Khadija Daughter of Khuwaylid Wife of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
by Yasin T. al-Jibouri
The Jews of Medina had migrated from Palestine and settled there waiting for the coming of a new Prophet from the seed of Abraham (as) in whom they said they intended to believe and to be the foremost in following, something which unfortunately did not materialize; on the contrary, they joined ranks with the Pagans to fight the spread of Islam. Only a handful of them embraced Islam, including one man who was a neighbor of Muhammad (pbuh); he lived in the same alley in Mecca where Khadija's house stood; his wife, also Jewish, used to collect dry thorny bushes from the desert just to throw them in the Prophet's way.
Since Khadija did not travel with her trade caravans, she had always had to rely on someone else to act as her agent to trade on her behalf and to receive an agreed upon commission in return. In 595 A.D., Khadija needed an agent to trade in her merchandise going to Syria, and it was then that a number of agents whom she knew before and trusted, as well as some of her own relatives, particularly Abu Talib, suggested to her to employ her distant cousin Muhammad ibn Abdullah (pbuh) who, by then, had earned the honoring titles of al-Sadiq, the truthful, and al-Amin, the trustworthy. Muhammad (pbuh) did not have any practical business experience, but he had twice accompanied his uncle Abu Talib on his trade trips and keenly observed how he traded, bartered, bought and sold and conducted business; after all, the people of Quraysh were famous for their involvement in trade more than in any other profession. It was not uncommon to hire an agent who did not have a prior experience; so, Khadija decided to give Muhammad (pbuh) a chance. He was only 25 years old. Khadija sent Muhammad (pbuh) word through Khazimah ibn Hakim, one of her relatives, offering him twice as much commission as she usually offered her agents to trade on her behalf. She also gave him one of her servants, Maysarah, who was young, brilliant, and talented, to assist him and be his bookkeeper. She also trusted Maysarah's account regarding her new employee's conduct, an account which was most glaring, indeed one which encouraged her to abandon her insistence never to marry again.
Before embarking upon his first trip as a businessman representing Khadija, Muhammad (pbuh) met with his uncles for last minute briefings and consultations, then he set out on the desert road passing through Wadi al-Qura, Midian, and Diyar Thamud, places with which he was familiar because of having been there at the age of twelve in the company of his uncle Abu Talib. He continued the lengthy journey till he reached Busra (or Bostra) on the highway to the ancient city of Damascus after about a month. It was then the capital of Hawran, one of the southeastern portions of the province of Damascus situated north of the Balqa'. To scholars of classic literature, Hawran is known by its Greek name Auranitis, and it is described in detail by Yaqut al-Hamawi, Abul-Faraj al-Isfahani, and others. Arab trade caravans used to go there quite often and even beyond it to Damascus and Gaza, and few made it all the way to Mediterranean shores to unload their precious cargoes of Chinese paper and silk textiles bound for Europe.
What items did Muhammad (pbuh) carry with him to Busra, and what items did he buy from there? Meccans were not known to be skilled craftsmen, nor did they excel in any profession besides trade, but young Muhammad (pbuh) might have carried with him a cargo of hides, raisins, perfumes, dried dates, light weight woven items, probably silver bars, and most likely some herbs. He bought what he was instructed by his employer to buy: these items may have included manufactured goods, clothes, a few luxury items to sell to wealthy Meccans, and maybe some household goods. Gold and silver currency accepted in Mecca included Roman, Persian, and Indian coins, for Arabs during those times, including those who were much more sophisticated than the ones among whom Muhammad (pbuh) grew up such as the Arabs of the southern part of Arabia (Yemen, Hadramout, etc.), did not have a currency of their own; so, barter was more common than cash. The first Arab Islamic currency, by the way, was struck in Damascus by the Umayyad ruler Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (697-698 A.D.) in 78 A.H., 36 years after the establishment of the Umayyad dynasty (661-750).
The time Muhammad (pbuh) stayed in Busra was no more than a couple of months during which he met many Christians and Jews and noticed the theological differences among the major Christian sects that led to the disassociation of the Copts, the Syrian (Chaldean) Nestorian, and the Armenian Christians from the main churches of Antioch (Antakiya), Rome, and Egyptian Alexandria. Such dissensions and differences of theological viewpoints provided Muhammad (pbuh) with plenty of food for thought; he contemplated upon them a great deal. He was seen once by Nestor the monk sitting in the shade of a tree as caravans entered the outskirts of Busra, not far from the monk's small monastery. "Who is the man beneath that tree?" inquired Nestor of Maysarah. "A man of Quraysh," Maysarah answered, adding, "of the people [the Hashemites] who have guardianship of the Sanctuary." "None other than a Prophet is sitting beneath that tree," said Nestor who had observed some of the signs indicative of Prophethood: two angels (or, according to other reports, two small clouds) were shading Muhammad (pbuh) from the oppressive heat of the sun. "Is there a glow, a slight redness, around his eyes that never parts with him?" Nestor asked Maysarah. When the latter answered in the affirmative, Nestor said, "He most surely is the very last Prophet; congratulations to whoever believes in him."
One of Muhammad's observations when he was in that Syrian city was the historical fact that a feud was brewing between the Persian and Roman empires, each vying for hegemony over Arabia's fertile crescent. Indeed, such an observation was quite accurate, for after only a few years, a war broke out between the then mightiest nations on earth that ended with the Romans losing it, as the Holy Qur'an tells us in Chapter 30 (The Romans), which was revealed in 7 A.H./615-16 A.D., only a few months after the fall of Jerusalem to the Persians, just to win in a successive one. Only four years prior to that date, the Persians had scored a sweeping victory over the Christians, spreading their control over Aleppo, Antioch, and even Damascus. Muhammad (pbuh) was concerned about either of these two empires extending its control over the land inhabited by Muhammad's Pagan fiercely independent Pagan people. The loss of Jerusalem, birthplace of Christ Jesus son of Mary (as), was a heavy blow to the prestige of Christianity. Most Persians were then following Zoroastrianism, a creed introduced in the 6th century before Christ by Zoroaster (628-551 B.C.), also known as Zarathustra, whose adherents are described as worshippers of the "pyre," the holy fire. "Persia," hence, meant "the land of the worshippers of the pyre, the sacred fire." Modern day Iran used to be known as "Aryana," land of the Aryan nations and tribes. Not only Iranians, but also Kurds, and even Germans, prided in being Aryans, (Caucasian) Nordics or speakers of an Indo-European dialect. Some Persians had converted to Christianity as we know from Salman al-Farisi who was one such adherent till he fell in captivity, sold in Mecca and freed to be one of the most renown and cherished sahabis and narrators of hadith in Islamic history, so much so that the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) said, "Salman is one of us, we Ahl al-Bayt (People of the Household of Prophethood)."
The war referred to above was between the then Byzantine (Eastern Roman) emperor Heraclius (575 - 641 A.D.) and the Persian king Khusrau (Khosrow) Parwiz (Parviz) or Chosroes II (d. 628 A.D.). It was one of many wars in which those mighty nations were embroiled and which continued for many centuries. Yet the hands of Divine Providence were already busy paving the path for Islam: the collision between both empires paved the way for the ultimate destruction of the ancient Persian empire and in Islam setting root in that important part of the world. Moreover, Muhammad's (and, naturally, Khadija's) offspring came to marry ladies who were born and raised at Persian as well as Roman palaces. Imam Husain ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib (as), Muhammad's grandson and our Third Holy Imam, married the daughter of the last Persian emperor Jazdagird (Yazdegerd) III son of Shahryar and grandson of this same Khusrau II. Jazdagerd ruled Persia from 632-651 A.D. and lost the Battle of Qadisiyyah to the Muslim forces in 636, thus ending the rule of the Sassanians. Having been defeated, he fled for Media in northwestern Iran, homeland of Persian Mede tribesmen, and from there to Merv, an ancient Central Asian city near modern day Mary in Turkmenistan (until very recently one of the republics of the Soviet Union), where he was killed by a miller. The slain emperor left two daughters who, during their attempt to escape, following the murder of their father, were caught and sold as slaves. One of them, Shah-Zenan, ended up marrying our Third Holy Imam Husain ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib (as), whereas her sister married the renown scholar and acclaimed muhaddith (traditionist) Muhammad son of the first Muslim caliph Abu Bakr. Shah-Zenan was awarded a royal treatment and was given a new name in her own Persian mother tongue: Shahr Banu, which means "mistress of the ladies of the city." The marriage between her and Imam Husain (as) produced our Fourth Holy Imam (Zainul-Abidin, or al-Sajjad) Ali ibn al-Husain ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib (as).
The profits Khadija reaped from that trip were twice as much as she had anticipated. Maysarah was more fascinated by Muhammad (pbuh) than by anything related to the trip. Muhammad (pbuh), on the other hand, brought back his impressions about what he had seen and heard, impressions which he related to his mistress. You see, those trade caravans were the only links contemporary Arabs had with their outside world: they brought them the news of what was going on beyond their drought-ridden and famine-stricken desert and sand dunes.
Well I will edit it bit later ..