Could you give information about the Prophet’s wives and his polygamy?
Submitted by on Mon, 14/02/2011 - 10:36
Dear Brother / Sister,
THE PROPHET’S WIVES
The Prophet’s married life starts with our reverend mother Khadijah. When he married her, the Prophet was 25 years of age and she was 40. So, the age gap between them was 15 years. She was a bit different to the Prophet from his other wives. She was there for him while he spread the message; she consolidated him when all the people abandoned him and mocked at him. Yet more, when the Prophet received the first revelation, which made him tremble with awe, she, without any hesitation, said the following soft and relaxing words:
“Good tidings to you! I swear by Allah that Allah will never embarrass you, because you take care of your relatives, say the truest words, take on the burdens of those who are unable to do their errands on their own, host your guests in the very best way and you help people with events which happen in the path of Allah.”
This precious woman is also one of the first Muslims. She passed away in the tenth year of the prophethood, three years before the Migration (Hijrah). The Messenger of Allah was very sad upon reverend Khadijah’s death. That year was named the year of sorrow because sorrowful events happened one after another in that year, such as the deaths of Abu Talib, who was the Prophet’s uncle and defender against idolaters, and of Khadija, with whom he found peace.
The Messenger of Allah’s marriage with Khadijah lasted 25 years and his all children except for Ibrahim were born from this precious woman. When she died, the Prophet was 50 years old. That is to say, the Prophet spent the most of his married life and also his youth and mature years only with a woman who was 15 years older than him.
2. Sawda bint Zam’a:
This wife of his was also one of the first Muslims. Her first husband had passed away after the migration to Ethiopia and she was left alone. The Prophet healed this heart-broken woman’s wounds, saved her from miserableness by marrying her and became her companion. After all, this great woman wanted nothing else in the worldly life but being the Prophet’s wife; and when she married the Prophet, she was 55 years old. As it can be understood from this, the real aim in this marriage was helping a woman who was left alone and giving her a safe home.
She was the first and only virgin woman whom the Prophet married. She was the only daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr, who was to become a caliph later on. Moreover, she was a woman of rare intelligence and a nature that can take over and pursue the cause of the prophethood in the best way. Her life after marriage and her later services proved that she, the eminent creation, could be nobody’s wife but the Prophet’s. As a matter of fact, she proved herself to be the greatest hadith reporter, the most perfect commentator of the Quran and the most precious scholar of Islamic law, and tried to represent the Prophet in all aspects.
His marriage with reverend Aisha was the greatest gift for his cave-mate Abu Bakr, who was always with him and coped with his troubles together with him.
4. Hafsa bint Umar:
Hafsa was a widow. Her husband was a warrior who had been martyred in the battle of Badr. She was upset with her husband’s death and was left alone. His father Hazrat Umar firstly offered Hazrat Uthman to marry her daughter but he declined. Then, he offered Hazrat Abu Bakr the same but he declined as well. Upon witnessing this, the Messenger of Allah said that he wanted to marry her without waiting anymore and married her. This marriage was also a result of an obligation and with this marriage, that sublime person, Hazrat Umar was pleased and the loneliness of a woman, who was upset with her husband’s death and was left alone ended.
5. Zainab bint Huzaima:
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) married this woman after Hafsa. Her first husband was Ubaidah bin Harith who had been martyred at the Battle of Badr. This woman, who was left alone was 60 years old. She desperately needed a helping hand in this time of her loneliness. The Prophet of mercy and compassion who realized her neediness wanted to take her under his protection by marrying her. besides, she passed away two years after they got married.
Of course, it is impossible for a marriage with a sixty-year old woman to have passion. The only aim of this marriage was to help someone who was left alone.
6. Umm Salama:
She was also one of the first Muslims and one of those who migrated to Ethiopia. Later, she migrated to Madina. Her dear husband, who accompanied her during troublesome migration travels and never left her alone, was martyred at the Battle of Uhud. Firstly, Hazrat Abu Bakr and Umar offered their hand of mercy to this woman, who had to handle with life on her own with her orphaned children, but she declined their offers.
Later, the Messenger of Allah proposed to her and she accepted. So, her orphaned children could have a warm home, overcame the sorrow of their father’s death with the help of the Messenger of Allah and had a father who would never make them miss their real father.
Umm Salama was a woman of great intelligence and sagacity, too, like Hazrat Aisha. She was talented to be a mentor and conveyor of the message. With this marriage, the hand of mercy took her under protection, and another student to whom especially women would be thankful was accepted for the school of knowledge and spiritual guidance.
Otherwise, we cannot explain in another way why the Messenger of Allah, who was almost sixty, took on much responsibility by marrying a widow who had lots of children.
7. Umm Habiba (Ramla bint Abu Sufyan):
She was a daughter of Abu Sufyan who led the unbelief in Mecca. Our Lord, who is capable of bringing the dead to life and ending the lives of the living, granted faith, in the early years of Islam, to this woman, who was predestined to ascend to the position of the mother of believers in the future.
She had to migrate to Ethiopia with her husband because she could not live her faith under difficult conditions of Mecca. However, her husband converted to Christianity during this voyage and then he died. So, Umm Habiba was left alone. When the Messenger of Allah heard of this, he sent a message to the Negus saying that he wanted to marry this woman, who was left alone. Umm Habiba was very happy to hear this and she married the Prophet in the presence of the Negus.
If the Prophet had not done so, this lonely and helpless woman would have had either to turn back to Mecca and leave her faith under violent torment by her father and family or to beg Christians for help or to become a beggar to be able to live on. However, this marriage was the most favorable option.
Because of this marriage, Abu Sufyan, who was the fiercest enemy of Muslims and the Prophet then, lessened his torments to believers; and his grudge for the Prophet was a bit eased. Moreover, a relation was built with the Umayyad, which served as a factor that led them to become Muslims. After that, Abu Sufyan had the advantage of visiting the Prophet’s house easily and thus knowing Islam better and in the end, he became a believer.
As clearly seen, the aim of this marriage was to help a lonely woman, to lessen through her the torments Muslims suffered and to lead a fierce enemy to faith by building relations with him.
8. Juwairiyyah bint Harith:
Muslims won the Battle of Muraysi and gained a lot of booty, together with about 700 captives. Juwairiyyah, the daughter of the leader of Bani Mustaliq tribe, was amongst the captives, too. Juwairiyyah was Harith bin Dirar’s daughter. Harith was the leader of Mustaliq Jews. Juwairiyyah was first married to Musafi bin Safwan. Then, Musafi died at the Battle of Muraysi. Juwairiyyah went to the Prophet and asked for her freedom. The Messenger of Allah paid her ransom himself and set her free. When her mother came to bring her back, she preferred to become a Muslim and stayed in Madina and later, she married the Messenger of Allah.
After this marriage of the Messenger of Allah’s, the captives owned by Abdulmuttalib tribe were set free, and then the other Muslims, upon seeing this, set all of the other captives free thinking that people of a tribe who are relatives to the Messenger of Allah could not be kept as captives.
This marriage of the Prophet took place also when he was in his sixties. He aimed at building relations with an important tribe; he had lots of captives set free, and more importantly, caused a lot of Jews to convert to Islam and ascended a woman, whose husband was killed in battle against Muslims and thus was full of hatred against Muslims, to the position of the mother of believers by taking her under his wings of mercy.
9. Safiyya bint Huyayy:
Her real name was Zainab. At those times, booty for chiefs and leaders in Arabia was called safiyya. As this woman was booty for the Messenger of Allah, she was named Safiyya. Her parents were important people from Jews. Her father was the leader of the Sons of Nadir and her mother was the daughter of the leader of the Sons of Qurayza. Her father, husband and brother were killed at the Battle of Khaybar and many people of her tribe were captured. Safiyya was full of excessive anger and hatred against Islam.
The Messenger of Allah caused her to soften her feelings by marrying her after the battle. Through this marriage, relations were built with an important part of Jews and therefore, they could get to know Islam closer. Moreover, knowing some bad intentions of enemies beforehand became easier and the borders of Islam started to expand.
10. Mariyatu’l Qibtiyyah (Umm Ibrahim):
The Messenger of Allah sent letters to sovereigns of neighboring countries in order to call them to Islam. One of these sovereigns was Muqawqis, the sovereign of Egypt. Muqawqis greeted the messenger in a good way and sent the Prophet some presents and two bondswomen. These two bondswomen learnt about Islam on their way and converted to Islam. When they arrived in Madina, the Messenger of Allah took Mariya for himself. Later, he set her free and married her, who gave birth to his son Ibrahim.
This marriage had great influence on all Egyptians. Egyptians did not take sides at the war between Muslims and Byzantians living in Egypt and did not support the Byzantians. One of the reasons of this was that a woman from their nation was married to the Prophet.
11. Maimunah bint Harith:
Her real name was Barrah, which was changed for Maimunah by the Messenger of Allah later. It was the Prophet’s last marriage. One year after the Hudaibiyyah covenant, the Prophet and Muslims visited Mecca for circumambulation (tawaf). Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle, offered the Messenger of Allah to marry Maimunah. As a matter of fact, Maimunah was Abbas’ sister in law and she authorized him to choose the person for her to marry. The Prophet accepted this offer and married her. Upon this, the people of Mecca said: “It means Muhammad still loves his fellow citizens.”
This marriage happened when the Messenger of Allah was in his sixties. The aim of this marriage was to help a widow, who was left amongst idolaters in Mecca although she was Muslim, to save her from her troubles and to make a goodwill gesture for the people of Mecca.
12. Hazrat Zainab bint Jahsh:
Hadhrat Zainab was born twenty years before the beginning of the prophethood and was the daughter of the Prophet’s aunt. Her real name was Barrah. The Messenger of Allah changed her name for Zainab. Her father was Burrah from Beni Asad tribe and her mother was Umm bint Abdulmuttalib, the Prophet’s aunt. She was one of the first migrants from Mecca to Madina. She was single when she migrated to Madina. The Prophet married her off to his stepson, Zaid bin Haritha.
As it is known, the era of Mecca was the era of fundamentals of faith and the era of Madina was the era of fortification of Islamic rules. Events that happened during this era either abolished a superstitious rule spread in society and rooting from the past, replaced it with a new one or laid down a brand new one.
The fact that Hazrat Zainab was married to Hazrat Zaid before the Prophet and that later got married to the Prophet unlike his other wives brought about rules abolishing the customs and traditions of the Era of Ignorance.
The marriage of the Prophet which was objected the most both by the hypocrites of that time and the ignorant people of this time was the one with Hazrat Zainab. Moreover, it was a marriage which led to the establishment of very important rules.
As a result of all these reasons, this marriage contract was a “divine contract”, which means it was signed by Allah the Glorious Himself.
The notions of slavery and privileged class of people were quite strong and rooted in the Era of Ignorance. This had to be abolished and it had to be emphasized that the superiority of people for Allah did not stem from their class, rank or race but from their taqwa. For this reason, this wrong belief about marriage, which is one of the most vulnerable issues, had to be abolished through this marriage.
The Prophet wanted to take a step towards this aim by marrying a noble and beautiful woman like Zainab off to his servant Zaid, whom he had set free. However, Zainab and her brothers did not favor the idea at first, which must have been because of the common belief in the society; because it was not traditionally appropriate for a free woman and a former servant to get married.
Zainab told the Messenger of Allah her opinion: “O Messenger of Allah, I am your aunt’s daughter. I do not want to marry him. Moreover, I am from Quraish.” The Messenger of Allah explained to her that Zaid was very dear to him and to Islam and stated that he was indeed a noble person because of his parents.
Then, 36th verse of sura al-Ahzab was sent: “It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by God and His Apostle to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys God and His Apostle, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.”
Upon this, Zainab agreed to marry him saying, “I will not disobey Allah and His Messenger.”
However, this marriage did not work out. There was not a sincere love and respect between them. Although Zainab was a religious woman who feared Allah, she was proud of her beauty and nobility, and looked down on her husband, who was a former slave and hurt him with sarcasm.
Hazrat Zaid could not cope with this increasing incompatibility anymore. He consulted the Prophet and said that he wanted to get divorced. The Prophet was very upset because it was him who wanted this marriage to happen. He wanted to break the society’s wrong beliefs. For this reason, he said to Zaid every time he came to him: “Keep your wife, do not divorce her.” However, despite everything, this marriage did not last more than one year. Zaid had to divorce her at the end.
After a while, it was time to abolish another common but wrong custom coming from the Era of Ignorance. It was the belief that stepchildren were considered as biological children and that, therefore, wives of stepsons were considered as stepfathers’ real daughters.
Islam changed the notion of step-child totally. The Quranic verse on this topic was very clear:
“Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is juster in the sight of God. But if ye know not their father's (names, call them) your Brothers in faith, or your maulas.” (Sura al-Ahzab, 5)
After this Quranic verse was sent, Zaid was started to be called Zaid bin Haritha, in attribution to his father. After this wrong belief about stepchildren was abolished, it was made clear that their wives were not like stepfathers’ real daughters. Yet, this had to be proven and strenghtened with an example. This would be possible through the marriage of Hazrat Zainab and the Prophet. However, the Prophet was worried about possible gossips while abolishing this rooted tradition. However, this principle brought by Islam was supposed to be applied by him for sure. It was indispensable. As a matter of fact, the Quran explains it as follows:
“Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of God and thy favor: "Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear God." But thou didst hide in thy heart that which God was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear God. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And God's command must be fulfilled.” (Sura al-Ahzab, 37)
Following this verse, in the fifth year of Migration (Hijrah), Zainab married the Prophet with a divine contract when she was 35.
As a matter of fact, hypocrites started gossiping about this marriage: “Although Muhammad knew that his son’s wife was forbidden to him, he married his son’s wife!”, said they. Upon this, 40th verse of sura al-Ahzab was sent:
“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets: and God has full knowledge of all things.”
Although prophets are a kind of father to their ummah and take care of them with more mercy and affection than their real fathers, this does not mean a biological fatherhood. So, this Quranic verse made it clear that it was not inappropriate in terms of reason, knowledge and nature for prophets to marry a woman from their ummah. With this, Islam separated the law of step-children and that of biological children from each other. However, this tradition was so old and strong that none of the Muslims could dare to have such a marriage at that time. For this reason, hypocrites of that time kept gossiping about this marriage and made up several stories about it. Yet more, they attempted to show this marriage as evidence to the Prophet’s lustfulness (God forbid).
Badiuzzaman Said Nursi’s succinct and silencing response to those who think of this marriage to be a result of lust is as follows:
“God forbid, a hundred thousand times! The hand of such vile doubts cannot reach up to that elevated one! Yes, he was such that from the age of fifteen to forty when the blood is fiery and exuberant and the passions of the soul enf1amed, sufficed and was content with a single older woman like Khadija the Great (May God be pleased with her) with complete chastity and purity - as is agreed by friend and foe alike. His then having numerous wives after the age of forty, that is, when bodily heat subsides and the passions are quietened, is evidence proving decisively and self-evidently to those who are even a little fair-minded that such marriages were not to satisfy the carnal appetites, but were based on other important instances of wisdom.” (Risale-i Nur Collection, Seventh Letter)
The Prophet, who knew Zainab when she was a virgin, could have married her before having her marry Zaid. There was no objection to it. So, this marriage includes important reasons such as correcting wrong beliefs that were spread amongst people and laying down some new rules.
Questions on Islam
- Will you give information about the viwes of the prophet (PBUH) and his polygamy?
- The Prophet has his Household moved to Medina from Mecca
- How did the Prophet (pbuh) make his first marriage after the death of Hz. Khadijah to Hz. Sawda bint Zam'a? What is the wisdom behind his marriage to this quite old woman?
- Is polygamy possible in this age? Can men imitate the Prophet regarding the issue?
- How did the Prophet (pbuh) marry Hz. Zaynab bint Jahsh upon the order of Allah? What is the wisdom behind this marriage?
- Why was Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) polygamous?
- Sawda bint Zam’a (r.anha)
- Why was Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) polygamous?
- The Prophet’s marriage to Hazrat Umm Salama
- Zaynab bint Jahsh (r.anha)