Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

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Weekly word: Khadija

July 28, 2010

Okay, so it’s more of a person than a “word,” but this week we look at Khadija, the first of Muhammad’s sixteen wives.  Just look (h/t Zombietimes) at Khadija in her veiled glory (or scandalous display of neck and face, depending on your point of view):

Khadija, Muhammad's rich, older wife

Chick Publication's illustration of Muhammad & Khadija

But who was this lady?  The love of Muhammad’s life?  Her soul mate?  No—his sugar mama!  From A Dictionary of Non-Christian Religions:

Khadija.  The first wife of the Prophet Muhammad, and during their twenty-four years of married life his only wife.  Khadija was a rich merchant’s widow, who first of all employed Muhammad in her service.  She was said to have been married twice before, with children of her own.  She was about forty years of age, but bore Muhammad seven children.  Their marriage was happy, and Khadija encouraged Muhammad after his visions and during his early preachings, being virtually his first convert.  Her cousin Waraqa (q.v.) was a Christian and no doubt this helped to make her sympathetic to Muhammad’s teaching of one God.  Her death in A.D. 619 was a grievous loss to the Prophet, and only then did he take other wives.*

If you can’t strive (for jihad) with your own wealth (Q. 9:41), why not strive with someone else’s?  Of course, many important men throughout history would never have made it so far if they hadn’t married a rich woman.  Isn’t it inspiring for the prophet of one of the world’s biggest religions to have done so?

In addition to Khadija’s money, Muhammad amassed personal wealth in his lifetime through his role in early Islam including Safi (special gifts from the spoils of war), khums tax revenues (both as the prophet who was entitled to one-fifth of khums and as a Muslim soldier who was entitled to an individual share for four-fifths of the remaining ghanima), and 100 percent of the spoils of Khaybar, the oasis he stole from the Jews.

Muhammad understood that to be Prophet, he needed profit.  Money, both the legal acquisition of and the illegal confiscation of it, were central to fueling Muhammad’s rise to power and the spread of early Islam.

*Parrinder, Geoffrey, A Dictionary of Non-Christian Religions (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1971). 

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