Reclaiming Khadija’s and Muhammad’s Marriage as an Islamic Paradigm: Toward a New History of the Muslim Present
Using masculinities studies and a history of the present framework, Shadaab Rahemtulla and Sara Ababneh examine the marriage of Prophet Muhammad and Khadija (d. ca. 620) to question hegemonic narratives on “ideal” Muslim marriages. Muhammad's marriages—and, by extension, his masculinity—are often portrayed as expressions of power disparity, with Muhammad marrying multiple wives who were significantly younger in age. Due to the normative place of “prophetic practice” (sunna), these historical narratives have exerted a lasting impact on marital ethics and law. Yet the example of Khadija paints an alternative prophetic practice/masculinity: she was a powerful businesswoman fifteen years Muhammad's senior, and their monogamous marriage lasted twenty-five years. In this article, the authors ask, what can we, as Muslim feminists committed to gender egalitarian partnerships in our own contexts, learn from this premodern marriage, and how can we reclaim it as a model for contemporary Muslim masculinities?