Who are the Mothers of the Believers?
You might have heard the expression Ummahat al-Mumineen. This translates into English as the ‘Mothers of the Believers’ and this is a title that refers to the wives of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They were his wives in this dunya and will be his wives in the akhirah.
1- Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (b.556 – d.619 CE)
Mary, the daughter of Imran, was the best among the women (of the world of her time) and Khadijah is the best amongst the women (of this nation). (Al-Bukhari)
Khadijah was the first wife of Prophet Muhammad, whom she met as a widow of a wealthy merchant but had become prosperous in her own right. She hired Muhammad as a business agent but soon came to see him as a suitable husband.
According to most sources she was about 40 and Muhammad about 25 when they married.
Khadijah bore him six children, including two sons who died in infancy. She gave Muhammad support and encouragement when he received his first revelations and remained loyal to him when many prominent Makkans began to oppose him. While she lived, Muhammad took no other wives. He loved, missed and remembered Khadijah for the rest of his life.
2- Sawdah bint Zam’a ( b.unknown – d.674 CE)
After a marriage of twenty-five years the Prophet’s first wife, Khadijah passed away. He was left alone to raise a small family and found that he could not devote enough time to calling the people to Islam so he decided to marry again. He chose a widow named Sawdah bint Zam’a.
Sawdah and her first husband were amongst the very early converts to Islam who immigrated to Abyssinia. Her husband passed away in exile and she was left a poor widow with small children.
Prophet Muhammad sought approval for their marriage from Sawdah’s non-Muslim parents. The parents agreed and then directed him to seek approval from Sawdah herself.
With this union, Sawdah’s and the Prophet’s households merged and the Prophet had more time to carry out the prophetic mission. They were married for three years before Prophet took another wife.
Sawdah had the great honor of being an immigrant for the sake of Islam on two occasions, to Abyssinia and then to Medina. She was the first of a number of widows the Prophet married. Sawdah had a reputation for being a kind, charitable and jovial woman.
3- Aishah bint Abu Bakr (b.612 – d.678 CE)
Aishah was the daughter of Abu Bakr, one of Prophet Muhammad’s closest friends and supporters. Her betrothal to him at a young age fortified that relationship. Aishah was raised as a Muslim while most of the close companions were converts to Islam.
After marriage she and the Prophet became extremely close and many ahadith attest to this fact. She was his beloved wife and an extremely intelligent scholar of Islam. She is credited with narrating more than 2000 ahadith and became noted for her sharp intelligence, love of learning and impeccable judgment.
Aishah was one of only three of Prophet Muhammad’s wives who memorized the entire Quran. Among her notable attainments were that she was the only wife that was with the Prophet when he received revelation and it was in Aishah’s arms that the Prophet died. Aishah was widowed at the age of 18 or 19 years old and went on to teach and play a significant role in the dissemination of Islam for more than 40 years.
4- Hafsah bint Umar ibn Al-Khattab (b.605 – d.665 CE)
Prophet Muhammad’s fourth wife was Hafsah, the daughter of one of Prophet Muhammad’s closest confidantes, Umar ibn Al-Khattab. Their marriage was an astute political alliance. Hafsah had been married at a young age and participated in the migrations to both Abyssinia and Medina. Sadly she was widowed when only eighteen years old but she then had the honor of marrying Prophet Muhammad and linking the Al-Khattab family with the Prophet’s family.
Hafsah and Aishah were the youngest of Prophet Muhammad’s wives and both had similar personalities; they were strong, determined women and for the most part seemed to get on well.
Hafsah was able to both read and write and, like Aishah, memorized the entire Quran. She was both pious and intelligent and would spend hours pondering over the verses of the Quran.
It was Hafsah who had the great honor of being the custodian of the first Mushaf which came into her possession after the death of her father. Hafsah was married to the Prophet for eight years, and after his death she lived for another thirty four years.
5- Zaynab bint Khuzaymah (b.595 – d.624)
Zaynab was the first of Prophet Muhammad’s wives that did not come from the tribe of Quraish. She died less than one year after her marriage and as a consequence very little is known about her. Before this marriage she had earned the title of Mother of the Poor due to her work with the poor and her generosity to them.