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The life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), including his marriages, provides us with an ideal example of noble conduct and exemplary character at all stages of life. Every Muslim should study the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as he is the ultimate role model for believers. The honorable qualities that the Prophet (PBUH) demonstrated throughout his life are what every believer should seek to emulate.
A major aspect of the Prophet’s (PBUH) life was his marriages and the wisdom behind them. Studying his marriages is critical for one to gain a comprehensive understanding of Muhammad’s (PBUH) character and conduct. We should not overlook the wisdom behind the Prophet’s (PBUH) marriages. It is essential to learn about this wisdom for us to fully appreciate the noble qualities of the Prophet (PBUH).
The marriages of the Prophet (PBUH) are also often misunderstood. Misconceptions regarding his married life are widespread. It is not unusual to come across misinformed people who view the Prophet’s (PBUH) marriages in a negative light due to having a flawed understanding of the matter. People who harbor enmity towards Islam also slander the Prophet (PBUH) by portraying him as lustful. However, such mistruths are negated when one understands the wisdom behind the Prophet’s (PBUH) marriages.
The Prophet (PBUH)’s life before his marriages
Prior to his first marriage, the Prophet (PBUH) remained chaste for the first 25 years of his life. Although he was yet to receive the revelation of the Quran, he led a life of purity and dignity. The society around him was full of vice and immorality. It would have been very easy for a person, particularly in his youth, to succumb to his desires in such an atmosphere.
However, the incomparably pure character of the Prophet (PBUH) meant that he remained chaste and had a spotless reputation in society. Just like he possessed all the virtues of honesty and trustworthiness, he was a man of principle who abstained from immoral relationships.
This aspect of his life is one of the greatest proofs of his pure nature and thoroughly refutes any false claims of lustfulness. Indeed, maintaining one’s chastity during his youth in the environment of pre-Islamic Arabia is a demonstration of impeccable character and self-control. The celibacy of the Prophet (PBUH) in his youth strongly disproves the slanderous claims of his detractors.
The first marriage of the Prophet (PBUH)
The Prophet’s (PBUH) first marriage took place when he was aged 25. It was not to someone of a similar age to him, or younger. His first wife was Khadija (RA), who was 40 years old and 15 years his senior. She had been married twice previously. This first marriage lasted 25 years and was by far the longest-lasting marriage of the Prophet (PBUH). Theirs was an extremely close relationship.
At the time of the first revelation, Khadija (RA) was the first of the believers. She immediately reassured Muhammad (PBUH). She knew that he was an exceptionally righteous man and instantly showed faith in his Prophethood. Khadija (RA) was a devoted wife who stood by the Prophet’s (PBUH) side in good times and bad. The Prophet’s (PBUH) marriage with Khadija (RA) gave him three daughters.
Moreover, the Prophet (PBUH) did not marry anyone else while he was married to Khadija (RA). Although polygamy was a norm at the time, and he could have easily married a younger second wife, Muhammad (PBUH) did not opt to marry another woman during Khadija’s (RA) life. Even when the disbelievers tried to get him to stop his preaching in exchange for worldly things like wealth, power, and marriage to the most beautiful of their women, he turned down their offer and carried on preaching.
The impeccable conduct of the Prophet (PBUH) during his long-lasting marriage with Khadija (RA) clearly shows his loyalty to his beloved wife and that her age was inconsequential in their relationship. Ultimately, it was only when Khadija (RA) died that their exemplary marriage came to an end. Hence, the Prophet (PBUH) spent most of his married life with just one woman, who was a divorcee and 15 years older than him.
The other marriages of the Prophet (PBUH)
After the Prophet (PBUH) reached the age of 55, he married multiple wives. He did not marry these women for selfish purposes. Since he died at the age of 63, he only practiced polygamy for a small number of years towards the end of his life. Therefore, it is illogical and inaccurate to accuse him of marrying to fulfill his lusts. These marriages took place during times of war for the Muslims. Muslims were fighting to protect themselves and Islam. Many companions perished in these times.
When hundreds of companions died in wars, inevitably, women were widowed, and children were orphaned. These people were vulnerable, and the Prophet (PBUH) came to their rescue. He set an ideal example for his companions to marry widows and support them. The fact that he mostly married widows and divorcees makes it evident that he married for unselfish and noble reasons. Common sense indicates that a person who is lustful would not have made the same marital choices as the Prophet (PBUH).
The Prophet (PBUH) married one virgin who was very young. That was Aisha (RA), the daughter of Abu Bakr (RA). Abu Bakr (RA) was the closest companion of the Prophet and the first believer outside his family. He was the Prophet’s (PBUH) greatest ally among the believers. The Prophet (PBUH) married Aisha (RA) at the request of Abu Bakr (RA). Aisha (RA) is also among the most prolific narrators of ahadith.
The marriage to Aisha (RA) further strengthened the Prophet’s (PBUH) bond with Abu Bakr (RA). In fact, the Prophet (PBUH) married into the families of important allies and defeated enemies to enhance the unity of believers from various tribes. Therefore, it’s evident that tremendous wisdom governed the Prophet’s (PBUH) marriages rather than lusts and desires.
Muhammad (PBUH)’s simple lifestyle
The Prophet (PBUH) did not remarry after the conquest of Makkah. This indicates that his multiple marriages only took place in times of turmoil. In times of war, it is obvious that marrying widows is an honorable decision. Marriage under such circumstances eases their hardships and lends support to them and their children at a time when they are vulnerable. Even the staunchest enemies of the Muslims at the time never made credible accusations of the Prophet’s (PBUH) character being flawed or that he was immoral.
The relatively short amount of time that the Prophet (PBUH) spent with the women that he married after Khadija (RA) was not a period of enjoyment and relaxation. On the contrary, his life was full of struggles against the stubborn enemies of Islam. The believers had to fight numerous battles. The Prophet (PBUH) was always one to lead by example. Hence, he was not one to be living a luxurious life with his wives while the Muslims fought for Islam.
Even though Muhammad (PBUH) went from being an orphan to uniting the Arabs in Islam and leading them, he did not leave his simple lifestyle. Nowadays, a bit of fame is all it takes for one to give in to various material desires. However, the Prophet (PBUH) would eat humbly and dress simply. He would sleep on a bed of date palm leaves. He endured numerous hardships with patience and was never one to be tempted by worldly luxuries.
Muhammad (PBUH)’s humble life with his wives
The Prophet (PBUH) also lived simply with his wives. Much of his night-time was devoted to prayer. After the financial situation of the Muslims improved, his wives wanted to live more comfortably, but Allah revealed a relevant verse in Surah Al-Ahzab. He instructed the Prophet (PBUH) to tell his wives that he would set them free if they seek the pleasures of the worldly life. However, if they desire Allah, His Messenger, and the Hereafter, then Allah has an immense reward ready for them.
All of the Prophet’s (PBUH) wives chose the Hereafter over the worldly life. Certainly, if he had been a man of desires, he could have easily provided them with a luxurious lifestyle and thoroughly enjoyed his life with them. Instead, his willingness to divorce them if they desired the comforts of this world makes his sincerity, humility, and purity of character undeniable.