Khadijah bint KhuwaylidShe was a wealthy merchant from Mecca who employed the 24-year-old Muhammad and then proposed marriage. She was the mother of six of his children and a key character in the earliest development of Islam. She was Muhammad's only wife as long as she lived. She died in April 620.
Sawda bint Zam'aShe was a tanner who had been an early convert to Islam. Muhammad married her at a time when he was unpopular and bankrupt. He considered divorcing her when, as the oldest and plainest of his wives (described as "fat and very slow"), she no longer attracted him, but she persuaded him to keep her in the house in exchange for never sleeping with her again (she gave up her turn to Aisha).
Aisha bint Abi BakrShe was the daughter of Muhammad's best friend and head evangelist Abu Bakr. Muhammad selected the six-year-old Aisha in preference to her teenaged sister, and she remained his favourite wife. She contributed a major body of information to Islamic law and history. The paedophilic aspect of this relationship has institutionalised such marriages within Islam.
Zaynab bint KhuzaymaShe was a middle-class widow known as "Mother of the Poor" because of her commitment to charity work. Married on February 625 and she died in October 625.
Hafsa bint UmarShe was the daughter of Muhammad's wealthy friend Umar. Hafsa was the custodian of the autograph-text of the Qur'an, which was actually somewhat different from the standard Qur'an of today.
Hind (Umm Salama) bint Abi UmayyaAn attractive widow with four young children, Hind had been rejected by her aristocratic family in Mecca because they were so hostile to Islam. Her tact and practical wisdom sometimes mitigated Muhammad's cruelties. She was a notable teacher of Islamic law and a partisan of Ali.
Ghaziya (Umm Sharik) bint Jabir (Contract)She was a poor widow with dependent children. She sent Muhammad a proposal of marriage, and he agreed to the contract. However, when he met her in person, he saw that, although attractive, she was "old", and he divorced her immediately. She never remarried.
Khawla bint Hudhayl (Contract)She was a princess from the powerful Christian Taghlib tribe in northern Arabia. Her uncle arranged the marriage, which was expected to be politically advantageous on both sides. Muhammad signed the contract, but Khawla died on her journey to Medina, before they met in person.
Sharaf bint Khalifa (Contract)She was an aunt of Khawla bint Hudhayl (above). After Khawla's death, the family tried to substitute Sharaf. In one tradition, Sharaf also died before consummation. In another tradition, Muhammad changed his mind and broke off the contract.
Layla bint al-Khutaym (Contract)One of the first converts in Medina, Layla asked Muhammad to marry her so that her clan, the Zafar, would be the most closely allied to the Prophet. He agreed. However, Layla's family warned her that she was too "jealous and whip-tongued" to adapt well to polygamy, which would cause political problems for the whole community. Under this pressure, Layla broke off the engagement.
Zaynab bint JahshAn early convert to Islam, Zaynab was the wife of Muhammad's adopted son Zayd ibn Harithah. She was also the Prophet's biological cousin. When Muhammad became infatuated with Zaynab, Zayd was pressured into a divorce. To justify marrying her, Muhammad announced new revelations that (1) an adopted son did not count as a real son, so Zaynab was not his daughter-in-law, and (2) as a prophet, he was allowed more than the standard four wives.
Rayhana bint Zayd ibn Amr (Sex slave)Her first husband was one of the 600-900 Qurayza men whom Muhammad beheaded in April 627. He enslaved all the women and selected Rayhana for himself because she was the most beautiful. When she refused to marry him, he kept her as a concubine instead. She died shortly before Muhammad in 632.
Al-Jariya (Sex Slave)She was a domestic slave belonging to Zaynab bint Jahsh, who made Muhammad a present of her. She seems to have been an "unofficial" concubine who did not have a regular turn on his roster.
Juwayriyah bint Al-HarithThe daughter of an Arab chief, she was taken prisoner when Muhammad attacked her tribe. Muhammad did not make a habit of marrying his war-captives, but Aisha claimed that Juwayriyah was so beautiful that men always fell in love with her at first sight.
Ramlah (Umm Habiba) bint Abi SufyanShe was a daughter of Abu Sufyan, the Meccan chief who led the resistance against Muhammad, but she had been a teenaged convert to Islam. This marriage offset some of Muhammad's political humiliation in the Treaty of Hudaybiya by demonstrating that he could command the loyalty of his adversary's own daughter. Ramlah was devoted to Muhammad and quick to pick quarrels with people who were not.
Safiyah bint HuyayyShe was the beautiful daughter of a Jewish chief, Huyayy ibn Akhtab. Muhammad married her on the day he defeated the last Jewish tribe in Arabia, only hours after he had supervised the slaying of Kinana her second husband. His earlier victims had included her father, brother, first husband, three uncles and several cousins. This marriage real political significance was that Safiyah's presence in Muhammad's household was an open demonstration that he had defeated the Jews.
Maymunah bint Al-HarithShe was a middle-class widow from Mecca who proposed marriage to Muhammad. A placid woman who kept a very tidy house, Maymunah was completely obsessed with rules and rituals.
Mariyah bint Shamoon al-Quptiya (Sex Slave)She was one of several slaves whom the Governor of Egypt sent as a present to Muhammad. He kept her as a concubine despite the objections of his official wives, who feared her beauty. Mariyah bore Muhammad a son, Ibrahim.
Fatima al-Aliya bint Zabyan al-Dahhak (Divorced)She was the daughter of a minor chief who had converted to Islam. Muhammad divorced her after only a few weeks "because she peeked at men in the mosque courtyard." Fatima had to work for the rest of her life as a dung-collector, and she outlived all Muhammad's widows.
Asma bint Al-Numan (Divorced)She was a princess from Yemen whose family hoped the marriage alliance would ward off a military invasion from Medina. But Muhammad divorced her before consummation after Aisha tricked her into reciting the divorce formula. Asma later married a brother of Umm Salama.
Umm Habib bint Al-Abbas (Contract)She was Muhammad's cousin. He saw her as a baby crawling around and remarked, "If I am alive when she grows up, I will marry her." He changed his mind when he found out that her father had been his foster-brother and died soon afterwards.
Sana al-Nashat bint Rifaa (Asma) ibn As-Salt (Contract)She was the daughter of a Muslim warrior who hoped to advance his career by becoming Muhammad's father-in-law. Muhammad signed the contract, but Sana died before the marriage could be consummated.
Umra bint Rifaa (Contract)She was the sister of Sana (above). After Sana died, their father tried to interest Muhammad in Umra. At first he agreed, but he later changed his mind, ostensibly because Rifaa boasted that Umra "has never known a day's illness in her life."
Bint Jundub ibn Damra of Janda’a (Contract)Nothing is known about this woman except that Muhammad contracted marriage with her but divorced her before consummation.
Mulayka bint Kaab (Divorced)Her family resisted the Muslim invasion of Mecca. Needing to appease the conqueror, they gave him the beautiful Mulayka as a bride. When she realised that Muhammad's army had killed her father, she demanded a divorce, which he granted her. She died a few weeks later.
Jamra bint Al-Harith (Contract)She proposed marriage to Muhammad, and he accepted. Her father informed him that she suffered from a serious disease, whereupon Muhammad broke off the engagement. According to the Muslim chroniclers, her father arrived home only to find that she really had been afflicted with leprosy.
Amra bint Yazid (Divorced)She was a Bedouin of no political importance. Muhammad divorced her before consummation when he saw she had symptoms of leprosy.
Al-Shanba’ bint Amr (Contract)She was from a Bedouin tribe who appeared friendly to Muhammad but who had also been friends of the Qurayza tribe. Al-Shanba’ insulted Muhammad on the first day by implying that he was not a true prophet, and he divorced her immediately.
Qutayla (Habla) bint Qays (Contract)She was a cousin of Asma bint Al-Numan, and the Yemenites sent her to Muhammad as a substitute bride. He signed the marriage contract but he died before Qutayla arrived in Medina. As soon as she heard that he was dead, she apostated from Islam. Soon afterwards she married an Arab chief who was a leader in the Apostasy Wars.
Mary, mother of Jesus (Contract - Afterlife)Muhammad said that Allah had wedded him in Heaven to the Virgin Mary, who was one of the four perfect women. The Qur'an refers several times to Mary, praising her chastity and affirming the virgin birth of Jesus. Muhammad said she lived in a beautiful jewelled palace in Paradise next to Khadijah's.
Queen Asiya of Egypt (Contract - Afterlife)Muhammad said that Allah had wedded him in Heaven to Queen Asiya, who was one of the four perfect women. The Qur'an tells how Asiya rescued the infant Moses from the evil Pharaoh, and how Pharaoh later tortured his wife to death for her monotheism. Muhammad said that Asiya's palace in Heaven was on the other side of Khadijah's.
Kulthum bint Amram (Contract - Afterlife)Muhammad originally believed that Maryam the sister of Moses and Maryam the mother of Jesus were one and the same. When he realised his mistake, he apparently over-corrected by deciding that Moses' sister was not even named Maryam. He renamed her Kulthum ("Chubby Cheeks") and said that Allah had wedded her to him in Heaven. He did not say that she was a perfect woman or that she lived next to Khadijah.
Tukana al-Quraziya (Sex Slave)She was a member of the defeated Qurayza tribe whom Muhammad selected as one of his personal slaves. She appears to have been another "unofficial" concubine without a regular turn on the roster. After Muhammad's death, she married Abbas.