The Prophet Muhammed’s (PBUH) 2nd wife was a woman named Sawdah bint Zam’a. She was a wonderful woman who has gone through hardships in her life but always trusted in Allah and her husband. While she was incredible and just as important as the other people who have helped the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) with spreading the message of Islam, somehow the women in his life who have helped him are not talked about often enough. In this series: The Mother of Believers, we will talk about every wife the Prophet has married and hopefully, we will do them justice. So let’s talk about Sawdah bint Zam’a and what her life was like.
1. Who was the Prophet Muhammed’s second wife?
Sawdah bint Zam’a was the first woman to enter the household of the Prophet after the passing away of Khadijah and his 2nd wife. She was an obedient, loyal, and generous woman, with a great sense of sacrifice. Sawdah was a very funny and jovial woman. She was a very warm and simple person who was among the first people to accept Islam and even emigrated twice! First to Abyssinia (with her first husband) and second to Al-Madinah. Sawadah’s mother. Al-Shamus bint Qays, was from the tribe of Najjar. Her father, Zama ibn Qays, was part of the ‘Amir ibn Luayy tribe which was a branch of the powerful Quraysh tribe in Mecca.
Sakran bin Amar, her cousin, was her first husband. Sawdah and her first husband were blessed with a healthy boy whom they named ‘Abdur-Rahman. They stayed in Abyssinia for a considerable period of time before returning to Makkah. After his death, she married the Prophet.
1.1 Sawdah and her first marriage
Sawdah married her first husband, As-Sakran bin Amar, who was also her cousin (something that happened a lot in the past and sometimes still happens. She was one of the first women to convert to Islam. Her husband followed her suit and converted as well. Sawdah gave birth to a healthy boy whom they named ‘Abdur-Rahman. Together, they moved to Abyssinia after they were persecuted by Meccan polytheists (people who believed in more than one God, which was very normal at that time). Her husband died when they returned to Mecca. One of her friends was Khawlah bint Hakim, the wife of Uthman bin Madh’aon – a woman who had gone to Abyssinia with Sawdah. She was an integral part of Sawdah’s marriage to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).
2. The Prophet Muhammed and his 2nd wife Sawdah
2.1 How did the Prophet and Sawdah meet?
Sawdah bint Zama lived with her aged father after her husband died. She was middle-aged (50 years old according to many sources, slightly round, with a pleasant, affectionate disposition. Se was the right woman for the Prophet after his first love and wife Khadijah had died. The Prophet required a wife since he found himself short on time to spread the message of Islam and raise his children.
One day, Khawlah bint Hakim, the wife of Uthman bin Madh’aon, and a friend of Sawdah visited the Prophet Muhammed and remarked that he was leading a very lonely life filled with responsibility. Bringing up his four daughters, missing his wife Khadijah and the pressure of spreading Islam was getting to him. The Prophet agreed and confessed to missing his wife Khadijah. The suggestion of marriage was an easy one. However, the prophet asked whom he could marry and who would be willing to take on the responsibility of his household and daughters. Khawlah knew that Sawdah was the right woman for this blessing. The prophet agreed.
When Khwalah told Sawdah about the Prophet’s interest in her, she was overcome with joy! She told Khawlah to tell the Prophet that he should also discuss this matter with her elderly father who was going blind. Unsurprisingly, her father was happy that his widowed daughter had been chosen to be the companion and wife of the Prophet. Soon the marriage took place and Zam’ah performed the ceremony. The Prophet gave a Mahr’ of 400 Dirhams to his wife Saudah on the occasion.
2.2 What was the Prophet’s and Sawdah marriage like?
People were surprised by this match. Sawdah was a wonderful woman, but she had lost her youth and was not as beautiful as she had been before. This did not matter to the Prophet because she was very beautiful on the inside and a good woman. Sawdah had undergone immense trials when she had immigrated to Abyssinia, leaving her house and property, crossing the desert and the sea all to preserve her deen. Even though she had gone through so much, she was still kind and sweet and good. Saudah was very happy, having moved into the household of the Prophet Muhammad and living with his daughters. Her future was now assured.
At some point, the Prophet’s 2nd wife became insecure about her age and feared that the Prophet would divorce her. He had married other women who were younger than her (which was not that difficult since Sawdah was said to be 50/55 years old). Sawdah was very fond of one of his younger wives, Aisha. Therefore she said she would entrust Aisha the time that the prophet normally gave to her. It was at this point that Ayah of Surat An-Nisa was revealed to the Prophet
“And if a woman fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no sin on them both if they make terms of peace between themselves; and making peace is better.” (4:128)”
The Prophet would not have divorced her, but she still wanted to give her time to Aisha. Aishah was very touched by her gesture and they became even closer than before. Sawdah’s heart was pure and free of jealousy.
3. Sawdah as a Muslim woman
Sawdah was an incredible charitable and generous woman, so much so that Aisha stated the following:
When the other wives and I asked the Prophet who will be the one to join you the fastest after your death, he answered:
“The one whose hand is widest”
They measured each other hands, and Sawdah, being more full than the others, had the widest hand. This however not what the prophet meant, although the answer of it being Sawdah was right. The Prophet meant “the expanse of the hand” to show who was the one who was the most generous and who gave the most alms!
Sawdah and Aisha were friends and loved each other a lot. Sawdah gave her nights with the prophet to Aisha and Aisha in turn, would always speak kindly about Sawdah. These women, who were so far apart in age, but became wonderful friends show that it is possible for older women to not be jealous of younger women.
3.1 What can we learn from the Prophet’s 2nd wife?
Although Sawdah was not particularly beautiful or youthful, it was her soul and her kind heart that made people love her. She was loyal to the bone and very charming and funny, creating a lovely atmosphere in the Prophet’s house. With Sawdah there, the others knew that they would be cared for. She was known for her kindness and generosity.
4. Who were the Prophet’s other wives?
The Prophet married 11 wives in total (although there are some discussions on the exact number).
- Khadijah bint Khuwaylid
- Sawdah bint Zam’a
- Aisha bint Abu Bakr
- Hafsah 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
I talk about the other women in the category “Mother of Believers“. If you want to know more, please have a look! Do you want to help the other Muslim sisters in your life acquire more knowledge on this topic? Share my blog with them and follow me on Social Media!
Your Classy Muslim Sister
- Ibn Kathir: Wives of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). (z.d.). Islam Awareness. retrieved 6 December 2020, van https://www.islamawareness.net/Muhammed/ibn_kathir_wives.html
- Qutb, M. (z.d.). Women Around the Messenger, retrieved 6 December 2020, van https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7246644-women-around-the-messenger?rating=5
- Ghadanfar, M. (n.d.). Great Women of Islam. Great Women of Islam Who Were given the Good News of Paradise. Retrieved 6 December 2020, from https://files2.shewaya.com/files/67868.pdf