The Wives of the Prophet

Since 2012-12-06

The Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) married more than four wives. This is one of the special rulings specific to the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him)...

 

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

 
The Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) married more than four wives. This is one of the special rulings specific to the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him), similar to his practice of continuous fasting that extended beyond Maghrib. The Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) died while married to nine wives. He also had two maidservants, two he divorced without consummating the marriage and two wives who died. Some scholars of seerah count the total number of marriages as over 15 or 20.
 
Some orientalists attempt to attack the character of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) by suggesting he had a strong sexual desire. Muslims have made less than a convincing defense of the integrity of the marriages of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him):
 
They say the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) married elderly women; which proves he was not motivated by these motives citing the marriage of Khadijah, Sawdah, and Zainab bint Jash. However he also married young woman such as Hafsa and Aisha.
 
They say the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) married some of these women to console them after a calamity in their lives or for political reasons. For example the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) may have married Hafsa as she had been widowed and her father Umar was keen to find a suitable husband., and he married Ramlah bint Abu Sufyan as she was the daughter of Abu Sufyan, Chief of Quraish, and her husband had apostated in Abysinnia.
 
However the classical scholars of tafseer did not state these reasons when explaining the Rulings specific to the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him), also known as the khasaais. In reality the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) is the best of creation and attained perfection in all facets of human behavior. It is incomprehensible then that we question him and cast aspersions on him while he is the chosen Messenger of Allah.
 
The issue of the marriages of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) is not a matter related to Justice at all but can be viewed as simply a test for people. They can submit to the Will of Allah while their hearts remain at peace with Eeman, or they can remain obstinate and be confounded by doubts. If a person understands Tawheed, that Allah is Unique, the all-Knowing and the all-Wise and that he He will surely test us as He promised in the Quran then doubts such as these will quickly disappear.
 
Any attempt to explain away the marriages of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) usually can be refuted and may even reveal an inferiority complex. Sadly it is rare to find scholars who refer to this issue as a test, or relate the matter back to Tawheed.
 
When scholars discuss the issue of the marriages of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) they always discuss the hikmah (wisdom) and not the illah (effective cause). Considering that an illah always requires textual evidence then we need to look closely at the verses of the Quran to try and understand why Allah legislated the numerous marriages of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him):
 
{O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), and those (captives or slaves) whom your right hand possesses - whom Allah has given to you, and the daughters of your 'Amm (paternal uncles) and the daughters of your 'Ammah (paternal aunts) and the daughters of your Khal (maternal uncles) and the daughters of your Khalah (maternal aunts) who migrated (from Makkah) with you, and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her; a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers. Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those (captives or slaves) whom their right hands possess, - in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allah is Ever OftForgiving, Most Merciful. (50) You (O Muhammad SAW) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive whom you will. And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside (her turn temporarily), it is no sin on you (to receive her again), that is better; that they may be comforted and not grieved, and may all be pleased with what you give them…} [Al-Ahzab 33:50].
 
{يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَحْلَلْنَا لَكَ أَزْوَاجَكَ اللَّاتِي آتَيْتَ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ مِمَّا أَفَاءَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمِّكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمَّاتِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالَاتِكَ اللَّاتِي هَاجَرْنَ مَعَكَ وَامْرَأَةً مُّؤْمِنَةً إِن وَهَبَتْ نَفْسَهَا لِلنَّبِيِّ إِنْ أَرَادَ النَّبِيُّ أَن يَسْتَنكِحَهَا خَالِصَةً لَّكَ مِن دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۗ قَدْ عَلِمْنَا مَا فَرَضْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِي أَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ لِكَيْلَا يَكُونَ عَلَيْكَ حَرَجٌ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا ﴿٥٠﴾  تُرْجِي مَن تَشَاءُ مِنْهُنَّ وَتُؤْوِي إِلَيْكَ مَن تَشَاءُ ۖ وَمَنِ ابْتَغَيْتَ مِمَّنْ عَزَلْتَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكَ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن تَقَرَّ أَعْيُنُهُنَّ وَلَا يَحْزَنَّ وَيَرْضَيْنَ بِمَا آتَيْتَهُنَّ كُلُّهُنَّ...} الأحزاب: 50
 
Transliteration: Ya ayyuha alnnabiyyu inna ahlalna laka azwajaka allatee atayta ojoorahunna wama malakat yameenuka mimma afaa Allahu AAalayka wabanati AAammika wabanati AAammatika wabanati khalika wabanati khalatika allatee hajarna maAAaka waimraatan muminatan in wahabat nafsaha lilnnabiyyi in arada alnnabiyyu an yastankihaha khalisatan laka min dooni almumineena qad AAalimna ma faradna AAalayhim fee azwajihim wama malakat aymanuhum likayla yakoona AAalayka harajun wakana Allahu ghafooran raheeman (50)Turjee man tashao minhunna watuwee ilayka man tashao wamani ibtaghayta mimman AAazalta fala junaha AAalaykathalika adna an taqarra aAAyunuhunna wala yahzanna wayardayna bimaataytahunna kulluhunna
 
The ‘privilege’ in this verse refers to women who give themselves freely to the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) for marriage without a mahr (dowry), and of course it refers to the privilege of being the wife of the Messenger of Allah. Most scholars state the ruling of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) only marrying women who migrated with him, as mentioned in this verse is abrogated. Allah reassures the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) in this verse that he is well-aware that these rulings are not for the believers in general, ‘so it is not a cause for worry for you’. The ‘illah’ stated here is that is for the comfort and coolness of the eyes for his wives. The verse then prohibits the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) from further marriages even if he is pleased by their beauty or character. After this verse the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) did not divorce any of his wives or marry any more women in order that his wives are satisfied and they remain his wives in the Hereafter.
 
The Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) would give his maidservants the same gifts and maintenance he gave his wives hence the scholars of seerah discuss whether the maidservant Maria was in fact a wife. Most agree she was a maidservant.
 
The Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) married and consummated the marriage with 11 wives:
 
1.    Khadijah bint khuwaylid (passed away)
2.    Sawdah bint Zumah
3.    Aisha bint Abu Bakr
4.    Hafsa bint Umar
5.    Zaynab Um ul Masakeen (passed away)
6.    Hind bint Abu Umayah (Um Salamah)
7.    Zaynab bint Jahsh
8.    Juwayriyyah
9.    Ramlah bint Abu Sufyan
10.Safiyyah
11.Maymoonah
 
6 wives were from the Quraish: Khadijah bint khuwaylid, Aisha bint Abu Bakr, Hafsa bint Umar, Sawdah bint Zumah, Hind bint Abu Umayah, and Ramlah bint Abu Sufyan
 
4 wives were from the Arab tribes: Zaynab Um ul Masakeen, Zaynab bint Jash, Juwayriyyah, and Maymoonah.
 
Safiyyah was from the descendents of the Prophet Haroon.
 
If one reads the biographies of the wives of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) one will understand the lifestyle of the Prophet (Peace and salutations be upon him) – the austerity and his kind treatment of his wives.
 
 
A Glimpse at the Life of Khadijah
 
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid had inherited a large fortune and would invest in trade caravans to Syria. She would employ representatives to trade on her behalf in Syria and then bring back the profits for a fee. Naturally this level of autonomy lead to some of these representatives concealing profits, hence Khadijah was very keen to send her servant Maysarah to the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) to offer him employment when she heard of his reputation as ‘al-Ameen (the trustworthy)’. He accepted the offer and went to Syria to trade and showed his intelligence and initiative by using the profits to purchase more goods for trade in Makkah upon his return, thereby producing double profit. Khadijah was so pleased that she increased his fee.
 
Maysarah clearly had insight into the character of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) from travelling with him which must have influenced Khadijah’s decision to propose to the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) which he accepted. Some of the scholars of seerah said the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) never married a woman or married off his daughters except with the permission of Allah.
 
After returning from cave hira having received the first revelation it was Khadijah who believed in him and comforted him. It was she who took the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) to her cousin Waraqa ibn Naufal who confirmed “this is the Namus that used to come to Moses (peace and salutations be upon him). I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” He (peace and salutations be upon him) was surprised, “And will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.”
 
Khadijah comforted the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) when he was at first overwhelmed by the experience saying, “Allah will never humiliate you…This indicates the character of the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) before receiving Prophethood and confirms if ever proof was needed that “Allah knows where to place His message”. The emotional support she gave to the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) was immense.
 
In her own right, Khadijah is one of only four women to attain perfection. There were many men who attained perfection; Maryam Um Isa. Asdiyah the women of Pharoah, Khadijah bint Khiuwaylid, and Fatima bint Muhammad.
 
The Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) remained for 20 years with Khadijah without taking another wife by consensus of historians. She is the only wife who bore him children and those children survived (Maria bore the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) Ibrahim who passed away).
 
Aisha never felt jealous of any woman as she felt jealous of Khadijah. The Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) would become very angry when Aisha belittled her. On one occasion the sister of Khadijah, Hala, knocked the door and the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) became visibly moved as he recognized even the mannerisms of knocking the door which Khadija would have. When the Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him) used to cook he would distribute to friends and relatives of Khadijah. He remained for almost two years without marrying again after the death of his beloved wife Khadijah. The year of her death is aptly known as the Year of grief.
 
 
Haitham Al-Haddad
zad website

 

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