Wives of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) – Who Were They? | The wives of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are referred to as “Mothers of Believers”. They are otherwise known as “Ummahat al-Mumineen”. These women were the wives of our Prophet Muhammad in this Dunya and will be his wives in Jannah In Sha Allah. The wives of the Prophet are just a few examples of wonderful, feminine women in Islam. Which begs the question, “Who were the wives of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)?”
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had a total of 11 wives in his life (although opinions differ on the exact number). He was also married to more than 4 women at the same time. The Prophet received the revelation of Allah’s will for men to only have a maximum of 4 wives at the same time whilst he was already married to multiple women. The Prophet was allowed to keep all his previous wives because no one was allowed to marry the Prophet’s wives after they were divorced or widowed as they were “Mothers of Believers”. Allah commanded him to have no more other wives. His wives were the following women (in order):
- Khadijah bint Khuwaylid
- Sawdah bint Zam’a
- Aisha bint Abu Bakr
- Hafsa bint Umar ibn Al-Khattab
- Zaynab bint Khuzaymah
- Umm Salamah bint Abu Umayyah
- Juwayriyah bint al-Haarith
- Zaynab bint Jahsh
- Umm Habibah bint Abu Sufyan
- Safiyyah bint Huyayy ibn Akhtab
- Maymunah bint al-Haarith
These women were more than just their names, or their father’s daughters, or the wives of the Prophet. They were women before they became what they are now known for. So, who were the wives of the Prophet really?
Wives of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH):
1. Khadijah bint Khuwaylid
Khadijah was the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They met when she had become a widow twice, both times of wealthy merchants. Her father was a prosperous businessman and a popular leader of the Quraysh tribe as well. Khadijah herself was also known as a prosperous and intelligent woman in her own right. After the death of her second husband, she declined multiple marriage offers. Opting to instead focus on building the merchant business she had inherited from her father and raising her children. Khadija did not travel with the trade caravans she deployed. Instead, she employed agents who would trade on her behalf for a commission. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was one of those business agents she had hired. Although she soon saw something more in him.
As reported by most sources, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was 40 years old when they married, while he was 25 years old at the time. Most sources state that Khadijah and
the Prophet had 6 children, of which two sons who died in infancy. She encouraged and loved the Prophet in all the years they were together. She was there when the Prophet received his first revelations and she always remained loyal to the Prophet, even when many prominent Makkans began to oppose him. While our Prophet was married to Khadijah, he took no other wives. They were together for 25 years in total before she died. The Prophet was 55/56 years old at that time. Khadijah was missed, remembered and loved by him for the rest of his life.
2. Sawdah bint Zam’a
After Khadijah’s death, the Prophet was left to raise a small family by himself. He did not have enough time to spread the message of Islam whilst being a full-time father. Therefore he decided to marry again. He married a widow named Sawdah bint Zam’a. Sawdah and her first husband were amongst the very early converts to Islam who immigrated to Abyssinia. Her husband passed away and she was a widow with very young children. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked for approval for their marriage from Sawdah’s non-Muslim parents. Her parents agreed and directed him to seek approval from Sawdah herself.
With Sawdah’s and the Prophet’s union, their households were merged and the Prophet had more time to spread the message of Islam. She was the second widow that the Prophet married and was his second wife after Khadijah. Sawdah had a reputation for being a very kind, jovial and charitable woman. Sawdah and the Prophet were married for three years before he took another wife.
3. Aisha bint Abu Bakr
Aisha is well known for being the Prophet’s favourite wife after Khadijah. She was his third and only non-widowed wife. She was the daughter of Abu Bakr, one of the Prophet’s closest friends and supporters. Aisha was raised as a Muslim while most of the close companions were converts to Islam. Her marriage to the Prophet strengthened the relationship between her father and her husband.
Not only was she the Prophet’s beloved wife, but she was also known to be an extremely intelligent scholar of Islam. She is credited for narrating more than 2000 hadiths in her lifetime. Aisha is seen as personifying an early Islamic idealization of women as the social and legal equality of men. Aisha was one of only three wives of the Prophet Muhammad who memorized the entire Quran. The Prophet died in Aisha’s arms. Aisha was widowed at the age of 18 or 19 years old and went on to teach and play a significant role in Islam for more than 40 years.
4. Hafsa bint Umar ibn Al-Khattab
Hafsa was the daughter of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, one of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) closest confidantes. Prophet Muhammad’s fourth marriage to Hafsa was a political alliance. Hafsa had already been married but was sadly widowed when she was only eighteen years old. Her marriage to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) brought honour upon her family by merging the Al-Khattab family with the Prophet’s family.
Hafsa and Aisha were the Prophet’s youngest wives and they had similar personalities. Both were very strong, determined women and for the most part seemed to be friends. Just like Aisha, Hafsa was able to both read and write and memorize the entire Quran. She is described as pious and intelligent, spending hours pondering over the verses of the Quran. Hafsah was married to the Prophet for eight years, and after his death, she lived for another thirty-four years.
5. Zaynab bint Khuzaymah
Zaynab was the first of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) wives that did not come from the Quraish tribe. Sadly, she died less than one year after her marriage and because of this, very little is known about her.
6. Umm Salamah bint Abu Umayyah
At the age of 29, Umm Salamah married Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), after her first husband died from the wounds he received while fighting in the battle of Uhud. Umm Salamah narrated more than 300 hadiths, many of them concerning women. She accompanied the Prophet on some expeditions and was married to him for seven years until his death. Umm Salamah died last of all the other wives of the Prophet, dying at the age of eighty-four.
7. Juwayriyah bint al-Haarith
The 20-year-old Juwayriyah was the daughter of the chief of Banu Mustaliq, a very powerful clan. This entire clan was an enemy of Islam since the beginning. They were finally suppressed by military action. Juwayriyah came to the Prophet’s attention when she was captured in the battle against their tribe. When the Prophet married Juwayriyya, the Muslims released all their prisoners, stating that they could not keep the Prophet’s relatives in imprisonment. Because the 58-year-old Prophet married Juwayriyah, it allowed her tribe to enter Islam with honour by removing the humiliation of their defeat. Juwayriyah was married to the Prophet for six years and lived for another thirty-nine years after his death. She died at the age of sixty-five. She was described as being very beautiful and refined.
8. Zaynab bint Jahsh
Zaynab was a young girl from the noble line of Quraish. She was once married to Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) freed slave and adopted son Zayd. Being noble birth, she was brought up in relative luxury, which created certain expectations for marriage. Her first husband, Zayd, did not fit the description of the man or the life she had expected. Nonetheless, she married him to please the Prophet and her family.
Consequently, their marriage was not a happy one, both not living up to each other’s expectations. The Prophet allowed them to divorce. To make sure that Zaynab was protected and her family would not see this divorce as a slight, the Prophet married her to please all parties. The Quran revealed verses, stating that an adopted son is not the same as a natural son (if that would have been the case, the Prophet would not have married Zaynab). She joined the Prophet’s family and was known for her generosity and charitable works. She died at the age of 50.
9. Umm Habibah bint Abu Sufyan
Umm Habibah was the daughter of Abu Sufyan, a leader of the Quraish tribe and then, an enemy of Islam. She still declared her faith without any fear. After converting to Islam and suffering oppression, Umm Habibah and her first husband joined the migration to Abyssinia. Her husband died soon after. She was alone with a young daughter and no means of support. The Prophet offered to marry her as a way to protect the woman, which she accepted. She was married to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for four years until he passed away.
10. Safiyyah bint Huyayy ibn Akhtab
Safiyyah was the daughter of a prominent Jewish chief of the Banu Nadir tribe. Her tribe had been expelled from Madinah and had settled at Khaybar. In 629 CE, the Muslims were victorious at the Battle of Khaybar and Safiyyah was taken captive. Muhammad suggested that Safiyyah converts to Islam, so they could be married and her tribe would be released. She agreed and became the Prophet’s wife. Safiyyah was twenty-one years old when the Prophet died. She lived for another 39 years, passing away in Medina at the age of 60.
The Prophet’s other wives used to tease Safiyyah about her Jewish origin. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said to his wife Safiyyah:
“If they discriminate against you again, tell them that your husband is Muhammad, your father was Prophet Aaron and your uncle was Prophet Musa. So what is there to be scornful about?”
11. Maymunah bint al-Haarith
Barra was married to the Prophet for over three years until his death. The Prophet used to call her Maymunah, which means ‘the blessed’ or could be interpreted as “good tidings” since her marriage to him also marked the first time in seven years that he could enter his hometown of Mecca. One of the Prophet’s companions informed him on Maymunah, saying that she was his wife’s sister and was widowed. His marriage to Maymunah, the Prophet reduced tensions between the Muslims and her tribe, who were known to be hostile towards Muslims.
She was in her late 30s when she married the Prophet. Maymunah lived with the Prophet for three years, until his death. Not only was she very good-natured and incredibly intelligent, but she was also very observant and had a hunger for obtaining knowledge. Maymunah has narrated numerous hadith of which many have been reported in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
How many wives did the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have?
As stated before, the numbers seem to differ from source to source. In this blog, we went over the eleven women who are cited by every source I could find on the internet. Other women who were mentioned were Maria al-Qibtiyya and Rayhana bint Zayd. I’d like to do more research and come back to this topic once I’ve educated myself some more!
The wives of the Prophet as women
The wives of the Prophet Muhammad were strong, feminine women, who have all endured incredible hardships. Many of them were widowed and some of them were mothers. Their marriage to the Prophet gave them strength, they clung to him and Islam to find peace. Feminine women get a bad rap for being weak and shallow, and the Prophet’s wives prove that this is untrue. These sensational women are examples for all us Muslim women. Let’s strive to be more like them! Do you want to read more about femininity for Muslim women? Take a look at the category Femininity! Do you want to learn more about the wives of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)? In the category “Mothers of Believers,” you can find short biographies of their lives.
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Your Classy Muslim Sister