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Many non-Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was married to many wives for selfish reasons or that marrying more than one wife is a requisite for any Muslim man. Most people do not realize that the Prophet’s first marriage set a perfect example of a stable, long-lasting monogamous relationship. Indeed, in the course of his lifetime he was able to demonstrate the proper manner in which to be married to one wife or to more than one; in both cases mutual respect and fair treatment were always foremost in the relationship. He taught us monogamous relationship by practicing it for twenty-five years and polygamous relationship by practicing it for about thirteen years.

This month’s story will tell of Khadijah , the Prophet’s first wife. The story starts in Makkah, before Muhammad had been called to convey Allah’s message. He was a young man of twenty-five, who served as an agent for merchants who wished to trade in distant cities but did not wish to leave Makkah.

One of the richest merchants in the city of Makkah was a woman, Khadijah. She was a distant relation to Muhammad on his father’s side. She had been twice widowed, and being unable to travel herself, was accustomed to hire men to trade for her. She had heard about the trustworthy Muhammad , and contacted him about taking some of her goods to Syria. The expedition proved to be very successful.

Khadijah was very impressed with Muhammad . She was fifteen years older than he, but she began to wonder if she could interest him in marriage. She discussed the idea with her friend, Nafeesah, who offered to approach Muhammad on her behalf. Nafeesah asked Muhammad why he had not married, and he replied that he did not have the means to support a wife. She then said she knew a woman who could give him the means, and who was beautiful and from a good family also. When Muhammad found out who Nafeesah had in mind, he was doubtful that such a marriage could take place, but he expressed his willingness on his part. Nafeesah took his answer back to Khadijah and Khadijah sent word back to him through Nafeesah that she was willing to marry him. Muhammad’s uncle, Hamzah , went with Muhammad to formally ask Khadijah’s uncle for her hand in marriage. A dowry of twenty she-camels was agreed upon.

The marriage proved to be a wise match. Not only was Khadijah a good wife; she also became Muhammad’s cherished friend and counselor. She gave him six children. The eldest child was a son who was named Qasim, but he died before he was two years old. Then followed four daughters, Zainab , Ruqayyah , Umm Kulthum , and Fatimah . The last child, a son named Abdullah , also died in infancy.

When the Prophet was forty years old, he received his first visit from the angel Jibril . He was overcome with fear and awe after the visit from the angel, and he hastened down the mountainside, where he had been praying, to his home. Still shivering with fear, he shouted to Khadijah to cover him. She threw a cloak over him as he lay on his couch, and there he remained until his shaking had subsided. He then told her what had happened to him in the cave. Khadijah went to her cousin, who was a scholar of the Christian scriptures, and told him about her husband’s experience. Upon hearing the story, her cousin declared that Muhammad was indeed the prophet whose coming had been foretold. Khadijah conveyed his message to Muhammad , who, feeling reassured that he was not possessed by an evil spirit, returned to the mountain to complete his devotions. Khadijah was the first person to embrace Islam after hearing the words which had been placed in her husband’s heart.

Later the angel Jibril appeared to Muhammad and taught him how to do the ablution and how to pray. Muhammad hurried home as soon as the angel had left him and taught Khadijah how to pray.

Khadijah lent her husband her full moral and financial support during the first ten tumultuous years of his prophethood. Her service to him as a confidante and advisor was invaluable. The marriage of Khadijah and Muhammad lasted for twenty-five years, until her death at the age of 65. He was near 50 at the time of her death. He never forgot his happy harmonious marriage to his faithful Khadijah .

Years after Khadijah’s death, the Prophet’s wife Aishah , who had never personally known Khadijah , would relate: “I was not jealous of any other wife of the Prophet as I was jealous of Khadijah, for his constant mentioning of her and because Allah had bidden him give her good tidings of a mansion in Paradise of precious stones. And whensoever he sacrificed a sheep, he would send a goodly portion of it unto those who had been her intimate friends. Many a time said I unto him: It is as if there had never been any other woman in the world, save only Khadijah.” (Bukhari LXIII, 20).


Published: June 1997

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Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756