The Marriage with Khadijah

Muhammad returned from his Syrian merchandise expedition and carried news of its success to Khadijah. She was delighted and found in his noble features and charm a pleasure which pleased her even more than his good fortune. The widow was now forty years of age, she had been twice married, and had borne two sons and a daughter, Muhammad was twenty-five. Khadijah was a Quarraishite lady, distinguished by fortune as well as by birth. Her substance, whether inherited or acquired through her former marriages, was very considerable; and by means of hired agents she had increased it largely in mercantile speculation. To the blessing of affluence, she added the more important endowments of discretion, virtue, and an affectionate heart; and, though now mellowed by a more than middle age she retained a fair and attractive countenance.

The chief men of the Qurraish were not insensible to these charms, and many sought her in marriage; choosing rather to live on in dignified and independent widowhood, she had rejected all their offers. At last her love for Muhammad became irresistible, and she resolved in a discreet and cautious way to make it known to its object.

Khadijah, dreaded the refusal of her father, so she provided for him a feast; and when he had well drunk and was merry she slaughtered a cow, and dressed her father in a marriage garment. While under the effects of wine, the old man united his daughter to Muhammad in the presence of his uncle Hamza. When he recovered his senses and he realised what had taken place he fell into a violent passion, and declared that he would never consent to give her away to that poor youth. The friends of Muhammad replied indignantly that the alliance had not originated from them but that it was the act of his own daughter. Weapons were drawn on both sides and blood might have been shed, when the old man became pacified, and at last was reconciled.

Upon this marriage Muhammad received a faithful and affectionate companion, and in spite of her age not an unfruitful wife. She conducted as before the duties of her establishment and left him to enjoy his leisure hours. Her house became his home.

 

The children of Muhammad by Khadijah

Within the next ten or twelve years Khadijah bore Muhammad two sons and four daughters. The first Qasim who died at the age of two years. His eldest daughter was Zainab followed by Rockeya, Fatima and Omm Kolthum. The last to be born was his second son, who died in infancy. Khadijah sacrificed at the birth of each boy two kids and one at the birth of every girl. She nursed all her children herself. In later years Muhammad looked back at his marriage to Khadijah with fondness. Ayesha said that she was more jealous of this rival whom she had never seen than all the other wives who contested with her for the affections of Muhammad.

 

Christian influence on Khadijah

Among the relatives of Khadijah there were persons who possessed knowledge of Christianity. Her cousin Othman had embraced Christianity at Constantinople, and made an unsuccessful attempt to gain leadership at Mecca. Waraqah, another cousin, is said to have become a convert to Christianity; to have been acquainted with the religious tenets and sacred Scriptures both of Jews and Christians, and even to have copied or translated some portion of the gospels into Hebrew or Arabic. It will be seen that this person had an acknowledged share in satisfying the mind of Muhammad that his mission was divine.

 

The re-building of the Ka’aba and the placing of the sacred stone

The first incident which interrupted the even tenor of the married life of Muhammad was the rebuilding of the Ka’aba, occurring when he was about thirty-five years of age. One of those violent floods which sometimes sweep down the valley had shattered the holy house and there was fear lest it should fall. The treasury was also insecure, owing to the absence of a roof; and thieves had lately clambered over and stolen some of the precious relics. These were recovered, but it was resolved that similar danger should for the future be avoided by raising the walls and covering them over. While the Qurraish deliberated how this should be done, a Grecian ship was driven by stress of weather upon the near shore of the Red Sea. The news reached Mecca, and a body of the Qurraish, proceeded to the wreck, purchased the timber of the broken ship, and engaged her captain, a Greek by name Bacum, skilled in architecture, to assist in the reconstruction of the Ka’aba.

The several tribes of the Qurraish were divided into four groups and to each were assigned the charge of one side. With such mysterious reverence was the Ka’aba regarded, that apprehensions were entertained lest the apparent sacrilege of dismantling the holy walls should expose even the pious restorers to divine wrath. Building however, began and when no mischief had befallen the adventurous demolition continued.

It became necessary to build the Black stone into the eastern corner with its surface so exposed as to be readily kissed by pilgrims upon foot. A contention arose as to which tribe should deposit the stone in its place. The contention became hot, and it was feared that bloodshed would ensue. For four or five days the building was suspended. At last the Qurraish again assembled to decide the difficulty amicably. Then the oldest citizen arose and said: ‘O Qurraish, hearken unto me! My advice is that the man who chanceth first to enter the court of the Ka’aba by this gate of the Bani Sheyba, he shall be chosen to decide the difference amongst you, or himself to place the stone.’ The proposal was approved and they awaited the issue. Muhammad, who happened to be absent on the occasion, was observed approaching, and he was the first to enter the gate. They exclaimed; ‘Here comes the faithful al Amin, we are content to abide by his decision.’

Taking off his mantle and spreading it upon the ground, he said ‘Now let one from each of your four divisions come forward, and raise a corner of this mantle,’ Four chiefs approached, and seizing the corner simultaneously lifted the stone. When it had reached the proper height, Muhammad, with his own hand, guided it to its place. The decision raised the character of Muhammad for wisdom and judgment; while the singular and apparently providential call would not pass unnoticed by Muhammad, himself. Religious awe not infrequently with him degenerated into superstition. Was the singling out of himself to be judge among his fellows in such a sacred issue an indication that he was being chosen of Allah to be the prophet of his people?

The finished Ka’aba

After the stone had been placed in its proper place, the Qurraish built on without interruption; and when the wall had risen to a considerable height they put a roof on it with fifteen rafters upon six central pillars. A covering of cloth was thrown over the edifice, according to ancient custom it hung down like a curtain on every side. (The custom of veiling the Ka‘aba was very ancient. In the time of Muhammad the curtain was of Yemen cloth; Omar, renewed it yearly with Egyptian linen. Various materials had been used at different times and the covering had been changed as often as six times in a year). The Ka’aba was therefore rebuilt and at a respectful distance around was built the houses of the Qurraish. The great idol Hobal was placed in the centre of the holy house; and outside there were various other images. The door for entering Ka’aba was then, as now, near the Black stone in the eastern side, and several feet above the ground.

 

 

 

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