When Muhammad, peace be upon him, received his first revelation from the Archangel Gabriel, he was terrified and stormed out of Cave Hira. Wherever he looked, he would see Gabriel and his beautiful massive wingspan stretching to infinite horizons. As Muhammad raced through the streets of Mecca, frightening thoughts of being possessed filled his mind. What did this mystical experience mean? Where would he go? Who would he turn to? Who would comfort his fears? It was his beloved wife, Khadijah – may Allah be pleased with her – who brought ease to the new and last Prophet of God. She was more than a wife in the eyes of Muhammad, she was his Soul Mate, his Friend, and a Beautiful Sign from his Lord. Many Orthodox teachings fail to inform Muslims about how much of an important role Khadijah played in the Prophet’s life. If we Muslims are to believe that God is Perfect and that everything happens for a reason, then we must also emphasize on the significant placement of all things in the Universe. For example (as meaningless as it may sound), a tree that may be in your backyard exists for a specific reason and purpose, and the same applies to the moon or a distant planet that we may have no knowledge of. When we consider the presence of Khadijah in Muhammad’s life, we see a comforter, a healer, and a voice of Truth. She stood by her husband and never ceased to support him in his mission to teach the message of Islam. Many people say that God will always be there for people — this is indeed True since God is Omni-Present — but we must also acknowledge that our friends, family, and other people around us are there because God created them to be there for us. Without Khadija’s Love, it is very difficult to see Muhammad developing the courage and strength he needed to reveal God’s Message to Mecca.
And how unfortunate is it that Muslims today know about Muhammad and Khadija, and yet they still don’t believe True Love exists. We still separate ourselves from one another based upon nationality, ethnicity, race, age, and even gender. How often do we hear about gender wars and how men are superior to women, or how women don’t need men? I remember I was in the bookstore once, and my eye happened to catch a book titled “Are Men Necessary?” and apparently, there are many Muslim feminists who share the belief that men are not necessary. My immediate reaction was: “Is this kind of thinking really necessary?” If we say that men are not necessary – no matter in what sense we say it – then are we suggesting that men serve no purpose at all in a woman’s life? At the same time, we see men treating their women like sexual possessions in extreme Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, and the fathers would rather marry off their daughters than see them graduate college with a degree or pursue an independent career. I know I only highlighted a brief portion of Muhammad and Khadijah’s relationship, but take a moment to reflect upon it now and consider the gender war that is so prevalent in today’s world. Why do we separate from each other when there is so much beauty that awaits to be experienced? Why has it become such a regressive thing to believe that men and women need each other? Are we trying to be tougher and more independent, while sacrificing companionship and community? Or are we conforming to the norms and expectations that have been set by our societies?
“Oh humankind, revere your Guardian Lord, the One who created you from one being, created of like nature, its mate and then spread from the two many men and women. You shall regard God, by whom you swear, and regard the parents. God is watching over you.” (4:1)
Of course men and women have their physiological and psychological differences, but it should not divide them in the sense that one gender is superior to the other. Differences should be celebrated. Imagine how beautiful a marriage would flourish if men and women saw one another as Beings and Friends. Instead, we see many extremist interpretations of the Qur’an and teachings where getting married sounds like a business transaction or a contract. It should be understood that every marriage is bound to have problems, but it doesn’t mean that these problems are unsolvable. As the verse states above, God created us all from a single being. We all have an outer appearance, but consider for a moment: Who is the voice speaking when you talk? Who is controlling your body? Who is the one that lives inside? Who is the Soul? This “who” is essentially the Being that God created. That is who we are. We are not the “male/female” of separation, but the “male/female” of unity.
Jalaluddin Rumi, the great 13th Century Islamic mystic and poet once wrote: “Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I believe that when we are able to destroy these barriers, which may be feelings of aversion, separation, guilt, self-doubt, lack of confidence, or even fear, we are bound to find the doorways that are open to us. Like Khadija’s Love for Muhammad, we may also realize the beautiful significance that exists in the presence of the ones we Love. We can choose to follow these dreams, or we can choose to live the illusion of separation, where beings are divided and distanced from beauty for superficial reasons. Fairy tales and romance novels exist because writers express how the world and/or Love should be. The more we say that True Love is just “make believe”, the further away we get from finding what our hearts desire.