In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful


Sawda bint Zam'ah's life in brief:

Dear brother, this is our 9th lesson of "The Female Companions". We are discussing the biographies of the Msh3er of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with them. Our lecture today is about the second wife of the Prophet, peace be upon him, who was his wife after Khadijah and before Aishah.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, married the Mother of the Believers Sawda bint Zam'ah. She was the wife who the Prophet, peace be upon him, married for a great wisdom which we will pause at while talking about her biography. This pure wife embraced Islam in Makkah while it was in its earlier phases, and she migrated with her husband to Al-Habasha. Let us stop at the reasons which force someone to leave his country and the very place where he was born. Do you think that someone will do that for silly reasons? Of course not; there must be unbearable reasons for his migration.
Dear brother, the noble Companions- the male and the female- who embraced Islam at the phase of the Islamic Da'wah have a great rank in Allah's Sight, because they endured the difficult situation they were in. Such a situation made migration to AlHabasha an outlet from the pressure that they suffered. Have you ever endured one out of a billion of what the Companions had endured? As for you, you can come into the Masjid, pray, attend a lesson and reauthor the Noble Quran. Also, you can get back home safely and pray Qiyaam Al-Layl if you want without being disturbed by anyone. As a Muslim, you can do whatever you want at home without being attacked by anyone because you are a Muslim. Have Muslims suffered the same hardships the Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, had suffered?
I repeat again: She embraced Islam in Makkah and migrated with her husband to AlHabasha, and her husband died there. It is narrated that there is no better way of worshiping Allah on earth than consoling someone and treating him kindly. Man marries a woman for her beauty, money, faith or for consoling and comforting her. This pure wife narrated many prophetic As7adeth, and Ibn Abass narrated from her. She, may Allah be pleased with her, died at the end of Khilafat Umar bin Al-Khattab.

Her marriage to the Prophet:

Who asked for her hand in marriage to Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him? It was Khawlah bint Hakim, the same woman who asked for the hand of Mrs. Khadijah in marriage to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Al-Imam At-Tabarani narrated that Khawlah bint Hakim said:
((O Messenger of Allah, would you not marry?))
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

((The best mediation is that you intercede between two persons for lawful marriage.))

Dear brother, marriage is a kind of consolation. Every pure chaste girl waits for someone to knock her door and asks her hand in marriage. Almighty Allah created the female in this way; He created in her the impulse to motherhood, which is the most powerful impulse in the human kind. Her desire to get married differs from the one of the male; she like to get married in order to be a mother, while the male likes to get married in order to satisfy his sexual desire. Her desire for motherhood makes her attractive to get married to:

((The best mediation is that you intercede between two persons for lawful marriage.))

It is wonderful to have friends, so if you know that someone of them has young girls, you can introduce a young believer who is pure, chaste and righteous to a chaste girl (one of the chaste daughters of your friend) like him. That would be really a great deed:

((The best mediation is that you intercede between two persons for lawful marriage.))

Almighty Allah says:

((Whosoever intercedes for a good cause will have the reward thereof, and whosoever intercedes for an evil cause will have a share in its burden. And Allah is Ever All-Able to do (and also an All- Witness to) everything.))

[An-Nisa': 85]

Khawlah said that to the Prophet, peace be upon him, three years after the death of Mrs. Khadijah. Those years indicate that the Prophet, peace be upon him, lived alone. Those who are married know that the woman is repose to her husband, and it is very difficult for someone to lose his wife. After the death of Mrs. Khadijah the Prophet, peace be upon him, lost the internal support, and after the death of his uncle Abi Talib, he lost the external one. Hence, the Prophet, peace be upon him, experienced loneliness, desolation and the death of the supporter, the close relative and the most beloved person to him:

((The Prophet, peace be upon him said, "O people, this worldly life is a place of crookedness and is not a place of straightforwardness. It is a place of grief and is not a place of joy. Whoever recognizes this will not feel joy at [the achievement of] some hope or feel grief at wretchedness. Allah has meant for the worldly life to be a place for trial, and has meant for the Hereafter to be a place for ramification."))

((The Prophet, peace be upon him, asked her, "Who could be my wife?" She said, "Whoever you like, a virgin or non-virgin." He said, "Who is the virgin?" She answered, "The daughter of the one you love most (Aishah bint Abi Bakr)."After a while the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked, "Who is the non-virgin?" She replied, "Sawda bint Zam' ah, may Allah be pleased with her, she believed in you and followed you.))

Let me tell you about a crucial point: When someone wants to get married, he should know that his wife will be the closest person to him. Therefore if the woman you want to marry doesn't believe in what you believe in, does not glorify what you do, does not hope for what you do or is not what you would like her as a wife to be, how will you be able to live with her? How can someone who traveled to the West and got married to a woman for her beauty, ignoring her family's traditions, values, principles and beliefs, live with her? The closest relationship is the one between the husband and his wife. In fact we call this relation an intimate one, and it is at the top of all other relationships, so is it reasonable to have a wife who believes in what you don't, who disbelieves in what you believe, who likes what you don't or who is pleased with what you are not? Of course it is not.

((The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Then go to her with the proposal of marriage."))

((Khawlah bint Al-Hakim went to the house of Abi Bakr. She said, "Then I went to Sawda, and I told her, '"Would you like Allah to give you great blessing, Sawda?"))
Accordingly, if the seeker of the Islamic knowledge is religiously committed, he is a believer who loves Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him, he fears Allah, pleases Him, he seeks Halal income, he spends Halal money and he controls his extremities, and he asks for the daughter of someone in marriage, the father shouldn't hesitate to accept him as a husband. Such a young man is considered a great gain, and being a seeker of Islamic knowledge makes him qualified to young girls.
((Sawda asked, "And what is that, Khawlah?" 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."))
Did you notice her good manners? When you offer someone something, he refuses it although he is longing to it from inside, but his dignity and modesty do not allow him to show that.
((Khawlah went to Zam'ah, a gruff old man, and greeted him with the greeting of the Jahiliyyah, and then said, "Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Abdul Muttalib, has sent me to ask for Sawda in marriage." The old man shouted, "A noble match…))
Pay attention to this precise point: He, peace be upon him, before receiving the Message, was infallible. Had people known something bad about him in Jahiliyyah, they would have mentioned it loudly, but the Prophets, peace be upon them are infallible before the Prophethood, so no one can accuse them of being bad at all.
((…The old man shouted, "A noble match. What does she say?" Khawlah replied, "She would like that." He told her to call her. When she came, he said, "Sawda, this woman claims that Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Abdul Muttalib has sent her to me to ask for you in marriage. It is a noble match. Do you want me to marry you to him?" She said, "Yes, I do." Then he said, "Let him come to me." Khawlah did that and the father married her to the Prophet, peace be upon him.))
Whoever needs something from a person should come to ask for it, which is considered a polite behavior. Hence, the Prophet, peace be upon him, came to her father asking for her in marriage and he got married to her.

What Ibn Kathir and Imam Ahmad mentioned about her marriage:

Al-Hafedh Ibn Kathir Imam Ahmad narrated in Al-Musnasd a conversation about this story. Abdullah Ibn Abass narrated:

((The Prophet, peace be upon him, got engaged to a woman from his people, it is called Sawda and she had sons (five or six sons from her dead husband…
There are people who accuse the Prophet of being in love with women, but getting married to an old who had sons nullifies those false accusations:
…The Prophet, peace be upon him, asked Sawda, "What prevents you from sleeping with me? She said, "By Allah, Messenger of Allah what prevents me to make you the most beloved to me is that I am afraid that my sons may bother you and disturb your tranquility."))

Notice how this old widower herself was afraid that her sons might bother the Prophet, peace be upon him, or become a burden on him, and as you know he, peace be upon him, is a good example to follow.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, I"Is there any other reason?" She said, "No, there isn't."The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "May Allah have mercy upon you."))
((The Prophet, peace be upon him said, "The best women who ride the camels are the pious women of the Quraish; they treat with affection children in their childhood and keep a strict watch on the wealth of their spouses.))

[Reported by Imam Ahmad, from Abdullah bin Abbas in his Musnad]

When man gets older, his needs increase, so the pure sincere wives are the ones whose efforts are doubled in serving their husbands when they get older. Obviously, those good wives serve their husbands in a good manner when their husbands are young, and when they get older the wives serve them in the best manner. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

((The best women who ride the camels are the pious women of the Quraish; they treat with affection children in their childhood and keep a strict watch on the wealth of their spouses.))

Most of the Muslim households suffer from two main problems. The first one: The wife cares too much for her husband at the expense of her children. She leaves them in the streets wearing dirty clothes. Also, they are not good at their studies as the mother cares only for her husband thinking that he is the source of her happiness. Well this is really a serious problem. Concerning the second problem, it has to do with the other way round. The wife takes care of her children, while she neglects her husband. She does not care about his food, drink or clothes. All she cares for is her children. The behavior of the wife in both situations is wrong, and she is being an extremist. Hence, the best woman is the one who can care for both her children and her husband. Believe it or not, if the woman takes care of her husband well, her care equals Al- jihad (the holy war for the sake of Allah), and she will receive the same reward, but unfortunately, few are the ones who understand the following Hadith.

((The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Please go and tell the ladies whom you represent that by doing your duty to your husbands in a pleasant manner, keeping in mind what will make them happy, and following them faithfully, you will please greatly Allah and He will give you the same rewards as have been promised by men.))

It is a reference to the reward of Jihad.

Who is Khawlah bint Hakim:

The narrators of the Prophetic biography said, ((Had not Khawlah bint Hakim seen the desolation that prevailed in and predominated the household of the Prophet, peace be upon him, after the death of his dearest and beloved wife, she couldn't have been courageous enough to interfere in the privacy of the Prophet, peace be upon him, such as interfering in his personal life.))
Honestly, the death of the sincere, pure and righteous wife destroys the pillars of the house, and the death of the sincere, pure and righteous husband destroys the pillars of the house as well. The Prophet, peace be upon him, had experienced the loss of his wife for three years. Almighty Allah made him a good example, so He made him experience everything; He made him experience the loss of his child, the loss of his wife, getting married to a wife who was 15 years older than him, getting married to a wife who was many years younger than him, the migration from one country to another and the loss of his parents. Almighty Allah says:

((Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad, peace be upon him) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.))

[Al-Ahzab- 21]

Almighty Allah made him underwent all those trials in order to be a good example to follow. Allah made him experience poverty, The Prophet, peace be upon him said:

(("Do you have anything to eat?" they replied, "O Messenger of Allah! We have nothing." Then he said, "Well, in this case, I am fasting today!"))

Allah made him experience wealth:

((A man asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, "Whose valley is this?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, "It is yours." Then the man said, "I witness that you are the Messenger of Allah"))

He was oppressed in At-Ta'if:

((I take refuge in the light of Your countenance whereby all darknesses are illuminated and all things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest You make descend Your anger upon me or lest Your wrath beset me.))

He tested the sweetness of victory at the opening of Makkah:

(("O people of Quraish, what do you think I'll do with you?" They replied, "Sure forgiveness, you are the dear brother and nephew." He said, "Go! you are free."))

The Prophet, peace be upon him, endured the severe harm the people of Quraish caused him, especially after the death of his uncle Abi Talib and after the death of his wife Mrs. Khadijah. As you know the wife is repose. Therefore, this noble Companion realized the trials and hardships which the Prophet, peace be upon him, underwent, so she wanted to ease his pain by finding an intimate Companion to live with him.
Dear brother, let me comment on a certain point briefly. What does whoever underestimates his wife, swears to divorce her for trivial reasons, forces her to leave the house, treats her cruelly, curses his father and mother or insults her do? He is ungrateful to Allah for the blessing of having a wife. He despises the blessing which is granted exclusively to the husband. Similarly, the woman who underestimates her husband, breaks the oath that he makes to prevent her from doing something, refuses to obey him or challenges him if he threatens her is ungrateful to Allah for the blessing of having a husband.

((Whichever woman seeks a Khul' from her husband without harm (cause), then the scent of Paradise will be unlawful for her.))

[Reported by Imam Ahmad, from Thawban in his Musnad]

((Allah will not look at the woman who is not grateful to her husband although she cannot dispense with him.))

((I hate the woman who gets out of her house and complains about her husband to people.))

When the wife and the husband are grateful to Allah for the blessing of having a spouse, they would live a happy life. I wonder at some of the marital cases and problems between spouses which I tackle. For example, the husband swears that he will divorce his wife if she visits her sister, but she co defies him she visits her. By doing this, she becomes divorced, and the husband asks more than one Sheikh for a fatwa (a legal opinion) to avoid divorcing her.
How could your husband be insignificant to you? What prevents you from obeying him? What stops you from not visiting your sister? Oddly enough, out of 100 cases of divorce there is one case of a conditioned divorce, not a non-restricted one, such as when the husband says his wife, "If you do this, you are divorced." The other fact about divorce is that 99% of divorce oaths, are broken, which is considered ungratefulness to Allah for the blessing of having a husband. The almighty Allah has made the decision of divorce in the hand of the husband, because woman is controlled by her emotions, and so she asks her husband to divorce her for even a trivial reason. Unlike the wife, the husband should think deeply, and study well the decision of divorce before making it.

The sublime treatment of Mrs. Sawda to the prophet:

As I said previously, the Prophet, peace be upon him, married her, and At-Tabarani narrated a lot of things about this marriage. The bride was sent to the most beloved person to her in order to alleviate from his honorable soul the pain of missing the wife, to fill his house with cordiality instead of the loneliness and desolation that filled it, to bear some of the burdens of life with him and to perform some of the duties which the dear deceased wife, Mrs. Khadijah, used to do.
The Mother of the Believers, Mrs. Sawda had a cheerful and shining soul. Joking, kindness, having a sense of humor and a cheerful countenance, smiling and mirth should exist in the household. You meet a father who gets back home making his children feel as if they are rejoicing Eid; they shout in happiness, they are happy and they compete to welcome him. On the other hand, you may meet another father who is like a burden on his family's shoulders whenever he enters into his house. At-Tabarani said:
((This lady had a cheerful shining soul. She used to devote herself who is pleasing and pleased with to please the Prophet, peace be upon him and to make him happy and contented.))
It is obvious that the woman who is indecent, undisciplined and detached from Almighty Allah gives her husband the worst things; she talks to him using cruel words, she gives him the bad looking, she neglects her appearance before him, his affairs with her and his cloths and she does not care about beautifying herself to him. However, when it comes to meeting with people, she talks to them kindly, she beautifies herself wearing perfume and the best clothes and she deals with them very kindly. Allah doesn't love this woman, because she gives her husband the worst things, whereas she gives other people the best she has.
Sawda, this faithful wife, used to do her best to make the Prophet, peace be upon him, happy. She used to seize the opportunity to make him laugh performing by this some of the duties that wives should do towards their husbands. An example of her sense of humor can be noticed in what Ibn Sa'd from Al-A'mash from Ibrahim said:
((Sawda said to the Prophet, peace be upon him, "I prayed last night following you as Imam, but when you performed ruku' (pending over) I held my noise, lest it bleeds." The Prophet, peace be upon him, laughed.))
Seemingly, the Prophet, peace be upon him, stayed at ruku' position for a long duration. This is how Sawda used to make the Prophet, peace be upon him laugh.
The following are some narrations about this lady:
Some of the narrators of the Prophetic biography said:
((It seems that this wife who pleased her husband used to tell him healthy jokes, and he used to preach her.))
One of those jokes is mentioned in what Ibn Al-Mubarak narrated about Sawda. He said:

((Sawda said, "O Messenger of Allah, if we die let Uthman bin Math'oon pray to us till you come. He, peace be upon him, said, "If you knew what death is O bint Zam'ah, you would realize that it is severer than what you could bear."))

Notice how the kidding between the spouses is manifested.

Some narrators of the Prophetic biography said:

((Beside her sense of humor, she was very generous and bountiful. Whenever she had money, she used to give it all to the poor and the needy.))
It was narrated with Sanad Sahih from Muhammad bin Sirin that Umar sent Sawda a bag of darahim, and upon receiving it she said:

(("What is this?" They said, "Darahim (money)" She said, "In a bag like the one of dates." Then she gave all the money to the poor people.))

Dear brother, what makes this virtuous wife praised is that she was very concerned about pleasing the Prophet, peace be upon him and keeping him honored. Therefore, when she used to joke with him, she never let that make her disrespectful or impolite to him. By the way, I hope that the spouses keep this sense of formality towards one another, because if it is missing, both spouses won't have a good relation. Thus, there must be a minimum formality between the spouses, because if it lost and each spouse exceeds his/her limits while kidding the other, they will belittle the solemnity of one another causing problems between them.
In fact, joking is like salt in the food; if it exceeds the limits, it will make things worse and complicated. Hence, whoever likes to joke should be careful about not exceeding his limits. If man jokes too much, he will lose his solemnity. As you know, there is a kind of joking which hurts other people, another kind of joking insults them and there is a kind which hurts them deeply. However, there is a kind of joking which is very rare, and it doesn't hurt anyone, cause any offence to other people, insult them, belittle them or embarrass them. This kind of joking is acceptable. The husband who makes fun of his wife's looking, presents her defects, exaggerate in talking about them and insult her family is not joking, but rather he is destroying the relationship between him and his wife.

What Mrs. Aishah said about Sawda:

This wife had a nice characteristic, which was that whenever she made a mistake, she hastened to correct it. Mrs. Aishah said:

((Whenever she became harsh, she used to get rid of this harshness quickly.))

Aishah also said:

((There is no woman I would like to imitate save Sawdah bint Zam'ah who said when she grew old, "O Messenger of Allah I granted my day to Aishah". But she has some kind of harshness.))

[Reported by Muslim in Sahih]

This means that she used to correct her mistake as soon as possible.

What made Sawda happy? How did she please the prophet?

Dear brother, there is a delicate point concerning this marriage. Sawda was overwhelmed by happiness, because the Prophet, peace be upon him, was her husband. She used to have a cheerful noble face, and she became very happy when she the Prophet, peace be upon him, smiled at her swaying walk because of her heavy body. Furthermore, the Prophet, peace be upon him, loved her wit, her sense of humor, her company and lovely soul, particularly when she used to joke with him. This wife who had that lovely spirit kept looking after the household of the Prophet, peace be upon him in Makkah. Also, when the Prophet, peace be upon him, migrated to Al-Madinah, she migrated with him, and was the keeper and the caretaker of the Prophet's household till Aishah bint Abi Bakr came to that house as a wife of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and a Mother of the believers. Actually, being a wife of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is great honor, a prominent rank and a high position that the ambitious seek. It is really great for a woman to be the wife of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the Mother of the Believers.
Dear brother, that old woman who had five sons knew that her looking wouldn't be attractive to the Prophet, peace be upon him, but she was elevated to a higher rank which she aspired to. She used her intelligence and wisdom when she stepped aside for the young bride –Mrs. Aishah – to get the first place in the household of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Moreover, she did her best to please the new bride and serve her. Do you notice how loyal she was?
Her wisdom was manifested in her behavior. She got her aim achieved as she got married to the Prophet, peace be upon him; she became the Mother of the Believers, and the wife of the honorable Prophet, peace be upon him. Regarding that young bride, she needed care, so Sawda took care of her, served her, guided her, taught her and told her how she could please the Prophet, peace be upon him. She did all that in order to please Aishah and make the Prophet, peace be upon him, pleased with her. The Prophet, peace be upon him, had a room for each wife, but when other wives came to the Prophet's household like Hafsah, Zainab, Ummu Salamah and the sh3er, Sawda never hesitated to prefer Aishah to them in keeping loyal and friendly to her although she never had any bad feelings towards the other wives.
You may find an old woman who is sterile, and her husband is deprived of having children from her, so he wants to marry another woman to have children, but he never abandons his first wife, and he keeps her honored position. There are wives who don't accept that, so they leave their husbands and live alone, is that reasonable?

((The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, got closer to her, she wept and said, "O Messenger of Allah, did I make mistake in my Islam?" He said, "By Allah, no, you did not." She said, "O Messenger of Allah, I would like to grant my night to Aishah if you allow me - this means she wanted to stay his wife, which is a great honor. O Messenger of Allah, hold me. By Allah, I did not seek to have a husband. She does not want to be deprived of looking at the noble face of the Prophet, peace be upon him. I just hope that Allah may resurrect me as your wife on the Day of Judgment."))

All she wanted was to look at him, to keep seeing him and to be his wife on the Day of Resurrection, and so she gained such great honor. She felt herself a burden on the Prophet, peace be upon him, and she thought that she deprived him of being happy and he got married to her out of sympathy since she had 5 boys. Also, she mistakenly thought that if she left the household of Prophet, peace be upon him, he would be happy, but then she regretted thinking as such, and she said:

((O Messenger of Allah, hold me… I would like to grant my night to Aishah))

As you know, if you want to marry more than one woman you should be just while treating them; in spending on them, in giving a house (or a room) for each one of them and in granting a night to each one of them. However, it is not forbidden if one of his wives willingly scarifies her day with him for another wife. Sawda said, "I would like to grant my night to Aishah." Sawda kept her love and proximity to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and she kept his company in the worldly life and in the Hereafter.

Conclusion:

Dear brother, it is wonderful for a woman to be wise and prudent, to know her limits, value and capacities, to avoid being a burden on her husband and to make her main concern is making him happy. This is how Mrs. Sawda bint Zam'ah and the Mother of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with her and make her an example to Muslim women, used to be.

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Creations