KHADIJA, The Exemplary Muslimah Entrepreneur

May Allah be pleased with her, is the right example for our muslim women in business. She was the first wife of our beloved prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and a muslima entrepreneur. She had an international trade business that she managed from home. She used to give from her profit to fed and clothed the poor, assisted her relatives financially and provided marriage portions for poor relations.

Khadija’s grandfather, Asad ibn Abd-al-Uzza, was the progenitor of the Asad clan of the tribe in Mecca. Her father,Khuwaylid ibn Asad, was a businessman. Her mother, Fatima bint Za’idah, was a member of the Amir ibn Luayy clan of the Quraysh and a distant relative of Muhammad (pbuh).

Khadija married three times and had children from all her marriages. Khadija became a very successful business women. It is said that when the Quraysh’s trade caravans gathered to embark upon their summer journey to Syria or winter journey to Yemen, Khadija’s caravan equalled the caravans of all other traders of the Quraish put together.

She was known by the by-names Ameerat-Quraysh (Princess of Quraysh), al-Tahira (The Pure One) and Khadija Al-Kubra (Khadija the Great). Khadija was said to have neither believed in nor worshipped idols,which was atypical for pre-Islam Arabian culture.

Khadija did not travel with her trade caravans; she employed others to trade on her behalf for a commission. In 595,Khadija needed a representative for a transaction in Syria. Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib recommended her distant cousin Muhammad ibn Abdullah (pbuh). The experience that Muhammad(pbuh) held working with caravans in his uncle Abu Talib’s family business had earned him the honorific titles Al-Sadiq (the truthful) and Al-Amin (the trustworthy, the honest).Khadija hired Muhammad (pbuh), who was then 25 years old, sending word through her kinsman Khazimah ibn Hakim that she would pay double her usual commission.

She sent one of her servants, Maysarah, to assist him. Upon returning, Maysara gave accounts of the honorable way that Muhammad (pbuh) had conducted his business, with the result that he brought back twice as much profit as Khadija had expected. Maysarah also relayed that on the return journey, Muhammad (pbuh) had stopped to rest under a tree. A passing monk, Nestora, informed Maysara that, “None but a prophet ever sat beneath this tree.” Maysara also claimed that while he stood near Muhammad (pbuh) as he slept, he had seen two angels standing above Muhammad(pbuh) creating a cloud to protect him from the heat and glare of the sun.

Khadija then consulted her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn ‘Abdu’l-’Uzza. Waraqah said that if what Maysara had seen was true, then Muhammad (pbuh) was in fact the prophet of the people who was already expected. It is also said Khadijah had a dream in which the sun descended from the sky into her courtyard, fully illuminating her home. Her cousin Waraqah told her not to be alarmed, for the sun was an indication that the Prophet would grace her home. At this, Khadija considered proposing marriage to her agent. Many wealthy Quraysh men had already asked for her hand in marriage, but all had been refused.

Marriage to Muhammad(PBUH)

Khadija entrusted a friend named Nafisa to approach Muhammad (pbuh) and ask if he would consider marrying. At first Muhammad (pbuh) was hesitant because he had no money to support a wife. Nafisa then asked if he would consider marriage to a woman who had the means to provide for herself. Muhammad (pbuh) agreed to come meet with Khadija, and after this meeting they agreed to consult with their uncles. The uncles agreed to the marriage, and Muhammad’s uncles accompanied him to make a formal proposal of to Khadija, and the marriage took place.

Muhammad (pbuh) and Khadija were married monogamously for twenty-five years. Muhammad (pbuh) and Khadija had six children. Their first son was Qasim, who died before his second birthday. (hence Muhammad’s kunya Abu Qasim). Khadija then gave birth to their daughters Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatima; and lastly to their son Abdullah. Abduhllah was known as at-Tayyib (the Good) and at-Tahir (the Pure) because

After their marriage, Muhammad (pbuh) no longer had work, for Khadijah’s wealth gave him time for his spiritual contemplations.

Khadija was supportive of Muhammad’s prophetic mission, always helping in his work, proclaiming his message and belittling any opposition to his prophecies.It was her encouragement that helped Muhammad  (pbuh) believe in his mission and spread Islam. Khadija also invested her wealth in the mission. When the polytheists and aristocrats of the Quraysh harassed the Muslims, she used her money to ransom Muslim slaves and feed the Muslim community.

In 616 the Quraysh declared a trade boycott against the Hashim clan, who sometimes went for days without food or drink. Some died and others became ill. Khadija continued to maintain the community until the boycott was lifted.

It had been related by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that on one occasion, when Khadijah was still alive, Jibril came to the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of Allah, Khadijah is just coming with a bowl of soup (or food or drink) for you. When she comes to you, give her greetings of peace from Allah and from me, and give her the good news of a palace of jewels in the Garden, where there will be neither any noise nor any tiredness.”