Khadijah (ra) is the first person to become Muslim and follow Prophet Muhammad (saw). Ever since I first read about her life as a teen, I fell in love with this phenomenal woman who perfected her faith and was promised Paradise. She has been my role model for so many years and she gave me the courage and strength to stand up for and fight for what I wanted to do in life.
Yes, she is the wife of the Prophet (saw), yes she was an amazing mother to their kids but she was also so much more. She was a businesswoman, and not just any businesswoman, the most successful businesswoman in the Quraysh. She was wealthy and lived life on her own terms. She didn’t allow the fact that at that time women were not equals to men stop her from being independent and thriving. Before Marrying the Prophet (saw) she was a widow and she was a single parent. She showed me that I don’t have to give up on my dreams and goals in life just because I got married. She gave me the strength to say to a potential suitor that this is what I want to do in life and I won’t compromise on this. I will not give up my career or further studies for you and I expect you to help equally in the home.
When I met my (now) husband, I realised that actually he is someone I would want as a spouse though he is very introverted and I honestly had no idea if he would ever actually approach me so I decided to take things into my own hands and ask him, after all, Khadijah (ra) had sent her friend to propose on her behalf to the Prophet (saw). I asked him and I was terrified and shaking but I’m glad I did because why should I have to wait around in uncertainty because “it’s not socially acceptable for a girl to ask a boy” we should be able to take initiative and dictate what happens in our own lives rather than waiting around on the chance that a guy might ask us or that we might get recommended by someone.
Growing up I got mixed messages, I need to get an education but most importantly I need to know how to be a good wife and make the sacrifices for the marriage to work. So I can have ambition but not too much because men don’t like women who achieve more than they do and it’s my job to have kids and look after house so I don’t really need to. I should get an education and work but it’s so that I am able to raise my kids properly. Everything was tied to being a wife and a mother. But she (ra) taught me that having goals and ambitions is a good thing, that even if the society has certain expectations, you can still achieve what you want to achieve. To not let society dictate what you can and cannot do in life. As a woman I can thrive and not be held back because I was born a woman. I can be more than a wife and a mother if I want to. I can have a thriving career and more. My life doesn’t have to just revolve around being a caregiver for others. I can do things for myself.
Her marriage also showed me what I should want and expect from my husband and also taught me what I should do as a wife to make our marriage work. She saw kindness and empathy in the Prophet (saw) she saw a smart man but who was also humble and honest in everything he did. He was not short tempered and a man who accepted her for who she was. And I thought to myself that I will not compromise on qualities and values that are important to me even if people make remarks about me being single. As Allah had written, I actually met that man much earlier in life than I ever thought I would. But I was content and happy to be single. I didn’t need a man to be able to do what I wanted in life. She spent years being single and even raising her children on her own, refusing proposals because they weren’t the type of men she wanted to marry, but when she saw the right man she took initiative and asked him (through her friend). She taught me that I should want my husband in my life not marry a man because I feel I need a man in my life.
Learning about Khadijah (ra) helped me to unlearn all the toxic things that women are taught in our cultures and what’s worse is that they contradict Islamic beliefs, yet we are taught them anyways. Because of her I spent more time learning about women in Islam and I learnt about so many other amazing Muslim women. They were warriors and leaders and scholars and so much more. I cannot even begin to explain how much she means to me. In many ways she saved me. She helped me to realise that I deserve better than just that bare minimum and I can aim as high as I want to achieve my goals.
It’s also amazing to me that when the Prophet (saw) started going to cave hira for weeks at a time she was effectively left alone to manage the business, the household, the kids and she did that. We are told about how amazing and patient she is as a wife in these times for understanding what her husband needed but I never hear anyone say how amazing she is herself for taking all this responsibility and not only managing but continuing to thrive. Her business didn’t stop, her kids have never said that they were neglected by her during these times. We don’t talk about how resilient and persistent she was. We don’t talk about her strength and proactiveness. She had to have known the ins and outs of not only her home and kids but her business too which tells me even after marriage she was just as involved in all aspects as her husband. He didn’t take over, they were equals. In fact he continued to work for her.
Her thriving in her business meant that she was able to use that wealth to help the Prophet (saw) when he started teaching Islam and was able to spread and protect those who were most vulnerable. Because of her, the Prophet (saw) was able to free the slaves who were being tortured for becoming Muslim and so much more. And that just made me love her even more that she used her wealth to help those most vulnerable.
I learnt from her to be humble in my success and to give to those who are less fortunate. She was wealthy and successful yet all homeless and vulnerable people all knew they could turn to her for help and she always reminded me to give generously whenever I could and to help those around me. She taught me to be generous in what I had and to use my money and ability to do good. That having wealth was a responsibility and we shouldn’t squander it.
Khadijah (ra) was a woman who I cannot think about without bursting into tears out of love for her. I could literally talk about how much I love her and how much she has influenced my life all day and I hope that you will all go read about her so you can see what a truly phenomenal woman she is.
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