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Umm al-Moumineen

Updated on September 23, 2013

Wives of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)


Critics of Islam, mostly non believers as well as some Muslims who are not well versed with the initial phase of Islamic movements , often ask questions regarding wives of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to know why prophet Mohammad had married so many women and the reason behind his marriage to young 'Aisha (RA)', who was only six year old at the time of marriage as well as his marriage to 'Zainab bint Jahsh', who was previously married to his adopted son Zaid bin Haritha.

Various marriages of the Messenger of God, had often aroused intense discourses, debates and heated arguments as the marital affairs of Prophet Mohammed may appear against the norm of today's customs, social set up and applicable marriage laws in the eyes of today's people.

The issue may confuse many if not explained in proper context and it is likely that some may conclude without much thought that the prophet was a sensuous man who had done this for his sexual lust whereas a quick historical review of his marriages will prove otherwise.

The purpose of this document is to provide some information regarding the subject to all those who want to know in order to rectify misunderstanding if it exists as well as to inform the reader about factual background under which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had married few women after the death of his first wife, Khadija bint Khuwaylid .

The number of women who came in life of Prophet Muhammad, irrespective of their status (wives/concubines/slaves etc.) are often taken from the narrations of prophet's companions or early historians or historical books e.g. al-Tabari, Sahih Bukhari or Sahih Muslim etc. One can visualize that social events were not recorded and preserved as today with the help of information technology and most of the info was based on hearsay that could get varied with the passage of time. Besides it took few century to compile hadiths after the demise of Prophet Muhammad and hence the authenticity could be disputable. The information one gets today from various narrations of scholars and Hadiths, are not equivocally certain or credible but conflicting with certain degree of ambiguity, lacking subject synchronization and reconciliation in order to have one credible, confirmed & agreed upon template of women, that Prophet Muhammad had married, had intimate relations or dealt with sexually during his life span.

The template so developed as the outcome of various narrations, lists that he had married 11 to 12 women, had two to 2-4 slaves/concubines and around 13 women with uncertain relationship. It is very difficult to verify with certainty, the validity and authenticity of these conflicting reporting. One may suspect that there could be some false reporting in a deliberate attempt to distort the historical records in order to desecrate, defame and do character assassination of the Prophet of Islam.

Marriages of Aisha bint Abu Bakr and Zainab bint Jahsh as well as two disputed wives / concubines, namely, Mariyah bint Sham'un, the Coptic Egyptian and Rayhana bint Zaid ibn A'mr; are of concerns to the critics due to the age of Aisha at the time of marriage, divorcee status of Zainab who was initially married to Prophet's adopted son Zaid and beauties of Jewish captive slave Rayhana bint Zaid ibn A'mr as well as that of Mariyah. These marriages of Prophet Muhammad and his relationship with concubines / slaves, seem to have some ambiguity & grey areas that cannot be answered with absolute certainty due to varying narrations and should not be discussed in length to avoid discords.

Ibn Ishaq & Ibn Hasham and few Western academic researchers assert the idea of slave women that Prophet Muhammad had but never married to them. The concept of sexual slavery is accepted by Muslims scholars & relations with them was permissible and Mariyah and Rayhana fall in that category. Some scholar consider Rayhana and Mariyah as wives of the prophet while others consider them as concubines slave. So it is the personal point of view (POV) of one to consider whatever he/she like to take stand with.

It is not the intention of the writer to encourage the reader to participate frequently in discussions relevant to the subject but rather to improve reader's perception regarding the subject. One should not indulge into such a discourse or debate unless he/she is well informed about the life of Prophet Muhammad and the discussion is truly meant to serve the purpose of educating the masses at large avoiding discords and discontentment's.

The writer will appreciate to receive feedback in terms of healthy criticism in order to refine this document in accordance with the historical facts and make it meaningful and accurate for the benefit of the readers.


Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) was born in Mecca Saudi Arabia in the year 570 AD. Though precise date of his birth is unclear but Sunni Muslims believe that he was born on the 12th day of the lunar month Rabi' al-awwal, while Shia Muslims observe his birth day on 17th day of the month. There are conflicting views about the exact date of birth of the Prophet & it is quoted to have ranged from 2nd Rabi ul-awwal to 22nd Rabi ul-Awwal while Abdul Qadir Jilani is said to believe that prophet of Islam was born on 10th of Muharram as per Sahih al Bukhari. In terms of Georgian Colander some calculate the date of birth as June 10th while other correlate 12th Rabi al-awwal to April 22, 571 AD?

He came from the noblest family of Quraysh who were the ruling tribe of Mecca and the guardian of the sacred shrine and spiritual centre of the whole Arabia, "The Ka'bah". His father Adbullah, the son of Abdul Muttalib died before his birth and he lost his mother Aminah when he was only six-year-old. Then after he was taken and raised by his grandfather Abdul Muttalib, who was a leader in Mecca. In 578 AD, Abdul Muttalib died and his brother Abu Talib took the responsibility of raising the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

During this time 'Arabs' belonged to one race and spoke one language yet they were very disunited people. Tribes used to make war on tribe and family on family, on most trivial excuse. The stronger among them trampled upon the right of the weak and weak were helpless. The widow and the orphan were helpless and slaves were treated most cruelly. Arabia was deep in idolatry and ka'bah was full of idols.

Ignorance prevailed in every phase of life so much so that even the noblest of men were not free from it. There was no moral code. The sexual relations were loose with no punishment for adultery, nor any moral sanctions against it. Prostitution was not considered dishonorable & leading men could keep brothels to engage in sexual activities .Women were in the most degraded position and were looked upon as mere chattel. There was no settled government, no law in hand and might was practically right.

Prophet Mohammed was not taught, reading or writing. He tended sheep for some time although the noblest of the Arabs had no contempt for that occupation . In his youth, he was chiefly occupied in trade. It was however, his high morals that distinguished him from all his competitors.

Mohammad hated idolatry from his childhood, although he was living in a country in which Idol worshiping was the basis of everyday life of the community. His fair character and honorable bearings of unobtrusive youth won the approbation of his fellow-citizens and by common consent, he received the title of "al-Amin, the "faithful".

Muhammad (pbuh) was never covetous of wealth, or at any period of his career, energetic in pursuit of richness for his own sake. His earlier life was marked by his rare characteristic of love for the poor, orphans, widows, weak, helpless and the slave.

As Muhammad (pbuh) was famous for being faithful and honest, he was hired by a wealthy widow, Khadijah bin Khuwailid, during his early age and when he was 25 years old, he got married with Khadijah. He had acquired such a fame for helping the poor that he was praised in various poems as the protector of orphan and Windows.

During the last phase of his life, he married a number of women to motivate and accomplish few social and political purposes. It is his this act of marrying more than permissible limit of 4 women at a time that has created doubts in the mind of week Muslim as well as non-Muslim who quite often make an issue of his marrying few women, in order to defame and desecrate him without understanding the real purpose of his marriages.

The irony of the situation is that when the same question is put to those who are considered knowledgeable in Islamic jurisprudence, often it is observed that some of them not only fail to answer the question with confidence to justify but try to avoid the question. This confuses the questioner, implanting a wrong impression about Islamic way of life and the questioner start to believe (if Muslim) that this is a grey area of Prophet's life.

Wives of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)


In early days of Islam, it was customary & common among Arabs to exercise polygamy and have as many wives as they wanted in order to solve poor social and economical conditions. Polygamy was even allowed by the other sacred scripture and was generally regarded as a mean to rectify prevailing condition of those days when the Arabs were in disarray with no established government , welfare or support system in place to help large numbers of women . It was considered a prominent and acceptable solution for that time when men were in shortage due to devastating wars and women were in abundance but not able to find husbands who could have taken care of them.

During the series of battles with Quraish and other Arab tribes, number of males who were regarded the bread winner of the family, were reduced considerably. The series of battles continued from year 2 to year 8 of the plight and it was during this perpetual state of war that a disparity between male and female segment of the society was created. The circle of Muslims brotherhood was very narrow and those Muslims who died in Jihad, their widows were left helpless, without any social assistance. If Islam had maintained stick monogamy in such a situation, it is feared that moral depravity would have resulted and consequently many of the widows would have been forced to adopt objectionable life style to support themselves in order to survive. Hence it was the need of the time to have multiple wives to resolve social corruption due to sexual inclination which is implanted in human nature.

The Prophet was anxious for their chastity to a far greater extent than their physical needs and wanted to rectify the situation in compliance with Islamic way of life. Accordingly, appropriate steps were taken to improve the prevailing conditions of women and limited polygamy was allowed as a resort to cope with the situation, although he had no liking for polygamy. If that polygamy was not permitted during the era of needed welfare, many woman would have left without protection and without home.

Under the extenuating circumstances, God had permitted Muslims through Quranic verse an-Nisa 4:3, to marry up to a maximum of four women at a time, provided men can support and treat them well, equally without any discrimination and maintain justice among them which is a very difficult task to follow. The Qur'an permits multiple marriages only under certain situations in which it is advantageous to the society but does not recommend this practice. That was one of the reason, polygamy was practiced at various time in different religion and culture.

v Quran-verse "an-Nisa", 4:3.

"And if you fair that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry woman of your choice, two or three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them) then only one or (a captive) that your right hand possess, this is more suitable to prevent you from doing injustice"

This verse enabled Muslims to marry more women and help those widows whose husbands were killed during various battles by the enemies of Islam and take full responsibilities of their welfare. It was during this time phase that the Prophet of Islam, himself contracted all the marriages which appeared to be objectionable to the modern mind if not look in proper context.

Prophet Muhammad was exceptionally authorized by God to exceed the maximum allowable limit of four wives, through a Quranic verse 'Ahzab 33:5' through which the creator had asked the prophet to marry more women, exceeding the limit of four as mentioned in Para 33.50.

v {al-Ahzab 33:5}. "O, prophet, indeed, we have made lawful to you, your wives to whom you have given their dowries and those whom your right hand possesses....and a believing women, if she gives herself to the Prophet(and) and if the Prophet wishes to marry her, (this is a privilege) for you alone, not for the others believers. We have made obligatory upon them concerning their wives and those their right had possess, (but this is for you) in order that there will be upon you o discomfort. And ever is Allah forgiving and merciful.'

The number of women, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had married were 11 (eleven) as generally accepted by many scholars, though there are many others who do not fall in the category of wives. Nine of his wives outlived him. Two (Khadijah and Zaynab bint Khuzaima), died in his life time

There were two more women who are being quoted to have married the prophet Mohammed but some scholars think that they were living with him as concubines with or without 'Nikah'? This makes the total number of women Prophet Muhammad had intimate relationship in his life time equal to 13(thirteen).

All wives of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) are regarded as "Mothers of the believers", and are extremely respectable to Muslims.

Reasoning Behind The Marriages

Those who investigate about the marital life of Prophet Mohammed, usually do so, either due to

  • Lack of knowledge about the historical background of the Arab world, 1400 years ago and prevailing social and political circumstances under which he contacted multiple marriages


  • They are ill informed or pretend deliberately about the subject in order to defame and desecrate the prophet on the basis of his resorting to polygamy.

Contrary to above , anyone who is well versed with Islamic history , knows that the prophet did not marry any woman during his ~28 years of married life with his first wife 'Khadijah', and it was after the death of Khadijah, that he started marrying other women from age 54 to 60 to comply with the requisite social and political situations. Once those objectives were fulfilled, he did not marry any women from age 60 to his death at age 63.

There are credible evidences to prove that prophet Muhammad's marriages were not for physical pleasure. Even if someone assumes so, just for the sake of argument, simple reasoning should prove that those assumptions are wrong due to the following facts

I. He had spent around 3 decades with his first wife Khadija and never shown any desire for other women. That implies that his marriage were not for sexual desire as, if so, he would have not waited to be more than 50 years old, to start marrying more women, mostly widowers.

II. None could have stopped him to fulfill his sexual inclination in a society in which it was quite acceptable to have many wives and lead a polygamous life. If so, he could not have remained devoted to his only wife Khadijah for such a long time without marrying any other woman.

Prophet Muhammad's marriages were infect motivated by aims and objectives greater than what a normal marriage will aim for.

The marriage of Sawadah bint Zama (second wife of prophet Mohamed), was to honor and help her as she was the widow of his faithful companion who had to flee to Abyssinia to avoid persecution by Quraish. She was a 30-year-old widow and when Prophet married her in the year 623, he was in need of help to look after his young children.

His marriage to Aisha bint Abu Bakr as well as marriages of his daughters to Umar, Unman and Ali were to establish relationship with Abu Bakr, Umar and Ali. His daughter Hafsah was married to hazart Umar while other two daughters 'Ruqaiyah and Umm Kulthum' were married to Hazrat Usmman and the fourth daughter , Fatimah was married to Ali bin Abi Talib. He felt it necessary due to the well-known sacrifices and great achievement in the cause of Islam these four men have contributed. As far as his marriage to Aisha is concerned, it is believed to be sacramental and ordained in heaven as Aisha is reported to have mentioned that 'Gabriel brought her image to the prophet on a piece of silk and said 'marry her, she is your wife'.

He also wanted to demolish or breakdown Arab tribe's enmity to Islam by extinguishing their intense hatred. His marriage to Umm Salamah (of Bane makhzum-the clan of Abu Jahal and Khalid bin al-Waleed) was a step in that direction. Khalid's deliberate indecisive attitude at Uhud, for instance, was due to Muhammad's marriage to Umm Salamah. Later on Khalid become a Muslim and contributed a lot towards the cause of Islam.

The Prophet wanted to subside hostility against Islam by taking advantage of an Arab tradition according to which , a son or a daughter in law was considered a mean by which they sought consolidation of relationship and affection with various parties as hostility and fights against alliances would bring an unfortunate shame , disgrace and degradation to them. This was one of the reason that

  • When he married Umm Habibah, her father, Abu Sufyan, did not encounter him with any sort of hostility.
  • His marriage to 'Juwairiyah and Safiyah', made the two tribes stop all sorts of provocation, aggression or hostility against Islam. Juwairiyah was source of blessing to her own people as on her marriage to the prophet, his companions set a hundred families of her people free.

His marriage to his paternal cousin Zainab bint Jahsh, was a peculiar case which aimed at the eradication of a deeply rooted pre-Islamic tradition i.e., 'the adoption of children; In those days Arab used to consider an adopted person exactly like a real son or daughter as far as right and sanctities are concerned . This tradition was so deeply rooted in the heart & minds of Arabs that it was not easy to remove or uproot it. This tradition was against the basic principle of Islam, especially those concerned with marriage, divorce and inheritance and some other cases that brought about a lot of corruptions and indecencies whereas Islam stands against such deeds and attempted to remove them from the Islamic society.

For the eradication of this tradition Allah had asked the prophet to marry his cousin Zainab bint Jahsh, who was married to Zaid bin Haritha, an adopted son of Prophet Muhammad and freed slave. The marriage was initially arranged by Prophet Muhammad himself and agreed by her.

However, there were mutual incompatibilities between Zainab bint Haritha and her husband Zaid which were fatal for married life. Both were not happy with the situation but were together as both used to like Prophet Muhammad. It was during the time when the Confederates (Al-Ahzab) were making an evil alliance against the messenger of Allah and against the Muslims. The messenger of the Allah feared that the hypocrites, the idolaters and the Jews would make propaganda out of it and will try to influence some Muslims of weak hearts. So he was hesitant in this regard and urged Zaid, not to divorce her as he did not like to get involved into that trial. Seeing this hesitation, Allah revealed in verse Ahzab 33:37, when Zaid divorced Zainab and the Messenger of God married her.

v 'And when you said to him(Zaid bin Harithah, the freed slave of the Prophet), on whom Allah has bestowed grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you have done favor (by manumitting him), "keep your wife to yourself' and fear Allah." But you did hide in yourself (i.e. what Allah has already made known to you that He will give her to you in marriage) that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people (i.e. Muhammad married the divorced wife of his manumitted slave) whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear him. So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them). And Allha's Command must be fulfilled" {33:37}

Hence this was in order to break down the tradition of child adoption in practice , with an intention to destroy false relationships to the detriment or loss of true blood relations.

After the marriage Allah says in verse 33:5

v Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just with Allah. But if you know not their father's (names, call them) your brothers in faith and Mawalikum (your freed slaves). And there is no sin on you if you make a mistake therein, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Hypocrites of that time made a false propaganda against this marriage and caused ill effects on those Muslims whose faith was still weak, particularly due to the fact that Zainab was the 5th wife and Zaid was traditionally his son and so a father marrying his son's divorcee was considered a heinous sin in the eyes of the Arab. Consequently a verse Al-Ahzab was revealed to shed full light on the two issues i.e.

Islam does not recognize adoption of children in the same sense as generally being followed by people of other faiths. According to Islamic perception a child may be adopted to help and raise he or she but that child is not considered equal to the real biological child and does not have the same right/duties in matter of heritance and maternal affairs.

The prophet is permitted by Allah to have more wives as compared to other Muslims, in order to achieve noble and honorable objectives.

Most of Muhammad's marriages may also be explained, at least by his pity for forlorn conditions of the persons concerned as well as by other social and political motives.. All most all of the women he married were not remarkable either for their beauty or their wealth but quite the reverse.

From his youth till his old age, the prophet remained a complete mater of his passions and the reputation of his spotless character. He lived with a single wife up to age 54 and spent his life in monogamy whereas polygamy was the rule of the time and polygamous correction was least objectionable in that era. How could such a man will change suddenly after 55 years of age when old age generally smoothes the passions of those who cannot control their passions in youth?

One may say that it was not attraction for beauty that contributed towards the marriages as if the beauty of women did not excite his passion in youth and lead him away from the path of rectitude, how could it lead him away in old age?.

Besides his life in Medina was not the life of ease & luxury. He was leading a life of hardness as during this time, he had to carry on a life or death struggle with the enemies of Islam. The Arabia was aflame against him and he was not secure for a minute. Battle had to be fought in quick succession. Expeditions had to be arranged and sent. His companions were sick of that situation and used to complain and he had to console them promising that better time will certainly come. Under these extenuating circumstance, it was impossible for him to lead a life of ease and luxury?

Even if a man has the mind to lead a life of self-indulgence, which the prophet, according to all available evidences had not, it was not the importunate time for it. In prevailing circumstances of warfare with enemies within Medina and enemies all around it as well as with the number of Muslims being insignificantly small in comparison to the enemies, no one could even think of physical pleasure.

From his birth to his death, he passed through a diversity of circumstances which could hardly be parallel to anyone else. Being orphan, he climbed to be the head of the estate but his life style did not changed. He lived a very simple life of labor and did not even allow wealth to have any attraction for his wife's although he cherished great love for his wives.

Hence the above reasoning should set all doubts at rest to the motive of the prophet. In all marriages, he contracted during the war, there were genuine moral reasoning that can be summarized as

  • Compassion for widower who were left helpless due to the death of their husbands during the war
  • Eradication of social evils and traditions
  • Reduce political upheavals and maneuvering to stabilize Islam.

The Messenger of Allah treated all his wives well and honorably. His wives were on top in respect of honor, satisfaction, patience, modesty, service and never preferred the life of this world and its glitter.

Umm al-Moumineen {Wives of prophet Muhammad }

As previously mentioned, Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) had married 11 women in his life time. Besides these confirmed marriages, he is believed to have two concubines (wives in legal status) . On was Egyptian Christian "Mariyah" sent to him as a gift from Al-Muqauqis, Vicegerent of Egypt and the other was "Rayhana bint Zaid" a captive from Bane Quraiza. She is reported to have married the prophet making, total number of wives 12 instead of 11 and one concubine. All wives of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) are regarded by Muslims as, "Umm al-Moumineen" (Mothers of the believers).

Among all his wives; all of them were widows except,

  • Aisha, who was the only virgin and daughter of Abu Bakr &
  • Zainab bint Jahsh who was a divorcee of Zaid, a freed slave and adopted son of Muhammad.

Following is the list his wives, followed by brief note regarding their background and marriages.

  1. 1. Khadija bint Khuwaylid
  2. 2. Sawdah bint Zam'a
  3. 3. Aisha bint Abu Bakr
  4. 4. Hafsa bint Umar
  5. 5. Zaynab bint Khuzayma
  6. 6. Hind bint Abi Umayya
  7. 7. Zainab bint Jahsh
  8. 8. Juwayriyya bint al-Harith
  9. 9. Saiyya bint Huyayy
  10. 10. Ramla bint abi sufyan (Umm Habibah)
  11. 11. Maymuna bint al-Harith
  12. 12. Rayhana bint Zaid ibn A'mr
  13. 13. Mariyah Qabtia (Concubine)

  1. 1. Khadijah bint Khuwaylid

Prophet Muhammad's first wife was Khadija bint Khuwalylid and he married her in 595 in Mecca prior to Hijra when he was around twenty five years old and Khadija was a mature 40 years old woman. Muhammad married no one else till Khadija died at age 62.

Khadija was a wealthy merchant and enjoyed particular high position among the people. She hired man for her business and competed with others. She offered to let Muhammad go out as a merchant with one of her mercantile caravans to Syria. When Mohammed was offered the chance of marrying her, he was not sure of his position and said "I possess nothing whereby I can marry Khadija" , but he accepted the invitation and married her.

One tradition says that Khadija said to her sister "Go to Muhammad and make a mention of me to him". Her sister went to Muhammad and he answered according to God's will. They made an agreement that the messenger of God would marry her. Khatija's father was given wine to drink. When he was overcome by wine they called Muhammad and her father wedded them as he was intoxicated. Mohammed gave him a suit of clothes, so when he woke up, he asked "what is this suit?". They answered, "this is the gift, from your son-in-law, Muhammad." He grew angry and picked up his sword but later on reconciled.

Khadija gave Mohammed all of his six children except for the Ibrahim. He had sons (al-Qasim, al-Tahir and al-Tayyib) and daughters (Zainab, Ruqayya, Umm Kalthum and Fatima) with her but none of their sons lived long. They all died before Islam came in existence. All his daughters, Zainab, Ruqaiya, Umm Kulthum and Fatima lived, attained Islam and migrated with him.

  1. 2. Sawdah bint Zam'a

She was the first woman, Muhammad married in 623, few days after the death of 'Khadija'. Prophet Muhammad married her after the death of her husband in the tenth year of prophet hood.

Muhammad sent a message of proposal to her in Ramadan in the 10th year after migration, before his marriage with Aisha. According to Aisha, "it was Sawdah bint Zam'a , who knowing my importance to the Messenger of God , and being afraid that the prophet would leave her, said "O Messenger of God, give the days allotted to me to Aisha (from now on), and you are under no obligation to me " The Prophet accepted her offer and the following verse was revealed .

v "If some women fear abuse or desertion by her husband, it should not be held against either of them if they should try to come to terms, coming to terms is best"

Al-Nu'man ibn Thabit al-Taymi said "The messenger of God said to Sawdah bint Zam'a, ' start your legal period (i.e. you are divorced'. So she waited for him on the road and said 'O Messenger of God, I do not love men; I would rather love to be resurrected among your wives, so please take me back'. The Messenger of God took her back…?.

  1. 3. Aisha bint Abu Bakr

Aisha bint Abu Bakr was the third and the youngest wife of Prophet Muhammad.

Aisha was initially supposed to marry Jubayr ibn Mut'im but the agreement could not go further due to Aisha being Muslim. Abu Bakr was very close to the prophet and it is being speculated that Prophet Muhammad wanted to strengthen his ties with Abu Bakr, his sincere and faithful friend. For this, he followed the common customary of using marriage as a mean to strengthen his relationship with Abu Bark.

Her age at the time of marriage had been source of dispute among the critics who often argue that the prophet married her when she was only six years old child (as per a quote from Aisha herself) and since she was pre-pubescent at the time of marriage, prophet Muhammad may be regarded as pedophile or having pedophilic relationship with Aisha.

Although, there do exists some ambiguity in establishing her age at the time of marriage.

Hadiths quoted in this regards and most of the narrative of Aisha's age at marriage are based on Hisham's narratives (historian based in Iraq) as well as narratives of scholars like Tabari, Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim or Abu Dawuud etc. who reported that Aisha was six years old young girl playing with dolls when prophet married her in the year 11th of prophet hood, a year after this marriage to Sawadah and two years and five months before Al-Hijra. He consummated his marriage with Aisha, seven months after Al-hijra in Medina. That equates Aisha's age to be more than 9 years at the time of consummation of marriage.

Some suggest that Hisham's narratives regarding Aisha's age is not reliable and think that she was 17 or 18 years old at the time of marriage. If we follow this lead, one may ask why prophet had not consummated his marriage right away and why did he wait for 3 years if she was 18 years old?

Other assertion that prevail in some circle is that Aisha had reached puberty when prophet married her and had intimate relationship. Followers of this assertion never provided verifiable proof of her age.

Aisha's marriage is reported in Sahih Bukhari and commentary of al-Haafiz al-Asqallaani as reported below

Aisha said "The Prophet (pbuh) married me when I was six years old. Then we came to Medina and stayed in Bane al-harith ibn Khazraj. I fell ill and my hair started to fall out (due to the illness; then it grew back thick again). My mother Umm Roomaan came to me whilst I was on a swing and friend were with me. She shouted for me and I came to her, not knowing what she wanted. She took me inside. There were some women of the Ansar in the house and they said blessing and best wishes. My mother handed me over to them and then suddenly the messenger of Allah (pbuh) was there. It was midmorning and they handed me over to him. At that time I was nine years old" (al-Bukhari, 3605)

'Urwah said, "Khadija died 3 years before the prophet migrated to Madinah. He stayed alone for two years or three approximately. Then he married Aisha when she was six years old and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old' (al-Bukhari, 3607)

Muslim reports from al-Zuhri, from Urwah that 'Aisha said that she was taken to him when she was nine years old and she took her toys with her. He died when she 18 years old.

There is another narrative from 'Atiyya' "The messenger of God proposed to 'Aisha bint Abu Bakr while she was a little girl. when Abu Bakr came to know about the proposal, he asked 'O Messenger of God, can a man marry his brother's daughter? ' Muhammad replied ' you are my bother in my religion' So he (Abu Bakr) married her off for the chattel of a house fifty (Dirhams) worth or so"

In al-Tallq 65:4, Allah says

v ….and for those who have no courses (periods) {( i.e. they are still immature), their 'iddah' is three months likewise, except in case of death}

This implies that it is permissible to marry girls below the age of adolescence. It could be said that the basic principle concerning marrying children is that it is forbidden unless there is specific evidence (daleel) to indicate otherwise. The hadith of Aisha states that her father Abu Bakr married her off before the age of puberty but there is no other evidence apart from that, so the rule applies to all other cases.

In conclusion, one can say that it is permitted to contract marriage with a young girl and to hand her over to her husband to stay with him before she reaches adolescence. As for consummating the marriage, this does not happen until she is physically able for it. Thus the matter becomes quite clear.

Aisha is quoted to have said, " I am held superior to the wives of the prophet for few things. She was asked what are they, she replied

v He did not marry any virgin but me

v He did not marry someone whose parents were migrant (from Mecca to Medina) but me.

v God revealed my innocence (of adultery) from heaven and

v Gabriel brought him my image in a piece of silk and said 'Marry her, she is your wife'

v I used to bath with him from the same receptacle. he never did that with anyone else but me.

v He passed away when he was in my bosom.

v The inspiration used to come down upon him while he was with me.

v He was buried in my home.

v Once I asked the prophet, "who will be your wives in paradise?' He answered , "you will be one of them."

  1. 4. Hafsah bint 'Umar bin Al-Khattab

She was daughter of Umar (the second caliph) and an Aiyim (e.g. husbandless). Her ex-husband was Khunais bin Hudhafa As-sahmi who died in the period between Badr and Uhad battles. The Messenger of Allah married her in the third year of Al-Hijra, in 625 and it was Umar, Hafsa's father, who wedded them.

It is narrated by Salim that "When Hafsah was widowed, Umar met 'Usman` and offered her to him. Usman said `I have no need of women`. He then met Abu Bakr and offered her to him but he kept quite. Umar was angry at Abu Bakr but shortly afterward the Messenger of God proposed to her and married her.

Later on Umar met Abu Bakr and said to him, "I offered my daughter to `Usman` but he refused my offer and then I offered to you but you kept silent` Abu Bakr said, `It was the Prophet. He mentioned some thing about her and it was a secret that I did not like to divulge a secret."

  1. 5. Zainab bint Khuzaima

She was married to Tufail bin Harith who either divorced her or died shortly afterward. She then married Tufail`s brother, Ubaydah ibn al-Harith in 624 but her husband died during battle of Badr and she began to live in poverty. There are some conflicting reports mentioning that her first husband was Husayn bin al-Harith and second marriage was with Jahsh ibn Riyab who also got killed in battle of Uhud.

She was in her late 20s (close to 30 years old ), beautiful and known for her compassion and pity for the poor (known as mother of poor).

She was the fifth wife of Muhammad who married her in 625, during the moth of Ramadan; 31 months after the Migration. How she got married and who proposed her is debatable but there are reports that Prophet proposed to her directly. She was the first of his wives who came from outside the Quraysh tribe.

She remained eight months with him (some suggest two years to two months) and passed away at the end of the month of Rabi al-awwal, the only one of his wives to die before him. The Messenger of God prayed over her and had her buried in Jannet al-Baqee.

  1. 6. Umm Salamah or Hind bint Abi Umaiyah

Umm Salamah and her husband Abdullah ibn Abd-al-Asad were among the first who converted to Islam. Her husband died during the battle of Uhud. After the death of her husband, she did not have any family member in Medina except her children. After she completed iddah (waiting period for women after the death of husband) ; Abu Bakr and then Umar asked to marry her but she declined.

Muhammad visited her father and after some time asked her if she would marry him that she accepted. Muhammad was aware of the fact that she had refused many men as she has no desire for men; Muhammad asked her `what is it that keeps you from marrying, Umm Salama. She replied `I have three characteristic: I am old , have a child, and jealous. He said `As to jealousy that you mentioned, I will call on God to take it away from you. As to old age, I am older than you; and as to the child, leave him to God and His Messenger.'

Aisha is reported to have said, `when the Messenger of God married Umm Salama, I was deeply grieved because she was said to be very beautiful. I spoke nicely to her till I was able to see her. When I saw her, I found out that she was much more beautiful and fair than what I have heard. So I mentioned this to Hafsa. She said `No by God, 'This is nothing but jealousy'. She is not as they say. So Hafsa spoke nicely to her till she was able to see her and then she said, ' I have seen her, she is not as you said. She is just beautiful . I saw her later and I swear by God she was as Hafsa said and it is I who was jealous`

At the time of her marriage to Prophet Muhammad, she was 29 years old. She was his cousin whom he had known since her childhood. She died at the age of eighty four in 62 AH in Medina and was buried in Jannatul Baqee (Cemetery).

  1. 7. Zainab bint Jahsh

Zainab bint Jahsh (C. 590-641) was from Bani Asad bin Khuzaimah and was paternal cousin and wife of Prophet Muhammad. Her first marriage was with Zaid bin Haritha, a freed slave and an adopted son of Prophet Muhammad, that was arranged by prophet Muhammad himself.

She was a beautiful women who used to respect, like and may have wished to marry the Prophet; but when Prophet Muhammad asked her(around 625) to marry Zaid bin Haritha, she first refused on the ground that she was from Quraysh and Zaid an ex-slave but later on when a Quranic verse 33:36, was revealed, she gave her consent and married Zaid, honouring prophet's request in spite of her displeasure.

v Al-Ahzab 33:36. It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.

The prevailing social difference were precisely the reason, prophet wanted to rectify by arranging the marriage. It is also been suggested that he wanted to establish the legitimacy and equal right of adopted individuals.

However, after the marriage both were not happy due to some mutual incompatibilities that existed between the two and this was fatal for the married life. Their marriage lasted less than two years and ended in 626.

When Muhammad thought marrying Zainab, he expected criticism as she would be his 5th wife while other Muslims were allowed four. Secondly, in pre-Islamic custom , it was not consider appropriate to marry son's former wife.

Later on when Prophet Muhammad married Zainab in compliance with the command of Allah, this marriage became very controversial as traditionally marrying the wife of his adopted son was not acceptable in those days. Prophet married her as he was asked to do so by Allah and the intension seems to be eradication of deep rooted old traditions, according to which adopted sons were regarded equal to real biological sons who supposed to have marital restriction and equal share in heritage.

Muhammad Ibn Yahya Ibn Hayyan narrated, "The Messenger of God came to Zaid`s house seeking him. Perhaps the Messenger of God missed him at that time, that is why he said `where is Zaid?' Zainab bint Jahsh stood up to meet him in a light house dress, but the Messenger of God turned away from her. She said 'He is not here, Messenger of God, so please come in; my father and mother are your ransom'. The Messenger of God refused to come in. Zainab had hurried to dress herself when she heard that the messenger of God was at her door, so she leapt in hurry and the messenger of God was deeply moved by her when she did that. He went away muttering something that was hardly understandable but for this sentence: 'Praise be to God who disposes the hearts.' When Zaid came back home , she told him that the Messenger of God came. Zaid asked 'You asked him to come in, didn't you?' She replied, 'I bade him to but he refused.' He said, 'Have you heard{him say} anything?' She answered, 'I heard him say, "praise be to God who directs the hearts." Zaid went out to the Messenger of God and said, 'O Messenger of God, I heard that you came to my house. Did you come in? O Messenger of God, my father and mother are your ransom. Perhaps you liked Zainab. I can leave her.' The Messenger of God said, 'hold on to your wife.' Zaid said, 'O Messenger of God, I will leave her,' The Messenger of God said, 'Keep your wife.' So when Zaid left her she isolated herself and finished her legal period. While the Messenger of God was sitting and talking with Aisha, he smiled and said,' who will go to Zainab to tell her the good news that God wedded her to me from heaven?' The Messenger of God recited, ' thus you told someone whom God had favoured and whom you yourself have favour.' "Hold on to your wife," Aisha said, "I heard a great deal about her beauty and moreover about how God wedded her from heaven, and I said, 'For sure, she will boast over this with us.' Salama, the slave of the Messenger of God, came out running and I told her about that. She gave me some silver jewellery for her."

Zainab bint umm Salama narrated, " I heard my mother, Umm Salama, that once Zainab bint Jahsh said to Aisha, "By God, I am unlike any of the wives of the Messenger of God. He was given them in marriage by dowries and needed guardians to wed them. As for me, it was God who wedded me to the Messenger of God and revealed the scriptures on my account. Muslims will continue to read with no change or alteration. Thus you told someone whom God had favoured."

Umm Salama said, "The messenger of God found her desirable and used to visit her frequently. She was good woman and used to fast regularly, did good and gave her money away to the needy"

Some narrative also indicate the Muhammad sent Zaid to propose to her. Anas narrated , "when the legal period of Zainab bint Jahsh was finished, the Messenger of God said to Zaid ibn Haritha, ' I have none that I can trust, other than myself, but you. Go to Zainab and propose to her for me,' So Zaid went off and came to her while she was leavening dough. ' When I saw her, she became greater in heart, and I could not look at her since I knew that the Messenger mentioned her. So I turned my back on her and said "O Zainab, rejoice, the Messenger of God has mentioned you." 'She said 'I shall do nothing until I ask the advice of my Lord.' She rose up and went to pray. then the verse was revealed.

v 'Once Zaid has accomplished his purpose with her, We married her off to you. Then the Messenger of God came and entered without permission"

Muhammad's marriage with Zainab bint Jahsh was the reason why some of the Quranic verses were revealed. One of the verse is "verse of curtain". which can help us understand what kind of curtain was meant by Muhammad at first. Anas said "I know about the verse, 'the verse of the curtain,' more than any one else. When Zainab was given to the Messenger of God, he held a banquet on the night he married Zainab, invited people and served food. He wished that the people leave afterward as his mind was set on his bride. When finally peopled left, he stood up and entered his house where the bride was and Anas followed him but he prevented him (from coming in) by letting down the curtain and said, "You who believe do not enter the prophet's (private) quarters unless an invitation had been extended to you for a meal, though still without watching how it was prepare. However, once you have been invited, then go on in; and once you have been fed then disperse, not indulging in conversation. That has been disturbing the Prophet and he feels ashamed (to tell) you so. Yet God is not ashamed (to raise) the Truth. Whenever you ask {his wives} for any object, ask them for it from behind a curtain" The people arose and he let the curtain down.

In another quote by Anas, he says; "The Messenger of God held a banquet for Zainab and fed the Muslims bread and meat. Then hw went out to the quarters of the mothers of believers to greet them and bless them and be greeted and blessed by them. He used to do that in the morning following this consummation of marriage. He and I returned together. When we reached Zainab's house, we found two men indulging in conversation at one side of the house. On seeing them, the Messenger of God returned from his house , and when the two men saw this, they walked away. I can not remember whether it was I who told him that they left or someone else. As soon as he entered the house, he let the curtain down between him and me and God revealed the verse of the curtain"

Aisha narrated; 'May God show mercy on Zainab bunt Jahsh; she has received in this world an honour that no one else received, that is, God married her off to his Prophet in the world and expressed this in the Quran and that the messenger of God said to us when we were around him, 'The fastest one in keeping up with me is the most generous one among you , and then the messenger of God gave her the good news that she was the fastest one in keeping with him and that she will be his wife in paradise.'

'Urwa narrated, quoting Aisah concerning the later; "When Zainab bint Jahsh died, she {Aisah} started to weep and remember Zainab and ask the mercy of God on her soul. Aisha was asked why she cried and she answered , 'She was a good women.' I said to her 'My aunt, which of the wives of the Messenger of God was his favourite?" She replied, 'I do not have a lot of him. Zainab bint Jahsh and Umm Salama, however, had a special place in his (heart). They were the most favoured by him after me as far as I know."

  1. 8. Juwairiyya bint al-Harith

Juwairiyya bint al-Harith was very charming, graceful sweet lady and whoever saw her were stunned by her exceptional beauty. Her original name was Barrah that was change afterward.

She was daughter of the chief of Banu al-Mustaliq and had been married to her cousin Mustafa bin Safwan Ibn Malik who was killed in the battle.. Aisha narrated, "The Messenger of God took 1/5th of the women of Banu al-Mustaliq and distributed them among the people. It so happened that Juwairiyya bint al-Harith fell to the lot of Thabit Ibn Qais Ibn Shammas, the Ansarite.

Juwairiyya negotiated with her new master Thabit Ibn Oais that she will pay for her freedom but she had no intention of working for her freedom for a fixed sum of money. Now she was a beautiful woman of noble linkage and all those who saw her were struck by her loveliness, she asked to see the Messenger of God and one day when the Prophet was there, Juwairiyya came & asked, 'O Messenger of God, I am Juwairiyya bint al-Harit, the master of his people, and you know that I fell to the lot of Thabit Ibn Qais, who offered to free me for nine ounces of gold. So please help me to be freed.

Prophet thought for a minute and said "Shall I tell you what would be better than this.?" when she asked what he said "I pay your ransom for you and marry you". 'She replied, 'yes, Messenger of God.' The messenger of God said, 'This is done.' The news was spread around and the people said, 'The in-laws of the Messenger of God are made slaves.' so Muslims began freeing captives of Banu al-Mustaliq that were captured by them, around a hundred, just because of his marriage with her. People of Banu Mustaliq were able to enter Islam with honour and humiliation of their defeat vanished. At that time Aisha said " I do no know of any woman who was more of a blessing to her folk than her". The Prophet married her in 628.

  1. 9. Ramla or Umm Habibah bint Abu Sufyan (C. 594-666)

She was daughter of Abu Sufyan , the chief of the Umayya clan and leader of whole Quraysh tribe , the most powerful opponent of Mohammad during the period 624-630. Ramla was married to 'Ubaidullah bin Jahsh and both had accepted Islam. Around 615, in order to avoid hostilities from Quraish , she migrated with her husband to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) where her husband became Christian but she stood fast to her religion and refused to convert. However, 'Ubaidullah died in Abyssinia. She is also known as Ramla bint Abu sufyan.

Muhammad signed a peace treaty with his Meccan enemies, the Quraysh effectively ending the state of war between the two tribes. When Messenger of God came to know about the demise of her husband, he dispatched 'Amr bin Omaiyah Ad-Damri with a letter to Negus, the king, asking him for Umm Habibah's hand. Negus agreed and sent her to the Prophet in company of Sharhabeel bin Hasnah. He married her in 627/8.

  1. 10. Safiyya bint Huyay Ibn al-Akhtab

She was from the tribe of Bani Nadir who were from the children of Levi (Israel). She was married twice before she married Prophet Muhammad in 628.

When the Messenger of God raided Khaibar and God gave him their possessions as booty, he took away Safiyya bint Huyay and one of her cousin from al-Qumus and ordered Bilal to carry them to his own camel. Safiyya was one of those who were chosen in the battle.

The Prophet offered her freedom if she chose God and his Messenger, so she surrendered (adopted Islam). She was freed and married her and her dowry was her freedom.

He saw on her face, near her eyes a green scar and asked "what is this?" She answered , 'O Messenger of God, I saw in a dream a moon from Yathrib that fell in my lap and I related this to Kinanna, my husband. He said, "You like to be under that king who hails from Yathrib, don’t you?" He hit me on the face and I started to count my legal period,'

The Messenger of God went out of Khaibar before the consummated the marriage with her.

Umm Sinan al-Aslamiyya said, " I attended the wedding ceremony of the Messenger of God and Safiyya; we combed and perfumed her. She was the sort of woman who looks brilliant when she is adorned .

  1. 11. Maimuna bint al-Harith

She was the last woman the Messenger of God married in 629. This took place about 10 miles from Mecca. He was 58 years old and she was probably in her late twenties or early thirties. She lived with Muhammad for three years until his death in 632.

The importance of this marriage lies in the question whether a Muhrim can marry during the pilgrimage, since the tradition have it that Muhammad married Maimuna while he was muhrim (that is abstinent while on pilgrimage ).

According to Al-Tabari: "Maymuna died in the year 61 A.H. [680-681] during the caliphate of Yazid ibn Muawiyah. She was the last of the wives of the Prophet to die, and her age was then 80 or 81."[3] However, Al-Tabari asserts elsewhere that Umm Salama outlived Maymuna.[4

  1. 12. Rayhana bint Zaid Ibn A'mr (Wife/Concubine)

Rayhana bint Zaid ibn A'mr (C. 610-631) was a young and beautiful Jewish women of approximately 16- 17 years old, from the Banu Quraiza tribe, who was married to al-Hakim, a loving and honouring husband from the same tribe that she used to love but during the siege of Banu Quraiza neighbourhood, her husband was killed and the people of Banu Quraiza were taken as captive and the booty was shown to the Messenger of God . She was among the captives that were shown to the Prophet. Islamic sources say the she was so young and beautiful that she impressed Muhammad and he set he aside for himself as he used to have a choice from each booty Rayhana was the most beautiful among captives. After the death of her husband she is quoted to have said that she will never have a husband again.

Prophet Muhammad offered her the opportunity of converting to Islam and marrying him, "If you chose Allah and his Messenger," the Prophet told her. "I shall take you for myself." But Rayhana refused as she used to lover her husband very much she said, "I will not exchange him for any other man."

The messenger of God freed Rayhana bint Zaid ibn A'mr. She clung to Judaism, refusing to convert to Islam saying that she preferred to live the life of slave as long as she stayed a Jew. But it did not take Rayhana to decide that she would be better off converting to Islam as well as considering the offer extended by the Prophet. Knowing that the Messenger of God freed her.

She herself narrated, "When I was set aside, he chose me and sent me to the house of Umm al-Mundsir bint Qais for some days till he had the captives killed and the spoils distributed. I was too shy to meet him. He called me and sat me between his hands. He said, "If you choose God and His Messenger, the Messenger of God will choose you for himself." I said, "I choose God and his Messenger." So when I surrendered, he freed me, married me and gave me twelve ounces {of gold} as a bridal gift as he would do with his wives (some say 12 head of cattle), He consummated the marriage with me in the house of Umm al-Mundsir and he used to distribute for me as he did all his wives, and commanded me to be veiled."

He married her in 627 and some reporting indicate that he did not wait for four months and ten days before remarrying to ensure that she was not pregnant. Hisham and Bakhtiar claimed that he waited the required time.

The messenger of God was fond of her and he granted her all she asked for. She was told, 'Had you asked the Messenger of God for Banu Quraiza, he would have freed them,' She answered , "He reclined with me after he had already distributed the booty.' He reclined with her frequently and she remained with him till she died. He buried her in al-Baqee" He married her in Muharram, six years after the migration"

There are also some conflicting reposts about her suggesting that Muhammad took her as maiden slave and her position was of a concubine rather than wife of the prophet. He offered her to become his wife if she accept Islam that she refused but later on accepted Islam. Ibn Ishaq claimed that Rayhana's position was similar to that of the rest of Muhammad's wives.

Also she was not in favour of hijab ( originated in 626, when Prophet married Zainab bint Jahsh and the verse of curtain revealed) causing a rift between her and Muhammad but the dispute was reconciled later on.

In other version, Hafiz Ibn Minda writes that Muhammad set Rayhana free and she went back to live with her own people. Shibli Nomani , a 19th century Muslim Scholar support this version. It is also likely that she may have retained the status of concubine.

Hisham and Bakhtiar 392-93 indicates that at one time Muhammad decided to divorce her as she was very jealous but after a short time he relented because of his love for her and he took her back to his house. That indicates his love for her.

She died young in 631, shortly before the Prophet and was buried in Jannet al-Baqee cemetery.

  1. 13. Mariyah al-Qibtiyya (Concubine)

She was an Egyptian Coptic Christian slave who was sent as gift from Muqawqis, a Byznatine official to the Prophet.

Though it is believed that she married Muhammad but many sources, including Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya claim that she was only a concubine. She gave birth to Muhammad's son Ibrahim who died in Medina, at young age 1 1/2 years, on the 28th or 28th of Shawwal in the year 10 ZH.

It is reported that the Prophet had to keep her as a slave girl because he was barred from marrying those slave girls who were not part of the booty of war. She was presented to him as a gift by the ruler of Egypt, hence he could not marry her.

Many things were told concerning his son Ibrahim. Prophet Muhammad is quoted to have said that, "Had Ibrahim lived, he would have cancelled the tribute that all the Copt pay," When Ibrahim died, Muhammad said the he would continue to be nurtured in paradise. Al-Suddi narrated , "I asked Anas Ibn Malik, whether the Prophet prayed over his son's death.? He answered, 'I don’t know. May the mercy of God fall upon Ibrahim, Had he lived, he would have been a righteous man and a Prophet,'

Maria never married after Muhammad's death in 632 and died 5 years later during the caliphate of 'Umar Ibn al-Khattaab, in Muharram of 16AH. Umar led the funeral prayer for her and she was buried in al-baqee. .


  • Ø Reporting of various narration in Sahi Bukhari, Sahi Muslims and reporting of Hisham the historian.
  • Ø Life of prophet Muhammad by Hykal,
  • Ø Autobiography of Prophet Muhammad, Karen Armstrong and others.
  • Ø Various Islamic Sources.
  • Ø The Life of Muhammad, Ibn Ishaq ,
  • Ø 'Taikh al-Rasul wa al-Muluk.' Tabari 1997, vol 8
  • Ø Muhammad and the Religion of Islam. Gilchrist john,
  • Ø Qur'anic verses, al-Ahzab 33:37; al-Talaaq 65:4, an-Nisa etc.

Mohammad Ashraf

Winnipeg, Canada


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      4 years ago

      Salam, M Ashraf Sb,

      Pl contact me on regarding your posting RIBA Vs INTEREST.


      M A Nadeem



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