Lady Khadija al-Kubra (as) is the daughter of Khuwaylid, belonging to the clan of Banu Hashim of the tribe of Banu Asad. She was a distant cousin of her husband, the seal of prophets, Prophet Muhammad (s). Lady Khadija (as) was a great and exceptional lady in the history of Islam, but unfortunately little spotlight is shed on her and her virtues and role in supporting Islam. We take this opportunity as an attempt to give her some of the attention she deserves and the praise she earned.
Lady Khadija (as) was born in 565 A.D. and died eleven years after the Hijra on the 10th of the holy month of Ramadan in the year 623 A.D. Although the society in which Khadija was born was terribly male chauvinistic, Khadija earned two titles: Ameerat Quraish, Princess of Quraish, and at-Tahira, the Pure One, due to her impeccable personality and virtuous character, not to mention her honorable lineage. She used to feed and clothe the poor, assist her relatives financially, and even provide for the marriage of those of her kin who did not have the means. The orphans used to seek refuge in her house because she sympathized with them and she would care for them in a motherly way, such that she became known as Ummul Yatama or the mother of orphans.
She was a wealthy businesswoman who employed Prophet Muhammad (s). When she learned of his exceptional manners and excellent morals, her heart was captivated and she took the step of proposing to the Prophet (s) for marriage, although this was not the custom at that time. Lady Khadija (as) was not concerned about the economic or financial status of the person she was going to marry or his status as an orphan. She was solely interested in the immaculate character and pure conduct of the Prophet which she considered to be worth more than gold and silver for her. She recognized the value of this divine verse praising him even before the verse was revealed, “Surely, you are on an exalted standard of character.” [Holy Quran, 68:4]
Unlike other people, Lady Khadija (as) never believed in nor worshipped idols and she immediately believed in the prophet, supported his mission and was the first woman to embrace Islam. The fact that Lady Khadija (as) believed in him as she was the closest to him indicates that the purity of his character was genuine and true whether he is with the people or with his family.
The incredible financial help which Lady Khadija (as) offered to the Prophet (s) and in support of Islam raised her high in status in the eyes of the prophet (s) and pleasure of Allah (swt). Her sacrifice and service to Islam was to the point that the day she departed this life, she was left without any wealth as she had given everything up for Islam. As the saying goes “Islam did not rise except through Ali’s sword and Khadija’s wealth.” The Prophet (s) invested Khadija’s wealth in Islam. There has never been a better investment in the entire history of mankind. This investment was a guarantee that Islam’s march would not be stymied because of any lack of material means and support. It was an investment that, to this day, is paying enormous dividends and will pay dividends for all generations till the end of time. But material wealth was not the only investment that Khadija made in Islam. She also invested her time, talent, energy, spirit and heart in Islam – an investment otherwise known as commitment.
Undeniably, history records that Prophet Muhammad (s) frequently expressed his deep love and admiration to Lady Khadija (as) and he preferred her over all his other wives. It is mentioned that the Prophet (s) would say in her honor, “Khadija was an embodiment of qualities. She certified my prophethood at the time when no one was my supporter.” (Khadijatul Kubra, A Short Story of Her Life by Sayyid Ali Asghar Razwy) When Ayesha sought to downplay the contributions of Lady Khadija (as), the Prophet (s) would say, “No Ayesha! Allah (swt) never gave me a better wife than Khadija! She believed in me when others denied me; she put all her wealth in my service when others withheld theirs from me; and what’s more, Allah gave me children only through Khadija.” (ibid)
In the entire history of the world, there are only four women who could measure up to the high standards of true greatness and perfection set by Islam. The Prophet (s) identified them to be. Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh, Maryam, the mother of Prophet Isa (as), Khadija, the daughter of Khuwayled, and Fatima al-Zahra (as), the daughter of the Prophet (s). (Great Women of Islam by Darul Salam Publications)
It has been narrated that when Lady Khadija (as) was nearing death, she said to the Prophet (s): “A part of my life was spent serving you, I wish you to take care of me on the day of Judgement and do intercession for me. Forgive me, If I lacked in fulfilling any of your rights.” It is also narrated that after Lady Khadija’s demise, Sayyida Fatima (as) told her father, “My mother desires that the cloak that you used to wear at the time of divine inspiration may be given for her coffin so that she could become the center of Allah’s blessings.” The Holy Prophet (s) wept and the angel Gabriel appeared with a message from Allah (swt) saying: “Oh Prophet, Khadija (as) is a benefactor of Islam because she has spent all her wealth in the way of God.” (Miftahul Jannah, by Muhammad Fakhr ul Muarrekheen al Zanjani) Angel Gabriel presented a coffin from paradise as a gift for Sayyida Khadija and promised to build for her a palace of pearls in paradise.
Such a woman who has earned the respect and love of Allah (swt) and His Prophet (s) deserves to become eternally remembered in history. Historians should make more of an effort to study her life and characteristics so that we would be inspired by her true beliefs, steadfast faith, and magnificent example. Peace be upon Lady Khadija (as), the first benefactor of Islam, the first wife and first lady of the Holy Prophet (s), the mother of the Master Ladies of the Universe, Sayyida Fatima al-Zahraa (as), and the mother of the infallible Imams (as)!