Infertility among the Mothers of the Believers
The wives of Muhammad pbuh are often understood as examples for Muslim women to follow. When Muslim women are given models of performance they turn to these women to show piety, steadfastness, honesty and obedience. However what appears to be forgotten amongst many is that most Mothers of the believers would be defined as infertile today. Among these women are two who would be classified as having secondary infertility, both having children prior to their marrying Muhammad pbuh. All others bearing no children at all. Let us take a look at these women.
Sawda: She was married to Muhammad pbuh shortly after the death of Khadijah, three years before the hijrah. She was a widow having married once before. There are conflicting reports in reference to her having children. Those that claim she had a child attribute one son to her. She bore no children while married to Muhammad pbuh.
Aisha: She was married to Muhammad pbuh in the same year as Sawda, although her marriage was not consumated until after the migration to Madinah. She was the youngest wife of Muhammad pbuh and the only virgin. She bore no children in her marriage.
Hafsa: She was married to Muhammad pbuh after becoming a widow at the time of the battle of Badr. She is said to have been around the age of nineteen at the time. She had no children in her first marriage to khumays b. Hudhafah and she bore no children in her marriage to Muhammad pbuh.
Umm Salamah: She married Muhammad pbuh in the year 4 a.h. She was previously married to Abdullah ibn Abdu'l Asad and they had four children together, Zaynab, Salamah, Umar and Durra. She married Muhammad after becoming a widow and was still nursing Zaynab. She bore no children with Muhammad pbuh.
Zaynab bint Jahsh: She was a cousin of Muhammad pbuh and previously married to his adopted son Zayd bin Thabit. After Zayd had divorced her in 5 a.h she was married to Muhammad pbuh by the decree of Allah. She bore no children in either marriage.
Juwayriyya: She was married to Muhammad pbuh after the battle of the ditch in 5a.h. She was captured and than freed by Muhammad pbuh in which she converted to Islam and married him. She was previously married before being a muslim to Musafi' ibn Safwan. She bore no children in either marriage.
Rayhana: She was also of the captive women. She was freed, converted and than married Muhammad pbuh in 6 a.h. She was married once before and had no children from any of the marriages. She died before Muhammad pbuh.
Umm Habiba: She married Muhammad pbuh in the year 7 a.h. She was previously married to Ubaydullah ibn Jahsh who turned apostate after migrating to Abyssinia. She bore one daughter, Habiba after her emigration to Abyssinia. She bore no children in her marriage to Muhammad pbuh.
Safiyya: She was from the Banu Israel and capture during the attack on Khaybar in 7 a.h. She was freed and converted to Islam than married Muhammad pbuh. She was married twice before her conversion she bore no children in any marriage.
Maymuna: She married Muhammad pbuh in 7 a.h., she was the last to be married by Muhammad pbuh. She was previously married to Ma'sud ibn 'Amr ath Thaqafir and Abu Ruhm ibn Abdu'l Uzza. She bore no children in any marriage.
We can make the assumption that a fertility problem did not lie with Muhammad pbuh. He had children with his first wife Khadijah, four girls and two boys. And he had one child, Ibrahim, with Maryam the copt slave who was given to him as a gift after 7 a.h. She had relations with Muhammad pbuh based on her being a right hand possession.
When we take these women as examples such exemplary women it becomes curious why our ummah has decided to place so much emphasis on a woman's ability to procreate. Here we have the life of Muhammad pbuh who is the best of examples, and yet we have the desire to measure the worth of a Muslim women by her ability to produce children. We fail to also keep in mind that these examples for Muslim women did not produce children in their marriage to Muhammad pbuh. That they can be defined as infertile in light of the common day definition and Muhammad pbuh did not divorce them, nor did he demean them for not having children. Their status as Muslim women were in no way defined in their ability or inability to have children. We have no record of this even being an issue among these women, yet we make it an issue between every couple even if we hardly know them.
It is my hope that all of my fellow infertile Muslim sisters find strength in the memory of these women. Even though they bore no children with Muhammad pbuh he loved and respected them and they are given a status unlike other women in our ummah.