Who was the 4th wife of the Prophet Muhammed? The 4th wife of the Prophet was Hafsa bint Omar, the daughter of Omar ibn Al-Khattab, one of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) closest confidantes. The Prophet Muhammed’s (PBUH) 4th wife and his fourth marriage to Hafsa, was a political alliance. Hafsa had already been married but was sadly widowed when she was 21 years old. Just like Aisha and Umm Salamah, 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. 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 get to it!
1. Who was Hafsa, the Prophet Muhammed’s (PBUH) 4th wife?
1.1 Hafsa’s early life and personality
Hafsa bint Omar (which literally translates to “daughter of a lion” was the daughter of Omar ibn al-Khattab and Zainab bint Madh’uwn. She was also the niece of a famous Sahabi, ‘Uthman bin Maz’un and her uncle from her paternal side were Zayd bin Khattab. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar was her brother. In a time when most men and women were illiterate, Hafsa could read and write. She devoted herself to learning the literary arts and was a very studious and intelligent person. She is partly responsible for our written version of the Quran! Hafsa was brought up in an Islamic environment, both her parents and her aunts and uncles had already converted to Islam.
Although she believed in Allah and the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) she was by nature a very curious and inquisitive person. If she didn’t understand something or was unsure, she would ask until she did understand! Hafsa often discussed the finer points of Islamic law with the Prophet and asked for clarification. She always had something to say and was not scared to argue and discuss with the Prophet (PBUH). However, she did not do this to get on his nerves or to be defiant, she just wanted clear answers.
1.2 Beautiful & Tough: Hafsa was a lioness
She was beautiful, talented and tough just like her father! But according to some sources, she also had her fathers short temper, which detracted from her charm. If this was truly the case is unclear. Women were not expected to be argumentative in the Prophet’s time, so when a sister stood up for herself or just shared an opinion that was different from those of others, this could be seen as ‘having a short temper’ therefore I take these claims as a grain of salt. What Hafsa knew was that she, as his wife, had the right to discuss issues with her husband and argue with him if she wanted to. She was a tough lady and stood her ground when it came to her rights, even when her father was displeased with her.
Aisha and Hafsa are often compared to each other because they were both young women and had a few shared personality traits. But unlike Aisha who was known for being very supportive and doting, Hafsa was known for being a strong, opinionated and educated woman. These women were not meant to be put against each other and not one was better than the other one. Each of the Prophet’s wives had a different part to play in his life and the establishment of Islam.
In her growing years, she was brought up in an Islamic environment, both her parents and her aunts and uncles have already converted to the new religion. When she was old enough, she was married to Khanis bin Huthafah As-Sahmi. He was influenced by the teaching of Abu Bakr Siddiq and had accepted Islam
1.3 Hafsa’s first marriage & becoming the Prophet Muhammed’s (PBUH) 4th wife
Hafsa’s first marriage was to Khanis bin Huthafah As-Sahmi, who, like her had accepted Islam. They were happy together. While Hafsa spent her time memorizing the new Ayats of the Quran when they revealed, her husband would vigorously prepare himself for Jihad by improving his martial skills. He was always ready to meet the enemy head-on. They made quite the pair.
Her husband was strong and determined to win all battles he could for Allah and the Prophet. In one such battle, he fought and won, but was seriously wounded. This battle was an incredible feat because Khanis and the Muslims were outnumbered and unarmed and still managed to win against a powerful and equipped army. Hafsa heard of her husband’s heroic deeds and was very happy and proud, praising his courage in battle. She cared for him and loved him, but he sadly died from his wounds. Hafsa, who was barely twenty-one years old at the time of her first husband’s death. was mourning and turned to Allah and prayer.
1.4 Becoming the Prophet Muhammed’s (PBUH) 4th wife
Her father didn’t want her to become lonely and looked for a new partner. He first asked Uthman bin Affan, whose first wife, the Prophet’s daughter Ruqayyah, had passed away. He thought that sharing the same experience would help them bond and grow from their sorrow in losing worthy spouses. Uthman, however, knew that the Prophet wished to marry Hafsa and therefore politely refused Omar. Omar didn’t know that the Prophet intended to marry Hafsa and continued the search. He asked Abu Bakr Siddiq and he too politely refused for the same reason Uthman did. Omar was saddened by the refusal of both men and went to the Prophet for advice. The Prophet answered him (as reported by al-Bukhari):
“Hafsa will be married to someone better than Uthman and
Uthman will be married to someone better than Hafsa.”
In the end, the Prophet married Hafsa which was an incredible honour to Omar. Uthman ended up marrying the Prophet’s daughter, Umm Kulthum. Uthman did indeed marry two of the Prophet’s daughters after another, therefore, he earned an honorific title “Dhul-Noorayn” which means “Possessor of Two Lights”. As the 4th wife of the Prophet, Hafsa earned the title “Mother of Believers’
1.5 Hafsa was a big part of the written Quran
After the death of the Prophet, the Muslims were concerned that the text of the Quran could be lost, forgotten or altered. After all, more and more people who knew the Koran by heart had died. So Abu Bakr, then Caliph, instructed Zaid ibn Thaabit to collect and record the Qur’anic texts. Zaid collected all the verses and wrote them on a collection of sheets, which was given to the first Caliph Abu Bakr. After his death, it was passed into the hands of his successor Omar ibn Al-Khattab, who gave them to his daughter Hafsa for safekeeping at the end of his life.
Hafsa was made the Custodian of the Book of Allah. This was an important task concerning the Quran, to keep the only copy that was written down at that time. As the intelligent wife of the Prophet who could read, recite, write and memorize the Quran, she was seen as the best person to protect it from alterations by political leaders.
2. The Prophet Muhammed and his 4th wife Hafsa
2.1 How old was Hafsa when she married the prophet, Muhammed?
Hafsa had sadly lost her first husband, Khanis bin Huthafah As-Sahmi, who she seemed to love at the age of 21. Her marriage to the Prophet was after her mourning period. For a woman whose husband has died, the ‘iddah (mourning period) is four lunar months and ten days after the death of her husband.
3. What can we learn from the Prophet’s 4th wife and what was their marriage like?
Hafsa and the Prophet liked to discuss. They stimulated each other’s brains and had long intelligent conversations about Islamic law, the rights of women and the duties of Muslims. Each of the Prophet’s wife served a purpose in his life. Khadijah was his beginning when he needed a wife that would support him, believe him and love him through the hardships that come with being a Prophet. Sawdah was there after the death of Khadijah to be a shoulder to lean on, support in the household for his daughters, a caring and jovial presence in his life which he so needed after the death of his beloved 1st wife. His marriage to Aisha solidified his bond with her father, taught him more love and Aisha’s intelligent nature and ability to memorize almost anything, was a way to share the sunnah of the Prophet long after he was gone.
3.1 Intelligence & opinionated, go hand in hand.
Hafsa was a strong, opinionated and educated woman to have conversations with. She would like to discuss everything she didn’t understand and argue with the Prophet when he displeased her. Their relationship was an example of how arguing with your partner is a normal thing and not necessarily disrespectful (don’t do it when there are other people around though, keep it in your household). If Hafsa can argue with the Prophet and be mad at him without him seeing it as disrespect, it teaches us women that we are allowed to be strong, opinionated and educated. The Prophet’s wife was too! But always be respectful sisters!
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