Cranky Ladies of History guest post: Khadija

Khadija. Saudi Arabia. Born 565 AD, died 623 AD. 

Guest post by Bess Lyre

Khadija was the daughter of a Quraishi merchant from Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Orphaned by the age of 20, she became a highly successful merchant in her own right, inheriting not just her father’s vast wealth but his cool head for business.

“It is said that when Quraish’s trade caravans gathered to embark upon their lengthy and arduous journey either to Syria during the summer or to Yemen during the winter, Khadijah’s caravan equaled the caravans of all other traders of Quraish put together.” –

Khadija’s nicknames included “Princess of Quraish” and “Pure One”, due to her impeccable bloodline and also her charitable work with the poor.

It must have seemed to her that she was fated to be unlucky in love – her first two husbands, Hind and Ateeq, died in battle, both men leaving children behind. She swore never to marry again.

But eventually she changed her mind. Her third husband was a distant cousin she had hired to protect her caravans and act as her agent in Syria; a man with a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness. Khadija sent her friend to ask the man what he thought about the prospect of their getting hitched. He was young, only 25 while she was almost 40, and she had turned down so many proposals that it was unlikely he would have approached her, but more than that, his answer to the friend was concern that he would not be able to provide for a wife and family.

Khadija sent her friend back again with the question: What if the woman could provide for herself?

That young man was the Prophet, Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him. Here is the Saudi house that they lived in together:


Khadija was the first convert to the brand new religion of Islam. The saying is that “Islam did not rise except through Ali’s sword and Khadija’s wealth”. Their marriage lasted 25 years. Muhammad had other wives, but only after Khadija was dead. She gave him six children: four daughters that survived and two sons that died in early childhood.

Khadija herself died at the age of about 65.

Dome over Khadijah’s grave before it was demolished by the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia –

Muhammad apparently called the year she died “The Year of Mourning”.

“The Prophet of Islam (ص) used to talk about Khadijah quite often after her demise, so much so that his youngest wife, Ayisha daughter of Abu Bakr, felt extremely jealous and said to him,

“… But she was only an old woman with red eyes, and Allah has compensated you with a better and younger wife (meaning herself).”

This caused him (ص) to be very indignant, so he said, “No, indeed; He has not compensated me with someone better than her. She believed in me when all others disbelieved; she held me truthful when others called me a liar; she sheltered me when others abandoned me; she comforted me when others shunned me; and Allah granted me children by her while depriving me of children by other women.”” –

Khadija is an inspiration to both Islamic feminists who wish for traditional religious laws to remain intact:

“In a society where modern Liberal Feminism teaches that immodesty is equal to power, and that rejecting if not destroying traditional family gender roles, is synonymous with liberation, Khadija offers a historic refutation of this mindset, she was able to do the all the ‘empowered modern woman’ seeks to do and she did it without the force of the state, without rejecting her societal role as a woman. And she did it without compromising her modesty or integrity.” –

…and those pushing for change.

“After receiving his first revelation from the Angel Gabriel while meditating in the cave of Hira, the Prophet Muhammad was terrified that he’d lost his mind. He immediately ran home from the cave to Khadija and collapsed into her arms. “Cover me,” he said to her, and she did. She held and comforted him as he trembled, overcome with fear. Unlike the Prophet, Khadija was convinced of the veracity of his revelation. It was she who assured him that he had indeed received a message from God, and in doing so, Khadija forever changed the course of human history. As today’s aspiring feminist jihadists, we have an enormous amount to learn from Khadija’s example, and I pray that we will be able to live up to it. As it is, nearly 1,400 years after her death, a woman such as Khadija could not survive in modern-day Saudi Arabia, where women need consent from men for nearly everything they do, can’t drive a car and have limited personal and professional opportunities. Defending and carrying out the legacy of Khadija is not an easy task, especially today, but looking back at her example gives us the hope and grounding that we, as Muslim women, need to move forward in reclaiming our faith and our rightful place in it.”–

Are men and women equal in the religion of Islam?

“God treats men and women as spiritual equals., Quran 3:195 tells us:

[Quran 3:195] Their Lord responded to them: “I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you MALE OR FEMALE, YOU ARE EQUAL TO ONE ANOTHER…”

Many of the Muslim countries who claim to follow Islam are treating women as a second class citizens, and some of these women accepted this situation thinking that is what Islam (Submission in English) is advocating. As mentioned previously, God, in the Quran made a complete spiritual equality between men and women, See 3:195Hadithists see women as “morally defective”, conveniently ignoring the fact that the vast majority of individuals jailed for murder, rape, child abuse, etc. are men. And hadithists claim that women are “religiously defective” but it is they (not God in the Quran) who forbid their daughters from praying and fasting during their menstrual periods and it is they (not God) who discourage the women from going to the mosque, even for Friday prayers… The spiritual equality between men and women is reiterated in 4:124, as follows:

[Quran 4:124] As for those who lead a righteous life, MALE OR FEMALE. while believing, they enter Paradise; without the slightest injustice.” –

I would love to ask Khadija for her thoughts.

Cranky Ladies logoThis post is written as part of the Women’s History Month Cranky Ladies of History blog tour. If  you would like to read more about cranky ladies from the past, you might like to support our Pozible campaign, crowd-funding an anthology of short stories about Cranky Ladies of History from all over the world.