Basic Facts on the Prophet’s Marriages


Waqar Akbar Cheema


Whereas there is a lot of material with criticism and response to it regarding the marital life of the Prophet (ﷺ) there is hardly any work recording mere facts about the Prophet’s (ﷺ) conjugal life. In the write-up we shall try to record the known facts about each of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) marriages.

A: Consummated Marriages

Below we give basic information about the consummated marriages of the Prophet (ﷺ) in chronological order each against the date of the marriage and age of the Prophet (ﷺ) at the time of the marriage. The information is given on the following format;

Marriage no. in chronological sequence. Date Before or After Hijrah / Gregorian Date (Age of the Prophet): Name of the wife (her age at the time of marriage, her marital status then), her tribe and date of death with age.

First: 28 BH/ 595 (25): Khadija bt. Khuwaylid (40, Widow) from Asad clan of Quraish. She died in Ramadan 3 BH/620 aged 65.[1]

Second: Shawal 3 BH/ May 620 (50): ‘Aisha bt. Abi Bakr (6, Virgin) from Tamim clan of Quraish. Marriage was consummated in Shawal 1/April 623. She died in Ramadan 58/ June 678 aged 66.[2]

Third: Shawal 3 BH/ May 620 (50): Sawdah bt. Zam‘ah (55, Widow) from ‘Amir clan of Quraish. She died in late 22/September 643 aged 80.[3] The marriage was consummated about two years later in Makkah before Hijrah to Madina.[4]

Fourth: Sha’ban 3/ January 625 (55): Hafsa bt. ‘Umar (22, Widow) from ‘Adi clan of Quraish. She died in Sha’ban 45/October 665 aged 63.[5]

Fifth: Ramadan 3/February 625 (55): Zainab bt. Khuzaima (29, Widow) from Bani ‘Amir b. Sa’sah. She died only eight months later in Rabi-I 4/August 625 aged 30.[6]

Sixth: Shawal 4/March 626 (56): Umm Salama Hind bt. Umayyah (27, Widow) from Makhzum clan of Quraish. She died in 61/681 aged 84.[7]

Seventh: Sha’ban 5/January 627 (57): Juwairiya bt. al-Harith (20, Widow) from the tribe of Mastaliq. She died in Rabi-I 50/April 670 aged 65.[8]

Eighth: Dhu al-Qa’da 5/April 627 (57): Zainab bt. Jahsh (35, Divorced) from Asad clan of Quraish. She died in 20/641 age 53.[9]

Ninth: 6/627 (57): Umm Habiba bt. Abu Sufyan (44, Widow) from the Umayya clan of Quraish. Marriage was consummated in 7/629. She died in 44/664 aged 80.[10]

Tenth: Jumada-II 7/October 628 (58): Safiya bt. Hayy (17, Widow) from the Jewish tribe of Nudair. She died in Ramadan 50/October 670 aged 60.[11]

Eleventh: Dhu al-Qa’da 7/March 629 (59): Maimuna bt. al-Harith (36, Widow) from Banu ‘Amir b. Sa’sah. She died in 51/671 aged 80.[12]

B: Concubines

The Prophet (ﷺ) had two slave-girls with whom he had conjugal relations. They were;

  1. Raihana bt. Zaid:[13] She was a Jewess from the tribe of Nadir and was married to a man from Quraiza. She came to the Prophet (ﷺ) in Muharram 6/June 627 after being taken at the eve of Battle with Quraiza.[14] She accepted Islam but chose to remain a concubine.[15] She died on return from the Farewell Pilgrimage in Dhu al-Hijja 10/March 632.[16]
  2. Maria bt. Sham‘un, the Copt[17]: She came to the Prophet (ﷺ) in 8/ 629 when he was nearly 60. She accepted Islam at the hands of Prophet’s (ﷺ) envoy to Maquqas on their way back to Madina[18] and died in Muharram 16/February 637.[19]

Details of solemnized but unconsummated marriages shall follow in a separate article.


References & Notes:

[1] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, (Beirut: DKI, 1990) Vol.8, 11, 13; for an analysis of some divergent reports on the issue see our article; The Age of Khadija at the Time of her Marriage with the Prophet

[2] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 62, 63; Some sources say marriage with Sawda was done before that with ‘Aisha, others say the opposite. Scholars have reconciled the two opinions saying marriage with ‘Aisha was prior in terms of celebration, and marriage with Sawda in terms of consummation. See al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifa, 1379) Vol.7, 225;

[3] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 42-43, 46; None of the early sources appear to record anything about her age. Whereas ‘Abdul Ghani ‘Abdul Rahman Muhammad says she was fifty-five – see Zawjat al-Nabi Muhammad wa Hikmah al-Ta‘ddudihinna, (Cairo: al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy, 1988) 44 – Abu Zahra mentions she was sixty-six at the time of marriage with the Prophet (ﷺ). See Abu Zahra, Khatam al-Nabiyin, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1425) Vol.3, 1097; al-Waqidi says she died in Shawal 54/September 674, however, it contradicts an authentic report which says that she died much earlier towards the end of ‘Umar’s caliphate. See al-Bukhari, Tarikh al-Awsat, (Cairo: Dar al-Turath, 1977) Vol.1, 49; this later report has been considered stronger by many authorities. See, al-Zurqani, Sharh ‘ala Mawahib al-Laduniya, (Beirut: DKI, 1996) Vol.4, 380-381

[4] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 43 cf. al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 3896; see also our article The Prophet’s conduct with his wife Sawdah: The issue of divorce

[5] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 66, 69; Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, ‘Uyun al-Athar, (Beirut: Dar al-Qalam, 1994) Vol.2, 370

[6] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 92; Besides Khadija, she was the only wife of the Prophet who passed away in his lifetime.

[7] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 76; as for the report about her death in 59/679 it is untenable as a report in Sahih Muslim mentions how he was asked about an event in times of ‘Abdullah b. al-Zubair and Yazid b. Mu’awiya (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2882-4), See Al-Kinani, Ibn Jama’h, Mukhtasar al-Kabir fi Sirat al-Rasul, (Amman: Dar al-Bashir, 1993) 97. Moreover, there are reports that she lived to learn of the tragedy of Karbala which happened in Muharram 61/October 680 and died in grief over the same soon afterwards. See al-Dhahabi, Shams al-Din, Siyar al-A‘lam al-Nubala, (Beirut: Al-Resalah Publishers, 1985) Vol.2, 202, 210; It is, therefore, clear that she was the last of the Wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) to die. This shows Lesley Hazleton’s mistake in her statement regarding ‘Aisha; “she outlived all his [Prophet’s] other widows.” See, Hazleton, The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad, (London: Atlantic Books, 2013) 276

[8] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 95; another report says she died in Rabi-I 56/Feb. 676 in her seventies, however, it is less likely. See al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Taqrib al-Tahdhib, (Aleppo: Dar al-Rashid, 1986) 745

[9] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 90-91; one report says she was thirty-five at the time of marriage another says she died in the year 20/641 at the age of fifty-three which would imply she was around thirty-eight at the time of marriage. Such differences besides other factors might owe to the way Arabs/early Muslims mentioned dates. Muhammad Asad observes; “The most confusing factor in the calculation of these dates is the custom of the Arabs to count only full years without mentioning the months. Thus, a period often appears to have been shorter or longer than it was in reality.” See, Asad, Muhammad, Sahih al-Bukhari – the Early Years of Islam, (Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus, 1981) 198

She was the first of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) wives to die after him.

See also our article; Background to Prophet’s Marriage with Zainab

[10] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 80; al-Zurqani, Sharh ‘ala Mawahib al-Laduniya, Vol.4, 409; She was born seventeen years before the Prophet was blessed with Prophethood. See al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isabha fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, (Beirut: DKI, 1415) Vol.8, 140; the marriage was conducted in absentia in the year 6/627 in Abyssinia by Najashi the King of Abyssinia, and it was consummated in the year 7/629. See,  Al-Dhahabi, Tarikh al-Islam, (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 2003) Vol.2, 447

[11] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 102; Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, ‘Uyun al-Athar, Vol.2, 375; another report says she died much earlier in the year 36/656-657 but it cannot be true as Zain al-‘Abidin Muhammad b. Ali, an authority of unimpeached integrity, born around 40/660 related that he heard Safiya narrate an incident from the life of the Prophet – ﷺ (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 2035) See al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, Vol.4, 278

[12] Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, ‘Uyun al-Athar, Vol.2, 375; one report says she died in the year 61 AH. This, however, cannot be true as an authentic report with Ibn Sa‘d mentions ‘Aisha who died in the year 58/678 speak of Maimuna in praise after her death. Accordingly Ibn Hajar says the report about her death in 61 AH is due to inadvertence on the part of some narrator(s). See al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, Vol.8, 324

[13] Ibn Sa‘d tells us she was, Raihana bt. Zaid b. ‘Amr b. Khunafa b. Sham‘un b. Zaid which explains why she is at times named as Raihana bt. ‘Amr or Raihana bt. Sham‘un, See Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 102

[14] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 103; see also Al-Halabi, Abu al-Faraj, Insan al-‘Uyun fi Sirat al-Amin al-Ma’mun, (Beirut: DKI, 1427 AH) Vol.2, 457

[15] Mentioning of Quraiza Ibn Ishaq says; “The Messenger of Allah had chosen one of their women for himself, Rayhana d. ‘Amr b. Khunafa, one of the women of B. ‘Amr b. Qurayza, and she remained with him until she died, in his power. The Messenger of Allah had proposed to marry her and put the veil on her, but she said: ‘Nay, leave me in your power for that will be easier for me and for you.’ So he left her. She had shown repugnance towards Islam when she was captured and clung to Judaism. So the Messenger of Allah put her aside and felt some displeasure. While he was with his companions he heard the sound of sandals behind him and said, ‘This is Tha‘laba b. Sa‘ya coming to give the good news of Rayhana’s acceptance and he came up to announce the fact. This gave him pleasure.” See, Ibn Hisham, ‘Abd al-Malik, Sirah al-Nabawiyya, Edited Mustafa Saqa, (Cairo: Mustafa Babi, 1955) Vol.2, 245; translated in Guillaume, Alfred, The Life of Muhammad – Translation of [Ibn] Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) 466; see also, al-Baihaqi, Abu Bakr, Dala’il al-Nubuwwah, (Beirut: DKI, 1405 AH)  Vol.4, 24; al-Asbahani, Abu Nu‘aim, Ma‘rifa al-Sahaba, (Riyadh: Dar al-Watan, 1998) Vol.6, 3248-3249 No. 7492; Al-Jazri, Ibn Athir, Usud Al-Ghāba, (Beirut: Dar Al-Fekr, 1989) Vol.6, 120-121

Since she was offered marriage and was highly regarded by the Prophet (ﷺ) she was thought by some to be a wife of the Prophet (ﷺ) rather than only a concubine.

[16] Al-Jazri, Usud Al-Ghāba, Vol.6, 120

[17] Some modern Muslims claim that she was in fact a wife of the Prophet (ﷺ). This, however, was not the case. For details see our article, “Maria, the Copt: Prophet Muhammad’s Wife or Concubine?

[18] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 171; this is al-Waqidi’s report from ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abdul Rahman b. Abi Sa‘sa‘a. Another report through exactly the same chain of narrators says that she accepted Islam along with her sister Siriin when the Prophet (ﷺ) bid them both as they were initially stationed at the place of Umm Sulaim bt. Milhan. See, Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.1, 107. This, however, is not a case of contradiction. The Prophet (ﷺ) upon his first visit to them must have presented Islam to them not knowing they had already become Muslims on their way to Madina. The later narration goes on to add that she was good in her practice upon Islam (kanat hasanat al-din).

[19] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 174; al-Tabari, Ibn Jarir, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Maluk, (Beirut: Dar al-Turath, 1387 AH) Vol.11, 618; translated in Ella Landau-Tasseron, The History of al-Tabari Volume XXXIX- Biographies of the Prophet’s Companions and Their Successors, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998) 195

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