Marriages of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.)
By: Yasin T. al- Jibouri
When the Prophet passed away, he left nine wives behind. This has become a main target of spiteful Christian and Jewish writers. They say that plurality of marriages (polygamy) in itself points to avidity and to yielding to lust and desire, and the Prophet was not content with four wives which had been allowed to his ummah but exceeded even that limit and married nine instead.
It is necessary to point out that this is not such a simple matter to be dismissed by one saying that he was inordinately fond of women, so much so that he married nine wives. The fact is that he had married each one of his wives for some particular reason due to particular circumstances.
His first marriage was with Khadija. He lived with her alone for twenty-five years. It was the prime time of his youth and constitutes two-thirds of his marriage life. We have written about her on the preceding pages.
Then he married Sawdah daughter of Zam’ah whose husband had passed away during the second migration to Abyssinia. Sawdah was a believing lady who had migrated on account of her faith. Her father and brother were among the most bitter enemies of Islam. If she were left to return to them, they would have tortured her, as they were doing with other believing men and women, oppressing and killing them, forcing them to renounce their faith.
At the same time, he married ‘Ayisha bint Abu Bakr, who was then a six-year old child. She came to the Prophet's house some time after the migration to Medina.
He married Zainab bint Khuzaymah whose husband ‘Abdullah ibn Jahsh was killed during the Battle of Uhud. She was a very virtuous woman even during the time of jahiliyya. She used to be called “ummul-masakin,’ mother of the destitutes, due to her generosity to the indigent and the poor. Seeing that by losing her husband she had none to provide for her, the Prophet married her in order to safeguard her dignity.
When he migrated to Medina, the Prophet began spreading the word of Allah. Thereafter, he married women who were all either widows or divorcees, old or middle-aged. He married Safiyya daughter of Huyayy ibn al-Akhtab, as indicated above, who was killed during the Battle of Khaybar. Her brother was also killed in the same battle. She was a lady of high status and prestige, and when the Prophet saw that she was about to be sold as a slave, he proposed to her, as a way to save her from the degradation of slavery, and she accepted his marriage proposal. Her story is almost similar to that of Juwayriyya, whose real name was Barra daughter of al-Harith, head of Banu al-Mostaliq, narrated below.
This continued for about eight years, that is, till 8 A.H./629 A.D. It was only then that he was prohibited by the Almighty from marrying any woman besides those whom he had already married. Obviously, these marriages cannot be explained by his love for women because both his early life and the later period contradict such an assumption.
Just look at a man with a passion for women who is infatuated with a casual desire, enamored by female companionship, with a sensual lust for them. You will find him attracted to their adornment, spending his time in pursuit of beauty, infatuated with youth, tender age, and fresh complexion. But these qualities are conspicuously absent in the Prophet's marriage life. He married widows after having married one virgin and a number of old-aged ladies after having married young ladies. Then he offered his wives a choice to give them a good provision and allow them to depart gracefully, that is, divorce them if they desired this world and its adornment. Alternatively, they should renounce the world and abstain from adornments and embellishments if they desired Allah and His Prophet and the everlasting abode. Look at this verse of the Qur'an: O Prophet! Say to your wives: If you desire this world's life and its adornment, then come, I will give you a provision and allow you to depart a graceful departure. And if you desire Allah and His Messenger and the latter abode, then surely Allah has prepared for the doers of good from among you a mighty reward.(Qur'an, 33:28-29)
Is this the attitude of a man infatuated with lust and desire?! The fact is that we will have to look for reasons other than lust and avidity for his plurality of wives:
(a) He had married many of them in order to give them protection and safeguard their dignity. It was hoped that the Muslims would follow his example and provide protection to aged women, widows and their orphaned children.
Sawdah bint Zam’ah's marriage comes into this category.
‘Abdullah ibn Jahsh (a cousin of the Prophet), husband of Zainab daughter of Khuzaymah, was martyred during the battle of Uhud (as stated above). This was the second time she became a widow with many orphans. She was one of the most generous ladies even in the era of ignorance, so much so that she was called ummul-masakin, “Mother of the destitute.’ Now she was facing hard times. The Prophet, by marrying her, preserved her prestige and dignity. She passed away during the Prophet's life-time. Year of marriage: 3 A.H./625 A.D.
The Prophet married Umm Salamah, Hind, who was wife of ‘Abdullah Abu Salamah (father of Salamah), son of the Prophet's aunt as well as his foster brother. She and her husband were among the first to migrate to Ethiopia, an ascetic and virtuous lady, a very pious one. She had renounced worldly pleasures and was highly distinguished for her wisdom. Her husband died, leaving her an old widow with many orphans for whom she could not provide; so, the Prophet married her in order to maintain her prestige and look after her orphans who were, of course, his own relatives. Year of marriage: 4 A.H./626 A.D.
Hafsah daughter of ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab was married to him after her husband Khunays ibn Huthayfah was martyred during the battle of Badr. Year of marriage: 4 A.H./626 A.D.
(b) To emancipate slaves: His marriage with Juwayriyya, whose name was Barra daughter of al-Harith (chief of Jewish Banu al-Mostaliq) was performed in 5 A.H./626 - 627 A.D. after the battle of Banu al-Mostaliq. The Muslims had arrested two hundred of their families. Juwayriyya was a Jewish widow, a lady of prestige, and the Prophet married her after emancipating her. The Muslims said: These are now the relatives of the Messenger of Allah by marriage; they should not be held captive. So they freed all of them. Impressed by this nobility, the whole tribe of Banu al-Mostaliq entered into the folds of Islam. It was a very large tribe, and this generosity of the Muslims as well as the conversion of that tribe had a great impact throughout Arabia.
(c) To forge friendly relations: Some marriages were contracted in the hope of establishing friendly ties with some tribes in order to blunt their enmity towards Islam.
Umm Habibah, namely Ramla daughter of Abu Sufyan, was married to ‘Obaydullah ibn Jahsh and had migrated to Abyssinia in the second migration. While there, ‘Obaydullah converted to Christianity, but she remained steadfastly on Islam and separated from him. Her father, Abu Sufyan, was in those days raising one army after another in order to annihilate the Muslims. The Prophet married her and afforded protection to her although the hope of any change in Abu Sufyan's attitude did not materialize.
Safiyyah was the daughter of Huyaiy ibn Akhtab, (Jewish) chief of Banu an-Nadir. Her husband was killed in the battle of Khaybar, and her father sided with Banu Qurayzah. She was among the captives of Khaybar. The Prophet chose her for himself and married her after emancipating her in 7 A.H./628 A.D. This marriage protected her from humiliation and established a friendly link with the Jews.
(d) To establish and implement important laws: The case of Zainab bint Jahsh is the only example. She was a cousin of the Prophet (daughter of his paternal aunt, and sister of ‘Abdullah ibn Jahsh, the first husband of Zainab bint Khuzaymah). She was a widow. Islam annulled class differences. It declared that a family's tribe, wealth, or social status are not the criteria of distinction. Every Muslim is equal. While announcing it, the Prophet, in the same gathering, gave his three relative ladies in marriage to persons of “low’ birth or status.
It was done in order to practically demonstrate that up to that moment, this concept of equality was only theoretical. Among them, Zainab bint Jahsh was given in marriage to Zayd ibn Harithah, an Arab slave whom the Prophet had freed and adopted as a son. People called him Zayd ibn Muhammad. This marriage soon turned sour. Zainab could not overlook that she was a granddaughter of ‘Abdul-Muttalib, and that Zayd was an ex-slave. No matter how much the Prophet advised them, she did not change her behaviour, so finally Zayd divorced her.
In the midst of the continuing social reforms, the Qur'an had declared that adoption was not recognized in Islam, that the sons should be affiliated to their biological fathers. Allah says: Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his breast, nor has He made your wives whom you declare (to be your mothers) as your (real) mothers, nor has He made those whom you call (as your sons) your (real) sons. These are (mere) words of your mouths, and Allah speaks the truth and He guides to the (right) way. Call them after their fathers; this is more just with Allah, but if you do not know their fathers, then they are your brethren in faith and your friends. (Qur'an, 33:4-5)
After this admonition, people started calling him “Zayd ibn Harithah’. But there was a need to put this new system in effect in such a way that would leave no room for doubt or ambiguity. Allah, therefore, ordered the Prophet to marry Zainab bint Jahsh, the divorcee of Zayd ibn Harithah. The Qur'an explains: …. But when Zayd had concluded his concern with her (i.e. divorced her) We joined her in wedlock as your wife so that there should be no difficulty for the believers concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they have concluded their concerns with them, and the command of Allah shall be carried out.(Qur'an, 33:37)
In this manner, both marriages of Zainab daughter of Jahsh served to enforce two very important social ethics. Some non-Muslim writers have claimed that the Prophet had fallen in love with Zainab's beauty and that this is why Zayd divorced her. Such writers are blind to the fact that Zainab at that time was in her fifties. Why did not Muhammad fall in love with her when she was still a maiden and he himself was young?! Consider this question especially in view of the fact that Zainab was a close relative of the Prophet, and that there was no system of hijab at that time, and, in any case, relatives usually know about each other's beauty or ugliness.
One of his wives was Maymuna, whose real name was Barra bint al-Harith al-Hilaliyyah. When her second husband died in 7 A.H./628 A.D., she came to the Prophet and “gifted’ herself to him if he would accept her. She only desired the honour of being called the wife of the Prophet. The Prophet waited for the divine guidance in her regard. Permission was granted to him from his Lord as we read in verse 33:50 of the Holy Qur'an which, inter alia, says: O Prophet! Certainly we have made lawful to you… a believing woman if she gifts herself to the Prophet; if the Prophet desires to marry her, (it is) especially for thee (O Prophet
rather than for the rest of the believers.
Thus do we see that each of these marriages had some solid reasons behind it; passion and lust were not among them.
Surely the Prophet married more than four wives, whereas all other Muslims are not permitted to do so, simply because he was not an ordinary person; he was above being ordinary. His share of responsibility was certainly greater than anyone else's, so his priviliges and prerogatives were likewise greater than anyone else's. Try to learn about a type of fast which was solely observed by prophet Muhammad rather than by anyone else; it is called sawm al-wisal, so that you know that what applies to him does not apply to any other believer. How many wives did Prophet Solomon marry?!
This question is directed to the same prejudiced writers who assault the Prophet of Islam without knowing their share of torment in the hereafter for so doing. May the Almighty condemn them in this life and in the life to come for their blasphemy, and may He strengthen the Muslim umma so that it can face its enemies and raise the banner of Islam high in this century and in every century, Allahomma ameen. Most of those who attack Islam and besmear its holy name, in fact, are those who call themselves Jews as well as those who are brainwashed by their Zionist propaganda. Most of these reside in the West, especially here in the U.S.
Women The Prophet Engaged Did Not Marry
‘Amra al-Kilabiyya daughter of Zaid ibn Dawwas ibn Kilab. It came to the knowledge of the Blessed One that she had a leucoma. He, therefore, did not cohabit with her but divorced her.
Saba as-Salamiyya daughter of a-al ibn Habib ibn Harithah ibn Hilal ibn Hazim ibn Sammal. She died before the Messenger of Allah could cohabit with her.
Shiraf al-Kilabiyya daughter of Duayyah al-Kilabi, in whose image Gabriel sometimes used to come to the Messenger of Allah . She perished before the Prophet could marry her.
Al-Ghaliya al-Kilabiyya daughter of Ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf ibn ‘Ubaid ibn Abu Bakr ibn Kilab. It is said that after staying with the Messenger of Allah for a short period of time, he divorced her.
Al-Jauna al-Kindiyya; she is not Asma' the daughter of an-Nu’man. It was Abu Asad As-Sa’idi who brought her to the Prophet . ‘A’isha and afa took it upon themselves to comb and dress her. One of them made her believe that the Messenger of Allah loves it when a woman says to him, “I seek refuge with Allah against you!’ So when he came to sleep with her, she said to him, “I seek refuge with Allah against you!’ He, thereupon, covered his face with his sleeve and said, “I seek refuge as He enjoined me to.’ And surely Allah knows best.
Layla al-Awsiyya daughter of Khaum al-Awsi. She came to him while he was unaware, touching his shoulder. He inquired, “Who is this whom the lion may devour?’ She replied, “I am Layla, the daughter of al-Khaum ibn Mu’im. I came to offer myself to you.’ “I accept you,’ he said. Coming home, the women in her family said to her: “The Messenger of Allah has many wives and you are a jealous woman. We do not feel secure against your annoying him, so he will call for evil to befall upon you.’ He did, in fact, dismiss her, and while she was about to enter the groves of Medina, she was devoured by a lion.
Suna’a al-Qushairiyya. She was the wife of ‘Abdullah ibn Jud’an at-Taimi. When he divorced her, she was married by Hisham ibn al-Mughirah al-Makhzumi. Her father was called Salamah ibn Salamah ibn Hisham, and he was a good man. When the Messenger of Allah asked for her hand, Salamah replied, “It is up to her.’ She then said, “Are you leaving the decision regarding the Messenger of Allah to me?! Well, I accept.’ However, when the Messenger of Allah came to know that she was old, he did not pursue the matter, but Allah knows best.
 This is some people's viewpoint which is contested by many others who say that she was much older than that. In sunny Arabia, maturity age may be as early as 8.
 Captives were always regarded in those days as slaves. They were either ransomed or sold in the slave market.