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Khadijah bint Khuwaylid

As on 3 July 2013

Taken from: Wikipedia - Khadijah bint Khuwaylid


Kahdijah or Khadīja bint Khuwaylid (Arabic: خديجة بنت خويلد‎) or Khadīja al-Kubra (Khadija the great) [1] (circa 555–620 CE) was the first wife of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. She is commonly regarded by Muslims as the "mother of Islam".


Khadija's grandfather, Asad ibn Abd-al-Uzza, was the progenitor of the Asad clan of the Quraysh tribe in Mecca. Her father, Khuwaylid ibn Asad, who died c.585, was a merchant. Her mother, Fatima bint Za'idah, who died around 575, was a member of the Amir ibn Luayy clan of the Quraysh and a distant relative of Muhammad.[2]

Khadija became a very successful merchant. It is said that when the Quraysh's trade caravans gathered to embark upon their summer journey to Syria or winter journey to Yemen, Khadija's caravan equalled the caravans of all other traders of the Quraish put together. She was known by the by-names Ameerat-Quraysh (Princess of Quraysh), al-Tahira (The Pure One) and Khadija Al-Kubra (Khadija the Great). It is said that she fed and clothed the poor, assisted her relatives financially and provided marriage portions for poor relations. Khadija was said to have neither believed in nor worshipped idols, which was atypical for pre-Islam Arabian culture.

Khadija married three times and had children from all her marriages. While the order of her marriages is debated, it is commonly agreed that she first married Abu Hala Malak bin Nabash bin Zarrara bin at-Tamimi and second 'Atiq bin 'A'idh bin 'Abdullah Al-Makhzumi.[3] To her first husband she bore two sons, who were both named with what were more usually feminine names,[4] Hala and Hind. Abu Hala Malak died before his business became a success.[5] To her husband Atiq Khadija bore a daughter named Hindah. This marriage also left Khadija as a widow.[6]

Khadija did not travel with her trade caravans; she employed others to trade on her behalf for a commission. In 595, Khadija needed an agent for a transaction in Syria. Abu Talib ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib recommended her distant cousin Muhammad ibn Abdullah. The experience that Muhammad held working with caravans in his uncle Abu Talib's family business had earned him the honorific titles Al-Sadiq (the truthful) and Al-Amin (the trustworthy, the honest).[7] Khadija hired Muhammad, who was then 25 years old, sending word through her kinsman Khazimah ibn Hakim that she would pay double her usual commission.

She sent one of her servants, Maysarah, to assist him. Upon returning, Maysara gave accounts of the honorable way that Muhammad had conducted his business, with the result that he brought back twice as much profit as Khadija had expected. Maysarah also relayed that on the return journey, Muhammad had stopped to rest under a tree. A passing monk, Nestora, informed Maysara that, "None but a prophet ever sat beneath this tree."[8] Maysara also claimed that while he stood near Muhammad as he slept, he had seen two angels standing above Muhammad creating a cloud to protect him from the heat and glare of the sun.[5]

Khadija then consulted her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn 'Abdu'l-'Uzza.[8] Waraqah said that if what Maysara had seen was true, then Muhammad was in fact the prophet of the people who was already expected. It is also said Khadijah had a dream in which the sun descended from the sky into her courtyard, fully illuminating her home.[5] Her cousin Waraqah told her not to be alarmed, for the sun was an indication that the Prophet would grace her home.[5] At this, Khadija considered proposing marriage to her agent.[9] Many wealthy Quraysh men had already asked for her hand in marriage,[5] but all had been refused.

Marriage to Muhammad

Khadija entrusted a friend named Nafisa to approach Muhammad and ask if he would consider marrying.[10] At first Muhammad was hesitant because he had no money to support a wife. Nafisa then asked if he would consider marriage to a woman who had the means to provide for herself.[11] Muhammad agreed to come meet with Khadija, and after this meeting they agreed to consult with their uncles. The uncles agreed to the marriage, and Muhammad's uncles accompanied him to make a formal proposal of to Khadija.[8] It is disputed whether it was only Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib or only Abu Talib or both uncles who accompanied Muhammad on this errand.[6] Khadija's uncle accepted the proposal, and the marriage took place.

Muhammad and Khadija were married monogamously for twenty-five years. It can be speculated that this was because Khadijah was of a higher social status than Muhammad and could therefore demand fidelity from him.[12] This monogamous marriage contrasts with Muhammad's later practice of polygyny after Khadijah's death. Muhammad's youngest wife, Aisha, was to be jealous of the affection and loyalty that Muhammad maintained for Khadija even after her death.[12]

Muhammad and Khadija had six children.[5] (Sources disagree about number of children; Al-Tabari names eight, but most sources only identify six).[3] Their first son was Qasim, who died before his second birthday[13] (hence Muhammad's kunya Abu Qasim). Khadija then gave birth to their daughters Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatima; and lastly to their son Abdullah. Abduhllah was known as at-Tayyib (the Good) and at-Tahir (the Pure) because he was born after Muhammad declared himself a prophet. Abdullah also died in childhood.[5]

Two other children also lived in Khadija's household. One was Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son of Muhammad's uncle, whom Muhammad raised as his own when Abu Talib was under financial hardship.[6] The second was Zayd ibn Harithah, a boy from the Udhra tribe who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. Zayd was a slave in Khadija's household for several years, until his father came to Mecca to bring him home. Muhammad said Zayd should be given a choice about where he lived. Zayd decided to remain with Khadija and Muhammad, after which Muhammad legally adopted Zayd on as his own son.[6]

After their marriage, Muhammad no longer had work, for Khadijah's wealth gave him time for his spiritual contemplations.[14]

Becoming the first Muslim

When Muhammad reported his first revelation from the Angel Gabriel (Jibril), Khadijah was the first person (besides Muhammad) to convert to Islam. After his experience in the cave of Hira, Muhammad returned home to Khadija in a state of terror, pleading for her to cover him with a blanket. After calming down, he described the encounter to Khadija, who comforted him with the words: "Allah would surely protect him from any danger, and would never allow anyone to revile him as he was a man of peace and reconciliation and always extended the hand of friendship to all."[5] According to some sources, it was Khadijh's cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who confirmed Muhammad's prophethood soon afterwards.[15]

Ronald Bodley in his book The Messenger, the Life of Mohammed, 1946[16] wrote:

"God is my protection, Oh Abul Kasim !" said Khadija, "Rejoice and be of good cheer. He in Whose hands stands the life of Khadija, is my Witness that thou wilt be the Messenger of His people!" Then she added, "Hast thou not been loving to thy kinsfolk, kind to thy neighbors, charitable to the poor, hospitable to the stranger, faithful to thy word, and ever a defender of the truth?"

Washington Irving in his book Life of Mohammed[17] wrote:

After the first encounter with Gabriel, Mohammed came trembling and agitated to Khadija. She saw everything with the eye of faith. "Joyful tidings dost thou bring," exclaimed she, "by Him, in Whose hand is the soul of Khadija, I will henceforth regard thee as the Prophet of our nation. Rejoice," added she, "Allah will not suffer thee to fall to shame. Hast thou not been loving to thy kinsfolk, kind to thy neighbours, charitable to the poor, hospitable to the stranger, faithful to thy word, and ever a defender of the truth?"

Yahya ibn `Afeef is quoted saying that he once came, during the period of Jahiliyyah (before the advent of Islam), to Mecca to be hosted by 'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, one of Muhammad's uncles mentioned above. "When the sun started rising," he said, "I saw a man who came out of a place not far from us, faced the Kaaba and started performing his prayers. He hardly started before being joined by a young boy who stood on his right side, then by a woman who stood behind them. When he bowed down, the young boy and the woman bowed, and when he stood up straight, they, too, did likewise. When he prostrated, they, too, prostrated." He expressed his amazement at that, saying to Abbas: "This is quite strange, O Abbas!". "Is it, really?" retorted al-Abbas. "Do you know who he is?", Abbas asked his guest who answered in the negative. "He is Muhammad ibn Abdullah, my nephew. Do you know who the young boy is?" asked he again. "No, indeed," answered the guest. "He is Ali son of Abu Talib. Do you know who the woman is?" The answer came again in the negative, to which Abbas said, "She is Khadija bint Khuwaylid, my nephew's wife." This incident is included in the books of both Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Al-Tirmidhi, each detailing it in his own Ṣaḥīḥ.

Khadija was supportive of Muhammad's prophetic mission, always helping in his work, proclaiming his message and belittling any opposition to his prophecies.[18] It was her encouragement that helped Muhammad believe in his mission and spread Islam.[19] Khadija also invested her wealth in the mission. When the polytheists and aristocrats of the Quraysh harassed the Muslims, she used her money to ransom Muslim slaves and feed the Muslim community.[20][21]

In 616 the Quraysh declared a trade boycott against the Hashim clan. They attacked, imprisoned and beat the Muslims, who sometimes went for days without food or drink. Some died and others became ill.[22] Khadija continued to maintain the community until the boycott was lifted in late 619 or early 620.[6]


Khadija died in the year 620 CE, which Muhammad later called "the Year of Sorrow," as his uncle and protector Abu Talib also died at this time. Khadija is said to have been about sixty-five years old at the time of her death.[23] She was buried in Jannatul Mualla cemetery, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.[24] In the years immediately following the Khadija's death, Muhammad faced persecution from opponents of his message and also from some who originally followed him but had now turned back. Hostile tribes ridiculed and stoned him.[25]

Muhammad honoured Khadija even after her death. If a gift was sent to him, he would send a share to women who had been Khadija's friends.[5] According to Kazi Ejaz and Ibne Abdul Bir's book Al-Estiab:[26]

Once the Prophet mentioned Khadija near Aisha, Aisha responded: "She was not but a such and such of an old lady, and Allah replaced her with a better one for you." He replied: "Indeed Allah did not grant me better than her; she accepted me when people rejected me, she believed in me when people doubted me, she shared her wealth with me when people deprived me, and Allah granted me children only through her."

Aisha says, after this incident, "I learnt to keep quiet, whenever Khadija's name was mentioned by Muhammad." In another hadith, Aisha added: "I annoyed Prophet one day and said, 'It is Khadija only who always prevails upon your mind'. Thereupon, Muhammad said, 'Allah Himself had nurtured Her love in my heart.'" Among all his wives, Khadija was most beloved to Muhammad.

Edward Gibbon in his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire[27] wrote:

During the twenty-four years of their marriage, her youthful husband abstained from the right of polygamy, and the pride or tenderness of the venerable matron was never insulted by the society of a rival. After her death he placed her in the rank of the four perfect women, with the sister of Moses, the mother of Jesus, and Fatima, the best beloved of his daughters.

Muslim views

Ibn Kathir, the Islamic scholar and commentator on the Qur'an, writes in his book Wives of the Prophet Muhammad:[28]

Khadija had been the first to publicly accept Muhammad as the Messenger of Allah, and she had never stopped doing all she could to help him. Love and mercy had grown between them, increasing in quality and depth as the years passed by, and not even death could take this love away. Muhammad never stopped loving Khadija, and although he married several more wives in later years and loved them all equally, it is clear that Khadija always had a special place in his heart. Indeed whenever Aisha, his third wife, heard Muhammad speak of Khadija, or saw him sending food to Khadija's old friends and relatives, she could not help feeling jealous of her, because of the love that Muhammad still had for her. Once Aisha asked him if Khadija had been the only woman worthy of his love. Muhammad replied: "She believed in me when no one else did; she accepted Islam when people rejected me; and she helped and comforted me when there was no one else to lend me a helping hand." It had been related by Abu Hurairah that on one occasion, when Khadija was still alive, Jibril came to Muhammad and said, "O Messenger of Allah, Khadija is just coming with a bowl of soup (or food or drink) for you. When she comes to you, give her greetings of peace from her Lord and from me, and give her the good news of a palace of jewels in the Garden, where there will be neither any noise nor any tiredness." After Muhammad's uncle, Abu Talib, and his first wife, Khadija, had both died in the same year, Muhammad and his small community of believers endured a time of great hardship and persecution at the hands of the Quraish. Indeed Muhammad, who was now fifty years old, named this year 'the Year of Sorrow'.



- Qasim ibn Muhammad, died in 605 CE, before his second birthday
- Abd-Allah ibn Muhammad, died in childhood in 615 CE


The daughters attributed to Muhammad are:
- Zaynab (c.598-629). She married her maternal cousin Abu al-Aas ibn al-Rabee before al-Hijra.[5]
- Ruqayyah (c.601-624). She was first married to Utbah ibn Abu Lahab and then to the future third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan.[5]
- Umm Kulthum (c.603-630). She was first married to Utaybah bin Abu Lahab and then, after the death of her sister Ruqayyah, to Uthman ibn Affan. She was childless.[29][5]
- Fatima (605-632), although it is sometimes asserted that she was born during the first year of Muhammad's mission (610-611). She had the by-name "The mother of her father", as she took over caring for her father and being a support to her father once her mother died.[30] She married Ali, who became the fourth Caliph in 656. (According to early debate after the death of Muhammad, some would argue that Ali would be the proper succession to Muhammad.)[31] Ali and Fatimah moved to a small village in Ghoba after the marriage, but later moved back to Medina to live next door to Muhammad.[32] Muhammad forbade Ali to take additional wives because, "What caused pain to his daughter grieved him as well.".[33] Fatima died a few months after her father died. All of Muhammad's surviving descendants are by Fatima's children. Muhammad loved her two sons Hasan and Husayn, who would continue his heritage.[33]

Sunni Muslims believe that all four of Khadija's daughters were born to Muhammad. They interpret the following verse as supporting such a view: "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers...".[34]

The Sunni scholar Yusuf ibn abd al-Barr says: "His children born of Khadīja are four daughters; there is no difference of opinion about that".[35]

According to some Shia Muslim sources, Khadijah and Muhammad together had only one biological daughter, Fatimah. The others either belonged to Khadijah's sister or were from a previous marriage and were treated by Muhammad as his own daughters. The Shi'i scholar Abu'l-Qasim al-Kufi writes:

When the Messenger of Allah married Khadijah, then some time thereafter Halah died leaving two daughters, one named Zaynab and the other named Ruqayyah and both of them were brought up by Muhammad and Khadijah and they maintained them, and it was the custom before Islam that a child was assigned to whoever brought him up.[36]


- Halah bint Khuwailid


- Abd-Allah ibn Umm-Maktum
- Waraqah ibn Nawfal


1. Wife of the Prophet Muhammad[dead link]
2. Early Life
3. a b al-Tabari (1990). Volume 9: The Last Years of the Prophet. State University of New York Press.
4. "Khadija".
5. a b c d e f g h i j k l "Islams Women".
6. a b c d e "Khadija bint Khuwaylid at the Tree of Faith".
7. Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, p. 33–34
8. a b c Guillaume (1955). The Life of Muhammad. Oxford.
9. Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, p. 34–35
10. Lings (1983). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. New York: Inner Traditions Internationalist. p. 83.
11. Lings (1983). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Inner Traditions Internationalist.
12. a b Walther, Wiebke (1993). Women in Islam. Markus Wiener Publishing Inc. p. 104.
13. Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, p. 37
14. Abbott, Nabia (1943). Women and the State in Early Islam. The University of Chicago Press. p. 106.
15. Khatijatul Kubra
16. R V. C. Bodley: The Messenger, the Life of Mohammed, 1946
17. Washington Irving: Life of Mohammed
18. Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad. Oxford. p. 111.
19. Abbott, Nabia (1942). Women and the State in Early Islam. The University of Chicago Press. pp. 106–109.
20. Restatement of History of Islam: The Economic and Social Boycott of the Banu Hashim (A.D. 616-619)
21. Restatement of History of Islam: The Deaths of Khadija and Abu Talib - A.D. 619
22. Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad. Oxford. p. 143.
23. The Death
24. Muhammad, Farkhanda Noor.Islamiat for Students. Revised Edition 2000: pp. 74–75.
25. Qasimi, Ja'Far (1987). The Life, Traditions, and Sayings of the Prophet. New York: Crossroad. pp. 77–78.
26. Kazi Ejadh & Ibne Abdul Bir: Al-Estiab[dead link]
27. Edward Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
28. Ibn Kathir: Wives of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
29. Buhl. "UmmKulthum".
30. Shariati, Ali (1981). Ali Shariati's Fatima Is Fatima. Tehran, Iran: Shariati Foundation.
31. Madelung, Wilferd (1997). The Succession to Muhammad. Cambridge University Press. pp. 52–53.
32. Shariati, Ali (1981). Ali Shariati's Fatima is Fatima. Tehran, Iran: Shariati Foundation. p. 148.
33. a b Walther, Wiebke (1993). Women in Islam. Markus Wiener Publishing Princeton & New York. p. 108.
34. Quran 33:59
35. al-Istī`āb fī Ma`rifat al-Aşĥāb Yusuf ibn abd al-Barr, The Comprehensive Compilation of the Names of the Prophet's Companions vol. 1, pp. 50
36. al-Istighathah, p. 69