Wives of the Prophet
| Wives of the Prophet |
Many non-Muslims have targeted the intent behind his marriages and as well as the reasons for having numerous wives. However, he had married each one of his wives for specific reasons based on particular circumstances.
History and Reasoning
During the life of the Prophet, he married thirteen women depending on the accounts of who his wives were. His first marriage lasted 25 years during which he took no other wife.
Many non-Muslims have claimed that the marriages of the Prophet were based on mere lustful desires. In Arabian culture, marriage many times was conducted based on the needs of the tribe and on the need of forming alliances within tribes and with other tribes. Virginity was emphasized and was deemed as the honour of a woman, while divorcees and widows had a difficult time remarrying. On the contrary, the Prophet married married many widows after having married one virgin and a number of old-aged ladies after having married young ladies. The Prophet married many women in order to give them protection and to safeguard their dignity. The marriages of Sauda is one that falls into this category. Some marriages took place in order to form friendly relationships with tribes and to blunt their enmity towards Islam.
Generally, the marriages of Prophet Muhammad have laid down important legal laws and customs with regards to marriage. However, the Prophet was permitted to marry more than four women at one time as his share of responsibility was certainly greater and therefore his privileges and prerogatives were likewise greater as well. Davenport questions the insults and false accusation of bigots against the marriages of the Prophet:
Mohammed is said to have taken after the death of Khadijah, at different periods, eleven or twelve wives, out of fifteen or thirteen who had been betrothed to him, and he is constantly upbraided on this account by the controversial writers who adduce this circumstance as a demonstrative proof of his sensuality. But over and above the consideration that polygamy, though it is forbidden by European law, was in Mohammed's time generally practised in Arabia and other parts of the East, and was far from being counted an immorality, it should be recollected that he lived from the age of five-and-twenty to that of fifty years satisfied with one wife; that until she died at the age of sixty three he took no other, and that she left him without male issue; and it may then be asked, is it likely that a very sensual man, of a country where polygamy was a common practise, should be contented for five-and-twenty years with one wife, she being fifteen years older than himself, and is it not far more probably that Mohammed took the many wives he did during the last thirteen years of his life chiefly from a desire of having male issue? 
Khadija bint Khuwalid
Main article: Khadija bint Khuwaylid
Khadija was the daughter of Khuwaylid ibn Asad ibn Abd al-Uzza ibn Qusayy and was a distance cousin of the Prophet. The Prophet married her when he was 25 and she was 40 years old. They lived together for twenty-five years and this constitutes two-thirds of his marriage life. Her bride gift was twelve and a half ounces of precious metal. She bore him two sons, Qasim and Abdullah, who both died in infancy. She also bore him Fatima, the wife of Ali ibn Abu Talib. There is a dispute amongst scholars whether the other daughters of Khadija, namely Zaynab, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum, were the Prophet's biological daughter or not or whether they were all even Khadija's daughter to begin with.
As a wealthy woman, this marriage proved to be critical in spreading the religion of Islam during its early stages.
Sauda bint Zam'a
Main article: Sauda bint Zamʿa
Sauda was the daughter of Zam'a and was previously married to Sakran ibn Amr. Sakran died during the second migration to Abyssinia. Sauda was a believing lady who had migrated on account of her faith. Her father and brother were among the most bitter enemies of Islam and if she were left to return to them, they would have tortured her, ultimately forcing her to renounce her faith.
Ayesha bint Abi Bakr
Main article: Ayesha
At around the same time as the Prophet's marriage with Sauda, he married Ayesha the daughter of Abu Bakr. Based on most historic records, she was six year old, however her age is disputed and some scholars claim that she may have been much older. She was initially engaged with Jubayr ibn Mut'im, but the engagement was consensually put aside after the demise of Khadija. The marraige with Ayesha was consummated in Medina when she reached the age of nine.
Zaynab bint Khuzayma
Main article: Zaynab bint Khuzayma
Zaynab was the daughter of Khuzaymah al‑Hilabyyah and was married to Ubaydah ibn al-Harith who died in the Battle of Badr. She was a virtuous woman even during the time of jahiliyya. She used to be called Umm ul-Masakeen (mother of the destitutes), due to her generosity to the indigent and the poor. Seeing that by losing her husband she had none to provide for her, the Prophet married her in order to safeguard her dignity. She died before the Prophet left this world and is buried in Jannat ul Baqi.
Hafsa bint Umar
Main article: Hafsa bint Umar
In the year 624, Hafsa the daughter of Umar ibn al-Khattab was married to the Prophet after her husband Khunays ibn Huthayfah was martyred during the Battle of Badr. Umar first offered her to Abu Bakr and then to Uthman but the offer was rejected by both, Umar mentioned this to the Prophet as a complaint, who out of compassion, accepted her as his wife.
Main article: Hind bint Abi Umayya
Umm Salama was the daughter of Abu Umayyah ibn al-Mughirah al-Makhzumi and her real name was Hind. She was previously married to Abu Salamah ibn Abd al-Asad, who died in the Battle of Uhad. She had renounced worldly pleasures and was highly distinguished for her wisdom. When her husband died, he left her a widow with orphans for whom she could not efficiently provide, thus the Prophet married her in order to maintain her prestige and look after her orphans. She died many years after the demise of the Prophet and was in Medina when the Battle of Karbala took place.
Zaynab bint Jahash
Main article: Zaynab bint Jahash
She was the daughter of Jahash and Maymunah daughter of Abd al-Muttalib. Prior to marrying the Prophet, she was married to Zayd ibn Harithah, a freed slave and an adopted son of the Prophet, as per the request of the Prophet himself. For these reasons Zaynab considered herself superior to Zayd, thus making their marital life bitter and unbearable. Both were good believers, and both loved the Holy Prophet; but there was mutual incompatibility and this proved to be the cause of separation between them. The Holy Prophet tried his best to prevent separation between them, but as marriage should be according to Allah's plan, a source of happiness, Zayd eventually divorced her. Thereafter, the Prophet married her in order to wipe out the custom of not marrying the former wives of adopted sons. Reference to this marriage has been made in verse 36 and 37 of Surah 33.
Juwayriya bint al-Harith
Main article: Juwayriya bint al-Harith
She was the daughter of Harith ibn Abi Dirar, the chief of the Banu Mustaliq. Her husband Mustafa ibn Safwan was killed during the battle of Banu Mustaliq. She became a widow and part of the war booty of the companion Thabit ibn Qays. Being a lady of prestige, she was upset over her state and sought a deed of redemption from the Prophet. The Prophet married her after emancipating her and due to the marriage, the remaining captives were also freed as they were seen as the relatives of the Prophet.
Main article: Ramlah bint Abi Sufyan
She was the daughter of Abu Sufyan and her real name was Ramlah. She was previously married to Ubaydullah ibn Jahsh al‑Asadi. She accompanied him to Abyssinia, where Ubaydullah converted to Christianity, but she remained steadfastly on Islam and separated from him. When the Prophet got news that her husband has died he asked for her hand and eventually married her. This marriage is seen as a move to further establish friendly ties with her father who was a bitter enemy of Islam.
Rayhana bint Zayd
Main article: Rayhana
Rayhana was the daughter of Zayd ibn Amr. Not much is known about her life and even her marriage with the Prophet is disputed amongst scholars. She was part of the war booty that came from the tribe of Banu Qurayzah.
Safiya bint Huayy
Main article: Safiya bint Huayy
She was the daughter of Huayy Ibn Akhtab, chief of the Banu Nadir tribe. Her husband Kinana ibn al-Rabi'a was killed in the battle of Khyber, and her father sided with Banu Qurayzah. She was among the captives of Khaybar and the Prophet chose her for himself and married her after emancipating her. This marriage protected her from humiliation and established a friendly link with the Jews.
Maymuna bint al-Harith
Main article: Maymuna bint al-Harith
She was the daughter of Al-Harith, and her real name was Barra bint al-Hilaliyyah. After the death of her second husband Abu Ruhm ibn Abd al-Uzza al Amiri, she gifted herself to the Prophet where he accepted her proposal. Reference is made to this marriage in verse 50 of chapter 33 as follow, "and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage". Permission was granted to the Prophet to marry her and he took her as his wife in Medina.
Main article: Maria al-Qibtiyya
Muqawqis, the ruler of Alexandria (Egypt), presented to the Prophet two maidservants, one of whom was Mariya al‑Qibtiyya. She was an Egyptian Coptic Christian and converted to Islam on her way to Medina due to the efforts of Hatib ibn Abi Balta'a. There exists a difference of opinion amongst scholars and historians as to whether she was a wife of the Prophet or remained a concubine. Nevertheless, she bore a son through the Prophet by the name of Ibrahim who died at a very young age and is buried in the graveyard of Baqi.
Unconsummated Marriages and Proposed Wives
There are different reports on the number of women of whom the Prophet sought the hands of, but ended without consummation. Different historians have cited different names and numbers, while there also exists confusion over duplicate names or titles of certain women. Some of these women have been listed below.
Aliya bint al-Zabyan
The Prophet divorced her as soon as she was brought in to him and she died while the Prophet was still alive.
She was the daughter of Yazid al-Kilabiyya. The Prophet found in her traces of leprosy and said: “You (meaning her family) have deceived me!”, and returned her to her parents.
Asma bint Nu’man
She was the daughter of Nu`man ibn Shurahil al-Jawniyya and was very beautiful. Ayesha and Hafsa took it upon themselves to comb and dress her, but one of them made her believe that the Prophet loves it when a woman says to him, “I seek refuge with Allah against you!". On her wedding night as the Prophet approached her, she uttered those words and the Prophet covered his face with his sleeve and was divorced. She remained unmarried until she died.
Fatima bint al‑Dahhak
When verse 28 and 29 of Surah 33 were revealed, the Prophet offered her the choice between Allah, His messenger and life in the hereafter, or the life of this world, but she chose the life of this world. He let her go and it is reported that thereafter she used to pick animal dung and repeat, “I indeed am a miserable woman, for I have chosen the life of this world.”
She was daughter of Ibn Amr ibn Awf ibn Ubaid ibn Abu Bakr ibn Kilab. It is said that after staying with the Prophet for a short period of time, he divorced her.
Jamrah bint Al-Harith
She was the daughter of Harith ibn Awf al-Muzan. The Prophet sent a proposal for her, but her father lied and said that she has leprosy in order to discourage the Prophet to marry her. When her father went home, he found her to be leprous.
It was Abu Asad As-Sa’idi who brought her to the Prophet. Ayesha and Hafsa took it upon themselves to comb and dress her. One of them made her believe that the Prophet loves it when a woman says to him, “I seek refuge with Allah against you!’ So when he came to sleep with her, she said to him, “I seek refuge with Allah against you!’ He, thereupon, covered his face with his sleeve and said, “I seek refuge as He enjoined me to."
She was the daughter of Khaum al-Awsi. She came to him while he was unaware, slapping the Prophet on his shoulder. The Prophet inquired, “Who is this whom the lion may devour?" She replied, “I am Layla, the daughter of al-Khaum ibn Mu’im. I came to offer myself to you." “I accept you,’ he said. Coming home, the women in her family said to her: “The Messenger of Allah has many wives and you are a jealous woman. We do not feel secure against your annoying him, so he will call for evil to befall upon you." She asked for divorce before consummation as she could not bear to have co-wives. He dismissed her and and while she was about to enter the groves of Medina, she was devoured by a lion.
She was the daughter of Ka`b al-Laythiyya. When the Prophet went to her, he said: “Offer yourself to me!” She answered: “Would a queen offer herself to one of the rabble!” As he lifted his hand to touch her, she exclaimed: “I seek refuge in Allah from you!” He replied: “You have indeed sought refuge in One Who is worthy of refuge!” He thus let her go, and offered her, her bride gift.
She was the daughter of Bashama ibn Nadla al-Anbariyya. She was a war captive, she was given a choice and chose to be sent back to her husband.
She was the daughter of Dihyah al-Kilabi. The Prophet married her but she died before the marriage was consummated.
She was the wife of Abdullah ibn Jud’an at-Taimi. When he divorced her, she was married by Hisham ibn al-Mughirah al-Makhzumi. Her father was called Salamah ibn Salamah ibn Hisham, and he was a good man. When the Prophet asked for her hand, Salamah replied, “It is up to her." She then said, “Are you leaving the decision regarding the Messenger of Allah to me?! Well, I accept." However, when the Messenger of Allah came to know that she was old, he did not go forward with the matter.
She was the daughter of Qays ibn Ma`dikarb and the sister of al‑Ash'ath ibn Qays. The Prophet died before consummating with her or it is reported that the Prophet divorced her before their coming together and before he died. She married another man afterwards called Ikrimah and this can only be true since the Prophet's wives could not remarry after his death.