As-Salāmu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wabarakathuhu

May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be upon you beautiful people

"Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish." [Qur'an 17:81]

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Allegations concerning Muhammad's marriages

Women are often brought into the picture when discussing Islam because their status — if not studied thoroughly and objectively — is severely misunderstood. Under those inaccurate assumptions, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is often accused of practicing and encouraging unjust treatment of women, while the truth is actually the opposite — as I hope you will see after reading this answer.

Let's take an objective peek into his life, to examine whether or not Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is that repelling womanizer.

Stages of the Prophet's Married Life

First, let's remember that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) led a life supported only by the bare minimum of necessities. His wives were not idly wasting away the hours in a luxurious harem but led a life of labor and sacrifice, while he was mostly busy away from home overseeing his numerous duties as a Prophet. So, obviously, lust was not a factor, as he wasn't even at home most of the time. Further, most of his marriages occurred at an age when lust is not a major factor in any man's life:

1. He remained single until age 25.

2. From age 25 to 50 he was faithful to only one wife, Khadijah, who bore all his children except one. She was 15 years older than him, with children from two previous marriages. She was his greatest ally when he received the Call at age 40 until she died when he was 50 years old. He remained in love with her until he died and often talked of his life with her with great nostalgia.

3. Between ages 50 and 52 he remained unmarried and mourning his late beloved wife. He lived alone with his daughters.

4. Between ages 53 and 60 he married all his other wives for many noble reasons detailed below. It's unimaginable for a man to suddenly turn lustful at this age, especially as he was constantly traveling, with bloodthirsty enemies on his heels.

5. At age 60, Allah revealed to him verse preventing him from marrying any more until he died, which was at age 63. The Qur'an says what means:
*{It is not lawful for you (to marry other) women after this, nor to change them for other wives.}* (Al-Ahzab 33:52)

Reasons for the Prophet's Marriages

We can categorize all his marriages under two aspects of his personality:
- Muhammad the man who needed a loving wife, children, and a stable home, so he married Khadijah and remained with only her for 20 years until she died.

- Muhammad the Prophet who married the other wives for reasons pertaining to his duty to deliver the Message to the world. Those particular women were carefully selected, not just haphazardly "acquired" for carnal reasons, as suggested. Here are some of the reasons for which Muhammad married:

1. To pass on Islam to the next generations as a practical legacy
Prophet Muhammad is the only prophet without any privacy, and with a meticulously preserved tradition in speech and actions in all minute details of his public and private life. Preserved in the sharp minds of his wives and his Companions, those narrations comprise the "daily life manual" for Muslims to follow until the end of time. The fact that Islam was spread on the shoulders of women and preserved in their hearts is a great honor to the females of this Ummah. The books of authentic Hadith attribute more than 3,000 narrations and Prophetic traditions to his wives alone.

2. To cement the relations of the budding nation
In a tribal society, it was customary to seal treaties through marrying into tribes. Muhammad's closest Companions later became the four caliphs who led Islam at the critical stage after his death. Two of them were the fathers of his wives `A'ishah (daughter of Abu Bakr) and Hafsa (daughter of `Umar); the other two married his daughters (`Uthman married Ruqayyah and Zainab in succession, and `Ali married Fatimah).

3. To teach Muslims compassion with women
He taught them to be compassionate not just to the young and beautiful maidens, but more so to the weak and destitute widows, divorcees, orphans, and elderly women. Islam teaches that women are to be respected, protected, and cared for by their men folk. They're not to be cast out to face a harsh life alone while able men around them just pity them and do nothing to help, or worse, use their weakness to take them as mistresses!

4. To offer a practical role model to Muslims until the end of time
Although many believing women often approached Muhammad offering him themselves in marriage, he politely turned down their offers. Most of his wives after the death of Khadijah were old, devoid of beauty, and previously married, except `A'ishah, who was the only young virgin. He married from other nations and religions; some were the daughters of his worst enemies, and his marriage to one woman won all her people into Islam. Regardless of his neutral feelings towards many of them, he was a model example of equal justice and kindness to them all, and he would never discriminate among them.

Who Were the Prophet's Wives?

Prophet Muhammad married 12 wives in his life. When he died he had 9 wives. They have a very special status in the hearts of Muslims as the "Mothers of the Believers," as the Qur'an instructs, and they are the source of a great amount of wisdom which they learned while living close to such a great man. Perhaps you'd like to research a bit to find their beautiful stories, so here are their names: Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Sawdah bint Zam'ah, `A'ishah bint Abi Bakr, Hafsah bint `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, Zaynab bint Khuzaymah, Umm Salama, Zaynab bint Jahsh, Juwayriah bint Al-Harith, Umm Habibah, Safiyah bint Huyay ibn Akhtab, Maymunah bint Al-Harith, Maria.

Can We Consider His Marriage to `A'ishah a Case of Child Molestation?

To answer your speculation, let's continue our objective trip into the past. Obviously, when traveling back in time 1400 years to examine a lifestyle we never witnessed, it is unfair to apply our present day standards, so let's listen to the experts. Authentic historical records prove that the social traditions of the time and place—regardless of religion—considered Arab females as women as soon as their menstrual cycles began. The custom was to give daughters in marriage at that age. This was practiced by all dwellers in Arabia before Islam: pagans, disbelievers, Jews, and others. It's a fact that female menstruation in hot climates starts much earlier than in cold climates, so females in Arabia matured as early as 8 or 9; they also aged earlier than other women.

It's a neglected fact that before she was married to Muhammad, `A'ishah had been engaged to an infidel, Jubair ibn Mus'ab ibn Ady. Her fiancé broke the engagement on the basis of religious difference. So her father, Abu Bakr, agreed to give her hand in marriage to the Prophet.

The Great Wisdom in Selecting `A'ishah in Particular as a Young Wife

`A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) came from a house famous for learning and memorizing great quantities of knowledge; her father was a live encyclopedia of Arab tribal pedigrees and poetry. She inherited his ability, and in her young, intelligent, receptive mind, she preserved a precious portion of Islam she learned during seven years of marriage, for 47 years after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and she taught thousands of men worldwide their religion as she had learned it firsthand from the Prophet. To our present day, she is considered among the most prominent Islamic scholars, and she holds extremely high esteem in the hearts of all Muslims as such and as "the beloved of the Prophet," who often mentioned her as the human he loved the most on the face of this earth. With her, he built a model Muslim home for Muslims to strive to imitate forever.

Also click HERE for further discussion of the marriage to Aisha

Was Maria the Copt a Slave, a Concubine, or a Wife of the Prophet?

Slavery already existed long before Islam. It was a system whereby a human captured in wars or kidnapped could be sold as a "possession." That term applied to both sexes, not to women only. In some cultures slaves were considered subhuman and treated brutally. In Europe, for example, Romans threw Christian slaves to the lions while the public cheered; female slaves were thought to have no souls and were tortured mercilessly; slaves lived in degrading conditions; both sexes were forced to offer sexual favors to their masters; and as "possessions" they had no choice, no will, and no rights.

Islam recognized the human rights of slaves and encouraged Muslims to set slaves free. Islam prohibited adultery and homosexuality, and prevented forcing female slaves into sexual acts against their will. Islam encouraged educating them, setting them free, then legally marrying them and giving them their moral and financial rights. The reward for this—as mentioned in Prophetic Hadith—is eternal residence in Paradise.

Maria was not a concubine; she was a slave owned by Egypt's Christian governor, who offered her and her sister Serine—among other presents—as a "gift of good will" to the Prophet in reply to his envoys inviting him to Islam. On her way from Egypt to Madinah, she was curious to learn about "her new master" and listened to his Companions talk about him. As a result, she became Muslim before meeting Muhammad. Scholars' opinions vary of her status afterwards; here is the opinion I support:

One of the prominent Al-Azhar scholars, Sheikh Abdul Majid Subh, states:
"Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), instead of taking concubines, entered into lawful marriages based on reason and wisdom. Maria was given to him as a present, but rather than taking her as a concubine, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) married her, thus elevating her status by marriage."

Women's Rights in Islam Surpass Modern Systems

If women in the Muslim World today don't have their rights, it is not because Islam didn't give them rights. Alien traditions have overshadowed the teachings of Islam, either through ignorance or the impact of colonialism. Most of the so-called modern reforms in the status of women appeared after the West abandoned religion for secularism. Those in the West who claim to follow the Judeo-Christian tradition really follow the values of Western liberalism.

In England and America less than fifty years ago, a woman could not buy a house or car without the co-signature of a male "guardian"! In Contrast, Islamic Law guaranteed rights to women over 1400 years ago that were unheard of in the West until the 1900s.

Numerous verses of the Qur'an state that men and women are equal in the site of Allah; the only thing that distinguishes people in His site is their level of God-consciousness.

Islam teaches that a woman is a full person under the law, and is the spiritual equal of a male. Women have the right to own property, to operate a business, and to receive equal pay for equal work. Women are allowed total control of their wealth. They cannot be married against their will, and they are allowed to keep their own name when married. They have the right to inherit property and to have their marriage dissolved in the case of neglect or mistreatment. Islam does not consider woman an "evil temptress," and thus does not blame woman for Original Sin (a doctrine that Islam rejects). Women in Islam participate in all forms of worship that men participate in.

Prophet Muhammad's mission stopped many of the horrible practices against women that were present in the society of his time. He actually harnessed the unrestricted polygamy of the Arabs of the time, and put many laws in place to protect the well-being of women. In his Farewell Sermon just weeks before his death, he summarized the teachings of Islam to the believers in a final farewell. His last words were "Be kind to women!"

The wives in more detail

We have looked at why the prophet Mohammad (pbuh) married many wives, and who they were briefly. Now we will look at the issue in more detail with their names and brief background on each one of them (may Allah bless them all).

As mentioned, when people hear that the prophet had many wives they conclude without much thought that the prophet was a sensuous man. However, a quick historical review of his marriages, proves otherwise.

When he was twenty-five years old he married for the first time. His wife, Khadijah, was fifteen years older than he. She remained the only wife of the prophet for the next twenty-five years, until she died (may Allah be pleased with her).

Only after her death, did the prophet marry other women. Now, it is obvious that if the prophet was after physical pleasure he did not have to wait until he was more than fifty years old to start marrying more wives. He lived in a society in which it was quite acceptable to have many wives. But the prophet remained devoted to his only wife for twenty-five years. When she died she was sixty-five years old.

Recent non-Muslim writers who had the opportunity to study the life of the prophet first-hand reach a similar conclusion about his plural marriages.

John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and Director of the Centre for International Studies at the College of the Holy Cross, says that most of these marriages had "political and social motives" (Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 19). This he explained as follows: "As was customary for Arab chiefs, many were political marriages to cement alliances. Others were marriages to the widows of his companions who had fallen in combat and were in need of protection" (John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, pp. 19-20). Esposito reminds us of the following historical fact: "Though less common, polygyny was also permitted in biblical and even in postbiblical Judaism. From Abraham, David, and Solomon down to the reformation period, polygyny was practiced" (p. 19).

Another non-Muslim Caesar E. Farah writes as follows: "In the prime of his youth and adult years Muhammad remained thoroughly devoted to Khadijah and would have none other for consort. This was an age that looked upon plural marriages with favor and in a society that in pre-Biblical and post-Biblical days considered polygamy an essential feature of social existence. David had six wives and numerous concubines (2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 14:3) and Solomon was said to have had as many as 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Solomon's son Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines (2 Chronicles 11:21). The New Testament contains no specific injunction against plural marriages. It was commonplace for the nobility among the Christians and Jews to contract plural marriages. Luther spoke of it with toleration" (Caesar E. Farah, Islam: Beliefs and Observances, 4th edition, Barron's, U.S. 1987, p. 69). Caesar Farah then concluded that Muhammad's plural marriages were due "partly to political reasons and partly to his concern for the wives of his companions who had fallen in battle defending the nascent Islamic community" (p. 69).

KHADIJAH: She was 40 years old when she proposed to marry the Prophet when he was 25 years old. After 15years of their marriage he became a prophet. She had been married twice before she married Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Her first husband was Aby Haleh Al Tamemy and her second husband was Oteaq Almakzomy. They had both died leaving Khadijah a widower. Khadijah died in 621A.D. This was the same year the Prophet ascended into heaven (Meraj).

SAWDA BINT ZAM'A: Her first husband was Al Sakran Ibn Omro Ibn Abed Shamz. He died within a few days after his return from Ethiopia. She was 65 years old, poor, and had no one to care for her. This was why Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) married her.

AISHA SIDDIQA: A woman named Kholeah Bint Hakeem suggested that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) marry Aishah, the daughter of Aby Bakr, to form a close relationship with Aby Bakr's family. She was already engaged to Jober Ibn Al Moteam Ibn Oday. At this time Jober was not yet a Muslim. The people of Makkah did not object to Aishah becoming married because although she was young, she was mature enough to understand the responsibility of marriage. Prophet Muhammad (bpuh) was engaged to Aishah for 2 years before he married her. Aby Bakr was the first leader after Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) death.

HAFSAH BINT U'MAR: She was the daughter of Omar, the second Calipha. Omar asked Othman to marry Hafsah. Othman refused because his wife had recently died and Othman did not want to remarry. Omar then went to Aby Bakr but he also refused to marry Hafsah. Aby Bakr knew that the Prophet had already considered marrying Hafsah. Omar then went to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and complained that Othman and Aby Bakr did not want to marry his daughter. The Prophet told Omar that his daughter will marry and Othman will also remarry. Othman married the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Om Kolthoom, and Hafsah married the Prophet. This made Omar and Othman both happy.

ZAYNAB BINT KHUZAYMA: Her husband died in the battle of Uhud, leaving her poor and with several children. She was old when Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) married her. She died 3 months after she married the Prophet 625 A.D.

SALAMA BINT UMAYYA: Her husband, Abud Allah Abud Al Assad Ibn Al Mogherah, died leaving Hend poor and with many children. Hend was at least 65 years old at the time. Aby Bakr and several others asked her to marry them, but because she loved her husband very much, she refused the marriage's offers. But finally she accepted Prophet mohammad's offer to marry her and take care of her children.

ZAYNAB BINT JAHSH: She was the daughter of Prophet Muhammad's aunt, Omameh Bint Abud Almutaleb. The Prophet arranged for Zaynab to marry Zayed Ibn Hareathah Al Kalby. This marriage did not last and the Prophet received a verse in the Quran which stated that if they became divorced, then the Prophet must marry Zaynab (Sura 33:37).

JUWAYRIYA BINT AL-HARITH: Her first husband's name was Masafeah Ibn Safuan. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wanted Juayreah's tribe (Beni Al Mostalag)to convert to Islam. Juayreah became a prisoner after the Muslims won the Battle of Al Mostalaq. Juayreah's father came to the Prophet and offered a payment for her return. The Prophet asked her father to give her a choice. When she was given a choice she said she accepted Islam and Prophet Muhammad as the last God's Messenger. The Prophet then married her. Her tribe of Beni Almostalag accepted Islam.

SAFIYYA BINT HUYAYY: She was from the tribe of Beni Nadir, who were from the children of Levi (Israel). She was married twice before, then she married Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Her first husband Salam Ibn Moshkem, and her second husband was Kenanah Ibn Al Rabeeah.

UMMU HABIBA BINT SUFYAN: Her first husband was Aubed Allah Jahish. He was the son of the aunt of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Aubed Allah died in Ethiopia. The king of Ethiopia arranged the marriage of Ramelah to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

MAYAMUNA BINT AL-HARITH: She was 26years old when she married Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Her first husband was Abu Rahma Ibn Abed Alzey. When the Prophet opened Makkah in 630 AD , she came to the Prophet, accepted Islam and proposed to marry him. Her actions encouraged Many Makkahans to accept Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
MARIA AL-QABTIYYA: She was sent to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a hand maid servant from the king of Egypt. Maria had a son from the Prophet. His name was Ibrahim.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article. A lot of people are disputing the age of Aisya when he married the Prophet. We believed that he married her in her teens and not at the age of 9.

Link of an article that you maybe interested: