The Wives of the Prophet

 

by

 

Sr.Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood

 

A list of the Prophet’s Wives and some brief notes on their circumstances

 

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid -  widowed twice (from Atiq (Utayiq) b. Aidh and Abu Halah b. Zurarah), and had at least four children before she married the Prophet in 595, when she was aged c40, he 25. They had at least 6 children – Qasim, Zaynab, Ruqaiyyah, Umm Kulthum, Fatimah, Abdallah. The boys Qasim and Abdullah died in infancy. It has been suggested that there were other babies, twins, who also died. They fostered and brought up the Prophet’s cousin Ali b. Abu Talib from the age of 4, and the freed slave Zayd b. Harithah from the age of 14. Khadijah died in 619, aged 65.

 

Sawdah bint Zam’ah - her first husband was Sakran, brother of Sheikh Suhayl of Amir. They were two of the earliest converts to Islam. They emigrated to Abyssinia, and on their return Sakran died. Suhayl agreed to take her in if she gave up Islam. She refused, and the Prophet married her in 620, when she became foster-mother to his daughters. Later she gave ‘her’ day to Aishah. Could have been divorced, but asked to remain as the Prophet’s wife in celibacy. Died 633. Had existing children, some say 6.

 

Aishah bint Abu Bakr – was said to have had her nikah to the Prophet at the age of 6, although it might have been later. Physically married after hijrah, when she reached puberty. She was either 18 or 28 when the Prophet died, and lived another 40 years a widow. Very clever, a recognised scholar. Led battle of Siffin against Ali after Prophet’s death. Supported claims of her nephew, Asma’s son Abdallah as caliph. Died either 670, 672, 677 or 680. I favour 672, aged 67, after a widowhood of 40 years. If this is correct, it would mean she was 27 when the Prophet died in 632, and therefore around 17 when she married him; and must have been born c/605-6. (Refer to my booklet ‘Hazrat Aishah’, IPCI, 481 Coventry Rd Birmingham, for all the various theories and data).

 

Hafsah bint Umar - first husband Khunays b. Hudhayfah of Sahm, who was martyred at Badr. Rejected by Abu Bakr and Uthman. Very clever girl, scholarly, but with her father’s quick temper. Educated by Umar’s relative Shifa bint Abdallah. Married Prophet in 625 aged c20. She kept first written copy of Qur’an. Died 665, aged 60.

 

Zaynab bint Khuzaymah – When aged c16, she married first the Prophet’s cousin Tufayl b. Harith, and later, when he divorced her, the Prophet’s cousin Ubaydah b. Harith b. Muttalib. At 48 years old,[1] Ubaydah was 32 years her senior, and the senior figure among these first Muslims. He died at Badr. She married the Prophet in 625, aged c33.  She was very compassionate, and had been known since teenage as ‘Mother of the Poor’. Very happy working with Fatimah to help destitute, but died after few months. Died 626.

 

Umm Salamah bint Abu Umayyah - the Prophet’s cousin. Her first husband, Abu Salamah, was also the Prophet’s cousin. They were among the very first Muslims and emigrated to Abyssinia. On their return they were still persecuted by their family, so took refuge in the household of the Prophet’s uncle and foster-father Abu Talib, until he died. Among the first to make the hijrah, but Umm Salamah and her son were captured and kept prisoner. Eventually they crossed the desert alone and reached Quba. They were very happily married, and she tried to swear to Abu Salamah that she would never marry another, so that they could remain married in Paradise (a pre-Islamic belief), but he refused her this. They had three children and was pregnant when he was wounded at Uhud. He died later, and  the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar all offered to marry her. They had a hard time persuading her to remarry, for she did not wish to enter a polygamous situation, and was in deep mourning for her slain husband. In the end she accepted the Prophet, and married him when aged c29, just before giving birth to her 4th child, Zaynab. The Prophet loved her children and raised them as his own. She accompanied the Prophet on many of his travels. A refined and scholarly lady, she was the last of the Prophet’s wives to pass away, in 683, aged 84.

 

Zaynab bint Jahsh - the Prophet’s cousin. She and her brothers were among the very first Muslims. She was not married young – and may have been hoping to marry the Prophet, but he requested her to marry the ex-slave Zayd, his adopted son. She was unwilling, through tribal pride, but eventually consented. The marriage failed and they divorced in 626. The Prophet married her (aged c39) in 627. Proud, refined, educated, she earned her own independent income through leather trading. Died 641, aged 53.

 

Rayhanah bint Zayd b. Amr al-Qurayziyyah - a Jewish captive whose husband was slain at the siege of the Banu Qurayzah in 627. There has been debate over whether she married Prophet or remained a concubine. She did not accept Islam at first, but was placed in the care of the Prophet’s aunt Salmah Umm Mundhir at Quba, where she did convert to Islam. She died before the Prophet, in 632, after his Farewell Pilgrimage.

 

Juwayriyyah bint Harith - Daughter of an Arab chief. Captured after battle with the Banu Mustaliq. Allotted to Thabit b. Qays, but demanded to see the Prophet and called for her release. He offered her marriage instead, and she accepted in 628 (aged either 16 or 22). All captives from her tribe were also set free. Died either 670 or 676, aged 64.

 

Umm Habibah (Ramlah) bint Abu Sufyan – Daughter of the wealthy and influential Sheikh Abu Sufyan. One of the first converts, she married the Prophet’s cousin Ubaydallah b. Jahsh, brother of Zaynab, who had been a Christian hanif. Emigrated to Abyssinia with Sawdah and Umm Salamah. Ubaydallah reverted to Christianity, then died. The Negus informed the Prophet, and suggested he married her by proxy, which he did in 627, when she was aged c44. The Negus paid the dowry. She came to join the Prophet after the battle of Khaybar, in 628. Died 666, aged 73.

 

Safiyyah (Zaynab) bint Huyayy b. Akhtab - Daughter of the Prophet’s worst Jewish enemy. Very devout and studious girl; first knew of the Prophet at age of 10, when her uncles went to meet him on his first arrival in Madinah. Married off to the elderly Rabbi Sallam b. Mishkan (Abu’l Huqayq), and after he divorced her to his own grandson Rabbi Kinanah b. Rabi of Khaybar. She always disliked Kinanah. When she told him she had dreamed of marrying the king of Madinah, he blacked her eye. She was captured at the battle of Khaybar in 628. Huyayy was executed, and she married Prophet, aged 16. She had a difficult time with the Prophet’s other wives, but became a great favourite with Aishah for her sweetness and piety. Died aged c64 in 676.

 

Maryam Qibtiyyah – An Egyptian Coptic Christian girl sent to the Prophet in 628 with her sister Shirin (Serene), by the Muqawqis or Viceroy of Egypt  - Jurayj (George) b. Matta (or Binyamin, or Mina) - the Coptic Christian Archbishop of Alexandria subordinate to the Byzantine Emperor. Maryam and Shirin were daughters of the Archbishop’s friend Shimun (Simon), a respected Coptic Christian leader of the village of Hafn in Kawrat Ansina, (Ibn Kathir 4.415). Shirin was given to Hassan b. Thabit, and Maryam to the Prophet. Very beautiful with curly hair. She bore him the son Ibrahim, who like his other sons, died in infancy. She died shortly after the Prophet, in 632.

 

Maymunah bint Harith b. Hazn – One of a group of ladies the Prophet referred to as ‘the Sisters’, among the very first converts of Islam. She was a sister of Umm Fadl the wife of Abbas (the second female convert, after Khadijah), Salmah the wife of Hamzah, and Asma the wife of Walid b. Mughirah – and therefore the aunt of the warrior Khalid b. Walid. Widowed twice, from her first husband Mas’ud b. Amr of Taif, then from Abbas’ half-brother Abu Rahim b. Abd al-Uzzah, the second husband of the Prophet’s (pbuh) Aunt Barrah. Abbas took her into his household and arranged the Prophet’s marriage to her (when she was c28) after his first pilgrimage to Makkah in 629. She died either 671 or 681, aged either 70 or 80.

 

Note: Most books say either that the Prophet had 11 wives, 9 of whom were still living as the time of his death, or 13 wives. The books that say the Prophet had 13 wives include the Jewish prisoner Rayhanah and the Coptic concubine Maryam as wives, on the grounds that the Qur’an forbade sexual intimacy outside marriage. Allah knows best.

 

The two that died before him were Khadijah and Zaynab bint Khuzaymah. Rayhanah also died before him, but is not always counted as his wife. Several sources insist that there was at least one other full wife, who was divorced, but their information varies.

 

Other ladies who sought marriage with him.

 

Umm Hani bint Abu Talib – his first love

Khawlah bint Hakim – Khadijah’s niece. She married Uthman b. Maz’un when rejected.

Habibah bint Sahl – one of the first Madinah converts.

Layla bint Khutaym, one of the first converts of Madinah, aged c.40. Very bold lady. She approached Prophet, Prophet accepted her, but then she changed her mind.

Duba’a bint Amir b. Sa’sa’a – the widow of the Christian chief Hatim Ta’yy.

Safiyyah bint Bashshama b. Nadla

Umm Sharik/Ghaziyyah bint Jabir of Yemen – she was accepted by the Prophet as his wife, but their physical marriage was never consummated.

Umamah bint Hamzah – the Prophet refused her because Hamzah was his milk-brother.

Khawlah bint Hudhayl.

Sharaf bint Khalifah (sister of Dihya al-Kalbi).

Umm Habib bint Abbas.

 

The Most Important Women in His Life.

 

Aminah – his mother, who died when he was 6 years old.

Barakah/Umm Ayman – the Prophet’s Abyssinian nurse, the one person who was with him from his first breath to his last.

Fatimah bint Asad – Abu Talib’s wife, the Prophet’s stepmother.

 

His Aunts – especially Abd al-Muttalib’s five daughters by his wife Fatimah of Makhzum; and Abd al-Muttalib’s last daughter Safiyyah (by the sister of the Prophet’s mother – they married in a double wedding on the same day).

Salmah bint Qays/Umm Mundhir – his mother’s half-sister. She lived at Quba.

Umm Hani – Abu Talib’s daughter, his first love.

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid – the Prophet’s life-partner.

His daughters, and his other wives.

Umm Fadl – the wife of Abbas.

Umm Sulaym – his aunt. Lived at Madinah.

Umm Atiyyah – a leading convert of Madinah.

Layla bint Khutaym – a leading convert of Madinah.

‘Afra – a leading convert of Madinah.

Nusaybah bint Ka’b/Umm Umarah – a leading convert of Madinah.

Umm Sinan of Madinah.

Umm Waraqah of Madinah.



[1] He was 61 in the year of the Hijrah, and she was 29.