A number of biographies of Muhammad report that he lived with the Bedouin for four to six years before he was returned to his mother. Isn't this a long time for a young woman to remain unnoticed by some eligible man? Why had she not remarried by the time Muhammad was returned to her? Is there any tradition or scholarly view on this?


1 Answer 1


A honest answer is we don't know, as we don't have any information how or exactly where she lived neither after the birth of her child, nor during the time her son was being breast fed and nursed by Halimah as-Sa'diyyah. We only know who she is (the noble family tree), how she got married and that a relative of her was married to father of her husband too. That she has given birth to Muhammad and when it came to breast feeding gave him to Halimah, who asked to have him for more time after passing the first 2 years beside her. And that not a long time after she got her child back died coming from a visit of her relatives in Yatrib/Medina.

We could say that the above quoted points are facts, that one would hardly find any rejection for!

We can also add from the fact that -at least sunni Muslims believe that- Muhammad married the widow Khadijah, that marrying a widow was not uncommon in Jahilyah.

A more delicate and difficult matter could be marrying a widow who has children, as it was the case of Amina. It was narrated that Muhammad after the death of Khadija went to ask the hand of Um-Hani' (Fakhitah) bint abi Talib and she refused to marry him (maybe a better formulation would be she asked him kindly not to go on with his proposal by the excuse), with the excuse that she had young children this was quoted in syar a'lam an-nubala' by Imam ad-Dhahabi and in at-Tabarni's awsat and kabir as a hadith on her authority. The same behavior have been quoted in this fatwa about Rubab bint imra al- Qais a wife of al-Hussain ibn 'Ali and a wife of 'Othman, whom has broken some of her teeth when Mu'awiya ibn abu Sufyan asked her for marriage (to show her refusal) and also counted other women saying that this was a kind of behavior they apparently kept from al-Jahilyah for widows who loved their dead husbands or had younger kids.

Speculations, tales and possible reasons

Some of the tales you may find in tabaqat ibn Sa'ad or Sirat ibn Hiasham which includes ibn Ishaq's maghazi say that the naming of her son has been revealed to her and her husbands father so instead of Naming Muhammad after one of his died sons, he accepted to name him Muhammad, also it was quoted that she felt an easy pregnancy and has seen some light when he was born. So maybe this is why she kept or was attached to her son and didn't think of marrying again. And a stronger reason maybe that his father's family toke care of her and her son, as her family if I'm not totally wrong was settled in Yatrib/Medina.

But the strongest assumption we can make is that her behavior can be explained by her love towards her husband or the fact that in Jahilya women apparently disliked to come in charge of a new husband when having children from a former husband or the fear not to care for her new husband or the kid of her former husband.

Her the four major reason for why women wouldn't re-marry which are stated in the fatwa I mentioned above:

  1. امتداد النظرة القديمة التي كانت عند عرب الجاهلية في مُعَايرة الولد بزواج أمه بعد وفاة أبيه، حيث كان يَعِيش من المهر الذي دفعه له زوج أمه، ويأنَف أن يرى رجلاً أجنبيًّا ينام مكان والده.

Arabs used to mock on sons whom's mother got remarried after the death of his father, as he was living from the mahr the new husband gave his mother, and they had the view that a son (child) wouldn't like a foreign man taking the place of his father beside his mother!

  1. وجود أيتام صغار تعكف على تربيتهم خشية أن يَضيعوا إن تزوجت.

If a woman had young orphans she would be afraid that they may "get lost" if she re-married.

Note a son of the former husband always remains for the step-father and his wife (the biological mother of the son) a kind of "memory" of her former marriage.
So these kinds of relationships are always delicate!
Also have in mind the financial dependency on the step-father, which might become harder for a growing young boy once he would be adolescent, especially if the step-father disliked his step-son and always pointed at this (see also the reasons of 1.).

  1. شدة حبها لزوجها الأول فلا ترضى بغيره بديلاً.

A women who loved her husband very much wouldn't like to have any other (as "nobody could reach him" or have her full love afterwards)!

  1. وجود عهد بينها وبين زوجها ألا تتزوج بعده.

In cases it could be a question of a an agreement between spouses that neither of them or in this case the wife wouldn't remarry.

  • Thank you so much for this answer. Would it be safe to assume that "get lost" means that the new husband would arrange for the children's death in some way? Jul 20, 2016 at 12:09
  • 1
    @GreatBigBore no i think what they mean is he would grow up with hatred towards his new father or the husband would hate him. Maybe also she wouldn't find time to nurse and educate him well as her husband would maybe keep her from that... arrange killing would be a very special case ... I assume
    – Medi1Saif
    Jul 20, 2016 at 12:18

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