Portal: Muhammad’s Wives and Consorts
The wives of the prophet are described as "أمهات المؤمنين" or "mothers of the believers." As such the prophetic example is considered instructive for all Muslim households. How the prophet interacted with his wives, and how they obeyed him, is a framework for how Muslim husbands and wives ought to interact, as well as how men should interact with their own female slaves. Aisha, the prophet's favorite wife, has an especially loft position in the sacred history of Islam. She was last person the prophet interacted with before he died, and she also form the starting point for many important sahih narrations about his life in the hadith. As such her life is considered especially instructive for Muslim women and believers in general.
Aisha was the youngest wife of the prophet, and also his favorite. The prophet, according to the tradition, passed away in her lap. After the expansion of Islam, she was key figure in the criticism of the early caliphate and also a key player in the first fitna, which saw her face off against Ali at the battle of the camel, where she was defeated and Ali took the throne of the caliphate for himself. As she was the prophet's favorite, the tradition goes to great lengths to emphasize her virginity, youth, and purity, even to the point of emphasizing that she was 6 years old when she was married to the prophet and 9 when the marriage was consummated.
Aisha was Muhammad's third and favorite wife, who was married to Muhammad at the age of six, and the daughter of Abu Bakr Abdullah b. Uthman, Muhammad's best friend. Aisha's status as the favorite wife of Muhammad gave her a preeminent position both in the early caliphate and in the Islamic tradition itself.
Muhammad's Other Wives and Consorts
Depending on the sources, Muhammad had around 19 wives and concubines, the concubines being slaves of his. Many of the marriages were conducted for political reasons, but the tradition is also quite frank that Muhammad was very fond of women and had a voracious sexual appetite; he is even imputed with the sexual powers of 30 men.
Safiyah was the beautiful wife of the Jewish leader Kinana, whom the prophet killed after conquering his people at Khaybar. Muhammad took her as his wife after killing her husband, though she never converted to Islam.
Khadijah was the prophet's first wife. She was considerably older than him and he benefited from her thriving trade business. She was one of the first converts to Islam.
The prophet married many women, though some of them died while he was alive so he was not married to them all at the same time.
Muhammad married different women at different stages of their lives.
Although the tradtion is quite explicit that Muhammad was fond of women, many of his marriages also had a political dimension to them, solidifying alliances within the early Islamic community.
Mariyah was a beautiful girl sent to Muhammad as a sex slave by the Christian patriarch of Egypt. She bore Muhammad a son, who apparently would have been a prophet had he not died in infancy, but several anomalies in her biography lead modern scholars to question her historical existance.