Zaynab bint Madhun

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Zaynab bint Madhun
زينب بنت مدهون
Diedbefore c. 641
Other namesbint Madhun
Known for
RelativesUthman bin Maz'oon (brother)

Zainab bint Madh'uwn was the first wife of Umar.


She was the daughter of Madh'uwn ibn Habeeb of the Jumah clan of the Quraysh in Makkah;[1]:204 hence she was a sister of Uthman ibn Madh'uwn.[1]:307

She was dark-skinned, a trait that she passed on to her son Abdullah.[1]:252

She married Umar before 605[2]:56 and bore him three children: Hafsah, Abdullah and Abdul-Rahman. Later Umar added two more wives to his household: Umm Kulthum bint Jarwal, who bore him two sons,[1]:203–204 and Quraybah bint Abi Umayyah, a cousin from the powerful Makhzum clan, who was childless.[3]:510 Umar said that Quraysh men at that time "had the upper hand over their wives," and "did not pay attention to women".[4]

Zainab's attitude to Islam is unknown and the date of her eventual conversion is not recorded. Her brother Uthman was one of the earliest converts;[1]:308[3]:116 and two other brothers, Abdullah and Qudamah, were also converted "before Allah's Messenger entered the house of al-Arqam."[1]:313 Meanwhile, her husband Umar was hostile to Islam and he actively persecuted Muslim slaves.[3]:144, 154–155 Umar became a Muslim in 616,[1]:205–207[3]:155–159 but Umm Kulthum and Quraybah remained polytheists.[3]:510

Umar emigrated to Madinah in 622. The list of family members who accompanied him does not include any women.[3]:218 One tradition asserts that Zainab had died by then; however, her son Abdullah said that he had emigrated to Madinah with both his parents.[5]

Zainab's daughter Hafsah married Muhammad in 625.[2]:58

Umar noted that the women of Madinah "had the upper hand over their men," and that the women of makkah who emigrated to Madinah started imitating their behaviour.[6] An altercation occurred when Umar had to make a decision, and his wife advised him. Umar shouted at her to mind her own business. The wife answered back, and he expressed displeasure. The wife responded: "How strange you are! You don't want to be argued with, whereas your daughter Hafsah argues with Allah's Messenger so much that he remains angry for a full day".[4][6]

In 628 Umar divorced Umm Kulthum and Quraybah because of a new instruction from Muhammad that a Muslim could not remain married to a polytheist.[3]:510[7] He did not divorce Zainab, so, if she was still alive, she must have become a Muslim. However, Zainab probably died before 641, as four other women are listed as Umar's wives by that date.[1]:204[2]:186–187[8][9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 3. Translated by Bewley, A. (2013). The Companions of Badr. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  2. ^ a b c Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Muhammad ibn Ishaq. Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ a b Bukhari 6:60:435.
  5. ^ Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. Al-Isaba fi tamyiz al-Sahaba, vol. 7 #11250.
  6. ^ a b Bukhari 7:62:119.
  7. ^ Bukhari 3:50:891.
  8. ^ Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Tarikh al-Rusul wa'l-Muluk. Translated by Juynboll, G. H. A. (1989). Volume 13: The Conquest of Iraq, Southwestern Persia, and Egypt, pp. 109-110. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  9. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir vol. 5. Translated by Bewley, A. (2000). The Men of Madina Volume II, p. 1. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.