Marriage to Khadija (RA) and the Re-building of the Kahbah
وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ
There are only two more recorded events that we know of about Muhammad ﷺ pre-prophethood: his marriage to Khadija binti Khuwaylid and the re-building of the Ka’bah.
As a young man Muhammad ﷺ used to work as shepherd, where he would find people who owned sheep and look after their flock for a small pay-out. Now one day, Khadija’s older sister hired him and another young man to graze her flock for her. When they were done, the young man urged the prophet to come back with him to ask for their wages, however Muhammad ﷺ asked him to go on his behalf as he felt too shy to go himself. And so the young man returned to the house of Khadija’s older sister, where it just so happened that Khadija (RA) was also present, and requested their pay. When Khadija’s sister asked where Muhammad ﷺ was the young man told her that he had felt too shy to come, at which point on hearing this Khadija’s sister said, ‘I have not seen any man who is more shy, honourable, noble and chaste in his interactions than Muhammad.’ And so this was the first time Khadija heard about the prophet.
Now, although in that society women did not usually do business or inherit money, Khadija (RA) had actually assumed her dead husband’s fortune, as there had been no male relatives for it to go to. From that point onwards she had invested and grown her wealth and so became the richest lady in Mecca. Despite this she could not directly do business as she was a woman, and so had to hire businessmen to whom she entrusted her investment and promised a percentage of the profits. However, usually the man would lie and cheat Khadija of her entitled earnings, and so she never got the money she was owed.
Eventually, later on in the year, Khadija had to send her own caravan to Syria, and this time she decided to hire Muhammad ﷺ to do her business as she had heard of his noble traits and honesty, even though he had no experience and was much younger (only around 25) than the usual businessmen she hired. Nevertheless, she sent him message asking him to take care of her caravan, to which the prophet accepted. And so he took the caravan to the city of Busra, just outside of Damascus, and came back to Khadija with many times the wealth that anyone else she had ever hired had made. On top of this, her servant she had also sent – called Maysara – reported of his honesty and diligence with every transaction, and so Khadija (RA) began to become attracted to the character of Muhammad ﷺ. Now at this point Khadija had been twice divorced and single for some time, and many men had already proposed to her in the hopes of getting to her wealth; yet she had turned them all down and opted to live a single life. However she now decided that she wanted to marry the Muhammad ﷺ, and so began arranging it through her friend Nafeesa. Eventually, after three months, the nikah was performed by Khadija’s uncle Amr ibn Assad, with Abu Talib performing the khutbah and a maher (dowry) of 12 ookiya (nuggets of silver) – equivalent to about £350.
From her first marriage Khadija had a son named Hala, and so the question arises how old was Khadija when she married the prophet? The common opinion of Al Waaqidi is that she was 40 years old, however there are two main issues with this viewpoint; the first is that there were actually more early Islamic scholars reporting that she was around 28 years old, and in fact these scholars are considered more knowledgeable and of a higher scholarly calibre than Al Waaqidi. It is even reported that Ibn Ishaaq had that view, who as we remember is the first major scholar to compile a large chronological book of the Seerah. The other main issue is that Muhammad ﷺ and Khadija had at least six children in their 25 years of marriage, and for a woman of 40 to have six children is very implausible while it is much easier for a woman in her late twenties to do so. And so actually the more authentic opinion is that Khadija (RA) was around 28 when she married to the prophet.
The last recorded incident that we have before the prophethood is that of the rebuilding of the Ka’bah. This took place when the prophet was around 35 years old, and essentially what happened was that the Ka’bah became damaged by a fire and a flood, and so had to be rebuilt. A woman was cooking near the Ka’bah – in those days the houses were built mere feet from it – and the cloth accidently caught ablaze. Later, a massive flood came into Mecca and destroyed the roof and part of the walls of the already weakened building, and so the people of Mecca decided that they needed to rebuild the entire thing.
Now, at the same time a church in Yemen had been destroyed by the Persians and the Caesar of Rome himself had decided to send the supplies to fix it. And so he had sent the best of materials and the best of craftsmen on a ship to Yemen. However, on the way, the ship had crashed off of the coast and become severely damaged, but had just managed to make it to the city of Judah. And so the ship’s crew decided to sell the supplies that were meant for the church in order to raise enough money to make it back to Rome. When the Quraish heard of this, they gathered all of their wealth and set off to Judah in order to purchase all of the marble and wood for the Ka’bah, as well as hiring the ship’s craftsmen for help with the construction. Now, on returning to Mecca they looked at the half destroyed Ka’bah and ran into a predicament: to reconstruct it they first had to fully tear it down, but how could they destroy the house of Allah? Eventually Al Walid ibn Al-Mughira stepped forward and took the axe to begin breaking down the walls. But the rest of the members of the Quraish did not help him; instead, they decided to use Al Walid as a test and see if he survived the night. When he woke up just fine, the rest of the Quraish joined him in breaking down the old structure. They divided into the four main sub-tribes of the Quraish who each got a wall to tear down; so for example, the Banu Abd Manaaf – of which Abdul Muttalib was part of – was the most prestigious and so got one of the walls which had the Black Stone in its corner, while the Banu Makhzum – the great rivals of the Banu Abd Manaaf of which Abu Jahal was from – got the other wall.
And so when it became time to put the Black Stone in, a great argument arose as each tribe wanted to be the one with the honour to put it in. Because of this, construction stopped for five days and a huge fight was about to break out, until Abu Umayya ibn Mughira – the oldest person in Mecca – said, ‘There will be no bloodshed; instead, we will give the stone over to the next person who walks through the big door.’
And so now for the Quraish it was essentially up to luck, as the person to walk through the door would obviously choose their own tribe, and so they would put the Black Stone in. However the person who happened to walk through was the prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself, and when this happened all the tribes became extremely happy as they all thought that Muhammad ﷺ liked them so much that he would choose their tribe, even though he was from the Banu Abd Manaaf himself. But this did not happen, rather, the prophet said, ‘Bring me a sheet, and let every sub-tribe send your representative and we will all put the Black Stone in.’ And so the Black Stone was placed on the sheet and each person took a corner and together they put the Black Stone into the Ka’bah.
One other point about the rebuilding of the Ka’bah: they permanently changed its structure. Ibrahim (AS) had built it as a rectangle, however the Quraish did not have enough of the high quality materials to make the foundation that large and so they marked out where the corners used to be and instead made it a square. Another thing is that they made it much higher than it used to be, almost double, and put the door in the centre of the wall so that the people entering it could be restricted. Although the structural change was only meant to be temporary it ended up being permanent.
So what can we learn from these two stories? From the marriage to Khadija (RA) we see the honesty and blessing of the prophet, as he was the first to bring back all the money to Khadija and so these qualities led to their marriage. From the rebuilding of the Ka’bah we can see how beautifully Muhammad ﷺ dealt with people, such that they all believed that they were his favourite and so he would choose their tribe to put the Black Stone in. And we see these qualities and the beautiful nature of the prophet even before the dawah began, and we can further understand why he was the most perfect candidate to have been given the responsibility of being the Messenger of Allah.
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 009