By Moin Qazi, New Age Islam
08 March 2017
International Women’s Day, 8th March
Motherhood is a
mercy, being linked
affinity to Prophethood,
And her compassion is the prophet’s own.
For mothers shape the way that men shall go;
Maturer, by the grace of Motherhood,
of nations is the lines
That score that
brow determine our estate.
Iqbal -Rumuz-e-Bekhudi (Mysteries of Selflessness)
This woman, who
is your beloved, is in fact a ray of His light, She is not a mere creature. She
is like a creator
portrayal of Muslim women that we glimpse in the media is grim and somber. The
public perception of them is one of stubborn stereotypes: supposedly powerless
and oppressed, behind walls and veils, demure, voiceless and silent figures,
discriminated and bereft of even basic rights.
Yet this is far from true.
Contrary to general belief, Muslim women
have held the flag of enlightenment all through the historical ages. The early
Muslim community recognized and honoured a wide spectrum of female roles and
responsibilities. A mother was considered the first school for her children. In
Islam, a woman is seen as an individual in her own right, an independent
entity, and not as a shadow or adjunct to her husband or any other man. Muslim
women are fully entitled to education, work, business ownership, and
A closer look at and evaluation of the
roles Muslim women have played in many fields including literature, law, art,
Islamic studies, the humanities, social sciences and administration — reveals
that women, past and present, have achieved and contributed a great deal to
intellectual and cultural life in the Islamic world, despite the ways in which
they have been caught in the problematic intersections of thought and
patriarchal politics. From the first centuries of Islam, women were respected –
and held authority – as religious scholars, teachers and leaders, for example
as narrators and teachers of Hadith.
One such iconic female figure was Khadijah
Bint al-Khuwaylid (565-623), the Prophet’s first wife and incidentally the
first lady of Islam.
Khadijah was born to a father who was a
successful merchant in their Quraysh tribe of Mecca. She inherited her father's
skills in a time in history when society was male-dominated. Upon her father's
death, she took over the business and traded goods through the primary commerce
centres at that time, from Mecca to Syria and to Yemen, hiring the most trustworthy
men of character to brave the dangerous trade routes. Her business was larger
than all of the Quraysh trades combined and the most acclaimed with a
reputation of fair-dealing and high-quality goods. When all the Quraysh
caravans gathered to begin their long journeys to Syria in the winter or Yemen
in the summer, the caravan of Khadijah was equal in size to all of the other
caravans combined She had a keen eye and was highly intuitive, earning the
monikers, Ameerat-Quraysh ("Princess of Quraysh") and al-Tahira
("The Pure One") due to her stellar reputation. Khadija knew what she
was doing business-wise, never compromising her modesty or integrity to succeed
in the male-dominated trades- hiring only those that could meet these
Being the most successful woman around,
rich in worldly attainment as well as character, it seems Khadijah faced a
consistent campaign of men seeking her hand in marriage. She was married twice
before her wedlock to the Prophet; both of these marriages produced children
and both left her widowed. Her keen sense of character left her picky; and, she
was less than eager to suffer another painful loss of a husband. She resigned
herself to being a widowed woman taking care of herself and her family. ...
The Prophet’s uncle under whose
guardianship he was cared after being orphaned, Abu Talib had several mouths to
feed. It was necessary that he find for his nephew a higher paying job than
herdsmanship. One day he heard that Khadijah was hiring men of the Quraysh
tribe to work for her in her trade.
Abu Talib learned that she was preparing a caravan to send to al Sham, he
called his nephew, who was then twenty-five years of age, and said to him, “My
nephew, I am a man devoid of wealth and possessions. The times have been hard
on us. I have heard that Khadijah has hired a man to do her trade for a
remuneration of two young camels. We shall not accept for you remuneration as
little as that. Do you wish that I talk to her in this regard?” Muhammad
answered, “Let it be as you say my uncle.” Abu Talib went to Khadijah and said,
“O Khadijah, would you hire Muhammad? We have heard that you have hired a man
for the remuneration of two young camels, but we would not accept for Muhammad
any less than four.” Khadijah answered: “Had you asked this for an alien or a
hateful man, I would have granted your request. How then can I turn you down
when \your request is in favor of a dear relative?” Abu Talib returned to
Muhammad and told him the news, adding, “That is a true grace from God.”
On his first trip in the employment of
Khadijah, Muhammad was accompanied by Maysarah, her slave, who was also
recommended to Muhammad by his uncle. The caravan made its way to al Sham,
passing through Wad Al Zahran, Madyan and Thamud as well as those spots through
which Muhammad had passed once before with his uncle Abu Talib when he was
twelve years old.
Two unusual events took place during this
journey which puzzled Maysarah very much. The first happened when they stopped
to rest near the lonely home of a monk. Muhammad sat under a tree while
Maysarah was busy with some work. The monk came up to Maysarah and asked, ‘Who
is the man resting under the tree?’ ‘One of Quraysh, the people who guard the
Ka’bah’, said Maysarah. ‘No one but a Prophet is sitting beneath this tree’,
replied the monk. The second event occurred on the journey back to Makkah. It
happened at noon, when the sun is at its hottest. Maysarah was riding behind Muhammad
and as the sun grew fiercer he saw two angels appear above Muhammad and shield
him from the sun.
Muhammad’s gentle and persuasive style,
further refined by his cultural values enabled him to make great gains for
Khadijah-indeed more than anyone had done before! And his loyalty and
gentleness had won for him the love and admiration of the slave, Maysarah.
After he had completed all his business dealings, Muhammad bought for Khadijah
that entire she had asked him of the products of al Sham.
When the caravan had returned to al Zahran
near Makkah, Maysarah said to Muhammad
“Run to Khadijah, O Muhammad, and bring to her the news of your success.
She will reward you well.” Muhammad galloped on his camel towards the residence
of his employer and arrived there about noon. Khadijah listened to his report.
When Muhammad gave a scrupulous balance of the accounts, Khadijah was even more
intrigued to hear Maysara’s story of the journey. He gave his mistress a
glowing report of Muhammad and also hinted that there was something
otherworldly about him. Shortly, despite her forty years of age and the
indifference with which she rejected the offers of the noblest of Quraysh, her
respect for her employee was to turn into love. Although twice widowed and
significantly older than him, she proposed marriage, and returning her
affection Muhammad accepted.
he received the first revelation in a cave, it was Khadijah to whom he stumbled
down the mountain. Physically shaking and unable to comprehend his experience,
Mohammed turned to Khadijah, who immediately recognized the significance of
what had happened and encouraged him to let go of his fears. She was the first
to understand the importance of the revelation and is widely regarded as the
first Muslim, who led many others to believe. It was she who sustained,
strengthened, and supported him against his own doubt and bewilderment. She
played a central role in supporting and propagating the new faith of
Islam. She saw Muhammad through the roughest years in his becoming a
prophet. It was to her that he brought his fears of madness and his tears of
wonder. She simply began to balance everyday life with Divine Wonder as part of
ordinary reality. Known for her business acumen and compassion, she gave up
everything her wealth, her prestige, her everything in supporting the birth of
this new religion. With her husband,
however, she faced persecution because of her beliefs and actions until her
death. Despite the prevalence of polygamy in war torn Arabia, Prophet Mohammed
never took another wife while Khadijah was alive.
Islamic tradition praises Asiya, Mary,
Khadija, and Fatima as the four women who provided monumental examples of
excellence in faith.
The Prophet said “The best of the women of Paradise are
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muhammad, Aasiyah bint Mazaahim the wife
of Pharaoh, and Maryam bint ‘Imraan – may Allah be pleased with them.”
(Narrated by Ahmad, 2663. Classed as Sahih by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’,
He reiterated again elsewhere: “Sufficient
for you among the women of the world are Maryam the daughter of ‘Imraan.
Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid, Faatimah bint Muhammad and Aasiyah the wife of
Pharaoh.” (Narrated and classed as Saheeh by al-Tirmidhi, 3878)
Indeed, another of the most important women
of early Islam, Fāṭimah al-Zahrā’, was the daughter of the Prophet by Khadijah and it
is only through Fāṭimah (especially through her two sons, al-Hasan and al-Husayn) that
the lineage of the Prophet Muhammad is
The Prophet said of Khadijah:
“She believed in me while the people
disbelieved in me. And she trusted in me while the people belied me. And she
helped and comforted me in person and in wealth when the people would not.
Allah provided me with children by her, and He did not with others.”(Musnad
Imam Ahmad 6/118)
At another place he continues to shower an
effusive tribute: "God Almighty never granted me anyone better in this
life 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
God granted me children only through her."(Sahih Muslim).
Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a
Heretic Banker .He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four
Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic
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Good article. It is a great portrayal of
the first lady of Islam, Khadijah. I do not know which Caliph, theology or
school of thought reduced her importance. Lest all our Muslimas would be great business
magnets all over the world. How sad that ISIS, Boko haram, Taliban etc are
treating women as dirt.
It is wonderful to know that our young holy
Prophet kept fidelity at least to Khadijah.
It is also great that the author has not
forgotten to mention Maryam the daughter of Imraan or mother of Jesus (Isa) who
holds a singularly exalted place in Islam, as the, ONLY woman named by Allah in
the Quran. Allah refers to her 70 times
and explicitly identifies her as greatest of all women. Her story is related
Meccan chapters 19, 21, 23 and Medinan chapters 3, 4, 5, 66 and the 19th
full chapter is named after her, SURAT MARYAM
Her praise of Allah reveals His character.
“My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit
rejoices in Allah my Saviour, for he has looked on the humble estate of his
servant. For behold from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he
who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy
is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength
with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he
has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble
estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent
away empty. He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever”.
“In Islam, a woman is seen as an individual in
her own right, an independent entity,...” Blah… blah!
But that is NOT what I and the general public observes
it as on daily basis…hence the Pauline Henson, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilder,
Nigel Farage and host of others who dislike Muslims in their countries where Muslims
sink or swim to get to.
Was all this greatness achieved wearing
Burqa/Niqab, for example?
Was Khatija hiding her face before or after she married Muhammad.
Prove it being against Quran and if so then condemn such
present pagan practices boldly. Nothing “supposedly” in there. And then may be sing
the praises of what it was in early days!