Why did Muhammad -pbuh- marry several women? Part I

Why did Muhammad -pbuh- marry several women? Part I


Did he do so for sexual gratification?

Whenever Prophet Muhammad’s name

emerges, the image in many people’s minds is a

man with many wives. For Muslims, his multiple

marriages had meaning and immense implications

for Islam, and by extension, the history of the

world. Needless to say, the issue remains

controversial, and as such, any study of the matter

requires an objective approach. Therefore we will

endeavour to tackle this topic by being as objective

as possible.

The Prophet Muhammad was driven by the

goal to ensure that his mission as the Messenger of

God was fulfilled and to establish a society based

on God’s commands, and not his own. In order to

achieve this goal, he did everything that was

humanly possible: he forged relations with the

various tribes of Arabia, concluded peace treaties

with his sworn enemies and kept relations with the

heads of various tribes, nations and religions.

Taken together his marriages was one way by

which he fostered relationships with various

influential tribes.

If one were to view the marriages of the

Prophet from this context, the motivating factors

behind his marriages become clear. It would be

very simplistic and incorrect to view his marriages

as being merely for lustful ends.

Let us now briefly examine the context of

each one of his marriages to see whether this was

the case. From the outset, it is of ultimate

importance to note that, except for one of his

wives, all of his eleven wives were widowed or

divorced. Most were in fact widowed.

His first marriage was to a widow named

Khadijah, who had been married twice and whom

he married when she was forty years old and he

was twenty five. She was the first woman to

embrace Islam. She provided great consolation to

him throughout his life and he continued to

remember her in his later years as his most beloved

wife. He stayed with her faithfully for 25 years

until her death, at which time he was 50 years old,

and she was 65 years old.

If he was driven by lustful desires as accused

by his opponents, he could have married several,

beautiful young women in a society where having

numerous wives was a norm – there would be no

reason to faithfully remain with an older woman

until the age of 50. This single fact would be

sufficient to totally refute the charges against him

in this regard. However, an examination of all of

his marriages, as we shall see, should put this

question to rest.

After Khadija’s death, he married another

widow, Sawda, who was 65 years old. She and her

previous husband, Sakran, were among those who

had immigrated to Ethiopia, fleeing from the

oppression and persecution of the Meccans. It was

during their return to Mecca that her husband had

died. Seeing her difficult condition, the Prophet

married her.

Then he married Aisha, daughter of his

lifelong friend and companion Abu Bakr. Aisha

had first been betrothed to Jabir bin Mut’im at the

age of 5. Child marriages were evidently the norm

at that time. She was the only virgin among the

Prophet’s wives and the only one who was born

into a Muslim family.

One of the Prophet’s goals in this marriage

was to strengthen the bond of his brotherhood

with Abu Bakr, who was his main defender against

the Meccans. Second, Aisha was of a lineage

known for honor and intelligence. The Prophet

knew that she would tremendously benefit his

nation (ummah) by transmitting crucial knowledge

from his life, especially family and personal matters

that others were not privy to. Indeed, the Prophet

advised his community to learn half of the

knowledge of the religion from Aisha. The

foresight of the Prophet proved itself, for she

would live for 45 years after his death, and thus

became one of the main sources of Prophetic

wisdom and knowledge.

He also married another widow, Hafsa, who

was the daughter of Umar Bin Khattab, his next

closest companion. Her husband, Khunays, had

been martyred in the Battle of Badr. He felt a duty

towards Umar, whose acceptance of Islam

provided a major boost for the Muslims in Mecca

against their foes.

Zaynab, daughter of Khuzaima, was another

widow that the Prophet married. She was married

to Ubayda bin al-Haris, who was martyred in the

Battle of Badr. She was sixty when the Prophet

married her. She was known as the “Mother of the

Downtrodden”. She, however, passed away after

two or three months of marriage.

http://www.mercyprophet.org/mul/node/6800

Ten Questions and Answers

about the Prophet Muhammad

May the Blessings and Peace of Allah be upon Him

By Ibrahim H. Malabari

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