Sawda bint Zamʿa

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Sawda bint Zam'a
تخطيط اسم سودة بنت زمعة.png
DiedSeptember or October 674
Medina, Saudi Arabia
Known forWife of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Mother of the Believers
Spouse(s)As-Sakran ibn Amr (died in Mecca)
ChildrenAbdur Rahman ibn Sakran
Parent(s)Zam'a ibn Qays
Al-Shamus bint Qays (from Banu Najjar)

Sawda bint Zamʿa (Arabic: سودة بنت زمعة‎) was a wife of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and therefore the Mother of the Believers.


Her father, Zam'a ibn Qays, was from the Amir ibn Luayy clan of the Quraysh tribe in Mecca. Her mother, Al-Shamus bint Qays, was from the Najjar clan of the Khazraj tribe in Madina.[1]

She married As-Sakran ibn Amr.[1] They had one son, Abdur Rahman ibn Sakran, who was killed in the Battle of Jalula in 637 AD.[2]

Migration to Abyssinia[edit]

Sawda and As-Sakran emigrated to Abyssinia[1] at the order of Muhammad. As-Sakran left Abyssinia by sea with Waqqas.[citation needed] They returned to Mecca, where As-Sakran died.[3]

Marriage to Muhammad[edit]

Sawda bint Zam'a, had been one of the first woman to immigrate to Abyssinia in the way of Allah. Her husband had died. She was a tall and large black-skinned woman, with a jolly, kindly disposition, and just the right person to take care of the Prophet's household and family.[4]

So Muhammad gave permission to Khawla to speak to Sayyiduna Abu Bakr and to Sawda on the subject. Khawla went straight to Sawda and said, "Would you like Allah to give you great blessing, Sawda?" Sawda asked, "And what is that, Khawla?" She said, "The Messenger of Allah has sent me to you with a proposal of marriage!" Sawda tried to contain herself in spite of her utter astonishment and then replied in a trembling voice, "I would like that! Go to my father and tell him that." Khawla went to Zam'a, a gruff old man, and greeted him and then said, "Muhammad son of Abdullah son of Abdul Muttalib, has sent me to ask for Sawda in marriage." The old man shouted, "A noble match. What does she say?" Khawla replied, "She would like that." He told her to call her. When she came, he said, "Sawda, this woman claims that Muhammad son of Abdullah son of Abdul Muttalib has sent me to ask for you in marriage. It is a noble match. Do you want me to marry you to him?" She accepted, feeling it was a great honor.[4]

Muhammad married Sawda in Ramadan in the tenth year after his prophethood (i.e., in April/May 620), few years after the death of Khadija.[5] According to Ibn Sa’d Sawda died in the year 54 after Hijra, If she lived to become an octogenarian she must have married Muhammad at the age of 27. If she reached the age of 90 then she could not have been older than 37 when she married the prophet who was 50 years old at that time.[6]

Sawda went to live in Muhammad's house and immediately took over the care of his daughters and household, while Aisha bint Abu Bakr became betrothed to him and remained in her father's house. There was great surprise in Mecca that Muhammad would choose to marry a widow who was neither young nor beautiful. Muhammad, however, remembered the trials she had undergone when she had immigrated to Abyssinia, leaving her house and property, and crossed the desert and then the sea for an unknown land out of the desire to preserve her deen.[4]

It was after the Hijrah that the first community of Muslims rapidly grew and flowered and bore fruit.[4]

When she was older, Muhammad was worried that Sawda might be upset about having to compete with so many younger wives, and offered to divorce her. She said that she would give her night to Aisha, of whom she was very fond, because she only wanted to be his wife on the Day of Rising.[4]

Later life, widowhood[edit]

After Muhammad's death, Sawda received a gift of money, which she spent on charity.[citation needed] Muawiyah I, the first caliph of the Umayyad dynasty, bought her house in Medina for 180,000 dirhams.[citation needed] She, Aisha, Hafsa, and Safiya always remained very close.[4]

She died in Medina in September or October 674.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Tabari, Tarikh al-Rusul wa’l Muluk. Translated by Landau-Tasseron, E. (1998). Biographies of the Prophet’s Companions and Their Successors vol. 39 p. 169. New York: SUNY Press.
  2. ^ Vacca, V. "Sawda Bint Zamʿa." Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (1913-1936). Brill Online, 2012. Reference. 2 October 2012.
  3. ^ Tabari, Tarikh al-Rusul wa’l Muluk. Translated by Landau-Tasseron, E. (1998). Biographies of the Prophet’s Companions and Their Successors vol. 39 pp. 169-170. New York: SUNY Press.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Ibn Kathir, Wives of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Archived 2 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b Tabari, Tarikh al-Rusul wa’l Muluk. Translated by Landau-Tasseron, E. (1998). Biographies of the Prophet’s Companions and Their Successors vol. 39 p. 170. New York: SUNY Press.
  6. ^ Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat Vol.8 page 56. Persian translation by Dr. Mohammad Mahdavi Damghani. (1982). Tehran Iran Farhang va Andiheh Publications.

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