Prophet’s Marital Life: Unconsummated Marriages, Unmaterialized Proposals

𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞𝐭’𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐋𝐢𝐟𝐞: 𝐔𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐬, 𝐔𝐧𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐳𝐞𝐝 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐚𝐥𝐬

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


The information below follows our earlier post mentioning basic facts about the marriages of the Prophet (ﷺ) in which we put together basic information about the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) with whom his marriages were consummated along with mention of his concubines. In this piece we record the received information regarding the details of (a) solemnized but unconsummated and (b) proposed but not solemnized marriages of the Prophet (ﷺ).

The reports regarding such marriages of the Prophet (ﷺ) are mostly weak that contradict one another on a number of accounts. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463/1071) notes:

وأما اللواتي أختلف فيهن ممن ابتنى بها وفارقها أو عقد عليها، ولم يدخل بها، أو خطبها ولم يتم له العقد منها، فقد اختلف فيهن، وفي أسباب فراقهن اختلافًا كثيرًا يوجب التوقف عن القطع بالصحة في واحدة منهن

As to the women about whom there is difference whether marriages with them were consummated before divorce, or their marriages were solemnized but not consummated or the marriages were proposed but never solemnized and the causes of separation with each of them there are too many differences so much so that it is required to refrain from positively stating anything with regards to any of them.[1]

Similarly, after mentioning reports on such marriages and proposals al-Dhahabi (d. 748/1347) writes:

هذا ونحوه إنما أوردته للتعجب لا للتقرير

I have mentioned these reports only to marvel not to affirm anything.[2]

C: Marriages Solemnized but not Consummated

Here we have a look at the names that appear in connection with such marriages, proposals and various details reported related thereto.

1. [al-] Umaima Asma’ bt. Nu‘man al-Jawniyya:[3] from Banu Kindah. She was divorced before consummation of the marriage as she sought refuge from the Prophet (ﷺ) when he first approached her after Abu Usaid al-Sa‘idi brought her to him.[4] Another report says she was divorced due to leprosy.[5] The marriage took place in Rabi-I 9/ July 630 when the Prophet (ﷺ) was sixty.[6]

2.   A Woman from Banu Kilab: There are variant reports about her name which are (i) Fatima b. al-Dahhak, (ii) ‘Amrah bt. Yazid b. ‘Ubaid b. Rawas b. Kilab b. Rabi‘ah b. ‘Amir, (iii) al-‘Aliya bt. Zubyan b. ‘Amr b. ‘Awf b. Ka‘b b. ‘Abd b. Abi Bakr b. Kilab, and (iv) Saba bt. Sufyan b. ‘Awf b. Ka‘b b. ‘Abd b. Abi Bakr b. Kilab. [7] The marriage ended in divorce before consummation.[8] Al-Waqidi, is reported to have remarked, ‘Some say there was only woman of Kilab and they disagree about her name. Others say they were all different each with a story of her own.[9] 

The marriage was said to have taken place in Dhu al-Qa‘da 8/March 630.[10] As to cause of divorce; one of the narrations with the name Fatima bt. al-Dahhak says she had leprosy[11] and another report says she too sought refuge from the Prophet (ﷺ) when he first visited her.[12] A report identifying the Kilabi woman as ‘Amra bt. Yazid also says she sought refuge[13] whereas another report with that name says she had leprosy.[14] 

Without giving any name ‘Aisha too reported that woman from Banu Kilab made the refuge comment to the Prophet.[15] A report with Ibn Sa‘d has Ibn ‘Umar relates that Abu Usaid al-Sa‘idi was sent to propose ‘Amra bt. Yazid for the Prophet.[16] 

The threefold resemblance or conflation on account of mention of leprosy, refuge, and al-Sa‘idi have led some to suggest that woman Banu Kilab and al-Jawniyya were actually one and the same.[17] Al-Tabari gives her account under the name Ghaziyya bt. Jabir and mentions both Abu Usaid al-Sa‘idi asking her hand in marriage for the Prophet (ﷺ) and her act of seeking refuge.[18]

3.   Sana bt. Asma’ b. al-Salt b. Habib, from Banu Sulaym: It was also said that her name was Saba,[19] or Wasna.[20] Some have identified her as Nashat bt. Rifa‘a.[21] It is, however, not clear on what occasion the marriage was solemnized. In fact in one report Ibn al-Kalbi says the marriage did not even take place and the Prophet (ﷺ) dropped the idea after some conversation with her father. [22] 

As per another report from al-Kalbi she died before having reached the Messenger of Allah.[23] Another account says she died out of happiness on learning of her marriage with the Prophet.[24] Apparently, the marriage took place in 8/629-630.[25]

4.   Qutaila bt. Qais from Banu Kindah. She was a sister of al-Ash‘ath b. Qais. [26] The Prophet (ﷺ), however, died before consummating the marriage since she was in Yemen when the marriage was solemnized. There is no definite information as to when this marriage took place. Al-Ash‘ath who gave her in marriage to the Prophet (ﷺ) visited Madina at the head of delegation of his tribe in Late 10/Feb-Mar 632[27] 

which suggests the marriage happened then.[28] There is, however, another report which says immediately after the episode of Asma’ al-Jawniyya al-Ash‘ath made of proposal of his sister to the Prophet.[29] 

This would imply that the marriage was solemnized in Rabi-I 9/ July 630 and that al-Ash‘ath had been in Madina at that time.[30] What makes the latter view comparatively weak is that after the solemnization of marriage there could not be a delay of over two years especially when al-Ash‘ath himself came to Madina in the meantime. After the death of the Prophet (ﷺ) Qutaila and her brother both turned apostates though they subsequently reverted to Islam and died as believers.

5.   A woman from Kinana: There are some reports that say the Prophet (ﷺ) also married a woman from Kinana. In al-Waqidi’s report from Abu Ma‘shar al-Sindi (d. 170/787) she was named as Mulaika bt. Ka‘b whereas Yazid b. Bakr’s report related by al-Waqidi says she was the daughter of Prophet’s (ﷺ) companion Jundub b. Samra al-Jund‘i. al-Waqidi,

who is the sole authority for each of these reports, however, also related that al-Zuhri and others among his seniors rejected these report holding that the Prophet (ﷺ) did not marry any woman from Kinana.[31] Al-Baladhuri adds that al-Kalbi likewise mentioned that authorities on the subject were unaware of this.[32]

Abu Ma‘shar says this happened in Ramadan 8/January 630[33] after Khalid b. Walid killed her father during the skirmish at the eve of Conquest of Makkah. His report goes on to implicate ‘Aisha that she incited Mulaika to make certain remarks that made the Prophet (ﷺ) divorce her responding to which al-Waqidi notes, “Part of what is fabricated in this report is mentioning that ‘Aisha said to her, ‘Aren’t you ashamed?’ ‘

Aisha was not with the Messenger of Allah on that journey.[34] Contrary to Abu Ma‘shar’s report a narration attributed to ‘Ata b. Yazid al-Jund‘i says the Prophet (ﷺ) actually married her and consummated it before she died with him. It comes through unknown narrators between al-Waqidi and ‘Ata. Moreover, a consummated marriage of the Prophet (ﷺ) not being known to anyone is unbelievable.

6.   Shanba’ bt. ‘Amr al-Ghifaria: Some reports that introduce her only as a woman from Banu Ghifar say that when the Prophet (ﷺ) went to her he found mark of leprosy on her body, asked her to cover herself and divorced her.[35] Al-Tabari who also provides us with her name has that she was menstruating when she entered the house of the Prophet (ﷺ) and before her taking bath for ritual purity Prophet’s (ﷺ) son Ibrahim died.

At this she said, “If he were a prophet, the person who is dearest to him would not have died” so the Prophet (ﷺ) did away with her.[36] 

Whereas, it is agreed that Ibrahim was born in Dhu al-Hijjah 8/March-April 630,[37] there are variant reports about his death. While al-Waqidi says he died on Rabi-I 10, 10[38]e. June 16, 631, a report from Bara’ b. al-‘Azib says he lived for sixteen months[39] i.e. till Rabi-II, 10/July 631, ‘Aisha is reported to have said that he died at the age of eighteen months,[40] i.e. in Jumada-II, 10/September 631 and Ibn Hajar notes that there had been opinions that he died in Ramadan, 10/ December 631 or Dhu al-Hijja 10/March 632 as well.[41]

D: Marriages Proposed but Not Solemnized

1.  Safiyya bt. Bashshama: A report from Ibn ‘Abbas related through al-Kalbi says that she was taken as a prisoner and brought to the Prophet (ﷺ) who gave her the choice, “If you wish it is me, and if you wish, it is your husband.” She chose her husband and the Prophet (ﷺ) let her go. The report says at this, “Banu Tamim cursed her.”[42] 

Since we know that in Muharram 9/ April-May 630 expedition lead by ‘Uyaina b. Hisn al-Fazari took captives of Banu Tamim which included eleven women who were then released when the delegation of the tribe came to receive them it may be assumed that the proposal happened then.[43]

2.  Jamra bt. Al-Harith b. ‘Awf b. Abi Haritha al-Muzni: It is related that the Prophet (ﷺ) made a proposal for her to her father who lied saying she had some disease. On his return, however, he found that she had been afflicted with leprosy.[44] Accordingly to al-Waqidi’s report her father al-Harith b. ‘Awf came to Madina as the head of thirteen member delegation of his tribe after the Prophet (ﷺ) had returned from Tabuk[45] i.e. Ramadan 9/January 631.[46]

3.  Khawla bt. Hukaim: It is related that she was known as Umm Sharik and that she belonged to Banu Sulaim. She was wife of ‘Uthman b. Maz‘un[47] who died soon after Badr.[48] Whereas she offered herself to the Prophet (ﷺ) in marriage the Prophet (ﷺ) did not accept.  There is no definition information as to when it happened but a report from ‘Aisha suggests it happened after the revelation of Qur’an 33:50-52[49] which we know was revealed in the year 9/629.[50]  

There is no definite information about her age. While we do not know whether marriage with ‘Uthman b. Maz‘un was her first but when their eldest son al-Sa’ib[51] was over thirty when he died of injury he sustained at Yamama in the year 12/632.[52] This tells us that by the time of the proposal she must have been close to fifty, if not more.

4.   Umm Sharik: Her name was Ghaziya bt. Jabir. It is related that she offered herself in marriage to the Prophet (ﷺ), he declined and thereafter she did not marry.[53] She has been linked to Quraish and to Daws of Azd and even Ansar. Ibn Hajar has suggested a reconciliation between all these relations that it could be that of Daws and Quraish she originally belonged to one and was married in the other and that she was said to be from Ansar in a loose sense.[54]

There are varying stories about her conversion as about her proposal to the Prophet (ﷺ) and response to it. One report says the Prophet (ﷺ) himself proposed her but she excused and instead asked to be given in marriage to someone else.[55] Another says that she proposed, the Prophet (ﷺ) accepted, the marriage was consummated but eventually the Prophet (ﷺ) divorced her upon finding that she was too old. [56] 

Perhaps it was that upon the Prophet (ﷺ) not accepting her offer that she asked to be married off to another person of his choice. It is, however, established that the Prophet (ﷺ) had no wife who had presented herself for marriage with him without dower.[57]

5.   Umm Hani’ bt. Abi Talib: She was Prophet’s first cousin i.e. from Hashim clan of Quraish. Although she had embraced Islam sometime before the Conquest of Makkah she had not migrated to Madina.[58] At the eve of Conquest of Makkah (Ramadan 8/January 630) she regretted the Prophet’s (ﷺ) proposal due to her little children and later at the eve of the Farewell Hajj (Dhu al-Hijjah 10/March 632)[59] she proposed the Prophet (ﷺ) but by then the Prophet (ﷺ) had been barred from marrying his cousins who had not migrated from Makkah to Madina.[60]

6.  Laila bt. Khutaim: She was from Ansar belonging to the tribe of Aws and married amongst Banu Zafar.[61] She was quite old. [62] Ibn al-Kalbi gave a narration attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas which states she presented herself in marriage to the Prophet (ﷺ) to which the Prophet (ﷺ) accorded. When her tribe learnt of this they reprimanded her saying,

“Evil is what you have done! You are a jealous woman and the Prophet has several wives who are jealous about him and will invoke Allah against you.”[63] She, therefore, requested for being relieved which the Prophet (ﷺ) did. There is a suggestion that this happened very late in the life of the Prophet (ﷺ) when he was allowed to take in more wives.[64]

7.   Duba‘ah bt. ‘Amir: She hailed from Bani ‘Amir b. Sa‘sa‘ah and had been married first to ‘Abdullah b. Jud‘an al-Taymi and then to Hisham b. Mughira al-Makhzumi – the father of Abu Jahl (‘Amr b. Hisham). It is said she was about ten years older than the Prophet (ﷺ).[65] It is related that she was one of the most beautiful of Arab women of the time.

As per al-Kalbi’s report her beauty was mentioned to the Prophet (ﷺ) and he made proposal for her to her son Salama b. Hisham. Salama went to her and mentioned the proposal. She asked her son, ‘What did you say to him?’

He said, ‘I said that I would consult you.’ She replied, ‘Is the Prophet consulted over?’ Meanwhile her exceptionally advanced age was mentioned to the Prophet (ﷺ) so he remained silent upon return of Salama.[66] There is no mention as to when this happened, however, in all probability it happened at the eve of Conquest of Makkah (Ramadan 8/January 630) or the Farewell Hajj (Dhu al-Hijja 10/March 632).[67]

8 – 9. Khawla bt. Hudhail and Sharaf bt. Khalifa: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) is said to have married Khawla bt. al-Hudhayl b. Hubayrat al-Taghlibi, whose mother was Kharnaq Khalifa, the sister of Dihya b. Khalifa [al-Kalbi]. She was carried to the Prophet (ﷺ) from Syria but she died on the way. Thereafter, it is said, the Prophet (ﷺ) married her aunt Kharaf bt, Khalifa the sister of Dihya and she too died on the way to Madina.[68] It is not clear when this happened but apparently this happened towards the end of Prophet’s life.

Let us append to this list also the accounts of stray suggestions about marriages of the Prophet (ﷺ).

10.   Umm Habib bt. Al-‘Abbas: It is alleged that the Prophet (ﷺ) saw his uncle al-‘Abbas’ daughter Umm Habib while she was a toddler and said, “If I lived to see this daughter of al-‘Abbas come to age I would marry her,” but it cannot be accepted as it comes through a very weak narrator, Hussain b. ‘Abdullah b. ‘Ubaid Ullah b. ‘Abbas.[69] The incident as received could only have taken place towards the end of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) life.

11.   Umamah[70] bt. Hamza b. Abi Talib: As the Prophet (ﷺ) was leaving Makkah after performing ‘Umrah in Dhu al-Qa‘da 7/March 629 she followed him and after some argument between ‘Ali b. Talib, Ja‘far b. Abi Talib and Zaid b. al-Haritha ‘Ali said to the Prophet (ﷺ), “Why don’t you marry Hamza’s daughter?” and he replied, “She is daughter of my foster brother.”[71]

12.  Durra bt. Abu Salamah: It has been mentioned that word about suggestion for the Prophet (ﷺ) to marry the daughter of Abu Salama, Durra, was in the air. The Prophet (ﷺ) responded that it was not possible for two reasons; (i) she was his step daughter as her mother Umm Salama had been married to the Prophet (ﷺ), (ii) she was Prophet’s (ﷺ) niece as her father Abu Salama was the Prophet’s (ﷺ) foster brother.[72]

13.  Daughter of Abu Sufyan: Whereas, the Prophet (ﷺ) had certainly married Umm Habiba Ramla bt. Abu Sufyan, suggestion of marriage with another daughter of Abu Sufyan was also presented to him. Naturally, the Prophet (ﷺ) responded that it was like others not possible for him to have two sisters in marriage simultaneously.[73]

E: Maids, not Concubines

There were some women who served the Prophet (ﷺ) and his family. They were, so to say, his maids. But they were not concubines i.e. the Prophet (ﷺ) did not have intimate relations with them. The Prophet (ﷺ) had only two concubines; Maria the Copt and Raihana.

Notes & References:

[1] Al-Namri, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Isti‘ab fi Ma‘rifat al-Sahab, (Beirut: Dar al-Jil, 1992) Vol.1, 46

[2] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar al-A‘lam al-Nubala, edited by Al-Arna’ut, Shu’ayb, et al. (Beirut: Al-Resalah Publishers, 1985) Vol.2, 495

[3] Whereas a report in Sahih Bukhari (No. 5255) gives her name as Umaimah bt. Nu ‘man b. Sharahil, Ibn Ishaq and others positively name her as Asma’. Al-Kalabi gives her complete name as Asma’ bt. Nu‘man b. Sharahil b. al-Aswad b. al-Jawn al-Kindiyya. Some have named her Asma’ bt. Ka‘b which might be due to one of her ancestors by the name of Ka‘b. Mentioning these details Ibn Hajar reconciles the reports by suggesting that her name was Asma’ but she had the surname Umaimah. See, al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, 1367 AH) Vol.9, 358; this explains our rendering of her name above as “[al-]Umaimah Asma’ …”

[4] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 5255, 5637

[5] Ibn Hisham, Sirah al-Nawabiyya, Edited Mustafa Saqa, (Cairo: Mustafa Babi, 1955) Vol.2, 647

[6] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-‘Ilmiyya) Vol.8, 115

[7] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 112

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, (Beirut: DKI, 1990) No. 6812

[10] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 112-113

[11] Ibid., Vol.8, 112

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibn Hisham, Sirah al-Nabawiyya, Vol.2, 647

[14] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 113

[15]  al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, No. 6813

[16] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 113

[17] Hawwa, Sa‘id, al-Asas fi al-Sunna wa Fiqhiha, (Cairo: Dar al-Salam, 1995) Vol.3, 1356

[18] al-Tabari, Ibn Jarir, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Maluk ((Beirut: Dar al-Turath, 1387 AH)) Vol.3, 167; translated in Poonawala, Ismail K., The History of al-Tabari Volume IX- The Last Years of the Prophet, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990) 136

[19] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 118

[20] al-Zurqani, Abu Muhammad, Sharh ‘ala Mawahib al-Laduniya, (Beirut: DKI, 1996) Vol.4, 449

[21] al-Tabari, Ibn Jarir, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Maluk)) Vol.3, 166; translated in Poonawala, Ismail K., The History of al-Tabari Volume IX- The Last Years of the Prophet, 135-136

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid. This was also reported by another authority, Abu ‘Ubaida. See, al-Baladhuri, Ahmad b. Yahya, Ansab al-Ashraf, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1996) Vol.1, 463

[24] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, (Beirut: DKI, 1415 AH) Vol.8, 191

[25] Lecker, Michael, The Banu Sulaym: A Contribution to the Study of Early Islam, (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University, 1989) 86. Lecker’s suggestion is based on al-Kalbi’s long report giving the account of Prophet’s (ﷺ) marriages which mentions this marriage between that of Maimuna (Dhu al-Hijja 7/March 629) and Jawniyya (Rabi-I, 9/July 630).

[26] The fact of the marriage is reported by Ibn ‘Abbas, see al-Asbahani, Abu Nu‘aim, Ma‘rifah al-Sahaba, (Riyadh: Dar al-Watan, 1998) Vol.6, 3245 and al-Haithami, Nur al-Din, Kashaf al-Astar ‘an Zawa’id Musnad al-Bazzar, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 1979) Hadith 2444; al-Maqdisi, Dia Uddin, al-Ahadith al-Mukhtara, Vol.11, 380, Hadith 394-395 Whereas Ibn ‘Abbas’s report is sahih that of ‘Urwah saying that the Prophet (ﷺ) did not marry her is very weak. Moreover, ‘Urwah’s report might have been about consummation only. See, al-Zurqani, Sharh ‘ala Mawahib al-Laduniya, Vol.4, 448

[27] al-Tabari, Ibn Jarir, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Maluk, Vol.3, 138-139; translated in Poonawala, Ismail K., The History of al-Tabari Volume IX- The Last Years of the Prophet, 97

[28] Al-Jazri, Usud Al-Ghāba, Vol.6, 240; Lecker, Michael, Jews and Arabs in Pre- and Early Islamic Arabia, (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 1998) 350

[29] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 116; Ibn Habib, Muhammad, al-Muhabbar, (Beirut: Dar al-Afaq al-Jadida, n.d.) 94-95

[30] Lecker, Michael, Jews and Arabs in Pre- and Early Islamic Arabia, 352

[31] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 117-118

[32] al-Baladhuri, Ansab al-Ashraf, Vol.1, 459

[33] Ibid., Vol.1, 458

[34] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 117; in the conquest campaign to Makkah the Prophet (ﷺ) was accompanied by two of his wives, Umm Salama and Maimuna. See, al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, (Beirut: Dar al-A‘lami, 1989) Vol.2, 829, 868 (Faizer, Rizwi, et alThe Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, (New York: Routledge, 2011) 408, 427)

[35] Ibn Ishaq, al-Sirah, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1978) 268; Ibn Abi Shaiba, al-Musannaf, Edited by Muhammad ‘Awwama (Beirut: Dar Qurtuba, 2006) Vol.9, 112-113 Hadith 16559; al-Tahawi, Abu Ja‘far, Sharh Mushkil al-Athar, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 1994) Vol.2, 104-108; all the reports to this effect are weak.

[36] al-Tabari, Ibn Jarir, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Maluk Vol.3, 166-167; translated in Poonawala, Ismail K., The History of al-Tabari Volume IX- The Last Years of the Prophet, 136

[37] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.1, 108; Vol.8, 171

[38] Ibid., Vol.1, 115

[39] Al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, (Dabhel: Majlis al-‘Ilmi, 1983) Hadith 14103; Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Edited by Shu‘aib al-Arna’ut, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 2001) Hadith 18497, 18550, 18624, 18705; Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.1, 112

[40] al-Sajistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 3187

[41] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, Vol.1, 321

[42] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 122

[43] Ibid.,, Vol.2, 121-122; see also, Al-Maqrizi, Ahmad bin ‘Ali, Imta’ al-Asma’, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiya, 1999) Vol.2, 42

[44] al-Baladhuri, Ansab al-Ashraf, Vol.1, 462; al-Tabari, Ibn Jarir, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Maluk, Vol.3, 169 translated in Poonawala, Ismail K., The History of al-Tabari Volume IX- The Last Years of the Prophet, 140-141

[45] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, Vol.1, 682-683

[46] al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, Vol.3, 1056

[47] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, Vol.8, 116-117

[48] Ibid., Vol.4, 382

[49] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 5113; Ibn Hajar says there is an indication that she was the first of women who presented themselves for marriage to the Prophet (ﷺ) without seeking dower. See, Fath al-Bari, Vol.9, 164

[50] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 115; on dating of the Verse of Choice (ayat al-takhyir) see; al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol.7, 438;Vol.9, 286

[51] As ‘Uthman had the kunya Abu al-Sa’ib it is safe to suggest that al-Sa’ib was his first child and it is known that al-Sa’ib’s mother was Khawla. See, Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.3, 300-301

[52] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.3, 307

[53] Ibid., Vol.8, 122

[54] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, Vol.8,  420

[55] Ibn Ishaq, al-Sirah, 284; al-Baihaqi, Abu Bakr, Dala’il al-Nubuwwa, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiya, 1988) Vol.6, 123-124

[56] Al-Asbahani, Abu Nu‘aim, Ma‘rifah al-Sahaba, Vol.6, 3518; Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 123; Ibn Hajar concludes that she was among the women who had presented their-selves to the Prophet (ﷺ) without seeking dower on the authority of a report of ‘Urwah b. Zubair that Umm Sharik said she was among such women; (al-Isaba, Vol.8,  419) however, comparing it with a report of ‘Urwah in Sahih al-Bukhari (Hadith 5113) it turns out that this Umm Sharik was Khawla b. al-Hukaim who was also known as Umm Sharik as mentioned by Ibn Hajar as well (al-Isaba, Vol.8,  116)

[57] al-Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol.8, 526

[58] This is based on the report that she was keeping a supererogatory fast on the day of Conquest of Makkah. See al-Sajistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Hadith 2456

[59] It follows from the fact that she had not migrated and is not known to have lived in Madina even after the conquest. At first she turned down the Prophet’s (ﷺ) proposal and after some time her proposal was regretted by the Prophet (ﷺ) after specific rules limited his options for marriage. Accordingly, the latter of the proposals must have happened when the Prophet (ﷺ) visited Makkah at the eve of Farewell Hajj.

[60] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 121; al-Tirmidhi has it in a bit shorter form. See, Al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami’ al-Kabir – Sunan al-Tirmidhi, (Beirut: Al-Resalah Publishers, 2009) Hadith 3214; al-Tirmidhi graded it as hasan. Al-Hakim graded it as sahih (al-Mustadrak, Hadith 3574) to which al-Dhahabi concurred. For a fuller discussion on the hadith see our article, “Marriage Related Privileges of the Prophet: A Study in Chronology

[61] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, Vol.8, 303

[62] Although nothing is reported of her age, a report with Ibn Sa‘d suggests she was advanced in age for she is reported to have been accompanied by her two daughters and two grand-daughters when the Prophet (ﷺ) first arrived at Madina. See, Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 255

[63] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 118 as translated in Bewley, Aisha, Women of Madina, (London: Taha Publishers, 1995) 108; also al-Baladhuri, Ansab al-Ashraf, Vol.1, 459; al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Maluk, Vol.3, 168

It is instructive to point out an atrocious rendering of this report by Ismail K. Poonawala. Both Ibn Sa‘d and al-Tabari’s report have the sentence “أنت امرأة غيرى والنبي صاحب نساء تغارين عليه” which has been correctly translated as “You are a jealous woman and the Prophet has several wives who are jealous about him” by Aisha Bewley as quoted above. She thus translated the phrase “والنبي صاحب نساء” as “the Prophet has several wives” which makes perfect sense with the beginning and end of the sentence.  Poonawala, however, for no fathomable reason translated the sentence as, “You are self-respecting women, but the Prophet is a womanizer.” See, Poonawala, Ismail K., The History of al-Tabari Volume IX- The Last Years of the Prophet, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990) 139.

There was absolutely no justification to render the phrase sahib al-nisa’ as “womanizer” especially when Poonawala had been aware of a version of the report with al-Baladhuri he quoted in the footnote which does not involve this expression and in his own translation goes as; “The Messenger of God has many wives. We fear that you will be jealous and he might invoke [God] against you and you will be ruined.” (note no. 926). It may further be noted that Poonawala failed with translation of al-Baladhuri’s report as well. It very much like Ibn Sa‘d’s report refers to fear of other wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) praying against Laila were she to move in with the Prophet (ﷺ) rather than fear of Prophet (ﷺ) himself praying against her.

[64] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 120“وقد أحل الله لرسوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أن ينكح ما شاء” (Allah has allowed His Messenger to marry whomever he wishes). For details on this point see our article, “Marriage Related Privileges of the Prophet: A Study in Chronology

[65] Al-Zarkali, Khair al-Din, Al-A‘lam, (Beirut: Dar al-‘Ilm li al-Malayin, 2002) Vol.3, 213

[66] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 121-122

[67] Her son Salama b. Hisham – an early convert to Islam – managed to escape from Makkah only after the Truce of Hudaibiya and joined the Prophet (ﷺ) along with al-Walid b. al-Walid and ‘Ayyash b. Abi Rabi‘ah around Dhu al-Qa‘da 7/March 629. See, Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.4, 99; al-Tabarani, Abu al-Qasim, al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, (Cairo: Maktaba Ibn Taimiyya, 1994) Vol.22, 152 No. 410; al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, Vol.2, 747; al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isabha fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, Vol.6, 485. She is reported to have composed verses regarding the escape of her son which tells us that she remained in Makkah (See, Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.4, 97) The only plausible timing of her mention to the Prophet (ﷺ), therefore, could be the eve of Conquest of Makkah or Farewell Hajj.

There is, however, another version to the story of the proposal related on the authority of Abu Bakr al-Hudhali that she initially declined it but then agreed when her son persuaded her. Moreover, it says Salama returned to Makkah to talk to her about the matter which takes us back to the timeline possibilities mentioned above. In this version too the Prophet (ﷺ) made the final decline. See, al-Marzubani, Muhammad b. ‘Imran, Ash‘ar al-Nisa’, (Beirut: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutab, 1995) 70-71.

[68] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat a-Kabir, Vol.8, 126-127; Al-Damishqi, Ibn ‘Asakir, Tarikh al-Damishq, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1995) Vol.3, 233; al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isabha fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, Vol.8, 121

Whereas the reports about the two come with words suggesting the marriages were solemnized Ibn Sa‘d, our earliest source on this, puts them under the heading of those with whom the proposals were never materialised.

[69] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Edited by Shu‘aib al-Arna’ut, Hadith 26870 (da‘if – weak); al-Mosali, Abu Ya‘la, al-Musnad, Edited by Hussain Salim Asad (Damascus: Dar al-Ma’mun li al-Turath, 1984) Hadith 7075 (da‘if jiddan – very weak). See also, al-Haithami, Nur al-Din, Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, (Cairo: Maktaba al-Qudsi, 1994) Hadith 7456; other sources recording the report come through the same link see, Ibn Ishaq, al-Sirah, 268; al-Baladhuri, Ansab al-Ashraf, Vol.1, 463; al-Tabarani, al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, Vol.25, 92 No. 238; for Hussain b. ‘Abdullah b. ‘Ubaid Ullah see, al-Mizzi, Yusuf b. ‘Abdul Rahman, Tahdhib al-Kamal fi Asma’ al-Rijal, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 1980) Vol.6, 383-386. Muhib al-Tabari (d. 694/1295) attributes the same report to al-Daraqutni as well, however, it is not traceable in any of his known published works. See, al-Tabari, Muhib al-Din, Zakha’ir al-‘Uqba fi Manaqib Dhawi al-Qurba, (Jeddah: Maktaba al-Sahaba, 1995) 400.

Let us also point out here a disgraceful gaffe on the part of Alfred Guillaume who misread al-Suhaili’s (d. 581/1185) account of Ibn Ishaq’s narration of Prophet’s (ﷺ) alleged statement about Umm Habib and put it as if it was about Umm al-Fadl who was actually the wife of al-‘Abbas and mother of Umm Habib. He writes:

(Suhayli, ii.79: In the riwaya of Yunus I.I. recorded that the apostle saw her (Ummu’l-Fadl) when she was baby crawling before him and said, ‘If she grew up and I am still alive I will marry her.’ But he died before she grew up and Sufyan b. al-Aswad b. ‘Abdu’l-Asad al-Makhzumi married and she bore him Rizq and Lubaba …

See, Guillaume, Alfred, The Life of Muhammad – Translation of [Ibn] Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) 311

That it was a result of misreading by Guillaume – who did not give bibliography either- is confirmed by recourse to the first edition of Rawd al-Unuf of al-Suhaili to which his citation matches. See, al-Suhaili, Abu al-Qasim, Rawd al-Unuf, (Cairo: Matb’a Al-Jamalia, 1914) Vol.2, 79.

Some early sources even say that al-‘Abbas was foster brother of the Prophet (ﷺ). See al-Baladhuri, Ansab al-Ashraf, Vol.1, 462; al-Tabari, Ibn Jarir, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Maluk, Vol.3, 169; translated in Poonawala, Ismail K., The History of al-Tabari Volume IX- The Last Years of the Prophet, 140; al-Asbahani, Abu Nu‘aim, Ma‘rifah al-Sahaba, Vol.6, 3242. It is, however, very unlikely as no source traces such information to the family of al-‘Abbas who would not have omitted the mention of such a significant relation between the two. Apparently, the case of Hamza b. ‘Abd al-Muttalib was confused with that of al-‘Abbas. See below about the suggestion of marriage with the daughter of Hamza.

[70] There are different opinions regarding the name of the daughter of Hamza meant here however Umamah is the most well-known. See, al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol.1, 307

[71] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 4251

[72] Ibid., Hadith 5101, 5107

[73] Ibid.