If the status of Muhammad’s ﷺ multiple wives is not studied thoroughly and objectively, it can be severely misunderstood. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is accused of marrying many wives to satisfy his lust and taking Aisha (RA) as a wife at a young age, but the motive of these marriages was not merely desire or lust. According to the preceding divine laws and the Shariah of our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, men can marry more than one woman. Muhammad ﷺ was not the only Prophet who practiced plural marriage, as was witnessed from Yaqoob (AS) who had two wives and Sulayman (AS) who had ninety-nine. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ married 12 wives in his life and was left with 9 when he died. They have a very special status in the hearts of Muslims as the “Mothers of the Believers,” as the Qur’an instructs.
The life of Muhammad ﷺ was shaped by the support of only minimum necessities and overseeing his prophethood duties. Likewise, his wives did not waste time in their lives by acquiring luxuries; they led a life of hard labor and sacrifice. Thus, clearly, lust was not an influence as he wasn’t even at home most of the time. Additionally, most of his marriages happened at an age when lust is not a major factor in any man’s life. He was single until the age of twenty- five when he married Khadijah (RA). He was faithful to Khadijah (RA) until she died, when Prophet ﷺ was fifty-years-old. He remained unmarried for two years, mourning his late beloved wife, and living alone with his daughters.
After two years, he married all his other wives at different times and for honorable reasons. At this point in life, Prophet ﷺ was constantly traveling and he had many enemies on his heels; so, it would be unbecoming to say that he married many wives for lust. It is highly improbable that a man would suddenly turn lustful after having led fifty years practicing a balanced and moderate life. Allah revealed verses preventing him from marrying until he died when He said in the Quran:
“It is not lawful for you (to marry other) women after this, nor to change them for other wives” [Quran 33:52].
Other wives were married by Prophet ﷺ for motives relating to his duty of delivering the divine laws to the world. Those wives were carefully selected, not just randomly acquired for carnal reasons as some people suggest.
The only Prophet without any privacy and with an accurately conserved tradition in speech and actions, in all minute details of his public and private life, is Muhammad ﷺ. His tradition was conserved in the minds of his wives and companions, whose narrations comprise of the day-to-day life experiences for the Muslims to follow until the end of time. It is a great honor for women, as Islam was spread on the shoulders of women and preserved in their hearts.
Tn the tribal society of the Prophet ﷺ, it was customary to marry into tribes to strengthen the ties of brotherhood, love and friendship, and to seal treaties in the hope of strengthening Islam and to help spread it. Two of the Caliphs were his fathers-in-law and the other two Caliphs were his sons- in- law.
His marriage to Aisha (RA) was not a case of child molestation as suggested by some misinformed people. At that time and place, women were considered adults as soon as their menstrual cycle began, and the custom was to give daughters in marriage at that age regardless of religion. Some people allege false claims that Maria was a concubine and not a wife of the Prophet ﷺ. Maria was a slave owned by Egypt’s Christian governor, who offered her as a gift to the Prophet ﷺ in reply to his diplomats inviting him to Islam.
Prophet ﷺ was approached by many believing women for their hand in marriage but he respectfully declined their offers. After the death of Khadijah (RA), most of the wives he married were old, lacked beauty and were previously married, except Aisha (RA) who was the only young virgin. He married from other nations and religions; some were the daughters of his worst enemies, and sometimes his marriage to one woman won all her people into Islam. He was a model of equality, justice and kindness to them all, and he would never discriminate among them, irrespective of his neutral feelings towards many of them.
All the claims laid against the Prophet ﷺ are false. They are made with the intention to demean him and to tarnish his image. One can never find a husband, as best as Muhammad ﷺ, who would treat his wives as good as Muhammad ﷺ did. Polygamy is not limited to Islam. It does not oppose the natural disposition of a man, nor does it go beyond reason. There are a great number of women compared to men in the world. A man may have the strength that prompts him to marry more than one woman to fulfill his desires in permitted ways, instead of fulfilling them in impermissible ways or suppressing them. Thus, plural marriage is allowed and is justified in terms of reason, natural human inclinations and laws.
Written by: Emily Amini
Edited by: The Editorial Team