Friday, August 20, 2010

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (خديجة بنت خويلد‎) (c. 555–10 Ramadan, 619 CE)

 The first wife of the Prophet Mohamed has earned many honorifics: Ameerat-Quraish (Princess of Quraish), al-Tahira (the Pure One), and Khadijah Al-Kubra (Khadija the Great)

She is also one of the 4 "queens" or "righteous women" of Islam, along with Asiya (wife of the Pharaoh, foster mother to Moses/Musa), Maryam (mother of Jesus/Isa), and Fatima (daughter of the Prophet Mohamed and Khadijah). As the first Muslim, the first to believe that her husband Mohamed was experiencing prophetic visions, she is also one of the "mothers of the believers", who include the later wives of the Prophet Mohamed. Major accounts tell of a deeply loving and strictly monogamous marriage between Khadijah and the Prophet Mohamed.

Khadijah was born in about 555, and died on the 10th day of Ramadan in either 619 (most commonly cited) or perhaps in 623. The daughter of an extremely successful merchant, Khuwaylid ibn Asad (خويلد بن أسد‎) of the Banu Hashim, and his wife, Fatimah bint Za'idah, of the Banu `Amir ibn Luayy ibn Ghalib tribe, Khadija became a highly successful businesswoman in her own right. She established major caravans trading as far as Syria and Yemen. A woman of irreproachable character, she was very charitable with not only family, but the poor of the community.

In 595, Khadijah needed a trader to travel with a caravan to Syria, and on the recommendation of one of her traders,Abū Ṭālib ibn ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib (أبو طالب بن عبد المطلب‎), Mohamed's uncle, and others, she employed the novice but reputable trader Mohamed, a distant maternal cousin, who was by then known as both truthful and trustworthy--Al-Sadiq, and Al-Amin.

Khadijah was pleased with both the unexpectedly high profit that this novice trader was able to procure, and with the reports about him made by her servant Maysarah. For these reasons, she again hired Mohamed for a trip to Yemen. As both trips involved unusual challenges, Khadijah paid Mohamed double, then triple the usual commissions.

Over time, what was  mutual admiration in a business relationship, grew into desire for marriage on Khadijah's part. She initiated the proposal and both (orphaned of their fathers) agreed to speak to their respective uncles to negotiate the marriage contract. They were married by Abu Talib in 595.

Eventually they would have 2 sons and 4 daughters (Shia believe only the youngest, Fatima, was the biological daughter of Mohamed, and that the others were either Khadija's from a previous marriage, or her nieces, though raised by her and Mohamed). Both sons died very young: Qasim ( 605-607) <2 years old; and, Abd-Allah (?- 615) in infancy. Between the births of these 2 sons, Khadija and the Prophet Mohamed had 4 daughters, Zainab, Rukayyah, Umm Kulthum, and Fatima, all of whom lived to adulthood, and married, the latter to Ali bin Abi Talib, the Prophet's cousin.

Perhaps the most important marital function that Khadijah served, was to be not only the first to believe her husband, but the one to soothe his distress about the physically and psychologically taxing experience of the process of the revelations. However, she also privately and publicly supported him, living a life of hardship and persecution because of it.

"Here is an image of the mosque and grave of Sayyidatina Khadija, the Mother of the Muslims, the First Believer."
From Bin Gregory Productions.

Khadija died aged 64, leaving her beloved 50-year-old husband devastated. The Prophet Mohamed lost his uncle and guardian Abu Talib about the same time, and in the same year. Both died following the ending of the Makkan boycott (c.616/7-619) of the Muslims, which caused severe privation, and weakened each of them. Khadija died a few days after the boycott ended and Abu Talib one month later. As a result of their deaths, and the Prophet Mohamed's grief, this year is known as the Year of Sorrow.

Jannatul Mu'alla,جنة المعلى, Makkah, pre-1925

Khadija was buried in a grave in Jannatulla Mu'alla (جنة المعلى ) Cemetery, also called Al-Hajun, in Makkah. The grave remains, although the tombs or burial monuments, placed later, were removed by the Al Saud in 1925.

Jannatul Mu'alla,جنة المعلى, Makkah, post-1925

The graves may still be visited, as below.

Jannatul Mu'alla,جنة المعلى, Makkah, contemporary, from this site.

Your comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?


Arianna said...

Nice info, Chiara. I have a number of books on the wives of Muhammad. They read like fairy tales.

”Khadija was buried in a grave in Jannatulla Mu'alla (جنة المعلى ) Cemetery, also called Al-Hajun, in Makkah. The grave remains, although the tombs or burial monuments, placed later, were removed by the Al Saud in 1925.”

How unfortunate that the Wahhab true believers have no reverence for history, believing that it leads to “idol worship.”

Cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Tourists might have been very interested in all that the fundamentalists have destroyed, from the Buddhas of Bamiyan to the ancient places in KSA, Iran, Egypt, etc.

Umm Ameena Kimberly said...

Very nice post Chiara. I learned a few things :)

oby said...


In this agree with you. I never fail to be deeply disappointed when people...any people wipe out history because it doesn't suit them. Imagine if they did away with all the Egyptian history...not only would we have lost a treasure trove of information, Egypt would not have much of a tourist industry.

Even though the Nazi's were reprehensible I am glad that there is preservation of the camps so one may visit and reflect on how awful humans are capable of treating each other.

History both good and bad is the totality of who awe are as humans.

NidalM said...

Contrasts that I've always made regarding the marriage of the Prophet (SAW) to Khadijah to contemporary Islam's take on marriage are:
* Khadijah was MUCH older to the Muhammad (SAW).
* This is what, in Pakistan, would be called a 'love marriage' (as defined on my blog!)

Either of these characteristics of a union in a modern Islamic society would be considered deviant, and in some cases outright blasphemous.

And yet it still is the most celebrated marriage in all of Islamic history.

Chiara said...

Thank you all for your comments.

Arianna--I agree generally about conserving historical artefacts and monuments. However, all victors make their own decisions about this. In Maoist China some monuments were destroyed and some preserved, though the tour guides were very careful to point out the evil of them, and that they stood as a testament for the need and benefits of the Maoist Revolution. Still better than destroying, say the Forbidden City.
I try in all my posts on religious figures to stick to core religious beliefs and known historical facts. I realize there are "hagiographies" of Muslim religious figures, as there are for Christian saints, but I tend to limit my use of them to the "unembroidered" aspects or references. Thanks for your comment and kind words!

Umm Ameena Kimberly--thank you for your kind words and comment. I hope you are now making a food flag and photographing it for the next post! No pressure! :P :)

Oby--indeed it is important to preserve reminders of the adage that to ignore history is to repeat it. Thanks for your comment!

NidalM--Great comment. I agree with your 2 features of Khadija's marriage to the Prophet Mohamed, and would add that it was monogamous by choice (as more than 4 wives/concubines was common at the time), that she was of higher social station and wealthier than he, and that she was the initiator.

These are all admirable aspects of their marriage that cultural paradigms often outweigh.

I had a Pakistani patient who was lamenting that fact that when he sent his sisters out to find him a bride with an MD he didn't specify a younger one, ie younger than the one he married, and younger than him. However, the one they picked was wealthy, or at least her family was. Also both he and she were clinically depressed at the time of this lamentation, so I'm not sure how valid it would be in more normal circumstances. Interesting case, and one of the many in which immigrants underestimate the challenges to re-licensing and re-establishing themselves in a new country. He taught me a lot about Pakistani culture--after I voiced an "Insha'Allah" at the end of one of his sentences, when he stopped himself from saying it. :)

Thanks again to all for your comments!

Haitham هيثم Al-Sheeshany الشيشاني said...

Waw, wonderful read.
I thank YOU!


Majed said...


first of all I would like to make a small correction (Alkubra) hear means Khadija The elder not the great, Arab used The elder and the younger (alsugra) to differentiate between two persons holding the same name in a family and arab never call a person (the great). And also she is not from Bani Hashim the family of prophet though their family trees converge at her 5th grand father so she is the nearest blood relative to him amongst his wives.
I am not a Salfi. nevertheless I adopt and like their their vision of unmitigated ,pure and undoubted oneness of God, at the same time I do not like their being so strict about other things that even Allah will forgive.
When I was visiting Makkah and Madina for the first time I was very enthusiastic and was expecting to see a lot Historical places,antiquities and relics but I was really shocked, I am a man who adores i mean dearly love ruins they give me strange feelings and sensations of attachment with ancestors ,there is practically nothing left to see, i mean nothing that you can not see anywhere else in the world the big concrete and marble blocks, nothing to indicate to their life style and sufferings and the methods people adopted for surviving in such barren places.
Islam advocates pure Monotheism and the line between believing in one God and making partners and associating others with him is so thin that one can unconsciously cross it, Salafi movement came to reform many wrong practices that have spread among muslims along the centuries of ignorance, Muslims in many parts arab and non arab visit graves and shrines of important and famous people some of them are only kings and ministers others for people as recent as recent as Mohammad Ali Jinah and Benazir Bhutto and some of them that i know of has never went to mosqe or prayed a single prayer yet there is big shrine for him now seek blessing, but something very strange too i notice in such places is dating and flirting and ..... I dont know if they revere these places so much how they do such things there how a grave work as an aphrodesiac very stragnge.

Majed said...

Some of the people who haunt these places are so naive that they bow down and others prostrate as in prayer and entreat the deads for good health, brides, grooms , children etc. those dead people with my respect to them are dead they could not help themselve dying, how for God sake can they be of any good to anyone else we are not even supposed to implore to the prophet `s tomb. rather a sick man should go to a doctor for cure then submit himself to God `s will and pray for good health than going to prhophet `s tomb let alone others for a miracle, it is just like the arab idolaters used to do, they believed in a supreme God they called also Allah but they worshiped and seeked help from the idols.
but is wiping out every trace of the past the right thing to do to solve this problem just a decade or two of intense awareness is enough to bring people back to right track but we can not undo and the damage caused to the heritage of the entire human race, what is my fault and millions like me to be deprived of our heritage for ever.
there should be some international organisaton that stand up for such violations, Archaeological sites anywhere should be considered international property and should be safeguarded by force.

Susanne said...

thanks for the interesting information!


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