Moyra Dale explores the significant women in Muhammad’s life, particularly his wives, and details his marriages, including Khadija and other wives such as Aisha and Hafsa. Dale also references specific incidents involving some of his wives and their implications in the Quran.


 Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Moyra Dale’s Lecture: Women Surrounding Muhammad


Today, I want to introduce you to some of the women who are around Muhammad who are important in his life and who are still cited today as examples. We’re going to start by looking at Muhammad’s wives. His first wife was Khadija. At the time when they got married, she was 40, and he was 25. She was a successful trader.


Mohammed worked for her. She was so impressed with him. She asked him to marry her, and he remained faithful to Khadija. She basically funded him the whole of the time that she was alive. She was his first convert to Islam along with Ali, his nephew.


So some people suggest that Islam was born in the arms of a woman. Khadija was the one who comforted Mohammed when he first came back terrified from the visions he was having. After Khadija died, Mohammed later married 10 women, one of whom died quite soon after her marriage to Mohammed, so probably 9 wives. All apart from Aisha had been married before they married Mohammed. So the first wife he took was Sauda, a Muslim widow.


She’s described as dark and slow and fat. Apparently, not that attractive. She surrendered her rights for Mohammed. He used to spend one night with each women woman in turn, and she surrendered her rights when she set forth that Mohammed might divorce her so she could still stay as one of the mothers of the believers as they were known. Aisha is the one who was betrothed at 6, married at 9, and went to where Mohammed was living with Saud along the eastern wall of the mosque in Medina.


She was then widowed at 18 and eventually died at 66. She’s a very influential figure in Sunni Islam and her father, Abu Bakr became the first caliph, the first leader of the Muslim community after Mohammed. 3 months after he married Aisha, he married Hafsa. That was a bit of a stormy relationship. She was divorced again and then remarried to him.


She was the one who kept a copy of the Quran which suggests that she might have been literate and her father, Umar ibn Khutab, was the second leader of the Muslim community, the second caliph. Then there was Zaynab bint Khuzaymah who died early. Salama, the widow of one of Mohammed’s companions known as a very wise woman, advised Mohammed particularly after the truth of Hudayba when his men didn’t want to obey him and rebelled. She led the list of companions who were qualified to give legal verdicts, and she died at 84 years of age, the last of Mohammed’s wives. Zainab Bint Jash was married initially by Mohammed to Zayd, his adopted son and freed slave.


But Zainab was quite a aristocratic woman, didn’t like being married to a freed slave. Married life wasn’t peaceful. And it’s recorded that Mohammed came in one day to visit Zayd and saw her and apparently felt very attracted to her, and Zayd divorced her. Mohammed then received a revelation that adoption did not exist in Islam. He couldn’t adopt, so Zayd was no longer in a son relationship to him and then he was free to marry Zaynab and that’s discussed in chapter 33 verses 37 and 40 of the Koran.


Another wife was Jewariya Bint Al Hariz, married to a chief of a Muslim tribe. Her husband was killed in battle with the Muslims, and she was known for her great beauty. Another very beautiful woman was Safia Bintouye, who was a young Jewish woman. Both her father and then her husband were killed in fights with the Muslim community. So she was Mohammed’s Jewish wife.


Habiba is the one who ranked 3rd after Aisha and Salamah for her knowledge of the Hadith and her eloquence and then the last one was Maimunah Harissa who was the sister of Zainab, the wife who died quite early. She was the last woman Mohammed married. And the Quran reflects quite a number of incidents between Mohammed and his wives. Chapter 33, verse 6, verses 30 8 to 38 maybe talking about a desire of the women to have more finances, more goods, maybe some bickering that was going on between Asia and Zainab, reflected in again the same verses 50 to 55, 59. Chapter 24 talks about the incident with Aisha when she was traveling one day with the Muslim community, and she left at one point to go out and relieve herself in the desert.


And the the caravan moved on without her. She was so light. They didn’t realize she wasn’t in her caravan enclosure, and she was eventually found by a soldier who brought her back to Mohammed. And that led to a big scandal about whether she’d actually been away with this soldier. And Mohammed was on the verge of divorcing her until he finally received a revelation from God that she was innocent.


And anyone who accused anyone wrongly of adultery should receive the punishment of an adulterer. Chapter 66 seems to refer to an incident with Hafsah and Aisha, and some suggest it may refer to Miriam, Mohammed’s beautiful Coptic Christian concubine from Egypt. She was lovely. She was curly haired. The wives were jealous and Mohammed was found one day in bed with Miriam when it was Hafsa’s day and she said, prophet, on my day, my turn and in my bed.


And at that point, Mohammed moved Mariam out of town. Mariam had the only son that Muhammad bore and he died when he was only 18 months. There was another concubine, Rahaina, one of the Bani Quraiza, a Jewish tribe that was slaughtered by the Muslims. She wouldn’t accept Islam so she was sent to the harem as a concubine. Then there are 3 women who refused to be his wives, Asma, Mulaikha and Fatima.


Mohammed’s daughters, 3 of them died during his lifetime, Zena, Rukaia and Qalthoum. Rukaia was married to Usman, and after she died, Usman married Qalthum, and Hayid, Muhammad’s son-in-law, became the 3rd caliph, and Fatima married Ali ibn Talib, Muhammad’s nephew who became the 4th caliph. So all of 4 caliph were either Muhammad’s father or daughters in law. And Aisha is kind of the exemplar, the special woman for the Sunni. Fatima is held up by the shia.


Mohammed had a number of quite feisty female companions too who were written about and I’ll mention just a few of them. Sumayya who is a freed slave, one of the first followers of Muhammad and the first one to be martyred to be killed as a Muslim. Then there was Asma who was a paternal sister of Aisha, and she at some cost to herself took provisions to Mohammed and her father, Abu Bakr, when they were hiding in a cave out of Mecca when the Meccans were wanting to kill them. Safia was Mohammed’s paternal aunt, very active in some of the battles of the Muslim community, and most famous, Nusayba bint Kaab who at the battle of Uhud took water to the fighters, saw the Muslims losing, took a sword and a bow and arrow from the fighters who were running away and fought beside Mohammed protecting him. He said whenever I turn to the left or the right on the day of that battle, I always saw her fighting in my defense.


She received a number of wounds and participated in quite a few other battles. And the last one I’ll mention is Umwaraka who was wealthy, spent her time in prayer, meditation, and was appointed by Muhammad as a woman to lead prayer in her house. So the woman disciples are depicted as actively involved in the prophet’s preaching, in battles, and in debates