Khadija bint Khuwaylid

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Khadijah bint Khuwaylid
Mother of the Believers
خَدِيجَة بِنْت خُوَيْلِد
Calligraphic name of Khadija
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid

c. 555[1]
Died10 Ramadan BH 3 in the ancient (intercalated) Arabic calendar[2]
c. 619(619-00-00) (aged 63–64)
Resting placeJannat al-Mu'alla, Mecca
Other namesKhadīja al-Kubra
Known forWife of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Mother of the Believers
  • ʾumm ul-mumineen
  • Ameerat-Quraysh
  • al-Tahirah
  • Hind Abi Hala Al-Tamimi (widowed)
  • Atiq Al-Makhzumi (widowed)
  • Muhammad
Children (She had 3 more children from her previous marriages)
Parent(s)Khuwaylid ibn Asad (father)
Fatimah bint Za'idah (mother)
FamilyBanu Asad (by birth)
Ahl al-Bayt (by marriage)

Khadija bint Khuwaylid (Arabic: خَدِيجَة بِنْت خُوَيْلِد, romanizedKhadīja bint Khuwaylid, c. 555[1] – May 620 CE[3]), commonly known as Khadija, was the first wife and first follower of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Khadija was the daughter of Khuwaylid ibn Asad, a leader of the Quraysh tribe in Mecca, and a successful businesswoman in her own right.

Khadija is often referred to by Muslims as "Mother of the Believers". She is one of the most important female figures in Islam. She is one of the four "ladies of heaven" in Islam, along with her daughter Fatimah, Asiya, and Maryam.[4] Prophet Muhammad was monogamously married to her for 25 years.

Before marrying Muhammad[edit]


Khadija's mother, Fatima bint Za'idah, who died around 575,[5] was a member of the Amir ibn Luayy clan of the Quraysh[6] and a third cousin of Muhammad's mother.[7][8]

Khadija's father, Khuwaylid ibn Asad, was a merchant[9] and leader. According to some/many traditions, he died c. 585 in the Sacrilegious War, but according to others, he was still alive when Khadija married Muhammad in 595.[10][11] Khuwaylid also had a sister named Ume Habib binte Asad.[12]


Khadija was a very successful merchant. It is said that when the Quraysh's trade caravan travelers 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 Quraysh put together.[13] Honorifics associated with Khadija included, “Ameerat-Quraysh (“Princess of Quraysh“),” “The Pious One,” and “Khadija Al-Kubra (“Khadija the Great”).”[14] It is said that she fed and clothed the poor, assisted her relatives financially and provided marriage portions for poor relations.[14] Khadija was said to have neither believed in nor worshipped idols, which was atypical for pre-Islamic Arabian culture.[15]

Khadija did not travel with her trade caravans; she employed others to trade on her behalf for a commission. In 595 Khadija needed a co-worker for a transaction in Syria. She chose Muhammad ibn Abdullah for the trade in Syria. With the permission of Abu Talib ibn Muttalib, his uncle, he was sent to Syria with one of Khadija's servants. This caravan experience earned Muhammad the honorific titles “Al-Sadiq ("the Truthful")” and Al-Amin ("the Trustworthy" or "Honest").[16] Khadija hired Muhammad, who was then 25 years old, sending word that she would pay double her usual commission.[17]

She sent one of her servants, Maysarah, to assist him. Upon returning, Maysarah gave accounts of the honorable way that Muhammad had conducted his business, with the result that he brought back twice as much profit as Khadija had expected.[18]

Differing views on previous marriages[edit]

Sunni version[edit]

Khadija married three times and had children from all her marriages. While the order of her marriages is debated, it is generally believed that she first married Atiq ibn 'A'idh ibn' Abdullah Al-Makhzumi and second Malik ibn Nabash ibn Zargari ibn at-Tamimi.[19] To her second husband she bore two sons, who were named Hala and Hind.[20] He died before his business became a success.[21] To husband Atiq, Khadija bore a daughter named Hindah. This marriage also left Khadija as a widow.[22]

Khadija proposed to Muhammad when he was 25 years old and she was 40 years old. Khadija consulted her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn 'Abdu'l-'Uzza.[18]

Shia version[edit]

Ibn Shahrashub quoted from al-Sayyid al-Murtada in al-Shafi and al-Shaykh al-Tusi in al-Talkhis that Khadija was a virgin when she married Muhammad.[23] In addition, considering the cultural and intellectual situation in Hijaz and high position and status of Khadija al-Kubra among other people, it would be highly improbable that she marry men from Banu Tamim and Banu Makhzum (the two “low” tribes).[24]

According to researchers,[who?] two children attributed to Khadija were the children of Hala, Khadija's sister. After Hala's husband's death, Khadija took care of Hala and (after Hala's death) Hala's children.[25]

Khadija was 40 when she was married to Muhammad.[26][27][28][29]

However, some sources also claim that she was around the age of 25-28 or 30 by others. [30][31]

Marriage to Muhammad[edit]

Khadija entrusted a friend named Nafisa to approach Muhammad and ask if he would consider marrying.[32] When Muhammad hesitated because he had no money to support a wife, Nafisa asked if he would consider marriage to a woman who had the means to provide for herself.[33] Muhammad agreed to meet with Khadija, and after this meeting they consulted their respective uncles. The uncles agreed to the marriage, and Muhammad's uncles accompanied him to make a formal proposal to Khadija.[18] It is disputed whether it was Hamza ibn Abdul-Muttalib, Abu Talib, or both who accompanied Muhammad on this errand.[22] Khadija's uncle accepted the proposal, and the marriage took place. At the time of the marriage Muhammad was 25 years old and Khadija was either 28 or 40 years old.[34][35][36][37]

Muhammad and Khadija were married monogamously for 25 years. As Khadija was a businesswoman in her own right and earned her own money, Muhammad was unable to marry another woman concurrently as he did not meet the requirements outlined in the Quranic verse 4:34 whereby a man must financially provide for his wife to have full husbandly rights over her.[38]

After her death, Muhammad took other wives.


Muhammad and Khadija may have had six or eight children.[21] (Sources disagree about number of children: Al-Tabari names eight; the earliest biography of Muhammad, by Ibn Ishaq, names seven children; most sources only identify six).[19]

Their first son was Qasim, who died after his third birthday[39][40] (hence Muhammad's kunya Abu Qasim). Khadija then gave birth to their daughters Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Kulthum and Fatima; and lastly to their son Abd-Allah. Abd-Allah was known as at-Tayyib ("the Good") and at-Tahir ("the Pure") because he was born after Muhammad was declared a prophet by the Angel Gabriel as a direct message from Allah. Abdullah also died in childhood.[21]

Two other children also lived in Khadija's household: Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son of Muhammad's uncle; and Zayd ibn Harithah, a boy from the Udhra tribe who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. Zayd was a slave in Khadija's household for several years, until his father came to Mecca to take him home. Muhammad insisted that Zayd be given a choice about where he lived, and Zayd decided to remain where he was, after which Muhammad legally adopted Zayd as his own son.[22]

Becoming the first follower of Muhammad[edit]

A fictive medal of Khadijah seen in Promptuarii iconum insigniorum - 1553

According to the traditional Sunni narrative, when Muhammad reported his first revelation from the Angel Gabriel (Jibril), Khadija was the first person to accept Al-Haqq The Truth i.e. she accepted Islam.[41] After his experience in the cave of Hira, Muhammad returned home to Khadija in a state of terror, pleading for her to cover him with a blanket. After calming down, he described the encounter to Khadija, who comforted him with the words that Allah would surely protect him from any danger, and would never allow anyone to revile him as he was a man of peace and reconciliation and always extended the hand of friendship to all.[21] According to some sources, it was Khadija's cousin, Waraka ibn Nawfal, who confirmed Muhammad's prophethood soon afterwards.[42]

Yahya ibn `Afeef is quoted saying that he once came, during the period of Jahiliyyah (before the advent of Islam), to Mecca to be hosted by 'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, one of Muhammad's uncles mentioned above. "When the sun started rising", he said, "I saw a man who came out of a place not far from us, faced the Kaaba and started performing his prayers. He hardly started before being joined by a young boy who stood on his right side, then by a woman who stood behind them. When he bowed down, the young boy and the woman bowed, and when he stood up straight, they, too, did likewise. When he prostrated, they, too, prostrated." He expressed his amazement at that, saying to Abbas: "This is quite strange, O Abbas!" "Is it, really?" retorted al-Abbas. "Do you know who he is?" Abbas asked his guest who answered in the negative. "He is Muhammad ibn Abdullah, my nephew. Do you know who the young boy is?" asked he again. "No, indeed," answered the guest. "He is Ali son of Abu Talib. Do you know who the woman is?" The answer came again in the negative, to which Abbas said, "She is Khadija bint Khuwaylid, my nephew's wife." This incident is included in the books of both Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Al-Tirmidhi, each detailing it in his own Ṣaḥīḥ.

Khadija was supportive of Muhammad's prophetic mission, always helping in his work, proclaiming his message and belittling any opposition to his prophecies.[41] It was her encouragement that helped Muhammad believe in his mission and spread Islam.[43] 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.[44][45]

In 616 the Quraysh declared a trade boycott against the Hashim clan. They attacked, imprisoned and beat the Muslims, who sometimes went for days without food or drink.[46] Khadija continued to maintain the community until the boycott was lifted in late 619 or early 620.[22]


Mausoleum Khadija, Jannatul Mualla cemetery, in Mecca, before its destruction by Ibn Saud in the 1920s

Khadija died in "Ramadan of the year 10 after the Prophethood",[47] i.e., in November 619 CE. Muhammad later called this tenth year "the Year of Sorrow", as his uncle and protector Abu Talib also died at this time.[48] Khadija is said to have been about 65 years old at the time of her death.[49] She was buried in Jannat al-Mu'alla cemetery, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.[50]

Another report Muhammad bin Ishaq said," Abu Talib and Khadija bint Khuwaylid died in the same year. This was three years before the emigration of the Messenger of Allah to Madina. Khadija was buried in al-Hajun. The Messenger of Allah buried her in her grave. She was 40 years old when the Messenger of Allah married her"[51]

In the years immediately following Khadija's death, Muhammad faced persecution from opponents of his message and also from some who originally followed him but had now turned back. Hostile tribes ridiculed and stoned him.[52] Muhammad migrated to Yathrib (Medina) after Khadija's death.

Children and relatives[edit]



  • Fāṭimah al-Zahrā s.a bint Muhammad (605–632), although it is sometimes asserted that she was born during the first year of Muhammad's mission (610–611). She had the by-name "The mother of her father", as she took over caring for her father and being a support to her father once her mother died.[53] She married Ali, who became the fourth caliph in 656. (According to early debate after the death of Muhammad, some would argue that Ali would be the proper succession to Muhammad.)[54] Ali and Fatimah moved to a small village in Ghoba after the marriage, but later moved back to Medina to live next door to Muhammad.[55] Muhammad forbade Ali to take additional wives because, "What caused pain to his daughter grieved him as well."[56] Fatima died six months after her father died. All of Muhammad's surviving descendants are by Fatima's children. Muhammad loved her two sons Hassan and Husayn, who would continue his heritage.[56]
  • Zaynab (599–629). She married her maternal cousin Abu al-Aas ibn al-Rabee before al-Hijra.[21] Later lived with Muhammad. Her husband accepted Islam before her death in 629
  • Ruqayyah (601–624). She was first married to Utbah ibn Abu Lahab and then to the future third caliph Uthman ibn Affan.[21]
  • Kulthum (603–630). She was first married to Utaybah bin Abu Lahab and then, after the death of her sister Ruqayyah, to Uthman ibn Affan. She was childless.

Sunni view[edit]

The Sunni scholar Yusuf ibn abd al-Barr says: "His children born of Khadīja are four daughters; there is no difference of opinion about that."[57]

The Qur’an (33:59)[58] says:

"O Prophet! Say to your azwaj (Arabic: أزواج, wives) and your banat (Arabic: بـنـات, daughters) and the nisa’il-mu’minin (Arabic: نـسـاءِ الـمـؤمـنـيـن, "women of the believers") ..."

Shia view[edit]

According to some Shi‘ite sources, Khadija and Muhammad adopted two daughters of Halah, sister of Khadija.[59] The Shi'i scholar Abu'l-Qasim al-Kufi writes:

When the Messenger of Allah married Khadija, then some time thereafter Halah died leaving two daughters, one named Zaynab and the other named Ruqayyah and both of them were brought up by Muhammad and Khadija and they maintained them, and it was the custom before Islam that a child was assigned to whoever brought him up.[60]

  1. Hind bint Atiq. She married her paternal cousin, Sayfi ibn Umayya, and they had one son, Muhammad ibn Sayfi.[61][62]
  2. Zaynab bint Abi Hala, who probably died in infancy.[63]

The adopted daughters attributed to Muhammad, by Shia sources, are:

  1. Zaynab (599–629). She married her maternal cousin Abu al-Aas ibn al-Rabee before al-Hijra.[21] Later lived with Muhammad. Her husband accepted Islam before her death in 629
  2. Ruqayyah (601–624). She was first married to Utbah ibn Abu Lahab and then to the future third caliph Uthman ibn Affan.[21]
  3. Umm Kulthum (603–630). She was first married to Utaybah bin Abu Lahab and then, after the death of her sister Ruqayyah, to Uthman ibn Affan. She was childless.[21][64]


  • Ibn Umm Maktum
  • Waraqah ibn Nawfal was the son of Nawfal b. Asad b. ʿAbd al-ʿUzzā b. Ḳuṣayy and Hind bt. Abī Kat̲h̲īr. Waraqah had been proposed to marry Khadija bint Khuwaylid, but the marriage never took place. Waraqah is noteworthy because he converted from polytheism to Christianity before Muhammad's revelation.[65] Ibn Ishaq claims that Waraqah is also important because he plays a role in legitimizing Muhammad's revelation.

"There has come to him,” Waraḳa says, “the greatest law that came to Moses; surely he is the prophet of this people”[66]

See also[edit]

Her important descendants[edit]

Quraysh tribe
Waqida bint AmrAbd Manaf ibn QusaiĀtikah bint Murrah
Nawfal ibn Abd Manaf‘Abd ShamsBarraHalaMuṭṭalib ibn Abd ManafHashimSalma bint Amr
Umayya ibn Abd ShamsʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib
HarbAbū al-ʿĀsʿĀminahʿAbdallāhHamzaAbī ṬālibAz-Zubayral-ʿAbbās Abū Lahab
ʾAbī Sufyān ibn Harbal-ḤakamʿUthmānʿAffānMUHAMMAD
(Family tree)
Khadija bint KhuwaylidʿAlī
(Family tree)
Khawlah bint Ja'farʿAbd Allāh
Muʿāwiyah IMarwān IʿUthmān ibn ʿAffānRuqayyahFatimahMuhammad ibn al-HanafiyyahʿAli ibn ʿAbdallāh
SufyanidsMarwanids al-Ḥasanal-Ḥusayn
(Family tree)
Abu Hashim
(Imām of al-Mukhtār and Hashimiyya)

Ibrāhim "al-Imām"al-Saffāḥal-Mansur


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External links[edit]