Father: Zama bin Qays
Mother: Shamoos binte Qays
Tribe: Aamer bin Lawee
Birth: Not known
Death: 22 Hijri
Sauda binte Zama binte Qays (rta) was the second wife of the Prophet (sa). The death of Khadija (rta) had left the Prophet (sa) grief stricken and lonely. Khawlah, (rta) wife of Uthman bin Mazoon (rta), suggested to the Prophet (sa) that he needed a companion to help him run his house and look after his children. She proposed the name of Sauda (rta).
Sauda (rta) and her first husband Sakrtan bin Umro were among the first converts to Islam. They were forced to migrate to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to escape persecution of the Makkans.
Sauda returned home after many years. Her husband had died, and she was now living with her aged father. She was middle-aged, rather plump, with a jolly, kindly disposition, and just the right person to take care of the Prophet’s (sa) household and family. So the Prophet (sa) agreed to send her a proposal. Khawla arranged the marriage, and Sauda (rta) came to the Prophet’s (sa) household on the 10th of Ramadan Nabawi.
Critics of Islam, who particularly target the Prophet’s (sa) personal life and character, have tried to suggest that Sauda (rta) was not treated well by him. As the Prophet’s (sa) Nikkah to Aisha (rta) followed immediately after his marriage to Sauda (rta), these hawks like to draw parallels in their relationships. The youthful Aisha (rta) is pitted against the elderly Sauda (rta), as if there was enmity and hostility between them. They try to sell a warped version of the truth that the Prophet (sa) cast Sauda (rta) aside in the favor of Aisha (rta) and threatened her with divorce. Hence, the poor old Sauda (rta) was cornered into giving her day with the Prophet (sa) to Aisha (rta)! Authentic sources present a completely different picture.
Ibn Kathir says: “There was great surprise in Makkah that the Prophet would choose to marry a widow, who was neither young nor beautiful. As Sauda aged, the Prophet became worried that she might be upset about having to compete with so many younger wives; therefore, he offered to divorce her. She said that she would give her night to Aisha (rta), of whom she was very fond, because she only wished to be the Prophet’s (sa) wife on the Day of Rising. She lived on until the end of Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s time. She and Aisha (rta) always remained very close.”
Aisha (rta) said: “Never did I find any woman more loving to me than Sauda bint Zama. I wished I could be exactly like her, who was passionate.” As she became old, she had made over her day (which she had to spend) with Allah’s Messenger (sa) to Aisha. She said: “I have made over my day with you to Aisha.” So Allah’s Messenger (sa) allotted two days to Aisha – her own day (when it was her turn) and that of Sauda. (Muslim)
The remarkable quality of women in wanting to please their husbands is unfathomable to most of us today, especially to those, who judge every selfless act in the cold light of their own business style relationships – I do this for you, so what is in it for me? And let’s not forget that Sauda’s (rta) husband was no ordinary person – he was the Prophet (sa). She willingly made sacrifices for the privilege of being Ummul-Mumineen and expected nothing in return in this life.
Such was her devotion to the Prophet’s (sa) word that according to Abu Huraira (rta), after his death, she never left her house for Hajj, as the Prophet (sa) had asked his wives not to leave their homes in the sermon of Hujjatul-Wida. Sauda (rta) and Zainab Binte Jahash (rta) practiced this verbatim.
Sauda (rta) made her husband laugh. Sometimes she would walk in such a peculiar way that the Prophet (sa) would be amused. Once, she told him: “Last night, I prayed behind you. You did such a long Ruku that I thought my nose would bleed, so I held my nose all the while.” The Prophet (sa) smiled on hearing this.
We see in her character a lovely combination of selflessness, obedience, and piety as well as endearing humor and simplicity. These are the traits every woman, especially a wife, should aspire for.