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Why did Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) have Eleven wives?

Posted on: September 26, 2007

 The Qur’an, in Surah Nisa, chapter 4 verse 3, states that a Muslim is allowed to marry a maximum of only four wives. Another verse in the Qur’an makes Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) an exception to this rule.

 In Surah Ahzab chapter 33 verse 52:

“It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this, nor to change them for (other) wives, even though their beauty attract thee, except any thy right hand should possess (as hand maidens) and Allah doth watch over all things “. [Al-Qur’an 33:52]

 This verse clearly gives Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the permission to keep all his previous wives but prohibits him to marry any more women except those which his right hand possessed i.e. slave girls.

 The Prophet (pbuh) was allowed to keep all his previous wives because no one was allowed to marry the Prophet’s wives (ra) after they were divorced or widowed as they were ummul-momineen (mother of the believers).

 People falsely accuse the Prophet (pbuh) of being hypersexual (Maaz-Allah), because he had eleven wives. If you read the life history of the Prophet (pbuh), only two of his marriages one with Khadija (ra), and the other, with Ayesha (ra) were marriages in the normal course. All his other marriages were contracted as a necessity and were based on various considerations.

 The first marriage of the Prophet (pbuh) took place when he was 25 years of age and he married Khadija (ra) who was twice widowed, and was 40 years old. If the Prophet (pbuh) was hypersexual, why would he marry a woman who was 15 years older than him and already twice widowed?

 Until his first wife, Khadija (ra) was alive, he never took a second wife. Khadija (ra) expired when the Prophet (pbuh) was 50 years age and only after this, did he marry the others. If he married eleven wives for sexual reasons, he should have had multiple wives during his youth. Contrary to this, history tells us that all his marriages with his remaining ten wives took place when he was between the age of 53 and 59 years.

 All his wives (ra) were between the age of 36 to 50 years, except for two wives (ra). His reputation had spread far and wide, not only in Arabia, but also in the neighboring countries. Could he not have easily got younger and lovelier girls to marry? Most of his marriages were for political gain and for the spread of Islaam.

 In Arabia, no one could carry on the work of reform and upliftment unless he belonged to, or was related to some specific and respectable tribe. Thus, in the interest of his mission, the Prophet (pbuh) needed inter-tribal relationships. He wanted to weld the quarreling tribal and clannish factions into one Muslim ummah, as brethren in faith (Ikhwan fi’d-din).

 For instance, his wife Juwayreeyah (ra) belonged to the Banu Mustaliq clan, which was very powerful. The entire clan was a bitter enemy of Islam from the start, and they were finally suppressed by military action. When the Prophet (pbuh) married Juwayreeyah (ra), the Muslims released all their prisoners, saying that they could not keep the prophet’s relatives in bondage. It was due to this marriage that the whole clan of Banu Mustaliq accepted Islam and became peaceful and obedient to the laws of the new Islaamic state.

 Maymunah (ra) also came from a very powerful and recalcitrant clan from Najd and was the sister of the wife of the chief of the clan in those days. It was this clan which had brutally murdered seventy members of an Islaamic missionary deputation. The Prophet’s (pbuh) marriage with Maymunah (ra) changed the whole atmosphere and Najd accepted Madinah’s authority under the leadership of the Prophet (pbuh).

 Umm Habibah (ra) was the daughter of the Quraysh chief, Abu Sufyan. It was after the Prophet’s (pbuh) marriage to Umm Habibah, that Abu Sufyan never fought against the Prophet (pbuh). This marriage was largely responsible for the conquest of Makkah. Furthermore, Umm Habibah was first married to a certain Ubaydullah and emigrated with him to Abyssinia, where Ubaydullah became a Christian and a drunkard. Excessive consumption of wine killed him since it was a double shock to her that her husband had become a Christian and later died, she was badly in need of solace.

 Safiyyah (ra) was the daughter of a very prominent Jewish chief, Huyyah ibn Aktab. In consideration of her family status, she could not be merged into an ordinary household. So the Prophet (pbuh) himself married her. After this marriage, the Jews did not dare to revive their opposition to the Prophet (pbuh) and his mission.

 In the case of Hafsah (ra), it was the Prophet’s (pbuh) desire to bind in relationship with those of his great companions (sahabah) who were his advisers and who were trained for future leadership. He had married Abu Bakr’s (ra) daughter, married two of his own daughters to Uthman (ra) and one to ‘Ali (ra). ‘Umar (ra) could not be kept outside this wide circle of relationship. By marrying Umar’s daughter Hafsah (ra), the Prophet (pbuh) forged a strong bond of relationship within the Islamic movement thus strengthening the pillars of the ummah.

 The Prophet (pbuh) had married his first cousin, Zaynab (ra), to his freed slave, Zayd ibn Haritha (ra), whom he had adopted as his son. This marriage of Zaynab (ra) with Zayd (ra) was intended to break the family and social barriers, but the marriage did not prove to be successful and ended in divorce. When the Prophet (pbuh) saw that Zaynab (ra) was left alone, he felt his responsibility in the matter. He also had to break another convention, according to which an adopted son became a real son. This difficult problem was solved by the Prophet’s (pbuh) marriage to Zaynab (ra) (as mentioned in the Qur’an, in Surah Ahzab, chapter no 33 verse 37) to annul that pre-Islamic conception and promulgate an Islamic law instead.

 Another lady Zaynab (ra), Umm al Masakin (mother of the poor and helpless), daughter of Khuzayma ibn Al-Haith, belonged to the Hawazin clan. Her husband was killed in the battle of Uhud. To rescue her from widowhood, the Prophet (pbuh) took her as his wife.

 After the revelation of the verse in Surah Ahzab, chapter 33 verse 52, the Prophet (pbuh) only married Mary the Copt who was a slave girl sent as a present by the Christian Muqauqas of Egypt. Since the Christian Chieftain of Egypt sent Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) a slave girl as a present, he could not refuse this gift as a refusal would have disturbed the political alliance. He could not keep her as a slave girl, since Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) preached that slaves should be freed. The only option left with him was to marry her, since the Qur’an gave him the permission to do so. Later on she became the mother of Ibrahim (ra) who died in his infancy.

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12 Responses to "Why did Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) have Eleven wives?"

I am Christian, so certainly can’t answer your question. However, I am interested in hearing the opinions of others.

Blessings.

Asalamualaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barkatahu,
You have great info on Ummahat-ul-Momineen. Where did you get the info on Bibi Maria (R.A.) mother of Ibrahim (R.A.)? It is very important for a reader to understand this part of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) life. As I have seen people of this very ummat questioning or changing the facts on the marriages of our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). There are many reasons only known by Allah for Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.)’s marriages but we can with respect try to consider some. Some of the reasons I have acknowledged are:

1) We should first note that not a single young man today especially at age of 25 will marry a 40 yrs old woman. Also note that this is her (Bibi Khatija R.A.’s) third marriage and his
(S.A.W.)’s first marriage.
2) If his (S.A.W.) marriages were of his own choice, he (S.A.W.) would have married multiple women at his young age not in the last nine years of his life.
3) His second wife Bibi Sauda (R.A.) was also not a young woman at the time he (S.A.W.) took her into marriage.
4) When Allah sent an order to marry Bibi Zainad bint Jahash (R.A.), he (S.A.W.) hesitated. If his (S.A.W.) marriages were of his own choice he would never marry Bibi Zainab bint Jahash (R.A.) because she was married to his (S.A.W.) adopted son Hazrath Zaid (R.A.) and would raise criticism.

My only point here is all Prophets are Mahfouz (saved), either it is Adam A.S., Ibrahim A.S. or our beloved Nabi Muhammad S.A.W. Their life’s every task and steps are taken according to Allah’s command.

PROPHET OF ISLAM MUHAMMAD (SAW) IS THE LAST PROOHET, HE HAS MANY SIGNS AND WONDERS, MIRACLES, e.t.c. IT IS UNFAIR TO THINK OF SUCH NEGATIVE AND BAD BEAHVIOUS TO SOME ONE WHO RESTORE JUSTICE TO THE WHOLE WORLD WHEN HE WAS ALIVE

thanks for clearing my doubts

It is a very good article explaining the marriages and the reasons for each marriage of our Prophet (SAW). Hazrat Khadija (RA) was a great supporter of the prophet (SAW) when he needed support for his mission. And Hazat Ayesha (RA) spent her young age with the prophet (SAW) and has nerrated a lot of ahadeeth to explain our prophet’s life at home. All Ummahatul Moumineen are mother to us and hence our full respect is due. May Almighty Allah bless us all and bring peace and tranquility in the world as our prophet wanted and worked all his life. Allahumma Swalle Alaa Mohammad wa Barik wa Sallim alaih.

I am touched with the information has been gathered on this topics. Our Prophet was a greatest man on the earth. I am proud of him.

thank u very for updating us ..it is honourable for us to know this…Our Prophit’s single step wans not wothout God’s consent..he did what God said….

im glad that i found my answer from you.

THANKU FOR ALL THIS USEFULL INFORMATION ONLY THING ABOUT WHICH I WAS NOT SURE WAS OF PROPHET(P.B.U.H) MARRIAGE TO HAZRAT AYESHA(R.A) BUT I THINK NOW I AM GETTING SOME INFORMATION AS PROPHET NEVER HAD PHYSICAL RELATION WITH HER UNTIL SHE WAS 15 AND HE MIGHT MARRY HER DUE TO DIFFERENT REASON ONE OF WHICH WAS AT THAT TIME PEOPLE USE TO MIGRATE ALL THE TIME SO IT WAS NOT SAFE FOR GIRLS ESPECIALLY MUSLIM GIRLS DUE TO ALOT OF ENEMIES TO BE ON THEIR ON SO PEOPLE USE TO MARRY THEIR GIRLS AT EARLY AGE FOR THEIR SAFETY
AND 2ND REASON MIGHT BE AS MUHAMMAD(P.B.U.H) ALWAYS MARRIED WIDOWS SO THERE WERE RUMOURS THAT HE CANT GET ANY YOUNG GIRL SO GOD MADE HIM MARRY YOUNG BEAUTIFUL VIRGIN

informative article really gud for doing daawah may Allah reward you brother

i like it

Respected Sir, Asslam o Alaikum. I am highly grateful to u and your team who has been instrumental to exhibit the article containing the Holy Marriage of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) with our
Holy Mothers, who are the Mothers of the Ummah. This article besides being research based was Eman-Increasing. I wish u continue your service to humanity and expect reward from Almighty
Allah. May Allah bless u and your readers and all the humanity of the world which is present and which has to come till the Day of Qiamat.

I shall request u to be kind enough to keep me informed of such thought provoking articles through email.

Prayerfully yours, MUHAMMAD f j Janjua, Senior Advocate,Lahore, Pakistan. (email: mfjjanjua@hotmail.com)

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