Response to :Why Did Muhammad get so many wives?
by Saif min Suyufillah
- Helping out the widows.
- Creating family bonds between him and his companions.
- Uniting different clans.
- Increasing credibility and sources for conveying his private family life. If he only had one wife, then it would have been a tremendous responsibility on her to convey Muhammad’s private acts of worship and family life, and people would try to discredit her to destroy the credibility of these practices. However, with multiple wives, there were a lot more sources to the knowledge, making it more difficult to discredit. Therefore, his marriages gave more women the opportunity to learn and teach the matters of his private life.
- To break the conventions.
- To show the possibilities of marriages in different cases.
Careful examination of all cases:(By Good Islam)
The first marriage of the Prophet (pbuh) took place when he was 25 years of age and he married Khadija (ra) who was twice widowed, and was 40 years old. If the Prophet (pbuh) was hyper-sexual, why would he marry a woman who was 15 years older than him and already twice widowed?
Until his first wife, Khadija (ra) was alive, he never took a second wife. Khadija (ra) died when the Prophet (pbuh) was 50 years age and only after this, did he marry the others. If he married eleven wives for sexual reasons, he should have had multiple wives during his youth. Contrary to this, history tells us that all his marriages with his remaining ten wives took place when he was between the age of 53 AND 59 YEARS.
All his wives (ra) were between the age of 36 to 50 years, except for two wives (ra). His reputation had spread far and wide, not only in Arabia, but also in the neighboring countries. Could he not have easily got younger and lovelier girls to marry?
In Arabia, no one could carry on the work of reform and uplifting unless he belonged to, or was related to some specific and respectable tribe. Thus, in the interest of his mission, the Prophet (pbuh) needed inter-tribal relationships. He wanted to weld the quarreling tribal and clannish factions into one Muslim body, as brethren in faith (Ikhwan fi’d-din).
For instance, his wife Juwayreeyah (ra) belonged to the Banu Mustaliq clan, which was very powerful. The entire clan was a bitter enemy of Islam from the start, and they were finally suppressed by military action. When the Prophet (pbuh) married Juwayreeyah (ra), the Muslims released all their prisoners, saying that they could not keep the prophet’s relatives in bondage. It was due to this marriage that the whole clan of Banu Mustaliq accepted Islam and became peaceful and obedient to the laws of the new Islaamic state.
Maymunah (ra) also came from a very powerful and recalcitrant clan from Najd and was the sister of the wife of the chief of the clan in those days. It was this clan which had brutally murdered seventy members of an Islaamic missionary deputation. The Prophet’s (pbuh) marriage with Maymunah (ra) changed the whole atmosphere and Najd accepted Madinah’s authority under the leadership of the Prophet (pbuh).
Umm Habibah (ra) was the daughter of the Quraysh chief, Abu Sufyan. It was after the Prophet’s (pbuh) marriage to Umm Habibah, that Abu Sufyan never fought against the Prophet (pbuh). This marriage was largely responsible for the conquest of Makkah.
Safiyyah (ra) was the daughter of a very prominent Jewish chief, Huyyah ibn Aktab. In consideration of her family status, she could not be merged into an ordinary household. So the Prophet (pbuh) himself married her. After this marriage, the Jews did not dare to revive their opposition to the Prophet (pbuh) and his mission.
In the case of Hafsah (ra), it was the Prophet’s (pbuh) desire to bind in relationship with those of his great companions (sahabah) who were his advisers and who were trained for future leadership. He had married Abu Bakr’s (ra) daughter, married two of his own daughters to Uthman (ra) and one to ‘Ali (ra). ‘Umar (ra) could not be kept outside this wide circle of relationship. By marrying Umar’s daughter Hafsah (ra), the Prophet (pbuh) forged a strong bond of relationship within the Islamic movement thus strengthening the pillars of the ummah.
The Prophet (pbuh) had married his first cousin, Zaynab (ra), to his freed slave, Zayd ibn Haritha (ra), whom he had adopted as his son. This marriage of Zaynab (ra) with Zayd (ra) was intended to break the family and social barriers, but the marriage did not prove to be successful and ended in divorce. When the Prophet (pbuh) saw that Zaynab (ra) was left alone, he felt his responsibility in the matter. He also had to break another convention, according to which an adopted son became a real son. This difficult problem was solved by the Prophet’s (pbuh) marriage to Zaynab (ra) (as mentioned in the Qur’an, in Surah Ahzab, chapter no 33 verse 37) to annul that pre-Islamic conception and promulgate an Islamic law instead.
Another lady Zaynab (ra), Umm al Masakin (mother of the poor and helpless), daughter of Khuzayma ibn Al-Haith, belonged to the Hawazin clan. Her husband was killed in the battle of Uhud. To rescue her from widowhood, the Prophet (pbuh) took her as his wife.
As for Muslims, The Qur’an, in Surah Nisa, chapter 4 verse 3, states that a Muslim is allowed to marry a maximum of only four wives. Another verse in the Qur’an makes Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) an exception to this rule.
In Surah Ahzab chapter 33 verse 52:
“It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this, nor to change them for (other) wives, even though their beauty attract thee, except any thy right hand should possess (as hand maidens) and Allah doth watch over all things “. [Al-Qur’an 33:52]
This verse clearly gives Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the permission to keep all his previous wives but prohibits him to marry any more women except those which his right hand possessed i.e. slave girls.
The Prophet (pbuh) was allowed to keep all his previous wives because no one was allowed to marry the Prophet’s wives (ra) after they were divorced or widowed as they were UMMUL-MOMINEEN (MOTHER OF THE BELIEVERS). As they were considered by everyone to be their mothers, it has become impossible for any Muslim man to marry his mother (the wife of the prophet).
After the revelation of the verse in Surah Ahzab, chapter 33 verse 52, the Prophet (pbuh) only married Mary the Coptic who was a slave girl sent as a present by the Christian Muqauqas of Egypt. Since the Christian Chieftain of Egypt sent Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) a slave girl as a present, he could not refuse this gift as a refusal would have disturbed the political alliance. He could not keep her as a slave girl, since Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) preached that slaves should be freed. The only option left with him was to marry her, since the Qur’an gave him the permission to do so. Later on she became the mother of Ibrahim (ra) who died in his infancy.
A careful examination for the history of Islam and Muhammad (pbuh) reveals that he did not marry for the sexual reasons, he did not marry the most beautiful or the youngest even though he could have done so as he became the ruler of all Muslims and had good neighboring countries as you see in the case of the ruler of Egypt and his gift to Muhammad (pbuh).