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The Number of Wives of the Holy Prophet

After Khadija passed away, when the Holy Prophet was 53 years old, he took other wives including 'Aisha, Hafsa, Zaynab bint Khuzayma, Umm Salma, Sauda bint Zama, Zaynab bint Jahash, Juwayriya, Safia, Maymuna, Umm Habiba and Marya. 49

The conditions and circumstances that necessitated the several marriages of the Prophet should be studied. The main reasons for his marriages are the following:

1. To take care of the orphans and the destitute


The Prophet took some of his wives in order to maintain the prestige and reputation they had when they previously had been living in comfort and honour but whose faith and honour were endangered due to the loss of their guardians - husbands, fathers, sons and their tribes - forcing them to abandon Islam and select polytheism and atheism. Sauda was like this. Her husband passed away in Ethiopia, where they had migrated, leaving her alone and without support. The Prophet, who had lost Khadija and had no other wife, married Sauda. 50 Zaynab the daughter of Khuzayma was a widow who had, after her husband's death, fallen into poverty. She had always been a generous and benevolent woman, known as 'the mother of the poor'. To guard her honour and reputation, the Prophet took Zaynab as his wife. She passed away in the lifetime of God's Messengers. 51 Umm Salma, too, was faithful and aged and had helpless orphans. She was another wife of our Prophet. 52

2. To establish proper laws and customs


Another reason was to establish proper laws and customs and to nullify wrong customs and beliefs of the period of ignorance and idol-worship. At the Holy Prophet's order, Zaynab, the daughter of Jahash and the Prophet's cousin, married Zayd ibn Harith. This was an example of annuling class differences which Islam forbids. Zaynab was a grand daugher of the Quraysh chieftain Abdul Muttalib and Zayd's family were slaves. The Holy Prophet had bought his freedom. For these reasons, Zaynab considered herself superior to her husband, Zayd, thus making her marital life bitter and unbearable. No matter how much the Holy Prophet advised them, she did not change her manners, so finally Zayd, feeling no love for her any longer, divorced her. 53 At God's command, the great Prophet of Islam married Zaynab after her husband, Zayd, had divorced her in order to wipe out the custom of not marrying the former wives of adopted sons (for they regarded their adopted sons as their real sons), which custom was unduly prevalent among the people in the dark periods of paganism. 54

False Accusations


Some Christian writers have, in their dishonest judgments and accusatory remarks, gone so far as to claim that the Holy Prophet of Islam had fallen in love with Zaynab's beauty. This claim is so far from the truth that it is clearly rejected by all authentic histories and logical indictions because if the Prophet of Islam were a slave to his passions and entangled in such sensual thoughts, or if Zaynab were so attractive as to fascinate him, he would have fallen in love with her when she was still a maiden, when he himself was young and more vivacious, especially considering the fact that Zaynab was a close relative of his and usually relatives know about each other's beauty or lack of it.

3. To set free the slaves like Juwayriya


Juwayriya was from the famous tribe called the Bani Mustalaq who were defeated and taken captive in their fight with the Islamic forces. The Prophet married Jawayriya the daughter of Harith, who was their chief. When the Muslims observed that the captives had thus become relatives of the Prophet, they freed many of them. According to Ibn Hisham, this blessed marriage resulted in freedom for one hundred families from that tribe. 55

4. To form friendly relations

Some marriages occurred to form friendly relations with great Arab tribes, to hinder their obstruction, and to maintain internal policy. For these reasons, the Holy Prophet of Islam married 'Aisha, Hafsa, Safia, Maymuna, and Umm Habiba. Umm Habiba was the daughter of Abu Sufyan, whose family members were bigoted enemies of the family of the Holy Prophet of Islam and especially of our Prophet himself. Umm Habiba's husband gave up Islam in Ethiopia, became a Christian, and died there. She was then extremely troubled and worried for she was herself a Muslim while her father, Abu Sufyan, was rated among the greatest enemies of Islam. Thus she could not take refuge with him and was alone and helpless. Therefore, to help and support this poor woman and to make friends with the Bani Ummayad, the Prophet married her. 56 Safia was the daughter of Hayy ibn Akhtab, the head of the Bani Nazir tribe. To guard her prestige, the Prophet took her as his wife after the Jewish captives were scattered among the Muslims, thus establishing family relationships with one of the greatest Bani Israel tribes. 57 Maymuna, whom God's Messenger married in the year 7 AH, was from the tribe of Bani Makhzum. 58 With the exception of 'Aisha, most of the wives of the Holy Prophet were either widows or divorcees at , the time they were married to the Prophet and most of them had lost their beauty and youth, proving that the marriages of the Holy Prophet had been out of sacred motives and for benevolent reasons, so that no one can bring such accusations as sensuality and seeking of false pleasure against him.

49. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 22, pp.200-204.

50. The Life of Muhammad, compiled by Dr. Heykal, p.319.

51. Ibid., p.320; Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 22, p.203.

52. The Life of Muhammad, compiled -6y Dr. Heykal, p.321.

53. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 22, pp.214-218.

54. See The Holy Qur'an, Sura Ahzab, Ayah 37.

55. Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 3, p.295,

56. Isabih wa Isti'ab, p.305; Musu'ati Alenabi, p.369; Sirihi ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.223; and A'lam Alwari, p.I41.

57. Ibid.; Musu'ati, p.345, A'lam, p.142.

58. Bihar ul-Anwar, Vol. 22, p.203; Sirihi ibn Hisham, p.372; Musu'ati Alenabi, p.404.

Adapted from: "A Glance at the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam" by : "Dar Rah Haqq's Board of Writers"

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