Sayyiduna Rasoolullah's (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam) marriage with Sayyidah Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha took place about fifteen years before the beginning of the Revelation, he being 25, and she was 40 years old. She was a rich widow and ran a large trade of her own. It was she who offered herself in marriage to the Holy Prophet Muhammad SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam who was associated with her in her trading ventures. From the time of her marriage with the Holy Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam till her death, over a period of twenty years, she gave her husband ease of circumstances, and deep love and devotion.
In spite of conspicuous difference in age, Sayyiduna Rasoolullah's SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam love for Sayyidah Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha never wavered. When death parted her from the Beloved Nabi SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam after having shared with him for 28 years the toils and trials of life, especially the first ten years of his Ministry of Prophethood, he deeply mourned her death. Once Sayyidah Ayesha Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha asked him if she had been the only woman worthy of his love. Sayyiduna Rasoolullah SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam replied in an honest burst of tender emotion:
"She believed in me when none else did. She embraced Islam when people disbelieved me. And she helped and comforted me when there was none else to lend me a helping hand."
In the heart of the Holy Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam grateful and affectionate remembrance of her remained fresh until the very end of his life. The Holy Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam remained true and loyal to Sayyidah Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha until he was over 50 years old. This had been the case at a time when polygamy was normal among the Arabs. Moreover, since no male offspring of Sayyidah Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha survived, he had all the necessary justification to marry another woman considering that newborn daughters were customarily buried alive and male offspring alone regarded as rightful heirs.
Before Sayyiduna Rasoolullah SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam announced his Prophethood he had lived 17 years of married life, and thereafter eleven more years without ever thinking of marriage with another woman. He was kind to all her fellows and occasionally sent them gifts.
"Never was I jealous of any of the Prophet's wives", said Sayyidah Ayesha Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha, "but Khadija, although I never saw her. Her sweet memory never blurred in the Prophet's SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam heart. Once I hurt his feelings on this issue and he replied gravely, 'Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta'ala has blessed me with her love.'"
Sayyiduna Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha bore the Beloved Habeeb SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam seven children, the first born was named Sayyiduna Qaasim Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho, after whom, according to Arab custom, the Holy Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam received the Kunya "Abul Qaasim" or "the father of Qaasim". Then were born Sayyiduna Tayyab Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha and Sayyiduna Taahir Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anhum Ajmaa'een. All of them passed away in their infancy. Amongst the daughters Sayyidah Ruqayya Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha was the eldest, then came Sayyidah Zaynab Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha, Sayyidah Umm Kulthoom Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha and the last and best known of them was Sayyidah Faatima Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha.
Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Ja'far Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha reported that he heard Sayyiduna Ali Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anho saying in Kufa that Allah's Messenger SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam said:
"The best of the women of her time was Mariam Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha, daughter of Imran, and the best of the women of her time was Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha, daughter of Khuwailid. Abu Kuraib said that Waki' pointed towards the sky and the earth. What this implies is that Mariam Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha and Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha were best in their respective times not only amongst the creatures of the earth, but of the heaven too."
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha reported that Sayyiduna Jibra'eel Alaihis Salam came to Allah's Messenger SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam and said:
"Allah's Messenger! Khadija is coming to you with a vessel of seasoned food or drink. When she comes to you, offer her greetings from her Lord, the Exalted and Glorious, and on my behalf and give her glad tidings of a palace of jewels in Paradise wherein there is no noise and no toil".
This Hadith has been narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayra Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha through another chain of transmitters with a slight variation of wordings.
Sayyidah Ayesha Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha reported that Allah's Apostle SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam gave glad tidings to Sayyidah Khadija bint Khuwailid Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha of a palace in Paradise. Sayyidah Ayesha Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha further reported:
"Never did I feel jealous of any woman, as I was jealous of Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha. She had died three years before the Holy Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam married me. I often heard him praise her, and his Lord, the Exalted and Gracious, had commanded him to give her the glad tidings of a palace of jewels in Paradise, and whenever he slaughtered a sheep he presented its meat to her female companions".
In another Hadith, Sayyidah Ayesha Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha added:
"I annoyed him one day and said, 'It is Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha only who always prevails upon your mind'. Thereupon, Allah's Messenger SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam said, 'Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta'ala Himself had nurtured Her love in my heart.'"
Sayyidah Ayesha Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha reported that Allah's Messenger SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam did not marry any other woman till Sayyidah Khadija's Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha death. The point is why did Allah's Messenger SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam not marry during the lifetime of Sayyidah Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha but, after her sad demise, he married several wives. The fact is that the Holy Prophet of Islam SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam married all his wives from the point of view of religious necessity.
At the age of twenty-five, he married Sayyidah Khadija Radi ALLAHu Ta'ala Anha who was forty and she remained with him for the quarter of a century as a great source of strength and consolation to him. During this period the Holy Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam was busy in instilling in the minds of the people the fundamentals of faith, Oneness of Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta'ala, Apostlehood of Muhammad SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam, life after death. He did not feel the necessity of marrying another lady because it was only in the matter of faith and belief that he had to strive hard with mankind.
After his migration to Madinatul Munawwara when the Islamic society was established and the Muslims were required to conform their personal and social behaviour to the teaching of Islam, revelations for practical guidance in all walks of life came from Almighty Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta'ala. This had to be explained in various places and in different spheres by the life examples of the Holy Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam. There was not one problem but numerous problems and most of them were social which needed solutions at every step. Thus, it was felt that a group of women should be trained in Islamic ideals and it was done through the wives of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam. It was not an ordinary work, but an important task of vast magnitude, which required the sweat, and labour of so many pious souls and these were the noble wives of the Holy Prophet of Islam SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam.
Gateway to Heaven (A Concise Manual for Muslim Sisters)
by Sayyid Shah Aal-e-Rasool Nazmi al-Husaini al-Qadiri Barakati Marehrawi