Refuting Doubts About the Prophet (SAW) -Doubt #1
Read the previous part: The Exclusive Characteristics of Prophet (SAW)1 and 2
From the very first day on which the Prophet began to publicize his call and propagate his message, the disbelievers have looked for ways to hinder his success. The Quraysh of old referred to him as a mad man, one who is possessed, one who wrecks homes, a poet, a sorcerer, etc. Even in our times, allegations are made in hopes of tarnishing the pure character and noble personality of the Prophet. It is our duty as Muslims to defend the Prophet from such allegations, as Allah says:
“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves.” (Al Ahzab:6)
Doubt # 1Why did the Prophet have so Many Wives?
It is important to understand that Islam did not introduce polygamy; rather this practice existed in the previous faiths. If one was to take a cursory look at the bible once would find that the Prophets of old had multiple wives as well. Likewise, it was from pre-Islamic culture that a man could have as many women as he desired without any restriction. With the coming of Islam, this practice was regulated and restricted. Men could no longer marry more than four wives at a time, in hopes of honoring and protecting the rights of the women.
Of all the wives of the Prophet, only one was a virgin. The rest were previously married, and most of them old in age. Therefore, the claim that these marriages were out of lust and personal desire are lacking substantiation, as the Prophet could have had any woman he desired but chose these ones specifically. This can be seen by the stages of his married life:
- He remained single until age 25.
- From age 25 to 50 he was married exclusively to his first 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 Cal 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.
- Between ages 50 and 52 he remained unmarried and mourned his beloved late wife. He lived alone with his daughters.
- Between age 53 and 60 he married all his other wives for many noble reasons detailed below. It is unimaginable for a man to suddenly turn lustful at this age, especially as he was constantly travelling, with bloodthirsty enemies on his heels.
- At age 60, Allah revealed to him a verse preventing him from marrying any more until he died at the age 63.
Now, the question arises as to what were the motives behind the rest of the marriages? Upon further research and analysis, we can derive three major motives:
- To pass on Islam to the next generations as a practical legacy: Prophet Muhammad (SAW) 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.
- To cement the relations of the budding nation: In a trivial society, it was customary to seal treaties through marrying into tribes. Muhammad’s (SAW) 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’isha (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).
The Prophet (SAW) married Ramlah bint Abi Sufyan when her husband embraced Christianity and died in Abyssinia. He sent to al Najashi, the ruler of Abyssinia, to ask for her hand in marriage. She was glad, and her father was proud. It is well known fact that Abu Sufyan was highly esteemed among his people and that relationship through marriage had many social effects among Arabs. It was a means of affinity among people, especially when the couple fulfilled their duties towards one another. The Prophet also married Juwariyah bint Harith for the same reason. She was a war prisoner in the Battle of Bani al Mustaliq. The Prophet (SAW) wanted to dignify these types of women, and thus made them equal with free women. Such a marriage was a clear proof about the tolerance of Islam. Another political wisdom can be discerned in the marriage of Safiyah bint Huyai bin Akhtab. It refutes the accusation of racism against Jews, made against the Prophet.
To teach Muslims compassion with Women: He taught them to be compassionate not just 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 are not to be cast out to face a harsh life alone.
Read: Doubt #2 Why was Aisha (RA) so young :Refuting Doubt About the Prophet (SAW)