First Wife of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.)
The first among both men and women who embraced Islam was Khadijah, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be on him), She was born fifteen years prior to the birth of the Holy Prophet. She was the daughter of Khuwalid, who descended from a noble Arab family and commanded great respect. Her mother's name was Fatimah.
According to the family customs her father married her to Abu Hala - one of his own relatives. From Abu Hala she had two issues. A few years after the marriage Abu Hala died leaving Khadijah a widow. She was then married to one 'Atiq from whom she had one daughter. According to some authorities she was first married to 'Atiq and then to Abu Hala. But as luck would have it, 'Atiq was also separated from her. Khadijah was left a widow a second time. Although several handsome and respectable persons from the tribe of Quraish sought her hand but she turned down their offer as Allaah had chosen her for the companionship of His prophet.
Khadijah was living a happy life. She had inherited a large fortune from her father and two former husbands, which she spent most wisely and economically. She multiplied her wealth by investing it in trade. She was considered to be the most respectable and wealthiest lady among the women of Quraish. She used to entrust her merchandise to trustworthy, needy and poor persons for export to other places sharing her profit with them. They thus carried on trade from and to Mecca on her behalf. The business brought large shares of profit for both the owner and the workers.
The Holy Prophet, who was then in the prime of his life and was well-known for his honesty, was considered the most trustworthy in the city of Mecca and hence was called 'Amin' (The trustworthy). Khadijah knew well these qualities of the Holy Prophet and thought him to be the fittest person for carrying on her trade. She sent a message to the Holy prophet that if he agreed to take her merchandise to Syria she would send her slave with him and would give him more profit than what she gave to others.
Being an enterprising and broadminded man, the Holy Prophet was not deterred in the least in his under-taking hardships encountered in a long journey and readily accepted the proposal. Taking Maisarah, the slave of Khadijah, with him he set out for the journey. At Syria he disposed off the goods and earned a large profit. From Syria he purchased other goods for selling in the market of Mecca, where these goods fetched double the profit. His integrity, honesty and capability enhanced his prestige in the eyes of Khadijah.
On the occasion an interesting event took place. When the Holy Prophet broke his journey at a place en route to Syria a Christian monk named Fastoora saw him and found in him all the signs which he had read in the scriptures to be the hall-mark of the Prophets. The monk who knew Maisarah asked him about the Holy Prophet. Maisarah told him that the young man in his company was a native of Mecca and belonged to the tribe of Quraish. The monk then told Maisarah that his companion was a Prophet because none but a Prophet halted under the tree where the Holy Prophet was then halting.
On his return Maisarah narrated this incident to his mistress. As Khadijah was a talented lady, she firmly believed in what she saw and heard about the Holy Prophet. She cherished feelings of faith in the Holy Prophet and decided, if the Holy Prophet condescended, to offer her hand for marriage with him. She called Nafisa, the sister of Ya'alia bin Ummayyah, a companion of the Holy Prophet, and assigned to her the duty of conveying the proposal to the Holy Prophet. Nafisa talked about marriage to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet replied that since he possessed neither wealth nor property he had no mind to marry that time. Nafisa said:
"How would you like the idea of being married with a woman who is not in need of your property, but instead she possess enough wealth and nobility of blood."
"Is there any such opportunity?"
Thereupon Nafisa disclosed that on account of his fine qualities and good manners, high character and nobility, Khadijah has expressed her desire to marry with him. Besides that she has a distant relationship with him. The Holy Prophet accepted the proposal and consulted his uncle, Hamza, (may Allaah bless him) and all others who also consented to it.
Since Khadijah's father had died, the Holy Prophet, taking his uncle Hamza with him, approached her uncle, Umar bin Asad, as it was the family custom. The Holy Prophet's high character, nobility of blood and charming manners were well known to the people of Mecca. There could be no reason for Umar bin Asad to decline the proposal, and so he accepted it.
On the appointed date the Holy Prophet, along with his uncle, Abu Talib, and others went to Khadijah's place and, according to the custom, first Umar bin Asad and then Abu Talib gave the marriage address. Thereafter Khadijah was wedded to the Holy Prophet for a dowry of five hundred dirhams equivalent to thirty one and a quarter rupees.
All were happy over this marriage and the Holy Prophet feasted relatives over a camel's meat which was slaughtered for this purpose. At the time of his marriage the Holy Prophet was 25 years old and it was 15 years earlier before he came to prophethood. Those who were intending to marry Khadijah were greatly disappointed and in their jealousy accused Khadijah for her folly in having chosen a poor youth. When she heard of this she transferred her entire wealth to the ownership of the Holy Prophet and thus made him the wealthiest of all. Allaah has referred to this event in the Holy Qur'aan in Sura Wad-Dhuha (S. XCII: 7-11) which reads:
"Did he not find thee an orphan and give thee shelter? And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance. And he found thee in need, and made thee independent."
Both Khadijah and the Holy Prophet were living a happy life. She had a great regard and respect for him and obeyed him in every matter. The Holy Prophet too treated her with great affection and politeness. Whatever Khadijah had owned was now the Holy Prophet's property. This freed him from worldly anxieties and he now devoted himself to Allaah's worship with greater peace of mind and comfort.
Amongst the wives of the Holy Prophet Khadijah enjoyed a unique position in one respect. All the children of the Holy Prophet with the exception of one son, Ibrahim, who was born of Maria the Coptic, were from Khadijah. From her two previous husbands Khadijah had three children. She had one son, Hala, and a daughter, Hind, from Abu Hala. From 'Atiq she had another daughter who was also named Hind. Five years after her marriage with the Holy Prophet she had four daughters: Zainab, Ruqaiyyah, Um Kulsum and Fatimah and two sons, Qasim and Abudullah (Allaah be pleased with them). All these children were born before the declaration of his prophethood. Zainab was the eldest and was born in Mecca ten years before his prophethood. She was married to her cousin Abdul Aas, son of Hala, sister of Khadijah. Zainab died in the 8th year of Hijrah, two years before her father's death. When the women were giving bath to her dead body, the Holy Prophet stood at the door outside giving them directions for bath and for coffin.
Ruqaiyyah, the second daughter, was married to the third Khaliifah, Hazrat Usman (may Allaah bless him). She died in Madina two years after migration to Madina. After her death her younger sister Um Kulsum was married to Hazrat Usman. It was on this account that Hazrat Usman is called Zu-n-Nurain. Um Kulsum also died young in the 9th year of Hijrah, one year before her father's death. Youngest among the daughters was Fatimah who was born five years before the year of prophethood and was married to the fourth Khalifah, Hazrat Ali (may Allaah bless him) in the 2nd year of Hijrah in the month of Ramadaan. She was the mother of the Imams Hasan and Husain, (may Allaah bless them) through whose descendants the progeny of the Holy Prophet continued. Fatimah died six months after her father's death.
One of his sons Qasim was the eldest and from his kinship the Holy Prophet was called Abul Qasim (father of Qasim). Qasim died in infancy at the age of one and a half years. He was born in Mecca and died there. He was the first child among the children of the Holy Prophet who died first. Abdullah, who was born next to Qasim, also died in infancy.
Full fifteen years of a happy married life passed when the time of revelation of his prophethood approached and the sun of Islam was about to shine on the horizon of Mecca. For six months the Holy Prophet began to dream true and clear dreams which he realised and actually experienced in daily life. The Holy Prophet used to go to a cave of the mountain called Hera, one of the hills of Mecca, and stayed there for several days together. On the eve of his departure for Hera, Khadijah used to give some edibles. Once, as usual, the Holy Prophet was absorbed in prayers for several days in Hera that the Archangel Gabriel appeared in the form of a man and brought to his the message of his prophethood from Allaah. Three times the Archangel embraced the Holy Prophet and pressed hard against his beast and then made him recite the first few verses of the Sura Iqraa (S. XCVI).
As it was the first occasion the Holy Prophet felt nervous. He feared whether he would be able to bear the heavy burden of prophethood or else perish. Shivering, he made for his house and asked Khadijah to cover him up at once. When his senses came to normal he narrated the whole story to Khadijah, his true sympathizer, and said that he feared danger to his life. Khadijah who was an experienced and wise lady was at once convinced of and believed in his prophethood and said:
"There is nothing to worry about. Since you possess many virtues; you help the poor, you are hospitable to your guests and kind to your relatives, I am confident Allaah will not let anything happen which may harm you."
To console him further she took him to her uncle's son Waraqah bin Naufal who was very old and had mastered the Holy Scriptures: the Torah and the Bible. After hearing his full story Waraqah said:
"Do not be afraid my son, I congratulate you on your prophethood. Surely the Angel that you have seen is the same which used to come to the prophet Moses (peace be on him)."
Though the Holy Prophet was convinced of his prophethood in the cave when the Archangel had appeared and whatever little nervousness he felt as a human being, in face of a heavy responsibility, vanished when Khadijah and Waraqah soothed him. Khadijah's high morality and wisdom are evident from her embracing Islam first of all without hesitation, and none could share her in this honour.
Now time had arrived when the Holy Prophet started preaching the Divine Message. He preached to the people of Arabia the Unity of Allaah and the worthlessness of their age-old idols which they worshipped with great devotion. This preaching antagonised the people and they turned his enemies. They started planning against him and they began to torture him by all possible means. But the Holy Prophet did not swerve in his determination and he preached righteousness with greater vigour. The entire population of Mecca and the whole people of his tribe, with the exception of his uncle Abu Talib and wife Khadijah, turned hostile. Abu Talib, being the head of the Quraish, was held in great respect by the people and it was his awe which often prevented people from molesting the Holy Prophet. Besides this Khadijah's own high social status was another factor in keeping people under restraint.
Although his uncle Abu Talib was convinced of the veracity of his preaching, yet he felt shy in embracing Islam lest people might laugh at him in believing a novice. He was the greatest patron of the Holy Prophet and it was his position as well as that of Khadijah's which served as protection of the Holy Prophet. But the Almighty soon deprived him of these two mortal sources of protection, just to show to the people that He was the real protector of His Prophet and how He was going to spread His religion from one end of the globe to the other.
By this time Abu Talib had passed eighty. In the tenth year of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be on him) Abu Talib breathed his last in the month of Zul Qa'adah. The Holy Prophet greatly mourned this heavy los of a kind guardian and patron. He was doubly grieved over his uncle's end without having embraced Islam.
Abu Talib's death was a bolt from the blue and his second well-wisher, Khadijah, also left for eternal rest within a few days (according to some only three days and according to others 35 days) after the death of Abu Talib. She died at the age of 65. It was a double tragedy for the Holy Prophet to have been deprived of his best friends one after the other within so short a time and the loss was irreparable. The offering of Namaaz (prayer) for the dead before burial had not been ordained by Allaah by that time; Khadijah was buried without Namaaz. She was laid to rest in the graveyard in Madina known as Hajun, by the name of a nearby hill. Now this graveyard is known as Jannat ul Maalla. Khadijah's memory left a permanent mark on the heart of the Holy Prophet so much so that throughout the remainder of his life he often missed her. The shock of her death was so great that the people thought it would break him down.
The Holy Prophet passed 24 years and six months in the company of Khadijah and those were the most happy days of his married life. He had so much love for her that as long as she lived the Holy Prophet did not take any other wife and even though he married several wives after her death he could not forget her. He often talked about her before his wives so much so that his most beloved wife after Khadijah, Aiyshah (may Allaah bless them) felt envious of her even though she was dead. Aiyshah narrates thus:
"Though I had not seen Khadijah and she had passed much earlier before my marriage with the Holy Prophet, I always envied her as the Holy Prophet often used to talk about her and whenever he distributed something such as meat etc. he would send it to the lady friends of the deceased."
From this the depth of his feelings of love and faithfulness to his deceased wife could be imagined. Once, long after the death of Khadijah, it so happened that while the Holy Prophet was in the house, Khadijah's sister came to him and asked for permission to come in. her voice resembled so much to that of Khadijah that the Holy Prophet was startled for a moment at it, but very soon he realised that the lady outside was no other than the sister of the deceased.
One day the Holy Prophet was praising his deceased wife when Aiyshah remarked:
"How long will you go on praising an old lady of Quraish! Allaah has given you several wives far better than her."
The Holy Prophet trembled with rage and said:
"No, I haven't got a better wife than her. She declared her faith in me when every body had belied me. She helped me at the most critical juncture when no one extended his help. Allaah gifted me with children from Khadijah while He deprived me of this blessing from my other wives."
Aiyshah says that from that time she resolved never to talk ill of Khadijah.
Once the Archangel came to the Holy Prophet and conveyed the message of Allaah. He said:
"Holy Prophet! Khadijah is coming to you with food in a vessel. When she approaches you convey to her Allaah's wishes and mine and convey as well the good news that Allaah has reserved a house of pearls in heaven for her where she will in enjoy all comfort and joy."
Once the Holy Prophet remarked that Khadijah is among the best women of the world and that of the heaven.
After the death of Abu Talib and Khadijah, the infidels of Mecca were emboldened and left no stone unturned in molesting and torturing the Holy Prophet, which he bore with patience. At last after three years when the infidels had plotted to kill him, Allaah ordered him to migrate from Mecca to Madina where he preached Islam with freedom. And it was from Madina that the rays of Islam reached the farthest ends of the globe.