Historical accounts have confirmed that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married more than four women.
The prophet’s first wife was Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her), a wealthy woman in Mecca. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) married her, he was 25 years old and she was about 40 years old. She had been married three times previously. And it was the first marriage of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and be upon him), if he would have married for natural desires or lusts he would have selected a beautiful young virgin of Mecca rather than a widow fifteen years his senior. When she died during the eighth year of his prophethood he remained single for about five years and brought up his children by himself. All of his later marriages began when he was 53 years old when his Da`wah activities were at their peak and he was absolutely absorbed in his preaching tasks. After these clear evidences, how can a fair-minded scholar claim that he was self-indulgent?
In addition, the early biography of the Prophet’s life shows that he was pure in all aspects of life. It is not possible to imagine that he got married for natural desires. If there was any carnal desire behind his marriages, it is not logical to prefer widows or divorcees. The only virgin among his wives was ‘A’ishah, the daughter of the first Caliph of Islam. He married more than one for noble humanistic purposes and sublime goals. Every one of them played an eminent role in the propagation of his teachings among the Muslim women.
‘A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) narrates that a woman came to the Prophet (peace be up on him) and questioned about bathing after menses. The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained, saying: “Clean it with a perfumed piece of cotton!” She asked, “How shall I clean it?” Then he said again: “Clean with it!” Still the woman could not understand well, and she asked again: “How to clean?” Then the Prophet (peace be up on him) said: “Glory be to Allah! Clean with it.” He was a very modest person; he could not explain directly.
`A’ishah stated: “Then I pulled her towards me and explained for her: “Wipe with it the marks of the blood thoroughly!”(1)
Furthermore, he was only to obey Allah’s Orders, every moment of his life was practical translation of Allah‘s Commands and Instructions. Allah (Glorified be He) says about him:
Say, “I only follow what is revealed to me from my Lord.” (Al-A`araf 7:203)
How can we raise such doubts while we are talking about a man who was able to live as the kings even though he (peace be upon him) preferred a lifestyle of the poor. Then How you claim that he (peace be upon him) was governed by carnal desires?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was a man who chose the life of subsistence and contentment willingly, although he was able to provided the demands of his pure wives, and he had the facility to give them a luxurious life which was easy for him, then how can you claim that he was governed by his carnal desires?
Prophet and his Opponent’s Testimony
Why all these illusions after 1400 years, while he was known before his marriage and after his marriage with chastity? Why these suspicions now while he was a symbol of purity, honesty, truthfulness and all kinds of good qualities? He was more popular with the word “the Honest” “the Truthful” than his original name. People used to point to him as “the Just” and “the Rightful”. It was the Quraysh and the people of Mecca who trusted in his words and deeds fully before he declared his prophethood. And when they became his bitter enemy after the declaration of the prophethood, they never accused him of polygamy, although they were very eager to find any flaw in his character. This denotes that it never was a point of weakness in his personality, rather they were confident that it is a sort of perfection and a kind of philanthropy, as he cared for the widows, divorcee, helpless and needy through these marriages. If it was any sort of flaw, they would have been the first to raise such questions, but it never happened.
Suppose a man who is pure devotee of Allah and true worshiper and ascetic who spends his whole time serving the poor and needy, and has no desire to collect the world and the pleasures of this world and whose life is dedicated for the service of the people, and then if he marries more than one wife, surely such person would be away from such suspicions. Then, why such doubts are raised about the polygamy of the seal of the Prophets and Messengers, who was unique, matchless and perfect in every good quality?
I think if the critic looked at his own character, do you remember! How many sanctities have been violated by you? How much trusts have been breached by you? How many sins were committed by you intentionally or unintentionally? How much people were hurt by your words, deeds and actions? If the critic will account his own character, he would be ashamed of his criticism to this Great Prophet whose purity and truthfulness were acknowledged and admired by his enemies before his friends and who was praised by his opponents before his lovers. Then, how do you justify criticizing this symbol of purity and truthfulness while you are steeped in sins and misdeeds?
His boyhood, his youthfulness and his middle age were open page in front of the people. He never surrendered to the pleasures, promiscuity or inhibitions during the prime of his youth, while his coevals were indulged in all types of indecencies. During the days of ignorance, all impermissible acts were permissible, but in spite of that, he was known by his purity, honesty, reverence and sobriety. When he started Da`wah no one of his enemies or opponents challenged him or called on the people: Come O my people and see this man, who himself was indulged in indecent acts and carnal desires and now he began inviting you to the purity, chastity and renunciation of desires. Such accusation has never been heard from anyone of his enemies though they were many and countless, who always were in the search of even his smallest defects to challenge him. If there was some thing blameworthy, surely it would have been the talk of the town.
On the contrary, people were reverting to Islam every day, they were attracted to him with sincerity, love and honor. They loved him more than their love for their parents, children, wealth rather than their own souls. `Umar ibn Al-Khttab reverted to Islam after he was a bitter enemy of the Prophet (peace be upon him), his hostility before his reversion to Islam, was as severe as the enmity of Abu-Jahl, but `Umar ibn Al-Khttab was fair and heard the voice of his mind.
I ask those who raise such questions have you lovers and admirers from across the world like he has? Are you trustworthy among your friends and colleagues as he was? The admirers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) all over the world were and are and would be countless. Is this possible according to your mind for a person who was devoid of perfection and divine support? If you do not believe in his purity, then you are unable to believe in anything in this world or you are totally unaware of his life and it will never affect Islam at all, but surely you your self would be the loser.
His Marriage with `A’ishah
`A’ishah As-Siddiqah was the daughter of a best friend of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Actually, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq wished to marry his daughter to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and wanted to make a family relation with him by this way. This contract of marriage intended basically to fortify his ties with her father who supported him in his mission. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) came into his marriage after he announced his Prophethood and her father Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was also eager to obtain an honor, blessing and privilege through this marriage. Those people were aware of the merits and excellence of the seal of the all prophets and messengers, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). She was physically fit for the marriage according to the customs of the Arabs. Thus `A’ishah, as a girl was able to observe and remember all the movements of the Prophet’s life and taught the people how he was as a family man.
The Opponents of the Prophet
It is noticeable that the most fierce opponents of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never accused him of polygamy or marriage with `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), even though they fought him and his followers and killed many of them and tried their best to spread lies and baseless accusations against him and his followers in order to keep the people away from him and his message. This means that his marriage with `A’ishah never was a blemish; otherwise his opponents of his time would have been the first to raise such accusation.
(1)Muhammad ibnIsma`il Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami`a As-Sahih, edit. By Dr. Mustafa Dib Al-Bugha, the Book of Menstrual Periods, chapter: “A woman should rub her own body thoroughly during a bath after the menses”, Dar Ibn Kathir, 1993, Vol.1, p.119.