Khadijah bint Khuwailid(May Allah be Pleased with her): The Prophet’shousehold in Makkah prior to the Hijrah comprised of him and his wife Khadijah bint Khuwailid(May Allah be Pleased with her). He was twentyfive years old and she was forty when they were married. She was the first woman he married. She was the only wife he had until she died. He had sons and daughters with her. None of their sons lived for long. Their daughters were Zainab, Ruqaiyah, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah.
Zainab was married to her maternal cousin Abul-’As bin Ar-Rabi’ prior to the Hijrah. Ruqaiyah and Umm Kulthum were successively married to `Uthman bin `Affan after the death of one sister. Fatimah(May Allah be Pleased with her) was married to `Ali bin Abi Talib (May Allah be Pleased with him) during the period between the battles of Badr and Uhud. The sons and daughters that Fatimah and `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with all of them) had were Al-Hasan, Al-Husain, Zainab and Umm Kulthum (May Allah be Pleased with all of them).
It is well-known that the Prophet was authorized to have more than four wives for various reasons. The total number of wives that he married were thirteen. Nine of them were alive when he passed away. Two died in his lifetime: Khadijah(May Allah be Pleased with her) and the Mother of the poor (Ummul-Masakeen), Zainab bint Khuzaimah(May Allah be Pleased with her), besides two others with whom he did not consummate his marriage.
Sawdah bint Zam`ah(May Allah be Pleased with her): He married her inShawwal, in the tenth year of Prophethood, a few days after the death of Khadijah(May Allah be Pleased with her). Prior to that, she was married to a paternal cousin of hers named As-Sakran bin `Amr.
`Aishah bint Abu Bakr(May Allah be Pleased with her): He married herin the eleventh year of Prophethood, a year after his marriage to Sawdah, and two years and five months before Al-Hijrah (emigration). She was six years old when he married her. However, he did not consummate the marriage with her until Shawwal, the seventh month after the Hijrah, in
Madinah. She was nine years old at the time. She was the only virgin he married, and the most beloved person to him. As a woman she was the most learned in jurisprudence and the most knowledgeable.
Hafsah bint `Umar bin Al-Khattab(May Allah be Pleased with her): Herex-husband was Khunais bin Hudhafah As-Sahmi who died in the period between the battles of Badr and Uhud. Allah’s Messenger married her in the third year of Hijra.
Zainab bint Khuzaimah(May Allah be Pleased with her): She was fromthe tribe of Hilal bin `Amir bin Sa`sa`ah, and was nicknamed UmmulMasakeen, because of her kindness and care towards the poor. She was the wife of `Abdullah bin Jahsh (May Allah be Pleased with him), who was martyred at Uhud. She was married to the Prophet in the fourth year of Hijra, but she died two or three months, according to another version it is eight months, after her marriage to Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Umm Salamah Hind bint Abi Umaiyah(May Allah be Pleased with her): She used to be the wife of Abu Salamah (May Allah be Pleased with him), who died in the month of Jumada Al-Akhir, 4 A.H. Allah’s Messenger married her in month of Shawwal of the same year.
Zainab bint Jahsh bin Riyab(May Allah be Pleased with her): She wasfrom the tribe of Asad bin Khuzaimah and was the Messenger’s paternal cousin. She was married to Zaid bin Harithah (May Allah be Pleased with him), who at the time was considered as an adopted son of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). However, Zaid (May Allah be Pleased with him) divorced her and Allah sent down some Qur’anic Verses concerning this:
``So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e., divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage.’’ [33:37]
About her, Allah has sent down some Verses of Surat Al-Ahzab that discussed the adoption of children in detail. Allah’s Messenger married her in the month of Dhul-Qa`dah, 5 A.H.
Juwairiyah bint Al-Harith(May Allah be Pleased with her): Al-Harith was the leader of the tribe of Al-Mustaliq of Khuza`ah. Juwairiyah(May Allah be Pleased with her) was among the booty that fell to the Muslims from Bani Al-Mustaliq. She was in the portion of Thabit bin Qais bin Shammas (May Allah be Pleased with him). He wrote her an agreement conducive to her freedom. Allah’s Messenger fulfilled that agreement on her behalf and married her in Sha’ban in the sixth year of Hijra.
Umm Habibah Ramlah bint Abu Sufyan(May Allah be Pleased with her): She was originally married to `Ubaidullah bin Jahsh. She migrated with him to Abyssinia (Ethiopia). When `Ubaidullah apostatized and became a Christian, she stood fast to her religion and refused to convert. `Ubaidullah later died there in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) so Allah’s Messenger dispatched `Amr bin Umaiyah Ad-Damri with a letter to the Negus, the king of Abyssinia, asking him for Umm Habibah’s hand. This took place in Muharram, in the 7th year of A.H. The Negus agreed and sent her to the Prophet in the company of Shurahbil bin Hasanah.
Safiyah bint Huyai bin Akhtab(May Allah be Pleased with her): Shewas from the Children of Israel, and among the booty taken at the battle Khaibar. Allah’s Messenger took her for himself. He set her free and married her after that conquest in the 7th year of A.H.
Maimunah bint Al-Harith(May Allah be Pleased with her): She was thesister of Ummul-Fadl Lubabah bint Al-Harith(May Allah be Pleased with her). The Prophet married her in the month of Dhul-Qa`dah, 7 A.H. after the Compensatory `Umrah, which occurred, according to an authentic narration after exiting from the sacred state.
Those were the eleven women that Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) married and consummated his marriage with. Two of them: Khadijah and Zainab Ummul-Masakeen died within his lifetime, while the other nine wives were alive at the time of the Prophet’s (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) death.
The two wives with whom he did not consummate marriage with were: one was from Bani Kilab, and the other was from Kindah, and this was the one called Al-Jauniyah.
Besides these, he had two female slaves. The first was Mariyah the Coptic (an Egyptian Christian), a gift from Al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt. She gave birth to his son Ibrahim, who died in Madinah while still an infant, on the 28th or 29th of Shawwal, 10 A.H., corresponding to the 27th of January, 632 C.E. The second one was Rehanah bint Zaid bin `Amr bin Khanafah bin Sham’un bin Zaid An-Nadriyah or Quraziyah, a captive from Bani Quraizah. Some people say that she was one of his wives. However, Ibn AlQaiyim gives more weight to the opinion that she was his slave-girl. Abu `Ubaidah spoke of two more slave girls, Jamilah, a captive, and another one, a bondwoman granted to him by Zainab bint Jahsh(May Allah be Pleased with her).
Whosoever ponders over the life of Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), will realize that his marriage to this great number of women in the later part of his life, after he had almost spent almost thirty years of his best youthful days sufficing himself to one older wife, Khadijah(May Allah be Pleased with her), and then later to Sawdah(May Allah be Pleased with her), was in no way an overwhelming lustful desire to be satisfied through such a number of wives. These marriages were in fact motivated by aims and purposes much more glorious and greater than what normal marriages usually aim at.
It can clearly be seen that Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wanted to cement his relationship with both Abu Bakr and `Umar (May Allah be Pleased with all of them) and thus his reason for marrying `Aishah and Hafsah. This is also why he married his daughter Fatimah `Ali bin Abi Talib (May Allah be Pleased with him), and his two daughters, Ruqaiyah and Umm Kulthum (May Allah be Pleased with all of them) to `Uthman (May Allah be Pleased with him) successively. All this clearly indicates that he aimed at confirming the relationship with the four men, whose sacrifices and great achievements in the cause of Islam are well-known.
Besides this, there are the traditions of the Arabs to honor the relationship of in-laws. For them a son or a daughter-in-law was a means by which they sought the consolidation of relationship and affection with various tribes. Hostility and fights against alliances and affinities would bring an unforgettable shame, disgrace and degradation to them.
By marrying the Mothers of Believers, the Prophet wanted to demolish or break down the Arab tribes’ enmity toward Islam and extinguish their intense hatred or it. Umm Salamah(May Allah be Pleased with her) was from Bani Makhzum, the clan of Abu Jahl and Khalid bin Al-Walid. Her marriage to Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) produced good results. Khalid’s deliberately adopted indecisive attitude at Uhud, for instance, was due to the Messenger’s marriage to Umm Salamah(May Allah be Pleased with her). Khalid went even further than that, in a short time he willingly became a keen obedient Muslim.
After the marriage of Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to Umm Habibah(May Allah be Pleased with her), her father, Abu Sufyan, did not encounter him with any sort of hostility. Similarly his marriage to Juwairiyah and Safiyah made the two tribes stop all sorts of provocation, aggression or hostility against Islam. Better still, Juwairiyah(May Allah be Pleased with her) herself was one of the greatest sources of blessing to her own people.
On the occasion of her marriage to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), his Companions set a hundred of her people free. They said: “It is for their affinity with Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).’’ There is no need to say how much of a good impression this gratitude had made on everybody’s soul.
One of the greatest motives was the responsibility that Allah had bestowed upon his Prophet to educate and purify the souls of people who knew nothing whatsoever about courtesy, education and culture. He had to teach them to comply with the necessities of civilization and to contribute to the solidification and the establishment of a new Islamic society.
An essential fundamental rule of the Muslim society is to prohibit mixing of men and women. Providing direct education for women, though highly compelling, is impossible in the light of this Islamic norm. Therefore, the Prophet had to select some women of varying age and talent, and train them systematically in order to educate the female Bedouins and townswomen, old and young, and thus furnish them with the instruments of propagating the true faith. The Mothers of Believers (i.e., wives of the Prophet) were in such a convenient position that they could convey the state of the Prophet and his affairs to people (men and women). Being educated and taught the teachings and rules of Islam, his wives, especially those who lived for a long period after him, played an important role in conveying the Prophetic traditions or ahadith to the Muslims. `Aishah(May Allah be Pleased with her), for instance, related a large number of the Prophetic deeds and statements.
His marriage to his paternal cousin Zainab bint Jahsh was a peculiar case whose aim was to eradicate a deeply rooted pre-Islamic tradition: the adoption of children. In the Jahiliyah era, the Arabs would consider an adopted person to be exactly like a real son or daughter concerning rights and sanctities. That Jahiliyah tradition had been so deeply rooted in their hearts that it was not easy to remove it. This tradition, in fact, was offensive to the basic principles of Islam; especially those concerned with marriage, divorce and inheritance and some other cases, and brought about lots of corruption and indecencies. Naturally Islam stands against such deeds, and attempts to remove them from the Islamic society.
For the eradication of this tradition, Allah the Exalted ordered His Messenger to marry his cousin Zainab bint Jahsh(May Allah be Pleased with her), who was recently divorced by Zaid (May Allah be Pleased with him). She had differences with Zaid (May Allah be Pleased with him) to the such an extent that he intended to divorce her, and this was during the time when the Confederates (Al-Ahzab) were making an evil alliance against Allah’s Messenger and against the Muslims. Allah’s Messenger feared that the hypocrites, the idolaters, and the Jews would use this as propaganda and try to influence the hearts of some of the weaker Muslims. That was why he urged Zaid (May Allah be Pleased with him) not to divorce her, so as not to provoke such problems. Undoubtedly this hesitation and partiality were alien to the character of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). They did not apply to the power of determination and will with which he had been sent. Allah the Exalted blamed him for that by saying:
``And (remember) when you said to him (Zaid bin Harithah -the freed slave of the Prophet) on whom Allah has bestowed grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you (O Muhammad too) have done favor (by manumitting him), `Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah.’ But you did hide in yourself (i.e., what Allah has already made known to you that He will give her to you in marriage) that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people (i.e., Muhammad married the divorced wife of his manumitted slave) whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear him.’’ [33:37]
Eventually Zaid (May Allah be Pleased with him) did divorce Zainab and Allah’s Messenger married her at the time he laid siege to Bani Quraizah.
That occurred after the completion of her ‘Iddah (i.e., period during which a widow or a divorcee may not remarry). Allah, Himself, had already ordained it, and so he had no other alternative. Allah even initiated the marriage Himself by saying:
``So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e., divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e., they have divorced them).’’ [33:37]
All this was in order to break down the tradition of child adoption. For He said:
``Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just near Allah.’’ [33:5]
``Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah, and the last (end) of the Prophets.’’ [33:40]
Lots of deeply rooted traditions cannot be uprooted or demolished or even adjusted by mere words. They must be matched and associated with the action of the advocate of the Message himself.
This could be perceived through the deeds practiced by the Muslims at the Hudaibiyah `Umrah during which `Urwah bin Mas’ud Ath-Thaqafi saw certain Muslims tend to pick up any expectoration that fell down from the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He also saw them race for the water from his ablution and they almost quarreled for it. There were others who competed to pledge allegiance to death and some others pledged not to flee from (the battlefield). Among those people, were eminent Companions like `Umar and Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with all of them), who, although dedicated all their lives to the Prophet and to the cause of Islam, refused to carry out the Messenger’s orders with respect to slaughtering sacrificial animals after the agreement of the Hudaibiyah Peace Treaty, the thing that disturbed and caused the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to feel anxious. However, when Umm Salamah (May Allah be Pleased with her) advised to take the initiative and sacrifice his animals, accordingly, his followers raced to follow his example; a clear evidence in support of the saying: `Actions speak louder than words, in the process of exterminating a deeply-established tradition.’
Hypocrites aroused a lot of suspicions and launched propaganda against that marriage. Their actions and speech about that marriage had ill-effects on those Muslims whose faith was still weak; particularly the idea that Zainab was the fifth wife, and the Noble Qur’an had limited the number of wives to four simultaneously; Zaid was traditionally his son, and so a father marrying his son’s divorcee was a heinous sin in the eyes of the Arabs.
Surat Al-Ahzab was revealed to shed full light on the two issues: Islam does not recognize adoption of children, and the Prophet was given more freedom (by Allah) over the number of wives he can have in comparison to other Muslims, as they were performed to achieve specific noble and honorable purposes.
However, treatment by Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) toward his wives was of an honorable, noble, and superb nature. His wives were the best examples in respect of honor, satisfaction, patience, modesty, and wifely duty. Although the Messenger’s home life was hard and unbearable, none of his wives complained. Anas said about the Prophet’s life: “According to my knowledge, Allah’s Messenger never tasted a thin flattened loaf in his entire life, nor has he ever seen roasted goat with his own eyes.’’
`Aishah said: “Two months –would pass by, during which we would have seen three crescents, and no fire would be kindled in the houses of Allah’s
Messenger (i.e., they did not cook food).’’ Urwah asked, “What did you eat to sustain yourselves?’’ She said: “The two black things: dates and water.’’ We can find a lot of information concerning the difficult life of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the traditions.
In spite of these hardships, extremely limited sources and the adversity of life in the house of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), none of his wives uttered a word of complaint worthy of reproach except once. This exception was required by human instinctive inclinations. However, it was not so important and consequential that it did not require the decree of a legislative rule. Allah gave them an opportunity to choose between two things, as clearly stated in the following Verses:
``O Prophet (Muhammad)! Say to your wives: `If you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, -then come! I will make a provision for you and set you free in a handsome manner (divorce). But if you desire Allah and His Messenger, and the Home of the Hereafter, then verily, Allah has prepared for Al-Muhsinat (good-doers) amongst you an enormous reward.’’’ [33:28,29]
They were so noble and honest that none of them preferred `the life of this world and its glitter’ to the abode in the Hereafter.
Although they were many in number, nothing of the dispute that normally occur between co-wives took place in their houses. Very few cases can be observed, but they were quite normal. However, whenever Allah expressed disapproval of that behavior, they would cease to perform such a thing. This incident is mentioned in Surat At-Tahrim:
“O Prophet! Why do you ban (for yourself) that which Allah has made lawful to you...’’ [66:1-5]
Regarding polygamy, in my opinion, is not a necessity. A person who is familiar with the Europeans and their indecent practices, sufferings, wickedness, their sorrows and distresses, the horrible crimes they commit in this respect as well as the trials, the disasters that they are involved in, and which emanate directly from their disregard of the principle of polygamy form a good reason (to justify the soundness of polygamy). The distorted picture of life in Europe with the ill-practices featuring it, could truthfully justify the existence and practice of polygamy. In this, there are Divine signs for all people with reason.