(part 1 of 2)
The women of the Prophet Muhammad, God’s blessings and peace be upon him, have a special place in Islamic piety. The Quran calls them „mothers of the believers“ (Quran 33: 6). They were his women in this life and are supposed to be so in the next life. They were young and old, widows and virgins, poor and wealthy, nobles and freed slaves. Each of them played their special role in the history of Islam.
Prophet Muhammad married her when he was 25 while she was in her forties. She was a widow who had been married twice. He was at the height of his youth. Impressed by Muhammad’s honesty and excellent character, she sent a relative to offer him the marriage. They were married for 25 years until their death. Throughout the persecution, Khadija was his only companion and helper. Like Aisha, Khadija contributed much to the establishment and spread of Islamic civilization. Khadija had four daughters with the Prophet: Zainab, Umm Kulthum, Ruqayya and Fatima. All four grew up and adopted Islam. They all died during their father’s lifetime, except Fatima, who died six months after the Prophet. Khadija also gave birth to two sons,
A few months after Khadija’s death, the prophet was helpless and returned from an unsuccessful mission from Taif. At that time he married Sauda, another widow, who had no beauty, no social rank, no wealth. She had been forced to flee to Abyssinia with her husband from the idolatrous Meccans to find some security. Her husband died in exile, he sacrificed his life for his faith. He had emigrated from home with his wife because of his religion, and he had left her in miserable poverty. Driven by his magnanimity, the Prophet of Mercy married her and raised her position to the spiritual rank of „Mothers of the Faithful.“ The Prophet married no other woman three years after marrying Sauda.
Aisha was the daughter of one of the closest friends of the Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr. As a long-time friend of the Prophet, Abu Bakr was one of the first converts to the Islamic faith and was considered the most sincere, serious, and humble. Faced with the loss of the Prophet, one of the Prophet’s female companions suggested Abu Bakr’s daughter and, at the Prophet’s direction, approached Abu Bakr. But there were two problems. The first was that Aisha was already engaged to Jubair bin Mut’im, a Meccan idolater. Jubair, it turned out, had lost interest due to the large gap between idolatry and Islam. In addition, Aischa hadn’t even reached puberty, and that contributed to Jubail’s dwindling interest in keeping the engagement going. So she was engaged to the Prophet when they were still in Mecca, and they married three years later when they were both in Medina and she reached puberty. She was the only virgin he married, even if they had no children. Aisha was a leading scholar of Islam and played a crucial role in the establishment of Islamic civilization. She taught forty years after the Prophet’s death until she died at the age of 67.
Hafsa was the daughter of Umar, the man closest to Prophet Muhammad after Abu Bakr. She emigrated to Medina with her husband, but after the Battle of Badr, he left her as a widow. With a fiery temper like her father, she has remained without a husband since then. Umar first asked Abu Bakr and then Uthman to marry them, but each of them declined to his anger. This shows how difficult it was at that time to find a suitable man to marry. Finally Umar interviewed Prophet Muhammad. And in the third year after the emigration, the wedding took place. The prophet departed from her once, but God commanded him to take her back. During the Khalifat of Abu Bakr and Umar, she was given the task of keeping the official Quran signature. She died four years after the Prophet.
In the same year, the third year of emigration, the Prophet married Zainab, who had become a widow after the battle of Uhud. Her friendliness towards the poor has earned her the nickname „Mother of the needy“. She had already passed the spring of her life when she married him and died a few months after her wedding. With Khadijah, she is the only woman who died when the Prophet was still alive.
A year later, the Prophet married another widow who had suffered persecution and suddenly lost custody of their children through their idolatrous relatives. After the battle of Uhud, she was a widow with four children. Abu Bakr asked for her hand first, but she refused because she thought nobody could be patient with her children. Finally the prophet asked for her hand and assured her that he would take care of her children; Prophet Muhammad married Umm Salama because of her noble motives. Believers loved their prophet all the more and honored him as the prophet of God. They saw him as a father of the needy and the poor, as well as of anyone who lost his father for the cause of God. Umm Salama was the last of the Prophet’s women to die.
(part 2 of 2)
Umm Habieba was the Muslim daughter of the archenemy of Islam, Abu Sufyan. Umm Habieba was one of the first to adopt Islam in Mecca. She had emigrated to Abyssinia with her husband, who had converted to Christianity there. After his death, the Prophet asked for her hand when she was still in Abyssinia. She returned to Medina three years before the Prophet’s death. She died 34 years after the Prophet.
Zainab, Zaid’s divorced wife
Zainab was the Prophet’s cousin who was married to Zaid, an orphaned slave whom the Prophet had freed and then adopted. The prophet had proposed Zainab’s marriage to Zaid to her brother, but the brother refused to marry his sister, a girl of the noble lineage of the Hashimites and Quraishites, and the Prophet’s first cousin to an earlier slave. Such a connection was considered a great shame by the Arabs. Because it was unthinkable for the noble daughters to marry their slave, even if it was a freed slave. The prophet intended to eliminate the racial and social differences between people. He taught the world that no Arab is superior to a non-Arab, except in righteousness and piety,
„… Truly, the most respected of you who is most feared of God is …“ (Quran 49:13)
The Prophet did not want to impose this principle on any woman outside his own tribe. It was his own cousin Zainab who followed the prophet’s wishes for Zaid and willingly broke the customs of the Arabs. And Zaid, a freed slave, was someone too low to marry in the eyes of her Meccan noble family. Therefore, the Prophet encouraged Zainab to consent to the marriage to Zaid and when Zainab agreed, he insisted that her brother accept the adopted slave as a brother-in-law.
After the marriage, however, Zaid found it difficult to live with her. Zaid asked the Prophet for advice, who instructed him not to divorce her. But after all attempts to save the marriage failed, divorce was the only alternative. After the divorce, she and her relatives insisted that the Prophet marry her. Given the failed marriage that he had arranged, the prophet felt bound to comply with their wishes, but was still hesitant. The custom of idolaters allowed stepmothers and mothers-in-law to be married, but considered marriage to the divorced wife of the adopted son to be unacceptable. To abolish this custom and set an example, God commanded the hesitant prophet to marry Zainab. Her wedding was the Hijrah in year 5.
In the same year, numerous prisoners from the battle of Bani Mustaliq fell into the hands of the Muslims. Among them was Juwairiya, the daughter of an Arab head, who asked the Prophet to release her for a ransom, which he willingly agreed to. Then the prophet proposed to marry her and she agreed. When the Muslims heard the news of the wedding, they released all of their prisoners from the Banu Mustaliq tribe. They felt that they could not keep a tribe honored by the Prophet in captivity, so one hundred families from the Banu Mustaliq tribe were released by the blessing of their marriage to the Prophet. Juwairiya was a woman who humbly dedicated herself to the worship of God. Once when the prophet passed her after the early prayer, she was still sitting in her prayer place. Then he passed by late in the morning and still found her in the same place; whereupon the Prophet remarked:
„Are you still in your state (of worship)?“
She replied, „Yes.“
“Shouldn’t I teach you a few words that are bigger in reward ?! Say: ´How perfect is God. I praise Him with the number of His creations and contentment, and with the weight of His throne and the ink of His words. ‚”
She died about forty years after the Prophet.
Safiya, the daughter of the head of the Banu Nadhier Jewish tribe, was taken prisoner at the Battle of Khaibar in the 7th year of the Hijra. The Prophet released her and then married her. At the wedding he found signs of abuse on her cheek and asked curiously about it.
She explained: “I saw a dream in which the full moon rose over Medina and fell on my lap. I told the dream to my cousin who hit me and said, „You want to marry the King of Medina!“ This scar comes from his blow. “
When the Prophet lay on his deathbed, she sobbed and said, “I wish I could be in your place, O Messenger of God,” to which he replied, “By God, she speaks the truth.”
Another widow, Maimuma, asked the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th year after the Hijra that God’s blessings and peace be upon him to marry her. She was of his tribe and over fifty already. The Prophet Muhammad married her to support her, a poor relative. Her nephew, Ibn Abbas, who later became the greatest scholar of the Quran, learned a lot from her knowledge.
 Musnad, Abu Dawud