Wives of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
1. Khadijah bint Khuwaylid 2. Sawada bint Zam'a
3. A'isha Siddiqa bint Abu Bakr 4.Hafsa bint 'Umar
5. Zaynab bint Khuzayma 6.Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya
7. Zaynab bint Jahsh 8.Juwayriya bint al-Harith
9. Umm Habiba Ramla bint Abi Sufyan 10. Safiyya bint Huyayy
11. Maymuna bint al-Harith 12. Maria al-Qibtiyya
Introduction The Position of 'Aisha Conclusion
What is there that a woman may not do? She can do everything except what Allah has forbidden. The teachings of Islam tell us what the limits of behavior are. Anyone who goes beyond these limits is likely to meet trouble, both in this world and in the next world. The best of women have lived their lives within the limits of Allah and have achieved greatness, often through actions, which even the best of men could not have equaled. They have gained the love and respect not only of those who knew them, but also of those who came to hear about them long after they have died. Among the best of women were the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for he was the best of creation, Al Quthum, the one who has all good virtues and characteristics gathered together in him, and accordingly Allah granted him the best of women in marriage. Today, even hundreds of years later, young girls still learn a little about them and then, as they grow up and become women, they follow their example, seeking the pleasure of Allah. It has been related by Anas that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, " Of all the women in all the worlds, these are enough for you (meaning that they were the best of women): Maryam, the daughter of Imran, (and the mother of Jesus, peace be upon them); and Khadijah, the daughter of Khuwaylid (the first wife of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them); Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad (and of Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with them); and Asiyya, the wife of Pharaoh (who rescued Moses from the river Nile when he was a baby and brought him up as her son, peace be on them)." Anas also related that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Love Allah for the gifts that He gives you; love me for the sake of Allah; and love the People of my House for I love them."
The Wives of the Prophet Muhammad
Abdullah ibn Jafar reported that he heard Sayyiduna Ali say in Kufa that Allah's Messenger, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "The best of the women of her time was Maryam, daughter of Imran, and the bet of the women of her time was Khadijah, daughter of Khuwaylid."
Is it not a great honor that the first person to embrace Islam was a woman? She was the first to bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that her husband was the Messenger of Allah. Her husband was our beloved Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and she was called Khadijah, ( may Allah be pleased with her) She was also called Thaira, meaning 'pure'.
KHADIJA bint Khuwaylid
Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with her, came from a noble family. Her father Khuwaylid had been one of the most honored leaders of their tribe until he was killed in battle. Her husband had also died, leaving her a very wealthy woman. When Muhammad (peace be upon him) was still a young man, she entrusted him with some of her wealth, asking him to trade with it in Syria on her behalf. He was already well known for his honesty, truthfulness and trustworthiness. He returned from Syria after having made a large profit for Khadijah.
After hearing his account of the journey, she decided that he would make the best of the husbands, even though many of the most important nobles of the Quraish had already proposed to her and had been refused, and in due course she proposed to him. After the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, had given the proposed marriage his blessing, Muhammad and Khadijah were married. At the time of the marriage, the Prophet was twenty-five years old, while Khadijah was forty years old.
For the next fifteen years they lived happily together, and Khadijah bore several children. Their first child, a son whom they named Qasim, died when he was only two years old. Two more sons, called Tayyib and Tahir, were also born, but they too died in their infancy. However, Muhammad and Khadijah also had four daughters who survived: Zaynab, Ruqayya, Umm Kulthum and Fatima.
No one except Allah of course, knows more about a man than his wife, both his good and his bad qualities, his strengths and his weaknesses. The more Khadijah came to know about her husband, the more she loved and respected him. Everyone in Makka called him 'al-Amin', which means 'the trustworthy one', and she, more than anyone else, knew how fitting this name was. It became Muhammad's custom each year to spend the month of Ramadan in seclusion and reflection in a cave on the mountain of Hira, which is on the outskirts of Makka. Khadijah would always make sure that he was provided with food and drink during his retreat. Towards the end of one Ramadan, when he was forty and Khadijah fifty-five, Muhammad suddenly appeared at their house in the middle of the night, trembling with fear and saying, "Cover me up, cover me up!"
Khadijah was very alarmed to see him in such a state. Quickly she wrapped a blanket around his shoulders and, when he had calmed down, she asked him to describe exactly what had happened. He told her how a being whom he had never seen before - in fact it was the angel Jibril - had suddenly appeared to him while he was asleep and had said, "Read!"
"But I cannot read," he had replied, for he was unlettered and could neither read or write. "Read!" the angel had repeated, clasping Muhammad close to his chest. "I cannot read," he had repeated. "Read!" the angel had repeated, firmly embracing him yet again. "What shall I read?" he had asked in desperation, and the angel had replied:
Read, in the Name of your Lord who created, created man from a clot, Read, and your Lord is the Most Gracious, Who taught with the pen, taught man what he did not know. (Quran 96:1-5)
Although Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not fully realize it at the time, this was the beginning of the revelation of the Qur'an; but in that first encounter with the angel Jibril, Muhammad was very frightened, for he did not know who the angel Jibril was or what was happening. He woke up and ran out of the cave only to find Jibril still in front of him, and whenever he turned away from him, there Jibril was in front of him yet again, filling the horizon with his mighty yet beautiful form.
"Oh Muhammad," said Jibril eventually, "you are the Messenger of Allah and I am Jibril," and with these words he disappeared from Muhammad's sight.
After the angel had disappeared Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had clambered down the mountain as fast as he could run, not knowing if he was going mad and imagining things, or if he had been possessed by one of the jinn.
As she listened to Muhammad's words, Khadijah did not share any of these fears. She realized that something tremendous and awe-inspiring had happened to her husband, and she was certain, knowing him as she did, that he was neither mad nor possessed. "Do not worry," she said, "for by Him who has dominion over Khadijah's soul, I hope that you are the Prophet of this nation. Allah would never humiliate you, for you are good to your relatives, you are true to your word, you help those who are in need, you support the weak, you feed the guest and you answer the call of those who are in distress."
When Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as a little more relaxed, Khadijah took him to see her cousin, Waraqa ibn Nawfal, for he was a man of knowledge, and she was sure that he would be able to explain the meaning of what had just happened to her beloved husband. Waraqa had studied the books of both the Jews and the Christians very closely and he had learned a great deal from many of their wisest people. He knew that the coming of another Prophet had been foretold by both Moses and Jesus, peace be on them, anhe knew many of the signs that would confirm the identity of this Prophet when he appeared.
After listening closely to his story, Waraqa, who was both old and blind, exclaimed, "This is the same being who brought the revelations of Allah to Moses. I wish I was young and could be alive whyour people will drive you out."
"Will they drive me out?" asked Muhammad.
"Yes," replied Waraqa. "No one has come with what you have been given without being treated with enmity; and if I were to live until the day when you are turned out, then I would support you with all my might. Let me just feel your back." So, saying, Waraqa felt between the Prophet's shoulder-blades and found what he was feeling for: a small round, slightly raised irregularity in the skin, about the size of a pigeon's egg. This was yet another of the many signs that Waraqa already knew would indicate the identity of the next Prophet after Jesus, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
"This is the Seal of the Prophethood!" he exclaimed. "Now I am certain that you are indeed the Prophet whose coming was foretold in the Torah that was revealed to Moses and in the Injil that was revealed to Jesus, (pbut) You are indeed the Messenger of Allah, and the being who appeared to you on the mountain was indeed the angel Jibril!"
Khadijah as both overjoyed and awed to find that her understanding of what had happened on the mountain had been confirmed. Not long after this incident, Muhammad was commanded in a subsequent revelation from Allah, through the angel Jibril, to call people to worship Allah only, and it was at this point that Khadijah did not hesitate in expressing in public what she had now known for certain in secret for some time: " I bear witness that there is no god except Allah," she said, "and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."
In the years that followed, difficult years in which the leaders of the Quraish did everything in their power to stop the Prophet spreading his message, Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) was a constant source of help and comfort to Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the difficulties which he had to face. All her wealth was spent in the way of Allah, helping to spread the message of her husband, helping to free slaves who had embraced Islam, and helping to feed and shelter the community of Muslims that slowly but surely began to grow in numbers and strength.
The Quraish were infuriated by the Prophet's success and did everything in their power to discourage both him and his followers, often inflicting awful tortures on them, but without success. The situation became so bad that the Prophet told some of his followers to go to Abyssinia, where their ruler, the Negus, who was a sincere Christian gave them shelter and protection. Eventually there came a time when, as Waraqa had foretold, Muhammad and his followers -along with all the members of his tribe, the Banu Hashim were driven out of the city of Mecca and forced to camp out in a small ravine in the mountains nearby. This happened long after Waraqa had died, and about seven years after that extraordinary night of power in which Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had received the first revelation of Quran through the angel Jibril. There, while their homes lay empty in Mecca, the Muslims were exposed to the bitterly cold nights of winter and the fiery hot days of summer, with very little food and shelter. No one would buy and sell with the Muslims, or allow their sons and daughters to marry any of them. Fortunately those who secretly sympathized with the Muslims would send what food they could to them whenever the chance arose, sometimes by loading provisions onto a camel or a horse and then sending it off at a gallop in the direction of the camp, hoping that the animal would not stop or get lost before it reached its intended destination.
For three years the small Muslim community lived a life of hardship and deprivation, but although they suffered from hunger and thirst, and from exposure to heat and cold, this was a time in which the hearts of the first Muslims were both purified and also filled with the light of knowledge and wisdom. The Muslims knew that they were following the truth, and so nothing else mattered. They did not care what the Quraish did to them or said about them. Allah and His Messenger were enough for them!
It was during this period that the Muslims who had sought shelter in Abyssinia returned, only to find the situation even worse than when they had left it. Not long after, many of them returned to Abyssinia, their numbers swelled by those whom the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had told to accompany them. Finally the boycott was lifted and the Muslims were allowed to re enter the city; but the three years of hardship had taken their toll. First of all the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, who was by then more than eighty years old, died; and then a few months later, during the month of Ramadan, Khadijah also died, at the age of sixty-five, may Allah be pleased with her. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) mourned her deeply. They had shared twenty-five years of marriage together and she had given birth to five of his children. Only one of the Prophet's future wives, Maria the Copt, would give him another child, Ibrahim, and he, like Qasim, was destined to die when he was still very young, at the age of eighteen months.
Khadijah had been the first to publicly accept Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as the Messenger of Allah, and she had never stopped doing all she could to help him. Love and mercy had grown between them, increasing in quality and depth as the years passed by, and not even death could take this love away. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never stopped loving Khadijah, and although he married several more wives in later years and loved them all, it is clear that Khadijah always had a special place in his heart. Indeed whenever 'Aisha, his third wife, heard the Prophet speak of Khadijah, or saw him sending food to Khadijah's old friends and relatives, she could not help feeling jealous of her, because of the love that the Prophet still had for her.
Once Aisha asked him if Khadijah had been the only woman worthy of his love. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied: "She believed in me when no one else did; she accepted Islam when people rejected me; and she helped and comforted me when there was no one else to lend me a helping hand." It had been related by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that on one occasion, when Khadijah was still alive, Jibril came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, "O Messenger of Allah, Khadijah is just coming with a bowl of soup (or food or drink) for you. When she comes to you, give her greetings of peace from her Lord and from me, and give her the good news of a palace of jewels in the Garden, where there will be neither any noise nor any tiredness." After the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, and his first wife, Khadijah, had both died in the same year, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his small community of believers endured a time of great hardship and persecution at the hands of the Quraish. Indeed the Prophet, who was now fifty years old, name this year 'the Year of Sorrow.'
In private his dearest wife was no longer present to share his life; and in public the insults that he received from the Quraish multiplied, now that he had no longer had the protection of his dead uncle. Even when he journeyed to Ta'if, a small city up in the mountains outside Mecca, to call its people to worship Allah, he was rejected and stoned by them. It has been related by Aisha that on his way back to Mecca, Jibril appeared to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, "Allah, may He be exalted and glorified, has heard what the people have said to you and how they have responded to your invitation, and he has sent the angel in charge of the mountains so that you can tell him what you want him to with them." Then the angel in charge of the mountains called out to him and greeted him and said, "O Muhammad, Allah has listened to what your people have said to you. I am the angel in charge of the mountains, and your Lord has sent me so that you can order me to do whatever you want. If you wish, I can bring the mountain of the outskirts of Mecca together so that they are crushed between them." But the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to him, "Rather I hope that Allah will make their descendants a people who will worship Allah alone, without ascribing any partners to him."
It was a while after this that tfollowing Surah was revealed:
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate
By the morning hours, and by the night when it is stillest, Your Lord has not forsake you nor does He hate you, And truly what comes after will be better for you than what has come before, And truly your Lord will give to you so that you will be content. Did he not find you an orphan and protect you? Did he not find you wandering and guide you? Did he not find you destitute and enrich you? So do not oppress the orphan, And do not drive the beggar away, And speak about the blessings of Your Lord. (Quran 93:1-11)
And so it happened. After three years of constant struggle, a relative of his, called Khawla, went to him and pointed out that his house was sadly neglected and that his daughters needed a mother to look after them. "But who can take the place of Khadijah?" he asked. "Aisha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, the dearest of people to you," she answered. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) had been the first man to accept Islam and he was the Prophet's closest companion. Like Khadijah, he had done all that he could do to help the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and had spent all his wealth in the way of Allah. However, while the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was now fifty-three years old, Aisha as only a little girl of seven. She was hardly in a position to look after either the Prophet's household or children. "She is very young." Replied the Prophet. Khawla had a solution for everything. She suggested that he marry at the same time a lady called Sawda, the widow of Al-Sakran ibn 'Amr.
SAWDA bint Zam'a
Sawda bint Zam'a, may Allah be pleased with her had been the first woman to immigrate to Abyssinia in the way of Allah. Her husband ha died and she was now living with her aged father. She was middle-aged, rather plump, with a jolly, kindly disposition, and just the right person to take care of the Prophet's household and family. So Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave permission to Khawla to speak to Sayyiduna Abu Bakr and to Sawda on the subject. Khawla went straight to Sawda and said, "Would you like Allah to give you great blessing, Sawda?" Sawda asked, "And what is that, Khawla?" She said, "The Messenger of Allah has sent me to you with a proposal of marriage!" Sawda tried to contain herself in spite of her utter astonishment and then replied in a trembling voice, "I would like that! Go to my father and tell him that." Khawla went to Zam'a, ad gruff old man, and greeted him and then said, "Muhammad son of Abdullah son of Abdul Muttalib, has sent me to ask for Sawda in marriage." The old man shouted, "A noble match. What does she say?" Khawla replied, "she would like that." He told her to call her. When she came, he said, "Sawda, this woman claims that Muhammad son of Abdullah son of Abdul Muttalib has sent me to ask for you in marriage. It is a noble match. Do you want me to marry you to him?" She accepted, feeling it was a great honor. Sawda went to live in Muhammad's house and immediately took over the care of his daughters and household, while Aisha bint Abu Bakr became betrothed to him and remained in her father's house playing with her dolls.
There was great surprise in Mecca that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would choose to marry a widow who was neither young nor beautiful. The Prophet, however, remembered the trials she had undergone when she had immigrated to Abyssinia, leaving her house and property, and crossed the desert and then the sea for an unknown land out of the desire to preserve her deen. During the next two years, the Quraish increased their spiteful efforts to destroy the Prophet and his followers, in spite of the clear signs that confirmed beyond any doubt that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was indeed the Messenger of Allah. Perhaps the greatest of these signs during this period was the Prophet's Mi'raj, his journey by night on a winged horse called the Buraq, through the skies to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem where he led all the earlier Prophets who had lived before him in the prayer, followed by his ascent on the Buraq, accompanied by Jibril, through the seven heavens, and then beyond the world of forms, to the Presence of Allah where he was given the five prayers that all his true followers have done ever since.
When he described this miraculous journey to the people of Mecca, they just laughed at him, even though he accurately described the Al-Aqsa Mosque to them (and they knew that he had never been there before), and even though he described the place where he had stopped for a drink on the way to Jerusalem, and even though he told them how on the way he had told a man where his lost camel was, and even though he told them that he was seen a caravan, which no one knew about, approaching Mecca and that it should arrive later on that day. Even though the Quraish knew that the Prophet's description of the Al-Aqsa Mosque was completely accurate, and even when they eventually saw the caravan arrive, and met the man whom he had helped, and saw the place where he had stopped for a drink, the still refused to believe him.
Only Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, his closest companion and future father in law, accepted the Prophet's account of his miraculous journey immediately: "If he had said this," he said, when some scornful Meccans first gave him the news, "then it is true!"
As the enmity of the Quraish increased, (and while Aisha was still a small girl), Allah prepared the way for the future growth of the Muslim community in a place called Yathrib. During the time of pilgrimage in Mecca one year, twelve men from Yathrib, a small city of two hundred miles to the north of Mecca, secretly pledged allegiance to the Prophet, swearing to worship no gods other than Allah, nor to steal, nor to tell lies, nor to commit adultery, nor to kill their children, nor to disobey the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). They returned to Yathrib, accompanied by a Muslim called Mus'ab ibn Umayr, who taught them all that he had learned from the Prophet.
As a result, the numbers of Muslims in Madina began to increase, and when the time of the pilgrimage came again, this time seventy five people from Yathrib- three of whom were women: Umm Sulaym, Nsayba bint Ka'b and Asma bint Amr - pledged allegiance in Mecca to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) this time also swearing that the would defend and protect him, even to the death if need be. After this, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave his followers permission to emigrate to Yathrib, and slowly but surely, in twos and threes, the Muslims began to leave Mecca. The leaders of the Quraish realized what was happening, and decided to kill the Prophet before he had a chance to join them. However, Allah protected the Prophet, and on the very night before the morning on which they had planned to kill him, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) slipped out of Mecca and hid in a cave called Thawr, which was to the south of Mecca.
Everybody knows what happened when the people who were hunting for them came to the cave: They found a wild dove nesting in the tree that covered the mouth of a cave, across which a spider had spun its web. Anyone entering the cave would have frightened away the dove and broken the spid's web, they thought, so they did and not bother to look inside it. Their pursuers were so close that if one of them had glanced down at his feet, he would have discovered them. By the decree of Allah, the Prophet and Abu Bakr were safe!
Once the Quraish had given up the search, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) circled round the Mecca and rode northwards. Only one man, a warrior called Suraqa ibn Jusham, suspected their whereabouts and set off in hot pursuit, thirsting of the reward that the Quraish had offered to anyone who captured the two men for them. As soon as he as within shouting distance of the travelers, however, his horse suddenly began to sink into the sand, and, realizing that if he did not turn back, then the desert would simply swallow up both him and his steed, he gave up his pursuit, asked them to forgive him and returned home.
After a long, hard journey Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) reached Yathrib amidst scenes of great rejoicing. Their time in Mecca had just come to an end, and their time in Medina had just begun - for Madina is the name that was now given to Yathrib, Madina al Munawarra, which means 'the illuminated city', the city that was illuminated by the light of the Prophet Muhammad and his family and his Companions, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him and on all of them. The journey of the Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr is usually called the hijrah, and it is at this point that the dating of the Muslims begins, for it was after the hijrah that the first community of Muslims rapidly grew and flowered and bore fruit. When she was older, the prophet was worried that Sawda might be upset about having to compete with so many younger wives, and offered to divorce her. She said that she would give her night to Aisha, of whom she was very fond, because she only wanted to be his wife on the Day of Rising. She lived on until the end of the time of Umar ibn al Khattab. She and Aisha always remained very close.