My Dear Mr. Sultan Shahin,
The fatwa controversies on the permissibility of a Muslim family surviving financially on the earnings of a woman, raises the issue of Hazrat Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet. By all accounts she was an outstanding female liberating figure in history. Oddly her role has been substantially ignored by most branches of Islam. A most successful business woman, trading between Mecca and Damascus, she had great wealth. She used to employ men to handle her trading activities. The Prophet , prior to His revealations , worked for her. She was so impressed by His work and His honesty, that she offered to marry Him. He was fifteen years her junior. He accepted, and in the process stabilized His financial life. The Prophet moved into her house. Gradually He spent more and more time in prayers and contemplation in the hills around Mecca. The business was managed by Hazrat Khadija.
The first revelation of ' Iqra bismi Rabbikallazi khalaq', left the Prophet in a feverish state, with deep fear. It was Hazrat Khadija who gave Him strength at that crucial stage, by reposing faith in Him, becoming the first to recite the kalma, and the first to offer namaz behind Him. She braved the onslaught of the Meccan oligarchy, sacrificing all her wealth to support the small Muslim community. When she passed away her wealth was gone. Further the Prophet lost that one vital support within Meccan society. Combined with the death of His uncle Abu Talib, the Prophet realised that migration to Medina was the only option. That was Hizrat, and the beginning of the Islamic calendar. As long as she lived the Prophet never had another wife. After her death, any reference to her name , would make Him pensive and at times tearful.
Strangely Hazrat Khadija has never been given her rightful place in Islamic pantheon. Even the Shias consider Panch Panjatan, which includes the Prophet, Ali, Fatema, Hasan and Husain. But there is no mention of Khadija. Needless to add she was the mother of Fatema, and the foster mother to Ali. Even recent Muslim thinkers, such as Abu Ala Maududi or Maulana Ilyas or Syed Qutb, have not mentioned much about her. Why ? Could it be that a male centric Arab society, ( or for that matter in the rest of the Muslim world ) could never accept such an outstanding woman figure, who played so vital a role in nourishing the infant Islam ?
I think therein lies the tragedy of Muslims of today. Khadija is the warm gentle, yet commanding figure who with her remarkable life, can help us reclaim the vibrant, liberating spirit of early Islam. That alone could go a long way in removing the current image of Muslims among non Muslims. The most common Muslim female name is either Fatema or Ayesha. Should we not add the great name of Khadija ?.
J. S. Bandukwala
Baroda, Gujarat, India
You are absolutely right Mr. Bandukwala. I too have always been fascinated by the personality of Hazrat Khadija (R). You have done a great favour to persons like us for articulating this.