How should we understand the narrations about the sexual life of the Prophet?

The Details of the Question

- Can you write down the meanings of the following hadiths and how we should understand them. Are they sound?

a) “The Prophet had the sexual strength of thirty men.” (Bukhari, Muhtasar Tecrîd-i Sarih, hadith no: 192)

b) “The Prophet used to have sexual intercourse with nine of his wives separately in one night.” (Bukhari, Muhtasar Tecrîd-i Sarih, hadith no: 192)

c) “Gabriel (Jibril) brought me a pot and I drank from it; thereupon, I was given the strength of forty men in sexual relations.” (Ibn Sa’d, at-Tabaqatul- Kubra, p.374) c)

d) “Wherever the Prophet saw a beautiful woman, he would immediately go home and have sexual intercourse with his wife Zaynab.” (Bukhari, Hiba, 8)

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

a) The narration “The Prophet had the sexual strength of thirty men” is sound. However, this information included in Bukhari’s narration in question (Bukhari, Ghusl, 12) is not some information reported from the Prophet (pbuh); as it is understood from the statement of Anas (r.a.) “We used to talk among ourselves like that”, it is based on a guess that the Companions made among themselves. However, its trueness is not a deficiency for the Prophet.

The main reason why the Companions made such a guess was to state that the Prophet (pbuh) was very different from other people in every aspect.

This issue is of no practical use to Muslims and has nothing to do with prophetic duties. Therefore, instead of it, we need to learn about the high ethics that took the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to that high and unique position of Ascension (Miraj)

b) The information “The Prophet (pbuh) used to have sexual intercourse with nine (in fact eleven) wives in one night” is also a part of the hadith above. (Bukhari, Ghusl, 12) It is Anas’ own guess. It is not information reported directly from our Prophet (pbuh). The reason for this thought is to explain that the Prophet (pbuh) had a very different personality from other people in every respect.

We cannot know whether that guess is correct. However, if there is such a fact, it does not mean that “the same thing is done every night”. If it happened once or several times, there is nothing inconsistent with the high position of the prophethood.

Although our Prophet (pbuh) was superior to everyone in terms of physical perfection and the strongest of men in masculinity, he controlled his soul more than anyone else.

The remarkable thing is that he did not approach any women in his youth until the age of twenty-five, and he lived with only one woman until he was fifty after his marriage... (see Mehmed Sofuoğlu, Sahih-i Buhari ve Tercemesi, Ötüken Yayınları: 1/380)

c) The hadith meaning “I was given the power of forty men in terms of sexual relations” is regarded as weak by hadith authorities (see Zaynul-Iraqi, Takhriju Ahadithil-Ihya, 6/152; Haythami, Majmauz-Zawaid, 8/269).

d) We should state the following regarding the statement in the question “Wherever the Prophet saw a beautiful woman, he would immediately go home and have sexual intercourse with his wife Zaynab” (Bukhari, Hiba, 8):

This statement might be an idea that is incompatible with the consciousness of belief and that aims to show the Prophet (pbuh) differently. Believers should not fall into the ignorance of using the same expression in this regard.

- The information (Buhari, Hiba, 8) shown as the source of this information is wrong. There is no such information there. In fact, this hadith narration is included in (Muslim, Nikah, 9).

- This hadith narration exists in three forms in Muslim. The main narrator of all three narrations is Abu Zubayr. He narrated it from Jabir.

In the first narration, Jabir states the following - in brief:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw a woman and went to his wife Zaynab; he had an intercourse with her and returned to the Companions. He said to them,

‘A woman comes in the form of Satan and leaves in the form of Satan. If one of you sees a woman, he should go to his wife. It will remove what is inside him.’” (Muslim, Nikah, 9)

In the second narration, there is no statement meaning “A woman comes in the form of Satan and leaves in the form of Satan”. (Muslim, ibid)

In the third narration, only the following information exists:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘If one of your likes a woman and thinks about her, he should go to his wife and sleep with her. It will remove what is inside him.’” (Muslim, Nikah, 10)

- Even if those different statements of the three narrations Jabir reported from the same narrator are regarded as sound, it is possible that some statements are wrong.

- Abu Zubayr, the narrator of the hadith is regarded as reliable by many scholars.

However, there are also scholars who say that he is a weak narrator. We can list them as follows: Ayyub as-Sakhtiyani, Ibn Uyayna, Abu Hatim, Abu Zur’a, Imam Shafii, Bukhari, Shu’ba. (see Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, 9/440-443)

- However, if the Prophet (pbuh) did such a thing in order to set a living example on this very important issue, it is never possible to think that it has an aspect that will harm his high ethics, which is described by Allah as “an exalted standard of character” (al-Qalam, 68/4), and which is unmatched and unique.

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