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A Short Biography of the “Mothers of the Faithful”

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  • A Short Biography of the “Mothers of the Faithful”

    The wives of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, hold a special place in Islamic piety. The Quran calls them “Mothers of the Faithful” (Quran 33:6). They were his wives in this life and shall be in the life to come. They were young and old, widows and virgins, poor and wealthy, aristocrats and freed slaves. Each one played their specific role in forming the history of Islam.

    Prophet Muhammad married her when he was twenty-five, while she had reached the age of forty. She was a widow, twice married. He was at the peak of his youth. Impressed by Muhammad’s honesty and moral character, she send a relative to propose marriage. They were married for twenty five years until her death. Through every persecution, Khadeejah was his sole companion and helper. Khadeejah, along with Aisha, played a major contribution in the establishment and spread of the Islamic civilization. Khadeejah bore four daughters with the Prophet: Zainab, Umm Kulthoom, Ruqayya, and Fatima. All four grew to maturity and accepted Islam. They all died in the lifetime of their father, except Fatima who died six months after the Prophet. Khadeejah also bore two sons, Qasim and Abdullah, both of whom died at an early age.

    Months after the death of Khadeejah, the Prophet had returned from an unsuccessful mission in Taif, helpless and persecuted. At this time he married Sawdah, another widow, who possessed neither beauty, nor social status, nor wealth. She had been forced to escape to Abyssinia with her husband from the persecution of pagan Meccans to find some security. Her husband died in exile, giving his life for the sake of his faith. He had migrated with his wife from his home for the cause of his religion, and he left her in utter poverty. Driven by a sense of generosity, the Prophet of Mercy married her, raising her to the spiritual level of “Mother of the Faithful.” The Prophet did not marry another woman for the first three years of his Marriage to Sawdah. She died a few years after the death of Prophet Muhammad.

    Aishah was the daughter of one of the closest companions of Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr. An old friend of the Prophet, Abu Bakr was one of the earliest converts to the faith and was considered to be the most sincere, earnest, and devoted in faith. Seeing the loss of the Prophet, one of the woman companions proposed Abu Bakr’s daughter to him and approached Abu Bakr on behalf of the Prophet. But there were two problems. One, Aishah was already betrothed to Jubair bin Mut’im, a pagan Meccan. Jubair, it turned out, had lost interest because of the wide gulf between paganism and Islam. In addition, Aishah had not yet reached puberty, and this also contributed to Jubair’s disinterest in pursuing the betrothal. Thus, she was betrothed to the Prophet while still in Mecca, and three years later, when both were in Medina and she had reached puberty, he consummated his marriage. She was the only virgin he married, though they did not have any children. Aishah was a leading scholar of Islam and played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Islamic civilization. She taught for forty years after the death of the Prophet until her death at the age of sixty-seven.