|Chapter 14 : Khadija, the Perfect Woman|
There have been many women in the history of the world who have become great and famous because of their great deeds. Mankind can justly be proud of them. But in the entire history of the world, there are only four women who could measure up to the high standards of true greatness and perfection set by Islam. They measured up to these standards by dint of their great services to Allah. Muhammed Mustafa, the Prophet of Islam, the Recipient of Revelation from Heaven, and its Interpreter, identified them. They are:
1. Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh
2. Maryam (Mary), the mother of Isa (Jesus)
3. Khadija, the daughter of Khuwayled, and
4. Fatima Zahra, the daughter of Muhammed Mustafa (S)
Muhammed Mustafa found only four perfect women in the entire human race. Out of these four, the last two belong to the same house; they are Khadija, the mother, and Fatima, her daughter. Khadija was the image of the perfect soul.
In the rest of mankind, the only other women who might qualify as perfect, would be the other wives of Muhammed Mustafa. But he himself gave the verdict in this matter, and his verdict remains irrevocable. He mentioned only Khadija out of all his wives as the perfect woman, and thus excluded - by a fiat his other wives from the group of perfect women. Khadija combined in her person all those attributes which add up to perfection. If she had lacked any of those attributes, her husband would not have classified her as perfect. And there is no evidence that she had any of those frailties which are said to be characteristic of womanhood as a rule.
One of the characteristic weaknesses of women is said to be jealousy. Khadija was untouched by jealousy of any kind. She was a woman who found fulfillment, pleasure and satisfaction in giving. She was a munificent patron of the poor. She was at her very best when she was feeding the hungry and comforting the cheerless. The acts of feeding and comforting the hungry and the cheerless did not call for a conscious effort on her part; for her they had become a reflex.
Just as Khadija was free from jealousy, she was also free from cynicism. One thing she never did, was to hurt anyone. She never made fun of any woman; she never tried to belittle anyone; she never despised anyone; she was never angry and never spiteful; and she was strictly nonjudgmental. She never uttered an ugly or a pejorative word against anyone. So true to the dimensions of the understanding heart, she was solicitous of the feelings of even the humblest and the poorest of women, and she was distressed by the distress of other people.
There was a time when Khadija was called the Princess of the Merchants and the Princess of Makka. Then a time came when her great fortune changed hands. From her hands, it passed into the hands of Islam. She was rich and she became poor in the material sense. She exchanged a lifestyle of luxury for a lifestyle of austerity. But nothing changed in her temperament. She remained cheerful, magnanimous, and idealistic as before. She spent more time than ever in devotions to Allah, and in service to His messenger, and of course, she was never forgetful of the well-being and welfare of the Community of the Faithful.
The following verse in Quran Majid may be referring to her:
... AND THERE ARE SOME WHO ARE, BY GOD'S LEAVE, FOREMOST IN GOOD DEEDS; THAT IS THE HIGHEST GRACE. (Chapter 35; verse 32)
Khadija, the idealist, was foremost in doing "good deeds." She had an air of compelling sanctity about her. Through her "good deeds" she became the recipient of the "highest graces" from Heaven.
Khadija was the ideal woman, the ideal wife for Muhammed Mustafa, the ideal mother for her children, and the ideal Mother of the Believers. Faith in Allah's mercy was the spring from which Khadija took her life's responses. She was endowed with what Quran Majid has called Qalb Saleem (the sound heart) in verse 89 of its 26th chapter. Qalb Saleem or the sound heart, has been defined by A. Yusuf Ali, the translator and commentator of Quran Majid, as follows:
"A heart that is pure, and unaffected by the diseases that afflict others. As the heart in Arabic is taken to be not only the seat of feelings and affections, but also of intelligence and resulting action, it implies the whole character." Khadija's symmetry of character was an index of her Qalb Saleem.
Khadija was born with Qalb Saleem or the "sound heart" such as only the chosen ones of Allah are born with. It was a heart brimming with deep convictions, dedication to Islam, and love for and gratitude to Allah.
Chapter 15 : Khadija's Generosity
Khadija, the princess of Arabia, and Muhammed Mustafa were married in A.D. 595. Fifteen years later, Muhammed was chosen by Allah to be His messenger. As God's messenger, his duty was to promulgate Islam in the world. From that moment, every thing changed for Khadija. She made her entire fortune an endowment for Islam. That endowment could not have come at a more opportune time for Islam. Khadija told her husband that all her vast wealth was his, and he could spend it just as he wished. Khadija's generosity had a glowing spontaneity.
Muhammed Mustafa "invested" Khadija's wealth in Islam. There has never been a better "investment" in the entire history of mankind. This "investment" was a guarantee that Islam's march would not be halted or even be retarded because of any lack of material means and support. It was an investment that, to this day, is paying enormous "dividends", and will pay "dividends" for every generation of the Muslims, to the end of time itself.
But material wealth was not the only investment that Khadija made in Islam. She also invested her time, talent, energy, spirit and heart in Islam - an investment otherwise known as commitment. She knew her spouse's dreams and hopes, and she .shared them all with him. Khadija's intent in supporting Islam was so transparent that Allah Ta'ala was pleased to call her wealth His Own in the following verse of Quran Majid:
AND HE FOUND THEE IN NEED, AND MADE THEE INDEPENDENT. (Chapter 93; verse 8)
"The holy Prophet inherited no wealth and was poor. The true, pure, and sincere love of Khadija not only raised him above want, but made him independent of worldly needs in his later life, enabling him to devote his whole time to the service of Allah." (A. Yusuf Ali) Allah Ta'ala made His slave, Muhammed, rich with the wealth of Khadija. Khadija and the Two Migrations to Abyssinia
Two groups of Muslims left Makka in the years 615 and 616 to escape persecution by the Quraysh and they sought sanctuary in Abyssinia. The total number of men and women in both groups was about one hundred.
With a few exceptions like Uthman and Zubayr, the rest of the refugees in these two groups were too poor to bear the expenses of travel to Abyssinia. Who equipped their caravans and paid their expenses so they were able to travel? The historians have not answered this question. But it is most probable that Khadija equipped the caravans and financed the emigration of the Muslims from Makka to Abyssinia. In Makka, she alone had the resources with which to underwrite emigration of Muslims on such a scale.
Chapter 16 : Khadija and Muhammed Mustafa
During the first fifteen years of her marriage, Khadija's duties were purely those of a housewife and a mother. In A.D. 610 Allah Ta'ala chose Muhammed to be His messenger, and since then there was an accession of new duties for Khadija. Now besides being her husband, Muhammed had also become her guide and leader in the two worlds - this one and the Hereafter. She was highly conscientious in her duties as a wife and a mother; now she also became conscientious in her duties as a Muslima and a Momina (=True Believer). She was happy that Allah had picked her husband out of all creation to carry the message of Islam to the world, and she threw herself heart, mind, and soul into his work to make it successful.
Khadija's parents, like the parents of Muhammed Mustafa, had died when she was quite young. She was thus deprived, as Muhammed was, of the parental love and tenderness. She and her husband were both orphaned early in life but both were destined to give their love and tenderness to the orphans of the world. What they lost in the love and tenderness of their parents, they gained in the infinite love and mercy of Allah Ta'ala Himself.
When Khadija entered the house of Muhammed as his wife, she didn't show any interest in finery, in cosmetics, in expensive and exotic gifts etc. After her marriage, she had only one overriding interest, and that was to secure the comfort and happiness of her husband. She secured them by applying all her energy and tenacity. She was comfortable only if he was comfortable, and she was happy only if he was happy. His happiness was her happiness. She was endowed with that rare genius and that her hand which made the house of her husband a heaven on this earth.
The role that Khadija played after the Proclamation by her husband, of his mission as the messenger of Allah, was vitally important in the history of Islam. As soon as he stepped out of his house, he put himself in the line of fire. The pagans tormented him with their invectives and they hurt him with their hands. Bristling with difficulties as his work was, rowdy and uncouth neighbors made it even more difficult. But as soon as he entered his house, Khadija greeted him with a smile that routed all his sorrows. She spoke words of cheer, hope and comfort and all his anxieties and fears vanished.
Khadija's smiles and her words acted like a balm upon the wounds which the idolaters inflicted upon Muhammed every day. And every day Khadija revived his spirits and restored his morale. Her cheerfulness "cushioned" for him the devastating pressures of external events, and he was able to face his enemies again with new confidence. The only happiness that he ever found in those years of horror and terror, was when he was with Khadija. Sorrows and tribulations came in waves, one after another, threatening to overwhelm him, but she was always there to rebuild his courage and resolution in overcoming them. She was, for him, a psychological "shield" against the trauma of the constantly escalating violence of the Quraysh.
Khadija had the same sense of mission as Muhammed had, and she was just as eager as he was to see Islam triumph over paganism. To her eagerness to see the triumph of Islam, she added commitment and power. This she did by freeing her husband from the necessity of making a living. She thus enabled him to focus all his attention, all his physical energy, and all his time to the advancement of Islam. This is a most significant contribution she made to the work of her husband as messenger of God. She was the fulcrum that he needed, in the words of A. Yusuf Ali, "all through his years of preparation." The years before the Proclamation of Islam, were his "years of preparation" for the prophethood.
Days and nights he (Muhammed) spent there (in the cave of Hira) with his Lord. Hard were the problems he resolved in his mind, Harder and more cross-grained than the red granite Of the rock around him, - problems not his own, But his people's, yea, and of human destiny, Of the mercy of God, and the age-old conflict Of evil and righteousness, sin and abounding Grace. (The Holy Quran - Introduction)
It is probable that Muhammed, the Prophet-Designate, systematized and optimized Islam in the cave of Hira. The lineaments of Islam were clearly and unmistakably visible in his personal life long before he formally proclaimed that he was the messenger of God. We do not know exactly how long did the "years of preparation" last for him but by the time he was forty years old, the framework of Islam was ready in his mind. Time was a basic factor in the systematization of Islam, and Khadija was aware of its importance for her husband in his work. She therefore created an optimal environment in which he could take maximum advantage of time, and make it productive.
Khadija was abundantly gifted with empathy. She anticipated the unspoken wishes of her husband, and went ahead and did what he wished to be done. Twenty-five years of married life had produced exact point-to-point correspondence between her and her husband. In the year 10 of the Proclamation, Khadija died. The death of a loved one shows the vulnerability of mortal love. But the love of Muhammed and Khadija was not mortal; it was immortal. When Khadija died, Muhammed's love for her did not die. In fact, his love for Khadija not only outlived her but actually went on growing even after her death. Not even the presence, in his house, of nine wives, could inhibit the growth of that love, and his love for her was always struggling to find expression.
If Khadija had shown kindness to someone at any time, and even if she had done it only once, Muhammed Mustafa remembered it, and he made it a point to show the same kindness to that person even after her death, and he did it as often as possible. In Medina, once an old woman came to see Muhammed Mustafa with some request. He greeted her cordially, showed much solicitude for her welfare, and complied with her request there and then. When she left, Ayesha who was one of his wives, asked him who the old lady was. He said: "When Khadija and I were in Makka, this woman came from time to time to see her."
In her lifetime, Khadija had shown generosity and kindness to countless people. After her death, Muhammed Mustafa did not forget those people. The recipients of the generosity and the kindness of Khadija, became, after her death, the recipients of the generosity and the kindness of her husband. In this connection, Ayesha is reported as saying:
Whenever a goat or a sheep was slaughtered (in the house), the messenger of Allah ordered its meat to be sent to the ladies who at one time had been friends of Khadija. One day I asked him why did he do so, and he said: "I love all those people who loved Khadija." Allah Ta'ala honored His loving slave, Khadija, and saved her from the anguish of sharing the love of her husband with other women. Throughout the quarter-century of married life, she and she alone was the companion and friend of her husband, Muhammed Mustafa. They lived for each other and they shared the bitters and sweets of life together.
Allah had bestowed many great attributes of character and personality upon His slave, Khadija. As richly blessed as she was with those attributes, she "reinforced" them with good deeds for Islam. She dressed up those attributes through love of Allah, obedience to her husband, and service to Islam. Through love and service, she rose to a position which remained unattainable for any other wife of Muhammed Mustafa. After the death of Khadija, many other women entered the house of Muhammed Mustafa as his wives. Some of them did little, if anything, to bring cheer, comfort and peace to him. In fact, they did just the opposite. They took cheer, comfort and peace away from him, and brought heart-burning to him.
Khadija alone made, with her chemistry of character, the house of Muhammed Mustafa, the Messenger of Allah, an "island" of peace, contentment and happiness in a sea of conflict and strife.
It was decreed in Heaven that Muhammed Mustafa should marry the most well-born and the most understanding woman in all Arabia. There did not exist such a woman other than Khadija. Allah had a distinct purpose for her to fulfil. Their marriage, thererore, was made in Heaven. Abbas Mahmud al-Akkad of Egypt says in his book, Ayesha:
"It was the special decree of Allah that the wife of His messenger should be a woman so sympathetic and pure as Khadija."
Khadija was the embodiment of piety and purity, and she was a guardian of the supreme ideals and the loftiest values in life. It is most probable that if Muhammed Mustafa had not appeared on the scene, Khadija might have spent her life in the single state. Muhammed Mustafa, the Messenger of Allah, had once said about his daughter, Fatima Zahra, that except Ali ibn Abi Talib, no one was worthy of marrying her. It would be just as true to say that except Muhammed no one else was worthy of marrying Khadija.
In this regard, A. Yusuf Ali, the translator and commentator of Quran Majid, writes as follows:
The only youthful marriage of the holy Prophet was his first marriage - that with Hadhrat Khadija, the best of women and the best of wives. He married her fifteen years before he received his call to Apostleship; their married life lasted for twenty-five years, and their mutual devotion was of the noblest, judged by spiritual as well as social standards. During her life he had no other wife, which was unusual for a man of his standing among his people. When she died, his age was 50, and but for two considerations, he would probably never have married again, as he was most abstemious in his physical life.
The two considerations which governed his later marriages were: (1) compassion and clemency as when he wanted to provide for suffering widows, who could not be provided for in any other way in that state of society; some of them, like Sauda, had issue by their former marriage, requiring protection; (2) help in his duties of leadership, with women, who had to be instructed and kept together in the large Muslim family, where women and men had similar social rights.
Muhammed Mustafa, the Apostle of Allah, welcomed every opportunity to express his admiration, and affection for Khadija, and in acknowledging her great and signal services to Islam. He did so, in the first place, to comply with the commandment of Allah enshrined in the following verses of His Book:
1. AND SOLEMNLY REHEARSE GOD'S FAVORS UPON YOU. (Chapter 2; verse 231)
2. BUT THE BOUNTY OF THY LORD - REHEARSE AND PROCLAIM (Chapter 93; verse 11)
Muhammed Mustafa, the slave and messenger of Allah, received many favors and bounties from Him - through Khadija - and he rehearsed and proclaimed them.
In the second place, Muhammed Mustafa liked to restate the great deeds of Khadija in the service of Allah and Islam, out of his love for her. It was one way for him to express love. It was also one way for him to recapture the time he and Khadija had spent together in Makka. One can clearly see that in his reminiscences, he was visiting or rather re-living his past, and one can also discern in them faint traces of nostalgia. There must have been moments in his life, as there are in the life of every individual, when he was overcome by nostalgia.
The authors of two famous books, Isaba and Isti'ab, have quoted Hadhrat Ayesha as saying: "Whenever the Messenger of Allah left the house to go anywhere, he remembered Khadija; he praised her and he blessed her."
With passing years of married life, the love of Muhammed and Khadija gained in depth and strength. With her love, she banished all his anxieties, fears and sorrows, as noted before. To use an oriental metaphor, Khadija plucked all the thorns out of the life of Muhammed Mustafa, and in their stead, she planted roses of love and tulips of affection. Those flowers never withered; their color, fragrance and freshness were everlasting. If ever there was a marriage that was "evergreen," it was the marriage of Muhammed and Khadija; it was as fresh on the last day as it was on the first. Khadija remained forever alive in his heart. It was her name which was on his lips at all times, and it was her love which filled his heart. Just talking about her and complimenting her made him happy.
Every word and every act of Khadija pointed up her sagacity. In selecting her husband, she exhibited astounding intuition and perspicacity of the highest order. But intuition and perspicacity are gifts which other women can also have, and Khadija was not the only woman who was endowed with them. The only explanation that she made an inspired decision in marrying Muhammed Mustafa, is that her judgment was guided by Allah Ta'ala Himself. She could, therefore, never misjudge. When she met Muhammed, the future Prophet, she recognized in him the Ultimate in Sublimity, and she put her destiny in his blessed hands. Those hands elevated her destiny, and made it Sublime.