Khadija, the first wife of Muhammed Mustafa, the Messenger of Allah, (may Allah bless him and his Ahlel-Bayt), and the first Believer, evokes a most extraordinary personality. She played a stellar role in the history of nascent Islam. She was, with Abu Talib, one of the two greatest benefactors of Islam and the Muslims. At a time when Islam was under unremitting predation pressure; and was, for three years, in a state of unrelenting siege, she bailed it out, by her incredible sacrifices. Her constancy, her tenacity, her vision, and her indomitable faith in Allah, and in the mission of Muhammed Mustafa - His Last and the Greatest Messenger - were the sine qua non as the underpinnings of Islam during the first ten years of its existence.
For some mysterious reason, Khadija''s role - so central in shaping the destiny of Islam - has not received the recognition to which it is entitled, from most of the Muslim biographers and historians. Such recognition as they have given it, is, at best, perfunctory and tentative. To the best of my knowledge and belief, a standard biography of Khadija has not been published yet. This is a most lamentable lack in the inspirational literature of Islam, especially at a time when, in the West, there is growing interest in Islam as a creed, and in the story of the respective roles of its various protagonists in its early days.
The material which is extant on the life of Khadija in various sources, is scanty and fragmentary. Even this scanty and fragmentary material is not free from stereotypical interpretations or misinterpretations of history. The biographer or the historian must create a sensitized climate of authentic understanding of Islam, and he must make an evenhanded assessment of the roles of those personages who shaped its history. Khadija is one of the most dynamic and vital personages in the entire history of Islam. It is impossible to tell the story of Islam without telling the story of the contribution she made to its survival, its consolidation, and its eventual triumph. Islam owes Khadija an unpayable debt!
Therefore, I believe that the publication of a biography of Khadija - reflecting scientific spirit and scientific principles - which at one time I envisioned as a necessity, now confronts the Muslim biographers and historians as an overwhelming imperative.
Another reason why all Muslims should have access to the life-story of Khadija, is, that like her husband, Muhammed Mustafa, may Allah bless him and his Ahlel-Bayt, she too is a symbol of the unity of his umma. She is a symbol that fosters unity of the Muslim umma.
An attempt has been made in this book to put together whatever material on the life of Khadija was available in numerous scattered sources. But it is an attempt which, it must be conceded, is hopelessly inadequate. It purports to be a mere outline - to be referred to only until such time as more authoritative works on the subject become available. Nevertheless, it is essential for all Muslims, but especially for the Muslim women, to be familiar with the story of the life of Khadija and her work for Islam. She blended her personality with the personality of Islam so thoroughly that she became its heart and core.
Khadija literally lived and died for Islam. If Muslim women are in search of happiness in this world, and salvation in the Hereafter, they must live in imitation of the sainted life of Khadija. She is the "guardian" of the secret of winning the pleasure of Allah; and she is the "custodian" of the key that will unlock for them, the gates of success in the two worlds. She would be glad to share the "secret" with them, if they want to know what it is; and she would be glad to put the "key" in their hands, if they would seek it from her.
May Allah bless Khadija and her family.
Makka in the sixth century AD. was an important emporium in Arabia. It was at the crossroads of international commerce and trade. Cargoes coming from India such as spices, fruits, grain, ceramics and textiles, were unloaded at the ports of Yemen, and were carried from there, with the produce of Southern Arabia itself, such as coffee, medicinal herbs, aromatics, and perfumes, by camel caravans to Makka, and thence, to Syria and through Syria to the Mediterranean world.
Makka itself was the destination of many of the caravans of the "Incense Road" of Arabia and of the "Spice Road" of India. Other caravans passed through Makka and Yathrib on their way to various destinations in the north where they made a link-up with the caravans of the Silk Road of China.
The caravans coming from the north, also halted in Makka. They changed their camels and horses, replenished their supplies and then marched on to the ports in the south of the peninsula, on the Arabian Sea.
Makka was also a center for the exchange of goods and commodities, both for the sedentary and nomadic Arabian tribes; and it was a point of distribution of agricultural produce and manufactured goods to the hinterland of Hijaz. The tribesmen came from as far away as central Arabia and even eastern Arabia, to buy those goods which were not available in their territories. Most of this inter-tribal trade was carried on in Makka by the barter system.
The Quraysh of Makka was the most important tribe of Western Arabia. All its members were merchants. By providing trans-shipment of silk from China, produce from East Africa and treasures from India - the Quraysh dominated trade between the civilizations of the East and those of the Mediterranean.
Clearly much of this trade was in luxury goods but ordinary goods were traded too, such as purple cloth, clothing, plain, embroidered or interwoven with gold, saffron, muslin, cloaks, blankets, sashes, fragrant ointments, wine and wheat.
In this manner, the production, sale, exchange and distribution of goods had made the Quraysh quite rich. But there was one more thing to make them rich. Makka housed the Kaaba with its famous Black Stone. The Arabs came to Makka to perform pilgrimage at the Kaaba. For them, Makka held the same sanctity that Jerusalem did for the Jews and the Christians.
Kaaba was the pantheon of the idols of the various Arabian clans and tribes. The pilgrims brought rich and exotic offerings with them for the idols they worshipped. When the pilgrims left Makka to return to their homes, the priests of the pantheon appropriated all the offerings for themselves. The pilgrim traffic was a very lucrative source of revenue for the citizens of Makka.
If the Quraysh of Makka did not engage in trade for themselves, they would still become rich merely by providing the vast range of services, which they did, on a year-round basis, to the caravans - both northbound and southbound - and to the pilgrims. But many of them were enterprising merchants as noted before, and brought much wealth to Makka from the neighboring countries.
Though the merchants of Makka sent only one caravan to Syria and one to Yemen in the whole year, there were numerous other little caravans which plied between various points within the Arabian peninsula throughout the year. Most of them either originated in Makka or they passed through Makka. Therefore, the caravan traffic in Makka was quite brisk.
The caravans varied in size. They ranged from "local" caravans of as few as ten camels to "international" caravans of as many as thousands of camels. The organization of caravans was a major industry in Arabia.
Khadija was born in Makka. She was the daughter of Khuwayled bin Asad bin Abdul Uzza bin Qusayy. Qusayy was the common progenitor of her line as well as the line of Muhammed Mustafa of the clan of Bani Hashim, and the future Prophet of Islam (may Allah bless him and his Ahlel Bayt). She thus belonged to a collateral branch of the Bani Hashim. Next to Bani Hashim itself, her family was the noblest and the most honorable in all Arabia. Her family was distinguished not only by its opulence but also by Jl the content of its character.
Khuwayled, the father of Khadija, was, like most other memhers of the tribe of the Quraysh of Makka, also a merchant. Like most of them, he too had made a fortune in foreign trade. The merchants of Makka put together two caravans every year - one in summer and one in winter. They sent the "summer caravan" to Syria and the "winter caravan" to Yemen.
These caravans carried the produce of the desert, and the goods manufactured in Makka and the surrounding areas, and sold them in the markets of Syria and Yemen. They also sold pedigreed horses in Syria. These horses were valued very highly in Syria and in the neighboring countries. After selling their merchandize and their horses, the traders bought grain, olive oil, fruits, coffee, textiles, luxury goods and other manufactured items for sale in Makka. They thus made profit at both ends of the journey.
(This trade of Makka has been referred to in Quran Majid in Sura Quraysh, the 106th chapter).
Foreign trade was the entire basis of the economic life of Makka. Makka had neither arable lands nor water for irrigation.
The Makkans, therefore, could not grow their own food. To feed themselves, they depended upon their trade with Syria and Yemen. With the profits they made in their trade, they bought grain and other necessities of life.
Each caravan had a leader. This leader had to be a man of some exceptional qualities. Upon his judgment and decisions depended the physical safety and the success of the caravan in its business of selling and buying. He was responsible for protecting the caravan from the brigands and the predators of the desert. This he did by recruiting warriors from various tribes, and by forming a squad or squads out of them, depending upon the size of the caravan. This squad accompanied the caravan to its destination. All caravans bound for distant destinations travelled under military escort.
The caravan-leader also had to be gifted with a "sixth sense" to guide him in the trackless desert during the day, and he had to have the ability to determine directions at night. He, therefore, had to have the knowledge of the relative position of the stars. He also had to assure beforehand the availability of water during the long journey north to Syria or south to Yemen. He also had to take precautionary measures against such unforeseen hazards as sand-storms and flash floods. He also had to have the ability to administer "first aid" to a traveller if he became sick or was injured. In other words, he had to be a man capable of handling any emergency. The merchants of Makka, therefore, selected a leader for their caravans after thoroughly investigating his antecedents. A screening panel of experienced travellers appraised all candidates for the post.
The panel was not satisfied by anything less than the proven ability of a candidate to "navigate" skillfully in the uncharted "sea" of sand, and his success in bringing the convoys of the "ships of the desert," (= the camels), and their cargoes, home safely. To be acceptable to the panel, a candidate had to show that he had thorough familiarity with the logistics of the caravans; and his "credentials" had to be impeccable.
Khadija's mother had died in or around A D. 575; and Khuwayled, her father, died in or around AD. 585. Upon his death, his children inherited his fortune, and divided it among themselves. Wealth has its own perils. It can tempt one to live a life of idleness and luxury. Khadija subconsciously understood the ambivalent character of wealth, and made up her mind not to let it make her an idler. She was endowed with such extraordinary intelligence and force of character that she overcame the challenge of prosperity, and decided to build an empire upon her patrimony. She had many siblings but among all of them, she alone had "inherited" their father's ability to become rich. But she demonstrated very soon that even if she had not inherited a fortune from her father, she would have made one for herself.
After the death of Khuwayled, Khadija took charge of the family business, and rapidly expanded it. With the profits she made, she helped the poor, the widows, the orphans, the sick and the disabled. If there were any poor girls, Khadija married them off, and gave them dowry. One of her uncles acted as her adviser in business matters, and other members of the family also assisted her in the management of business if and when she sought their assistance. But she didn't depend upon anyone else to make her decisions. She trusted her own judgment even though she welcomed advice and considered it. The senior members of her family knew that one thing she didn't like was paternalism.
Most of the traders who had cargo to sell in Syria or Yemen, travelled with the caravans to oversight all transactions in person. But there were occasions when a trader was unable to leave Makka. In such an event, he engaged a man to go in his stead, with the caravan. The man chosen for this purpose, had to be one with good reputation for his probity and for his sound business sense. Such a man was called an agent or a manager.
Khadija herself was a homebody and her brothers and cousins also did not show any interest in travelling with the caravans. She, therefore, recruited an agent whenever a caravan was outfitted to go abroad, and made him responsible for carrying her merchandize to the foreign markets and for selling it in those markets. By judicious selection of her agents, and by selling and buying at the right time and at the right place, she was able to make fantastic profits, and in due course, became the richest merchant in Makka. Ibn Sa'ad says in his Tabqaat that whenever caravans of the Makkan merchants set out on their journey, the cargo of Khadija alone was equal to the cargo of all other merchants of Quraysh put together. She had, it was obvious to everyone, the proverbial "golden touch." If she touched dust, it turned into gold. The citizens of Makka, therefore, bestowed upon her the title of the Princess of the QuMysh. They also called her the Princess of Makka.
Arabia at this time was a pagan society, and the Arabs worshipped a multitude of idols and fetishes who, they believed, had the power to bring good fortune to them. But their idolatry was crude and primitive, and their habits, customs and characteristics were repulsive. Drunkenness was one of their many vices, and they were incorrigible gamblers. They were wallowing in a pit of error and ignorance. Quran Majid has borne testimony to their condition in the following verse:
IT IS HE WHO HAS SENT AMONGST THE UNLETTERED AN APOSTLE FROM AMONG THEMSELVES, TO REHEARSE TO THEM HIS SIGNS, TO SANCTIFY THEM, AND TO INSTRUCT THEM IN SCRIPTURE AND WISDOM, - ALTHOUGH THEY HAD BEEN, BEFORE, IN MANIFEST ERROR; (Chapter 62; verse 2)
But the country was not altogether devoid of individuals who found idolatry repugnant. These individuals, who were very few in number, were called "Hanifs," i.e., men and women "who had turned away from idol worship." Makka also had a sprinkling of these "hanifs," and some of them were in the clan of Khadija herself. One of them was her first cousin, Waraqa bin Naufal.
Waraqa was the eldest of all his siblings, and his hair had all turned grey. He castigated the Arabs for worshipping idols and for deviating from the true faith of their forebears - the prophets Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ismael. Ibrahim and Ismael had taught the lesson of Tauheed - the doctrine of the Unity of the Creator. But the Arabs had forgotten that lesson, and had become polytheists. Waraqa despised them for their polytheism and their moral turpitude. He himself followed the religion of Prophet Ibrahim, the true and faithful slave of Allah. He never associated any partner(s) with Allah. He did not drink and he did not gamble. And he was generous to the poor and the needy.
One of the most hideous customs of the Arabs of the times was that they buried their female infants alive. Whenever Waraqa heard that someone intended to bury his daughter alive, he went to see him, dissuaded him from killing his daughter, and if the reason for the contemplated murder was poverty, he ransomed her, and brought her up as his own child. In most cases, the father later regretted his error, and came to claim his daughter. Waraqa exacted from him a pledge to love his daughter, and to treat her well, and only then let him take her back.
Waraqa lived in the twilight of the pagan world. That world was soon going to be flooded with the Light of Islam - the Religion of Allah, par excellence - the Pristine Faith, first promulgated, many centuries earlier, by Ibrahim (Abraham), the Friend and Messenger of Allah. Allah had already chosen His slave, Muhammed Mustafa ibn Abdullah, of the clan of Bani Hashim, to be His new and His last Messenger to the world. The latter was living in Makka at the same time as Waraqa but had not proclaimed his mission yet.
Waraqa was one of the very few people in Makka who were educated. He is reported to have translated the Bible from Hebrew into Arabic. He had also read other books written by the Jewish and Christian theologians. He was a desperate seeker of truth in the darkness of a world growing darker, and longed to find it before his own death, but did not know how.
Khadija was strongly influenced by the ideas of Waraqa, and she shared his contempt for the idols and the idolaters. She did not associate any partner(s) with the Creator. Like Waraqa and some other members of the family, she too was a follower of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismael.
Khadija was a Muwahhid (monotheist)!
What Khadija did not know at this time was that within a few years, her destiny was going to be intertwined with the destiny of Muhammed Mustafa, the apostle of Monotheism (Tauheed); and with the destiny of Islam, the creed of Monotheism.
Arabia, before Islam, had no political organization in any form, and had no basic structure of any kind. There were no courts or police or a system of justice. Therefore, there was no apparatus to control crime, or to inhibit criminals. If an Arab committed a crime, he didn't feel any remorse. Instead, he boasted that he was capable of being utterly reckless, brutal and ruthless.
The whole peninsula was a masculine-dominated society. A woman had no status whatsoever. Many Arabs believed that women were bringers of bad luck. In general, they treated women more like chattel than like individuals. A man could marry any number of women he liked. And when he died, his eldest son "inherited" all of them except his own mother. In other words, he married all his step-mothers. Such a thing as a code of ethics simply did not exist to inhibit him in any way. Islam placed this foul practice under proscription.
The pre-Islamic Arabs were semi-savages. An Arab spent his life in lawless warfare. Killing and plundering were his favorite professions. He tortured his prisoners of war to death, and torturing animals was one of his favorite pastimes. He had a perverse sense of honor which led him to kill his own infant daughters. If his wife gave birth to a daughter, he was unable to conceal his anguish and displeasure.
WHEN NEWS IS BROUGHT TO ONE OF THEM, OF (THE BIRTH OF) A FEMALE (CHILD), HIS FACE DARKENS, AND HE IS FILLED WITH INWARD GRIEF!
WITH SHAME DOES HE HIDE HIMSELF FROM HIS PEOPLE, BECAUSE OF THE BAD NEWS HE HAS HAD! SHALL HE RETAIN IT ON (SU~RANCE AND) CONTEMPT, OR BURY IT IN THE DUST?
AH! WHAT AN EVIL (CHOICE) THEY DECIDE ON. (Quran Majid. Chapter 16; verses 58, 59)
In most cases an Arab killed his daughter out of his fear that she would be made a prisoner in the inter-tribal wars, and therefore, a slave of the enemy, and her status as a slave would bring disgrace to his family and tribe. He could also kill her out of his fear of poverty. He believed that his daughter would become an economic liability to him. Islam made the killing of children a capital offence.
KILL NOT YOUR CHILDREN FOR FEAR OF WANT: WE SHALL PROVIDE SUSTENANCE FOR THEM AS WELL AS FOR YOU. VERILY THE KILLING OF THEM IS A GREAT SIN. (Quran Majid. Ch. 17; verse 31)
There were also those Arabs who did not kill their daughters but they deprived them of all their rights. They figured that since their daughters, when married, would go to other men's homes, they ought not to spend anything on them.
It was such an environment in which Khadija was born, grew up and lived - an "anti-woman~ environment.
From her home in Makka, Khadija controlled an ever-growing business which spread into the neighboring countries. What she had succeeded in achieving, would be remarkable in any country, in any age, and for anyone - man or woman. But her achievement becomes doubly remarkable when one takes into account the "anti-woman" orientation of the Arab society. This is proof of her ability to master her destiny by her intelligence, strength of will and force of character. Her compatriots acknowledged her achievements when they called her the princess of the Quraysh and the princess of Makka, as noted before.
But even more remarkably, Khadija also earned a third title. She was called "Tahira" which means "the pure one." Who bestowed the title of Tahira upon her? Incredibly, it was bestowed upon her by the same Arabs who were notorious for their arrogance, conceit, vanity and male chauvinism. But Khadija's conduct was so consistently exemplary that it won recognition even from them, and they called her "the pure one."
It was the first time in the history of Arabia that a woman was called the Princess of Makka and was also called Tahira. The Arabs called Khadija the princess of Makka because of her affluence, and they called her Tahira because of the immaculacy of her reputation. They were also aware that she was a highly cultivated lady. She was thus a personage of distinction even in the times before Islam - the Times of Ignorance.
It was inevitable that Khadija would attract the attention of the Arab nobles and princes. Many among them sent proposals of marriage to her. But she did not consider any of them. Many of these nobles and princes were persistent in seeking her hand in marriage. Not discouraged by her refusal, they sought out men and women of influence and prestige to intercede for them with her. But she still spurned them all. She perhaps didn't attach much importance to the guardians of the male-dominated and "anti-woman" society.
Khadija's refusal to accept the offers of marriage sent by the high and the mighty of Arabia, gave rise to much speculation as to what kind of man she would like to marry. It was a question that Khadija herself could not answer. But her destiny knew the answer; she would marry a man who was not only the best in all Arabia but was also the very best in all creation. It was her destiny which prompted her to turn down offers of marriage sent by commonplace mortals.
Though Arabia did not have any government - national, regional or local - the city of Makka was dominated by the tribe of Quraysh, as noted before. Quraysh was composed of twelve clans. These clans shared responsibility for maintaining a modicum of law and order in the city.
One of the clans of Quraysh was Bani Hashim. Each clan had its own leader. The leader of Bani Hashim was Abu Talib ibn Abdul Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn Abd Manaf ibn Qusayy. Like his forefathers, Abu Talib was also a merchant. In addition to being the chief of the clan, he was also the guardian of the Kaaba - the House of Allah - built in Makka, many centuries earlier, by the prophets Ibrahim and Ismael, and dedicated by them to the service of Allah Ta''ala.
Abu Talib had a younger brother called Abdullah. In A.D. 570, Abdullah went to Syria with a caravan. A few months before his departure to Syria, he had been married to Amina bint Wahab, a lady of Yathrib (Medina).
On his return journey from Syria, Abdullah fell ill and died. He was only 17 years old at his death. When he left Makka, his wife was pregnant, and she was living in the house of her brother-in-law, Abu Talib. Two months after the death of Abdullah, her child - a boy - was born. His grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, gave him the name Muhammed. Muhammed was born on June 8, 570, in the house of his uncle, Abu Talib, in Makka.
The infant Muhammed was, some day, going to be handpicked by Allah Ta''ala to be His Messenger to the whole world, and he was going to change the destiny and the history of mankind forever.
Muhammed was six years old when his mother, Amina the daughter of Wahab, died, after a brief illness. Upon her death, his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, took him to his home. But only two years had passed when Abdul Muttalib also died.
Abdul Muttalib had ten sons. When he was on his deathbed, he called all of them, and designated his son, Abu Talib, as the new chief of the clan of Bani Hashim. He also made Abu Talib the guardian of Muhammed. Both Abu Talib and Abdullah, the father of Muhammed, were the sons of the same mother, whereas Abdul Muttalib''s other sons were born of his other wives.
Abu Talib brought Muhammed into his house. Muhammed came, he saw and he conquered - all. Abu Talib and his wife lavished all their love upon him. They loved him more than they loved their own children. Muhammed was born in their house. His birth in their house had made it a house of many blessings; and now, after the death of Abdul Muttalib, he had returned to it.
When Muhammed was a child, he didn''t show any interest in the toys and the frolics of children. In his boyhood, he didn''t show any interest in games and sports, or in the company of other boys of his own age. As young as he was, he preferred solitude to company.
Like other members of the tribe of Quraysh, Abu Talib also sent his merchandize to Syria and to Yemen every year. Sometimes he went in person with the caravans, and at other times, he engaged an agent who sold his merchandize in the markets of those countries.
In A D. 582 Abu Talib decided to visit Syria with a caravan. His nephew, Muhammed, was 12 years old at this time. Abu Talib loved him so much that he could not bear to part company with him even for a few months. He, therefore, took him to Syria with him.
Muhammed was a precocious boy, and notwithstanding his extreme youth, was a highly gifted observer. In course of his journey and during his sojourn in Syria, he carefully observed the people and their customs, mores, modes of worship, costumes, speeches and dialects. And whatever he saw, he remembered. Upon his return to Makka, he could recreate his experience from beginning to end, and he could recollect all his observations in vivid and graphic detail. He never forgot anything; in fact, he had "total recall." And though he was young in years, he was mature in wisdom and in plain common sense. Abu Talib was aware that Muhammed was wise and intelligent beyond his years and his experience. He, therefore, did not treat him like a minor but showed him all the respect due to an adult in Arab society.
Soon young Muhammed entered his teens. Though now on the threshold of young manhood, he still didn''t take any interest in the pleasures that other young men seek. He eschewed levity of all kinds and as noted before, he preferred to be alone with his thoughts. He had the opportunity to satisfy this predilection when he grazed the sheep of his uncle. He was all alone under the immense vault of the sky. The silent and the brooding desert rolled up to the horizons, and seemed to encourage and to invite him to reflect upon the wonders of creation, the mysteries of heaven and earth, and the meaning and purpose of life. He surveyed the landscape from horizon to horizon, and it appeared to him as if a vast, cosmic solitude was the only °presence" to keep him company. Solitude to him appeared to be a new "dimension" of his world.
By the time Muhammed was out of his teens, the people of Makka had begun to take notice of him. They knew that he never deviated from rectitude, and he never erred. They also noted that he didn''t talk much but when he did, he spoke only the truth, and he spoke only the words of wisdom. Since the Makkans had never heard him utter a falsehood, they called him "Sadiq" (=the Truthful).
Within a few more years, the citizens of Makka were going to bestow another title upon Muhammed. Knowing that he was highly conscientious, many of them began to deposit their cash, their jewelry and ornaments, and other valuables with him for safe-keeping. Whenever anyone wanted his deposits back, Muhammed returned them to him. There never was an occasion when any repayment went by default. After such experience with him, over several years, they began to call him "Amin" (=the Trustworthy). He and he alone was called Sadiq and Amin by the Makkans.
A. Yusuf Ali, the translator and commentator of Quran Majid, has explained the word Amin as follows:
"Amin = one to whom a trust has been given, with several shades of meaning implied: e.g., (1) worthy of trust, (2) bound to deliver his trust, as a prophet is bound to deliver his Message, (3) bound to act entirely as directed by the trust, as a prophet is bound to give only the Message of Allah, and not add anything of his own, and (4) not seeking any interest of his Own.
The pre-Islamic Arabs held every year a "season of fairs" in various parts of the country. Some of these fairs were held in Makka or in the environs of Makka. Well-known among them were the fairs of Ukkaz, Majanna and Dhul-Majaz. Muhammed visited these fairs whenever it was convenient for him to do so.
All these fairs were held in the four sacred months of Rajab, Dhil-Qaada, Dhil-Hajj and Moharram, according to ancient Arab tradition. During these four months, there was a total embargo on all kinds of violence, warfare, plunder and brigandage. At the very beginning of the "season of peace," a general truce went into effect. This truce was recognized and respected by all Arabian tribes.
Merchants, farmers and craftsmen gathered at these fairs from far and near to sell, to buy and to exchange. They brought the best of their products with them, and proudly exhibited them. The other arts of peace, poetry among them, were cultivated during the suspension of hostilities.
Poetry was the first love of the Arabs. If poetic talent was discovered in any tribe, it was an occasion, for each and all, to celebrate. The other tribes, friendly to it, presented their congratulations to it, for producing such talent. The Arabs were great aficionados of Arabic words and the multiple nuances of their meanings. They called themselves the "sons of Arabic." In these fairs the poets read their latest compositions, and held their audience spell-bound with the "pyrotechnics" of their eloquence. Eloquence was an attribute which the Arabs treasured as paramount in importance. One of their maxims was that the beauty of a woman is in her face; but the beauty of a man in his eloquence. They admired the skill of construction in an ode as much as the poet''s felicity of expression. Weird-looking mystics of the desert and wild-looking soothsayers and the oracles of the tribes, regaled their audience with their cryptic speeches, parables and their esoteric prognostications, even though few, if any, could understand their language of symbolisms. Most Arabs believed that astral influence determined man''s fate. The soothsayers, therefore, were held in great awe in the whole country; it was believed that they had the power to commune with the stars. Singers, dancers, entertainers, acrobats and magicians, all vied with each other for the attention of the public.
These fairs were also frequented by the saints, priests and holy men who preached their doctrines. They were all free to propagate their creeds and their ideas without fear of molestation from anyone during these four months. Peace and the arts of peace flourished against this panorama of untamed human vitality.
In these fairs, Muhammed found an opportunity to observe a cross-section of the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula. He also studied, at first hand, the customs and beliefs of the people of different social, cultural and geographical backgrounds.
In the spring of A D. 595, the merchants of Makka "assembled" their summer caravan to carry their merchandize to Syria. Khadija also had her merchandize ready but she had not found a man who would take charge of it as her agent. A few names were suggested to her but she did not consider them satisfactory.
Through some of his colleagues in the merchants'' nguild" of Makka, Abu Talib learned that Khadija was in need of an agent who would take her cargo with the caravan to Syria and would sell it there.
It occurred to Abu Talib that his nephew, Muhammed, who was now 25 years old, would qualify for the job. He was anxious to find employment for him. He knew that he (Muhammed) had no experience as an agent but he also knew that he (Muhammed) would more than make up for such a lack by his exceptional talents. He had faith in the capacities and faculties of his nephew, and was confident that he had enough savvy to handle his responsibilities and duties as an agent to the entire satisfaction of his employer. Therefore, with his (Muhammed''s) tacit agreement, he called on Khadija, and broached with her the subject of his (Muhammed''s) candidacy, as her new agent.
Like most of the other citizens of Makka, Khadija had also heard about Muhammed. One thing she knew that she could not question, was his integrity. She sensed that she could trust Muhammed implicitly and explicitly. She therefore readily agreed to appoint him (Muhammed) as her agent. She did not consider his lack of experience a handicap, and said that she would, in any case, send her slave, Maysara - an experienced traveller - with him to assist him in his duties.
Khadija was a superb administrator and a consummate organizer. But she was also lucky. She had always been lucky in finding good agents for her business. Even though she was "success-oriented," she was soon surprised to discover that with Muhammed as her agent, her luck soared as it had never done before. For Khadija, there never was in the past, and there never was going to be in the future, an agent like Muhammed. If she had the "golden touch" in her hand, he had the "blessed touch" in his.
Khadija and Abu Talib worked out the details of the new arrangement. And when Muhammed called on his new employer to sign the contract, she explained to him the specifics of the trade. He immediately grasped what she told him, and didn''t ask any questions seeking clarification. Khadija told Abu Talib that the recompense she would pay to Muhammed for his services, would be the double of what she had paid to her other agents in the past.
What Khadija didn''t know at this time was that it was the hand of destiny which was working behind this arrangement. Destiny had other plans for her and for Muhammed. Those plans transcended such mundane and picayune matters as making profit in a business enterprise, as events were very soon to show.
In the meantime, the "summer caravan" of the Makkan merchants had been equipped, and was ready for departure on its long journey. The merchants brought their cargo out of the warehouses to be loaded on camels. The documents were prepared and were signed. Provisions were taken, and guides and the escorts were engaged. At the appointed time, Muhammed arrived with Abu Talib and his other uncles. They were greeted by an uncle of Khadija who was awaiting them with the "Bill of Lading" and the other documents.
Muhammed had to take inventory of the merchandize that he was going to sell in Syria. With Maysara, he checked all items against the manifest, and found everything in order. Maysara had to do the paperwork relating to the sales and purchases. He was the record-keeper.
Abu Talib gave special instructions to Maysara and to the leader of the caravan regarding the comfort and safety of Muhammed. They promised to do everything to make the journey pleasant and safe for him. Abu Talib and his brothers thanked them for showing solicitude for Muhammed''s welfare. They prayed for his success in the new venture, and for his safe return. Then they committed him to the protection of Allah, and bade him farewell.
During summer, most caravans travelled at night to escape the murderous heat of the day, and they rested during the day. Travel during the day could be extremely exhausting both for the riders and for their camels and horses. Most caravans, therefore, left Makka "with the declining day," as the Arabs said, or when the sun had passed the zenith, and the heat was a little less oppressive.
Presently one of the outriders of the caravan rang a bell. The bell alerted all travellers that the caravan was ready to march. The crouching camels were made to stand, much against their will, and they showed their displeasure by protesting and snorting but took their position in the long train. About three hours before sunset, the leader of the caravan gave a signal, and the caravan was set in motion.
The caravan headed toward the north. The folks and the friends of the travellers lingered for some more time waving at them and watching, as the caravan receded into the distance. When the last camel disappeared beyond the hills, they also dispersed, and went to their homes.
The new travellers rode pillion with the experienced travellers who showed them the sights which were familiar to them, and explained their peculiarities to the former. Maysara pointed out many interesting sights to Muhammed. The latter also recognized all the landmarks that he had seen on the road which he had traversed 13 years earlier with his uncle. Nothing had changed in those 13 years. Maysara proved to be a lively companion who could tell many pertinent stories and could recount numerous interesting incidents from his earlier travels. Muhammed found that other travellers were also cordial and friendly.
After nearly a month, the caravan arrived at its destination in Syria. Billeting arrangements had already been made for the weary travellers in an inn, and they all wanted to rest after enduring the rigors of a month-long journey over difficult terrain and in searing heat. They could take as much as a week to recuperate their vitality.
When the merchants had rested their aching limbs and were refreshed once again, they went into the market-place to dispose of the goods which they had brought from Makka. Some of it they sold against cash, and some of it they bartered for the Syrian goods. They had also to buy merchandize for the home market, and they sought and found many profitable bargains. These transactions could take anywhere from two to four months.
Muhammed also sold his cargo and bought new cargo. Though for him it was his first commercial venture, he did not falter, from lack of experience, in conducting business transactions. In fact, he surprised Maysara by his "professionalism" in the trade. Maysara also noted his perspicacity as a negotiator and his acumen and probity as a salesman. Muhammed protected the interests of both his employer and his customers. And yet, he made more profit for Khadija than she had ever made ever since she had taken charge of her father''s business at his death. And the cargo he bought in Syria for her, was superb in quality and was certain to fetch high prices in Makka, as it did.
In Syria whoever met Muhammed, was impressed by him. He had a striking appearance that made him unforgettable to anyone who saw him once.
Though Muhammed was busy in selling, in negotiating, in investigating the market, and in buying, Maysara noted that he nevertheless found time to be alone with himself. For Maysara, these silent sessions of Muhammed were rather mysterious, but he did not interrupt them. He didn''t know it then that his young master was in the habit of reflecting on the state and destiny of man.
In Syria, Muhammed met many Christians and Jews. He had assumed that each of these two groups would be "monolithic." But to his surprise, they were not. Both of them were splintered into many sub-groups, and the mode of worship of each of them was different from that of the others. Who among them was right and who was wrong? It was a question that intrigued Muhammed. The quest for an answer to this question, and other kindred questions kept him awake at nights when everyone else had gone to sleep.
Eventually, when all sale and purchase transactions were completed, and presents for families and friends were procured, the caravan returned to Makka. For the homesick travellers, homecoming is always an occasion for rejoicing. It''s an occasion full of anticipation as one is going to meet one''s loved ones whom one has missed for many months. The weary travellers cannot wait long enough to hear the merry laughter of their children, and they know that when that heavenly moment comes, they would not be able to withhold their tears, still less to conceal them. They know from long experience that there would be much laughter but also there would be many tears - the tears of joy. Laughter and Tears mixed freely on such blessed and blissful occasions.
The arrival of a caravan always generated much excitement in the city. It was, in fact, a festive occasion for everyone living in Makka and the surrounding areas. The "docks" where the "fleets" of the "ships of the desert" (i.e. the camels), unloaded their passengers and cargo, were the scenes of great animation. Most of the citizens and even the roving, nomadic tribesmen, found the hustle and bustle of a newly-arrived caravan a welcome change in the tempo of life.
The arrivals and departures of caravans were important events in the lives of the Meccans. Almost everyone in Mecca had some kind of investment in the fortunes of the thousands of camels, the hundreds of men, horses, and donkeys which went out with hides, raisins, and silver bars, and came back with oils, perfumes, and manufactured goods from Syria and Egypt and Persia, and with spices and gold from the south.
(The Messenger - the Life of Mohammed, 1946)
People came to greet their loved ones who were returning home after an absence of six months. Many among them came with mixed feelings - feelings of hope mixed with feelings of fear. Once anyone left the city with a caravan, there was no way for his folks to know if they would ever see him alive again. Some travellers died on the long journey and were buried in places which were remote, and were inaccessible. Their kith and kin could never visit their graves.
And it was only when a caravan arrived that the Makkans could hear news of the world outside the peninsula. The Arabs lived in those days, very much in total isolation from the rest of the world. With that world, they had only one tangible link and that was the caravan.
Almost every Makkan invested money in the caravan trade. The rich ones among them could visit foreign countries for extended periods of many months. But people with limited means had to stay home. They, therefore, gave their goods to a trustworthy agent to sell, and they gave him money to buy the goods which were in demand in Arabia but were available only in the markets of Syria, Yemen, Abyssinia and Egypt. When their agents brought those goods to Makka, they sold them and made a profit on their sales. It was a system which, after long years of experience, they had found to be reasonably workable.
The merchants and the agents in the caravans also brought back with them exotic gifts and presents for their folks and friends, as per ancient custom. Everyone was eager to see those gifts which conjured up before their eyes the pictures of the riches of Syria and the luxury of the Persian and the Roman Empires.
Upon entering Makka, Muhammed first went into the precincts of the Kaaba where he made the customary seven circuits, and then he went to see his employer. He gave her a detailed account of the journey and the business transactions he had conducted on her behal£ Later, he briefed his uncle, Abu Talib, on the highlights of his experience as a trader.
Maysara, the slave of Khadija, had his own story to tell her. He told her the story of the journey to and from Syria, and of the profits that Muhammed had made for her. But for him, far more interesting than the story of a successful trading mission, was the character and the personality of Muhammed himself. He was full of admiration for Muhammed''s talents as a businessman. He told Khadija that Muhammed''s foresight was fail-safe; his judgment was infallible; and his perception was unerring. He also mentioned to her Muhammed''s affableness, his courtesy and his condescension.
Khadija found the story fascinating, and she posed many questions to Maysara about her new steward, Muhammed. She probably would not be surprised at all if Maysara had told her that Muhammed was the most extraordinary individual he had ever seen and who was capable of doing the most extraordinary things.
On the following day, Waraqa bin Naufal came to see Khadija. He too wanted to hear the news that travellers brought from abroad. The news that interested him most was that of the old conflict between the Persian and the Roman Empires. Each of those empires wished to establish its own hegemony over the entire region called the "Fertile Crescent." It is also probable that like other citizens, Waraqa too had invested money in the export and import trade of Makka, and he wanted to know how the caravan had fared business wise.
Khadija told her cousin the whole story as she had heard it from Muhammed himself and from Maysara. She also mentioned that her new steward had made unprecedented profits for her.
Waraqa also talked with Maysara about the journey and about Muhammed. Maysara, however, wanted to talk only about Muhammed. Nothing else seemed to interest him, business transactions least of all.
When Waraqa had heard the long story, he is said to have plunged into deep thought. After a long pause, he said to Khadija: "Judging by what you and Maysara have told me about Muhammed, and also judging from what I know about him, it seems to me that he has all the qualities, attributes, characteristics and potentialities of the messengers of God. He might, in fact, be destined to become one of them in the times to come."
By peering into the darkness of pagan Arabia, Waraqa was enabled, perhaps by his prescience, to espy glimmerings of the Light of Islam, soon to appear on the horizon, and in Muhammed perhaps he recognized the Bringer of that Light.
Many books on the life of Muhammed Mustafa, the future Prophet of Islam (may Allah bless him and his Ahlel-Bayt) have recorded a number of miracles alleged to have taken place during his journey to, and his sojourn, in Syria. A. Yusuf Ali, the translator and commentator of Quran Majid, writes as follows in this regard:
"No apostle performed any Miracle or showed forth any "Signs," except as God willed. God''s Will (Mashiyat) is an all-wise, universal Plan, which is not formed for the benefit of one tribe or millat or of one age or country. The greatest Miracle in history was and is the Quran. We can apprehend its beauty and grandeur to-day as much as did the people of Mustafa''s day, even more, as our collective knowledge of nature and of God''s creation has increased."
Elsewhere, A. Yusuf Ali says: "The Signs sent to the holy Prophet Muhammed, were: (1) the Ayats of the Quran, and (2) his life and work, in which God''s Plan and Purpose were unfolded."
It appears that Muhammed''s charm and charisma had worked upon Khadija also. Like Maysara, she too became his admirer, and how could anyone help but become his admirer. Khadija had known him to be a gentle, a modest, a quiet and an unobtrusive young man. She also knew that the Makkans called him Sadiq and Amin. And now he had revealed his ability as a businessman also. His proficiency and savvy were part of his charisma. Her new assessment of Muhammed, therefore, was that he was no mere starry-eyed dreamer but also was a practical man of affairs. This assessment prompted her decision to "draft" Muhammed as the manager of her business in all future expeditions.
The commercial expedition of Muhammed to Syria turned out to be the prelude of his marriage with Khadija.
The translator and commentator of Quran Majid, ~ Yusuf Ali, poses the following rhetorical question in this context:
"Can we wonder at Jacob's re-union with Joseph, or that of Moses with Aaron, or of Muhammad Mustafa with the Lady Khadija?"
No. We cannot. It was the decree of Allah that two of his slaves - Muhammed and Khadija - should be united in marriage, and they were.
It is reported that one of the close friends of Khadija was a high-born lady of Makka called Nafisa (or Nufaysa) the daughter of Munyah. She was aware that Khadija had turned down many proposals of marriage. At first she wondered if there was any man in Arabia who would come up to the standards set by her. She had discussed the matter many times with Khadija. Finally, she had one more discussion with her which convinced her that she (Khadija) was not impressed by any man's wealth or rank or power. What really impressed Khadija, her friend gathered, was character - a sterling character. Khadija admired only a man of ethical and moral principles.
Nafisa (or Nufaysa) also happened to know that there was such a man in Makka and his name was Muhammed.
It is reported that one day Muhammed was returning home from the Kaaba when Nafisa stopped him, and the following exchange took place between them:
Nafisa: O Muhammed, you are a young man and you are single. Men who are much younger than you, are already married; some even have children. Why don't you marry?
Muhammed: I cannot afford to marry; I am not rich enough to marry.
Nafisa: What would be your response if you could marry a woman of beauty, wealth, status and honor, notwithstanding your present poverty?
Muhammed: Who could be such a woman?
Nafisa: Such a woman is Khadija the daughter of Khuwayled.
Muhammed: Khadija? How is it possible that Khadija would marry me? You know that many rich and powerful princes and chiefs of tribes proposed to her, and she rebuffed them all.
Nafisa: If you are agreeable to marry her, you just say so, and leave the rest to me. I shall arrange everything.
Muhammed wished to inform his uncle and guardian, Abu Talib, about Nafisa's demarche, and to consult him in the matter before giving her an answer.
Abu Talib knew Khadija as well as he knew his own nephew. He welcomed Nafisa's suggestion. There was no doubt in his mind that Muhammed and Khadija would make the ideal couple. He, therefore, gave his blessings to the proposal of their marriage. Thereupon, Muhammed told Nafisa that her suggestion was acceptable to him and that she had the authority to negotiate, on his behalf, his marriage with Khadija.
Once Abu Talib had approved the match, he sent his sister, Safiya, to see Khadija, and to talk with her about the proposed marriage. In the meantime, Nafisa had already done the "groundwork," and Khadija was expecting a visitor from the house of her future in-laws. She cordially received Safiya, entertained her, and told her that she (Khadija) had selected her (Safiya's) nephew to be her (Khadija's) life-partner without any preconditions and reservations. Safiya was very happy with the success of her embassy. Before she left the house, Khadija gave her an elegant robe which she accepted with many expressions of joy and gratitude.
Abu Talib then decided to comply with the traditional formalities of marriage. He bought gifts for Khadija, and took his brothers, Abbas and Hamza, with him to her house to formally present to her the proposal of the marriage of his nephew with her. Khadija accepted the gifts that Abu Talib had brought, and of course she accepted the proposal of marriage. The two parties immediately fixed a date for the auspicious wedding.
Abu Talib himself took charge of the preparations for the marriage of his beloved nephew. For the blessed occasion, he brought out all the heirlooms of the family and the sacred relics of his forefathers. These included the cloak and the staff of Abdul Muttalib, the late chief of Bani Hashim. The bridegroom put on the cloak and held the staff in his hand. Abu Talib put the black turban of his clan on his (the bridegroom's) head, and a ring of green agate on his finger. The ring, at one time, had belonged to Hashim bin Abd Manaf bin Qusayy.
The wedding party was made up of all the chiefs of Quraysh and the lords of Makka. The bridegroom rode a proud and prancing horse, and the young warriors of Bani Hashim brandished gleaming swords high above their heads as they escorted him from the house of Abu Talib to the house of Khadija. The women of the clan had gone ahead of the bridegroom, and were already being entertained in the house of the bride.
Khadija's house was illuminated by myriads of lamps. Inside the house, chandeliers hung on golden chains from the ceiling, and each chandelier held seven lamps. The guests arrived in the amber dusk. The chief steward of Khadija's estates had formed a committee for the reception of the bridegroom and the distinguished guests. The members of this committee conducted them inside the house through a high-arched entrance to a rectangular hall whose walls were panelled with tiles and whose ceiling was gilded. They made themselves comfortable on rugs and cushions.
For this special occasion, Khadija had ordered a special outfit to be made for all her domestics - male and female. Men were handsomely arrayed in spangled turbans, scarlet tunics, and black sashes around their waists. Attached to their turbans were silk tassels of ivory hue. The girls were wearing decor-blending costumes which dripped with gold and spangles. They were wearing coronets on the head and ropes of pearls and rivers of crystals. Their hair, cascading from the head to the shoulders and from the shoulders down to the waist, was braided with pearls.
The decor of the chamber of the bride was exquisite and was in fact, unsurpassable in taste and skill. The hangings of silk and brocade in many delicate tints, draped the walls; and a white velvet carpet covered the floor. The smoke of incense rose from a goblet of silver sparkling with diamonds, blue sapphires and balas rubies.
Khadija, the bride, sat on a high dais placed under a richly embroidered canopy. She looked radiant and resplendent like the rising sun itself. On her head she was wearing a crown of gold and pearls of amazing orient and beauty. Her dress, in subtle shades of crimson and green, was shot with gold, and was set with pearls and emeralds. There were two maids in personal attendance on her; each was wearing a diadem of gold, an amethyst silken dress, and jewel-studded slippers.
When all the guests had taken their seats, Abu Talib, the guardian of the bridegroom, rose to read the sermon of marriage as follows:
All glory and all praise to Allah, the Creator of Heavens and earth, and all thanks to Him for all His blessings, bounties and mercy. He sent us into this world in the posterity of Ibrahim and Ismael. He put us in charge of the Mosque and made us guardians of His House, the Kaaba, which is a sanctuary for all His creatures.
After this exordium, Abu Talib continued:
My nephew, Muhammed ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib, is the best individual in all mankind in his intelligence, in wisdom, in purity of lineage, in purity of his personal life, and in distinction of family. He has all the markings of a man destined to be great. He is marrying Khadija the daughter of Khuwayled against a meher of four hundred pieces of gold. I declare Muhammed and Khadija husband and wife. May Allah bless them both, and may He be their Protector.
In his sermon, Abu Talib declared that the Bani Hashim were the heirs of Ibrahim and Ismael, and were the carriers of their heritage. They were, therefore, uncontaminated by idolatry.
When Abu Talib concluded his sermon, Waraqa bin Naufal rose to read the marriage sermon on behalf of the bride. He said:
All praise and glory to Allah. We testify and we affirm that the Bani Hashim are just as you have claimed. No one can deny their excellence. Because of their excellence, we cherish the marriage of Khadija and Muhammed. Their marriage unites our two houses, and their union is a source of great happiness to us. O Lords of Quraysh, I want you to be witnesses that I give Khadija in marriage to Muhammed ibn Abdullah against a meher of four hundred pieces of gold. May Allah make their marriage a happy one.
(M. Shibli, the Indian historian, says in his Seera that the meher of Hadret Khadija was five hundred pieces of gold).
Amr bin Asad, the aged uncle of Khadija, also spoke on the occasion, and he affirmed, in his own words, what Waraqa b. Naufal, had said. And it was he who, as guardian of the bride, gave her away to Muhammed ibn Abdullah.
Abu Talib paid the meher for his nephew.
At home and abroad, in peace and war, Abu Talib, the most respected of Mohammed's uncles, was the guide and guardian of his youth; in his 25th year he entered into the service of Khadija, rich and noble widow (sic) of Mecca, who soon rewarded his fidelity with the gift of her hand and fortune. The marriage contract, in the simple style of antiquity, recites the mutual love of Mohammed and Khadija; describes him as the most accomplished of the tribe of Koreish; and stipulates a dowry of twelve ounces of gold and twenty camels, which was supplied by the liberality of his uncle.
(The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)
Khadija was filled with a lively faith in the superhuman merits of her youthful steward, Mohammed. At her nuptials, Haleema, who had nursed Mohammed in his infancy, was summoned and was presented with a flock of forty sheep.
(The Life of Mohammed)
All the guests congratulated Muhammed Mustafa on his wedding and expressed their best wishes for his happiness. They also congratulated his uncle, Abu Talib, on the auspicious occasion. Both thanked their guests cordially.
When these ceremonies were over, the major-domo ordered the slaves to spread out the banquet. The banquet was a gustatorial extravaganza such as no one had ever seen in Makka. The guests feasted upon delicacies each of which was a masterpiece of the culinary art. They slaked their thirst with delectable drinks laced with lotus nectar.
After the feast, each guest was invested with a robe of honor, in conformity with the ancient custom of the Arabian aristocracy.
Presently, the major-domo announced that the bride was ready to depart. A richly-caparisoned she-camel, carrying a white pavilion on her back, was waiting at the gate of the house. All the guests gathered in the foyer to see the bride being escorted to the gate. Her maids assisted her in climbing into the bridal pavilion.
... EMBARK YE ON THE ARK, IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, WHETHER IT MOVE OR BE AT REST! FOR MY LORD IS, BE SURE, OFT-FORGIVING, MOST MERCIFUL." (Quran Majid. Chapter 11; verse 41)
One of the maidservants sat in the pavilion with the bride. Resting upon her head was a floral tiara, and her hair was threaded with blue ribbons and strands of lustrous pearls. She was wearing bracelets of agate, coral and rock crystal, and she held a jewelled fan in her hand.
A team of Nubian slaves carrying flambeaus, marched in front and on the right and the left sides of the she-camel.
The bridegroom also mounted his horse, and he, his uncles, the young men of Bani Hashim and their guests, returned to the house of Abu Talib in the same panoply as they had gone earlier that day to the house of the bride.
When this torch-lit procession arrived at the house of Abu Talib, his wife and sisters assisted the bride in dismounting from the she-camel. A chamberlain held a parasol of white silk over her head, and conducted her into the inner apartments of the house.
"O MY LORD! ENABLE ME TO DISEMBARK WITH THY BLESSING: FOR THOU ART THE BEST TO ENABLE (US) TO DISEMBARK" (Quran Majid. Chapter 23, verse 29)
Everything went off with perfect precision. Coordination was superb from beginning to end.
The marriage of Muhammed and Khadija had brought happiness to everyone but the happiness of Abu Talib knew no bounds. He had been very anxious that his nephew should have a good wife. This anxiety turned into pure and undiluted joy when his nephew and Khadija were married. There could not have been a better match. Abu Talib thanked Allah for the new happiness he had found, and his happiness was shared by his brothers, Abbas an~ Hamza, and all other members of the clan of Hashim.
Three days after the marriage, Abu Talib made arrangements for a banquet to mark the occasion called since then "the feast of walima." He dazzled the whole city by his liberality. At the feast, every resident of Makka was his guest. Muhammed, the bridegroom, was himself welcoming the guests into the house. He himself, his uncles, his cousins and all the young men of Bani Hashim, were the proud hosts. The banquet lasted for three days. Years later, Islam made the feast of walima a "memorial" to the banquet of Abu Talib at the marriage of Muhammed and Khadija, instituting it as a tradition of all Muslim marriages. Abu Talib was the first man to arrange it. Before the marriage of Muhammed and Khadija, the feast of walima was not known to anyone in Arabia.
Abu Talib must have wished that his beloved brother, Abdullah and his wife, Amina, may Allah bless them, were also present to witness and to bless the marriage of their son, and to share his (Abu Talib's) happiness. But even if Abdullah and Amina had been present, the marriage of their son could not have been celebrated with more pomp and pageantry than it was with Abu Talib as his (Muhammed's) guardian.
Next it was Khadija's turn to show generosity and hospitality. Generosity and hospitality were her old "addictions." And what occasion could be more appropriate or propitious for her than her own marriage to satisfy this propensity? She, therefore, ordered her major-domo to make arrangements for the most elaborate banquet in the history of Makka.
It was a banquet that was truly memorable. Even the beggars of Makka and the wandering tribesmen and women were not excluded from the list of guests. They feasted on delicacies which they had never seen before. Those Arabs of the desert who had never tasted anything but brackish or rank water all their lives, drank rose water as the guests of Khadija. For many days the guests - rich and poor, high and low, lord and lackey, young and old - were fed in her house. To the poor guests, Khadija gave pieces of gold and silver and clothes, and she filled the houses of many widows and orphans with the necessities of life which they didn't have before.
Khadija had spent many years of her life waiting for the ideal man to come. Her long wait was at last rewarded when Muhammed came along, and they were united in holy wedlock.
The marriage of Muhammed and Khadija was the first and the last of its kind in the world. It was the only marriage in the whole world which abounded in heavenly blessings as well as material blessings. It was a marriage which was immeasurably and incalculably rich in the blessin
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