'I Will Stand With You, Mother Khadija'

Reclaiming the legacy of Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet 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 on

Khadija

, 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.

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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.

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