At a time when men are often encouraged to be above seeking comfort due to a warped understanding of what “masculinity” means in Islam, we look at how the ultimate example – our Prophet (peace be upon him) – found comfort in our mother Khadijah.
The Prophet (SAWS) said that there is no doubt that Khadijah (Allah be pleased with her) was the best woman of her time. And she, along with her daughter, are amongst the four women that perfected their faith.
Allah revealed that this most notable woman perfected her Iman (faith) even before the revelation of salaah (prayer), before the revelation of siyaam (fasting), before the revelation of zakaah (alms giving) or hajj (pilgrimage), before the revelation of most of the rules and legislation.
This is possible because the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is the one who told us that the most perfect of the believers in their faith are the ones who are of the best character.
And Khadijah was known as al-taahirah – the pure woman – even before Islam was revealed.
She is the daughter of 2 royal people, Khuwaylid and Fatima, and was a rich woman – indeed, she was a very wealthy business woman in her own right. She had been married before to some of the leaders of Quraish but she became a widow both times, and eventually wanted to marry the Prophet (SAWS) who was 15 years younger than her.
Because she started to ask around about his character. She wanted to know what the Prophet’s (SAWS) character was like because she had seen so much honesty and truthfulness from him.
And that was her reason for pursuing him in accordance with the command that would come later on – “if someone comes to you with good religion and good character, then marry that person”.
That’s why the Prophet (SAWS) was pursued by her and that’s why he accepted this woman for marriage who was 15 years older than him and was a widow 2 times and had a son, Handab ibn Abi Hala, and all that “baggage” that would keep people away from a divorcee or a widowed woman today.
But they came together for character. And there is not a single narrated fight or argument between the Prophet (SAWS) and Khadijah; rather, their marriage was praised by all of the people of Mecca.
When RasoolAllah (SAWS) had bestowed upon him the love for isolation and seclusion and he started to go to the cave of Hira to contemplate, she supported him. For anyone who has been to Mecca, you can see that Hira is an hour’s climb at least. But she didn’t say to the Prophet “Why are you staying away from home? Why are you spending weeks up there? And sometimes over a month?!”
In fact, she supported the Prophet (SAWS) in trying to find guidance and trying to find those answers that he was seeking about the biggest questions.
By the time the Prophet was 40, she was 55 now. She was climbing up that mountain to take food to him and to comfort him. When the Prophet came down from Hira, he came to her with the famous words of “zammilooni, dathirooni”- “embrace me, cover me up”.
In doing so, he was seeking the active comfort of his wife. He was being vulnerable in a way that many today would find unfathomable. Here was this man, confiding in and needing the hug, support and reassurance of his wife!
And as for her? She didn’t say to the Prophet “maybe you shouldn’t be going out there so long. Maybe you should stay home more often. Maybe you shouldn’t have been out there in the first place”.
Rather, she would reassure the Prophet and she supported him emotionally and religiously.
She says to the Prophet, “Allah will never disgrace you, because you uphold the ties of kinship, you’re good to your neighbors, and generous to them, you treat the orphans well, you take up the cause of the one who has been wronged”
In essence, she said to the Prophet (SAWS) that “Allah loves you for the same reasons that I love you and the same reasons that I pursued you for marriage”. And the essence of that was good character. In turn, knowing why she sought him about, he recognised that he could find ultimate repose in her – and did just that!
Can you imagine how beautiful it is that a spouse speaks about their spouse in that beautiful a manner in their moment of difficulty?
She comforted him in the most incredible way, saying in essence “this is how I see you. This is why you are amazing, and mean so much to me”. And not only did she support him emotionally here, she said to the Prophet (SAWS) “let’s go to Waraqah ibn Nawfal, my cousin who is a Biblical scholar and let’s see what he has to say”.
Her comfort was practical. Her support was real, even extending beyond the powerful words she uttered.
Further, Khadijah would wake up and stand right next to the Prophet in prayer in the dead of the night. Her support extended to pursuing with him rituals that were new, that no one else knew in this form and which hadn’t been fully codified yet. She thus gave him a spiritual comfort by fully embracing his profound journey.
When the Prophet (SAWS) called to his people and the people rejected him she didn’t say, “we were doing well in society, we had high status, and now our reputation is being tarnished”, because this was the coming together of the “pure woman” and the “most trustworthy” of men. Rather, she stood by his side and reassured him, telling him that Allah will bring victory and honor to him.
Finally, she financially supported the Prophet’s (SAWS) call, mission and purpose. Previously, this woman lived her life like a queen – being of the elite of society. But when the going got tough, she was the one to support the Prophet (SAWS) with everything that she had of wealth and more! Even when times get tough in the boycott on Bani Hashim and Bani Muttalib, this woman was not even able to eat. And yet in her 60s she continued to support the Prophet with whatever she had, and did not care about what he had given up of wealth and comfort.
When the Prophet lost her as a result of not being able to eat and drink properly, she was eating leaves. When the Prophet lost her, he was devastated. She was 65 years old whenever she died and he was still a relatively youthful 50 year old man. He could have married many young women right away, but the Prophet always remembered the loyalty that she had towards him and the Prophet only showed her the greatest loyalty.
‘Aishah (Allah be pleased with her) said, “one time I got jealous and I said to the Prophet “should you have gotten over this old woman of Quraish that Allah has replaced with something better?” And the Prophet became so angry, responding “I swear by Allah , Allah did not give me something better than her” And he started to mention all of the forms of loyalty she had shown him”.
The ultimate honour of Khadijah is that it was only the children that were given to the Prophet through her that allowed the lineage of the Prophet to survive.
In her support of the Prophet, there are profound lessons for us. In an age where men are expected to pent up their frustrations, their concerns, and bottle them up to be “real men”, here is an example of a relationship in which support and comfort was mutual, real and reciprocal. There was no shying away from difficulties or thinking that a man’s status means he shouldn’t be vulnerable. To the contrary, the relationship was defined by vulnerability and open-ness. An example for us to the end of times!
We ask Allah to make us like the Prophet and Khadijah in all of our affairs. We ask Allah (SWT) to grant us that concept of loyalty and that great character. And we ask Allah (SWT) to better our iman as a result and to end in their lofty destination and to meet them for a meeting which will be the best reward after our gazing upon our Lord on the last day.
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