Episode 20: Muhammad The Businessman & A Marriage Proposal
Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was not inclined towards materialism. In his 20s, he concerned himself with establishing his means of living, as he wanted to marry and settle down, as well as help Abu Talib financially. Some initial proposals did not work out. He pursued business locally, as Abu Talib declined his request to go to Ash-Sham, because of the incident with Bhaira the monk. As he did not have the initial capital, he decided to broker deals between wholesalers and retailers, working on commission.
He had a business partner by the name of Abu Saib, who was trustworthy and honest. They had some success and were able to launch themselves. Even after Prophethood, in the conquest of Makkah i.e. 35-40 years after the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did business with this man, he greeted Abu Saib affectionately. He praised Abu Saib as being the best business partner, even though he was not Muslim at the time. Abu Saib did eventually accept Islam.
Khadija bint Khuwaylid (radi Allahu anha) was a widow, and had been married twice before. She was extremely wealthy, and continued her business by hiring men to do business on her behalf in Ash-Sham. When she heard about the reputation of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), she wanted to hire him: they met to discuss the business proposal and she offered him twice the amount of commission she had offered anyone else. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) agreed to work for her.
It is said that Khadija (radi Allahu anha) convinced Abu Talib to allow the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to travel on business to Ash-Sham with her bodyguard Maisarah. On the trip, Maisarah notices some interesting things:
1) They stop in the same area that was inhabited by Bhaira the monk, as this was the usual rest area for the Qurayshi caravans. However, another monk was resident at that time. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) sat under a tree. The monk came to Maisarah and enquired about the man under the tree: the monk reports that no man will sit under that tree at this time except a Prophet.
2) They make more profit than normal in their transactions in both Ash-Sham and in Makkah.
3) On the return journey, Maisarah notices that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) seems very calm despite the extreme heat: looking up, Maisarah sees that he was covered by shade as he travelled, as if two angels were providing the shade.
On their return, the accounts are settled with Khadija (radi Allahu anha). She is impressed by the Prophet’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) attention to details. Afterwards, Khadija (radi Allahu anha) sits with Maisarah, who recounts the interesting events and amazing character of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) engages in more business deals with Khadija (radi Allahu anha), with similar successful results.
Khadija (radi Allahu anha) was becoming interested in this young man. She speaks to Waraqah, her cousin, who encourages her to pursue the proposal. She then speaks to her friend Nafisa, who offers to discuss the situation with the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). She asks him his opinion of Khadija (radi Allahu anha), and he praises her character. She asks if he would consider her for marriage, and he confirms if she is interested in marriage. Nafisa and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) then go to Abu Talib to discuss the marriage proposal.