Prophet's wives

Q524 :Could you please explain how many wives the Prophet did actually marry and what were the reasons for his marriages.

A524 : Lady Khadija and Lady Aisha were the best known of the Prophet's wives. He married Lady Khadija when he was twenty five. Some reports put her age at the time of his marriage at forty, but this is most probably not correct considering that she gave the Prophet no fewer than six children, some of whom were born more than ten years after their marriage. All indications suggest that she was much younger than that, perhaps in her early thirties. He was married to her for twenty-five years during which he did not get married to anyone else. She died ten years after the Prophet started to receive revelations from Allah, and three years before his emigration from Makkah to Madinah. The Prophet continued to have good memories of his marriage to Lady Khadija right to the end of his blessed life. After Lady Khadija's death, the Prophet was married to two women, Lady Sawda, who was in middle age when he married and Lady Aisha, the daughter of his most intimate friend, Abu Bakr. Lady Aisha was young at that time, with many reports putting her age at nine or ten. It must be borne in mind that such reports could not have been accurate in a largely illiterate community where there was no registration of births or deaths. But from the total sum of the reports that mention Lady Aisha, her early childhood, youth, marriage and later life, we can conclude on very reliable authority that she was well in her teens when she got married to the Prophet. I have mentioned in the past that many of the Prophet's marriages were motivated by political, social or legislative considerations. As we have mentioned, Lady Aisha was the daughter of Abu Bakr, the Prophet's friend and successor. He was also married to Lady Hafsah, the daughter of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second ruler of the Muslim state after Abu Bakr. So, both of the first two of the rightly guided caliphs had their daughters married to the Prophet. The third and fourth, Usman and Ali, were married to the Prophet's daughters. The Prophet also married Umm Habibah, the daughter of Abu Sufiyan, the leader of Quraish who was waging a most determined fight against Islam. Lady Umm Habibah had emigrated to Abyssinia a few years earlier when the Prophet advised a group of his companions to travel and settle there. During her stay in that faraway country, Umm Habibah's husband died. She was in a very difficult situation, having no relations in Abyssinia, with her father leading Quraish and other Arabian tribes in a fight to exterminate Islam. Learning of her plight, the Prophet sent one of his companions to Negus, the ruler of Abyssinia who had accepted Islam, to arrange his marriage to Lady Habibah and send her to him. That was a marriage even Abu Sufiyan, her father, could be proud of. The Prophet also married Umm Salamah, the widow of one of his valiant companions, who was left with children to look after and practically no one to support her. Two marriages had clear political motives. The first was the Prophet's marriage to Lady Juwairiyah, the daughter of a tribal chief who had raised an army to fight the Prophet. The Muslims preempted his attempt and managed to inflict a heavy defeat on him and his tribe of Almustalaq. Many of the men in that tribe were taken captive, and as was the common practice at that time, prisoners of war were made slaves. The Prophet hated slavery and freed every slave who came into his possession. When the Prophet married Lady Juwairiyah, his companions felt that they could not keep the Prophet's "in-laws" as their slaves. Therefore, they refrained from taking any one of them and let them free. It was said of Lady Juwairiyah that probably no woman brought her tribe greater blessings. The other marriage to be mentioned in this connection was the Prophet's matrimonial union with Lady Safiyah, the daughter of Huyai ibn Akhtab, a Jewish scholar who was dedicated to fighting the Prophet and Islam. In fact, it was Huyai who worked hard to forge an alliance of Arabian and Jewish tribes which marched on Madinah to try to eliminate the Muslim community altogether. That was the alliance which tried to attack the Muslims in what is known as "the expedition of the Moat [Ghazwa-e-Khandaq]." Huyai was executed along with the Jews of Huraithah after victory was granted by God to Muslims. A couple of years later, Safiyah's Jewish husband was killed in the Battle of Khaybar. After the battle, the Prophet married her to help normalize the relations with those Jews who continued to live in Arabia. In fact, Lady Safiyah fell to the Prophet as a slave as part of his share of what the Muslims gained as a result of the battle. He, however, offered her freedom if she would accept Islam, which she did and he married her. Now about the Prophet's marriage to Lady Zainab, who was known by the title, "Mother of the Poor", because she was so keen to help every poor person. She was married to the Prophet for only two months before she passed away. The other marriage was to Lady Maimounah which took place after the Prophet and the Muslims went for their Umrah, a few months before the conquest of Makkah. One marriage which had clear legislative purpose was that which saw the Prophet married, by God's own order, to Lady Zainab bint Jahsh. Before Islam and well into the early years of the Muslim settlement in Madinah, the Arabs used to recognize adoption as giving full parental status. Thus, if a couple adopted a child, he was considered their own son or daughter in every respect. Islam, however, stopped adoption and considered it a forbidden practice which could give no legal effect to any relationship. The Prophet had adopted, in pre-Islamic days, a young man who had been gifted to him as a slave. The young man was known as Zaid ibn Haritha. He declared his adoption of Zaid, who was subsequently known as Zaid ibn Muhammad. It is perhaps worth mentioning here that Zaid was the first man to adopt Islam. When the prohibition of adoption was declared, Zaid reverted to his original name and was known ever since as Zaid ibn Haritha, after his real father. The Prophet had married Zaid to Lady Zainab, the daughter of his paternal aunt. However, Zainab was rather unhappy about the marriage, because of Zaid's former slave status. Zaid was very uneasy about the marriage and asked the Prophet's permission to divorce her. At this point, the Prophet was ordered to allow the divorce to go through and to marry Zainab after her waiting period was over. The Prophet was very reluctant to do so, because of what people might say about his marrying his former "daughter-in-law". But God wanted to demonstrate in practice the absolute invalidity of adoption in the most practical manner. God declares in the Qur'an: "When Zaid had accomplished his purpose with her, We married her off to you so that there would be no objection for believers in respect of their adopted sons' wives once they have accomplished their purpose with them. God's command must be done." (33;36) A few verses later, God declared: "Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is God's messenger and the seal of the prophets." (33;40) I hope I have made this question clear to you.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )