May 18, 2013

How can Muhammad (pbuh) be considered a true prophet, when he married so many women?

Over the centuries since the revelation of the Glorious Qur’an to Prophet Muhammed(pbuh), there have been several attacks on the Prophet’s personality. Many of them are centered around the fact that he had several wives (nine according to some Traditions), in the latter part of his life. It is important to highlight some salient aspects of the Prophet’s marriages that will enable us to view them in a broader perspective:


  1. Polygamy is neither universally wrong nor immoral. What is wrong is adultery; having illicit relations with women one is not married to. Furthermore, one has to look at polygamy in terms of the specific circumstances of different times and places; for example, polygamy played a key role in facilitating the care for orphans and widows at times of war. For a detailed answer on polygamy, please refer Section 4, question 4.3.


  1. Being in polygamous marriages is not a sound basis on which to reject someone as a prophet. Most of the prophets, as their stories are recounted in the Bible, such as Abraham, David and Solomon (peace be on them all), had more than one wife.


  1. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) married Khadijah (RA), a widow who was 15 years his senior when he was 25. He remained in this monogamous marriage for 24 years, until she died. It was only after her death, after he reached 50 years of age, that he had more than one wife simultaneously. These subsequent marriages were not the result of desire or obsession; rather they served a variety of functions and exemplified appropriate behavior. Some of the motives behind his marriages were:

i)              to strengthen his relationship with his close companions by marrying the daughters of Abu Bakr (RA) and Umar (RA).

ii)             to establish bonds with enemies; for instance his marriage to Umm Habiba, the daughter of Abu Sufyan. He also married women from Christian tribes, such as Maria, and from Jewish tribes. These unions were very noble as they reconciled the hearts of enemies. If one considers these marriages as political, aimed at unifying fighting people and reducing hostility between tribes, then let them be called political marriages.

iii)            to care for orphans; for instance, Umm Salma was a widow with four children who was about 50 years old at the time of her marriage to the Prophet (SAW).


4. When the question of polygamy arises in relation to Prophet Muhammad (SAW), it is often really raised in order to question his chastity.  What is disregarded is the fact that even though he lived in a loose society where fornication was a common place, not even his enemies raised any doubts about his chastity.

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