The Road to Marriage

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Khadija had already been married twice and she had by now closed all doors to such suggestions. She had reached a certain age and she no longer needed the support of anyone. She had what one could call an international business by today’s standards and the people who worked for her were people from many different corners of the world. She had men working for her in Greek, Persian and Ghassanid lands, along with others in closer regions such as the Hira and Damascus. She was rich; she was a woman who took good care of her business, a mature and beautiful woman of good name whom everybody respected.

In those days there would be no man who could refuse such a woman among the Quraysh. All men in her tribe would have been happy to marry her had they had the power to do so. Many had come to her door, but she turned them all down, having decided against marrying again.

Khadija had now made up her mind about marrying the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him; maybe it was the dream of such a perfect match that had made her turn down all previous offers till that day. She had made up her mind but she did not know how to approach the subject.

Khadija’s friend Nafisa, the daughter of Munya, who took notice of her friend’s thoughtful state and transformation, approached her one day and said the following with great affection: “What is with you, dear Khadija? I have been with you long enough and yet I have never seen you as thoughtful as you are now!”

Khadija hesitated before sharing her predicament with her. She first stayed silent. But it was clear that it was not possible to attain her goal without taking any steps and so she told her friend what was on her mind. She first said: “O Nafisa! There is no doubt that I see in Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, an exalted quality that I see in no other man. He is straightforward, trustworthy, he comes from a very good family, and he is the best man one can ever come across. On top of that, there are many good tidings concerning him! It is a strange situation. When I look at what Maysara has told me, when I listened to what the priest said and witnessed what happened at the marketplace, when I watched the cloud that protected him as he came back from Damascus, I thought my heart would fly out of its cage; I was sure that he was the awaited Messenger.”

Nafisa was still trying to understand what was going on: “But what has this to do with you losing your color and being in this contemplative state?”

It was clear that Khadija had to be clearer about what was ailing her. She turned to her friend and said truthfully: “I hope to join my fate with his by marrying him; but I do not know how I would go about doing this.”

Now the situation was clear. Nafisa understood her friend’s predicament and responded in the following way: “If you’ll allow me, I’ll inquire as to how this situation can develop and be arranged!”

This was what Khadija was expecting and she said excitedly: “Nafisa, if you can indeed do this, do it in all haste, with no delay!”

Before long, Nafisa left that place and started to ask for directions as to where Muhammad the Trustworthy, peace and blessings be upon him, was. She quickly found him. She first saluted him and then said: “O Muhammad!”

Our noble Prophet turned his whole body towards her and was listening to her. She continued: “What stops you from marrying? Why are you not getting married?”

This was a question that the Pride of Humankind had not been expecting and he replied: “I don’t have the means to get married.”

It was true that the Messenger of Allah did not have the financial means to get married. In order for him to take the responsibilities of others upon himself, he first needed to have the means to see to their needs. But Nafisa told him that this need not constitute a problem; for money and possessions were things that could easily be lost, whereas nobility, honor, trust and character were values that were hard to find. Since she had come so far in the conversation, she decided to pursue it further and asked: “If this was no longer an obstacle for you, and if someone came to you with beauty, wealth, honor, someone of your own caliber, would you not accept them as a spouse?”

Her questions made it clear that there was such a candidate, and understanding her intention, the Sultan of Both Worlds asked: “So who is this person?”

“It is Khadija,” answered Nafisa.

Of course he knew Khadija, the daughter of Khuwaylid; he had taken her caravan to Damascus only a few of days ago and had returned it to her with trade profits. But marriage was not as easy as trade and so he asked: “But how can his be?”

But for Nafisa the question was not a matter of “how,” she was just waiting to hear his consent.

She was relieved to hear his response, for his words could be taken as consent. His response seemed to denote “This is not a problem on my side, but how can such a marriage be?”

The rest of the conversation came easier to Nafisa, so she said: “You can leave the “how” of this business to me.”

Conventionally, silence meant a favorable response, and Nafisa left his side quickly and ran to our mother Khadija. She herself wanted to give her the good news. She ran and told her all that had been spoken. The news made Khadija breathe a sigh of relief. When she learnt that he looked upon the matter favorably, she sent word to the Awaited Messenger about her interest in him and the reasons why she wanted to marry him. This is how she started her statement: “O my uncle’s son! Verily I am interested in marrying you because of our close family ties. Your remarkable status within your tribe, your beautiful morals and your steadfastness in protecting what is entrusted to you and in speaking the truth. Tell your uncles that they may start the marriage procedures!”

It was clear that she was trying to express her admiration for the Messenger of Allah in the sincerest and finest way possible. The Pride of Humankind did not want to take such an important step without discussing the issue with his elders. After receiving the offer, he went straight to his uncle Abu Talib and spoke about what had taken place between himself and Nafisa.

His nephew, Muhammad the Trustworthy, peace and blessings be upon him, was very precious for Abu Talib and he did not know any other person as worthy as him. However, Khadija was no woman to be written away either. She clearly lived a life of honor and dignity. She was one of the leading people by way of nobility and honor. He understood that his nephew looked at it favorably as well and he decided he had nothing to say against the match, and so he blessed the union.

The time had come for the union that would shape their lives. Before long, the sons of Abdul Muttalib, Abu Talib, Abbas and Hamza would set off to ask for the hand of Khadija for Muhammad. Although the couple had given their consent, the usual rituals between the families had to take place, and the match had to be made known to the public through this process. First, Abu Talib took word: “Praise be to Allah who has given us the honor to be of the lineage of Ibrahim, descendants of Ismail! Verily it is He who has made our kin the server of the people, He who has honored us as protectors of His house, put us in the service of the Haram, the Prohibited Place; it is He who has made His house a place the direction to which all turn their faces, a place where all feel secure. It is He who has favored us when it comes to judging people.”

This address that he chose before he started to speak of the matter made clear the earnestness of the situation. Attaining the respect of people could be acknowledged on no clearer terms. Then he said the following to the seated members of the family: “When it comes to Muhammad, the son of my brother, the son of Abdullah. Whoever should challenge him, he shall be beaten. Although he may not have much by way of money and possessions, he is above all by way of honor, nobility, courage, intellect and virtue. Money and possessions are like shadows that disappear; they last only a short while. However, there is great news about him, new and happy tidings about his future that will leave everyone in awe! He is asking for the hand of Khadija who is your sister, and as dowry, he wants to give her twelve ukiyya and one nash some of which is to be paid now and some later.”

In response to the request of the groom’s family, the bride’s family also had words to say. After Abu Talib, Khadija’s uncle Amr ibn Asad stood up and said similar laudatory words about Khadija’s virtue. Khadija’s father was not present; he had died in the battles of Fijar and the daughter of Khuwaylid had grown up an orphan just like the Messenger of Allah. He said the following:

“Just like you say, praise be to Allah, Who has favored us among others in the aspects that you have mentioned! There is no doubt that we are the leaders among Arabs, and so are you. No one among the Arabs can deny your virtue or honor or your right for pride. I bear witness by the same lineage that we come from and our shared honor that I, O you people of Quraysh, wed the daughter of Khuwaylid, Khadija to Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, with the dowry that has already been mentioned.

Abu Talib, who felt the responsibility of the moment over his shoulders, wanted to hear the consent of the other relatives who were also present at the occasion, so he said: “I want the other uncles to participate in this acceptance.”

Upon this, another uncle who was present took word: “I call you to be witnesses, O Quraysh, that we have wed Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, to Khadija, daughter of Khuwaylid,” and thus he reiterated the transaction of marriage.

The usual rituals had thus been performed, and now it was time for the wedding ceremony. Soon that too would take place. The sheep and camels were slaughtered, and people had gathered for the celebration. Thus a life of hardship but mutual understanding and peace would start for the couple, a shared life of 25 years. Abu Talib, who was going through very difficult times himself, was very happy; he was sitting on the side, thanking Allah who had opened up such a gate of happiness for him. It was of course not solely Abu Talib who was happy about this union. The Meccans had sincerely approved of this match, such that some of them would put this auspicious event in verse, reciting it to each other.

But of course on that day no one’s happiness matched Khadija’s. She knew so much about him already, such that she had invited the nursing mother of Muhammad the Trustworthy, Halima as-Sadia, to the wedding; she wanted to share with her the happiness of the orphan who had grown up without parents. Her happiness did not overshadow her generosity and she would not forget what she was meant to do. When Halima was leaving in the morning, she had with her the forty sheep that Khadija had given her as a gift for the sake of beloved Muhammad, to whom Halima had given her milk.

After staying with Abu Talib for a couple of days, they moved to their own house that they purchased from Hakim ibn Hizam the nephew of our mother Khadija, and thus began their exemplary life that would continue for fifteen years till the first revelation.

From then on, Muhammad the Trustworthy, peace and blessings be upon him, was a model family man. When circumstances called for it, he would help his wife with the housework, he would see to his own daily needs himself and he thus constructed a relationship with his wife on the basis of mutual respect and love. Although she had every means to leave the house work and the service of her husband to the servants, Khadija enjoyed being of service to her husband and preferred to do much of the work herself, performing her chores with joy akin to prayer. She had devoted herself to his contentment to the extent that she could not bear to see a single hair strand of his be injured in any way, she took great pains so that there was nothing to disturb him.

Allah’s Messenger and Khadija had joined their lives to set up a new household, but they were not alone in this new life that they had started. They would not focus only on themselves; they would hold the hands of others and would prepare these people for life as well. Had their parents been alive, they too would have partaken in the peace of this house; they too would have had the joy of loving their grandchildren with their own children.

First of all, Umm Ayman, entrusted to the Pride of Humankind by his father, moved into this new house with them. She was trying to see to the needs of the orphaned son of her master Abdullah, the son who had lost his mother as well.

The Messenger of Allah was equally a man who never forgot the good that had been done to him. After marrying our mother Khadija and setting up a new house, he had gone to his uncle Abbas and speaking about the dire situation that his uncle Abu Talib was in, he suggested that they should jointly take on the expenses of his house. Thus, Abbas took under his care one of Abu Talib’s son, and the other son Ali, would come under the care of the Messenger of Allah. This can be described as the third phase of protection in the Prophet’s life; now Muhammad the Trustworthy, peace and blessings be upon him, was a father to Ali and Khadija was an affectionate mother to him. On the one hand, Ali was being educated by the most honorable member of humanity and on the other hand, he was the recipient of the affection and love coming forth from the noble Khadija.

There was another young man living in this house and his name was Zayd ibn Haritha. Although he had been the son of a free family, the house they had gone to with their mother had been raided and they had been taken as slaves and sold at the slave market. In the fair of Ukaz, the nephew of our mother Khadija, Hakim ibn Hizam, had bought him and then brought him to his aunt. Till the day of the wedding, Zayd had served Khadija and had become a member of this new household. However, soon a change would occur in his status—he had been given in service to the Cause of Pride for the Universe and he in turn had given Zayd his freedom.

Another young man in the house was Hind, the son of Khadija from her former husband Abu Halah. The little Zubayr, too, joined this household for a while when his father Awwam passed away, and he too had the good fortune of growing up in this house.

It was in such a house that peace could be established. The Pride of Humanity himself was the source of peace. His whole mission was to bring peace to those who could not even imagine peace in their dreams, to shower such people with complete peace and serenity. The affectionate behavior of our mother Khadija was a great source that fed this peace as well. She was assured in the righteousness of all the actions of the noble Prophet from the beginning and always hastened to do as he bid. Whenever something disturbed him outside, he would run to the home that was kept stable by our mother Khadija, and this is where he would find his peace. Just as there was this understanding between the two of them, there was also a sincere relationship of trust between them, so sincere that everyone looked upon them with envy.

One day, when Muhammad the Trustworthy, peace and blessings be upon him, asked leave from his uncle Abu Talib to go to Khadija, Abu Talib told his slave girl Naba to follow him to report back on their relations. When she returned, Naba told the following to Abu Talib: “What I saw was very interesting indeed. When she saw him coming, Khadija came to the door, held his hand and said to him: ‘May my mother and father be sacrificed for you! In truth I would not do this for anyone but you, but I know that you are the Prophet of the future. When you reach that state please do not forget me, and my position near you! Please, pray for me, too, to Allah who has sent you!’ Muhammad the Trustworthy, who heard this praise from his wife and supporter in all things, said: ‘I swear by Allah that if indeed I am he, you have sacrificed many things for me, and I will never forget your sacrifice.’” And indeed he would never forget it.

Soon this household started to bear fruit. First Qasim was born. He was the child that gave our noble Prophet his name Abu’l-Qasim, the father of Qasim. But he did not stay long in this mortal world. When he was only a toddler, he left this world for Paradise.

Two years passed after Qasim’s death and our beloved Prophet’s daughter Zaynab came to the world. Zaynab was his first female child. A year later Ruqayyah, and three years later Umm Kulthum was born. Our mother Fatima honored the world with her presence the year that the revelations started. The last child that our mother Khadija brought to the world was Abdullah. It had been two years that the spiritual meeting in MountHira had taken place. Because he had been born into what was now an Islamic world, Abdullah was also called Tayyib and Tahir to signal his purity. However, Abdullah did not live long either and three months later, he too left the world. It seemed that Allah the Almighty wanted to protect them from the possible complications that would arise later.

 

Kesmez, Umit. “The Luminous Life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)” Tughra Books Press. December 2014.