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Noble Civilized Values in the Prophet’s Polygyny

17107 2008/01/27 2024/05/23
Article translated to : العربية

chapter one

one of the most common doubts regarding prophet muhammad (pbuh ) has been his polygyny. he married a number of women more than the allowed number in the islamic shariah for the ordinary muslim. the prophet (pbuh ) has been accused of being lusty; this has been the only reason the accusers found to justify their plea.

in this chapter i am going to refute their plea through historical facts and shariah rules. i believe that would prove this accusation as groundless.

aspect one

his marriage makes him completely human

it is taken for granted that marriage for adult men is a virtue and not a demerit. allah says in the noble qur an what can be translated as “adorned for mankind is the love of lusts, for women and seeds, (or: sons) and heaped-up, heaps (literally: “arched” hoarded cantars) of gold and silver, and horses of mark, and cattle and tillage. that is the enjoyment (literally: the belongings) of the present life; (literally: the lowly life, i.e., the life of this world) and allah has in his providence the fairest resorting .” ( 3:14) the males in every society or tribe marry when they grow up; those who do not marry are held incomplete in one aspect or another. divine religions ordain marriage for people if they fulfil the required material and spiritual conditions. at the top of those ordained to marry were allah s prophets. allah says in the noble qur an what can be translated as “and indeed we have already sent messengers even before you, and we made for them spouses and offspring;” (14:38)

therefore, prophet muhammad s (pbuh ) marriage was a practical proof of his complete humanity. he married lady khadijah (may allah be pleased with her) when he was twenty-five years old. she was twice widowed and she wanted to marry the prophet (pbuh ) because of his noble attributes. she sent to him saying “o dear muhammad, i would like to marry you because of your noble descent and your lofty status among your people and your good manners and truthfulness.” she was one of the greatest ladies of quraysh, both in social status and wealth. the prophet (pbuh ) told his uncles. his uncles hamzah and abu talib went with him to her father and proposed for her. the prophet (pbuh ) gave her twenty she-camels as a dowry. this marriage produced six children: al qasim, abdullah, ruqayyiah, zainab, fatimah, and umm kulthoum. the prophet (pbuh ) did not have any children from any of his other wives, except from lady mary bint-sham oun (ra ), mother of his son ibrahim.

following lady khadijah s death, prophet muhammad (pbuh ) married lady sawdah bint-zam'ah (may allah be pleased with her ), the widow of suhail bin amr, one of the early converts to islam who migrated to abyssinia, embraced christianity and died there. he then proposed to lady aisha bint-abu-bakr ( may allah be pleased with her ), the daughter of his closest companion abu bakr. however, she was still young and he married her when he migrated to madinah.

muhammad also married lady hafsah (may allah be pleased with her ) bint-omar ibnul-khattab, the daughter of his close companion omar. she was a widow whose husband ghunays bin hudhafah as-sahmi had met martyrdom in the battle of uhud.

then he married lady umm-salamah (may allah be pleased with her ), lady zainab bint-khuzaimah (may allah be pleased with her ) who was called “the mother of the weak” because she was kind and charitable and lady juwayriah bintul-harith ( may allah be pleased with her ). both were widows. he also married lady safiyah bint-huiayy ibn-akhtab (may allah be pleased with her ) and lady maimunah bintul-harith (may allah be pleased with her ) who were both twice widowed. he married his cousin lady zainab bint-jahsh following her divorce from his adopted son zaid who used to be his servant.

he betrothed sharraf bint-khalifah al-kalbi but she died before marriage. he betrothed as-shanbaa bint-amr al-ghaffari. when his son ibrahim died she said that if muhammad (pbuh ) were really a prophet, allah would not let his son die. the prophet (pbuh ) divorced her. he betrothed arabah bint-jabir al-kalabi. however, when she came to him she unknowingly asked protection against him and they separated. he married al-aliyah bint-zibian but he divorced her because of a contagious disease.

the prophet s (pbuh ) wives are mothers of the believers

it was an honor for all the prophet s (pbuh ) wives to be married to the best and the fairest husband. allah made them the mothers of the believers until the day of judgment. allah says in the noble qur an what can be translated as “the prophet is (worthier of) patronizing (i.e., mankind the pronoun is plural) the believers than their selves, and his spouses are their mothers ;” ( 33:6) therefore, they were prohibited to marry after his death; how can a person marry his mother? allah says in the noble qur an what can be translated as and in no way should you hurt the messenger of allah, nor marry his spouses even after him at all. surely that would, in the reckoning of allah, be a monstrous (thing). ( 33:35)

the prophet s (pbuh ) house and matrimonial problems

the prophet s (pbuh ) house was just a human house that witnessed happiness and joy because of the prevalent amity and mercy. allah says in the noble qur an what can be translated as “and of his signs is that he created for you, of yourselves, spouses, that you (may) find rest in them, and he has made between you amity and mercy. surely in that are indeed signs for a people who meditate.” (30:21) the prophet (pbuh ) used to chat and laugh with his wives to fill their hearts with gladness.

however, it was not always that rosy. there were problems such as the lack of money, envy among fellow wives, abandoning in bed, divorce, etc. imam al-bukhari tells us some events that happened at this blessed house. ibn abbas narrated that he was keen to ask omar ibnul-khattab regarding the two wives of the prophet (pbuh ) who aided one another against him and who allah says about them in surat at-tahrim (prohibition) what can be translated as “in case you two repent to allah, then your hearts are readily attentive; (tmq 66:4) when omar ibnul-khattab went to perform the hajj, ibn abbas too went along with him. on their return, he asked omar and he told him they were lady aisha ( may allah be pleased with her ) and lady hafsah ( may allah be pleased with her ).


then omar added, “by allah, in the pre-lslamic period of ignorance we did not pay attention to women until allah revealed regarding them what he revealed regarding them and assigned for them what he has assigned. once while i was thinking over a certain matter, my wife said, “i recommend that you do so-and-so.” i said to her, “what have you got to do with this matter? why do you poke your nose in a matter which i want to see fulfilled?” she said, “how strange you are, o son of al-khattab! you don't want to be argued with whereas your daughter, hafsah surely, argues with allah s prophet so much that he remains angry for a full day!” omar then reported; how he at once put on his outer garment and went to hafsah and said to her, “o my daughter! do you argue with allah's prophet so that he remains angry the whole day?” hafsah said, “by allah, we argue with him.” omar said, “know that i warn you of allah's punishment and the anger of allah's prophet. . . o my daughter! don't be betrayed by the one who is proud of her beauty because of the love of allah's prophet for her (i.e. aisha).” omar added, “then i went out to umm salamah's house who was one of my relatives, and i talked to her. she said, “o son of al-khattab! it is rather astonishing that you interfere in everything; you even want to interfere between allah's prophet and his wives!” by allah, by her talk she influenced me so much that i lost some of my anger. i left her (and went home). at that time i had a friend from the ansar who used to bring news (from the prophet) in case of my absence, and i used to bring him the news if he was absent. in those days we were afraid of one of the kings of ghassan tribe. we heard that he intended to move and attack us, so fear filled our hearts because of that. (one day) my ansari friend unexpectedly knocked at my door, and said, “open open!” i said, “has the king of ghassan come”' he said, “no, but something worse; allah's prophet has isolated himself from his wives.” i said, “let the nose of aisha and hafsah be stuck to dust (i.e. humiliated)!” then i put on my clothes and went to allah's prophet s residence, and behold, he was staying in an upper room of his to which he ascended by a ladder, and a black slave of allah's prophet was (sitting) on the first step. i said to him, “say (to the prophet) omar ibnul-khattab is here.” then the prophet admitted me and i narrated the story to allah's prophet. when i reached the story of umm salamah, allah's prophet smiled while he was lying on a mat made of palm tree leaves with nothing between him and the mat. underneath his head there was a leather pillow stuffed with palm fibres, and leaves of a saut tree were piled at his feet, and above his head hung a few water skins. on seeing the marks of the mat imprinted on his side, i wept. he said. “why are you weeping?” i replied, “o allah's prophet! caesar and khosrau are leading the life (i.e. luxurious life) while you, allah's prophet though you are, is living in destitute”. the prophet then replied. “won't you be satisfied that they enjoy this world and we the hereafter?”

the prophet (pbuh ) abandoned his wives for one month because of some kind of conspiracy among them out on envy. then allah revealed the choice ayah that can be translated as “o you prophet, say to your spouses, “in case you would (like) the present life (literally: the lowly life, i.e., the life of this world) and its adornment, then come, and i will allow you (the necessary) enjoyment and will release you a becoming release. and in case you would (like) allah and his messenger and the last home, then surely allah has prepared for the fair-doers among you a magnificent reward .” ( 33:28-29)

one reader may ask about the reason for quoting this hadith in full. this is to assert that the prophet s (pbuh ) wives are not angels. they are human beings and behave so. the prophet (pbuh ) gained strong ties with all main arab tribes and powers through his marriages. his family continues to the present day. my allah have his mercy and blessing on the prophet (pbuh ), his family and companions until the day of judgment.





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