Friday 17 October 2008 (18 Shawwal 1429)

      The first marriage
      Adil Salahi | Arab News 
      When the prospect of marrying Khadijah was put to Muhammad (peace be upon 
him) by her intimate friend Nufaysah bint Munyah, he expressed his interest 
straightaway. Nufaysah informed Khadijah who then sent him a message asking him 
to come and see her. She said to him: "Cousin, (she used this term in the 
widest sense, since she was a very distant cousin of the Prophet. Their 
ancestry did not join until the fifth grandparent.) I admire you because of 
your good position among your people, your honesty and good manners, and 
because you are a man of your word." She then made her proposal that they 
should get married. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was very pleased and went to 
inform his uncles, who were also very pleased with such a marriage.

      Muhammad went with his uncles to meet Khadijah's uncle, Amr ibn Asad. Abu 
Talib spoke on behalf of his nephew. He said: "This nephew of mine, Muhammad 
ibn Abdullah, is without peers in his nobility of character and descent. If he 
is not wealthy, wealth is only something accidental. Money comes and goes, and 
many a wealthy man becomes poor. He will certainly have a great future. He is 
proposing marriage to your honorable daughter, Khadijah. He is giving her a 
dowry of such-and such." Amr ibn Asad did not hesitate to make his acceptance 
clear. The marriage was then concluded at a dowry of 20 young camels.

      A grand wedding then followed, with a number of sheep and camels 
slaughtered to feed the guests. One of them came from a distant place in the 
desert. That was Halimah, the Prophet's wet nurse who breast-fed him and took 
care of him for the first four years of his life. She came specially to attend 
his wedding. When she was about to leave, Khadijah gave her a generous gift, 
forty sheep to take home.

      It is commonly held by Muslims throughout the world that there was a big 
gap in age between the newly married couple, Muhammad being only 25 and 
Khadijah 40. This cannot be taken for granted. In fact it should be rejected. 
To start with, the Arabs at the time did not keep any sort of time record. 
Indeed they did not have a calendar by which to date events. They dated from 
whatever major event took place in their region. Thus, the Prophet is said to 
have been born in the year of the elephant, referring to the failed attempt by 
Abrahah to destroy the Kaaba, marching to Makkah at the head of a large army 
accompanied by a number of elephants.

      Khadijah gave Muhammad (peace be upon him), her third husband, six 
children over a period of ten years. This makes clear that she was in the prime 
of her reproductive life. It is well known that this is between 18 and 35. 
While many women give birth after 40, it is extremely unlikely that a woman 
bears so many children after this age. When we look at other reports of 
Khadijah's age, we find that she is stated to have been 25, 30, 35 and 45. The 
last should be discounted straightaway. Abdullah ibn Abbas, the Prophet's 
cousin, who is considered to have been the most learned among the companions of 
the Prophet, states that she was 28 and not a day older.

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