When we try to discern the sort of life the Prophet (peace be upon him) had before the start of his message, we have few reports to hand. Interest in his personal life did not develop until later. Before prophethood, he was an ordinary man living in his community. While he did not take part in idol worship and did not attend festivals organized in the name of any idol, he did not stand out as different from other people. He was well known for his honesty and integrity. In fact, people in his community nicknamed him Al-Ameen, which meant the Trustworthy. People trusted him in every way, realizing that he was a man of his word, and he never tried to cheat in any situation. This earned him immense respect in his community. People continued to deposit their valuables with him for safekeeping, even when they were determinedly opposed to his message.

From the few reports that we have of his life after his marriage, up until he received the Angel Gabriel who told him of his assignment as God’s last messenger to mankind, we realize that he led a very happy life, with a caring and loving wife, Khadijah. She recognized his exceptional qualities and provided him with a comfortable home. Many years later, when he had established the first Muslim community and first Muslim state in Madinah, he mentioned that he had a business partner in Makkah called Al-Saib and he praised his partner for his integrity. This suggests that the Prophet continued to run his wife’s business, as he had no money of his own while she was a wealthy lady who employed people to travel on her business. This was how she met Muhammad and recognized his personal qualities. He must have been successful in this, ensuring a comfortable standard of living. When Makkah went through a rough period and people found it difficult to cope, Muhammad (peace be upon him) said to his uncle Al-Abbas: “Your brother, Abu Talib, has a large family and things are hard for everyone. Let us both help him: you take one of his children and I take one to reduce his burden.” This is how Ali came to live with the Prophet in his home, giving him a good upbringing.

Khadijah was a model wife: loving, caring, supporting, and providing everything a man needs. We have good reports about her support when the Prophet was met with open hostility and determined opposition as he called on people to believe in God and abandon idolatry. Yet this was not new in their relationship. A few years before he began to receive his message, the Prophet used to spend time alone in a cave, in contemplation. She made sure that he lacked nothing. When once his absence was a little longer than usual, she sent a few of her servants looking for him.

Her exceptional care stands out when he received the Angel for the first time. This was not an easy encounter. How could it be when there is nothing in human experience to prepare him for it? He was in fear as he looked at the Angel standing above him, with his head high in the sky, and he told him: “You are the Prophet of this community.” It was Khadijah who reassured him, feeling that a man of his upright nature could not be deceived on such a momentous matter. She enlisted the learned support of her cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who had studied the Bible and gained exceptional experience in religious matters. The two comforted him and helped him recognize the way that he was to lead as God’s messenger. Khadijah’s support was the best he could have received in his hour of great need.

– By Adil Salahi