By: Amin Dagher
It has been narrated that: “Islam did not rise except through Khadija’s wealth and Ali’s sword.”
When speaking of Islam, one cannot but recall this great lady, who happens to be the first female to embrace Islam.
She is the daughter of Khuweilid, bin (the son of) Asad bin Abd Al-Uzza bin Qussay who belonged to the clan of Hashim. Lady Khadija and her husband Prophet Muhammad (p) shared ancestry in the third descendent. The Prophet (p) is the son of Abdullah bin Abd Al Mutaleb ben Hashim ben abd Manaf ben Qussay.
Lady Khadija is not only revered for her noble origins as each member of her ancestors held a lofty position. Khuweilid, alongside with Abd Al-Mutaleb, were the chiefs of the tribe of Quraish who protected the Holy Kaaba when it was attacked by Abraha’s army; but also for her excessive virtues as she used provide to for the poor and the needy, and support those who needed money for marriage even before embracing the religion of Islam.
Lady Khadijah was also known as “the Pure One” and “The Princess of Qureish” despite the fact that she was born into a patriarchal society which regarded females as inferior.
At a very young age, her parents passed away and Lady Khadija looked after the family business. She became a very successful and wealthy merchant. She conducted two caravans a year to the two prominent trade centers at that time: Syria and Yemen. As mentioned in the Holy Quran: “For the protection of the Qureish, Their protection during their trading caravans in the winter and the summer.” (106:1-2)
Once, Lady Khadija asked her servant, Maysarah, to assign someone to look out for the caravans. She wanted someone who is trustworthy enough, and who knows the desert at night and who was wary of the highway thieves.
At that time, Abu Taleb used to take Muhammad with him to Syria during the winter trip. Maysarah met Muhamad there and asked him to join Khadija’s caravan.
On the following caravan, Muhammad not only came back with high profits, but was also distinguished for his intelligence, good manners, and modesty. Maysarah explained to Khadija that whenever Muhammad sealed a transaction, he would leave the market to stay on his own. He starts some sort of meditation and keeps thanking the Lord for what he has accomplished.
In her marriage to Muhammad, Khadija broke all the stereotypes of that time. In Arabia, a woman had to be equal to the man in three and greater than him in a one. A woman had to be as wealthy as her suitor, as old as he is, and of equal descents. However, she had to be greater than him in terms of her looks. The man, on the other hand, had to be wealthier than the woman. But in the marriage of Muhammad and Khadija, Khadija was older and wealthier. She did not base her opinion on the custom of marrying someone who is equal to her in money and status. Instead, she thought about who had good morals and who would support her for the good of this life and the Hereafter.
After marriage, she started her journey with the Message, beginning with the Prophet’s meditation in Hira, where she used to provide him with everything he needed to enable him to concentrate on his act of worship. Then she was, along with Imam Ali, the first to believe in his prophethood. She provided him with all the love and care in the world. She also gave a lot of her own money to the believers who used to lose their work as they embraced Islam; thus, actually paying for the expenses of the call for Allah.
She was also incredibly patient, as she tolerated all the hardships the unbelievers inflicted on her family, even the divorce of her two daughters. She was also patient when Allah tried her with the death of her two young sons. Then, when the Muslims and believers were boycotted for three years, she bought the food for them at very high prices to break the siege.
She is a role model for women in Islam, for she is not a weak or marginal person. She was the partner of her husband in calling, giving and struggling for the call of Allah. Thus, we call on all Muslim women to play their decisive and independent role in which they deploy all their potentials. Moreover, we call on the society, and men in particular, not to marginalize women. Women should not be prevented from playing their role in all the fields of work and decision-making, whether in politics, economy or any fields of development.
She has demonstrated in practice that the woman can be active and independent, when she used her own money for the sake of the call; thus, assuming a missionary role as well.
In short, no other woman was able to replace her position and status throughout the life of the Messenger (p.).