Ahmad Thompson

eBook: The Wives of the Prophet

source: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd.


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Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with her, came from a noble family. Her father Khuwaylid had been one of the most honored leaders of their tribe until he was killed in battle. Her husband had also died, leaving her a very wealthy woman. When Muhammad (peace be upon him) was still a young man, she entrusted him with some of her wealth, asking him to trade with it in Syria on her behalf. He was already well known for his honesty, truthfulness and trustworthiness. He returned from Syria after having made a large profit for Khadijah.

After hearing his account of the journey, she decided that he would make the best of the husbands, even though many of the most important nobles of the Quraish had already proposed to her and had been refused, and in due course she proposed to him. After the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, had given the proposed marriage his blessing, Muhammad and Khadijah were married. At the time of the marriage, the Prophet was twenty-five years old, while Khadijah was forty years old.

For the next fifteen years they lived happily together, and Khadijah bore several children. Their first child, a son whom they named Qasim, died when he was only two years old. Two more sons, called Tayyib and Tahir, were also born, but they too died in their infancy. However, Muhammad and Khadijah also had four daughters who survived: Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah.

No one except Allah of course, knows more about a man than his wife, both his good and his bad qualities, his strengths and his weaknesses. The more Khadijah came to know about her husband, the more she loved and respected him. Everyone in Makka called him 'al-Amin', which means 'the trustworthy one', and she, more than anyone else, knew how fitting this name was.

It became Muhammad's custom each year to spend the month of Ramadan in seclusion and reflection in a cave on the mountain of Hira, which is on the outskirts of Makka. Khadijah would always make sure that he was provided with food and drink during his retreat. Towards the end of one Ramadan, when he was forty and Khadijah fifty-five, Muhammad suddenly appeared at their house in the middle of the night, trembling with fear and saying, "Cover me up, cover me up!"

Khadijah was very alarmed to see him in such a state. Quickly she wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and, when he had calmed down, she asked him to describe exactly what had happened. He told her how a being whom he had never seen before - in fact it was the angel Jibril - had suddenly appeared to him while he was asleep and had said, "Read!"

"But I cannot read," he had replied, for he was unlettered and could neither read or write. "Read!" the angel had repeated, clasping Muhammad close to his chest. "I cannot read," he had repeated. "Read!" the angel had repeated, firmly embracing him yet again. "What shall I read?" he had asked in desperation, and the angel had replied:

"Read, in the Name of your Lord who created, created man from a clot, Read, and your Lord is the Most Gracious, Who taught with the pen, taught man what he did not know." [Quran 96:1-5]

Although Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not fully realize it at the time, this was the beginning of the revelation of the Qur'an; but in that first encounter with the angel Jibril, Muhammad was very frightened, for he did not know who the angel Jibril was or what was happening. He woke up and ran out of the cave only to find Jibril still in front of him, and whenever he turned away from him, there Jibril was in front of him yet again, filling the horizon with his mighty yet beautiful form.

"Oh Muhammad," said Jibril eventually, "you are the Messenger of Allah and I am Jibril," and with these words he disappeared from Muhammad's sight.

After the angel had disappeared Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had clambered down the mountain as fast as he could run, not knowing if he was going mad and imagining things, or if he had been possessed by one of the jinn.

As she listened to Muhammad's words, Khadijah did not share any of these fears. She realized that something tremendous and awe-inspiring had happened to her husband, and she was certain, knowing him as she did, that he was neither mad nor possessed. "Do not worry," she said, "for by Him who has dominion over Khadijah's soul, I hope that you are the Prophet of this nation. Allah would never humiliate you, for you are good to your relatives, you are true to your word, you help those who are in need, you support the weak, you feed the guest and you answer the call of those who are in distress."

When Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as a little more relaxed, Khadijah took him to see her cousin, Waraqa ibn Nawfal, for he was a man of knowledge, and she was sure that he would be able to explain the meaning of what had just happened to her beloved husband. Waraqa had studied the books of both the Jews and the Christians very closely and he had learned a great deal from many of their wisest people. He knew that the coming of another Prophet had been foretold by both Moses and Jesus, peace be on them, and he knew many of the signs that would confirm the identity of this Prophet when he appeared.

After listening closely to his story, Waraqa, who was both old and blind, exclaimed, "This is the same being who brought the revelations of Allah to Moses. I wish I was young and could be alive why our people will drive you out."

"Will they drive me out?" asked Muhammad.

"Yes," replied Waraqa. "No one has come with what you have been given without being treated with enmity; and if I were to live until the day when you are turned out, then I would support you with all my might. Let me just feel your back." So, saying, Waraqa felt between the Prophet's shoulder-blades and found what he was feeling for: a small round, slightly raised irregularity in the skin, about the size of a pigeon's egg. This was yet another of the many signs that Waraqa already knew would indicate the identity of the next Prophet after Jesus, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

"This is the Seal of the Prophethood!" he exclaimed. "Now I am certain that you are indeed the Prophet whose coming was foretold in the Torah that was revealed to Moses and in the Injil that was revealed to Jesus, (pbut) You are indeed the Messenger of Allah, and the being who appeared to you on the mountain was indeed the angel Jibril!"

Khadijah as both overjoyed and awed to find that her understanding of what had happened on the mountain had been confirmed. Not long after this incident, Muhammad was commanded in a subsequent revelation from Allah, through the angel Jibril, to call people to worship Allah only, and it was at this point that Khadijah did not hesitate in expressing in public what she had now known for certain in secret for some time: "I bear witness that there is no god except Allah," she said, "and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

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