Feb 8, 2012

In Defence of Prophet's Multiple Marriages Part 3

by Hiba Khan

Read part 1 HERE and part 2 HERE

How he treated his wives with equity
Although the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam’s heart was most inclined towards 'Aa'ishah, he would treat his wives with the highest level of equality, justice and fairness. He would spend equal amounts of time with all of them, going round their houses turn by turn. He also spent equally on them in terms of wealth. When traveling, he didn’t choose out of his own will which wife would go with him, but instead he drew lots.

Forgoing the special concession
Although his Lord had given the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam special permission to do whatever he wanted as regards his wives (i.e. give some wives more and others less, based on convenience and will), he still chose the path of justice and fairness - the way of excellence - lest anyone get hurt or complain, or lest he commit injustice.

“You, [O Muhammad], can postpone [the turn of] whom you will of them (your wives), or take to yourself whom you will. And any whom you desire of those [wives] from whom you had [temporarily] separated - there is no blame upon you [in returning her]. That is better that they may be comforted and not grieved, and that they be pleased with what you give them - all of them. And Allaah knows what is in your hearts. And Allaah is Ever All-Knowing, Most Forbearing. [Al-Qur'aan– Soorat-ul-Ahzaab 33: 51]

Can there be any doubt about the beauty of character of such a man?

4. Hafsah bint Umar (r.a.a.)

A heartbroken widow
Hafsah was the daughter of one of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam’s closest companions. His marriage to her was a great favour upon Hafsah and her father Umar . Why? Because she had thought she could never get a man better than her deceased husband, while Umar was extremely worried about his daughter getting no proposals. How the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam came to cool their eyes!

Dealing with competition in a healthy manner
The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam treated Hafsah with kindness and with wisdom, especially when she tried (but often failed) to match 'Aa'ishah in her knowledge!

Despite these little rivalries and spurts of envy between the wives, there was great camaraderie between them – especially between Sawdah, 'Aa'ishah and Hafsah.

5. Zaynab bint Khuzaymah (r.a.a.)

One of the forerunners in faith
Zaynab bint Khuzaymah was part of the earliest group of believers who responded to the call of Islam.

Her innate quality of generosity
Even before Islaam, Zaynab was known as ‘Mother of the distressed and needy’. She felt compelled to help anyone hungry or in dire need, as their conditions would disturb her. It was so much so that even the poets of that time would write about her.

A heart in grief finds relief
She had been widowed twice. Her second husband attained martyrdom in the Battle of Badr, and her heart grieved much while she handed over her plight to Allah alone while devoting herself in worship. Soon Allah’s Messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam married her, and 'Aa'ishah and Hafsah welcomed her with open arms.

Zaynab died barely eight months into the marriage though, at the age of thirty.

6. Umm Salamah bint Umayyah (r.a.a.)

Another heartbroken widow
Umm Salamah was a widow who had been very much in love with her husband. Before dying, Umm Salamah’s husband prayed that Allah give her a husband who would give her neither sorrow nor hardship, and a protector and provider like himself for his family. How Allah fulfilled this earnest prayer - by giving Umm Salamah to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in marriage!

Quelling the misgivings of a mature woman
In Great Women of Islam, it is mentioned how the beautiful understanding came to be between the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and Umm Salamah:

“She told him that she had three reservations regarding his proposal. She was hot-headed and had a temper; she felt she might be rude to the Prophet of Allah and thus lose the reward for all her good deeds. Secondly, she was an elderly lady; thirdly, she had many children.

The Prophet answered that he would pray to Allah, and Allah-willing, her temper would subside. As far as age was concerned, he was also an elderly man. Thirdly, as far as her children were concerned – that was the precise reason for proposing to her – he wished to be their guardian and share the responsibility.

... This answer gave her great happiness and thus she attained the honour of becoming part of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam’s household.”

7. Zaynab bint Jahsh (r.a.a.)

A marriage by the direct command of Allaah
When the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was 58 years old, he married his cousin Zaynab bint Jahsh. This was extremely difficult for him because she was initially the wife of his adopted son Zayd (r.a.a.) – a marriage that was done on the orders of Allah. That marriage did not work out, and Allaah commanded that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam marry Zaynab. Why? It was all part of the Divine plan...

Destroying traditional hurdles for all times to come
The social evil of that time was that a man could not marry the wife of his adopted son because the latter was believed to be the same as a real son as regards inheritance, rights, family name, and so on. Islaam wanted to eradicate this concept so, to break the taboo, the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam had to marry Zaynab who was formerly the wife of his adopted son. Allah performed their nikah (marriage contract) from the heavens and they lived happily thereafter, with no grudges whatsoever on the part of Zayd. Indeed, Zayd grew more in respect for Zaynab, as she had now become one of the “Mothers of the Believers” or “Pure Wives”.

“And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allaah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor (i.e. Zayd), ‘Keep your wife and fear Allaah’, while you concealed within yourself that which Allaah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allaah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allaah accomplished.” [Al-Qur'aan – Soorat-ul-Ahzaab 33: 37]

To be continued, inshaAllah. Please take this discussion forward with me and post your views regarding this issue in the comments section!


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