Picture this: a perceptive and intelligent woman, respected and generous, owning a business known for its integrity in all business transactions.
If you’re like most people, you probably conjured an image of a 21st century corporate type, but in fact, the woman I described is a prominent Islamic figure who lived in 7th century Arabia.
Khadijah bint Khuwailid (May Allah be Pleased with her) is the prominent figure in question. Girl power was alive well before women in the West demanded their rights in what is popularly known as the Feminist Movement.
After her father’s death, Khadijah inherited immense wealth. She did not squander the wealth on frivolous endeavours nor did she entrust it to individuals who may have very well taken advantage of her in pagan Arabia. Instead, she was involved in not only overseeing the business but moving her business well beyond Makkah, expanding the franchise so to speak.
Passionate and Committed
Khadijah was not any ordinary woman. She was widowed from one marriage and then divorced from a 2nd marriage, and yet she persevered. She had three children whom she devoted herself too, while simultaneously managing her business empire.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him)
In consistency with overseeing her business affairs, she was always on the look out for intelligent and trustworthy individuals who would maintain the quality and reputation of her work. At the tender age of 25, (Prophet) Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was already well-known for his honesty and noble character, which made him a prime recruit for Khadijah’s thriving business. The invitation to join such an empire came to the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) at an optimal time since his uncle Abu Talib was struggling financially, and he accepted.
Soon after his employment, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) not only lived up to his reputation but he continuously exceeded expectations.
The Marriage Proposal
Impressed by the Prophet’s noble character, Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) believed she would find no better match for herself. Take note, she was not fazed by the (approximately) 15 year age difference between herself and the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). She was (approximately) 40 and he, 25 (Peace and blessings be upon him).
Using her good friend as an intermediary for the proposal, she inquired about marriage to the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). (Is this a woman who knows what she wants or what?!) At that point the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) recognized Khadijah as a good match and agreed to the proposal.
Their marriage is one in Islamic history that reflects a deep love, commitment and compassion. In fact, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) continued to love and mention Khadijah beyond the scope of her life.
Narrated ‘Aisha: “I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadijah (although) she died before he married me, for I often heard him mentioning her, and Allah had told him to give her the good tidings that she would have a palace of Qasab (i.e. pipes of precious stones and pearls in Paradise), and whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would send her women-friends a good share of it.” [Sahih Bukhari]
3 Productivity Lessons for the 21st Century Muslim Woman
1) Remain Steadfast
Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her) was faced with a number of trying circumstances both before her acceptance of Islam and afterwards, but she pushed her way through them and became a steadfast, strong supporter of Islam.
Not only did she remain steadfast but she thrived, earning her a position amongst the noble role models in Islam:
Narrated ‘Ali: I heard the Prophet saying, “Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran, was the best among the women (of the world of her time) and Khadijah is the best amongst the women (of this nation).” [Sahih Bukhari]
Whatever you are dealing with in your own life, you can persevere too.
2) Strive for Benefits Beyond this World
Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her) was accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle, but when she choose Islam there were many who boycotted her business and later Muslims in general. She sacrificed many things, but never her faith.
3) Create your own Circumstance
A productive Muslimah is never confined by the circumstance she finds herself in. Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her) lived during a time when it was very unlikely a woman would be taken seriously, let alone become a respected figure – and after her marriage and acceptance of Islam, she continued to strive despite the trials.
She conducted herself with integrity and implemented sincerity in all her actions. These attributes combined allowed her to create her own very successful circumstances. Implement these in your own life and watch as your own circumstances begin to shift.
Who else comes to mind when you think of prominent productive Muslims, past or present? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
Reference: Khan, Muhammad. The Muslim 100: The Lives, Thoughts and Achievements of the Most Influential Muslims in History. Kube Publishing, 2008, Print.
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