Muhammad's Wives

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Muhammad's Wives in the Order in Which They Were Married to Him
  1. Khadija Bint Khuwailid: Muhammad's first wife. He married her in 595 A.D. (25 years before the Migration);(1) she died three years before the Migration(2) and ten years after he claimed prophethood.(3)


  1. Sawda Bint Zam`a: Muhammad married her in the month of Ramadan ten years after he claimed prophethood, after the death of Khadija and before he married `A´isha,(4 ) or some months before the Migration,(5) depending on the sources. Opinions agree that she was Muhammad's second wife.(6) Yet the question is whether he slept with `A´isha first or Sawda. Some believe that he married `A´isha first, but had intercourse with Sawda first, as `A´isha was too young.(7)


  1. `A´isha Bint Abu Bakr: Muhammad married her in the month of Shawwal, three years before the Migration, ten years after he claimed prophethood, according to the tradition of `A´isha herself.(8) He had intercourse with her in the month of Shawwal, eight months after the Migration.(9) She was the only virgin among Muhammad's wives.(10)


  1. Hafsa Bint `Umar: The Messenger of God married her in the month of Sha`ban, 31 months after the Migration,(11) or in the third year after the Migration, or one month(12) or two(13) before Uhud.


  1. Zainab Bint Khuzaima: Her husband died in the battle of Uhud, so Muhammad married her.(14) This was 31 months after the Migration.(15)


  1. Ummu Salama: One tradition says that Muhammad married her three years before the Khandaq raid, in the sixth year after the Migration(16) and the wedding was performed in Shawwal four years after the Migration,(17) or three years after Badr.(18)


  1. Zainab Bint Jahsh: It is not possible to determine when Muhammad married her. It was either in Dsu al-Qa`da or Sha`ban in year 5 or 3 A.H.(19) We will study the marriage of Muhammad and Zainab Bint Jahsh in a separate chapter.


  1. Juwairiyya Bint al-Harith: She was taken captive during the raid of Banu al-Mustaliq and was part of the spoils. No one knows when this battle took place exactly. So the dates given for her marriage to Muhammad are the fifth or the sixth year after the Migration.(20) Ibn Hisham claims that Muhammad bought her from Thabit Ibn Qais, set her free, and later married her.(21)


  1. Safiyya Bint Huyay: She was among the spoils of Khaibar (one of the famous Jewish tribes), which was conquered in the sixth year A.H., and was chosen for Muhammad.(22)


  1. Ummu Habiba: Stories say that the Negus of Ethiopia gave her to Muhammad as a wife.(23)


  1. Maria, the Copt: al-Muqawqas, king of Egypt, sent four female slaves to Muhammad and Maria was one of them.(24) She reached Medina in the seventh year after the Migration.(25) Only Khadija and Maria gave birth to male children among all of Muhammad's wives.
  2. Maimuna Bint al-Harith: Muhammad married her in the seventh year after the Umra of al-Qadha.(26) She was the last one the Messenger of God married.(27)


  1. Rayhana: She was not of the "mothers of the believers," in spite of her respectable position in the house of Muhammad.(28) When the Prophet attacked Banu Qurayza, he took her captive since it was necessary for him to have a selection of each spoil.(29) Muhammad offered her Islam but she refused. Yet it is said that she espoused Islam later.(30)



Temporary Marriage of Enjoyment

Marriage of enjoyment (or pleasure) differs from the conventional marriage in that its aim is not having a regular marital life and begetting children, but to enjoy sexual relations in a "legal" way. The man who practises such a marriage is often someone who spends a long time abroad for any reason, and thus marries a woman temporarily. The period of marriage is limited to the time when the husband leaves the country, and then the marriage is automatically dissolved.

The traditions relating to marriage of enjoyment indicate that Muhammad warranted such practice for his friends especially during the raids (maghazi). Yet, `Umar Ibn al-Khattab strongly opposed it, as he said, "The Messenger of God permitted mut`a [marriage of enjoyment] three times, and after that he forbade it. By God, if I find that anyone practises mut`a, while being married, I will stone him with rocks, unless he brings me four witnesses that the Messenger of God permitted it after he had forbidden it."(1) A tradition in Bukhari claims that he prohibited it.(2) Still, it is a bone of contention between many jurists. It is narrated that `Imran said, "We practised the tamattu` [marriage of enjoyment] in the life-time of the Messenger of God, and then the Qur´an was revealed (3) [regarding tamattu`] and somebody said what he wished [regarding the same] according to his own opinion."(4)

Regardless of the disputes on the details of mut`a in the Sunni schools of thought, one can say that it is equal to fornication, yet the Shiites turned it into some sort of legal marriage. The Sunni jurisprudence, however, allows mut`a, even if it doesn't call it by name. For example, a man may agree to marry a woman in addition to his marriage contract, and bind themselves to divorce as soon as the term they fixed is finished.(5)

Since the Sunni schools of thought all agreed that mut`a was cancelled and prohibited on the basis of traditions narrated about Muhammad,(6) we would like to treat the subject within the Shiite jurisprudence. According to the Shiites, the legality of mut`a is established in both the Qur´an and the Hadith, and in the traditions about their infallible Imams. Their Qur´anic proof is: "and wedded women, save what your right hands own. So God prescribes for you. Lawful for you, beyond all that, is that you may seek, using your wealth, in wedlock and not in licence. Such wives as you enjoy thereby, give them their wages apportionate; it is no fault in you in your agreeing together, after the due apportionate. God is All-knowing, All-wise. Any one of you who has not the affluence to be able to marry believing freewomen in wedlock, let him take believing handmaids that your right hands own; God knows very well your faith; the one of you is as the other. So marry them, with their people's leave, and give them their wages honourably as women in wedlock, not as in licence or taking lovers. But when they are in wedlock, if they commit indecency, they shall be liable to half the chastisement of freewomen. That provision is for those of you who fear fornication; yet it is better for you to be patient. God is All-forgiving All-compassionate" (Sura al-Nisa´ 4:24,25).

Abu `Abdullah from Ja`far al-Sadiq (the sixth Imam of Twelver Shiism) narrated the following about nikah of enjoyment: "God had made it lawful in His Book, and by the mouth of His Prophet, so it is lawful till the day of Resurrection." One day Abu Hanifa said, "O Abu Ja`far, such as you say that, even though `Umar prohibited and forbade it?" He replied, "Even if he did so." He said, "I adjure you by God not to make lawful that which `Umar has declared prohibited." He answered, "You follow the saying of your friend [`Umar], but I follow the saying of the Messenger of God. What your friend said is untrue." Then, `Abdullah Ibn `Umar came forward and said, "Does it go well with you if your wives, daughters, sisters, and cousins do this?" But Abu Ja`far avoided him when he mentioned his wives, daughters, and cousins.(7)

`Abdurrahman narrated: I heard Abu Hanifa asking Abu `Abdullah concerning mut`a, for which he answered, "Which of the two mut`as are you asking about?" He replied, "I have already asked you concerning the mut`a of Pilgrimage, now tell about the mut`a of women in general; is it legitimate?" He answered, "Praise be God! Have you not read the Book of God Most High? It says, 'Since you have thereby sought enjoyment with them, give them their marriage portion as is stipulated.' " Abu Hanifa said, "By God! It is as though I have never read this verse before."(8)

In a tradition ultimately related by `Ali, Abu Hanifa said to Ja`far Ibn al-Nu`man, "O Abu Ja`far, what do you say concerning mut`a; is it lawful?" He replied, "Yes." He asked again, "Then what keeps you from commanding your women to practise it and earn money for you?" Abu Ja`far answered, "Not all professions are desirable, even if they were lawful. Certain folk have certain lots in life and certain social status. But what do you say, Abu Hanifa, concerning [new sweet wine]; don't you claim that it is lawful?" He answered, "Yes." Abu Ja`far asked, "What keeps you then from letting your women stay at taverns selling wine and earning money for you?" Abu Hanifa said, "Tit for tat; and your arrow penetrates even more." The Abu Ja`far said to him, "The verse in Sura al-Ma`arij [70] speaks of prohibiting mut`a, and the tradition of the Prophet also cancelled it." Abu Ja`far replied, "Abu Hanifa, Sura al-Ma`arij is a Meccan Sura, and the verse pertaining to mut`a is Medinan, and your tradition is anyway doubtful and bad." Abu Hanifa said to him, "The verse pertaining to inheritance, as well, speaks of cancelling mut`a." Abu Ja`far answered, "Wedlock has been already established without inheritance." Abu Hanifa asked, "Where do you deduce that from?" Abu Ja`far answered, "If a Muslim man marries a woman of the people of the Book, and then dies, what do you say about her?" He answered, "She does not inherit from him." He said, "See, wedlock is established without inheritance," and they departed.(9)

The Suni schools of thought consider mut`a as abolished on the grounds of Sura al-Mu´minun 23:5, which says, "Believers will succeed! ...who guard their private parts except with their spouses and whomever their right hands may control, since then they are free from blame." Nevertheless, the Shiites claim that this verse is Meccan and that it has been revealed before mut`a was allowed.(10) It seems that the Shiite interpretation is more in harmony with historical reality, since in many credible traditions (that the Sunnis hold as genuine) we have indication of the fact that Muhammad not only allowed marriage of enjoyment, but commanded his friends to practise, as well.(11) Jabir Ibn `Abdillah narrated that "mut`a will remain forever."(12) Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said in Musnad, "God has given permission for the practice of mut`a, and the Messenger of God made it a law."(13) It is evident from the stories related about Muhammad's friends that they had a hard time trying to understand this permission and adapt it to the morals prevailing at that time. Such a fact is vouched for by the above-mentioned statement of `Umar.

We gather from the Shiite traditions that those who seek the "enjoyment of women" are bound by no numerical limitation. Abu `Ubaid narrated that: He mentioned for him the mut`a [and asked] whether it was one of the four [women]. He answered, "Marry a thousand of them; they are hired."(14) The justification that the Shiites give for the marriage of enjoyment is strange. They say that it was warranted for the single man so that he could keep himself restrained (chaste). Abu al-Fath Ibn Yazid narrated: I once asked Abu al-Hasan concerning mut`a, and he answered, "It is lawfully and absolutely warranted for those who are married, as to those who are not, they should keep themselves restrained by mut`a, but if the latter do get married, they are not in need of it, yet it is still warranted for them if they are away [from home]."(15) The reference here is made to the phrase "keep themselves restrained" occurring in Sura al-Nisa´ 4:6, which is utterly irrelevant to the issue of mut`a even according to the best known and oldest Shiite interpretations.(16) It is strange also to know that not all women are fit for mut`a! There are conditions and a description that women have to meet in order to be suitable. The first of these conditions is that the woman has to be a chaste believer. Abu Ja`far was once asked concerning mut`a, and he answered, "mut`a today is not the same as it was before; they were believers then, but today they are not, so ask them."(17) Abu Sara narrated: I asked Abu `Abdillah about it [meaning mut`a], and he said to me, "It is lawful; so only marry a chaste woman, for God Most High said, '...who guard their private parts' (Sura al-Mu´minun 23:5). So do not place your private part where you do not trust your dirham!(18) Whoever wants to marry a woman according to the marriage of enjoyment has to molest her. If she responds with wantonness, then she is not chaste."(19) Muhammad Ibn Abi al-Fudhail narrated: "I asked Abu al-Hasan concerning the wanton beautiful woman; whether it is permissible for a man to enjoy her for a day or more." He said, "If she was known as a prostitute, then she should not be enjoyed or married."(20)

As regards the stipulations for mut`a marriage, they are summed up as follows: Fixed time and fixed hire. Aban Ibn Taghlib narrated: I said to Abu `Abdillah, "What should I say to the woman when I am left alone with her?" He replied, "You should say, 'I marry you for enjoyment according to the Book of God and the tradition of his Prophet, knowing that you inherit nothing and no one inherits from you, for such and such days. And if you like, for such and such years, for such and such dirhams.' You should fix the price that you agree upon, whether little or much. If she says yes, then she accepts; she is your woman and you are worthy of her." I said, "I am ashamed to mention the condition pertaining to the days." He replied, "It is more damaging for you [if you don't do so]." I asked, "How is that?" He answered, "Unless you stipulate [the days], your marriage would be binding, and you will have to pay her alimony during the days of `idda [40 days after divorce], and she would inherit from you, and you would not be able to divorce her except according to the divorce of the Sunna [or tradition]."(21)

The jurists say that it is unlawful to enjoy a Jewish or a Christian woman. Al-Hasan al-Taflis said, "I asked al-Ridha, 'Can a Jewish or a Christian woman be married for enjoyment?' He answered, 'Enjoying a free believing woman is more favourable to me, and she is more irreproachable than they are.' "(22)

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