This novel begins as:
The girl born that evening fared much better than the one born earlier in the day. The body of the less fortunate girl was still warm, covered beneath the sands on the edge of town, when the girl later known as Khadija entered this world.
Abu Jassim, the father of the girl born that morning, had spent the entire night scurrying about offering gifts to as many of the 360 gods as he could. He would have liked to simplify this, but he believed that many of these gods, one for each day of the year, were vengeful so he couldn’t make an offering only to the chief god of the gods, Hubal, without reprisals from the others. Abu Jassim stared up in desperation at Hubal who had the largest idol positioned high atop the Ka’ba, the holy cube shaped structure in the center of town. Distressed, he gazed up at the statue of the almighty Hubal which now seemed to be frowning at him. Made of red agate and shaped like a human except that its right hand was broken off and replaced with a hand of gold, it offered no consolation to Abu Jassim. Those who practiced polytheism had to worship not only Hubal, but also a myriad of other gods, goddesses, demons, jinn, and monsters or fear that any one of them would feel insulted for not receiving equal worship.
“Help me, Hubal,” Abu Jassim pleaded.
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This work of historical fiction chronicles the life of Khadija, the first wife of the Islam’s Prophet Mohammad. It interweaves the predominate culture of her day into the telling of her life. It has extensive end-notes which serve as an educational tool. Suitable for Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike, it outlines the fascinating life of ‘The First Lady of Islam’ and an overlooked woman in history.
This work of historical fiction chronicles the life of Khadija, the first wife of the Islam’s Prophet Mohammad. It interweaves the predominate culture of her day into the telling of her life, allowing the reader to understand what it is like to be a rich merchant’s daughter in Pre-Islamic Mecca surrounded by the misogynic practices of exchanging their daughters or burying female infants alive. But despite these institutional prejudices against women and girls, Khadija was called “Princess of the Quraysh”, “Princess of the Merchants”, and “Mother of the Orphans”. She directed men in her successful business of camel caravans and supported charitable causes which no doubt went against the social norms of her time. She was named as one of the four greatest women of all time by her third husband, Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam. This work also has extensive end-notes which further detail the aspects of Arabian culture prevalent at the time of Khadija. This work is suitable for all readers of historical fiction in outlining the life of ‘The First Lady of Islam”.
Summary: In the Preface, the author explains that Khadija was a real person, a well known person in Islamic History, but sadly overlooked by scholars. In order to recreate her life, the author has had to fill in details with probable facts and occasionally deviate from the scant historical record that exists for Khadija’s life. The author explains that this work is neither a Sunni nor a Shi’a interpretation of Khadija’s life; not even an Islamic view of her life. And so it is suitable for all readers.
Summary: In the Introduction, the author paints a backdrop to the Khadija’s life explaining how life was often tenuous and short with slavery, petty wars and misogyny adversely affecting all. This stood in contrast to Khadija’s exemplary character and humanitarian nature as she became known as “Princess of the Quraysh”, “Princess of the Merchants”, and “Mother of the Orphans.”
Summary: In this chapter, the reader witnesses the birth of Khadija as contrasted to the birth of a girl born to a slave woman named UmJassim. Khadija’s father laments how politics and selfish maneuvering interfere with the festivities of Khadija’s birth. As Khadija grows, she persuades her father, a merchant, to separate the costly peppercorns by their color and accompanies her eldest brother as he prays to the idols for a horse and victory in battle.
Summary: In this chapter, the reader is enthralled at the Okaj, the largest and most attended of the yearly pilgrimages to Macoraba. Khadija’s family experiences the tragic loss of one son, the departure of another to St. Catherine’s Monastery and the extravagant wedding of Halal. Two tutors are hired to teach the children of Khadija’s family, and UmJassim having lived an almost hopeless existence as a female slave is re-united with her sister.
Summary: In this chapter, the reader experiences The Year of the Elephant, a significant event in Islamic History. While at the Well of ZamZam, Khadija meets a stranger who will have a great impact on her life later on. Khadija marries for the first time in the same year Mohammad is born. The reader learns of Khadija’s compassionate nature in her forming Cooperatives. Khadija then becomes widowed and sees her caravan business expand as Mohammad boyhood brings him first under the care of his grandfather.
Summary: In this chapter, the reader witnesses Khadija’s second marriage and being named “Princess of the Quraysh” by her tribe. Sadly, Khadija’s sister and mother die and the reader also learns of the death Khadija’s brother. Khadija continues her charity work by forming a Women’s Milk Cooperative. Mohammad experiences the death of his grandfather as he goes into the guardianship of his uncle and then goes on his first camel caravan with him.
Summary: In this chapter, Khadija loses both her father and her son. Mohammad earns the title, “The Trustworthy”. Khadija becomes known as the “Mother of the Orphans”. Mohammad joins the League of the Virtuous and gets hired by Khadija to guide her caravan. While on that fateful journey, Mohammad meets Nestor.
Summary: In this chapter, the reader witnesses the marriage of Khadija to Mohammad and Khadija as a “Virtuous Wife”. Their family grows with the addition of Qassem, Zayd, and Abdullah. Mohammad, Khadija and their family travel to Yathrib and the sea. Upon returning to Macoraba, they learn the Okaj is cancelled. The sadness of the death of UmAteq is eclipsed by the adoption of Ali. Mohammad starts to receive his revelations. However, shortly afterward he is mocked as a madman. Bilal is freed and becomes the first muezzin.
Summary: In this chapter, Mohammad’s preaching continues and physical attacks on Mohammad and his followers begin. As persecution and ill-treatment continues, Mohammad destroys all the idols at the Ka’ba. Waraqa returns to St. Catherine’s Monastery and the First Migration to Abyssinia occurs. The conversion of Umar gives the Muslims courage, but then a total boycott occurs forcing the Muslims out of Macoraba and into the desert. After the boycott ends three years later, Mohammad goes on the Night Journey. Afterward, Khadija dies.
Summary: In this chapter, end-notes give the reader an added depth of knowledge on the following subjects: spelling variations, AD/CE, female infanticide, the Black Stone at the Ka’ba, divination arrows, inheriting wives, exchanging daughters, the Well of ZamZam, horses, the Okaj and the Ghazzu (raid), poetry, Hanifs, Christians, and Jews in Pre-Islamic Mecca, Abraham’s connection to Mecca and the Ka’ba, King Solomon’s mine, desert truffles, the Year of the Elephant, sinkholes and caves in the Arabian Desert, desert ostriches, Bahira, camels, child sacrifice, clans and tribes in Bedouin or Arab Society, four perfect women, blood feud, slavery and Islam, the Night of Power, muezzin, the Qibla, the Isra and Miraj (or the Night Journey), the Buraq, burial practices in Islam, and hadiths concerning Khadija. There is also a Glossary and Discussion Questions and Activities. This chapter is a venerable cornucopia of knowledge about early Islamic History and Pre-Islamic Arabia.