Throughout the history of humankind, strong women have always been a source of inspiration and growth. Women who, alongside men, brought significant changes to the world, making it a better place to live and to prosper. One of the most prominent and praised women in the history of Islam is Lady Khadija (AS), Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) wife and companion, who had a vital role in the spread of Islam. She was one of those women whose influence and exceptional characteristics still resonates throughout the ages and among many generations after her.
In what follows, we will look at the life of Lady Khadija (AS), this distinguished personality.
Known as Khadīja al-Kubrā (AS) and Umm al-Mu' minīn (the Mother of Believers), Lady Khadija (AS) was born fifteen years before Am Al-Fil [i]. Therefore, her birth date is approximately 555 A.D. Her father, a famous figure in the Quraysh tribe in Mecca, was Khuwaylid b. Asad b. Abd al-Uzza b. Qusayy  and her mother was Fatima bt. Za'ida . According to some sources, Lady Khadija (AS) had a distant relation in lineage with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and their roots went back to the same ancestors .
The available information concerning Lady Khadija (AS) before marrying Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) is limited and scarce. Nevertheless, she was known to be a wealthy merchant who employed others to work for her and benefited from a part of the profit . Due to her ancestral nobility, she was of high social status and respected among her people. As Ibn Sayyid al-Nas said: "She was an honorable and wise lady, and God granted her with His blessing." 
According to some sources, before meeting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in person and starting a business relation with him, Lady Khadija (AS) had heard about his trustworthiness and honesty. Therefore, she asked Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to join her and help her in expanding her business .
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) went at least five business trips for Lady Khadija (AS), the most important of which that led to their marriage was the business trip to Sham. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) went back from this trip with the good news of their financial success and profit, which impressed Lady Khadija (AS) and made her decide to choose him as the head of one of the greatest caravans traveling to Sham. The result of these trips and Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) impressive actions, was Lady Khadija's (AS) fondness toward this honest man . After that, she proposed marriage to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) .
Despite the disputes over Lady Khadija's (AS) marriage before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), which claim her to be a widow, many authentic sources believe that Lady Khadija (AS) did not marry anyone before the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and it was her first marriage . This is also proved by looking at the cultural and intellectual status of Lady Khadija (AS) in Hijaz, which made it improbable for her to marry anyone from lower-status tribes .
While receiving many proposals for marriage from the heads of Quraysh, offering her vast amounts of money and wealth, she refused all and instead fell in love with the honesty and righteousness of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). The news of this proposal shocked Lady Khadija's (AS) family and relatives, who couldn't believe her to be willing to marry a man with lower financial status and younger than herself .
The proposal and marriage ceremony of these two significant figures, who made an example of their marriage to the generations that followed them, was held two months after the business trip to Sham, which was mentioned above . According to many sources, at the time of their marriage, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was twenty-five, and Lady Khadija (AS), forty years old . After their marriage, she dedicated all her wealth to her husband and left the management of her business to him. Lady Khadija (AS) was the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and during her life, he did not marry another woman.
There seems to be disagreement in the number of Lady Khadija (AS) and Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) children. The number ranges from six to eight, among which they include two sons and four daughters . Some historians believe that Lady Fatima (AS) was the only daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and Khadija (AS) and the other daughters were their adopted children .
After receiving the call to prophethood in the Hira cave, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) first told Khadija (AS) and Imam Ali (AS) about his prophetic mission. She totally trusted her husband to be an honest man and believed in his great cause; therefore, she was the first woman who accepted Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) invitation to Islam and became a devout Muslim. Imam Ali (AS) and Lady Khadija (AS) were also the first ones who performed prayer (Salat) alongside Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in the mosque .
As a wife, Lady Khadija (AS) always supported Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in fulfilling his extraordinarily challenging and demanding mission of guiding people toward the path of Allah. At the times when people hurt the Prophet (PBUH&HP) with their offenses and unfair accusations, Khadija (AS) was there to soothe him, wipe his sadness away and give him hope to endure the hardships of this holy mission. She also financially supported Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) when they were suffering from unfair economic sanctions in the Shaib al-Abi Talib . Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) always appreciated Lady Khadija's (AS) unbounded help and support and said: "No money was profitable for me the way the wealth of Khadija (a) was." 
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) always loved and praised Lady Khadija (AS) for her great and exemplary personality. He used to consider her among the four praised women of all time, including Asiya [ii], Mary, and Lady Fatima (AS) . She was not only a prominent and influential figure of her own time but also set an example for the generations that followed her. Her power in merchandise and business at one point, her courage, and insight in choosing a perfect husband by herself and her devotion to her married life at another, made her an ideal role model for the women all around the world.
As it was mentioned above, Lady Khadija (AS) was a well-known woman before her marriage to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). She was famous for her knowledge and sagacity, which manifested in her thriving business, whose fame reached all over the Hijaz. Despite the patriarchal society of her time, she had managed to establish herself as a powerful businesswoman who won the respect of great heads of the tribes and men who considered women inferior to themselves .
While having an active and productive role in society, Lady Khadija (AS) always preserved her modesty and presented a modest manner in her interactions with men. Doing so, rather than being praised for her physical beauty, she was honored and respected for her insight and chastity, which encouraged many of the powerful men of her time to ask her hand in marriage. Yet, since she was more interested in finding an honest and virtuous man to marry, rather than a merely wealthy man, she refused all her suitors. Finally, she found these features in Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and chose him as her perfect match.
When she made a vow of marriage to the honest Muhammad (PBUH&HP), she knew that her life with this man would be different. When Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) mission began, she realized how much he was under pressure and needed her companionship and support. People didn't believe in him, didn't listen to him, and refused to be guided through the words of Allah, especially in the first years of his invitation to Islam. Yet, at home, he had someone who was always by his side, wipe his sadness away, and had faith in his call. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) never loved any woman as Lady Khadija (AS), and never forgot about her love and sacrifices, always remembering her as a unique and precious person in his life .
Lady Khadija (AS), this honorable woman, passed away in the month of Ramadan ten years after Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) call to prophethood in 619 A.D. She was 65 years old at the time of her demise , . She was buried by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in al-Ma'lat Cemetery, on the slopes of Mount Al-Hajun in Mecca. This sorrow was shortly followed by the demise of Abu-Talib, Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) uncle. These tragic incidents afflicted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) with deep grief to the extent that he named that year as "the year of sorrow and pain (Am al-Huzn) .
[i] Literally meaning the year of the Elephant, it is the year in which Abraha, the king of Yemen, started a huge military expedition toward Mecca to destroy Ka'ba. As he had an army with war elephants, the year turned to be known as the year of the Elephant.
[ii] Pharaoh's wife at the time of Prophet Moses (PBUH)
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- Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, Yūsuf b. Abd Allah. Al-Istīʿāb fī maʿrifat al-aṣḥāb. Edited by ʿAlī Muḥammad al-Bajāwī.
- Abu l-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-talibiyyin, p.29.
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- ibid, vol.1, pp.199-200.
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- Ziriklī, Khayr al-dīn al-. Al-Aʿlām Qāmūs trājm l-ashhar al-rijal wa l-nisāʾ min al-ʿArab wa l-mustaʿribīn wa l-mustashriqīn.
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- Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 3, p. 1089.
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- Majlisī, Muḥammad Bāqir al-. Biḥār al-anwār al-jāmiʿa li-durar akhbār al-aʾimmat al-aṭhār.
- Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 2, p. 129.
- Abu l-Hasan 'Ali b. Muhammad Julabi, Manaqib al-Imam Ali b. Abi Talib, vol.2, p.422.
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- Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-. Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī. Edited by Muḥammad Ibrāhim.
- Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 1, p. 45.
The hours of fasting in Ramadan vary based on the geographical position of the city where one lives. In some regions, the fasting hours might be extremely long while in other places it might be too short such that one wonders if the goal of fasting (Sawm) has been accomplished or not. Extended fasting might cause difficulties.
Some might complain that there is no advantage in fasting long days. Others might find excuses to avoid fasting altogether. But, Islam does not want Muslims to suffer. There are, therefore, some rulings on how to fast on very long days and very short days, that we review them all next.
In the case where the days are very short, one should perform fasting in its typical way, from dawn to sunset, according to the prayer times. Hence, short fasting hours does not change the default time rulings on fasting (Swam) .
Fasting is not a mere act of depriving oneself of foods or drinks, but it aims at spiritual growth and salvation, inner peace, exercising patience, strengthening the social ties and experiencing how poor people live their lives .
Hence, the obligation on fasting is not to make people suffer; as it is stated in Surah Baqarah: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship” (2:185). So, there are some rulings on long fasts which make them less difficult.
Long fast (Swam), especially in hot summer days, is tough. In this case, one should fast according to the prayer times of his\her city of residence. But, if it is extremely difficult, whenever during the day he\she feels unable to continue, he\she is allowed to break the fast (Swam) and have to fast (it is obligatory, Wajib) later on for those missing (Qaza) fasts in shorter days of the current year and before the next Ramadan 
However, different religious experts (Mujtahids) have different opinions on this matter. We explained one of those views above. There are two other opinions as follows and one of them might be the opinion of your religious expert (Mujtahid):
In any case, one should fast according to the prayer times of the city of residence;
One should fast according to the prayer times in a “moderate region,” with the normal day length, that is on the same meridian as his\her city of residence.
Fasting is obligatory due to its spiritual and physical benefits. It is not to put pressure and make people suffer. If it is tough to fast in very long days, one can fast according to the rulings stated above.
Backbiting is highly forbidden in Islam and is considered as a major sin. By speaking behind the back of others, people might deliberately spoil the dignity of each other, and in Islam, nothing is far more valuable than the honour of a human being. It is narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) that during the miraculous night journey (Mi’raj) [i] that he (PBUH & HP) had, he (PBUH & HP) passed a group of people in hell who were scratching their own faces with nail. He (PBUH & HP) asked who they were. It was said that, those were the ones who used to backbite and dishonour others . This punishment, besides others, was due to the fact that backbiting destroys the face of others and misrepresents them, hence, the backbiters scratched their faces which caused them to look more monstrous and nasty. Let’s see what Islam’s definition of backbiting, its conditions, types, consequences, etc is.
According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP), backbiting is to mention and scold someone behind his back which is unpleasant and unkind to him/her . It can be about his/her physical appearance, body, origin, character, deeds, or possessions like clothes, home, children or spouse.
Notice that there is a delicate difference between backbiting and slander. According to Imam Sadiq (AS), backbiting is to reveal something about your Muslim brother which Allah Almighty has concealed. But, revealing which is apparent such as being irascible or hasty is not considered as backbiting. But, slander is to attribute something to someone which is basically wrong .
Not every act or saying about another person is backbiting. Backbiting is:
• If someone talks about the apparent and obvious characteristics of another person, it won’t be backbiting anymore, unless he\she intends to mock and deride that person. Hence, revealing the hidden defects of someone else is considered as backbiting whatever the intention is, but, talking about the obvious defects is considered as backbiting if one aims to reproach;
• When someone reveals the “defects” of someone else, but revealing the “strong points” of another person won’t be backbiting anymore;
• If the deficiency attributed to another person is unpleasant and blamed by everyone else;
• If one aims to dishonour another person by revealing his\her defects;
• And, if there is someone else who listens to or hears what is said about another person. It means that if one reviews someone’s defects by him\herself alone, it is not backbiting.
Backbiting is so denounced in Islam that it is said: “Whoever dies while he had repented from backbiting, he\she will be the last who enters Heaven. And, whoever dies while have kept on backbiting, he\she will be the first who enters the Hell !
In another narration, backbiting is compared to leprosy disease. It is said that backbiting ruins one’s faith much faster than leprosy disease ruins his\her body . In surat Hujurat it is said: “O you who have faith! ... do not spy on or backbite one another. Will any of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. And be wary of Allah ...” (49:12).
Backbiting is “mentioning” someone’s deficiency behind his\her back. Accordingly, the types of backbiting are:
• By words: it is the most common type of backbiting. It means one “speaks” about another person’s defect;
• By writing: if someone writes down the imperfection of someone else such that others can read it, too, the cartoons drawn to mock a personality or using someone’ pet phrase in order to make fun of him\her ;
• By act: if one reveals other person’s defect to someone else by showing or imitating it;
• By indirect words: like saying that “how lucky we are that we don’t have such a stingy partner!”;
• By gesture: like revealing one’s defect by a special movement of hand, head, eyes, etc.
Now that we found out how much backbiting is disapproved in Islam and what it is consists of, we need to find out its consequences, the way to prevent ourselves or others from backbiting, etc. Follow us on the second part of this topic to find the answers.
[i] The Mi’raj refers to the materialistic journey of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) from Mecca to Jerusalem, and from there, to the skies and back home again. That was during this journey that he (PBUH & HP) saw heaven and hell. For more details see: https://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/fa6152
- Mirza Hussain Nouri, “Mustadrak al-Wasa’il”, vol. 9, p. 119.
- M. Naraqi, “Mi’raj al-Sa’sah”, p. 447.
- Shaykh al-Kolayni, “al-Kafi”, vol. 2, No. 7.
- Mulla M. Faydh Kashani, “Al-Mahajjat al-Baydha' ”, vol. 5, p.252.
- Shaykh al-Kolayni, “al-Kafi”, vol. 2, No. 1.