Widowed Khadijah (RAH) becomes first wife

Early job as a merchant for Khadijah (RAH)

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), had no particular job at his early youth, but it was reported that he worked as a shepherd for Bani Sa‘d and in Makkah for a wage.

The Quraish people were mostly merchants and the Prophet was known for his good manners, honesty, deep thought, sincerity and faith. Hearing his high praises by others, Khadijah (Raddi Allahu anha, usually abbreviated to RAH, meaning May Allah be pleased with her), a wealthy businesswoman of great honour and the daughter of Khuwailid, decided to hire him as her trader. She used to employ men to do her business for a certain percentage of the profits. Khadijah (rah) offered 25-year-old Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) money to go to Syria and do business for her, and she would give him a higher rate than the others. She would also send her servant, Maisarah, with him. He agreed and went with her servant to Syria for trade.

40-year-old Khadijah proposes to the 25-year-old Prophet

When the Prophet returned to Makkah Khadijah (rah) noticed greater profits and blessings in her business than usual. Her servant also told her about his exceptional character. Upon realising this, Khadijah (rah) developed a wish to marry him. Khadijah (rah) was a widow and earlier, many prominent men had asked for her hand in marriage but she had always refused their advances.

Khadijah (rah) told her close friend Nafisah, daughter of Muniyah, regarding her intentions to marry Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Nafisah posed the question to the Prophet (pbuh) who happily accepted the proposal and sent his uncles to go to Khadijah's uncle and discuss the issue. Both families welcomed the marriage, and they got married upon his return from Syria.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was 25 years old and Khadijah (rah) was 40 when they married. They had 6 children - 2 sons and 4 daughters. Unfortunately both sons died during infancy.

Their marriage lasted for 25 years until Khadijah's death.

The marriage agreement was witnessed by Bani Hashim and the chiefs of Mudar. He [Prophet Muhammad] gave her 20 camels as a dowry. At the time she was 40 years old and was considered the best of women in lineage, fortune and wisdom. She was the first woman Allah's Messenger (pbuh) married. He did not get married to any other until she passed away.

The Sealed Nectar

First Muslim was a woman

Khadijah (rah) was the first person to declare her faith in Islam and become a Muslim after the Prophet (pbuh) received the revelations. She was the first to bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that her husband was the Messenger of Allah.

Loyal husband to Khadijah

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Khadijah (rah) were happily married for 25 years. Thus, in the prime of his youth and adult years he remained thoroughly devoted to her. He was devastated when she passed away aged 65. During the same time his loving and supportive uncle Abu Talib had also died - causing him to go through depression at the age of 50.

Fourth wife: Hafsah bint Umar bin Khatab

Hafsah was the daughter of Umar ibn al-Khattab, a close sahabi (companion) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the second Caliph after the Prophet's death. Hafsah was an extremely pious lady, known for offering voluntary night salah (prayer) and devoted from an early age to fasting and meditation.

Unlike many women and even men of that time, Hafsah could read and write. She was an excellent writer and orator and an ardent follower of Islam.

She was married to Khanis bin Hudhafah As-Sahmi but he died after sustaining serious injuries in the Battle of Badr. Thus, barely 21 years old, Hafsah became a widow. But rather than grieve, Hafsah dedicated herself even more to prayer and meditation.

Her father Umar (ra) offered Uthman Ibn Affan (ra), the third caliph, to marry his daughter, but he apologized. Uthman (ra) was grieving from the death of his wife, and Prophet Muhammad's daughter, Ruqayyah. Umar (ra) then turned to Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra) but he remained silent. Umar (ra) was very upset at their refusal. Then the Prophet (pbuh) married Hafsah to give equal honours to both of his friends, having already married Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha. They married in the 3rd year after Hijrah (i.e. 625 CE), before the Battle of Uhud when Hafsah was about 22 years old. Meanwhile, the Prophet (pbuh) gave another of his daughter, Umm Kulthoom, to Uthman (ra).

The Prophet's marriage to Hafsah further strengthened his political alliance with Umar (ra).

Hafsah became very close to Prophet's third wife A'isha (rah). They were like sisters. However, Hafsah was a strong character - much like her father. This led to the Prophet (pbuh) divorcing her. Thus Hafsah became the only wife to be divorced by the Prophet (pbuh). Naturally, the divorce saddened Umar (ra) and Angel Jibrail (ra) asked the Prophet (pbuh) to take her back. Consequently, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) revoked the divorce and took her back later.

Following the Prophet's death, Hafsah bint Umar was known for her memorization and preservation of the Qur’an. She was responsible for preserving the original writings of the Qur'an until they were taken by Uthman (ra) to compile into a single book form. Hafsah spent the rest of her life in fasting and prayer. She passed away in the 41st year after Hijrah (circa 663 CE) aged 59. At the time of the death she was fasting.

Fifth wife: Zaynab bint Khuzayma

Zaynab bint Khuzayma was born into a noble family. Even before she became a Muslim she was known for her charity and love of the poor and orphans. She could not bear to see a person hungry or in dire need. These virtues earned her the title "Umm al-Masakin" ('Mother of the Destitute' or 'Mother of the Poor') - this too at a time of Jahiliya (Age of Ignorance).

Zaynab was among the early converts to Islam. Her generous quality became more pronounced after she converted to Islam, which has always strongly advocated giving in charity.

Most narrators say that her first husband was Thufail bin al-Harith bin 'Abdul-Muttalib (i.e. Prophet Muhammad's cousin). However, because Zaynab could not give birth Thufail divorced her when they migrated to Madinah. Thufail's brother Ubaidah then married Zaynab out of respect. Sadly, Ubaidah was killed during the historic Battle of Badr and Zaynab became one of the numerous war widow. Zaynab entrusted her plight entirely to Allah and devoted herself to prayer and meditation. So when she received a proposal from the Prophet (pbuh) she was overjoyed.

Zaynab married Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 4th year after Hijrah (around 626 CE), shortly after his marriage to Hafsah. She was welcomed by both A'ishah and Hafsah especially since they knew she was deeply affected by her former husband's death. Their kindness lightened Zainab's grief and made her feel more at peace.

Sadly, Zaynab died less than a year after marriage - some say 3 months, some 5, others 8 months. She was only 30 years old. The Prophet (pbuh) led the funeral prayers and she was buried in Jannatul Baqi - the first of his wives to be buried in Madinah and the only one to receive a funeral prayer led by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). After Khadijah, Zaynab became the only other wife to pass away in the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Sixth wife: Umm Salamah (Hind) bint Khazeefah Abu Ummayah ibn Al-Mughira

Umm Salamah's real name was Hind bint Abu Umayyah ibn al-Mughira. She was noble by birth, intelligent, learned, wise and skillful. She was the daughter of one of the notables in the Makhzum clan nicknamed "Zad ar-Rakib" because he was well known for his generosity particularly to travellers. Umm Salamah inherited her father's trait as she was always amiable and kind to her neighbours.

She was amongst the first handful of converts to Islam, along with her husband Abdullah ibn Abd-al-Asad Makhzumi. Abdullah, also known as Abu Salamah, was Prophet Muhammad's cousin. His mother, Barrah bint Abdul Muttalib, was the Prophet's paternal aunty.

Umm Salamah and her husband migrated to Abyssinia (known today as Ethiopia) with other converts at a time when Muslims were facing severe persecution by members of the Quraish in Makkah. After some time, they returned to Makkah, but after realising that the situation had not improved as they hoped, they again decided to emigrate to Madinah.

Sadly, Abdullah was martyred in the Battle of Uhud and passed away while the Prophet (pbuh) was at his bedside. He left behind 65-year-old Umm Salamah and two boys and two girls. She feared nobody would want to marry her due to her old age, having orphan children and her jealous nature. After the completion of the waiting period, Abu Bakr Siddique (ra) sent her a marriage proposal, but she refused. Then Umar (ra) proposed and she refused him as well. Finally, taking pity at her situation, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) offered to marry her and care for the kids. Umm Salamah eventually accepted the proposal. They married in the month of Shawwal in the 4th year after Hijrah.

She was one of the most influential wives of the Prophet, recognised largely for recalling numerous Hadiths, or stories about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). She is believed to have narrated 378 hadith and is considered a companion narrator of hadith. Umm Salamah also had a wide knowledge of the Qur’an and how it had been interpreted by the Prophet.

Sadly, she died during the Caliphate of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah.

Seventh wife: Zaynab bint Jahsh Al Asadiyyah

Zaynab bint Jahsh was the daughter of Jahsh ibn Ri'ab ibn Ya'mur al-Asadiyyah and Umaimah bint Abdul Muttalib bin Hashim. Umaimah was a sister of Prophet Muhammad's father Abdullah - hence Zaynab and her siblings were the first cousin of the Prophet. She was from the highest branch of the clan of Banu al-Asad. She was known for her generosity and sympathy for the needy, abstinence and devotion in prayer. Zaynab was beautiful, intelligent, wise and of noble birth - which made her highly sought after.

However, Zaynab was married to Zaid bin Harith (ra), the adopted son of Prophet (pbuh) and a freed slave. It was the Prophet who had convinced Zaynab to marry Zaid. One of his possible reason was perhaps to destroy racial discrimination and racial segregation which was fully ingrained within the Arab culture at the time.

Zaynab had her reservation, especially since she was from a high lineage. She was neither keen nor willing to marry a freed slave. She had her doubt but still married him. But their differences proved too big and it was a strainful relationship. Finally, Zaid divorced Zainab.

During those days it was Arab custom to give the same status to adopted children as to their own flesh and blood. Adopted sons were treated as real sons, with all rights of inheritance etc. However, after her divorce to Zaid, the Prophet was commanded by Allah (Subhanwatallah) to marry Zaynab in order to destroy this custom.

When Zaynab completed her period of waiting, the Prophet (pbuh) sent her a proposal through Zaid. Zaynab did not make a decision. Instead she began praying for Allah's guidance. Eventually the Prophet (pbuh) received a Revelation which allowed him to marry her.


Surah Al-Ahzab (33), ayat 37

No other companion of the Prophet (pbuh) is mentioned by his name in the Qu'ran - in spite of many rules being revealed due to them - except Zayd alone. Prophet Muhammad's marriage to Zaynab would act as a perfect example of destroying the pagan superstition and taboo about adopted sons as Allah willed. Thus Zaynab became the only one of Prophet's wives whose wali (guardian) was Allah (Subhanawatallah).

Zaynab was an innately good woman who used to devote a great deal of her time to prayer and fasting. She even made a little mosque in a corner of her house and used to spend a lot of time there in prayer and meditation.

Zaynab died in the 20th year of Hijrah during the caliphate of Umar Farooq (ra) at the age of 53. Umar (ra) performed her funeral prayer.

Eighth wife: Juwayriya bint al-Harith bin Abi Zarar

Nineth wife: Ramlah Ume-Habibah bint Abi Sufyan

Tenth wife: Safiyah bint Huyayy bin Akhtab

Safiyah bint Huyayy (rah) was a Jew prior to their marriage to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He invited her to Islam and took her as wife after she embraced Islam and became Muslim.

Eleventh wife: Maymuna bint al-Harith Ameria Hilalia

Two Surriyyahs of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had two Surriyyahs - a favoured female slave taken mainly for copulation (and she may or may not be emancipated). They were Maria al-Qibtiyya and Rayhanah bint Amr. Maria, a Christian, was sent as a gift from Al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Alexandria and Egypt. Rayhanah on the other hand was chosen by the Prophet himself from Banu Quraidah. Narrators differ in saying that whether he married her or he emancipated her and she returned back to her people.

Sons & daughters

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had 7 kids - 3 sons and 4 daughters. With the exception of son Ibrahim, Khadijah (RAH) bore him all his children.

Prophet Muhammad's children with first wife Khadijah (RAH)

  1. Al-Qasim
  2. ‘Abdullah (also known as Taiyyib and Tahir)
  1. Zainab
  2. Ruqaiyah
  3. Umm Kulthum
  4. Fatimah Zahra

His last wife, Maria al-Qibtiyya bore him a son named Ibrahim ibn Muhammad.

Sadly, all his sons died in their infancy and all the daughters except Fatimah died during his lifetime. Fatimah died 6 months after his death. All his daughters witnessed Islam, embraced it, and emigrated to Madinah.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) - a feminist

Muhammad did his own household chores and helped with housework, such as preparing food, sewing clothes and repairing shoes. He is also said to have had accustomed his wives to dialogue; he listened to their advice, and the wives debated and even argued with him.

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).