wisdom behind the prophet’s polygyny
in the first and second themes we have discussed prophet’s (pbuh) marriages and his uniqueness in this regard. it is time now to highlight the noble civilized values and the lofty legislative aims behind his polygyny and why he married his pure wives, may allah be pleased with them. then we are going to deal with the accusation of being lusty in light of these values and aims to see the difference between the lusty womaniser who is eager to get virgin beautiful girls and replace them when they become older and the creator of a civilization project who aims to make human happiness come true in both this world and afterlife. this was the person who was entitled to deliver allah’s message, elevate the human soul, and teach us everything in our life. allah says in the noble qur’an what can be translated as: « he is the one who has sent forth among the illiterate (i.e., unlettered arabs; the common folk) a messenger from among them, to recite his ayat (verses, signs) to them, and to cleanse them, and to teach them the book and (the) wisdom, though they were earlier indeed in evident error. » (62:2) from among the women of his age he chose the ones who could understand his teachings, transfer his morals to others, help him to obey his creator and help women in their issues. there is wisdom in every marriage and an aim behind marrying each of them .
scholar muhammad ali as-sabouni divided the wisdoms and aims of the prophet’s (pbuh) polygyny into four parts: legislative, educational, social, and political. he was unprecedented in making such a division. therefore, we will follow it and add some more examples and proofs .
first: legislative wisdom
prophet muhammad (pbuh) was sent to the people to call them for the worship of allah, the one and only and to order them to be just and honest in their dealings with one another. he used to deliver the message through his sayings, actions, or approval. adoption was an old arab custom. the prophet (pbuh) followed suit as long as allah did not reveal anything to him that forbids this. he adopted zaid ibn harithah who preferred to stay to him and leave his family. he then was called zaid ibn muhammad .
because this custom entailed many religious and worldly blights, allah forbade it in such a memorable way to be an example for all people. zaid ibn harithah married zainab bint jahsh and there were a lot of problems between them that they finally were divorced. allah had told his prophet (pbuh) about this before it happened and told him he would marry zainab. allah reminds us of the wisdom of this story in the noble qur’an when he says what can be translated as: “and as you (this is addressed to the prophet) have said to him on whom allah has (graciously) favored and you have (much) favored, “retain your spouse to yourself, and be pious to allah, ” and you were concealing within yourself what allah would display, and being apprehensive of mankind; and allah truly has better right for you to be apprehensive of him. so, as soon as zayd had accomplished what he would of her, (i.e., accomplished his purpose, and divorced her. the reference is to zaynab) we espoused her to you so that there should not be any restriction for the believers concerning the spouses of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished what they would of them; and the command of allah has been performed.” ( 33:37) this was not the prophet’s (pbuh) choice; it was rather a command from allah .
second: educational wisdom
prophet muhammad (pbuh) was sent to people to tell them all: men, women, and children about islam, to teach them the rules for different types of worship and dealings. as muslim women were always shy and as prophet muhammad (pbuh) had lofty morals it was required to have wives who could absorb his teachings and tell women their own rules and the duties regarding the special relation between them and their husbands and the like. lady aisha narrated that a woman asked the prophet (pbuh) about the bath which is taken after finishing from the menses. the prophet (pbuh) told her what to do and said, “purify yourself with a piece of cloth scented with musk.” the woman asked, “how shall i purify myself with it” he said, “subhan allah! purify yourself (with it).” lady aisha pulled her to myself and said, “rub the place soiled with blood with it .”
this was regular at the house of the prophet (pbuh) as women used to go there to learn and ask the prophet (pbuh) and his wives about their religion and life .
lady aisha as well used to deliver the messages about the prophet (pbuh) to both women and men through their wives. she told women to tell their husbands to use water after they urinate because she was shy to tell them so. she saw the prophet (pbuh) doing this. how could any one except the wives of the prophet (pbuh) see such things? by the way, lady aisha narrated many hadiths of the prophet (pbuh). she had a photographic memory and much knowledge. after the death of the prophet (pbuh) abu musa al-ash’ari told us that in case the companions found difficulty in understanding something they used to ask lady aisha who used to be of help .
third: political wisdom
in all his political behaviors, prophet muhammad (pbuh) used to give public interest the priority and to use the best way to minimize blights. he understood that arab community at that time was mainly tribal, that is, the tribe helps its members whether they were right or wrong and the individual followed the policy of his tribe in all cases. therefore, he tried to benefit from the advantages of this tribal community. he ordered his companions to help one another if they are right and if they are wrong but in a lawful way through facing the unjust and returning the rights to their owners. he also ordered them to follow the right path whether their tribes agreed or not .
in the light of this, the prophet (pbuh) married lady ramlah bint abi sufyan when her husband embraced christianity and died in abyssinia . he sent to an-najashi, the ruler of abyssinia , to ask for her hand in marriage. she was glad and her father was proud. it is a well-known fact that abu sufyan was highly esteemed among his people and that relationship through marriage had many social effects among arabs. it was a means of affinity among people, especially when the couple does their duties towards each other .
he also married lady juwayriah bintul-harith for the same reason. she was a war prisoner in the battle of bani al mustalaq, the prophet (pbuh) wanted to give dignity to this type of women and so he made them equal with free women. such a marriage was a clear proof about the tolerance of islam and its call to free bondsmen and women. muslims learned the lesson and afterwards we could see many examples of ruklers annd caliphs who married bondswomen and freed them and later these women gave birth to rulers and kingsm especially during the abbassid period .
another political wisdom can be discerned in the marriage of lady safiyah bint-huiayy ibn-akhtab. it refutes the accusation of prophet’s (pbuh) racism agauinst jews. he married lady safiyah after he defeated the jews in the battle of khaibar. if he had been a racist, how could he have married the daughter of one of his enemies whose husband, brother, and father died while they were fighting him .
fourth: social wisdom
abu bakr and omar like prophet’s (pbuh) two main ministers. he used to entrust them with doing many tasks and ask for their advice in difficult issues. he needed to visit them at many times. marrying their daughters, aisha and hafsa, helped strengthening such a relationship between the prophet (pbuh) and his ministers. in addition, marrying lady umm salamah after her husband met martyrdom in the battle of uhud and left her four children. when the prophet (pbuh) proposed to her she told him that she had four orphans and that she was jealous. he said that the orphans would be his children and he would ask allah to make her get rid of jealousy. he did not care about age and succeeded to compensate the orphans .