Female Family Members of the Prophet Muhammad

The Prophet's Wives and Daughters

Reading the Quran during Ramadan
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In addition to being a prophet, a statesman and a community leader, the Prophet Muhammad was a family man. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was known to be very kind and gentle with his family, setting an example for all to follow.

Mothers of the Believers: Muhammad's Wives

The wives of the Prophet Muhammad are known as the "Mothers of the Believers." Muhammad is said to have thirteen wives, that he married after moving to Medina.

The designation of "wife" is slightly controversial in the case of two of these women, Rayhana bint Jahsh and Maria al Qibtiyya, whom some scholars describe as concubines rather than legal wives. It should be noted that taking multiple wives was standard practice for Arab culture of the time, and was often done for political reasons, or out of duty and responsibility. In the case of Muhammad, he was entirely monogamous with his first wife, remaining with her for 25 years until her death. 

Muhammad's thirteen wives can be divided into two groups. The first three were wives he married before moving to Mecca, while the rest all resulted in some fashion from the Muslim war over Mecca. The last 10 wives of Muhammad were either the widows of fallen comrades and allies, or women who had been enslaved when their tribes were conquered by the Muslims. 

Somewhat repugnant to a modern audience may be the fact that many of these later wives were slaves when selected as wives.

However, this, too, was a standard practice of the time. Moreover, it should be noted that Muhammad's decision to marry them in effect freed them from slavery. Their lives were undoubtedly considerably better after converting to Islam and becoming part of Muhammad's family. 

  • Khadija bint Khuwailid. The Prophet Muhammad described his first wife as follows: "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." Muhammad and Khadija were married for 25 years until her death. It was only after her death that Muhammad married again. Khadija was the mother of two of Muhammad's sons (both of which died young) and all four of his daughters. Some scholars, however, regard three of these daughters as children from Khadija's first marriage. 
  • Sawdah bint Zam'ah. Sawdah had been previously married and widowed, and may have been as old as 55 when she married Muhammad. There is some debate over whether she or Aishah was Muhammad's second wife, but the marriage seems to have been an act of graciousness aimed at rescuing Sawdah from a difficult life. By some accords, it was a friendly rather than a romantic partnership. 
  • Aishah bint Abu Bakr. Known for her spirit and good memory, she became a teacher to other Muslims and a narrator of hadith. Aishah was the daughter of Muhammad's close friend and companion, Abu Bakr, and she married Muhammad at a very young age. 
  • Zainab bint Jahsh. A cousin to Muhammad, as well as wife, she was described as a very small and beautiful woman, with a quick temper that quickly dissipated. A skilled leatherworker, Zainab had been previously married before marrying Muhammad after her first husband's death in 622 CE. Marrying the widows of fallen comrades and loyalists was not an uncommon practice, and doing so was in character with Muhammad's nature. 
  • Hafsah bint 'Umar. Hafsah was a woman who was not afraid to speak her mind. Like many of Muhammad's wives, she had been previously married. Hafsah was assisting the wounded on the battlefield when her husband was killed. Mohammad's decision to marry her was an act of social responsibility.  
  • Zainab bint Khuzaimah. Zainab bint Khuzaimah was an elderly widow who was known to give money to the poor. She, too, was the widow of a fallen Muslim when married by Mohammad. However, she died only eight months after becoming married for the second time. 
  • Umm Salamah. Umm Salamah and her first husband were early converts to Islam, and she had emigrated to both Abyssinia and Medina. At the time of her marriage to the Prophet, she was the single mother of four young orphans.
  • Maria al Qubtiyya. Maria was a slave gifted to Muhammad in 628 CE. Said to be exceptionally beautiful, Maria was mother to one of Muhammad's three sons. Their son, Ibrahim, died before his fifth birthday. 
  • Juwayriah bint Al-Harith.  Juwayriah became a captive of Muslim forces after her husband was killed in battle, and was freed by Muhammad when he married her. At the time, she was 20 years old and Muhammad was 58. 
  • Umm Habibah. Also known as Ramla bint Abu Sufyan, Umm, along with her first husband, was an early convert to Islam. When her husband reverted to Christianity,  Umm divorced him, and after some period of time married Muhammad, though they did not initially live together. 
  • Maimunah bint Al-Harith. Maimunah married Muhammad in 629 CE. She lived with the Prophet for only three years before he died, but would go on to be the last of his wives to die, passing away at age 80 or 81. 
  • Safiyah bint Huyayy. The daughter of a Jewish chieftain, Safiyah was taken captive when her husband was killed in battle by Muslims in 629 CE. Soon after converting to Islam, she married Muhammad. 
  • Raihanah bint Jahsh. As were several of Muhammad's wives, Raihanah belonged to a Jewish tribe conquered by Muslim forces and enslaved. She was freed by Muhammad, then married him. 

Children of the Prophet Muhammad

Muhammad had seven children, all but one of them from his first wife, Khadji. His three sons--Qasim, Abdullah and Ibrahim--all died in early childhood, but the Prophet doted on his four daughters. Only two survived him after death--Zainab and Fatimah.

  • Hadhrat Zainab (599 to 630 CE). This eldest daughter of the Prophet was born in the fifth year of his first marriage, when he was thirty. Zainab converted to Islam immediately after Mohammad declared himself the Prophet. She is thought to have died during a miscarriage. 
  • Ruqaiyyah (601 to 624 CE). Mohammad's second daughter became a Muslim at the same time her mother did. 
  • Umm Kulthum (603 to 630 CE). She was the first daughter to be born to Mohammad and Khadija after they moved to Mecca. She converted to Islam shortly after the death of her mother. 
  • Fatimah (604 to 632 CE).  The Prophet's youngest daughter was deeply devoted to him, and spent her spare time in prayer and worship. She was the mother of the Prophet Muhammad's grandsons, Hassan and Husayn. She is considered a role model for all Muslims; Fatimah is one of the most popular of all names for Muslim girls.