By Zulqarnain Khan
Couple of months back, I turned 25, that magical number that is somehow seen as the pinnacle of early youth. Tomorrow it’s February the 14th, I’m in America and quite literally, love is in the air, (and wind chills too). You might be thinking what has my age got to do with Valentine Day, the answer lies in the story I intend to tell, one oft told, but not reflected upon nearly enough. We can argue about the merits or demerits of Valentine Day, say it’s not a part of our ‘culture’ like the President of Pakistan, or form teams to ‘forcefully marry’ couples caught celebrating the day, but love has and will always play a central role in everyone’s life, so it is probably better to tell a story that helps us understand what love should look like and what it can achieve if channeled properly.
It’s a love story that breaks every conceivable stereotype, and it’s the kind of love that every lover should yearn for! Specially a generation that grew up on a steady diet of Prince Charming coming to save the Damsel in Distress.
So it begins …
In a time considerably older than this, in a remote land lived a boy of my age, considerably well known, and admired for his work ethic and honesty, not so much for being rich or powerful, plus he was an orphan, having lost both his parents in early years. The lady was well-known and a pretty well off businesswoman, much older (almost 15 years his senior), widowed and HIS boss!
Traditions say she got intrigued by this young man and his morality, and sent a marriage proposal through some common connections (so much for the Prince Charming coming for the Damsel in Distress). The proposal is accepted, and they boy and the lady are tied in matrimony. Thus starts this strange love story, that’s considerably strange even for the ‘modern’ times, even stranger for the times this story is set in.
Time goes on, and the bond strengthens, fast forward 15 years, the boy is a fully grown man of 40, the age when they say a man peaks in wisdom. She has gone on to grow in stature too. All is going well, until one day He stumbles in, confused, shivering and scared. It looks like he has seen a ghost. She asks him what’s the matter, and the reply comes in the form of a doubt, “Have I lost my mind?”, She asks again, and he narrates an experience that rightfully scares the lights out of him, he claims he was contacted by the Archangel, with a message from God. The experience has left him jaded, at this point he doesn’t even believe in himself, but guess what, this woman, this love of his life, believes in him already! She comforts him and tells him everything is going to be alright, she’s sure that God won’t leave her (and as we later come to know His) beloved in distress. She tells him the qualities that first attracted her to him, and how these qualities will be the reason God will chose him to deliver his message.
The lady is Khadija (R.A) and the man is Muhammad (P.B.U.H), and the message is the message believed in by more than one and a half billion people today. It’s easier to believe in a message believed already by so many people, but to believe in it before even the Messenger himself starts believing in it, is what Khadija did, and she did it because she knew the man she loved.
The story doesn’t end here, after this episode came the persecution that anyone who challenges the status quo will face, Khadija wasn’t just with Muhammad through these troubled times, she was pretty much behind him, as his financier and his rock, so by every possible way, Khadija was the foundation on which Islam was built.
How’s that for a fruit of love?