After the death of Khadijah (radhiAllahu 'anha), RasulAllah was heartbroken - the loss of Khadijah, the first love of his life, the one who had supported him with wisdom and loyalty, had left an emptiness in his heart.
Thus, when Allah decreed that it was time for him to marry again, his first wife after Khadijah was Sawdah bint Zam'ah. She, like Khadijah, was a woman older than RasulAllah - but with that difference of age came maturity, wisdom, and calm reassurances. She provided him with the same sense of steadfastness and loyalty that he had been blessed with from Khadijah - and at that period in RasulAllah's life, it was exactly what he needed.
Umm Habibah bint Abi Sufyaan was different: She was one of the earliest believers in RasulAllah, and had made the Hijrah to Abyssinia with her first husband. However, this man apostated and died upon Christianity, leaving Umm Habiba shaken and alone. Keep in mind that she couldn't go back home even if she wanted to - her father, Abu Sufyan, was an avowed enemy of RasulAllah at the time.
RasulAllah married her to offer her comfort and reassurance for the ordeal she went through: the difficulty of being a believing woman first in Makkah, and then in a foreign land; the devastating experience of having her first husband leave Islam and die upon kufr.
A'ishah bint Abi Bakr was married to RasulAllah by the Command of Allah - and though her marriage to him is one of the most controversial, she was also the means of preserving roughly half the Deen! Whether it was through the ahadith she narrated, the fiqh rulings she issued, or her overall knowledge in various fields (language, medicine, and more), A'ishah became one of the greatest of all Islamic scholars. Without her, knowledge of Islam would not have been preserved or submitted in a way that ensured it would pass down to generations today... over 1400 years later.
Zaynab bint Khuzaymah was a quiet woman, and she passed away during the lifetime of RasulAllah, mere months after she married him. Yet in her, there is an example for those Muslim women who are of a different nature than Khadijah, A'ishah, or Hafsah... She was of those who maintained a quiet life, but no less blessed because of it. In fact, she was known as Umm al-Masaakeen due to the fact that she gave the most charity amongst all the wives of RasulAllah.
Umm Salamah was deeply in love with Abu Salamah and devastated when he died. When she was told, "Allah will replace him with someone better," she replied in anguish, "And who could be better than Abu Salamah?!" Soon after, RasulAllah himself came to ask for her hand in marriage.
In Umm Salamah is the proof that a woman may love deeply and truly, and that Allah will bless her with even more love in her lifetime - forget happily ever after with *one* true love; Umm Salamah was blessed with two!
Hafsah bint 'Umar was her father's daughter in many ways - strong, outspoken, and a dedicated worshipper to Allah. One of her greatest roles as the wife of RasulAllah, however, actually played out after his death. When the first manuscript of the Qur'an was compiled, it was placed in her care - rendering Hafsa the first caretaker of the Mus'haf, which she was until she passed away.
Zaynab bint Jahsh was a noblewoman of Quraysh, and the example of her marriage to RasulAllah was twofold: First, that she was married to a former slave (Zaid ibn Harith), proving that it is permissible for a woman of high social standing to marry someone of a so-called 'lower' social class; and secondly, that Zaid ibn Harith was the adopted son of RasulAllah... and she later divorced Zaid and married RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) himself.
Zaynab's marriage to RasulAllah was proof that in the eyes of the Shari'ah, the adopted son does not fall under the same rulings as a blood or milk son.
Safiyyah bint Hu'ayy was perhaps one of the first examples of intercultural marriage amongst Muslims. She was the daughter of a Jewish chief - essentially, a princess. Though she accepted Islam, the other wives of RasulAllah at first belittled her for her Jewish background, until such time that RasulAllah admonished them strongly and told Safiyyah, "Do not grieve, for your uncle was a Prophet, and your husband is a Prophet." From then on, Safiyyah's Jewish heritage was a source of honour for her - not of shame, as others had tried to make it seem.
Juwayriyyah bint al-Harith demonstrated political power: her choice to marry RasulAllah ensured that her entire tribe was freed from captivity. In a narration, it is said that she approached him directly regarding her freedom, whereupon he offered her marriage as an option. She immediately agreed, and as a result, she guaranteed social and political privilege to her tribe.
Maymunah bint al-Harith was similar to Zaynab bint Khuzaymah in that she was a woman who enjoyed seclusion; yet also, her relationship to Abdullah ibn Abbas - as his maternal aunt - was a means of allowing him access to a side of RasulAllah's life which was not open to many. There are numerous ahadith narrated by Ibn Abbas in which he says, "I was at the house of my maternal aunt, Maymunah bint al-Harith..."
In her own way, Maymunah was also a source of the preservation of the Sunnah of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam).
Every wife of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) had a different personality: Some were assertive, bold, and feisty; others were shy, quiet, and reclusive. Some had a mischievous sense of humour, while others were serene and had an aura of maturity around them. Some were scholarly and intellectual; others enjoyed making handicrafts and selling them. Some were politically aware and active; others preferred to engage in social activism at an intimately grassroots level.
Yet each and every one of them was specifically chosen by Allah, from above the seven heavens, to be married to the greatest of all creation: RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam). Each and every one of these women was a devoted worshipper of Allah. Each and every one of them was given the title "Umm al-Mu'mineen" - the Mother of the Believers, and they were all informed that they would be reunited with their beloved husband in Jannah.
And each and every one of them is an example to us today - not only to other women, but to the menfolk of the Ummah as well.
Are we willing to learn? Are we willing to follow in their footsteps? Are we ready to train ourselves and the next generation of Muslims to be of the calibre and standard of the greatest Muslim women to walk the earth?