How did our Prophet (pbuh) treat his wives?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

His house was the happiest, the most fortunate and the most blessed house to be built on the earth in the past and future. His house always smelt of happiness. No woman in the world was loved as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) loved his wives. No man was loved like him, either. There was definitely a reason for that aura of compassion. The Messenger of Allah (saw) brought about infinite interest and devotion in the hearts of the people in his household with the method of discipline he applied to them.

It should be said in advance that the character he displayed as the head of the family was admirably perfect. He was the epitome of patience, compassion, deliberateness, kindness, tolerance and responsibility. And those virtues probably could not to express themselves so well in anyone.

The value of the head of the family in the sight of Allah is measured by the value he gives to his wife and relatives. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

“The one who treats his family well is the best of you. As for me, I am the best of you in respect to treating my family well. (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 50; Darimi, Nikah, 55).

Care and Love: The most important sign of a husband and father's interest in their family is spending time with them. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) paid attention to it; neither his worship, nor the time he spent with his friends, nor his worldly affairs would prevent it. When he was with his family, he would chat with them, inquire after their health, joke, and try to educate them.

The narrations show that his talk with his family took place in two ways: First, personal contact and private conversation with each family member; Second, the contact and conversation of all family members with one another.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) included several definite principles in his life in order that those two kinds of conversations would not be neglected due to his daily, political, religious and other activities:

The night he would spend with his wives was based on a certain principle; staying with one wife every night based on a sequence determined by drawing lots became a principle. According to Nawawi's statement, even if the woman was in menstruation, there was no skipping in the conversation with her.

In addition, He visited each of his wives one by one every morning after leaving the mosque and after performing the afternoon (Asr) prayer. He would chat with them for a certain period of time.

In addition, every evening, all the wives of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would come together and chat in the room of the wife whom the Messenger of Allah was going to spend the night with so that the whole family would come together. It is narrated that he told exemplary stories to his wives, and made funny jokes at those meetings.

The Prophet (pbuh) would visit his wives every day in the morning and in the afternoon, salute them, kiss them by putting his hand on their shoulders or heads, inquire after their health and deal with their issues. That kindness in him probably fed into the souls of his wives with all the decency and grace that not one but many wives treated one another with the same politeness.

For example, the Prophet did not sleep until the morning next to his wife, Safiyyah (r.a), who had lost his father and some relatives in the war the day before. He chatted and took care of her until the morning. She needed such care, and the Prophet (pbuh) took care her.

When the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) became ill, Safiyyah said, "I wish I had suffered the disease you suffered, and I would be lying in your place.” Then, the other wives of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) winked at one another. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said "Safiyyah is sincere in her word."

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who knew the need to have fun and joke in human nature, allowed that to happen and joked with his wives personally. Hz. Aisha (r.a) herself said that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had raced with her several times.

Caring and valuing someone also become manifest in respecting the opinion of one’s addressee and taking into account his suggestions. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) definitely set an example in this regard for all people. The heads of the family who do not refer to the words and thoughts of their wives in particular even on matters that directly concern them, are unfair to their closest friends when compared to the Messenger of Allah’s (pbuh) life. In fact, the Prophet (pbuh) asked his wives’ opinions and applied them at some critical points.

The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, was too heavy for the Muslims. They were to return before reaching the Kaaba. After writing the agreement, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said to his Companions,

"Get up, sacrifice your animals and then have your hair cut!"

However, nobody got up. (Nobody was satisfied with the agreement made with the polytheists.) The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) repeated his order three times. When nobody got up, he entered Umm Salama's (r.a) tent; he told her about the situation. Umm Salama said:

"O Messenger of Allah! Do you want that (the people to sacrifice their animals and have their hair cut)? Go out, do not talk to any of the companions, sacrifice your camel, call your barber, and have your hair cut!"

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) got up, He did all of those things without talking to anyone: He sacrificed his camel, called his barber and had a haircut. When the Companions saw it, they got up and sacrificed their animals and shaved one another.

It is a very sensitive issue to focus on. Who could treat women so kindly and respectfully? How many heads of state would consult their wives at the most critical moment?  As a head of the family, how many people consult their wives in family life? It is possible to increase those questions about every field that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) served as a model. Unfortunately, the answers to most questions will be negative. That is why our perfect religion is not at the same level as our lives. In fact, our Prophet (pbuh) was kind to women with his behaviors; He always encouraged people to act like that with his luminous words:

“The most perfect of believers in terms of faith is the one with the highest ethics. And the one who has the highest ethics is the one who treats women best.” (Abu Dawud Tirmidhi, Darimi)

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) pleased his family members with his various words and deeds expressing that he cared for and valued his family members; he also attached importance to satisfying them spiritually. Telling his wives about their virtues, telling them that he loves them, taking them on his mount with him, bathing together with the water of the same bowl, helping his wives to get on the animal by allowing them to step on his knee, taking his wives with him when he was invited to a meal, consoling his wives who grieve and cry by wiping their tears with his hands and many other deeds of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) aim to satisfy his wives. “When the Prophet Muhammad (saw) remembered Khadija, he would not get tired of praising her or asking her forgiveness." As a matter of fact, he would list her virtues by saying " Is there anyone like her? She was like this, she was like that.”

A narration of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal clarifies. According to him, once the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

"When people denied me, she (Khadija) believed in me; when everybody denied me, she confirmed me. When everybody avoided giving their property to me, she spent her property for me. Allah gave me children through her; I did not have children from other women."

It is certain that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) counted many more virtues of Khadijah (ra) like " She was wise; she was virtuous, she was prudent...” etc.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not neglect to compliment and to take care of  the relatives of his wives; he became an incomparable example of loyalty by taking care of the relatives and friends of his deceased wife, Khadijah (ra).

Ibn Abbas narrates: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

“The best of you is the one who treats his wives well. I am the best of you in terms of treating my wives well.”

Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ordered us to treat women well and stated that the best person was the one who treated his wife the best. Undoubtedly, "treating somebody well" is something relative. Observing the rights of women truly is the first part of treating them well. Complying with the rights stated in hadiths such as the right to alimony (nafaqah), not insulting them and not reproaching them due to their mistakes. In addition, being patient in the face of some of their moodiness and jealousy, treating them well while educating them, providing a good living, etc. are included in treating them well.

However, it is also clear that kindness towards one’ wife is not enough for a person to be "the best”. Other conditions like taqwa, zuhd (asceticism), amal salih (good deeds) etc. are listed in the verses and hadiths to be the best. In that case, whoever fulfills those conditions will be closer to perfection in goodness when he treats his wife well, too. Analyzing Prophet Muhammad's attitude towards his wives and his advice related to women can reveal the details meant by that "good treatment". Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said,

“The woman is like a rib; if you try to straighten her, she will break. So, if you want to get benefit from her, do so while she still has some crookedness."

He warned us that we should be interested in them and take and care of them along with avoiding harsh and rude behavior.

A woman has a more sensitive and fragile structure than a man. With this understanding, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), on some occasions, likened his “wives to a bottle made of glass”.

So, understanding and tolerance will be essential for in the face of their unpleasant behavior. A reminder of his to Companions is as follows:

"How do you beat your women like slaves or animals, and then sleep together in the evening without shame?"

Despite this, he addresses those who beat or want to beat their wives:

“Beat them, but you have to know that only your evil ones will beat them.” 

As it is known, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made several marriages after the death of Khadija (ra). It is very difficult for women who are rivals to get along well. However, thanks to his patience, understanding, and knowing women well, the Prophet (pbuh) brought his wives closer to each other, paved the way for them to be friends, sometimes smiled, sometimes got offended, and sometimes warned them about their jealousy of one another. Here are some of them:

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) tried to educate his wives and made educative conversations in the evening meetings when they were all together. And the wives, who were informed by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), became knowledgeable enough to transfer their knowledge and experiences to other women [and to both men and women after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)]. The people of the Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) household would accept women who were from inside and outside the city to their rooms and fulfill their roles in religious education by informing them of the Prophet's instruction regarding religious issues.

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We also recommend you to read the following article by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Muhittin AKGÜL titled "The Relationship of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) with his wives":

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would sit and talk with his wives. He would even negotiate some issues with them like a friend. He did not need their thoughts and ideas whatsoever; for, he was strengthened by divine revelation. However, he wanted to teach some issues to his ummah. Contrary to what had happened before, the woman would have a very honorable and dignified position in Islam. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) started that practice from his own house first.

The Almighty Allah (swt), who created human beings and taught them the ways of being happy, showed the source of true happiness and how to achieve it with the prophets He sent in every period. Allah Almighty, who did not leave bees and ants without a queen, did not leave man without a leader and guide. He informed the most ideal deeds that should be followed and done in every aspect of life with the prophets who were actually guides. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who summarized the principles of the messages of all prophets and brought the last principles to humanity, represents the peak in terms of being a model to humankind. Since no prophet will come after him, he set an example for everyone and represented a life that everyone can lead. That he was the last and distinguished prophet of Allah (swt) and that his every action was taught by the Almighty Allah (swt) gave the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) a separate and important position. In other words, the fact that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is in such a unique position is because it is Allah who educated him:

“…Allah has revealed to you the Book and wisdom and taught you what you never knew. Great ˹indeed˺ is Allah’s favour upon you!”  (Surah an-Nisa, 4/113) that verse and,

“My Lord educated me, and made my education the most excellent” (Al-Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir, 1/224) that hadith show us the unique position of him.

Yes, he is a good example for us. One of the important issues that he is a model for us is the family institution and the relations between spouses. Perhaps one of the most important reasons for his having more than one wife and for their wives’ being of different cultures and ages is that he is a model for his ummah regarding family life and shows in detail how to treat wives. Considering the negativities such as the fact that today's people cannot fully sustain the institution of the family, especially due to the deficiencies of the believers in family relations, the increase in divorce, the increase of family fights, the children who are left behind due to the divorce being exposed to various difficulties, we need that aspect of the Exemplary Man (pbuh), again.

In this article, the relationship of the Unique Messenger (pbuh), whom Allah educated, with his family, how he treated them, helped them, valued them, and how he achieved a happy life in spite of all negativities without breaking their hearts and by loving them will be shown.

Importance of Family Institution

In the Last Message he brought to humanity, it is emphasized that people are basically a community consisting of parents (Surah al-Hujurat, 49/13). Therefore, the difference of people in terms of color, race, breed, country and ancestry is not a privilege, but rather a means of getting closer, knowing one another and meeting.

In such a large human community, the family constitutes the smallest and most important part of the society; the husband and wife form the center of that part.

In the Divine Declaration brought by the last Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), man is addressed in particular and is asked to get along well with his wife, not to make something bad that he sees in his wife a reason for quarrel and separation; he is promised that rewards will be given to him from unexpected ways if he put up with her (Surah an-Nisa, 4/19), which is quite meaningful in terms of showing how important harmony between spouses is.

As stated at the beginning, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is a perfect model that should be known and followed by every believer in terms of being an ideal husband. When we look at the relations with his family in that ideal model, we see that the main principles are as follows:

Consultation with his Wives

A human being is not an installed machine or a robot. He is a creature that has feelings, thoughts and views on certain issues and that wants them to be taken into account and attached importance. It is even more important for spouses who share life together, cope with the troubles and have to spend a long period of time together. Therefore, it is inevitable for the spouses, who spend a life together, to always consult each other's ideas, take them into consideration and benefit from them. Consultation, which means things being carried out in consensus, consultation where it is difficult to make decisions, and asking others for their ideas, which is an important sign of valuing one’s addressee, is an indispensable aspect of marital life.

One of the meaning of the consultation is to extract honey from different beehives and flowers. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used it and applied it at the most critical times and in the face of events; thus, he showed that consultation with spouses is a sunnah. The Almighty Declaration, the Qur’an, drew attention to consultation by giving a surah the name "ash-Shura" (consultation) and praised those who consulted others. We see the most ideal sign of that Almighty Declaration on human life in the attitude of our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he was faced with the first revelation. When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) first met Jibril, he went to his beloved and lovely wife Khadija (r.a) and shared with her what he had been through. That insightful Khadija consoled the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and uttered words that relieved his heart and soothed his excitement. (see Bukhari, Bad’ul Wahy 3)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not neglect consultation with his wives at different times and occasions; thus, he showed how important consultation was. For example, when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made a very important agreement, such as Hudaybiyyah, the Muslims, who saw that the conditions were apparently against them, acted slowly to fulfill the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) order "to sacrifice their animals and exit the state of ihram" due to the shock they experienced. It was a very difficult and delicate situation for a prophet. In the face of such a difficult situation, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) consulted one of his wives, Umm Salama (r.a), our Mother. Acting upon her consultation, he sacrificed his camel and exited the state of ihram. When the Companions saw it, they immediately understood the situation and did the same thing. Such consultation was one that history had probably not witnessed.

Even today, heads of state, countries and nations that claim that they care about women's rights have not been able to set such an example though such a long time passed after that incident. We see that the same principle of consultation being applied in the face of the slander against Aisha (r.a.), the distinguished wife of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). In such a situation, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had a consultation about Aisha with his other wife Zaynab bint Jahsh (r.a.) Although the life of our Exemplary Guide is like that, it is obvious how far a thought like "Consult the woman, but do the opposite!" is from the prophetic line.

Helping His Wives

It is very difficult for people to continue their lives alone. Living together can only be achieved by doing things together. Spouses sharing the same home are those who need mutual assistance most. The chores of a house become easy and difficulties are overcome when the spouses take on the responsibilities together. A spouse is a spouse at home, regardless of his/her job. His job and position should not constitute an obstacle to that function at home. Excuses like “I am in such a position! My position at work prevents me from doing such things! My status in society is...!” are just pretexts of avoiding responsibility and choosing comfort. Nobody's position is as high as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh); nobody’s work is as intensive as his and status as great as his. He was always received revelation and talked to Jibril. The angels stood in salute; he had a lot of work to do. However, he (pbuh) did not refrain from helping his wives and showed his ummah the ideal criterion regarding the issue.

Here are a few examples of Prophet Muhammad (saw) helping his wives: He took care of his family's affairs at home. He sewed and patched his clothes with his blessed hands.

He would milk his sheep himself, mend his shoes, take care of himself, and feed his camel himself. There were times when he would eat and knead dough with his housemaid. He carried the goods he bought from the bazaar and helped his wives look after the children, too.

Treasuring His Spouses

In human relationships, caring for your addressee is an opportunity to continue and increase love. The expression of that care is manifested sometimes by a word, sometimes by a glance, and sometimes by a deed. Just as an excessive compliment to someone else is out of place, it is ungrateful not to say good words that will lead to an increase in love. And for spouses who continue a life together, it becomes even more important. In such situations, the Exemplary Person, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did the following:

He personally expressed that he loved his wives. At the same time, he would make his wives feel their virtues mention them. He would strengthen his affection by acting gently, which is considered as a reflection of love, such as helping his wives to mount the animal (Bukhari, Maghazi 38). One day, some people invited him to dinner, and he said: "If my wife comes!.." as a condition for him to accept such an invitation. (Muslim, Ashriba 139).

He would take care of his wives when they had a problem, comfort them when he saw one of them crying, wipe her tears with his hands, and hence he would dry her eyes. For example, one day the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw that our mother, Safiyyah was upset.

One of his wives reminded her that she was of Jewish origin and said: “O Jewish girl!” She told the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about it and expressed her sorrow. Our Prophet (saw) consoled her as follows:

“If they ever say something like that to you again, give them the following answer: ‘My dad is Prophet Aaron, my uncle is Prophet Moses, my husband, as you can see, is Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh). How can you brag to me about yourselves?’ (Tirmidhi, Manaqib 63; Hakim, al-Mustadrak, 4/31)

Who would not be happy with such a perfect solution? She left all her sorrows behind after talking to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

Aisha (r.a.) had no children. She did not have a nickname because of it. A lot of importance was given to the nickname among Arabs. She was unhappy with that state. One day, she told the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) about it and he said:

“Adopt your nephew, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, and get a nickname for his name.” After that, Aisha was nicknamed as "Umm Abdillah" in reference to her nephew Abdullah ibn Zubayr. (Ibn Sad, Tabaqat, 8/66).

Showing Tolerance and Compassion to them

A spouse is a trust of Allah to man. Betrayal of trust is an attribute of nifaq (hypocrisy). The Almighty Declaration emphasized how to treat spouses with different verses, and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) reinforced it with his nice words.

“...and the women also have rights similar to those of men over them in accordance with Islamic law…” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2/228) Attention is drawn to the rights of spouses in the verse above.

“...Treat them fairly. If you happen to dislike them, you may hate something which Allah turns into a great blessing…” (Surah an-Nisa, 4/19), It is clearly stated in the verse above that treating them well is one of those rights .

Regarding the issue, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) regarded good acts towards one’s wives as an important behavior leading man to be regarded good in the sight of Allah (swt) and showed how he treated his wives by saying,

“The best of you is the one who treats his family well. I am the best of you in terms of treating my family well.” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib 63)

He (pbuh) also said:

“Be benevolent towards women because they are like entrusted things to you. You have no right but to treat them well as long as they do not commit an obvious indecency."  (Tirmidhi, Tafsiru at-Tawbah 2)

By saying that, he emphasized that women are entrusted to man by Allah and hence they should not be treated badly.

Another criterion for being good is the attitude towards their mistakes. The Messenger of Mercy (pbuh) advised the husband to be kind and patient towards his wife, and to behave more politely, especially because the women are sensitive. He pointed out their courtesy and delicacy by stating that they were “created from rib” (Bukhari, Nikah 79; Anbiya 1) with a simile, and stated that they would be broken when not treated properly.

Man is not a perfect being. However, there are also methods through which defects are compensated and lessons are taken from them. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not immediately respond to such events that took place among his wives from time to time; he acted carefully and thoughtfully; thus, he got better results with deliberateness than he would get with anger.

Safiyya, mother of believers, cooked very well. Once, while the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was in the room of Hz. Aisha, she cooked a meal and sent to him. Thereupon, Hz. Aisha felt jealous and started to shiver. She got so angry that she took the dinner plate, threw it and broke it. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not utter any words; he caused the incident to end well with his patience and endurance. After a while, Hz. Aisha regretted what she had done. Not only did she regret but also asked for the penance for it. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated that the penance for it was to send her the same plate with the same food. (Abu Dawud, Buyu 91; Nasai, Ishratun-Nisa 4).

We see that another criterion for being good towards women is not to insult them and not to beat them ever. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who did not tolerate insults even to other people, advised people to be more sensitive to spouses in particular and he never approved of the vulgar display of power such as beating. He condemned severely beating the woman as if beating an animal during the day and going to her at night in particular. Therefore, the daytime attitude of the person who has to break all ties at night are not welcomed. Actually, such a thing was never seen in the life of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

Valuing the relatives of his wives

Another remarkable attitude of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in his relationship with his wives was that he respected the relatives and friends of his wives and sent them gifts from time to time. He would show respect and compliment and old woman who came to his house. When Hz. Aisha asked the reason, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

“O Aisha! This woman is Khadija's friend. While Khadija was alive, that guest would come to our house. It is of belief to show loyalty to friendship.”

He embraced such an act as a sign of loving Khadija. Besides, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sent a portion to Khadija's friends when he sacrificed a sheep. (Ibn al-Athir, Usd Al-Ghaba, 7/84).

Care and Love for His Wives

Those who love each other put up with each other and do not see their flaws. If any, they tolerate them. Life partners should be more sensitive to that issue. For, they will be together not only here, but also in the hereafter.

As a compassionate spouse, despite being very busy, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) valued his wives, listened to them, commented on the events they told and said he loved them. Aisha told the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) the story that 11 (eleven) wives came together and told each other about their husbands; the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) listened to it and made a comment. (Bukhari, Nikah 82).

Another sign of the love that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) showed towards his wives is that he spent time with them. Despite being a head of state, a prophet and having hard work, he did not neglect his family. Because he was the most perfect servant, his life of worship and the very important periods of time he had to spend with his companions never caused him to neglect his family. He was extremely careful about that point; he would chat with them, inquire about their health and joke.

And every evening, all the wives of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would come together and chat in the room of the wife whom the Messenger of Allah was going to spend the night with so that the whole family would come together. It is narrated that he told exemplary stories to his wives, and made funny jokes at those meetings.

One of the most important signs of his love was that he cared about his wives' pleasures. The exemplary man, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was so considerate that only someone who had all his education under the supervision of Allah could act so considerately. He asked her permission to perform a nafilah prayer when he stayed with Aisha (r.a.). Hz. Aisha accepted such a question as an honor and gave him permission. Hz. Aisha narrates:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to me one night; "O Aisha! Could you allow me to be with my Lord tonight?" (He was considerate enough to ask his wife for permission even to be with his Lord.) Then I said: “O Messenger of Allah! I would like to be with you; but I want what you want more.” Then, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) made wudu and he prayed; he recited the verse starting with ‘Inna fi khalqissamawati walardi’ in his prayer and he cried until the morning.

As it can be seen, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never ignored the care that should be given to his wives, not only in worldly but also in otherworldly matters.

Conclusion

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has a position that Muslims should take as an example in every aspect. One of them is the behaviors of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a head of the family. Today's Muslim family structure is faced with various difficulties. When we observe them, it is clear that they actually consist of very little careless deeds. In this sense, behaving personally and not having a consultation on different issues, ignoring the issue of helping the wife at home, which is also a sign of love, insufficient level of value given to the spouse, missing out the issues that are important but seem unimportant, not showing love, affection, and tolerance in adequate levels are the main reasons for that problem. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is an ideal guide in all of the important issues listed above. We firmly believe that if that guide is followed and his deeds are done appropriately, problems will be eliminated and a warm family home will be ensured.

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