Why didn’t Muhammad marry any older widow from his own age group to provide her support?

Islamic apologists are faced with the question: Why didn't Muhammad marry an older widow from his own age group to provide her support?

It is noteworthy that all of Muhammad's newly-wed wives were significantly younger than him, with age differences of double, triple, or even four times their age.

Sawdah was the only wife of Muhammad who was relatively older (though still younger than Muhammad himself). However, she was considered older compared to the other newly-wed wives.

Hence, in the presence of his young and beautiful wives, Muhammad desired to distance himself from Sawdah. He had married Sawdah in Mecca during a time when he was weak, impoverished, and facing opposition from the entire Meccan community. Muhammad sought a woman who could take care of his household and his daughters during those challenging times, and Sawdah fulfilled that role admirably.

To bring about the separation from Sawdah, Muhammad once again employed a revelation, claiming that Allah sent down the following verse.

(Quran 33:51) You, [O Muhammad], may put aside whom you will of them or take to yourself whom you will.

Consequently, following the revelation of this verse, Muhammad made the decision to divorce the elderly Sawdah. This action is particularly striking considering Sawdah's long-standing service to Muhammad, starting from their time in Mecca when he was impoverished and vulnerable. In contrast, his other wives were relatively new to the marriage, having spent only a few years with Muhammad in Medina.

What Muhammad did with Sawdah, is not known as supporting the alone woman, but it is known as taking away the support from a woman and making her lonely. 

Muslim Excuse: Prophet married all these ladies due to Political Reasons

The claim that Prophet Muhammad married all those women solely for political reasons is a false assertion propagated by Islamic apologists.

In reality, Prophet Muhammad never justified his marriages by citing political motivations. He married women based on his personal preferences and inclinations, without considering any political necessity.

For instance, in terms of political alliances, the most significant one should have been between Muhammad and the Ansar. However, Muhammad held a strong personal aversion towards marrying women from the Ansar community. He held the belief that Ansar women had certain eye-related issues (link), the had jealousy (link), and they had upper hand over their husbands (link). 

Therefore, it is clear that Prophet Muhammad's marriages were not driven by political considerations, as he chose to marry women he liked and refrained from marrying those he had personal reservations about, regardless of any political advantages that could have potentially been gained.

Sahih Muslim, 1424a:

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported: I was in the company of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) when there came a man and informed him that he had contracted to marry a woman of the Ansar. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: Did you cast a glance at her? He said: No. He said: Go and cast a glance at her, for there is something in the eyes of the Ansar.

Hence, Muhammad refrained from marrying any Ansar women, despite the considerable political necessity involved. This is particularly noteworthy as he formed alliances with Abu Bakr and Umar through his marriages to 'Aisha and Hafsa. When questioned about his decision to not marry any Ansar women, he offered the following explanation:

Sunan Nasai, 3233:

Narrated Anas: It was narrated from Anas that they said: "O Messenger of Allah, why don't you marry a woman from the Ansar?" He said: "They are very jealous."
Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)

Both of these statements made by Muhammad regarding Ansar women can be considered discriminatory.

The Ansar provided significant support to him, and this is how he repaid their assistance.

The brave Ansar women actively aided Muhammad even in times of war and remained loyal allies. They did not abandon their commitment to supporting him. (Sahih Muslim, 1810)

And then Muhammad called women ungrateful.

Additionally, after gaining power in Medina, Muhammad married several women. Let us examine whether these marriages were truly motivated by political reasons or if they were driven by Muhammad's personal attraction to these beautiful ladies.

Zaynab bint Jahsh

The marriage between Muhammad and Zaynab bint Jahsh cannot be attributed to political motivations in any way. It occurred because Muhammad developed a personal desire for Zaynab after seeing her in revealing attire within her own home.

Juwayriya bint al-Harith

Juwayriya was known for her exceptional beauty, to the extent that 'Aisha harbored concerns from the outset that Muhammad might develop a desire for her. Unfortunately, her fears eventually proved to be justified.

Sunan Abi Dawud:

Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith ibn al-Mustaliq, fell to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, or to her cousin. She entered into an agreement to purchase her freedom. She was a very beautiful woman, most attractive to the eye.
Aisha said: She then came to the Messenger of Allah asking him for the purchase of her freedom. When she was standing at the door, I looked at her with disapproval. I realised that the Messenger of Allah would look at her in the same way that I had looked.
She said: Messenger of Allah, I am Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith, and something has happened to me, which is not hidden from you. I have fallen to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, and I have entered into an agreement to purchase of my freedom. I have come to you to seek assistance for the purchase of my freedom.
The Messenger of Allah said: Are you inclined to that which is better? She asked: What is that, Messenger of Allah? He replied: I shall pay the price of your freedom on your behalf, and I shall marry you.

Juwayriya was married to Muhammad at the age of 20  (link). 

Some Islamic apologists argue that Muhammad's marriage to Juwayriya was not solely based on her beauty, citing the subsequent freeing of 100 women from her tribe as a benevolent act by Muslims. However, this argument does not hold up under scrutiny.

Firstly, there is no evidence to suggest that Muhammad had any political intentions when he expressed his desire to marry Juwayriya. It is important to note that the men of Juwayriya's tribe had been slain by Muhammad's forces, while the women had already been taken as slaves and subjected to rape by Muslim jihadists. Juwayriya herself was a slave owned by another companion. When Juwayriya approached Muhammad, he was captivated by her beauty and it was primarily for this reason that he desired to marry her. The slave women from Juwayriya's tribe (known as Banu al-Mustalaq) no longer held any political power or influence.

Secondly, it is important to consider the authenticity and reliability of the tradition in question. Even by Muslim standards, this particular tradition has a weakness and is narrated by Ibn Ishaq with the use of "An عن" in Sunan Abu Dawud (source).

The largest Fatwa website IslamQ&A (link) writes about Ibn Ishaaq: 

... he (i.e. Ibn Ishaaq) used to do Tadlees, (deliberately using ambiguous words in order to mislead) in reports from da‘eef (weak) and majhool (unknown) narrators, and from narrators who were worse than them ... Hadith may be accepted from one who engaged in tadlees a great deal if he clearly states that he heard the hadith directly; rather what is to be rejected is the reports he narrated by saying ‘an (from, i.e., stating that a report was narrated from So and so without stating that he heard it, and so on). 

Therefore, it is evident that this particular tradition lacks reliability and should not be given significant weight or considered as a strong basis for any argument.

Thirdly, it is worth noting that there are alternative traditions within the Muslim sources that contradict the tradition of Ibn Ishaq. According to one such tradition, it was not Muhammad but rather the Jewish relatives of the women from Banu al-Mustalaq who paid the ransom money to secure the freedom of those 100 women. Another tradition suggests that it was not Muhammad who paid for Juwayriya's freedom, but rather her own father who provided the ransom money (source).

These conflicting traditions indicate a lack of consensus or clarity regarding the circumstances surrounding the emancipation of the captured women. They raise questions about the accuracy and reliability of the specific tradition of Ibn Ishaq. It becomes apparent that different accounts exist within Muslim sources, leading to divergent narratives regarding the involvement and actions of Muhammad in relation to the release of these women.

Fabricating traditions to defend and promote their religion may not have been difficult for some Muslims, which can explain the contradictions found among them.

Fourthly, it is notable that Muhammad also married Safiyyah (who was also the daughter of the leader of her tribe), but there are no reports of any Muslims freeing slaves from her tribe. This further undermines the credibility of the tradition regarding Juwayriya. If the tradition about Juwayriya is true and women from her tribe were freed due to her marriage to Muhammad, then it would be logical to expect a similar outcome for the tribe of Safiyyah too.

Fifthly, if Juwayriya held significant political importance, it raises questions as to why she was initially owned by other Muslims. She remained as a slave woman for a period of time and later entered into a contract of Mukatabah, where her owner agreed to set her free upon earning a specified amount of money. If Juwayriya truly held political significance, it would have been expected for Muhammad to select her as a wife right from the beginning, openly acknowledging her as the daughter of a Jewish leader.


Muhammad's marriage to Safiyyah was primarily driven by her beauty, as her tribe had already been defeated and her father, brother, and husband had all been killed, leaving no one to protect her.

Initially, Muhammad's interest in Safiyyah was not influenced by her being the daughter of a Jewish leader, similar to his approach with Juwayriyya. Consequently, Safiyyah, like other women, was distributed among the Muslims.

However, according to Muslim traditions, it was only after someone mentioned Safiyyah's beauty that Muhammad developed an interest in her.

Sahih Muslim:
Allah, the Majestic and the Glorious, defeated them (the inhabitants of Khaibar), and there fell to the lot of Dihya a beautiful girl (i.e. Safiyyah), and (when the beauty of Safiyyah was mentioned to Muhammad, then) Allah's Messenger got her in exchange of seven heads (i.e. seven other slave women). 

Sahih Bukhari:
The Prophet came to Khaibar and when Allah made him victorious and he conquered the town by breaking the enemy's defence, the beauty of Safiya bint Huyai bin Akhtab was mentioned to him and her husband had been killed while she was a bride. Allah's Messenger selected her for himself

Safiyyah was only 16 years old when Muhammad married her (link). 

After the defeat of Safiyyah's tribe, all the men had either been killed or enslaved, rendering Safiyyah politically insignificant.

Maymunah bint al-Harith

There was no political necessity to marry Maymunah, as she held no political significance. Maymunah, a middle-class widow from Mecca, took the initiative to propose marriage to Muhammad by presenting herself as a gift. Their marriage took place when Maymunah was 35 years old, while Muhammad was 58 years old.

Ramlah (Umm Habiba) bint Abi Sufyan

Contrary to the claim made by Muslims that Umm Habiba, daughter of Abu Sufyan, was married to the prophet for political reasons, it is once again incorrect. Muhammad's marriage to Umm Habiba was primarily driven by her beauty, as supported by the following tradition:

Sahih Muslim:
Ibn Abbas reported that the Muslims neither looked to Abu Sufyan (with respect) nor did they sit in his company. he (Abu Sufyan) said to Allah's Apostle:
Allah's Apostle, confer upon me three things. He replied in the affirmative. He (further) said: I have with me the most handsome and the best (woman) Umm Habiba, daughter of Abu Sufyan; marry her, whereupon he said: Yes. And he again said: Accept Mu'awiya to serve as your scribe. He said: Yes. He again said: Make me the commander (of the Muslim army) so that I should fight against the unbelievers as I fought against the Muslims. He said: Yes. Abu Zumnail said: If he had not asked for these three things from Allah's Apostle, he would have never conferred them upon him, for it was (his habit) to accede to everybody's (earnest) request.


  • It was not Muhammad who initiated the marriage proposal, but rather Abu Sufyan approached him.
  • By this time, Muhammad had already conquered Mecca and held absolute power, while Abu Sufyan sought political support.
  • The words of Abu Zumnail further clarify that Muhammad had no intention of pursuing a marriage for political reasons. It was only after Abu Sufyan's request and upon learning about Umm Habiba's beauty that Muhammad agreed to the marriage.

Therefore, Muhammad's marriage to Umm Habiba was primarily driven by her beauty, and the political aspect was not as significant.


It is important to note that Muslim historian al-Waqidi recorded a fabricated hadith contradicting the aforementioned reliable hadith from Sahih Muslim. This fabricated hadith suggests that Umm Habiba married Muhammad in the 6th year of Hijri and that Najashi, the Christian King of Habsha, officiated their marriage. However, the tradition in Sahih Muslim states that Muhammad married Umm Habiba after the victory of Mecca in the 8th year of Hijri when Abu Sufyan requested the marriage due to his daughter's beauty.

The purpose of fabricating the Najashi-related hadith was to support the claim that this marriage occurred solely for political reasons, aiming to foster a friendly relationship between Abu Sufyan and the Muslims through his daughter's marriage to Muhammad.

Due to the pervasive influence of Muslim propaganda, a significant majority is unaware of the authentic tradition found in Sahih Muslim and instead believes in the fabricated tradition by al-Waqidi.

First 6 wives of Muhammad, their ages, and their political influence: 

Before becoming stronger and richer in Medina (after the battle of Trench and looting Banu Qurayzah), Muhammad married the following 6 women. 

(1) Khadijah:

The only marriage in Muhammad's life that had a political influence was his marriage to Khadijah. Initially, Muhammad married her primarily for her wealth, but later it also served him politically after he claimed prophethood. Muhammad was in such a state of poverty that no one wanted to give their daughter's hand in marriage to him. He desired to marry Umm Hani, the daughter of his uncle Abu Talib, but Abu Talib refused and married Umm Hani to someone else. At the age of 25, Muhammad then married Khadijah, who was much older at 40 years old. However, Khadijah was a wealthy woman who provided financial support to Muhammad, and he became fully dependent on her. As a result, while Khadijah was alive, Muhammad was unable to take another wife or have any slave woman for intimate relations. When Khadijah passed away, Muhammad was already 50 years old.

(2) Sawdah:

Sawdah was 37 years old (link) when she married Muhammad, who was over 50 years old at the time. There were no political motives behind this marriage. Muhammad sought a wife who could help him in managing the household and raising his daughters.

(3) 'Aisha:

Once again, there were no political reasons for Muhammad's marriage to 'Aisha. She was only 6 years old at the time, and the marriage occurred solely because Muhammad desired her. There was a huge age difference between Muhammad and ‘Aisha (Muhammad was of her grandfather’s age). In order to convince and get the attention of ‘Aisha, he told her that he married her only after the revelation from Allah in a form of a dream.

Sahih Bukhari:

Narrated `Aisha: Allah's Messenger said to me, "You were shown to me twice (in my dream) before I married you. I saw an angel carrying you in a silken piece of cloth, and I said to him, 'Uncover (her),' and behold, it was you. I said (to myself), 'If this is from Allah, then it must happen.' Then you were shown to me, the angel carrying you in a silken piece of cloth, and I said (to him), 'Uncover (her) and behold, it was you. I said (to myself), 'If this is from Allah, then it must happen.' "

(4) Hafsa bint Umar:

Hafsa was 19 years old when she married Muhammad (link), who was 53 years old. Her previous husband had died in the Battle of Uhud during the 3rd year of Hijri. Some Islamic apologists argue that the prophet married her to provide support as a widow. However, it raises the question as to why Muhammad did not marry any other older widows within his age group if his intention was solely to support them through marriage.

(5) Zaynab bint Khuzayma:

Zaynab was another wife of Muhammad who held no political influence. She was a middle-class widow who married Muhammad at the age of 28, while he was 53 years old at the time. Zaynab passed away shortly after their marriage.

(6) Hind (Umm Salama):

Hind's husband also died in the Battle of Uhud. She was 28 years old when Muhammad married her, while he was 55 years old (link). Like the previous wives mentioned, Hind did not possess any political influence.

Therefore, the question remains as to why Muhammad did not marry any widows within his own age group if his true intention was to support widows. In fact, he intended to divorce the only older lady among his wives, Sawdah, without providing any reason, despite her continuous support to him during the most challenging times.


Among these six wives, both Khadijah and Zaynab bint Khuzayma passed away during Muhammad's lifetime. As a result, Muhammad was left with only four wives. It was during this period that Muhammad claimed the revelation of verse 4:3, which limited the maximum number of wives to four.

You could read more at WikiIslam.Net

Why didn’t Muhammad marry the virgin girls?

An argument presented by Islamic apologists is that if Muhammad married multiple women for their beauty, he should have also married more virgin girls. However, the historical context reveals a different picture:

  • Even during that time, women generally did not approve of their husbands having multiple wives. When Muhammad married the wealthy Khadijah, he became financially dependent on her. Even then, Khadijah, who was 15 years older than Muhammad, did not allow him to marry any other older widows or take slave girls for pleasure. Muhammad did not dare to oppose her in matters of marrying other women.
  • Similarly, when Muhammad sought the hand of the virgin 'Aisha, her father Abu Bakr was surprised by the proposal. Abu Bakr asked him in surprise how could he marry her while he was her uncle (as recorded in Sahih Bukhari). Although Abu Bakr eventually allowed the marriage, he did not send 'Aisha to Muhammad's house for consummation. Muhammad had to wait for three years before this took place. Clearly, marrying a virgin girl was not an easy task for Muhammad.
  • By the time Muhammad gained power in Medina and started taking multiple wives, he was already well past the prime age of marriage and was an old man at 58 years old.
  • He had already married Hafsa and Umm Salama before the revelation of verse 4:3, which stipulated the maximum number of wives to be four.
  • When Muhammad attempted to marry Zaynab bint Jahsh with the help of a revelation, thus surpassing the limit of four wives, 'Aisha reacted unfavourably. 'Aisha did not approve of Muhammad taking any additional wives.
  • When Muhammad again used the claim of another revelation allowing him to marry women who presented themselves as gifts, he imposed another limit upon himself (to please 'Aisha and other previous wives), stating that he could not marry any more women even if he was pleased with their beauty (Verse 33:52).  But 'Aisha still became furious upon hearing this. 'Aisha mocked those women who presented themselves to Muhammad as a gift.
  • .Subsequently, Muhammad made all types of women lawful for himself and married Juwayriya, a young woman of 20, Safiyyah, a young woman of 16. 'Aisha mocked Muhammad by suggesting that Allah hastened to fulfil his sexual desires (Sahih Bukhari)
  • Then Muhammad got Mariyah, a virgin and beautiful slave girl.

In brief, as the number of Muhammad's wives increased, the dissatisfaction among 'Aisha and the other wives also grew. It was not easy for Muhammad to acquire another young virgin girl after having so many wives and concubines. Despite claims of revelations, his actions were questioned by his wives, and they discouraged him from taking new wives. Muhammad always needed an excuse to satisfy his previous wives to exceed the limit of four wives.

Moreover, please read this hadith:

Musnad Ahmad, hadith number 25636:

“Muhammad saw Um Habiba the daughter of Abbas while she was fatim (breastfeeding age) and he said: 'If she grows up while I am still alive, I will marry her.'” 

Please ponder upon this question:

  • If Muhammad wanted to marry her while he also dreamt about her and she was necessary to outlive Muhammad and spread the knowledge of Islam (like Islamic preachers claim about 'Aisha)? 
  • Or Muhammad's desire was only sexual in nature and his intention was only to enjoy her? 

The Huge Scandal of the secret sexual relationship of Mariya deterred Muhammad from any more adventures of marrying more women

Muhammad passed away at the age of 63, but his last marriage took place when he was 60 years old. This raises the question of why he did not marry another woman during his last few years.

The answer can be found in the significant scandal surrounding a secret sexual relationship of Mariyah, his slave girl, with her Coptic cousin. This scandal likely played a role in Muhammad's decision not to enter into any further marriages during his remaining years.

Sahih Muslim:

Anas reported that a person (a Coptic slave, who was the cousin of Maria al-Qibtiyya) was charged with fornication with the slave girl of Allah's Messenger (i.e. Maria al-Qibtiyya). Thereupon Allah's Messenger said to 'Ali: Go and strike his neck. 'Ali came to him and he found him in a well making his body cool. 'Ali said to him: Come out, and as he took hold of his hand and brought him out, he found that his sexual organ had been cut. Hadrat 'Ali refrained from striking his neck. He came to Allah's Apostle and said: Allah's Messenger, he has not even the sexual organ with him.

The Coptic slave was accused of fornication with Mariya, Muhammad's slave girl. This accusation emerged due to the fact that Muhammad had been unable to father any children with his existing wives for the past decade, leading people to speculate about his fertility. When Mariya became pregnant, rumors circulated suggesting that she had engaged in a secret sexual relationship with her cousin, the Coptic slave.

These allegations were taken seriously, and even Muhammad himself believed in them. As a result, he ordered the execution of the Coptic slave without providing him with a fair trial or presenting any witnesses. For more information on this topic, please refer to our article: 

 Muhammad ordered the killing of a person without any court trial & witness in his personal case

Despite evidence suggesting that the Coptic slave was incapable of engaging in sexual activity, Muhammad continued to suspect Mariya of having an illicit relationship. However, without witnesses, Muhammad was unable to punish Mariya for the alleged misconduct. This led to further rumours circulating among the people.

In an effort to quell the rumours and silence the gossip, Muhammad claimed to receive a revelation. He asserted that the angel Gabriel (Jibrael) had come to him and confirmed that Mariya was indeed pregnant with his child.

Ibn Kathir recorded the following tradition (source):

عن أنس قال‏:‏ لما ولدت مارية إبراهيم كاد أن يقع في النَّبيّ صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم منه شيء حتَّى نزل جبريل عليه السلام فقال‏:‏ ‏(‏‏(‏السلام عليك يا أبا إبراهيم‏)‏‏)‏‏.

Anas, who said: When Mariyah gave birth to Ibrahim, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had some doubt about him, until Jibreel (Gabriel), upon him be peace, descended and said: 'Peace be upon you, O Father of Ibrahim (i.e. Gibrael confirmed Ibrahim was indeed his son).'"

But Muhammad himself kept on doubting the parentage of Ibrahim (his son from Mariya) even till his death.

Sahih Muslim:

فلما توفى إبراهيم قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ان إبراهيم ابني وانه مات في الثدي وان له لظئرين تكملان رضاعه في الجنة

"... then when Ibrahim demised the holy prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) said, " Ibrahim was indeed my son and passed away at the age of infancy"

The scandal surrounding the alleged illicit sexual relationship of Mariya appears to have put an end to Muhammad's pursuit of marrying any additional women. With rumours circulating and questions arising about Muhammad's fertility, the controversy surrounding Mariya likely deterred him from engaging in further marriages. The scandal had a significant impact on Muhammad's personal life and public perception, ultimately influencing his decision to refrain from entering into any new marital relationships.