Over the years I've been through some changes; a shift of priorities, a myriad of awakenings and a lifestyle overhaul. None of this has been easy on me. For every blessing there will be a trial and for every hardship there will be great hikma (wisdom) and triumph. I've drawn strength and inspiration from all my experiences and I'm slowly growing wiser, becoming more balanced and feeling more comfortable in my skin.
Everybody needs good role models and I have many - from my mother to Jamie Oliver - but there's one woman who has captured my heart unlike any other and it's Khadijah bint al-Khuwaylid (may God be pleased with her). (If you want to know more about Khadijah, here are two pages from Martin Lings' book, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources: When Khadija met Muhammad (pbuh), How Khadija proposed to Muhammad (pbuh))
As a woman, I've learned a lot from Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her):
- Be as independent as you can. Allah has given women the prerogative to seek freedom and fulfillment by worshipping Allah and not His creations. There is no harm in seeking knowledge and earning an income because it is virtuous to practice self-compassion and seek provision for yourself and your family.
- Be a source of inspiration and strength for those around you. This means we must not be afraid of doing the right thing when it's hard; we must challenge ourselves and others too, if it will help them to become better people. To challenge someone out of love and mercy is very different than to challenge someone due to one's ego and being outspoken is not the same as being rude. To teach someone to think for themselves is a great act of love and concern.
- Be self-confident. Khadijah was not a selfish and insecure woman; she wasn't afraid to voice her opinions and make sacrifices when she needed to. She was willing to give her wealth, time and energy to help others. Furthermore, despite being widowed twice, she had the courage to propose and marry a man who was 15 years younger than her because she fell in love with his impeccable character. If that doesn't scream self-confidence, I don't know what does.
I've decided to pursue entrepreneurship and establish ShaElaizaGalleria.com because if a woman like Khadijah could embrace and dedicate her life to Islam and a livelihood, I know this faith could not be a tool of oppression and suppression as many have claimed and portrayed it to be. Prior to marrying the Prophet (pbuh), she was already a distinguished and successful female entrepreneur. Khadijah was highly-educated, financially independent, confident, determined and perceptive. At the same time, she was also a mother and a widow. She was the kind of woman many men and women would look up to today and perhaps be intimidated by.
But Khadijah was the kind of woman who wouldn't allow challenges or social stigma to get in the way of her success and happiness. She saw something special in Muhammad (pbuh), a staff she had hired for her thriving textile business, and she admired and respected him because of his fine character which made her feel at ease. Despite being 15 years older, Khadijah did what would be considered unthinkable even by today's standards. She trusted her intuition and proposed to Muhammad (pbuh). When he received divine revelation and became a prophet after 15 years of marriage, she was the first to accept Islam and dedicate everything she had to spread the noble message that God is one and Muhammad (pbuh) is His final messenger. Being a strong woman only enhanced her ability to be a devoted wife and Muslim.
|(original quote from: Healing Hearts)|
One could even say that it was the power of a woman's love that contributed to Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) tenacity and charismatic leadership. Today, many have forgotten the extent of Khadijah's influence on the Prophet's life and character. Many Muslims tend to place great emphasis and significance on raising little Muhammad's but not little Khadijah's. Imagine an Ummah without strong, knowledgeable and confident women. What a travesty that would be! Islam empowers women and raises their status. Allah (subhanahu wa taala) wants both men and women to be successful in this world and the hereafter.
I hope to overcome my fears and apprehension and become more dedicated, disciplined, patient and tenacious in everything I do, inshaAllah. I hope to be more committed to my faith and spirituality. I hope to become more like my role model, Khadijah al-Khuwaylid, inshaAllah, because the power of a woman's love can change the world.
What have you learned from Khadijah? I'd love to know so feel free to drop your comments below!