From Merchant to Messenger

Wives of the Messenger

and revelations they inspired

#9 Rayhanah

(also spelt Rayhana)

From Merchant to MessengerTamam Kahn admits, in what is very much a panegyric to the Prophet and his wives, that Rayhanah is “not usually listed as a wife” of God’s Messenger.

Gheorghiu writes that she only agreed to become his concubine, seeing it as unseemly to accept the Prophet’s marriage proposal after he had just ordered the beheading of all the men and boys (males with traces of pubic hair) of her tribe after the battle of the Ditch (as mentioned earlier, also referred to as the battle of the Trench).

After the battle of the Trench [Rayhanah was] marched into the courtyard with the several hundred other women and their children to be claimed as a reward by the Muslim soldiers, while the Qurayzah man were led away to be executed.

Rayhanah was not only a beautiful young woman. “Rayhana’s name means ‘extremely fragrant’ and Muhammad loved perfumes” making her even more irresistible to God’s Messenger.

Perfume was one of the three things the Prophet loved the most:

The Holy Prophet said: "From the things of the world, I regard women and perfume highly, but prayer is the light of my eyes."


You might call it an obsession:

The Most Noble Messenger was so fond of applying perfume that he would skip his supper so as to procure his needed perfume. If perfume was not at his disposal, he would soak the perfumed scarf of his wife and rub his face with it so as to be perfumed. Likewise, before going out he would always look at himself in the mirror or water, and groom himself to such an extent as to always be an embodiment of adornment and dressing well. He would apply so much perfume that his beard had turned white as a result.


Rayhanah’s life with the Prophet was short and tumultuous: some say she converted to Islam, others that she died as a slave of Muhammad, and still others that she was allowed to rejoin her Jewish community, which is somewhat unlikely as she is buried, along with other wives of God’s Messenger, in Baqi cemetery of Medina.

She died a short two years after the massacre of the men and boys of her tribe. Her age and how she died remains a mystery; all that we know is that the beautiful, tragic Rayhanah died young.

I would not exclude suicide. It must have been difficult to be intimate with a man, even an extraordinary man, who was responsible for the death of your father, your husband, your male relatives and the enslavement of your female kin.