The Greatest Love Story
On Valentine's Day, I'm reminded of what true love is by remembering the marriage of the Prophet Muhammad and Khadijah.
She was one of the noblest women around and came from a very prominent family. She also was a prominent business women with a considerable amount of wealth, and quite beautiful on top of all that. To marry her would have been a great feat for any man--and indeed, many important and wealthy men had asked for her hand. But she rejected them all. A widow, she had lost the desire to marry again.
Until he came into her life.
He was young man of 25, 15 years her junior. And although he was also of a noble family, he was an orphan and was not a man of many means. He made a meager living tending sheep in the hills surrounding the city. But he had an impeccable moral character--he was widely known as one of the most honest men around. That is what attracted her to him: She was looking for someone honest who could conduct business for her, as she-- a woman in a fiercely patriarchal society-- could not do it herself. So he started working for her.
After he came back from his first business trip, she asked her servant, whom she sent with him, about the young man’s conduct. The servant amazed her by his report--this young man was the kindest, gentlest man the servant had ever met. And there was more. As they traveled in the heat of the desert, the servant noticed that a cloud had followed them the entire time, shading the young man from the blazing sun. The businesswoman was quite impressed with her new employee.
Not only that, this new employee proved to be an astute businessman. He sold his employer’s goods, and with the profits bought other merchandise that he sold again, thus profiting twice. All these good things stirred her soul. The embers of love in her heart that were extinguished re-kindled again, and she resolved to marry this young man despite their age difference.
So, she sent her sister to the young man. She asked him, "Why are you not married yet?"
"For lack of means," he answered.
"What if I could offer you a wife of nobility, beauty, and wealth? Would you be interested?" she told him.
He replied in the affirmative, but when she mentioned her sister, the young employee chuckled in amazement.
"How could I marry her? She has turned down the most noble men in the city, much wealthier and prominent than me, a poor shepherd," he said.
"Don't you worry," the sister replied, "I'll take care of it."
Not long after, Khadijah married the soon-to-be Prophet Muhammad, the young man who had caputured his heart with his kindness and impeccable character. It was the beginning of one of the most loving, happiest, and sacred marriages in all of human history. Though Khadijah was 40 years old, it did not bother the Prophet one bit. They loved each other truly and deeply. They were married for 25 years, and she bore him seven children: three sons (who all perished at young ages) and four daughters. Theirs was one of the greatest love stories of all.
But what makes this love story so special? Perhaps because this first marriage of the Prophet was ensconced in such a special love. Much has been made about the Prophet Muhammad’s multiple marriages. Some have even gone as far as smearing the Prophet as a womanizing philanderer (or even worse) citing the many wives he had taken after emigrating to Medina. But each of these marriages had a very practical explanation, and many of his spouses were older widows. By marrying these different women, the Prophet gave them care and protection in those turbulent times.