Is it not a great honor that the first person to embrace Islam was a woman? She was the first to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that her husband was the Messenger of Allaah. Her husband was our beloved Prophet, Muhammad and she was Khadeejah .
Khadeejah came from a noble family. Her father, Khuwaylid, was one of the most honoured leaders of their tribe until he was killed in battle. Her husband had also died, leaving her a very wealthy woman. When Muhammad was still a young man, she entrusted him with some of her wealth, asking him to trade with it in Syria on her behalf. Well known for his honesty, truthfulness and trustworthiness, he returned from Syria after having made a large profit for her.
After hearing the account of his journey, she soon decided that he would make the best of husbands. Even though many of the eminent nobles of the Quraysh had already proposed to her earlier and had been refused. In due course, she chose to propose to Muhammad . After the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Taalib, had given the proposed marriage his blessing, Muhammad and Khadeejah were married. At the time of the marriage, the Prophet was twenty-five years old, while Khadeejah was forty.
For the next fifteen years, they lived together happily and Khadeejah bore several children. Their first child, a son whom they named Qaasim, died when he was only two years old. Two more sons, Tayyib and Taahir, were also born, but they too died in their infancy . However, Muhammad and Khadeejah also had four daughters who survived: Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthoom and Faatimah .
No one except Allaah, of course, knows more about a man than his wife, both his good and bad qualities, as well as his strengths and weaknesses. The more Khadeejah came to know about her husband, the more she loved and respected him . Everyone in Makkah called him ‘Al-Ameen’, which means ‘the trustworthy one’, and she, more than anyone else, knew how fitting this name was.
It became Muhammad’s custom each year to spend the month of Ramadhaan in seclusion and reflection in a cave on the mountain of Hiraa‘, which is on the outskirts of Makkah. Khadeejah always made sure that he had enough food and drink during his retreat.
This was until that day came, when Muhammad returned home trembling with fear saying, “Cover me! Cover me!” Then he related to his wife: “While I was in the cave, the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) came to me and said: ‘Recite.’ I replied: ‘I cannot recite’. So he took me and embraced me tightly, then let me go and repeated the order: ‘Recite.’ ‘I cannot recite,’ said I, and once again he embraced me till I was exhausted then released me. Then he ordered once more: ‘Recite.’ I proclaimed: ‘I cannot recite!’ He embraced me for a third time and after releasing me said (what means):
“Recite in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from a clinging substance. Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous.” [Quran 96:1-3]
Then I went out until I was at the mountain, I heard a sound coming from the sky saying: ‘O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of Allaah and I am Jibreel.’ So I raised my head up to see, and I saw Jibreel spreading his wings throughout the horizon saying: ‘O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of Allaah and I am Jibreel.” Then I stopped in my place, gazing, and did not walk forward or backward until he went away. And here I am, O mother of ‘Abdullaah (Khadeejah)!”
Then Khadeejah said, “O father of Al-Qaasim! I sent some of my messengers to look for you and they looked everywhere and did not find you, then they returned.” Then she smiled and said: “Cheer up, my dear husband, for I hope that you are the Prophet of this nation. Allaah will never humiliate you, for you are good to your relatives, you are true to your word, you help those who are in need, you support the weak, you feed the guest and you answer the call of those who are in distress.”
After that, she went with the Prophet to her cousin, Waraqah bin Nawfal bin Asad bin ‘Abd Al-‘Uzzaa, who had embraced Christianity in the pre-Islamic period and used to write the Bible in Hebrew. He was elderly and had become blind. Khadeejah said: “My cousin! Listen to your nephew!” Waraqah enquired: “O my nephew! What did you see?” The Messenger of Allaah told him what had happened to him. Waraqah replied, “This is the Namus (i.e., the Angel who is entrusted with the Divine messages) that Allaah sent to Moosaa (Moses). I wish I were younger. I wish I could live to the time when your people will drive you out.” Muhammad asked: “Will they drive me out?” Waraqah answered in the affirmative and said: “Anyone who had come with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility, and if I should live to that day, then I would strongly support you.”
The years that followed were difficult years in which the leaders of the Quraysh did everything in their power to stop the Prophet from spreading his message, Khadeejah was a constant source of help and comfort for him through the difficulties which he had to endure. All her wealth was spent in the way of Allaah in helping to spread the message of Islam, to free slaves who had embraced Islam, and to feed and shelter the community of Muslims that slowly began to grow in numbers and strength.
Khadeejah was the first to publicly accept Muhammad as the Messenger of Allaah, and she 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. Not even death could extinguish this love.
After a great deal of hard work and sincere effort, Khadeejah reached a high level and an exalted position amongst the Muslims. It was related by Abu Hurayrah that on one occasion when Khadeejah was still alive, Jibreel came to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of Allaah! Khadeejah is 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.”
Narrated ‘Ali bin Abu Taalib the Messenger of Allaah said: “The best of the world’s women is Maryam (Mary) (in her lifetime). The best of the world’s women is Khadijah (in her lifetime).”
Khadeejah lived as an honorable, free woman and died as a merciful believing woman, for the Prophet said after her death: “Allaah has not blessed me with a woman like Khadeejah: she believed in me at a time when people were disbelievers; she comforted me by her money at a time when people prohibited me; and Allaah has blessed me with children from only her, amongst all of my wives.”