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The Wives of Muhammad

Khadijah bint KhuwaylidSawda bint Zama* • Aisha* • Hafsa bint UmarZaynab bint KhuzaymaUmm Salama Hind bint Abi UmayyaZaynab bint JahshJuwayriya bint al-HarithRamlah bint Abi-SufyanSafiyya bint HuyayyMaymuna bint al-HarithMaria al-Qibtiyya**

*Succession Disputed **Disputed

A total of 11 women are confirmed as having been married to Muhammad, the founder of Islam. As a sign of respect, Muslims refer to each of these wives with the title Umm al-Mu'minin (Arabic: "Mother of the Believers"), which is derived from 33:6 of the Quran.

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid[]

In Makkah — prior to Hijra — Muhammad lived with his wife Khadijah bint Khuwailid. He was twenty-five and she was forty when they got married. She was the first woman he married and his only wife until she died. None of their sons lived long. Their daughters were Zainab, Ruqaiya, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah. Khadija's own generosity and moral support for Muhammad in his early stage as Prophet of Islam were invaluable to him.

Aisha bint Abu Bakr[]

Aisha was the daughter of Abu Bakr, a close friend and confidant of Muhammad, and controversial figure in the differing depictions in Shia and Sunni historical narratives. Muhammad married Aisha before the Hijra, however Muslim scholars differ on whether Muhammad married Sawda or Aisha first. Muhammad married Sawda one month after the death of his first wife, Khadija upon suggestion of one of his companions. Regardless, Muhammad did not consummate his marriage with Aisha until she reached the age of nine, and lived with Sawda during that time.[1] , and the subject of increasing attention in recent years because critics of Muhammad who accept the majority tradition that she was as young as nine years old when her marriage was consummated believe this. There are several hadiths (said to have been written by Aisha herself) which state she was six or seven years old when betrothed and nine years old when married or when the marriage was consummated. Despite that, given the variations of Ayesha's exact age being reported in different ahadith - some saying Aisha was in her mid-teens or even older when the actual marriage took place - a lot of Islamic academics have said that only using the Hadith and comparing practices of 7th Century Arabia - where minor marriages were a common tradition not just in Arabia but India, China, and Europe as well - to the modern is taking the issue out of context. Also there is no clear cut conformation outside the Hadith that prove Aisha's exact age. But the Hadiths that concern Aisha's age to be six or nine is considered weak because no other source supports it. Although a strong Hadith does say that Aisha was in the Battle of Uhud where only above 15 year olds are allowed so Aisha should be at least 16 year old (as all the 15 year old men were sent back) and mostly women came with men in battle to help them out. So its likely that she was 19-20 during the Marriage with Muhammad (PBUH).

Even though the marriage may have been politically motivated, to mark the ties between Muhammad and his companion Abu Bakr, to educate and train Aisha for the purposes of Islam. and to utilise her capabilities for the sake of Islam, it is widely thought that Aisha was his favourite wife. It is also important to note that the marriage to Aisha is one of the only two marriages that were commanded by Allah by divine revelation, the other being to Zainab bint Jahsh. Shi'a Muslims would disagree with the Sunni assertion of her being his favorite wife, regarding it as politically motivated; many argue that Khadija was the favourite instead as her memory never left Muhammad after all her help and support, and her mere mention by Muhammad was never well received by Aisha according to many Hadith.

Sawda bint Zama[]

Sawdah bint Zama: He married her in Shawwal when she was about 55 years old, in the tenth year of Prophethood, a few days after the death of Khadijah. Prior to that, she was married to a paternal cousin of hers called As-Sakran bin ‘Amr.

Sawda offered to give her turn of Muhammad's conjugal visit to Aisha. The incident is referenced in verse of the Quran.[1]

Hafsa bint Umar[]

Hafsa bint Umar: She was Aiyim (i.e. husbandless). Her ex-husband was Khunais ibn Hudhaifa As-Sahmi in the period between Badr and Uhud battles. Muhammad married her in the third year of Al-Hijra.

Zaynab bint Khuzayma[]

Zainab bint Khuzayma: She was from Bani Hilal bin ‘Amir bin Sa‘sa‘a. Was nicknamed Umm Al-Masakeen (roughly translates as the mother of the poor), because of her kindness and care towards them. She used to be the wife of ‘Abdullah bin Jahsh, who was martyred at Uhud, was married to Muhammad in the fourth year of Al-Hijra, but she died two or three months after the marriage.

Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya[]

Umm Salamah Hind bint Abi Umayya: She used to be the wife of Abu Salamah, who died in Jumada Al-Akhir, in the fourth year of Al-Hijra. Muhammad married her in Shawwal of the same year.

Zaynab bint Jahsh[]

Zainab bint Jahsh bin Riyab: She was from Bani Asad bin Khuzaimah and was Muhammad's paternal cousin. She was married to Muhammad's ex-slave and adopted son, Zayd ibn Harithah. Islam prohibited adopting sons and giving them father's name. (Al-Quran-33:5) After this, Zaid was called ibn Haritha instead of ibn Muhammad. Zaid divorced his wife Zaynab bint Jahsh and later on Muhammad married Zainab. Further revelations from Quran proved that this marriage is valid as there is no longer a concept of adopted son.[Al-Qur'an 33:37, 33:40]

Muhammad married her in Dhul-Qadah, the fifth year of Al-Hijra.

Juwayriya bint al-Harith[]

Juwairiyah bint Al-Harith: Al-Harith was the head of Bani Al-Mustaliq of Khuza‘ah. Juwairiyah was among the booty that fell to the Muslims from Bani Al-Mustaliq. She was a portion of Thabit bin Qais bin Shammas’ share. He made her a covenant to set her free at a certain time. Muhammad accomplished the covenant and married her in Sha‘ban in the sixth year of Al-Hijra.

Ramlah bint Abi-Sufyan[]

Umm Habiba: Ramlah, the daughter of Abu Sufyan. She was married to ‘Ubaidullah bin Jahsh. She migrated with him to Abyssinia (Ethiopia). When ‘Ubaidullah apostatized and became a Christian, she stood fast to her religion and refused to convert. However, ‘Ubaidullah died there in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Muhammad dispatched ‘Amr bin Omaiya Ad-Damri with a letter to Negus, the king, asking him for Umm Habiba’s hand — that was in Muharram, in the seventh year of Al-Hijra. Negus agreed and sent her to Muhammad in the company of Sharhabeel bin Hasnah.

Safiyya bint Huyayy[]

Safiyya bint Huyai bin Akhtab was a Jew captured in the battle of Khaybar. Her father, Huyayy ibn Akhtab, the former chief of the Banu Nadir, had been beheaded before the battle along with the Banu Qurayza. Muhammad married her in the seventh year of Al-Hijra.

Maymuna bint al-Harith[]

Maimunah bint Al-Harith: The daughter of Al-Harith, and the sister of Umm Al-Fadl Lubaba bint Al-Harith. Muhammad married her after the Compensatory ‘Umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage). That was in Dhul-Qadah in the seventh year of Al-Hijra.

Those disputed as wives[]

  • Maria the Coptic - a slave girl sent to him by the ruler of Egypt.
  • Raihanah bint Zaid An-Nadriyah or Quraziyah - a captive from Bani Quraiza.

Maria al-Qibtiyya[]

Maria was a Coptic Christian slave, sent as a gift from Muqawqis, a Byzantine official. Muhammad later freed her, and upon marriage she assumed the title "Mother of the believers", like all his other wives. Maria gave birth to Ibrahim, a short-lived son of Muhammad.[1]

Raihanah bint Zaid[]

Raihanah bint Zaid An - a captive from Bani Quraiza. According to some sources, she was one of his wives. However, Ibn Al-Qayyim gives more weight to the first version.[2]. She was captured as a slave after the defeat of Bani Quraiza. She later became Muslim but remained a slave.

Muhammad's Widows[]

The Prophet's wives were revered as Mothers. It was considered be tantamount to incest for a Muslim to marry one of Muhammad's widows. As far as history knows, none of his widows remarried

The extent of Muhammad's property at the time of his death is unclear. Although Quran [2.180] clearly addresses issues of inheritance, Abu Bakr, the new leader of the Muslim Ummah, refused to divide Muhammad's property among his widows and heirs, saying that he had heard Muhammad say,

"We (Prophets) do not have any heirs; what we leave behind is (to be given in) charity" [3]

However, Abu Bakr and the succeeding caliphs did make provision for Muhammad's widows and relatives out of the proceeds of the Muslim conquests. One-fifth of the spoils were to be given to the ruler, as public funds. Part of this was devoted to pensions.

Neither the wives nor the relatives were satisfied with this decision, and there are many traditions recounting their complaints to Abu Bakr and succeeding caliphs.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Vacca, V "Sawda bint Zama ibn Qayyis ibn Abd Shams". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Ed. P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN.