'I Will Stand With You, Mother Khadija'
Reclaiming the legacy of Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad.
BY: Precious Rasheeda Muhammad
"I will stand with you Mother Khadija." These are the words that reverberate in my mind as I think about the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad, who gave her life in the cause of Islam. I struggle to comprehend why these words have chosen to form together as a mantra in my innermost thoughts. They take me back to my childhood, when I was first introduced to her story. I look over at my tattered old textbook containing stories onKhadija
, my name neatly written on the front next to a scribbled "4th Grade." Suddenly I realize it is because Khadija is the quintessential Muslim woman, the woman I have always hoped to be--beautifully human, beautifully woman and beautifully Muslim.
Here was a woman born when female infants were often buried alive and women were treated as chattel. Yet God gave her extraordinary character and superior business acumen. She became the richest merchant in all of Mecca and was hailed as the Princess of Mecca and the Princess of the Quraysh. She was also given the title of Al-Tahira, The Pure One, for her humanitarian efforts in aiding the poor, widows, orphans, the sick and disabled.
Khadija was wealthy and accomplished--but also twice widowed and 40 years old--when she married the future Prophet of Islam, 15 years her junior. She had immediately recognized his trustworthiness and high moral standards and had taken it upon herself to propose to him. He readily accepted.
Khadija's story gave me hope as I married recently, at age 29, to a man much younger than me. It also did not hurt that I met my husband during the month of Ramadan, which made me think that, like Khadija, I might be entering into a match made in heaven.
The marriage of Khadija and Muhammad is a model for all Muslims. It was one of extraordinary love, commitment and mutual respect. It is arguably one of the greatest love stories of all times and a prelude to Islam's humanistic beginnings.
Muhammad's first encounter
with God's revelation had been terrifying for him. He came home shaking with terror at the magnitude of what he had experienced. He beseeched Khadija, "Cover me, cover me!" And she shielded him immediately in her lap, listened to his account and assured him of his prophethood. She recounted to him the excellence of his character as reason that God could not have turned against him.
Muhammad once said of Khadija, "She believed in me when all others disbelieved; she held me truthful when others called me a liar; she sheltered me when others abandoned me; she comforted me when others shunned me; and Allah granted me children by her while depriving me of children by other women."
Khadija bore the Prophet six children. She was also the first Mother of the Believers, a designation given to all the wives of the Prophet in the Qur'an. Her marriage to Muhammad was monogamous and so she alone was privileged with the title until the end of her life. She never once let the believers down. When the growing community of new Muslims were ridiculed, tortured, disenfranchised, deprived of their pay and ostracized from their families, Khadija used her resources to make sure they were clothed, fed and sheltered.