Khadijah's father, Khuwaylid ibn Asad, who died around 585, was a merchant, a successful businessman whose vast wealth and business talents were inherited by Khadijah, who successfully managed her father's business interests and preserved the family's fortune. It is said that when the Quraysh's trade caravans gathered to embark upon their lengthy and arduous journey either to Syria during the summer or to Yemen during the winter, Khadijah's caravan equalled the caravans of all other traders of the Quraish put together. Fatimah bint Za'idah – Khadijah's mother – died around 575, a member of the Banu `Amir ibn Luayy ibn Ghalib tribe and a distant relative of Muhammad.
Khadijah earned three titles: Ameerat-Quraish (Princess of Quraish) and al-Tahira (the Pure One), and Khadija Al-Kubra (Khadija the Great) and was said to have had an impeccable character. She used to feed and clothe the poor, assist her relatives financially, and provide for the marriage of those of her kin who could not otherwise have had the means to marry. Khadijah was said to have neither believed in nor worshipped idols, which was atypical for pre-Islam Arabianculture.
Her renown for business dealings caused many highly respected Arabian men to seek her hand in marriage. However, by 585, Khadijah remained unmarried.
Khadijah did not travel with her trade caravans; she relied on others to trade on her behalf, whom she compensated with commissions. In 595, Khadijah needed an agent for a transaction in Syria. Several agents whom she trusted (notably including Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib) and some relatives of hers recommended her distant cousin Muhammad ibn Abdullah, who had earned the honorifics Al-Sadiq (the truthful) and Al-Amin (the trustworthy).
Muhammad did not have any official business experience but twice had accompanied Abu Talib on trade trips and had keenly observed how Talib traded, bartered, bought, sold, and conducted business. Since hiring traders who lacked experience was not uncommon, Khadijah hired Muhammad, who was then 25 years old. Khadijah sent Muhammad word through Khazimah ibn Hakim, one of her relatives, offering him double the commission she usually paid. She sent one of her servants, Maysarah, to assist him. Maysarah gave accounts of Muhammad's performance and she was impressed.
The profit that Muhammad returned to Khadijah was the double of what she had anticipated. Muhammad fascinated Maysarah more than anything else related to the trip because of many strange events which took place during that journey. The trip's measure of success encouraged Khadijah to employ Muhammad again on a winter trip to Yemen. At this time, Yemen had just been annexed by the Persian Empire, and a regent of the Sassanid King, Khosrau I, Anoshervan was ruling it. This time Khadijah offered Muhammad triple the usual commission. Muhammad's second trip was equally profitable, but little else is known.
Marriage to Muhammad
Khadijah was from a noble family and at the time of Prophet Muhammad, she was a widow. Khadijah was very beautiful and she was also wealthy. For this reason, many men wanted her hand in marriage. However, Khadijah refused to marry them all. After being a widow, Khadijah lost her interest in marrying a second time. That was until Muhammad came into her life.
One day, Khadijah was looking for a person who would conduct business on her behalf in Syria. Since Muhammad was known to be a kind and honest person, his uncle, Abu Talib, got him the job. After Muhammad returned from Syria, Khadijah's servant told her how well Muhammad had conducted her business in Syria. Khadijah became impressed and it was said that Muhammad was the most honest person she ever met. So Khadijah sent her sister to Muhammad to ask him whether he would consider marriage to her. Muhammad was generally regarded as a kind and handsome man so it would have been seen as an honor for any woman to marry him. Muhammad agreed to the match and soon after, he and Khadijah married. The couple had a son by the name of Qasim, who died at a very young age (hence one of Muhammed's titles Abul Qasim, which translates to father of Qasim). However, afterwards Khadijah gave birth to their daughters Zainab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum andFatimah.
Becoming the first Muslim
When her husband received his first revelation from the Archangel Gabriel (Jibril), she was the first person (besides Muhammad) to convert to Islam. According to some sources, it was Khadijah's parental cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who confirmed Muhammad's prophethood soon after his vision of the angel.
Khadijah did not hesitate to embrace Islam at all, trusting to her husband's teachings.
Ronald Bodley in his book The Messenger, the Life of Mohammed, 1946 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 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 isAli son of Abu Talib. Do you know who the woman is?" The answer came again in the negative, to which Abbas said, "She is Khadijah 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 ?
She bore patiently in the face of persecution to which her revered husband and his small band of believers were exposed at the hands of the polytheists and aristocrats of the Quraish, sacrificing her vast wealth helping to promote Islam, helping to free slaves who had embraced Islam, and helping to feed and shelter the community of Muslims that slowly but surely began to grow in numbers and strength, seeking God's rewards.
She remained at his side and supported him throughout his mission to spread Islam.
Edward Gibbon in his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote:
During the 24-years of their marriage, Khadija's 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, the Prophet placed her in the rank of four perfect women, Asiya (the wife of Pharaoh), mother of Jesus, and Fatima.
According to Kazi Ejaz and Ibne Abdul Bir's book Al-Estiab:
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."
The year of her death is known as the Year of Sorrow, because of the devastation that it caused him and it was also the same year in which his uncle and guardian Abu Talib died. She was either 64 or 68 years old (having been born in AD 555). Her grave can be found in Jannatul Mualla cemetery, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Many scholars place the events of the Year of Sorrow in 619, 3 years prior to hijra. Others place this in 632 CE, 10 years after Hijra.
Ibn Kathir, the Islamic scholar and commentator on the Qur'an, writes in his book Wives of the Prophet Muhammad
Khadijah 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. The Prophet Muhammad never stopped loving Khadijah, and although he married several more wives in later years and loved them all, it is clear that Khadijah always had a special place in his heart. Indeed whenever Aisha, his third wife, heard the Prophet speak of Khadijah, or saw him sending food to Khadijah's old friends and relatives, she could not help feeling jealous of her, because of the love that the Prophet still had for her. Once Aisha asked him if Khadijah had been the only woman worthy of his love. The Prophet 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 Khadijah was still alive, Jibril came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, "O Messenger of Allah, Khadijah 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 the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, and his first wife, Khadijah, had both died in the same year, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his small community of believers endured a time of great hardship and persecution at the hands of the Quraish. Indeed the Prophet, who was now fifty years old, name 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
Main article: Genealogy of Khadijah's daughters
The daughters attributed to Muhammad are;
- Zainab bint Muhammad, married to her maternal cousin Abu al-Aas ibn al-Rabee before al-Hijra
- Ruqayyah bint Muhammad, was first married to Utbah ibn Abu Lahab and then to Uthman ibn Affan
- Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad, was first married to Utaybah bin Abu Lahab and then to Uthman ibn Affan after the death of her sister Ruqayyah
- Fatimah bint Muhammad, was married to Ali ('Ali bin Abi Talib)
Sunni Muslims do not contest the parentage of Khadijah's daughters; they believe that all four were borne to Muhammad. They affirm what the Qur'an states, "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers...".
The Sunni scholar Yusuf ibn abd al-Barr says: "His children born of Khad?ja are four daughters; there is no difference of opinion about that".
According to some Shia Muslim sources, she only had one daughter, Fatimah. The others either belonged to her sister or were from a previous marriage. The Shia 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 the Prophet and Khadijah and they maintained them, and it was the custom before Islam that a child was assigned to whoever brought him up.
- Halah bint Khuwailid
- Abd-Allah ibn Umm-Maktum
- Waraqah ibn Nawfal